He's Orthodox, You're Not. Should You Call the Whole Thing Off?

After ten years of dating, Ana and Craig finally tied the knot. Now less than a year later, they are calling it quits. The young couple met in New York City through mutual friends when they were first launching their careers, far away from friends and family. "Back then it's like we were living in our own bubble and the minute we got married it burst," says Ana.

Though Ana and Craig were raised in different parts of the Northeast, Boston and New Jersey respectively, they shared a similar upbringing in their respective middle class homes. As children and even teenagers this included Church on Sundays. But while Craig was of Greek Orthodox descent, Ana was brought up Protestant.

Ultimately those religious beliefs pushed them to the divide. "We fell in love at such a young age that we did not see it [religion] as a possible problem. And there was no one around to make us see the bigger picture," adds Craig.

That bigger picture includes the challenges with which many interfaith marriages are fraught. Ana and Craig quickly learned that this marriage was more than them as a pair, as it also came with obligations to family, church and community. When you add all those competing external demands to the decision of how to raise children, a happy situation can turn into something more taxing.

Every relationship has stumbling blocks, but interfaith marriages add extra challenges that need to be seriously considered and reconciled instead of "waiting and seeing." Decisions that need to be made throughout life's journey become fighting points, and according to Craig, the couple loved each other too much to keep feuding.

While falling in love can be intoxicating and romantic, it can also distract individuals from dealing with the realities of converging beliefs. So here are some of the issues to consider before you cross the faith:

Are You Prepared to Compromise?
With commitment there is sacrifice, but knowing if you will be able to bend when religious views and cultural traditions come into question must be dealt with earnestly. Understanding the type of character you are, through careful introspection, will help determine if you are flexible and strong enough to make those concessions without losing your identify.

Do You Understand It?
One of the biggest problems of interfaith marriages is assuming that you understand everything about one another's faith. The challenges and decisions imposed by conflicting religions can only be reasonably assessed when the intricacies and nuances of the religion are fully recognized, so don't underrate the importance of awareness.

Will Your Family Be Open to It?
There is truth to the notion that when you marry someone, you marry their entire family. Being accepted means more than just getting along with those who are near and dear, it signifies respect. So dismissing family concerns about your relationship and interfaith marriage can be hazardous to you and your partner's long-term happiness, both as individuals and as a couple.

Interfaith relationships can certainly work, but those that stand the best chance for survival are the ones where there is early, open and frank discussion of the real life issues that can accompany them.

By B. Katz of for


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