Posted by: Jane M | November 27, 2012

Are you in a relationship or married to a partner who has different beliefs to Yours?

Forbidden fruit is, of course, one allure of interfaith romances and people try to minimize the differences when they’re in love.

The Challenges

Interfaith relationship or marriages may invite stress if a couples backgrounds are very different. Sorting out such issues isn’t easy but necessary for the relationship to work.

Interfaith relationship or marriages becomes worse when one partner has to perform rituals that the other partner considers as “not the norm” or when children are involved.

A pastor said “if children are involved, tensions arise when deciding which religion to follow. So parents should rather decide that their children will follow both religions and let them decide when they are old enough and in a better position to make an informed choice about their future”. However this can confuse the children as they may only end up observing the most superficial elements of the individual religion, failing to grasp the true sense of either of their parent’s religions.

This tension is then compounded tenfold when deciding which religious holidays are important and which holidays are less important.

Ways to overcome these Challenges

There is a huge number of interfaith marriages break down because of couples failing to handle their differences with dignity and couples judging there partner’s faith without knowing what it is all about. Open communication and a better understanding of your partner’s faith is fundamental for a successful relationship or marriages.

Here are some ideas for understanding these differences and helping interfaith relationships work:

Face the issues – stopdenying that differences actually exist. Face these issues head-on and Now is the best time to talk. Avoidance won’t help the conflict go away.

Clarify your cultural code – When thinking about your culture, consider: What is normal in my family and what are my expectations for the relationship and a prospective family? Then, talk about these cultural differences as a couple.

Clarify your identity – Individuals who have a vague sense of their religious identity “may push their partners to be something they can’t be, e.g. a non-Jewish partner can’t become “culturally Jewish.”

Practice “unconditional experimentation” – you might attend church or synagogue with your partner. This doesn’t mean that you’re making any promises (converting), but it does show that you take your relationship seriously and are willing to learn more about what’s important to your partner.

View therapy as preventative – Couples typically wait until their relationship has significantly suffered before seeking counselling. If you have interfaith relationships problems that you and your partner can’t get beyond, seek help sooner.


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