It Was Unexpected Pt. II

So, where did we leave off? Ah, yes, Thanksgiving week (continuing with more context, then we’ll get to the other things).

I have little appreciation for Thanksgiving nowadays. In the past, it was always a holiday I could look forward to for the great food. But, since I lost weight, I’ve viewed the holiday as more of an excuse to eat poorly than anything.

That, combined with the usual loneliness, makes Thanksgiving my second-least favorite holiday (Valentine’s Day is the first). This year, like the year before, I had to stay back and work while my family went to visit my relatives in Florida. Coming off a break-up (or whatever you could call it), I wasn’t in a particularly good spot last week.

Monday rolled around and I was still heartsick over things. Our shifts were scheduled separately, so I didn’t get to see her really that day. I was stuck on the afternoon/evening shift, and she was working the early morning shift. I thought I had missed her by the time 12:30 rolled around and part of me was glad.

But my head was stuck in it and I missed her. And then, as I glanceed down the main aisle, I see she’s walking toward me. We strike up a conversation, like we had so many times before, and things flow easily between us. We snark at each other and relay what’s happened to us so far that day, and it’s like it was before for a brief moment.

Then she leaves. I spent the rest of day trying to figure out what had just happened. Saturday I was told “Let’s just be friends” and Monday I’m being just as I was before with her, when we were more than friends. How does that work, exactly?

The next day it was more of the same, more fun and flirty, and I made time to help her out with her stuff as seeing mine wasn’t particularly pressing. We were great. I asked her, point blank, how long I had to wait before I could suggest doing a fun activity with her.

She didn’t know. It seemed, for once, that we were both equally stumped on how whatever we had should play out. I suggested something for that Friday, but she had plans already (hanging out with her cousins, watching Dr. Who — can’t knock those plans, though I did suggest Dr. Who be at the center of our potential activity).

Thursday rolls around — Thanksgiving, D-Day. I was given the dubious honor of being one of the cashiers for the beginning of our Black Friday sales (at 6PM on Thanksgiving Day). I didn’t expect her to be there, but she managed to snag a shift in the backroom (avoiding the rush of the front and working with our boss, Jeff, whom she likes to playfully suggest I’m jealous of — whom I’m not jealous of for I have more hair, am much younger, and don’t date people 17 years my junior, unlike Jeff).

It’s nice to have her there but I don’t expect we’ll see one another. The first few hours flew by fast as people come through, sales occur, and the process repeats itself.

And then my lane is clear and she shows up in it, her mom and aunt behind her. She introduces us, we do our flirty/friendly thing, and I get the impression her mother isn’t overly impressed with me (but she doesn’t seem to hate me). I notice that Abbey is wearing that same lip balm she kissed me with (I recognize what it looks like).

Later on in the night, after I clock out, I find her and ask if she’d like to grab some food afterwards to celebrate our survival. A late Thanksgiving dinner, of sorts. She turns me down, says she’s going to go home and sleep once she gets off (about twenty minutes later).

I’m disappointed but the night isn’t a complete waste: I got to meet her mom and aunt, which adds a new layer of information to the data I’m amassing.

I’m off the next day but back on Saturday. I get the close shift and our paths intersect again, where she stops me — unprompted by myself — and relays to me how Jeff (our boss) told her he thought I liked her, but didn’t have the guts to ask her out.

Abbey tells me she corrected him on that and Jeff, according to her, has a new level of respect for me (which he’s actually displayed this past week, amazingly enough). She’s smirking throughout all this and I’m pleased that she was able to defend my honor, little of it there was, and I’m wondering why she came up and told me this.

But I take it in stride, resume our playful/flirty dialogue, and try not to overthink it.

This past Sunday, we worked once more together (I actually got to leave before her, for once). Upon coming in, she finds me and delivers a fake punch to my jaw (sound effect included). We engage in more playful/flirty behavior, she sticks funny glasses/ornaments/things on me, is generally pretty amused, and it’s like that day we held hands.

Add in the Facebook convos (much like the above) and … well, I’m not sure what we are at this point.

We’re playful/flirty friends, I guess. Can you be that? I’ve never been that.

The questions nagged at me as I was at work all throughout last week … so, I decided to investigate her reasons WHY she chose to break it off, namely, Mormonism.

Lost Down the Rabbit Hole …

It began this past Monday. I typed in one innocent phrase in Google: “Dating a Mormon girl?” and came upon pages, and pages, of results.

I started from the top and worked my way through each one. It took almost three days of research to arrive at my initial conclusions (which are far from final, mind you). I don’t pretend to understand a lot about Mormonism, but the Internet has information out there — I started with BYU, to understand what they taught (since they’re a Mormon school and she went there for five years).

Suffice it to say, the stats didn’t bear out what I wanted to see. The stats were out of date by over two decades, they were collected by the lay persons of the church (since Mormon’s don’t hire specific people to be specific things in the church, the lay people do all the work, top to bottom), and BYU readily admits that this is a bit of an issue, in terms of accuracy, but they go forth and use it anyway.

