Is it Possible to Make an Interfaith Relationship Work?


When you meet a person who doesn’t believe in God or belongs to a religion different from yours, it’s sometimes tricky to build a lasting union of hearts. That’s why the most important task in interreligious relationships is to discover the principles that will guide you through every stage of family life with a person who doesn’t share your beliefs. If it turns out your special someone isn’t a fellow believer, check out the following tips to put your relationship on the right track and even benefit from polar views on religion.

what is interfaith marriage

How common are interfaith relationships?

The world is a multicultural place. People of different nationalities, ethnic groups, and religions work and live together; they interact, form connections, and find love outside their cultural ‘comfort zone,’ encouraging the trend for interfaith marriages around the globe. But what is interfaith marriage, anyway? It’s a marriage of people manifesting different religions. The range of the term is wide, from slightly contrasting directions within Christianity itself to completely unalike religions, like marriages between Orthodox Christian men and Jewish women.

Interfaith marriages happen more and more often. For instance, in the US alone, around 40% of couples married since 2010 belong to different religions. The number keeps growing due to more liberal views on traditional rules in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. How does this happen? Usually, people don’t bother asking what religion they belong to (if they do) when they meet. This question comes later when both partners are already too close to each other to let the differences ruin the relationship. It’s great when one of the partners isn’t very observant and sees no problem supporting the other’s beliefs. But sometimes both spouses develop ‘religious patriotism’ and the desire and convert each other, which results in conflicts.

And what does the Bible say about interfaith marriage? According to it, such unions make little sense in terms of Christianity, since marriage is an example of how Christ is married to the Church. However, it never directly forbids interfaith marriage and even somewhat encourages it as long as the unbelieving partner is happy in it.

Main interfaith marriage problems

Varying cultures, worldviews, daily routine, traditions, even cuisine – people belonging to different religions can face a plethora of problems, as they’ll have to put up with each other's habits. Weaker unions can fall apart under their weight. Unfortunately, some problems are nearly impossible to avoid. Here are the main ones.

General differencesinterfaith relationship advice

In most religions, especially Christianity, the institution of the family is defined as the complete unity of two souls, in which a person becomes closer to God. What kind of unity can partners achieve in an interfaith relationship when some of their values don’t coincide? This already creates a paradox that will never be resolved unless both spouses choose to profess the same religion. On the other hand, if the spiritual aspects of marriage aren’t so important to partners, this problem will hardly show itself.

Different traditions and rituals

The contrast between many religious rituals behind weddings, funerals, major religious holidays, fasts, and just everyday life can be too great, making a life together difficult and even impossible. If the spouses aren’t ready to share their rituals under one roof, the only acceptable way out for them is to take turns giving in to each other on some occasions. Luckily, most women dating sites nowadays allow for filtering potential partners by religion, ensuring maximum compatibility.

Cultural background

For the majority of people belonging to a certain religion, those who don’t share their beliefs seem to be not only alien in terms of culture, education, upbringing, and everyday life but also representatives of another ethnos, who pose a threat to the foundations of their society. This means that spouses may have to form a new, common circle of friends who will treat both partners equally, despite the difference in religions. Otherwise, they’ll have to learn how to find a common language with each other’s circles.

The problem of upbringing

What happens when interfaith couples have children? How to bring them up? Try and invent some sort of a hybrid of two opposing religions? Or just follow the principle ‘the first is mine, and the second is yours’ and evenly divide responsibilities between both parents? It may seem logical for the kids to take the difference in their parents’ views into account and advise them to come to terms with each other before allowing them to impose a particular religion. But more often than not, no one asks the children; besides, they’re too young to know better. This is one of the most conflicting areas of interfaith marriage, and it takes immense effort to reach an agreement here.

The personality aspect

One of the key problems and reasons for squabbles in interreligious dating is arguments over whose religion is better. This creates a solid basis for a conflict within the family. Both sides try as hard as they can to present their beliefs from a position of strength. The state of the interfaith relationship depends not only on the ideology of different confessions but mostly on the intentions and mood of the partners and their families, as well as on the level of trust in the relationship and willingness to compromise, the ability to accept the partner's right to choose without aggression and arrogance, and the ability to coexist peacefully.

