Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
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18-11-2013, 11:00 AM
Sad Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
Hey, so this is an issue that's making me feel sick and I can't seem to get clarity on how to handle. I'm sort of a newbie here (this is only my second post) so I'm hoping I'm using the forum correctly.
A little background: from the 8th grade until I was 22 I was an extremely devout born-again Christian (went to Christian university, got Christian tattoos, worked for a non-profit Christian organization, led youth/young adults groups at my church, no pre-marital sex, etc.). I got married at 20 to a boyfriend I'd had since I was 16 and found myself, at 21 in a completely sexless, emotionally abusive, controlling relationship that led to a divorce and was the catalyst that started my search for truth.
Fast forward to today: I'm 26, newly atheist (I've been agnostic and doing a LOT of reading for the last 4 years), and have been in a relationship for a year and half with a guy I've known for 11 years and who was raised in a Mormon family.
He and I are mostly on the same page when it comes to our beliefs (when we started dating he was agnostic and hadn't gone to church in years and as I've continued to research and share with him, he has slowly been coming to the conclusion that there is probably no god). His mom, however, is a DEVOUT Mormon. Over the past year she has inundated me with texts, phone calls, and in person conversations about the religion and it has been very clear to me that she desperately wants her son to return to church and for me to convert. While I understand where she's coming from, as I was once a very committed believer in the god of the Bible, it's been wearing me down.
[A side-note: I'm just finishing up my psychology degree and have noticed almost constant behavior that differs from the norm out of her. I believe she is a hoarder, struggles with depression and anxiety, and possibly some sort of other undiagnosed mental illness. Besides the hoarding, I think the trigger for these other issues was the death of her father 5 years ago, and my boyfriend hasn't lived at home since before that, so he is a little blind to many of her odd behaviors as I think he still sees her as the mother who raised him.]
This is getting longer than I anticipated so I'll try to wrap it up. A couple of months ago her obsessive texting, telling me that my boyfriend needs to go back to church and get a "patriarchal blessing" and how "he MUST still desire to have a temple wedding" got me to a breaking point and I told my boyfriend that I needed him to have a conversation with her and tell her that he no longer believed those things (truth be told, her never did, but I didn't ask him to be THAT honest) and to ask her not to discuss religion with me without him present. After many conversations he did just that.
Now, the texting has talked and the overtly religious conversations have mostly ceased but instead she's sent missionaries to our house, continues to invite me to events at the church that I politely decline, and forwards emails from his sister who is on her mission.
My boyfriend has been talking about marriage for a while now, and although I would be happy to remain as we are (living together and in love) forever, I understand his desire for that extra commitment. My main concern is his mom and the effect she is having on me. In all of my past relationships (including my marriage), I LOVED my significant other's mom and had really, really positive relationships where we had coffee and went shopping and cooked together, etc. I don't feel comfortable around his mom AT ALL and going to their home makes me increasingly anxious.
I would love input on whether this would be a deal-breaker for any of you, and what your opinions/outlooks are on the situation.
This got kind of long so if you stuck with it, I really appreciate it!!

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18-11-2013, 12:44 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
Oh man. I know how you feel.

I have extremely religious in-laws, and my father in-law sounds like your mother in law. He was born and raised on a mennonite colony, which functioned like an amish colony with no electricity and mega religiosity. He is the eldest of 16 brothers and sisters.

My husband is on the same page as me also. Early in our marriage when the in-laws were around us the conversation was always about politics, finances and religion. Especially religion. We were guilt tripped, pressed on, etc etc. (to them it probably felt right and helpful)

We finally learned how to put the boundaries up. We refuse to talk about it at all. Any comments made are met with a blank stare and the subject is changed. WE (my husband and I) decided on a JP wedding in a garden, no church, no prayer. Inlaws were invited and they came. FIL snuck in one prayer at his toast, that was fine.

In our house when they say let's pray before meals, I let them but I don't participate. Not even in my body language, though I do wait until they're done.

Your (future) Mother in Law will NEVER change or accept your or your husbands lack of beliefs, it's in her own beliefs not to. I enjoy boundaries in my relationship with people who don't accept me for me, no matter who they are. I love them all dearly though. Perhaps through practice your ft. MIL will be able to just enjoy the time you guys spend together on terms other than her beliefs.

As for legal marriage, from my own experience we chose to and I'm glad we did. Should anything medical come up, which it did for us (my husband got sick and wasn't in his right mind to make decisions for himself), it was made clear I had to be a wife and not a common law (I had to prove). Otherwise the choices were left to doctors or his parents.

I guess I rambled too, but basically you're not alone and boundaries are your best friend- after every things established, why does it need to be discussed anymore?

Good luck!
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18-11-2013, 01:35 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
Hi and welcome.

I suppose the key is how much influence does she have over her son? If he is going bow to her wishes, or at least pretend to, then it could be an issue in the long term.

Would you be living near them or far enough away for it not to be too much of an issue? You can tolerate things like that if you don't have to do it all the time.

She stopped the calls and texts but changed her methods, she is giving it a last shot. LJ has been there, she has great insight.

