Hello all! :)
Well I just joined this group, so I figured I'd post to share my story so far.
Anyway, I am a 19 year old Methodist (Christian) college student, and currently, my boyfriend is a practicing Muslim graduate from Iraq. He came to the United States to study in 2010. We actually met in a pretty miraculous way, meaning, by completely random incidences. At my university, there's this conversation partner program that lets native English speakers pair up with international students to help them practice their English.
And that is exactly how I met him!
Our first meeting was so nice! It wasn't awkward or forced. It was actually very natural and we had a lot to talk about (mostly because I've never met ANYONE from Iraq before in my life!) Truthfully, when he contacted me and wanted to meet for the first time, I was extremely nervous. But once we met it was very easy and enjoyable. We kept meeting so he could practice English with me more, and before I knew it, he was messaging me on facebook practically confessing his new-found feelings for me. It came to a complete surprise to me! I was extremely unsure of this at first, since we still only knew each other for a little over a month. After some convincing, I decided to give him a chance.
I have to admit it was a little awkward at first, as I had never been in a relationship before, so I didn't really know what to expect or what he expected of me, but we somehow made it work and it's been a little over a year we've been together. Still it's going strong. Yay!
Now, onto some issues. I have been completely supporting and respectful to his religion. And he's been respecting that I'm a Christian, so we have no issues with that. I enjoy it whenever he talks about his religion because it's just so interesting to me. Although he's never asked me to convert at all, which I'm grateful for. The REAL issue has to do with my grandparents, or more specifically my grandmother. First I'd like to say that my own mother is COMPLETELY supportive of us. She has no issue with the fact that my boyfriend's Muslim and likes him a lot. My grandparents are a whole other story, however.
When I first told my grandparents that my conversation partner was from Iraq, they were instantly concerned and uneasy. I told my grandma she was being ridiculous when she told me he might be a spy (I mean, really? Are you freaking kidding me?!), but she was still concerned every time I tried to bring him up in conversation. I finally decided to stop talking about him in her presence altogether. However, it only got worse from there. She keeps bringing up how she disapproves anytime she gets. She says things like, "Why couldn't you have chosen an American man?" or "Those Middle Eastern men only want to marry women to take back to their country". The ignorance and intolerance in her was strong and irritating. So I finally decided that to help, I would invite him to Thanksgiving. The day actually turned out all right for the most part. My grandpa instantly started conversation with him. My grandpa, even though he has his prejudices as well, is more tolerant than my grandmother because he's worked with and trained Muslim Egyptians in his work before (and often took them to mosque too). He's also a very friendly man.
Well, while I was in the kitchen cooking with my grandma, she started again. She kept asking when he was going to convert to Christianity, and when I told her he wasn't going to, she just told me, "Oh, he's a lost cause then.." All I could say was, "Please, don't start that again." She wouldn't stop and finally said something that I was so shocked to hear from her. She said, "Those Muslims are evil, they kill their own people!" A little enraged, I shot back by saying, "No, the Muslim extremists are what you would call 'evil'!" I just couldn't believe she said something so hateful and used generalizations.
After that incident, we had Thanksgiving dinner and nothing else was brought up, but now me and my boyfriend are both back up in university and I still feel that my grandmother does not approve. She sometimes quotes at me this passage in the Bible about how Christians aren't supposed to mingle with non-believers, and it's really troubling for me. I'm just fearing that, later on along the road, she'll end up like, disowning me. So far, we've been ignoring my grandmother's disapproval and just living, but sometimes that's a hard thing to do.
There you have it. Sorry if I was rambling a bit. Our plans right now aren't anything too huge. He still has one more year to finish before he goes back to Iraq, and I'm still only in my sophomore year at uni. Oh, and I guess i should add that his parents (who don't speak ANY English) seem to like me a lot! So that's good~
Anyway, nice to meet you all! :)