TELL ME ABOUT IT

The Arizona Republic - - SUNDAY A&E - – Not My Name any­one

Dear Carolyn: I am a white athe­ist (raised Catholic), long-term dat­ing a Pak­istani Amer­i­can ag­nos­tic (raised Mus­lim). In gen­eral, there is cul­tural pres­sure for Pak­istani peo­ple to marry other Pak­ista­nis, or at least within the faith, with no Amer­i­can-style dat­ing al­lowed. From the start I told my man I’d be happy to date him as long as our re­la­tion­ship would be 100 per­cent out in the open. He promised he’d pro­claim his love from the rooftops, so I was all in.

His sib­lings and par­ents – who have be­come rel­a­tively lib­eral over the 40 years they’ve been in the U.S. – have wel­comed me into their homes, even to re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tions, with open arms.

I was shocked, then, when my boyfriend ca­su­ally told me about meet­ing a mem­ber of his mother’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity. He laughed about how he told the woman he was mov­ing in with a “room­mate” and his mother hap­pily thanked him for the ob­fus­ca­tion.

My boyfriend in­tended this as a light­hearted anec­dote and did not un­der­stand why I was hurt. I am still very up­set. I care for his fam­ily, but their de­ci­sion about hid­ing me in pub­lic is hurt­ful. I just don’t know what to do.

How about not be­ing hurt?

An­noyed, sure. Or an­gry, or dis­gusted – but not hurt. Be­cause this is not per­sonal. If this fam­ily were hid­ing you, just you, then it would be. But every­thing you say here sug­gests they’d down­play he was dat­ing who wasn’t from their cul­ture.

You do need to sort out whether this is a mis­un­der­stand­ing, a pri­vacy-vs.-se­crecy quib­ble, or proof of an ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ence in your def­i­ni­tions of rooftops. And whether it will reconcile it­self if you marry.

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