Let’s put the statistician details aside, for a moment, and get to the bottom line: there is absolutely ZERO way I can ever approach the dream of a Temple Wedding for this girl. It requires me to be Mormon (not happening — she told me she didn’t want me to convert and I agree — me and the Mormon church would be a poor fit) and be in good standing. That’s off the books and, really, I probably should have stopped right there.

But I didn’t stop. Stats were given showing how horrifying mixed marriages (of mixed faiths) were and the one verse everyone uses to justify not having inter-faith marriages kept popping up:

2 Corinthians 6:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

This verse was cited by the Mormon church as the reason NOT to marry someone of a different faith and, guess what? The Catholic church says the same thing.

I feel like this verse is taken out of context a lot when it gets cited, and I felt like that here as well. I dove into the Google results, page after page, trying to find reason for hope — could a relationship between a Catholic and Mormon work? Yes, says the results. Could a marriage? That depended on a lot of factors.

This is where things get sobering as hell. For years, it has been a stated objective of mine to get married and (hopefully?) have kids. I’m good with kids. I’m great with kids, better than with adults I think.

But to get kids, you have to be married (at least for me). To be married, you have to have success at dating (which, as an aside, the Mormons and Catholics agree on the premise of “Whom you date is whom you marry”, which is oddly comforting and strange). To have success at dating, you actually need to get a date (this has been my issue).

I suck at romance. It’s not for lack of effort, but simply a lack of experience. At 26-years-old, I am pretty far behind socially. My brief week with Abbey proved this in spades — not knowing when to initiate hand-holding, not going in for the kiss, having her do all the work … it’s a sad state of affairs, really. I learned a ton, don’t get me wrong, but I simply can’t believe our meeting, in the grand scheme of things, was meant to just be an educational experience.

She’s not a book, she’s a person.

Which brings me to the list of sobering things I didn’t even remotely consider when considering the possibility of marriage with this girl (this is where jespah’s comment on the last post comes into play, about how much considering marriage is a rushed action at the very least).

1. Marriage of different faiths requires more sacrifice than normal.

This is probably the number one takeaway I got from the many, many accounts I read of people being married to someone of a different faith than themselves. Faiths, particularly Mormonism and Catholicism, play a HUGE role in the daily lives of those who believe (assuming the believer is an active participant).

Abbey is a believer of her faith, I am a believer of mine, both of us are lax in certain areas, but the two of us are rather sure of our decisions to follow our mutual faiths (at least on the outside — I’d bet she’s just as unsure about some things as I am). In a dating relationship, it’s easy to overlook the differing faiths because you’re in the moment.

I was forever in the moment with her in that one week of bliss. It was an amazing feeling, one which I can honestly say I have never experienced before. I tend to be in the past, or the future, and the present is a distant second to anything else. I’m on autopilot in the present half the time and the other half I’m struggling to keep up with the present.

With Abbey, I was forever in the moment, with her, enjoying what we were sharing, and not thinking ahead. It’s why the time seemed to always fly between us (and still does) and it’s why things like faith are easy to put aside.

In marriage, that’s not something that can be done. Marriage requires getting married … usually in a church and, if I stayed Catholic and she Mormon, neither of us would be able to have a ceremony like the one’s our faiths would demand.

So, the wedding would have to be something rather weird, though not unholy. It’d just be a civil wedding and that’s a consolation prize that’s not very consoling, truth be told. The wedding would be awkward for all sides, the ceremony not quite as special.

“You only get one wedding day,” is a common phrase and one that’s technically true. So, we’d lose out on a mutual dream of a kick-ass wedding. Personally, I’m good with that — the ceremony is probably the least important part of the wedding. The actual getting married part is more important, IMO.

1A. Where do you go to church?

So, the marriage is done, but we’re both living different faiths in our daily lives. Both the Catholics and Mormons encourage a certain amount of participation in your faith — what would the church schedule look like? Would we both be willing to go to church with one another? Would we merely write off Sunday as a day where our individual souls needed to be addressed?

Lots of questions and no immediate answers. But that would be a thing, a thing that would need to be decided. The Mormons would have been accepting, to a point, if I decided to go to service with her. And, certainly, the Catholics would have been accepting — you don’t have to know what’s going on at Mass to go, I certainly didn’t when I first started.

Optimally, I’d imagine we’d do hers in the morning and mine in the evening, keeping the afternoon and night for ourselves. But that’s a hypothetical of the highest order.

2. Children.

Inter-faith marriages are hard enough as it is. Add in children, and the research gets murkier. Accounts range from having a healthy set of children to having children with no faith at all, no belief in any higher power.

Ultimately, it comes down to how the parents decide to deal with the fact that they’re having children and where those children will be raised, in regards to their church upbringing.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even consider this in my initial assumption of marriage. I always assumed I’d end up with someone of the same faith, simply because of that fact that was an aim — that was something to cross off a list. “Has same faith? Check.”

