Negotiating the "how will we raise our children?" question can be difficult, and some kids later regret being raised in multi-denominational homes. Robin Kelman, 38, of Philadelphia, who converted to Judaism, says her decision was spurred by the fact that her mother was Catholic and her father was Jewish, and that she didn't want the combo package for her own family. "I converted [because] I felt my children should have a more solid background than I did growing up."
Magazine writer Mary Talalay, 44, of Baltimore, Maryland, meanwhile, did not convert, but agreed to allow her daughter to be raised Jewish—which was important to her husband. However, now her daughter brings up the subject: "My daughter really wants me to convert so we're all the same. That would probably be the only reason I would consider it."
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You don't need to discuss religion on your first date, but all potential deal breakers should come up early—and certainly before you're engaged. "When you're courting someone, find out how important [faith] is in that person's life. You don't want to be hit with that after you fall in love and then realize your partner is inflexible about certain things," Charnofsky says. Finding Religion After Finding The One
There Is Common Ground (Even If You Don't Convert)
Therapist Paul Hauck, Ph.D., advises potential converts to ask themselves if there's any leeway in practicing your faith. "Some people will say 'As long as we celebrate some of these holidays and our children are raised as Jews, that's fine,'" he says. Hauck stresses the power of communication: "You must talk about it and define the limits. Ask: 'Could you be happy with me under those circumstances?'"
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The decision can be tough, but if you don't want to convert and "your partner cannot live with you not formally converting to his religion, then it isn't the right partner for you in the first place," says Reuben. And if you agree to disagree, you need to be able to respect his or her religious convictions. A healthy respect for differences is essential in any marriage, regardless of religion.