Dear Dr. Frankie, My Partner and I Have Different Religions
Dr. Frankie Bashan
Photo: Cheryl Mazak
Dear Dr. Frankie,
My partner and I have been together for two years now. She is wonderful and we are compatible in every way but one and unfortunately it’s a big one. I was raised as an Orthodox Jew and she was raised as a devout Baptist. Although I don’t go to synagogue as often as I should, I’m deeply attached to my culture and feel strongly that my (future) children be raised Jewish. My partner goes to church on Sunday and is very close to her religion. We both want kids and she wants to raise her child as a Baptist. Aside from this very important but difficult issue of religion we are great together. Can we overcome this? I’m feeling more and more anxiety about it as time goes on.
Dear Hoping to avoid a schism,
It sounds as if your relationship would sustain if children were not involved. Unfortunately, since you both feel strongly about having children and raising them in your own faiths, I predict very troubled waters ahead. When people have kids, they often become more religious regardless of their faith. Often this is driven by the desire to carry on family traditions and instill important beliefs in their children.
Many people also find themselves wanting to replicate their own childhood memories for their kids. How many people have you seen go Christmas tree-less every year until they had children. The baby shows up and all of a sudden there are stockings hanging from the mantle, Christmas tunes playing in the car, and an LED Santa Claus in the front yard.
If, out of the desire to keep an otherwise happy relationship going, you or your partner find yourself saying you’d willingly raise your child in the other’s religion, be very cautious. Regardless of you or your partner’s best intentions, you can’t predict the future. People and priorities change once children are involved. Only after the child is born might you or your partner realize how connected you are to your culture and religion.
Additionally there will be the extended family and their traditions to contend with.
The best chance for success is to either forsake your dream of having children, or find a non-denominational LGBT-friendly sanctuary. It would require both of you to forgo your own traditions and culture in exchange for creating an interfaith family and having a place to worship. One of the most wonderful things about starting your own family is deciding what traditions you value most and how you want to present them to your children. Another option would be to compromise and practice both religions. This might mean they light a menorah and also get to put presents under the tree. Traditions or beliefs viewed by the other as “extreme” would have to be forgotten.
I commend you for asking the tough question before you jump into parenthood. Best of luck to you.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
My girlfriend and I have been together for two years. Last year she dropped a bombshell and decided to go abroad and study for her Master's degree overseas. She basically did what she wanted without taking my feelings into consideration. Last week she called and said she wants the freedom to sleep with other women even though she doesn't want to have a relationship with them. Honestly, I hate this idea and it makes me distrust whatever she is doing over there. I feel like I'm stuck in a bad situation where if I say no she'll just do whatever she wants or else not do it and resent me, but if I say yes I'm agreeing to something I don't want and is against my morals.
Dear Feeling Compromised,
If you are really invested and committed to staying in the relationship, discuss the possible parameters of opening up the relationship. This will allow you to lay some ground rules that might make the situation more tolerable for you, as well as give you some feeling of control. As I am sure you know, this arrangement will not work for everyone regardless of how well crafted the rules may be. It sounds like you might be one of those people.
Unfortunately if you decide to try this out and find out it's not for you, then you might find that it's in your best interest to end the relationship so you both have the freedom to get your needs met. When she comes back from her studies you can always try to pick things up where you left off if it feels right.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
I’m a 28-year-old woman and I find myself constantly thinking about sex and masturbating. My last two relationships ended because my girlfriends just couldn’t keep up with me sexually. I’m so desperate I’m trolling the craigslist casual sex listings. I’m disgusted and ashamed of my behavior. Am I a sex addict? How can I find relief?
What you’re describing appears to meet the diagnosis of a sex addict. A sexual addiction is a term used to describe someone with an abnormally high libido and/or someone who is consumed with thoughts of sex. A sex addict often finds that their addiction bleeds over into areas of his/her life, making it difficult to engage in healthy friendships and relationships. A sex addict, like any other addict, often tries to rationalize his/her behavior and has distorted thinking.
Aside from the shame and relationship problems that can arise as a result of a sexual addiction, sex addicts often engage in unhealthy risk-taking. He or she may find themselves taking risks that are imminently dangerous or dangerous to their long-term health (ie: sexually transmitted diseases).
An extreme manifestation of a sexual addiction is participation in illicit sexual behavior. This can be peeping, exhibitionism, and even as extreme as molestation and rape. I do not mean in any way to imply that all sexual addicts engage in this behavior, but in rare and extreme cases this is a possibility.
A sexual addiction is treated like any other addiction. Look online for local treatment groups such as Sexaholics Anonymous (sa.org), Sex Addicts Anonymous (sexaa.org) and Sex and Love Addicts Anoymous (slaafws.org). There are also therapists who specialize in sexual addictions. A healthy level of distraction will help get you through your day. Coping strategies include regular, vigorous physical exercise, spending time with friends, and other activities that you enjoy that engage you mentally and physically. In certain cases medication may be prescribed.
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