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With our diverse cultures blending together in today’s world, interfaith relationships and marriages are becoming more common than ever. When two people who share different beliefs first fall in love, they might not always think much ahead about the challenges that they may face as a couple in their growing relationship.

So, what if you meet someone who shares different religious beliefs and you decide that you want to start dating? How can you approach this situation so that things are made clearer from the beginning of the relationship? Some disagreements are bound to happen if two people come from two different religious backgrounds. The key to finding a right approach is communication and understanding. Having different beliefs can prove challenging, but these challenges can be overcome if two people are ready to speak openly, listen to each other, and come from a place of understanding.

An interesting article about intercultural and interfaith couples found in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (2008), discusses relational maintenance factors which can retain the harmony of the romantic relationship when facing any relationship difficulties. Recently, studies have given that 66% of all interracial and intercultural marriages (which include racial, religious and ethnic differences) result in divorce, which is higher when compared to statistics for all marriages (40-50%). This goes to show that intercultural and interfaith couples are more likely to face specific challenges in their relationship (Reiter & Gee, 2008).

So what are some strategies that you can use with your partner so that you can foster an open and successful relationship? Here are a few:

Communicating openly: Face issues head on and communicate about what may be bothering you, or making you feel uncomfortable. It is important to acknowledge where there are difficulties, and not avoid speaking about them. (Margarita Tartakovsky, 2018). Partners who do not communicate openly about their religious differences may be coming from a place of fear, fearing that they may damage their relationship or the image they hold about themselves.


Differentiating between religion and the culture: As a couple with different religious faiths, there may also be certain differences in each other’s cultural backgrounds. It is important to make a distinction between what is coming from religion, and what comes from culture (Margarita Tartakovsky, 2018). Such differences can include ways of expressing oneself, different ways of doing things and even relationship goals.

Experiencing each other’s religion: As an interfaith couple, learn about each other’s religion. Read up about it and its history, traditions attributed to it etc. Another way of doing this is by allowing yourself to experience aspects of your partner’s religion. Attend a religious ceremony or visit a mosque. This does not mean that you are going to convert, but it shows that you are willing to be exposed to it and are unconditionally accepting your partner’s differences (Margarita Tartakovsky, 2018).

These are only a few suggestions that can help interfaith couples to cope with issues they may face. Diversity, if accepted and managed openly, should not hinder the relationship, but rather enhance love and trust within the couple.

References:

Margarita Tartakovsky, M. (2018). 7 Ways To Make Interfaith Relationships Work. Retrieved 28 September 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/7-ways-to-make-interfaith-relationships-work/

Becky Faenza is one of the Triage Officers that form part of the Triage Team with Willingness. She is a University graduate, with a B.A Degree in Philosophy and Psychology, and also a Higher Diploma in Psychology (H.DIP).