Here is a question that I received from a reader reluctant to marry his sweetheart merely because of religious differences…….
MARK W. CHICAGO, IL:
I am afraid to marry my girlfriend of 5 years because we have different religions. What is the secret to making an interfaith marriage work especially where there are children involved? It seems they all end in divorce.
LOVE LAWYER ANSWER:
The secret is called good old fashioned “compromise,” love and
“respect.” When individuals from different religions marry, they
often have disagreements they never dreamed possible that may be
devastating to a healthy marriage. However, the decisions centered on
religion seem to become more intense when there are children and
in-laws involved. When disagreements do arise, they usually stem from
religious upbringing of the children, life events such as birth, death,
and holiday celebrations.
The most important thing interfaith couples can do is to devise a
game-plan for religion prior to getting married. If possible, put it in
writing and elaborate on such subjects as raising children, what
holidays the children will celebrate and detail how conflicts will be
resolved. This will not only develop communication skills but
demonstrate whether each spouse is willing to stand by the other spouse
despite religious differences. It will also show whether love can
withstand these differences. The game-plan, although not enforceable,
can be used during the marriage to reinforce decisions and how religion
will be handled.
In reality, religious differences are no different than other conflicts
between couples. The key is to build a sense of commitment and
communicate openly and honestly. The next step is to find a
compromise position or resort to whatever decisions you initially
agreed upon in the game plan. Lastly, keep your sense of humor and stay
away from arguments with your in-laws-you cannot win.