But Abbey has made me consider otherwise and the scenarios are simply not fun to run. Mormonism and Catholicism, once more, place a big emphasis on children and families being raised in the church. From birth, both sets of religions have things that have to be done.

You can not do them, but if you don’t do them, you come under a stigma. And, if it were just the parents, then I’d be okay with that, but the children come under a stigma, too. That’s simply unacceptable and WRONG, but it’s the reality of it.

And that’s why, in most of my research, I’ve found a majority of inter-faith marriages pick one religion or the other to raise their children in. That’s a sensible thing, I think. I just don’t know where I’d fall on the argument.

I could say, “Sure, they can be raised Catholic!” and make a decent case that’d they’d be fine. Problem is, I wasn’t raised Catholic and being raised Catholic is no guarantee of anything (just like Mormonism). Mormons and Catholics agree on a lot of ethical and moral issues, and I’d like that to really be the foundation of any knowledge passed down to children in this scenario.

But that’s probably not going to happen and you know why?

2A. The mother has more of a right to child-based decisions than the father.

That, above, is merely my opinion, and it’s not just because “raising children should be left to the women folk”. The Mormon church and Catholic church both encourage that to a point (most religions do) and I disagree with that as an ironclad rule.

In the 21st century, in the day and age we live in, gender roles are more fluid than ever. I’ll tell you this much, based on my experience as an older brother, the first member of my particular generation (in my family), working with kids in church/as a nanny, I’m pretty certain I’ll have more experience with kids than my theoretical wife.

Does that mean I’m going to take over and do everything? No.

Biologically, mentally, emotionally, the mother is the closest one to the child during the pregnancy and the birth and pretty much the kid’s first year or two of life. She suffers A LOT through all that and I … I deal with mood swings, I make grocery runs for random items, I try my best to take every stressful thing off her plate, I offer comfort. But that’s pittance compared to what the mother does.

And, because of that, in a lot of inter-faith marriages, the mother tends to dictate where the kids are going to church. And, in this hypothetical (with a girl I only dated a week and have only known for a little over a month, just to remind you), Abbey would insist on the church she was raised in — the Mormon church.

2B. Kids make marriages more difficult and there’s no way around that.

This conclusion is a tough one to admit to, but it’s true based on my research and observations over the years. You add kids to a marriage and the highs can be higher, but the lows can be much lower — they skew things into the extreme.

And things are already somewhat extreme in this scenario. But, there’s a flipside to this …

3. What if she doesn’t want kids?

Abbey is not a traditional Mormon, at least not according to any texts I’ve read. Her behavior indicates a “far from hardcore” mentality. Admittedly, the Mormon church does make it a point to drill home the “get married and have kids” mantra, and she’s an excellent sewer (one who does sewing, not part of a sanitary system) of baby blankets (many have been sewn for many of her friends who are married and have had kids).

She’s spoken of a family in a far off context, but I honestly don’t know if she really wants kids. And I have to ask myself, is that a deal breaker?

To which the answer is … no. But I’ll elaborate further on that in the final post.

For now, chew on this and the reasons given here. In the next post, I’ll cover how all this has affected my understanding of things as it concerns writing.

As always, thanks for reading folks.

One thought on “It Was Unexpected Pt. II

  1. The kids question should be more of a dealbreaker than anything with faith, IMHO. There can be some compromises with faith, but not with children. Having one child doesn’t appease someone who doesn’t want them at all. Having no children but having dogs doesn’t appease someone who wants to become a parent. The kids/no kids question is black and white in a way that most other decisions aren’t.

    But I still say it’s jumping the gun to consider such things after such a short length of time. And that’s true for all of the parties.

    PS I know that faith is very important to you. I get that. I well recall being told by a guy I was attracted to in college that we were of differing faiths and so dating was 100%, completely out of the question. For me, that made little sense. I saw dating as being a trial run and not too serious unless a significant amount of time had elapsed (a quarter of a year at barest minimum. I’ve only dated five guys for that long, including Mr. j. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary, but at some point, the time hits serious mode). But this guy wouldn’t even risk the 2 months and 29 days of non-seriousness.

    PPS I have cousins who are the product of one Jewish parent (my side) and another faith, usually Catholic. They really do both. Is it perfect? Of course not, and there are pretty fundamental differences. People try to be respectful and kind. Sometimes the heavier rituals occurred (e. g. Bar Mitzvahs or confirmations), sometimes not. One of those marriages ended in divorce, but I don’t believe the end of that union had anything to do with the parties’ respective faiths. For Jews, some of it is about survival in a way that it probably isn’t for other religions. That is, we are such a tiny minority, and we always have been, and we’ve often been persecuted and shunted aside as “the other”. At least in my extended family’s experience, retaining some Jewish identity, and having mixed-marriage children retain some as well, is important. But in your case, it seems less about personal identity, and more about personal belief.

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