So some background: I (21 female) and my bf (23 male), I’ll refer to him as Z, have been dating for a little over a year now. Z was born in Pakistan but moved to America when he was 6. His family is very very religious, however he doesn’t really consider himself to be religious (I’d say we’re both agnostic), but his family doesn’t know this. They also don’t know that he has a girlfriend, and they want him to have an arranged marriage.
We both recently graduated from college and so our relationship has been getting more serious. My family is very open and he’s been a part of it pretty much since we first started dating. He hangs out with my dad a lot (they both play video games together) and he visits my grandma with me all the time. He stays at my house on a regular basis. But his mom wants him home all the time, and I think her expectations for his future are that he’ll stay there with her indefinitely. Z’s dad died when he was still in Pakistan so his mom and grandma I think expect him to be their caretaker. I want to be a part of their family but Z thinks they will essentially disown him if they find out he’s 1) no longer with their faith and 2) dating an American without their permission… I’m worried that if I meet them they will forever think of me as the person who took their son away, that I’m the one who shook his faith (I’m not btw, he had already decided Islam wasn’t for him when we met), and that Z won’t be able to be part of his own family because of it. He has an uncle that had the same thing happen, where he started dating an American and his family cut him off completely, so the concern isn’t unfounded.
I don’t want that to happen though, and I want his family to be part of our life. I want them to understand that I’m open to exploring and understanding their culture, but I don’t know the first thing about Islam and I don’t know where to start. Me and Z want to start a family of our own someday, and I’d love for his mom and grandma to be a part of our kids lives. I also don’t want them to think that just because Z moves out that we’d be abandoning them. We’ve talked about how I should be introduced to them, but I feel like I don’t know anything about their culture and I’m looking for advice on how to go about it and maybe some different perspectives on how Z’s family might interpret the situation. His grandma only speaks Urdu, so I’ve thought about learning some Urdu myself before I met them so I can talk to her. I’ve also thought about learning some dishes to cook, since I’m not very well versed in the kitchen and I know that’s a valuable asset when they look for a wife for Z. I don’t know what dishes are part of their cuisine, so if there’s any recommendations for what to learn to cook I’d appreciate that too! I don’t know if I should dress a certain way either. Really I’m looking to get any advice you have to offer or pieces of Islam culture I should know about or look into before I meet Z’s family. I don’t think they will be happy to meet me either way, but if there’s anything I can do to make them feel more comfortable with the situation I want to do it! I want them to see me as someone who’s trying to join their family and understand their culture, not someone who’s trying to take their son away…
TLDR: My boyfriend’s family is very religious and they don’t know he has a girlfriend. He wants me to meet them soon and I’m trying to get some advice and insight so that they may be more likely to welcome me as part of the family, despite not being religious myself.
Thank you everyone!