Recognizing Multiple Religions Within a Family

In Lifestyle, Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

It is becoming increasingly common that people with different religious backgrounds are getting married. Referred to as “inter-faith” or “mixed” marriages, it is a refreshing sign of that people are looking past what they know or what they are familiar with and really getting to know other people. However, inter-faith marriages are not without challenges, as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and other belief systems can all have monumental and deep rooted differences. In fact, these issues may manifest themselves in the following ways:

  • Unfortunately, there are a lot of “absolutes” with some faiths, such as laws, rules, or attitudes prohibiting inter-faith or even intra-faith marriages (involving a different denomination of the same faith). In fact, some faiths preach that marrying outside the faith is an affront to the religion. These absolutes need to be directly addressed by an inter-faith couple.
  • Is one partner going to convert, or will you each maintain your own religion? There need to be conversations going into marriage, as this will not only dictate the type of marriage ceremony you have, but will preemptively address an area of potential conflict and animosity that could jeopardize your long-term relationship.
  • How will extended family treat the relationship? Some extended family may embrace an inter-faith marriage and others may outright reject the relationship. In-laws wield a tremendous amount of power in marriages. This can come in subtle and explicit influence over their adult child, the power to criticize, and the power to disown.
  • What about children? These issues become even more complicated when it comes to children of the relationship. Which religion will the child be raised in, or will the child be raised in both?

Recognizing and Addressing These Issues

Couples who enter inter-faith relationships must do so with open eyes, and cannot avoid the issue or its long-term implications. At New Direction Family Law, we embrace all faiths and truly believe that communication and mutual respect are essential. Our religious faiths are incredibly important to us. They are part of our fabric, provide us comfort, and have helped us to shape our core values. Each partner must recognize and appreciate this about each other when making decisions about faith.

Extended family is also important to us. Therefore, efforts must be made to have difficult conversations and to attempt to find common ground where family members continue to play a role in your life, but maintain appropriate boundaries when it comes to discussing faith. If extended family continues to be problematic or chooses to disassociate with you, then it is important to find a way to accept this.

Consider allowing your children make informed decisions. If you and your spouse choose to continue to practice separate religious faiths, consider exposing children to both faiths from a young age. Allow them to be educated and immersed in each and ultimately, they can make their own choices when they come of age.

Finally, consider building a support system of other inter-faith families. All of the aforementioned issues can be really hard for any inter-faith couple. Finding others who have shared your experiences can help you vent, relate, and discover ideas that you haven’t thought of.

Contact New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law represents clients in the areas of separation, divorce, property division, alimony, and child custody. Our attorneys have a wealth of knowledge and experience and will provide you with compassionate, relevant legal advice and guidance. If you need help, contact us. We proudly serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us online at our website.