He is of the Islamic faith. She is a Roman Catholic. The nagging question is: What happens if they fall in love?
Religious differences among couples have always been a constant problem in the course of a relationship. At the beginning, when both parties are still enjoying the romantic episodes of the love affair, issues on religious differences are not of so much importance. But when the relationship goes into a deeper or higher level, that is when the immensity of the problem sinks in.
Making an interfaith relationship work isn’t easy. Both parties have to consider each other’s faith and beliefs. Actually, it’s some kind of thinking more about other people’s opinion other than the couple themselves. The problem usually lies on the approval of the people around them.
First, they worry about their families, if both sides will be open-minded about the relationship and would readily accept someone outside of their faith. Second, they have to consider the religious congregations they both belong to, because either one of them may not be welcome with the religious community that they are a part of. Though some churches welcome someone from a different faith, still, more are not open and conformable to interfaith relationships.
I wouldn’t go through to so much of these issues concerning religious differences as we are all quite aware of what they are. It generally revolves in the religious practices and beliefs, what kind of foods to eat and religious dogmas. We all know any topic regarding religion would take us forever to discuss, and most times, we never arrive to a compromise. Another thing is, space would not be enough if I’d go through each detail so it is best to leave it at that.
I have heard a lot of stories from friends who went through such an ordeal. Some of them didn’t make it, while the other couples that I know were able to go through and are happily living with each other despite their different religious beliefs.
I personally think that the keys to a successful interfaith relationship are understanding, communication and acceptance. If I’m going to wrap it up in just one word, I’d choose the word respect as the main key for an interfaith relationship to work. It is very important to understand each other’s faith and beliefs and learn to respect it.
How can each one of the couple do this?
One does not need to be a convert to learn about other faith. Information is no longer scarce with the advent of the internet. Anything one wants to know about a certain topic is just a search engine away. One could make an effort to learn the principles of the other’s faith and be able to discuss it with him/her without saying or doing something to offend or make the other person uncomfortable. To let your partner know that you understand and appreciate his beliefs may make wonders.
Communication is also a significant factor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and likewise, be not afraid to state your position so long as you know that it is reasonable and would not in any way offend, annoy or anger your partner. Communication has always been a perfect medium for any environment, be it at work, family circles and just about everywhere. It really does miracles in making any relationship successful. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to bridge the gap if you choose to just keep mum about your situation.
I have read in an article that many interfaith relationships work because one or both of the partners don’t care all that much about religion. The only way for interfaith couples to make it work is if both or one person in the couple are somewhat indifferent to their faiths and just accept and respect the religious beliefs of one another. What remains is acceptance and adjustment.
The situation may be hard. But as the old adage says, “Love conquers all.”
If you both love each other, you will get through with all the difficulties and stumbling blocks that you may encounter in the relationship. You will work hand in hand to make things work out by following and practicing the keys to a successful interfaith relationship. Yes, you need to know the big difference between Islam and Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism and others, and you just have to believe with utmost conviction that everything will work out fine and it will do.
The carrying-out of the keys mentioned beforehand, which are communication, understanding and acceptance, along with the couple’s immense love for each other, I believe, will help any partners with religious differences to conquer everything together no matter how difficult are the circumstances as long as they know each other is worth fighting for.
To borrow a quote from an unknown writer, “When in doubt, follow your heart. For the mistake of the heart will never be as foolish as the mistake of the mind.” Do not let mind rule over your heart. Follow your heart’s desire and firmly believe that everything will be alright. And it will surely be…