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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 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)

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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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!

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

Crikey, that all sounds really harsh Melty!

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.

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

Sorry for the essay.

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.

Potteresque97 Mon 27-May-13 13:34:56

i hope it in fact bodes well that he mentioned you to her, i'm also that sort of a catholic and my dh is an atheist but happy to trot along mass sometimes and sit at the back - doesn't have to be a huge deal breaker. I'm sure his family will be happy he's found someone if things progress.

WineAndSunMakesMeHappy Mon 27-May-13 13:34:54

This is why I love MN!

Feel so much better today and realise I was way over reacting. I've had a right shit couple of days, although not as bad as his by any means, and he has made an effort to text and call with kind words and advice.

Soooo glad I didn't say anything to him now........would of been utterly inappropriate.

Thanks ladies (and gents if need be)


A1980 Mon 27-May-13 13:28:08

One of my old friends dated a Muslim at uni. He wouldn't tell his family he was even seeing her as they would not approve.

My friend at work is Muslim and dated a Christian guy at uni. She never told her family they would go nuts.

Another friend at work had a sister who was seeing someone of the same ethnic origin as them but scared to tell her parents as they didn't have the same surname as them. their parents insisted they marry someone with Patel as a surname.

It happens all the time.

But I don't think this guys motivations are religious. Its early days: he's probably thinking let them get used to me having a gf first.

Londonmrss Mon 27-May-13 11:23:45

He's just making life easier at this stage. It's great that you are both open to accepting each other's beliefs. At some stage I guess you would have to discuss any aspects of life that may be incompatible. I too an an atheist and I would definitely want my child to have a secular education, for example. I would never be able to get married in a church, that sort of thing. But it might be a little early for that kind of discussion and what's the point in adding complications to a relationship at this stage?

flanbase Mon 27-May-13 07:07:28

Thought about this & I think you're seeking approval from your new man's family. He on the other hand is not seeking their approval as he has mentioned you and not kept the relationship quiet. So all bodes well.

mathanxiety Mon 27-May-13 03:32:54

I agree he would probably never hear the end of it if he were not to play his cards close to his chest.

I have a huge extended Irish family and some of them don't know when to just zip it, especially the older ones. DSIS got a huge amount of flak over her wedding arrangements, baptism of her DD, etc..

Play it by ear. You don't mention how old he is or how long he has been living independently, whether he has a degree, whether any of his family have been to university or have lived abroad or travelled much, all of which might make a difference.

vvviola Mon 27-May-13 03:00:24

I think HollyBerryBush might have it spot on. Not so much about what his Mum might think but the potential involvement of the entire extended family in discussions about his relationship (and if the illness was serious enough for him to fly back for, I'd imagine family gatherings might be on the cards too). It's not about being ashamed it's about fending off Great Aunt Philomena and her 130 questions (and yes, potential religious ramblings there)

I'm from a medium sized, semi complex Irish family - and there are still some things about DH that they don't know not least that we had a civil ceremony a full year before our church wedding nothing to do with being ashamed, just not wanting to get into all the discussions & opinions grin

Mimishimi Mon 27-May-13 02:59:06

It's only been three months. If you had got engaged, it would be fair to expect him to tell them.

sashh Mon 27-May-13 02:49:32

I've had entire relationships my parents have no knowledge of because they would disapprove.

It's just not worth the hassle, particularly if you don't know how long the relationship is going to be.

WineAndSunMakesMeHappy Mon 27-May-13 00:29:54

SolidGoldBrass- you speak much sense!

And like I said, I haven't even mentioned it, and feel a bit sily feeling this way.

I certainly won't be mentioning it whilst he isis in Ireland.
If it comes up once he's home, I may ask in seriousness why he didn't mention it, but equally, I may have forgotten about it by the time I see him.......grin

SolidGoldBrass Mon 27-May-13 00:25:03

Try to suck it up. He -and his family - have a lot on at the moment and you have only been seeing him for a few months, so it's understandable that he is not going to prioritise your relationship over family feelings when there is a serious crisis going on.

You do actually sound sensible and nice, and I'm sure things will work out fine for you and him - but one way to screw it up would be to throw a big hissy fit about 'I'm your partner, me me meeeeee, tell them you LOVE ME' when they are all fretting about this sick relative and you're still at the dating stage rather than CommittedLife Partners.

BlissfullyIgnorant Mon 27-May-13 00:22:49

At least he's being honest and up front with YOU. Be thankful for small mercies.

WineAndSunMakesMeHappy Sun 26-May-13 23:24:06

I haven't mentioned it, no.

Was going too, but he sounded really down on the phone so left it. Glad I did now.

I may bring it up when he is back if it's still bothering me, but will see.

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