Learning how to live with another person can be challenging enough. Still, it becomes even more complicated when your purposes in life and beliefs about God, the world, and the afterlife differ. So how do you handle difficulties that arise with a cross-religious marriage?
- Address the issues
- Communicate about your beliefs
- Share your religious experiences
- Find common ground
- Don’t make conversion efforts
- Discuss your plans
- Consider counseling
- Get a good night’s rest
- Think about your children
- Grow your faith
There are plenty of ways to help make an interfaith relationship successful, but many of these tried-and-true techniques rely on the most critical aspect of relationships: communication. So the rest of this article will dive deep into each point to help you have a functional cross-religious marriage.
Address the Issues
The first and most crucial step in being free from pressure and judgment in an interfaith marriage is to address the conflicts between your faith. What do you agree on, and what is fundamentally different about your beliefs?
Tell your spouse whenever you feel pressured by leading conversations or conversion efforts. Communication about how your spouse’s behavior makes you feel is crucial.
Your spouse may not realize the effects their pressure or judgment has on you; even if they do, calling out inappropriate behavior can help them change.
Communicate about Your Beliefs
Communicating your beliefs is extremely important in helping your partner understand why you believe what you do and what that means for your life. Religious convictions guide the lives of many people and influence their decisions.
That’s true for you and your partner. So not only should you seek to help your partner understand your beliefs, but you should also do your best to understand theirs.
Understand that their pressure and judgment, as inappropriate as it may be, can stem from a desire for you to share the same convictions they do. Understanding their motivations and vice versa can help the two of you address conflict early and empathize with the other person’s beliefs.
Share Your Religious Experiences
Not only should you lay out the crux of what you believe for your partner, but you should also share the religious experiences you’ve had in the past. What has your faith achieved for you?
How has it changed you? Have you seen the hand of providence move in your life and the life of your spouse? Share those experiences and be open to the experiences of your spouse. Explain how your faith makes you a better person and how it changes your outlook on the world
Find Common Ground
Many faiths have similar beliefs or goals where you can find common ground if you dig deeper. Recognize your spouse’s ambitions and share the common interests of your religions.
Many faiths seek to better the self, and if you’re feeling pressure or judgment from your spouse, finding common ground in your life goals can help them empathize with you more.
Don’t Make Conversion Efforts
Conversion efforts are highly ineffective in a romantic or marital relationship, so don’t try to work in conversion attempts by constantly trying to prove your beliefs. It’s destructive behavior and can put a massive strain on the relationship.
You can have civil discourse about your beliefs where appropriate, and inviting them to your church isn’t out of line, but you shouldn’t try to be winning an argument with your spouse constantly.
Discuss Your Future Plans
It’s important to recognize potential conflicts in the future and have early conversations about them. For example, whose church are you going to on Sunday? How are you going to raise your children in faith? Are you going to pray together or separately?
These and other questions are essential, so your spouse understands what you are and is unwilling to compromise. In addition, having these conversations early helps reduce pressure and judgment from snap decisions.
Counseling can be essential for couples struggling with communication issues regarding the interfaith conflict. Online counseling is available at a much lower price and offers the same benefits as in-person counseling.
It can help you, and your spouse works out your differences and understands each other better. In addition, opening up in a judgment-free zone can help you air your grievances and communicate more effectively.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
Believe it or not, a good night’s sleep makes a tremendous difference in your mood and can help you manage conflict more effectively. Consider taking advantage of the resources on this site to improve your sleep and manage your stress more effectively.
Think about Your Children
You and your spouse need to have a conversation about your children. First, of course, you should discuss whether or not your spouse wants children. If so, you need to work out an agreement on how they’re going to be raised.
Are they going to be in your church or your spouse’s church? How are you going to handle religious conversations? These and other questions are essential for you and your spouse to handle early, so there’s no perception of going behind the other person’s back when raising your kids.
Grow Your Faith
Of course, in any relationship feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you must turn your eyes to your faith. After all, it’s the anchor of your life and informs many of your decisions.
Commit yourself to a private time where you meditate and pray and demonstrate respect for your partner’s religious convictions, even if they don’t respect yours. Growing in faith will help you navigate life’s troubles to be a better person and understand your partner’s frame of mind.
Interfaith marriages are challenging, but if you’re feeling stressed and judged for your beliefs, communicate those feelings to your spouse, grow your faith by praying regularly, and consider counseling from an outside source.
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