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New boyfriend is withholding info about me to his religious parents......should I be concerned? I think I may be over reacting....

(37 Posts)
WineAndSunMakesMeHappy Sun 26-May-13 22:56:03

I have been in a relationship with a new man for three months, however we have only been "open" about it for a week or so, due to me having a child, both in previous long term relationships etc.

He has had to fly home as matter of urgency as a relative is very sick.

Home is Ireland, he is Catholic, and attends mass when at home and on special occasions. And sometimes just because he feels like going (I'm just trying to give an idea of how "religious" he is).

I am an atheist. We have discussed this, we are both fine and happy about excepting each others beliefs, but he has acknowledged that some older relatives of his would not be happy with him being in a relationship with an atheist. Although, he is happy for them to think as they please and that it doesn't bother him.

However, he told me today, that whilst catching up with his mother he told her about me. Somehow, it got round to the conversation that he hadn't told her that I have a daughter. When I queried it, he joked that he didn't want to give her a heart attack??

Now, I'm aware it's a new relationship, he hasn't seen his family for months, and that it is a stressfull time for his family.

But a small part of me is troubled, and feels he may be ashamed of the fact I have a daughter and that I was never married to her father.

Am I reading too much into this do you think? Would any of you done the same thing, or do I have a reason to think this may be a problem?

Melty Mon 27-May-13 13:49:27

Irish families can be a nightmare. Religion is a big thing for some families. Catholics, (of which I am one, if a bad one) are often not particularly Christian or accepting.
My dad for instance, is a lovely lovely man but when he found out I was dating a guy who was divorced, he went to Mass every day until we broke up. And the reason we broke up was of course because of divine intervention, not because the ex was an arse. (Kind enough not to tell me this til afterwards tho)

However, my brother (previous golden child) was badly treated.
His crime: he fell in love with a separated woman. With a child.
Us kids, (IE my other siblings and I) really liked her.
They were going out for a bit before he introduced her to my parents. But he didnt mention straight away that she was separated.
He wanted them to get to know her first.
We had always been told that we could always bring our friends home. (but obviously hadn't seen the subtext of "as long as we approve")
Anyway poor bro told them and they went bananas. They could apparently tell there was something wrong with her as they had seen it in her eyes (I kid you not), Some of it was what the neighbours/relations would think (yes really) and the rest of it was, protestant, married and had a child. My dad told him to break up with her.

He refused. Dad told him not to bring her to the house ever again. Brother understandably was annoyed. What actually happened was he didn't go home for 5 yrs, as he wouldnt go home without the most important person in his life.
We all tried unsuccessfully to talk Dad round. Mum was easier: she didn't like it but could live with it, but she wouldnt go against my dad. Everytime we mentioned it to my dad or tried to bring it up he would clutch his chest and start gasping.

Eventually the divorce came through. (Takes considerably longer in Ireland) and they got married.
Dad finally gave in and went to the wedding (at the 11th hour), but only because my mum said she was heartbroken and if brother couldnt come to her house, she didnt want to live in it any more.

So finally there is acceptance, but he doesnt like it.
An Irish colleague of mine recently got engaged to a divorced guy, and her mother told her that she had ruined her life ( mothers life) by getting involved with a married man.

Friends of my parents had a son that was seeing a single mum, -never been married. They told him to break up with her. That he would shame the family. Made his life hell, and eventually he did.

Don't underestimate the power of the Irish family.
I am more than sure your boyfriend not ashamed ot you or your daughter, but he has a lot of cultural "shame" issues to fight against if his family are anything like mine.

Melty Mon 27-May-13 13:49:49

Sorry for the essay.

OddSockMonster Mon 27-May-13 14:00:25

I'm with mathanxiety, my Mum is from a very large Irish family and any bit of gossip news spreads within hours.

I carefully time information release to Mum / the whole world, so I should imagine your new fella might be doing the same.

OddSockMonster Mon 27-May-13 14:02:54

Crikey, that all sounds really harsh Melty!

You know, I've been living in Ireland as part of a huge extended very catholic family for over 20 years and I have never encountered any of the above confused the only ones in my family who come close are my uncle and cousins in Manchester.

Out of 17 cousins more of us have children out of marriage than in it. In fact both my aunts got pregnant before marriage too.

Where I live now is a very religious village, again lots of parents are unmarried, plenty of mixed families with children who have different fathers. I've yet to hear one single negative comment about unmarried mothers hmm even the priest doesn't care less!

vvviola Mon 27-May-13 14:15:27

But Melty, for every one of your stories I could probably supply a "welcomed with open arms" one. Irish Catholicism is definitely not a standard thing.

