A better family life is something all couples strive for, but for some, it’s not always easy. Married Couples in a mixed-faith relationship or an interfaith marriage face unique family challenges. There are pressures on mixed-religion couples that normal married people who share the same faith do not experience in their families.
Some religions teach that they are the only true path to God and salvation, and some orthodox belief systems do not recognize interfaith marriages. Extended family dynamics, religious holiday celebrations, religious upbringing of children, and so on can also be difficult issues for interfaith couples to navigate. However, with mutual respect, open communication, and willingness to compromise, interfaith partnerships can be successful and couples can have a better family life.
How to Build a Strong Interfaith Relationship or Marriage.
The foundation of a successful mixed-religion partnership is respect for one another and commitment to the relationship or marriage. This bedrock will see the relationship between the other trying decisions and compromises that the interfaith couple will need to make.
Couples might consider interfaith counseling to facilitate discussion about some of the questions, concerns, and decisions that will arise in their relationship.
How an Interfaith Couple Can Deal with Family Pressures
Family pressure on an interfaith couple can be intense and can turn an interfaith marriage or relationship toxic. Many families express disappointment and even hostility when a family member chooses a partner of a different religion. Some family members may try to manipulate or bully a person into ending the relationship on religious grounds.
In other cases, the family may constantly interfere with the interfaith couple’s decisions regarding important matters like child raising, worship practices, and holiday celebrations.
It is important that interfaith couples be firm and resolute with family members who intervene in their relationship by telling them that relationship choices and compromises are matters for the couple to decide. In other words, it is especially critical for the interfaith couple to put their partnership first in their minds and hearts and to be clear with family members on their position to have a better family life.
How Mixed-Faith Couples Can Compromise on Religious Issues
How to gracefully merge religious traditions is an important consideration for interfaith couples. The couple should make decisions and compromises regarding religious issues before they marry. The various questions an interreligious couple should agree upon regarding religious issues include:
- Will the interfaith couple attend religious worship services separately or together? Some couples attend the service of each of their respective faiths separately, some attend each others’ services, and some agree to participate in a service of a third faith.
- How will the mixed-religion couple handle tithing, dues, or fees paid to a church, synagogue, or other house of worship or a religious charity? Since money problems are the number one reason couples divorce, it is important to come to a decision regarding church money matters before marriage.
- How will the interfaith couple celebrate holidays? For example, in a Jewish Christian marriage, the couple will need to decide how Christmas and Hanukkah, which fall at roughly the same time of year, will be celebrated. Will both holidays be celebrated or just one or the other?
How Couples in an Interfaith Marriage Can Agree on Raising Children
Child rearing can be one of the most challenging issues in an interfaith marriage. It is critical that a mixed-faith couple decide before having children how they will raise the children. Questions to consider include:
- Will the children learn about both parents’ faiths?
- Will the children be raised in both faiths or one or the other?
- Will the children be baptized?
Interfaith Marriages and Relationships Can Be Harmonious
The dynamics surrounding an interfaith couple can be volatile. Wise mixed-religion couples understand the challenges and work together to resolve the issues by coming to mutually acceptable decisions and compromises before entering into an interfaith marriage.
Mixed-faith couples who create successful long-term relationships value their partnership as sacred and central to their lives and work to keep outside interference from negatively impacting their partnership.