Norlinda's letter on If you love your partner, you'll convert was an interesting read. I wish to share with her some of my thoughts.
When I fell in love with a girl of a different race, culture and religion, I was half-prepared for what was to come. As they say, love is blind, we did not realise what a storm it would create. Somehow, the two of us managed to sit down and discuss a number of issues that newly-married have to face and in addition to the problems that may arise in a cross-cultural/religious setting, particularly how we are to accommodate our different views on our beliefs and how we handle our children.
I was a staunch Hindu then and she was a staunch Christian, who had never even stepped into a temple. Those who knew us sighed "Oh my god". She comes from quite an affluent family whereas I come from quite a humble background. Our love for each other won the day.
We are now married for 23 years with three wonderful children. I have moved on from being a Hindu to being a free-thinker but my wife is still very much a Christian. I always support her and have been supportive of what she observes as part of her faith. When I was still a Hindu, my wife followed me to temples to pray and after I moved on, she acknowledges and understands that I have my own convictions.
In all these 23 years, we had, like other average families, our share of 'tug-of wars' but believe me, we never had a single misunderstanding on religion in all these years. We have taught our children what we can call as 'universal values' but they do follow their mother whenever she goes to church but we have left the choice of what they wish to follow to them. We never allowed my parents or her parents to 'dictate' which faith my children should follow. We do not have any problem of indiscipline, and I would say my wife and I are very proud parents.
They like the spicy curry my wife prepares and also love seafood. We are happy that they have the best of both worlds. Despite the objections from my parents and despite the restrictions her church has placed on her for marrying a non-Christian, she wants to be buried as a Christian when she leaves this mortal earth, and she knows from the bottom of her heart that I will honour her wish.
Most of the time we blame our leaders and everyone else for our racial and religious problems but if we take a cursory look, the problems are parents themselves.
Coming to the argument that "if you love your partner, you'll convert", I think it should be that if you love your partner, you should honestly and sincerely respect and acknowledge his or her right to the belief he or she is entitled and support that premise. What kind of respect and love would it be when one partner expects, or allows, the other to convert instead of accepting the person as he/ she is?
Both my wife and I stand tall and proud that, despite our different backgrounds, we have proved that love means respect, love means accepting the person as he/she is, and love means 'LOVE'. While you do agree that "Malaysians will always be of different people and cultures. Don't try to make it boring by eliminating our rich culture", Norlinda's conversion proposition seems to fly in the opposite direction.
Yes, I agree with you, mixed marriages, or any other marriage for that matter, should be left to individuals for them to decide. Love and problems in marriages exist in all circumstances, be they mixed marriages or not. It takes a lot of patience and understanding to build a 'family'.