See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. -JF
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18-11-2013, 01:59 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
Quote: Over the past year she has inundated me with texts, phone calls, and in person conversations about the religion and it has been very clear to me that she desperately wants her son to return to church and for me to convert.

Have you tried telling her that you are not the least bit interested and would she please stop bothering you with it in total including the invitations and use of surrogates? If you have and she persists then you may have a problem. If you have not she probably thinks there is a chance. Don't lay there like you have "WELCOME" stamped on your butt. That kind of fanatic will use it as an excuse to walk all over you.

The problem comes in, as Anjele said, with your boyfriend. He is the problem and she is trying to get to him through you. When he rejected mormonism - and personally I don't see how anyone could be dumb enough to fall for that but this isn't about me - he also rejected HER. I suspect that deep down she can't handle that and you are simply a means to an end.

If your boyfriend will back you then I think there is not too much of a problem. if he won't...beware.

Atheism is NOT a Religion. It's A Personal Relationship With Reality!
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18-11-2013, 04:45 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
Hi there, I've never been in a situation like that, but I have thought about it a bit.

Honestly I'm kind of in a little mini version of that in that my girlfriend is an agnostic deist (more or less) and her parents are Christian and Catholic. Her parents still think she holds the beliefs they raised her with (she is lying to them) and she lied to them before I even met them that I was a Christian who didn't go to church. So to this day they still think that I am a Christian who just doesn't go to church.

So anyways, here is how I see it. First, not even with my current girlfriend would I marry her without clearing this up with her parents, I'm not going to live my life in secret like I'm a child who has something to hide. Second if her parents did ever harass me, I would deal with it by being honest and telling them what I am comfortable with and what I am not comfortable with. For instance, "I'm sorry, but I do not share the same beliefs with you, and I am not comfortable with you pushing your beliefs on me or on my relationship the way that you are. I do not mean to upset you, but please do not try to change who I am so that I follow what you believe in. I will promise to do the same for you. Can you respect that?"

So that being said, one thing to acknowledge is that if you were to get married, it wouldn't be to her, you would be getting married to him. If you are in love, I wouldn't let the mother in law situation have a huge impact on your decisions. You just need to learn how to deal with her on your terms. You can't expect your relationship with her to be the same as how your past mother of BF/Hubby relationships have been...because she is a different person and will produce a different experience.

So those are just my quick thoughts. Ultimately you choose what is important for your life..and you make your life follow that path. I believe you have the power to make your life what you want Big Grin.
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18-11-2013, 05:07 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
As long as you and your partner can agree on the boundaries that need to be in place, and he is willing to enforce them, you should be ok.

I love what you've done so far! Having him talk this out with her is the best way to go about it, try not to confront her directly. He is her son, but she has to respect his life choices, and you are one of those. Stick up for yourself if she goes after you directly (walking away, leaving, or hanging up are preferable though if you can get away with it) and then have him do the serious talking / boundary setting.

Maybe tell her if she doesn't stop sending missionaries to the house, that you'll have to cut off contact completely. That's obviously up,to the two of you though.

I would just hate to see this get in the way of you two being happy together.

If she is a hoarder with mental issues, a call to DHS may be in irder if you two feel she needs help.

Sorry my reply was long, bottom line, if you two can come to an agreement about what the boundaries WILL BE (not might be), and feel good about it, I say go for it!

Keep us updated Hug

I hope that the world turns, and things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. - V for Vendetta
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19-11-2013, 02:43 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
Thanks to all of you for the responses. My boyfriend will certainly always support and back me and because we are on the same page, he HAS drawn boundaries.
I think the comment from Minimalist about his rejection of her religion feeling like a rejection of HER, is a good one, and I will try to keep that in mind.
I think, also, because I grew up very devout, I can see and understand her desperation to have her son believe what she believes which, combined with her obsessive tendencies, makes me pretty confident that she won't ever let up.
Before I felt comfortable expressing where I stood with regards to religion, I wanted my boyfriend to talk to her so that she didn't feel that I was the one pulling him away from the church. The phone conversation he had with her did serve that purpose and since then he's had a few other conversations where he's made it clear that he has never really believed or had any kind of "personal testimony" and so I do feel comfortable now to set up some boundaries with her and tell her clearly where I stand.
Thanks so much for all of your input. I talked with my boyfriend about it last night and he pointed out that because I have the tendencies to be a people pleaser, he would encourage me to stand up to her and speak my opinion instead of just sitting and nodding and that he will have my back in any situation between her and I which was extremely encouraging to me.
Thank you thank you! Smile
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19-11-2013, 02:57 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
He sounds like a good guy...good luck to you both.

See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. -JF
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26-11-2013, 02:56 PM
RE: Religious Future Mother-in-Law = Deal Breaker?
When those missionaries show up, there is one phrase only that they understand and that's F*** Off, stated loudly and slam the door. Never invite them in "to be polite". They are salesmen at their worst. I've dealt with them and that harsh term is all that works. Wait a minute - go to the door stark naked, watch their reaction, then tell them of F Off.
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