(I do think done older people have issues getting their heads around divorce/remarriage - but I think that's more to do with the fact it's a relatively recent phenomenon)

OP - I still genuinely think it was a case of him just playing his cards close to his chest, but I don't think you mentioned where in Ireland he's from. In certain areas of the country, Great Aunt Philomena to be a little more difficult than others wink

Melty Mon 27-May-13 14:24:22

I know, sad its like something out of a Maeve Binchy novel only not as well written.
I have other friends who were given a much easier time.
But our family went through hell just because of my dad. And many of his contemporaries think the same way.

3 of my cousins had kids without being married as teenagers. They are referred to as being very difficult to control. They are all in their 40s now (and married with other kids) but still treated like naughty children. Oh they gave Aunt X such a hard time....
I have not discussed many of my boyfriends with my family, because they werent that serious, and if I started talking about them I'd get 1000 questions, and God forbid I brought them home, it would be almost a declaration of marriage.

No not all Irish families are like that, but its not that uncommon.

BarbarianMum Mon 27-May-13 14:48:27

<<Not wanting to tell your parents something (because they think it's shameful, maybe) is not the same as being ashamed of whatever it is.>>

This. My dad, for example, can be very bigoted narrow minded, so he gets a strictly edited account of my life. I'm not ashamed but give myself permission not to put up with a load of earache.

I really wouldn't try and second guess motives here, tho. Maybe his mum would disapprove, maybe he's worried she'd start planning the wedding, who knows.

Melty Mon 27-May-13 15:04:53

" I'm not ashamed but give myself permission not to put up with a load of earache."

Exactly. Information on a need to know basis.

mathanxiety Mon 27-May-13 17:00:07

I think the post above about talking wrt religion/atheism is very sound advice. Talking and above all careful listening with a real effort made to listen without the glow of a new relationship causing you to skip over the bits that are giving you pause.

Don't go into this relationship assuming anything. It's not wise to hold a bunch of assumptions about any issue going into a relationship of course, but religion can be such a big thing if people have not hashed it out properly and keep lines of communication open even after the matter has been 'settled'.

There is no way you can compromise over the fact that you have a DD. They can either accept the two of you as a package or be rude and hostile. As many have pointed out, most Irish families are going to be nice, and welcome you if their son is happy. Very few would treat a child as an outcast. But keep your ears peeled.

goonyagoodthing Mon 27-May-13 17:18:22

I am Irish and from a catholic family. I had a child and went on to marry someone who was not her father. Two brothers are with women who have children from previous relationships and a brother and sister each with children but not married. My MIL is catholic to the backbone, Mass at least three times a week, Eucharistic Minister, heavily involved in the church - she is next step to a nun. And it was never, ever an issue with her at any stage.

I was the first to put my foot out of line in my family, and I got a bit of ear ache for it, not from a religious point of view, but a "what will the neighbours say" angle. The neighbours didn't give a shit by the way, my mother just thought they would. I paved the way for the rest of my siblings, and now nothing would phase my mother.

Is he the first in the family to be with someone who is not catholic / has a child? He might be surprised at how they will take it. They probably won't care. If they do, then thats their problem and they should be ashamed of themselves. Having a child "out of wedlock" is not the big thing that is was here 20 years ago. I would need to sit and think for a long time to come up with someone I know who DIDN'T have a child before marriage or was with someone whos child was not theirs biologically. And as far as religion goes - there is only a handful of people under 50 actually practicing catholics (in my area).

And if he is from a big, sprawling, Irish family, you are guaranteed some fun days and nights!

Melty Mon 27-May-13 18:14:13

You see goony, thats what families, regardless of religion are supposed to be like. You stick together and support each other no matter what.
I only wish my family had been like that. But my aunts and uncles are of the same judgemental mind as my parents, although like I said, my mother has mellowed a bit.
She treats my step nephew (and I call him my nephew as that's how I see him) exactly the same as the other grandkids, as do the rest of us. (and as we should)

There is no doubt about it, people can be absolutely lovely and welcoming, but dont forget that the last Magdalene laundry only closed in 1996 in Waterford. There are still assholes who believe as if children out of wedlock and unmarried mothers (Never any mention of the fatehrs though) area something to hide away.
I'd say it will be another generation before old fashioned values and "stigma" get washed away as the old buggers die off.

(I think I might have a bit of residual anger)

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