Friday, March 29, 2013

Religious Differences Putting The Kibosh On Marriage

Dear Tazi:

My husband is Jewish and I am not. I am not of any religious affiliation, and he knew this when we got married. I respect his religion and the dietary restrictions it places on him, but do not participate in any way, shape, or form. This is becoming a bone of contention in our marriage.

"Hershel" has been delving deeper into the study and practice of Judaism and has been pressuring me to join him in his studies. I have no interest in doing this, but he refuses to back down, saying that a wife should be obedient to her husband. I am assuming that he got this idea from his religious readings, because nowhere in our marriage vows was obedience promised!

With Passover coming up, Hershel has been pressuring me to follow the dietary guidelines of the observance, including the "eschewing of leavening agents" in my bread. Tazi, this is ridiculous! I am not even sure why Jews can't eat yeast, but I don't think it has anything to do with any modern need to avoid it!

I have just about had it with Hershel's obsessive behavior, and am giving serious consideration to my future with him. My friends tell me that I am overreacting, and that I should be more tolerant of my husband's beliefs. Some are even suggesting that I humor Hershel and go along with some of less onerous requests, like the observance of Passover. I need an unbiased opinion.

Not Observant

Dear Not Observant:

I am printing your letter during Passover, while there is still time for you to offer to compromise with your husband.

Your use of the word "ridiculous" to describe his dietary restrictions during this solemn time raises red flags for me. Many religious guidelines have no place in modern life, but recall a time when they were vital to survival. Through early religious history Jews were a wandering people, having been forced out of their own lands and then enslaved by others. Leavening agents take time to work; being on the run from the Egyptians that had enslaved them, the Jewish people did not have time to wait for their dough to rise before making bread. By recalling this time of their history the Jewish people are recalling the struggles that brought their ancestors to freedom. Personally, I find this tradition both beautiful and refreshing.

The fact that Hershel wants you to participate in his religious traditions speaks of how important you are to him, as well as how important his traditions are. Have you looked at it from this point of view? Since Hershel is only providing one side of the story when he states that wives must obey their husbands, I can see your reticence to explore his beliefs any further. You do not state whether or not you are an Atheist, or simply non-religious, so I am not sure how to advise you further. A compromise on this issue would be to explore Hershel's faith from an historical point of view, not a religious one. Religious history can make for a fascinating subject, and can help you understand how and why many traditions developed. Don't throw your marriage away over this one issue. Regardless of how large an issue it is, love and understanding can overcome it.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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