Relationship Advice - Tips for Handling Extreme Religious Differences
Recently this heart wrenching question was submitted to our online relationship advice column:
"What do I do, my boy friend is an Islamic and I a catholic? He says if he marries me he'll have to give up his parents... I don't feel right in doing that... I can't live without him... I can't convert, I'm a true catholic, I can't betray my God... I want both of us and our parents all to be happy after our marriage... please advise Margrit" First, let's remember that religion isn't like a pair of shoes that we change depending on the occasion. Religion is something of the heart, similar to love. Loving our partner and loving our God [how ever we define deity] are kin. The primary question you, the modern Juliet and her Romeo, must address isn't what religion your parents or his parents want you to be, but what religion do the two of you want to embrace together. Today there are many couples that do not share the same faith. However, if one of them is actively practicing their religion not sharing it does tend to lessen the marital happiness.
Most religions are visionary, that is they paint a picture not only for this life, but a life hereafter, plus dictate or recommend a way of life. When faith is shared and jointly lived toward its end objective it becomes part of our common goals as a couple. It provides direction, principles, and a roadmapfor living. It provides the foundation for a happy life.
This joint faith helps us survive the storms of life instead of religious differences creating the tempests. In some ways we are all modern day Romeo and Juliets as it behooves us all to come to grips with our personal and couple core, that anchor for a successful relationship.
So what do you, the modern day Romeo and Juliet do?
Here are a few questions I recommended my young friend address, and you might wish to do so as well:
How do the two of you see your future together? What part does faith play?
What is the foundation for your relationship? What is your joint philosophy about life?
If you have children how do you want to raise them? Do you want them to have religious training?Once the two of you... Have sorted out the role religion is to play in your lives as a couple, then you can address the issue of parents
Are clear what you want you will have the direction you need, the confidence in each other necessary to face whatever happens regarding both sets of parentsHandling extreme religious differences is mistakenly viewed as an either-or-decision. It's not. This is not as simple asdeciding which shoes to wear, it's about each of your faiths, your very personal relationships to your God. You need to jointly come up witha win-win long term solution that you as a couple can live with regarding religion. Then, and only then is it time to consider each of your parents. With regards to them it generally is much more difficult, if not impossible, to find a win-win solution. This will be tough for the both of you, but not nearly as rough if the two of you aren't in agreement about how you are going to find expression foryour separate faiths.
A good place to start is to find that joint reason for your relationship even if it means considering a new religion you can embrace whole heartedly together. However, with all that focus on the relationship, please stay true to yourself as you strive to create a frame work, a foundation, for your marriage.
Once you have that foundation it will truly be "you and me against the world". You'll have a seasoned core that already weathered handling your extreme religious differences, creating the confidence to manage most anything tossed your way.
To recap: Be true to the real you first, then together discover the foundation of your relationship, and lastly face the "big bad world" with united confidence.
Related Tags: pain, relationship, religion, struggle, relationship decisions, religious difference
Margrit Harris, MSSW, international relationship expert, speaker and author is co-creator of "Is he right for me?" Virtual Test Drive . An interactive online program for single women to take their relationship for a "spin around the block" before they "buy". http://www.isherightforme.comYour Article Search Directory : Find in Articles
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