The Couple That Prays Together Stays Together…Or Do They?


The Couple That Prays Together Stays Together…Or Do They?
Interfaith marriages have a higher chance of divorce. Who gets the religion in the divorce?

Divorce comes in many shapes and sizes. Just read all the articles on this site and you can see that everyone has their own experiences and issues with divorce. One thing that can be a big issue in divorce is who gets the religion.

If you and your spouse came from two different religions when you got married, chances are you picked one and that was how you raised your children. If you are lucky then there was a compromise and you met somewhere in the middle. If you are even luckier, you each enjoyed your own religion separately with no conflict.


According to the Barna Research Group, who did a study in 1999, the rates of divorce were the highest for Jews at 30% and the lowest for Atheists and Agnostics at 21%, and these were couples that shared the same religion.

Vera Lawlor, from The Bergen Record in Hakensack, NJ., wrote that inter-faith marriages have a failure rate that is 50% higher than same-faith marriages. She does not cite a source for this datum. Since the rate for all marriages is on the order of 50%, this would imply an almost 75% failure rate for inter-faith marriages - 3 chances out of 4.

Egon Mayer, a professor at Brooklyn College, published another study confirming that inter-faith couples experience higher divorce rates. Referring to the case where one spouse abandons their religion and adopts their spouse's faith, he said in USA Today: "When you bury something that is really important to you, all you're doing is building up a kind of pressure within the family relationship, which becomes a source of tension, which ultimately becomes a time bomb. If there's any reason why intermarriages break up, it's because of that time bomb."

So, who gets the religion when you get divorced? Many interfaith couples that get divorced go back to their roots and start to practice the religions they were brought up with. When that happens, the children are suddenly thrust from a singular religion to two different religions, which can lead to confusion of faith, during an already confusing time.

It would be nice if the post divorce couple could agree to raise the children in a singular religion, while they each practice their own religions, but life is not always that simple. For instance, my ex and I are both Jewish, yet we practice it very differently. He is Orthodox and I am Reformed. While we were married, there was not a choice but to practice Judaism in an Orthodox manner. I was never comfortable in this role, but did the best I could and learned and adapted.

When we got divorced, our children were very young, and he knew that I would not continue to practice Orthodox Judaism or keep Kosher. I also knew that he would. It was never said, but the children would experience both worlds, and they do experience both worlds.

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