For many couples religion unifies and strengthens their relationship. For others, it tears them apart. When individuals from two different religions form a relationship, they sometimes begin a lifetime of disagreements. The differences can stir up difficult conflict over religious upbringing of children, over decisions about how to handle life events such as birth, death, and holiday celebrations, and over the absence of a religious bond in the relationship.
One of the most important things interfaith couples can do to minimize conflict and increase unity is to focus on what they have in common. Below are specific ideas about how to do this.
Commit to your relationship
Settle once and for all that you will stand by your partner despite religious differences. Put aside your differences and decide to love each other even though you disagree about religion.
Learn good communication skills
Good communication skills are essential to success in every marriage, and they become all the more critical in an interfaith marriage.
Respect your partner and religious differences
No one likes to be put down for something they believe in and criticizing one another on the subject of religion can be devastating to the relationship. So it's critical that both partners respect the beliefs and values of their partner. To build respect, work on the following behaviors:
Compromise and find commonalities that bring you together
Finding a religious middle ground can strengthen your relationship. Learning about your partner's faith and religion can help you find the values you hold in common. As you find shared values, you'll gain greater understanding of one another and arguments will diminish. The following ideas can help you compromise and understand one another:
Talk and make a decision about your children's religious upbringing
When interfaith couples have children, they add a new and powerful potential area of conflict over religious differences. Couples need to decide what religion they want their child to belong to or if they want their children to learn from both religions. The following questions can help couples make this important decision:
Make the best of the holiday dilemma
Dealing with differences in holidays can cause conflict in what should be a time of unity and togetherness. Holidays can be extra difficult because they involve not only immediate family but relatives as well. Families can take several approaches as they work to solve this dilemma:
Interfaith marriages can be successful and happy if both partners are willing to work hard at committing to one another, showing respect for one another, and focusing on shared values. When children come along, it's important to place the best interests of the child first as decisions are made about how to religiously raise the child and how to celebrate holidays. As interfaith couples carefully consider these issues with sensitivity toward one another, they can avoid most of the conflict around religious differences and will be able to build a loving and unified relationship and family life.
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