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He Says He Can't Marry Her Because She's Not Jewish. Is It Over? - Relationship Advice

Updated on February 17, 2012

Dear Veronica,

I wonder what your thoughts are on interfaith dating. My boyfriend is Jewish. We’ve been together for 4 years and I am ready for marriage. We’re both in our mid 40’s. I would not have got involved like this if I didn’t think it was going to lead to marriage. I didn’t know this interfaith thing would be an issue. In the 4 years I’ve known him he has said on numerous occasions that he’s agnostic. He doesn’t believe in any afterlife or in heaven or hell. He talks about how we make our own destiny and that there’s no God. He has gone so far as to make fun of people that are part of a synagogue or congregation or whatever. I knew he was from a Jewish family but since he has never done anything to practice his religion I had no idea it was a problem. He eats ham and cheese sandwiches and doesn’t even know what traditions are in his faith. I know more about them than he does just from friends and workmates. We have visited his parents who live in Florida twice. Even around them he was not acting in any way spiritual.

Veronica I feel a little stupid. I had no idea that our spiritual difference would ever be an issue. Other than his spirituality we get along just fine. Recently I asked him straight out about this whole religion situation. Let me back up. Here’s what happened. We live together in Connecticut but he kept his old apartment in Manhattan for nights he doesn’t want to commute home. What happened was, he was at a billiards afternoon with our friends/neighbors in CT. I was going to just spend the day at home but I decided after he left to go into the city with a girlfriend to shop. He didn’t know I was going to the city, but when he called my cell after his day was over and he got back home he asked where I was. I told him my friend and I were at Bloomingdales. In a very sweet and concerned way he said, you know there’s a snow warning for tonight and he was concerned for our safety. Once we found out about the weather warning we got nervous and said we didn’t want to drive home. He then said well in that case maybe we should think about spending the night in the city. He offered the apartment. I said I don’t have a key and he said the neighbor does to just knock on the door. We got there and the neighbor, an old Jewish lady, let us into the apartment. She was nice enough even though we certainly surprised her, but she made a few comments about how she had no idea I wasn’t Jewish. The comments bothered me that she’d even say something like that. She kept staring at me when we went into the apartment. I said what difference does it make that I’m not Jewish and she laughed and said oh it makes a big difference.

When we got home the next day I told him what happened. I asked him straight out if it mattered. He said it doesn’t matter. At first I thought, Okay that’s what I thought. But why did she make that big deal? So I asked him straight out would we ever be married and he said no, he can’t marry me because I’m not Jewish.

I was floored! I had no idea he felt this way! I was mad he never told me this in 4 years. I have read your hubs and realize now I should not have moved in with him without being sure we wanted the same future. I can’t go back now and fix those mistakes. I am sure I want to get married. Living together isn’t enough. Can you give me advice on going forward? His spirituality is the only problem. I feel like this is over. Is it?

Veronica help me. What should I do?


Dear LemonNever2,

There are real issues you have to worry about when choosing a lifemate. You have to figure out if they’re as into you as you are into them. You have to talk about what kind of relationship you each want to have for yourselves. You have to decide if you’re both on the same page as far as timing. Plus you have to consider the other realistic life options that will make or break your success together. Issues like how you both feel about having children and how you both feel about monogamy are definite dealbreakers if you can’t agree.

I’m not convinced that you’re right when you say his “spirituality” is the only problem. But let’s look at that first.

If your boyfriend was very passionate about his religious beliefs then of course I would respect and support his wanting to find a lifemate who shares that passion. If his religion was something he talked about, positively, understood, expressed, and celebrated, then it would make perfect sense if he said he wanted to be able to have it in common with a life mate. I would respect him as a man for his self-awareness and honesty. I would respect him as a spiritual being to have such devotion and faith.

But that’s not the case here.

So be very clear with yourself even if he isn’t being clear, that the issue has nothing to do with his believing in Judaism. And stop calling that his spirituality. There’s nothing spiritual about it.

I have a very low tolerance for inbreeding mentalities. Take a moment to make sure you understand the difference. It’s sad and difficult when 2 people can’t make a life together because of realistic, honest, applicable life-sharing issues. But being told your love won’t marry you because of some notion that your skin isn’t the right color, your ancestors believed something contrary to his, your family is from the wrong country or continent, or something else equally as obnoxious? Well that’s just plain ignorant.

Prejudice works in both directions. It doesn’t just mean that the inflicted sees other peoples as less than they are; it also means that they see themselves as better. No one is better than anyone else, LemonNever2. No one is less and no one is better. Since it is clear that he isn’t a spiritual or religious person, if that sentence stands as truth that he won’t marry you because your ancestors weren’t Jews, then he’s a jerk. And besides, you don’t really want to spend your life with a person that can’t think for himself, do you?

Here’s the thing though. Ask yourself, is he a jerk? Or did he just come up with a seemingly foolproof excuse not to marry you? That’s an entirely different thing. If he was single and Aisha Tyler or Jessica Beil proposed to him, would his answer be the same? (I just picked two ladies I think are beautiful. It's just to demonstrate a point. You know what I mean.)

I have to admit the whole story of how you wound up with no notice at his apartment with his approval, is a very good sign. To be honest, I don’t get the feeling that he purposefully misled you, or that he’s up to anything. Reading between the lines here, it sounds like he’s enjoying his life with you.

I think you’re right when you say you should have handled things differently prior to spending 4 years together and moving in together. Assuming he’d one day marry you was an error. You should have been clear with your intentions and made sure his were the same, and specific to you. You’re right, you can’t do anything about that now, but I’m just saying that there was a situation created from all that which allowed him this opportunity to just go along and enjoy things.

