Should She Marry Outside Her Religion?


Her parents object — a critical challenge for an interfaith couple.

A distraught 21-year-old respectful and responsible young Indian woman asks whether it is wrong to go ahead and marry the man she loves even though her parents object. Nita has discussed this with them and their only objection is that this otherwise outstanding young man comes from a different religious background than she does.

She is torn, because while she wants to honor her parents, she decided when she was a child that all forms of religious discrimination and casteism are wrong. She's been taking a stand against these injustices for as long as she can remember. She strongly believes that no one should be defined by his or her religion.

Nita says that she respects her parents so much that she would sacrifice her love if they could come up with any other reason for opposing this match. They couldn't. The young people have known each other for five years and both have good jobs.

She is in a painful position that has been replayed in drama since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet and probably long before that. Their parents are separated by different beliefs and traditions, but the young people often fall in love anyway. Sometimes the ending is tragic and sometimes parents soften after the fact, as Tevya did in Fiddler on the Roof.

Nita knows that to be true to herself and her love she must and will go against her parents’ wishes. What she doesn't know is whether this will lead to being disowned and exiled by the parents she loves. So what can she do to try to get the best outcome possible?

Up until now she has been trying to convince her parents by herself. It might be helpful if an older relative or member of the clergy could also speak to her parents about the potential consequences of their position.

However if they remain firmly opposed to the match and she marries against their wishes there is still hope for reconciliation. No matter what happens it is important that Nita continue to treat her parents respectfully even if they act in a hurtful and angry way to her. It may take months or years for them to soften, but given the bond that exists, hopefully they will.

Of course interfaith couples have always faced challenges. It takes maturity and mutual respect to notice and work through the differences in expectations and values that occur when people come from very different backgrounds. It sounds as if Nita has a very good start at meeting those challenges successfully.

Want more: Grab your copy of my NEW Free Special Report entitled "Should YOU WANT TO Get Married? A Candid Conversation with Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.