The Secrets To An Interfaith Relationship


How couples find compromise living with two gods under one roof.

And her pointing and clicking paid off. She felt relaxed and welcomed, she says, especially when Joe's stepdad invited her into the kitchen to taste-test the charoset—an apple and walnut dish which symbolized the mortar Jewish slaves used in Egypt, Wendy now knew. And yet, "I wasn't sure what symbolic mortar was supposed to taste like!" she confesses. So she went on instinct.

"I think it needs more cinnamon," she finally pronounced.

Joe's stepdad nodded his approval. "That's when I got a total case of the Passover warm fuzzies," says Wendy. "By making me a part of the ritual, he had helped me belong."

And that may be the secret to the interfaith recipe: Make it up as you go—and question often—to be sure what you're creating suits both of your tastes.

The Big Questions
Are you ready for interfaith? Joel Crohn suggests 10 things to ask before you merge belief systems.

1. What have your religious beliefs and practices been ineach phase of your life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood? They've probably changed—and could again.
2. What do each you believe about an afterlife? Heaven, hell—and everything in between—are issues couples in early stages of love often find easy to avoid.
3. Do you plan on having children? If so, you should talk about what role you want religion to play in their lives.
4. What's the ideal religious and cultural composition of your future neighborhood? The social context will affect how you practice your religion.
5. How do your families feel about your relationship? You may not welcome their input, but they will inevitably affect your emotional state as a couple.
6. How much do you know about the faith in which your partner was raised? Even if you plan to practice separate religions, ask about your partner's as a show of respect.
7. How do you your partner's cultural and religious practices differ from yours? People who don't practice religion may still have a cultural attachment to their faith.
8. If you have children from a prior marriage, of a faith other than the one you intend to practice, how will you include them? You'll need to create a system, especially if your ex-spouse is raising them differently than you.
9. How do you feel about making charitable contributions to religious or cultural institutions? A potential land mine many couples don't broach early on.
10. Do you see your wedding as an opportunity to work through your different beliefs? Preparing for your ceremony is an important dress rehearsal for your marriage.