I just joined the forum here to hopefully discuss a little problem I am having, as I don't know who I could ever discuss this with in real life! Also it would help me a lot to just be able to vent. I grew up in a non-religious household and, even as a child, hold a strong aversion to religion. I don't care what other people do or believe (other than my boyfriend, which I'll get to), but it's not for me. At this point in time, I would consider myself more agnostic than atheist, but I am still figuring that out.
I've been in a relationship with a "Muslim" guy for about three years now and we live together. I say "Muslim" because that is what he calls himself and what his family has defined him as since birth, however, his actual beliefs fall in line with mine - he doesn't accept many, if any, theories of religion when it comes to god, afterlife, birth of the universe, etc. He also does not pray. He still calls himself a Muslim, however. I have a feeling he's never stepped away mostly to not be a black sheep of his family and to respect them, but also because he's probably never really given it much thought. The rest of his family are observant Muslims (other than one sibling who is probably the same as my bf, but likes to do what mama says), but very liberal and do not have absurd views on things like premarital sex or premarital cohabiting (except for his mom, who does not like that we live together or have sex before marriage). None of their religious observance affect my life much at all. And for what it's worth, everyone is aware of my lack of religious beliefs and, as far as I know, no one cares.
My problem with my bf being a "Muslim" is that the two components of Islam he does observe are not eating pork and fasting during Ramadan. These things bother me. They only mildly affect my life, but they still bother me. I have asked what his reasons are for complying with these things are and he tells me that he does it for his own self control and discipline. He claims he doesn't do it because it is what Islam commands or to please god or anything like that. He doesn't believe that pork is filthy, in fact, he always says it must be delicious and encourages me to eat it (having eaten pork my whole life and never thought twice about it, he was actually the one who made me appreciate it much more!). But because he was brainwashed his whole life to stay away from it, he still does (except for a short period of time where he decided to eat sausages, but then stopped because I guess he felt too guilty about it). I am mostly okay with his reasons for this stuff. They are commendable and respectable reasons I guess (what would not be respectable to me is if he told me he was fasting for god, which I told him would be difficult for me to accept).
The fasting and not eating pork probably bothers me because other Muslims take it so seriously. And his family thinks he actually believes and follows Islam because he does this stuff. I feel bad for my poor man who loves food so much and can't experience the pleasures of pork because his family have embedded this taboo of pork and guilt within him if he does. Although I may question him, I have never asked him to stop/change and I support him as best I can.
Anyway, the reason I write this is because every Ramadan is like agony for me for a month while I ponder over my love's actions and beliefs. I don't want to seem too intolerant, so I try not to say much about any of it, though he knew from year one that I was uncomfortable with it (but probably didn't realize the extent of my discomfort). I mostly knew his reasons (the self control stuff), but every year it comes around again and I start worrying that he's more religious than I thought. The other day I finally made my discomfort known and he confirmed completely to me his beliefs on god, etc, and his reasons for fasting. I'm much more okay with everything now knowing his real beliefs on this stuff. However, he was a bit sensitive that I was so bothered by this stuff and early in the conversation said something along the lines that I should support him and not try to change him. I agree with this. I know he is sensitive because he's grown up with religion (it's not disturbing to him like it is to me) and because of that, Islam is part of his identity, and he likely started feeling attacked. However, on further thought, I feel like it should be more of a two-way street; that he should acknowledge my discomfort and try to make me feel better about it. Not just that it should only be me accepting his actions....shouldn't he accept my feelings on it? (sounds kinda bad to be like, please be more accepting that I really dislike your family's religion and the stuff you've been indoctrined with from birth. (which I would never actually say))
Or am I being completely intolerant? Is it ridiculous to say that someone should be more accepting of my discomfort? Probably. Is this barely even a problem and I should shut up? Would love some input so I can decide if I should talk to him about this or not.
Thanks and sorry this turned out extremely long.
Thank you so much for your words, Melinda! I appreciate it.