Modern-day society is more accepting of the idea of interfaith couples and even though all relationships face challenges, interfaith couples have their set of challenges. These extras, such as religious, child-rearing, and holiday practices, can put a lot of strain on the couple. But, much of the stress is determined by how well they deal with the differences in their religious beliefs.
That means an interfaith couple has a bit more to work on in the relationship than if they were both of the same faith. How much each partner can compromise for the other and how supportive they are of each other matters significantly.
That being said, interfaith couples can be very successful, despite their different religious stands. There are things they can do to reduce friction in the relationship and remain strong as a couple. Here are seven helpful relationship tips and advice to try:
- Acknowledge The Differences
In the modern world, relationships can begin anywhere: social media platforms, speed dating, dating sites, and more. Unless you met in a strictly same faith environment, such as a Catholic dating website, a church, or a temple, you’re likely to meet a person from a different faith than yours. No matter how open-minded, modern, or strong your love for each other might be, you need to first acknowledge there are differences in your practices.
Without acknowledging that these differences exist, you may not be able to move further much ahead. For instance, Roman Catholics must baptize their children, and Jewish boys circumcised ceremonially. Trying to ignore there are significant differences, your practices just won’t work. More so, if your partner follows these practices religiously. You’ll need to recognize the differences and the issues that arise from them, and how they affect your relationship and family.
Acknowledge them and learn to communicate your views clearly, and lovingly. You’ll also need to compromise and, above all, be tolerant of each other.
- Learn Your Partners Religion
Strive to learn about your partner’s faith even when you don’t believe in it because their religious belief is part of who they are. If you want to know and understand more about them, you need to learn their faith. It also helps when negotiating compromises so you can see things from each other’s perspectives.
When you learn it, it won’t be difficult to make supportive gestures like dressing up in their religious attire when attending religious ceremonies or accompany them to their places of worship. While it doesn’t mean you are converting to their faith, it shows you’re mindful of their beliefs, and they have your full support.
- Search For A Common Ground
An interfaith couple needs to find a meeting place for their different beliefs. That is, looking at the fundamental basis of their beliefs. Looking at a Muslim and Christian couple, for example, both believe in God the Creator. That’s the common ground. It becomes easier to take it from there and build a faith model for your family where both partners grow spiritually without conflicting with each other.
It may help remove a significant amount of strain knowing you’re both coming from the same place, and can now decide the direction to take going forward. This will create a foundation for many other things like child-rearing and religious practices for them.
- Avoid Trying To Convert Your Partner
The decision to convert from one faith to another is very personal, and you shouldn’t force it on your partner. Strive to remain respectful and sensitive of your partner’s beliefs even if you feel like they’re not practising their faith. Religious beliefs are quite personal, and most people consider them as part of their identity. Trying to force someone to leave what they believe in isn’t a good idea in an interfaith relationship.
- Listen, Share, And Celebrate Each Other
Always lend an ear when your partner shares with you the importance of their faith and practices. Give them your unconditional support, and do without downplaying their beliefs because what’s important to them should matter to you, too. Share the important things about your faith and show by actions what your religious values mean to you.
Celebrate your differences, and integrate their spiritual life into yours. If they observe fasting, attend religious services, dress a certain way, or need meditation time, the best thing is to support them. You can change your schedule to give them time to follow these activities peacefully.
- Consider Couple’s Therapy
Instead of waiting for your differences to create a rift between you, consider a more proactive approach, and seek counseling and therapy along your journey. Most couples tend to wait until the relationship has broken down significantly to seek help. A professional who specializes in interfaith couples can give great insights, and deal with the challenges you face.
- Always Put On A United Front
Finally, the extended family and friends for each partner are also potentially huge stress factors in an interfaith relationship. Each side may want their family to follow their religious practices, especially from the side of whoever the head of the family is. It’s wise to learn to represent each other as a life partner and person first, and the issues of faith second. Put an independent, united front always in front of your family, friends, religious members, and society at large.
Learn to handle negative comments and remarks from family, and compromise on important family functions and religious holidays involving the family. Your support for your partner will influence how people from your circle treat them. Failing to show support and shield each other amidst exterior forces might create a gap between you.
Regardless of your faith and the religious culture you know or were born into, you have a chance to create a strong interfaith family. Challenges and stresses from different religion-related matters will arise from time to time, but your love and respect for your partner should prevail.
This is how you overcome the hurdles you come across in your journey. However, even as you adopt the pieces of advice given above, you must address these issues before your children are born. Otherwise, a new set of stresses will arise that may be a bit more difficult to sort out.