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Interfaith Relationships Tips

Read these 6 Interfaith Relationships Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Relationship tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Interfaith Marriages

The amount of stress placed on interfaith marriages depends on the couple, their families, the level of differences in religious and cultural backgrounds, and the level of support the couple has available to them. Given how difficult marriage already is, anything making it harder is not welcome news. This does not mean interfaith relationships can not work. Rather, being aware of the potential problems and strategies to head them off is the best solution.

  • Both people need to be open and honest with themselves and each other about the importance of their faiths and what role they wish it to play in their lives.
  • Lobbying or coercing your partner into converting to your faith should be avoided. This choice must be driven by the individual and his/her needs.
  • Be sensitive at all times to your partner's faith, beliefs and culture. Even if you think your spouse isn't very religious, spiritual and cultural issues are very personal and sensitive. Many people view these as important parts of their identity.
  • The topic of children needs lots of discussion before the marriage takes place. Be honest and direct about your wishes. Abide by the agreed direction you both have decided upon. Ideally, both faiths can be honored.

   

Interfaith Family Communcation

If you have an interfaith family, there are some specific areas of difficulties to cope with. These revolve around negative responses from extended family members and friends, raising children interfaith, and handling the holidays.

Along with open, honest, sensitive communication with one another, an adequate support network is helpful in getting through these issues. Local community groups that regularly meet face-to-face or online groups can help meet this need. It is useful to find others who understand the particular challenges and joys of being part of an interfaith family. In addition to making friends and having fun, this type of support provides the opportunity for you to learn, teach and share with others.

   

Interfaith Wedding Ceremonies

Couples choosing interfaith marriages may need to use a little more creativity with a generous dose of compromise when planning their wedding day. Interfaith wedding ceremonies can be pulled off with a few words of advice. Here they are:

Decide what beliefs are important to each of you and should be reflected in your wedding ceremony.

Compromise with your fiancé's beliefs wherever possible.

Openly and honestly discuss religion (particular to the ceremony and your marriage) with your fiancé.

Discuss the agreed upon plans with both families.

Chose a clergy person who is able to perform a ceremony both of you will be pleased with.

Support one another throughout the whole process!

   

Integrating Interfaith Families

Interfaith marriages may need a plan for dealing with all those pesky religious holidays. If you are having trouble, try the following:

  • Decide which Traditions are Keepers: Discuss your favorite childhood memories and traditions. Be clear about what practices are important to you. Do not veto a ritual that is important to your partner. Be flexible, do not pressure each other, and maintain respect at all times.
  • Maintain Who you Are: Each person, whether in an interfaith marriage or not, should maintain some separate identity. You do not have to give up who you are or things that are important to you. You also should not expect this of your partner.
  • Be Honest About Holiday Worries: If you are worried about relatives, the kids, feeling out of place, etc. discuss these openly as they occur. Support one another instead of becoming defensive or disrespectful. Do your best for developing a plan well in advance so your anxiety can be minimized.
  • Remember to Enjoy the Holidays: The underlying point of the holidays is unity, love, peace. Celebrations should reflect these concepts, not be filled with conflict.

   

Raising Children Interfaith

Jewish interfaith relationships are increasingly common in the United States. An About.com article written by Lisa Katz (2006) reported the following statistics:

  • Approximately 50 percent of American Jews today marry non-Jews.
  • Approximately 33 percent of all American Jewish families today are interfaith, a rise from 28 percent in 1990.
  • Approximately 33 percent of intermarried couples in America today are raising their children to be Jewish.
Raising children in an interfaith family brings up specific issues. It is necessary to have lots of open communication before and after the marriage and the arrival of the babies. No matter how uncomfortable or how much you think it will just work itself out, do not delay discussions. This increases the chance of assumptions, disappointment, hurt feelings and conflict. You do not want this to become a topic filled with tension or pain.

If you don't feel able to broach this on your own or talking seems to turn to arguing, seek interfaith counseling. Faith is a beautiful source of love and strength, do not let miscommunication rob your family of what this can be.

Ideally, a willingness to expose your children to traditions, beliefs, history, and community of both parent's faiths will be the end result of your work. Given that this is what is best for your child, it seems worth the effort.

   

Interfaith Counseling

Interfaith counseling is sometime chosen by couples as a preparation for marriage. This can help prevent differences from contaminating interfaith marriages. Although this is not a “must do” for every interfaith family, those concerned about potential problems are wise to make use of this help.

Interfaith counseling is useful because it facilitates dialogue around about the differences and similarities in the two faiths, helps people look at their experiences, and teaches the couple how listen to the each other. Instead of avoiding the topic, couples learn to talk about it calmly and openly without feeling threatened or anxious.

Couples who choose this preventive maintenance approach learn relationship skills before hurt feelings and miscommunications have accumulated. Topics such as how to handle faith with future children and how the family will worship are agreed upon before problems occur.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Barbara Gibson