To not tell my family I'm cohabitating

(103 Posts)
aroomofherown Sun 02-Jun-13 21:26:13

I'm 41 and never married. Six months ago I met a fabulous man and have just shacked up with him. I live abroad from my very conservative religious family, and I don't want to tell them that I'm 'living in sin', seeing as they don't actually need to know.
However, I hate lying and would rather live honestly. He problem is that my parents and most of my siblings will heartily disapprove, and there will be grave disappointment and even tears as they believe this decision is a sign that I've rejected God and will therefore go to hell. I have a strong aversion to my family's strict religion because of the mental and moral control they had over me all my childhood (and clearly still do).

I love this guy, but am torn up in guilt. Am I being unreasonable?

I think you've hit on a good point above aroom - many people interpret Scripture how they want, and, unfortunately, this can be in order to repress people.

I was brought up C of E although I don't follow that faith now. However, I do believe that as long as what people are doing is within the law, then they should not feel guilty about it. I was reared in an environment that said that same-sex relationships were taboo, that 'living in sin' was taboo, that mixed-race relationships were wrong, and that women should be subservient, and that every day should be lived in fear of God striking me down.

Over the years, I have come to see that much of these teachings have nothing to do with the bible, but from people's fears. If I am really logical and rational, I can see it was riddled with hypocrisy. One of my teachers was a lesbian (closet), and one of the church elders was having an affair.

Personally I have mixed feelings about whether there was a Jesus or not, but if there was, considering the people that he mixed with, and what he reputedly preached, then I think many people are following the wrong guidance. He said that we should treat people as we expect to be treated, to not judge, and not to throw accusations about. He hung out with those shunned by society. So it stands to reason that he'd have no issue with anything that I was told was 'wrong'.

I don't buy the line that women should dress modestly because men can't control themselves. I don't have a problem with women WANTING to cover up, and I'm not a fan of those who wear a belt as a skirt/top, but what a woman wears has no reflection on whether a man can 'control himself'. That's rubbish. It undermines the previous argument that women should be subservient to men.

I don't think that Sunday should be any more special than any other day. Every day should afford some time to reflect on the gifts we have in life.

It sounds as though you've thought through your position carefully. After years of being told what to do/say/think, you're making choices that suit you. Enjoy those freedoms. smile

aroomofherown Mon 10-Jun-13 17:09:20

MrsC to be honest, I've never felt like I've had permission to have a relationship of any sort, unless it was to perhaps a minister or someone equally religious. I can't imagine getting to the place where we could make vows in front of my family, so not sure if that would make a difference or not. I hope one day I can.

I think its just as much about religion as not ever feeling like it was ok to enjoy my life (ie don't go to the beach on a Sunday, you might enjoy it too much and want to skip church in the evening). And if I look back and think about the 'don't wear short skirts, you don't understand how hard it is for men to behave', 'even your mind is fallen, you can't trust your own rational decisions', the minister shouting at his own daughter from the pulpit because she was whispering through the sermon - then I have to admit that there is much about their morality and teachings that I can't trust. Particularly as both my parents and grandparents 'did the deed' before they were married (they admitted this) so I suspect its more about personal hangups than wanting the best for me.

I've spent so much time thinking about what I believe about this today, and largely due to prompts from this thread I've realised that I fully believe that my family interpret Scripture how they want. I remember asking about why it is shameful for women to have their head uncovered, and being told that it was a cultural thing and so didn't apply...but then that doesn't apply to other things. It's really hypocritical and sometimes used to justify their personal preferences. The other thing I believe is that 'those without sin should throw the first stone' - I don't believe that Jesus wants us to judge each other like this. This gives me some strength towards being able to enjoy my relationship. Very grateful for the support I've had here.

However, you should see the state of my nails! sad

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 10-Jun-13 12:27:17

I know. I can understand that it will feel like a mean thing to do. But you know that you're not doing anything deliberately to hurt him. If he will experience real difficulty in coming to terms with your choices there is very little you can do about that, except feel a bit sorry for him (you are allowed to feel sorry for him).

If you know that he is fundamentally unpleasable then you also know that there is little point in trying to please him.

Surely the concept of partnership is older than the concept of christianity? How did people 'formalise' their relationships before the church got involved?
In your opinion, would the relationship be any different if you had made vows in a public place/before witnesses? You'd still be living together....

aroomofherown Mon 10-Jun-13 12:18:49

Gah, unpleasable, not unpleasantly

aroomofherown Mon 10-Jun-13 12:14:15

Heads down that's what I'm trying to reconcile. I've always felt emotionally responsible for my dad in particular so this feels like a mean thing to do. But I know I can never please him, because he is fundamentally unpleasantly in terms of morals.

aroomofherown Mon 10-Jun-13 12:12:28

Wrt my salvation and this relationship I sometimes believe that this relationship means that I'll be turned from God forever, and sometimes I think it is just a good thing, and we will muddle our way to (or not) God together.

But frankly it would be hypocritical for a Christian to have a relationship with me as I am not a practising Christian anyway! But committing to a relationship seems to make my rebellion more 'set in stone', or confirmed, as though I'm closing that door forever.

