Voicing doubts with a capital "D" such as these is healthy, explains Crohn. "If you help people to be more specific, they will either break up, or work their way through their issues and eventually have a more robust relationship," he says.
There are many ways to bridge the mine-and-yours religious landscape: Troy and Sonja, Jewish and Mormon respectively and both 34, have been happily married for six years. They have gotten by swimmingly by relying on honesty and humor—"it was always my dream, growing up as a Jewish boy, to marry a returned missionary," quips Troy—that is, until their daughter Alana arrived.
Now a toddler, she adds a new layer of complexity to their efforts at compromise. While Alana divides her time equally between Tot Shabbat and Sunday church services, it’s still easy for a 3-year-old to get confused.
Once, Alana got excited at church: "Shabbat Shalom, hey!" she shrieked, gleefully, swinging her arms—much to the amusement of her fellow congregants. As she grows up, she's becoming more aware of her two faiths—and the couple wrestles with how to fuse them.
"It's the biggest stress in our next step," says Sonja. "That she's going to feel torn or scared that she's going to let us down if she chooses one or the other."
Not to worry, say experts. "The key to a successful interfaith marriage is to keep opening doors," says Mary Helene Rosenbaum, executive director of the Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family Resources. "You need to keep communicating, and also testing your own feelings and beliefs about your relationship with your religion, your relationship with each other, and your relationship with the larger community."
Remember Wendy? Uninvited to her boyfriend's friend's Shabbat dinner, she felt some trepidation at the prospect of meeting his parents for the first time—at their Passover Seder dinner. She got busy preparing, poring over an "interactive Seder plate" she found at Beliefnet.com the night before hopping on the plane.