Family disagreements

Discord based on religion in an interfaith family can become a factor aggravating the problems of different generations, relations between fathers and children, mother-in-law with son-in-law or daughter-in-law and not only because of religion. For example, a lot of Muslim families live in clans. Close relations between relatives are valuable for them, so one needs to understand that they marry not only the partner but also their mother, father, sisters, and brothers, as well as a bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins. So if you’re an introvert, you’ll probably struggle to accept that. These people are used to visiting each other without an invitation or even warning, any day and any time. If you want harmony with a Muslim spouse, play nice and smile to everyone.

How to make interfaith marriages work? Is it possible?

Of course, one can’t admit that interfaith families usually face more challenges than couples that have never had to deal with religion in their relationships. But this doesn’t keep such families from achieving harmony through support and patience. The tips below will help you avoid conflicts and lay the foundation for a lasting union.

1. Respect your partner’s faith

The first and most important piece of interfaith relationship advice is respect. You can’t live with someone whose religious beliefs you don’t respect, even if your kids won’t inherit them. You don't have to go to church with your partner, but you must respect their choices. And don’t forget that, according to psychologists, the strength of a relationship is influenced primarily by psychological compatibility, the willingness to make concessions, always stay by the loved one’s side in joy or sorrow, help, and support, as well as such traits as mutual respect, affection, passion, love, loyalty, and sincerity towards each other.

2. Be prepared that your families may not accept your choice at first

Regardless of religious views, the most common reasons why interreligious marriages fail are pressure from parents and the inability to understand that people have completely different outlooks on life, being raised in different conditions. If your family is religious and has a big impact on your life, be prepared for your parents to feel worried. Negativity from the family can be hard to manage, and you must understand what you and your partner are going for. But still, don’t let conflicts into the relationship because they can easily destroy it.

3. Be open to new knowledgeinterfaith dating sites

The fact that you profess one religion doesn’t mean you should never leave its boundaries. You must be open to other knowledge as well to make sure your worldview is complete. No one says that you need to start studying hundreds of books right now – just be ready to always learn something new. Interfaith dating often reminds us that, in many religions, God and love are synonymous concepts. That the majority of modern religions are aimed not at limiting but harmonizing a person, achieving balance with yourself and the world around you.

4. Learn to accept the opposite view

Many religions have similar postulates, but they also have many aspects that pole apart. Feel free to ask your significant other about them, and you’ll discover a lot and learn tolerance and patience because these are some of the secrets of a long-lasting marriage. There are also various sources to learn more, from books to blogs on interfaith dating sites. All you need is to look for them.

5. Don’t let your loved ones put pressure on you

Just because you want to know a little more about your significant other's religion doesn’t mean that you have to fully embrace their religion. You can profess any faith you want and have different opinions on one matter or another. The main thing is to learn to respect each other's views, not try to impose them, and support your loved one in everything. You might have to explain this to your parents.

6. Try to understand your partner’s faith

Instead of dwelling on your loved one’s opposing beliefs, try to benefit from them by gaining more knowledge of it. Focus on finding out all the nuances because you might have to raise kids together in the future, and it would be a good idea to discuss how you’re going to do this. This is the only way to find a common ground. After all, if you have real feelings for each other, you should fight to maintain the relationship no matter what.

7. Learn to enjoy your relationship

A healthy union of hearts should be cheerful and fun, regardless of your interfaith differences. And you’ve already done a great job staying together despite your beliefs. The relationship isn’t about arguments – first of all, it’s about the love of two people.

Sum up

Now that you understand that religion isn’t an obstacle for two loving hearts, leave your doubts behind and explore new relationship opportunities! If your faith is very important to you, then never abandon it for the sake of the relationship – there’s always a way to compromise. All these tips above should prepare you for painstaking work towards happiness. It won’t be a walk in a park, and you’ll constantly need to adjust to each other, but if you work on the relationship together, harmony will come shortly.

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