Everything is so black and white according to my family.

HeadsDownThumbsUp Mon 10-Jun-13 11:30:58

I think I'm avoiding hearing the religious stuff because it makes me feel incredibly guilty for having my relationship.

Then you are avoiding it for a good reason. Trust your instincts.

I know he'll cry when (if) he discovers that I'm in this relationship, because he's "worried about my salvation

Then let him cry. You can't control other people's responses to your decisions, and you are not responsible for them.

Wow that it is conservative. There might be a couple of Brethren groups in this country that are that conservative but it really is an exception here so I can see how big a culture clash you have going on.

The light in the fog is that he does care which is a foundation to build on. Prayers anyway [']

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 10-Jun-13 11:01:45

What do you believe wrt your relationship and your salvation?

aroomofherown Mon 10-Jun-13 10:53:06

Thanks for your response. It definitely is due to the verse from Paul about being unequally yoked. But in the end it is largely about my family being culturally conservative as well as religiously and they hide behind the religious to support their own natural conservatism.

I think they are acting out of concern and care, but actually it comes across as controlling and dictatorial. My father has said things in the past like he would disown me if I ever played keyboard in a band (rock and roll music is of the devil), I can't study history or psychology as I'd be too influenced by liberal leftist academics and psych messes with your thinking and therefore is a risk to my faith etc - I can see how all of this is plain personal conservatism and not Chrisitianity but I know he'll cry when (if) he discovers that I'm in this relationship, because he's "worried about my salvation". Happiness comes second to God.

The religious stuff is complicated but the bit about Christians marrying non Chrisitans comes down to a verse in the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians 'Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers' (chapter 6 v 14 King James Version) but, if Paul meant for Christians not to marry Christians, he was blunt enough to say this. The unequally yoked is more nuanced and is aimed at the culture of the times. This doesn't stop people taking the verse to mean what they want it to mean.

Today in the UK you find Christians living with their partners before they get married and you find lots of marriages/partnerships where one partner is Christian and other is not. It is not the same culture as the one where your family lives which is as you say more conservative.

In the past it was marriage or ruin as women could not work and thus needed a husband to provide for her. Anyone who did not marry and shacked up with a man was either fast or putting herself in a great deal of danger as she had no security when she became pregnant or found herself seen as tainted goods having lost her virginity and no 'decent' man would marry her. These attitudes are a long time in dying out and it may be that this is what is at the heart of your aunt's concern or it could be that she is taking a literal view of the passage from 2 Corinthains. Or a mixture of the two. So I suspect that the religious and the socially conservative views are getting muddled up which doesn't really help I'm afraid. It sounds like they care but whether they can hear 'I'm in a relationship with a nice man, be happy for me' is something only you can judge and realistically it might take a bit of time.

aroomofherown Sun 09-Jun-13 21:48:22

That's a good question. I think I'm avoiding hearing the religious stuff because it makes me feel incredibly guilty for having my relationship. I wouldn't have the guts to tell her about my relationship - at this stage at least.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 09-Jun-13 21:35:12

OP, what are you avoiding by not talking to your aunt? Are you avoiding talking about religion or your partner?

aroomofherown Sun 09-Jun-13 20:52:22

God, not his

aroomofherown Sun 09-Jun-13 20:52:03

So now my aunty is trying to get hold of me and I'm avoiding her calls. She is very religious and believes his told her not to marry a non Christian or she would never have a relationship with God. I really love her but she preaches at me every time she talks to me and although she doesn't know about my relationship, I feel it is going to become awkward.

Would appreciate any advice from Christians, or people married to a Christian.

specialsubject Sun 09-Jun-13 11:49:20

their religion only makes them unhappy. No reason it should make you unhappy too.

tell them if you want, but if there's no need, don't bother.

Branleuse Sun 09-Jun-13 07:51:19

its none of their business.
they dont need to know, and you arent hurting anyone. x

The thread has landed!

It sounds like you are in a really difficult place. The culture clash between your family abroad and the culture here is a tricky one to navigate and religion is part of that, but probably not all. I hope some of the lovely posters in this part of mumsnet can offer you their wisdom.

aroomofherown Sat 08-Jun-13 19:53:30

Thank you Olivia

DioneTheDiabolist Sat 08-Jun-13 19:48:14

OP, I'm afraid that you can't make your family happy. All you can do is be true to yourself. Tell them, it may be uncomfortable for a while. They might cut you off.sad

Either way, you will be freer than you are now to enjoy your relationship and your life.

OliviaMMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 08-Jun-13 19:36:10

We've moved this for you OP

CookieB Sat 08-Jun-13 19:32:17

You are 41. Enjoy your life however you see fit! I am 29 and had to remind my dm of this fact considering Im a mum of two now.

OliviaMMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 08-Jun-13 19:22:47

Hello OP
Do let us know if you'd like us to move this thread out of AIBU into relationships or indeed philosophy/religion
Best of luck with it all
Thanks
MNHQ

NonnoMum Sat 08-Jun-13 19:15:49

smile

all the best...

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