A Leap Of Faith: The Impact Of Religion On Relationships

Whether you pray to God, Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, the sun gods, or any one else is entirely between you and that entity. Despite the very personal nature of religion, it is an issue that many couples struggle with on a repeated basis. And in an article recently published by the New York Times, it is estimated that over 58% of all marriages involve those between two people of different faiths. Moreover, an additional 18% of all married couples of the same religion, were originally of different faiths (indicating some sort of conversion took place). And of the population sampled in that article, the individuals who identify as part of what is considered to be more “traditional religions” like Judaism and Mormonism were the most likely to intermarry. Having faith is an incredibly admirable quality, and often being with someone who believes in something so strongly can be incredibly sexy. However, despite all of the progress society has made up until 2013, many couples still struggle to cope with managing religious differences as their relationship progresses.

There are a number of studies that suggest that couples of different faiths are more likely to divorce, that they’re more likely to fight, that they’re more likely to not have the same values. Yet, there are an equal number of studies that aim at disproving these same statements. Interfaith couples are less likely to argue about where to spend holidays, their children are more well-rounded and often perform better on standardized tests, and overall they are more tolerant of their partner’s differences of opinions. We’ve heard it all before.

So in reality, if you were to date or marry someone of the same religion, the same age, from the same geographic region, who is to say that you’d be less likely to break up? If you care about them, if they treat you well, if you enjoy spending time with them, what would be different about them if they were of the same faith? What makes us compatible is not something that is clearly defined by any sort of sacrament, any sort of prayer, or your personal relationship with God. Sure, you could say that I’m a huge believer in the “click.” But it’s something greater than that. It’s about something that can’t be defined by a Rabbi or a Priest, by your parents or your congregation. It’s about the way you treat each other. When spending time together even when you’re not “together” is difficult, but no less hard than being apart, when you let them have the last slice of pie, when you can depend on them for help moving or looking for jobs, when you can be comfortable telling them everything or even not saying anything at all; those are the things that matter.

Of course, it’s only natural to want to co-habitate with someone like-minded. There’s nothing wrong with having preferences for the type of person you’d like to become romantically involved with, however, the problem arises when these “deal-breakers” serve to box us in and restrict our options in love. What happened to being able to respect each other, without wanting to change each other? When you place these kinds of restrictions on yourself-and on others-you’re declaring such a small portion of the population to be dateable. This says nothing about whether that partner may also be kind, attractive, successful or even interested in you. And yet, we wonder why finding someone we’re “compatible” with is so difficult. So take a leap of faith (pun intended) and open yourself to the possibility of love, wherever you may find it. Have an open discussion about how to raise potential children, converting, or simply choosing to disagree and respect each other’s differences. Imagine a man so focused on God the only reason he looked up to see you is because he heard God say “that’s her.” TC mark

image – kevin dooley

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