You were thinking marriage, he wasn’t. That doesn’t make either of you wrong. But now that he’s told you he won’t marry you, dwelling on the honesty or sanity of the reason he provided is not going to help matters. After the venting and dissecting, what you’re looking at is “I don’t want to marry you,” whatever the reason.

You stated you want to get married and this living together thing isn’t enough. If that’s really how you feel, then yes it’s over. You should be with someone because of who they are, not who they can be if you can change them. If marriage is what you want, then it’s time to move on. Best to you.


Submit a Comment

  • jenniferg78 profile image


    6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

    santacruz I agree with you completely. It is not racism (or shouldn't be) but about traditions and values. The basis for a marriage is common goals - how you want to raise your children, celebrate holidays etc. A lot of these things are tied to religion and therefore, it is natural for people to look within there own religion when dating.

    Yes, this guy does not seem to care about any of that stuff. In this case it just seems to be an excuse. I feel really bad for the woman who was totally unprepared for this. It is totally his fault- all the times he was talking about being an agnostic etc he could have mentioned something about where he stood.

  • Sally's Trove profile image


    6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    I don't think there's anything prejudicial about these comments. People who are making them are speaking from their own, very personal experiences. That's the way life is, was, and will be. People will have differences and choose to reconcile them with each other, or not. I've made my reconciliation with myself about the Jewish men in my life, and their mothers. Love does not conquer all.

  • JeniferD profile image


    6 years ago from Sin City Nevada

    I disagree, SantaCruz. I have met too many Jewish folk who have this misguided conception that they are better than us Gentiles. So, if you're going to label any one race, or religion, as prejudiced? Look no further than the Jewish folk, because not only do many of them discriminate against the Gentiles, they're pretty adept at discriminating against each other as well. Bernie Madoff was a prime example.

  • SantaCruz profile image


    6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

    Wow, these comments are taking a prejudicial turn. My high school of 1200 kids was 50% Jewish and I can tell you, there's as much variety there as anywhere in the population. Let's not extrapolate one guy's ridiculousness.

    Again, I think that people are misunderstanding some Jewish people's preference to not intermarry. If you're just mixing two "races", for example, then you're probably both still Christian if you're in the US. You can carry on your ancestors' religious traditions. If you're Jewish, on the other hand, you risk losing all of that if your spouse is committed to a church. It isn't so easy to mix traditions when they fundamentally contradict each other (Jesus is the savior/Jesus was just a cool guy). This really isn't comparable to WWII and Nazi extermination of people who are different. It's about taking care to preserve a culture that has been so threatened by the outside world.

    Does this make sense to anyone?


  • JeniferD profile image


    6 years ago from Sin City Nevada

    What a great formula for dying alone and childless.

    You know who else is going to die alone, with a little black book full of hookers? DANIEL RADCLIFFE! BTW, he's half Jewish and you just know his mom put it in his head that his money is the only reason any woman would marry him. His father is Protestant, and I bet Dan's mom nags him to death. Yikes, what a union.

  • Sally's Trove profile image


    6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    Yes, it is over, in his mother's mind as well as in his own (most likely he doesn't know his own mind). LemonNever2 is a shiksa, a non-Jewish girl who is an abomination in the eyes of his mother. I wonder how old LemonNever2 and her boyfriend are?

    I've had plenty of experience growing up in a Jewish community being a Polish Catholic girl. I had lots of Jewish boy admirers who had an interest in me (we were kids then) whose mothers stalked my mother, called us on our home phone, calling us trash. That's a bitter personal note, but it's what happened.

    The thing is, what happened to me was a long time ago, in the late 50s and early 60s, not far removed from the holocaust which my Jewish boy friends' parents lived through (never mind that my Polish family lived through it as well, often protecting Jews because they could and chose to).

    That legacy of hurt remains. Add to it the belief that the messiah will be born only to a Jewish woman, and there's the formula for Jewish men courting shiksas but never marrying them.

    I would hope that the legacy of the WWII years would have found a place of peace and acceptance. But in your story of LemonNever2, clearly, it hasn't.

  • JeniferD profile image


    6 years ago from Sin City Nevada

    Men will use any excuse to bail on a girl to avoid telling her that their mother does not like her. Marriage these days is a crapshoot, and these hounds need to realize it. Finding a woman who can cook, sew, garden, talk cars, politics, firearms, Military jargon, and knows the latest sports teams is rare and damn the man who does not worship the ground those women walk on.

  • tenet profile image


    6 years ago from Harbin, Heilongjiang China

    This is a sad story. In my own opinion religion or any other things are really not an issue if both person really love each other. I think each one should accept the differences because each individual is unique.

  • SantaCruz profile image


    6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

    What a sad and frustrating situation! I agree with Veronica that religion probably isn't the issue. If it were, you would have heard about it LONG ago -- like by your second round of Hanukkah/Christmas celebrations.

    While I think Veronica is absolutely awesome :), I disagree with the characterization of someone as ignorant/akin to racist for wanting to have a Jewish marriage. It isn't about looking down on others or not wanting to mingle your genes. Rather, it's about the fear of losing your own traditions. This is a much bigger concern for minorities, and especially those whose recent ancestors have been so persecuted...

    So, given that, I would advise other people in this situation to see if tradition - not religion per se - is the issue, and if you can surprise your darling by helping to keep that tradition alive. But again, in this particular case the guy is being weird. I'm really sorry for your heartache :-(.


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