Interfaith Marriage Tips from a Portland Relationship Counselor

April 22, 2015 by

Differences over sports teams and disagreements on which movie to watch can usually be solved with a bit of deal-making and compromise, but opposing religious views in relationships can be a bit trickier to reconcile. Partners in an interfaith relationship have an extra layer of diversity, and conflicts may arise over everything from how to celebrate the holidays to where to send your kids to school.

However, having a happy, healthy, and thriving interfaith marriage is by no means impossible. On the contrary—differences in religious beliefs can even strengthen a relationship when handled with respect, sensitivity, and compassion. Below, I’ve provided several tips for building a strong and lasting interfaith relationship with your partner.

Respect each other’s beliefs. Religious views are near to the heart, and both of you must recognize each other’s beliefs as valid and important. Insulting your partner’s religious views can be incredibly hurtful and detrimental to your relationship. Listen to your partner’s beliefs and opinions with an open mind. Remember that it is okay to disagree, so long as you do so respectfully and without judgement.

Communicate. While you should respect you and your partner’s differences, you should always be aware that these differences exist, and be able to talk about them openly. Politely ignoring your differences won’t make them disappear, and neglecting to talk about these issues can cause future conflict. While conversations about religion can be sensitive and uncomfortable, these conversations are essential to ensuring your beliefs are understood and your preferences honored.

Find a common ground. Even if you come from two completely different religious faiths, chances are good that your religions share common themes of decency and compassion. Rather than focusing on the differences between your religions, identify and celebrate their common ground.

Plan for the future. Conflicts over how to raise your family can be avoided by planning ahead. If you are thinking of having children, discuss what each of you wants religiously for your children and develop a plan that accommodates both of your wishes equally. Your plan should address key issues such as approaches to education, important holidays, and religious ceremonies. One you have agreed on a plan, respect it and stick to it.

Don’t force your beliefs on your partner. Trying to convert your partner to your religious views can make them feel disrespected, defensive, and resentful. Resist the urge to try and force them to see things your way, which can make it seem as though you don’t value their own beliefs.

Consult with a counselor. Discussing and dealing with the challenges of an interfaith relationship is rarely easy, which is why most couples will benefit greatly from seeking interfaith marriage tips from an experienced Portland relationship counselor. A relationship therapist can facilitate the often uncomfortable discussion of interfaith issues, and provide you with tools for communicating and resolving conflicts.