do Your Beliefs Affect YOur Marriage?
It’s not secret that your beliefs shape your reality. The way you see the world is heavily based on your religious views and spiritual beliefs. It naturally follows that how you act is also largely dependent on your personal values. When faced with a challenging situation, you will draw upon your core values to create a narrative for why it is happening and how you will react.
So if how you think, how you feel, and how you act is directly related to your beliefs, then your beliefs directly affect your marriage on a daily basis. This is true whether you share a similar belief system or whether you’re in an interfaith marriage.
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Interfaith marriages are becoming more common. Nearly 40% of couples married in the last decade do not share the same religious group. Not sharing the core values that often come along with shared religious beliefs can strain a marriage. However, many very healthy relationships contain two individuals with different personal values.
No marriage is the same because no two people are the same. And yet, many very common pitfalls arise in an interfaith marriage. However, being mindful and intentional not to let those pitfalls drag your marriage down will help you be successful. Learn more about how to protect your marriage below.
6 Ways to Make an Interfaith Marriage Work
1. Be Open.
A common strategy for dealing with the discomfort of disagreement is to ignore or minimize differences. Unfortunately, acting like differences don’t exist does not make them disappear. The opposite is usually true. Steam builds under the surface, and eventually, the pressure builds to a level that is difficult to contain.
So acknowledge your differences. Talk about the ways you are similar, and recognize the ways your beliefs diverge. Talking openly is the best way to avoid inaccurate assumptions.
2. Become Unified.
Don’t become trapped in a cycle of constant disagreement. Instead, talk through issues and decide together how you will handle different situations that arise. When it comes to family and friends, present a unified front. Having different core values can cause some extra tension and more to work through. The worst thing you can do is turn your back on your spouse and vent your frustrations to others. Although it may feel good at the moment to have an outlet for your irritation, speaking about your issues to someone else will move you and your spouse even further apart.
Often times becoming unified is done through finding common ground. So find something you can enjoy together. Emphasize your commonalities and common interests. It can even be something as easy as learning a new skill together!
3. Adopt a Spirit of Learning.
A common issue in interfaith marriages is that partners stop sharing their beliefs. If sharing your beliefs causes unwanted tension or a feeling of disagreement, it is time to make a change. Rather than using your different personal values as a point of division, use them as a way to bond together. This is done through constant communication and developing a spirit of learning.
We recommend showing interest in the beliefs that your spouse shares. Learning more about them is only a positive exercise for both of you! The intention of listening and learning more about your spouse’s beliefs is not to change your own beliefs but to develop a deeper understanding of them as an individual and their true identity.
So ask questions, welcome discussion, and constantly encourage conversation about your partner’s beliefs. Sweeping differences aside will only cause distance between you. Instead, having an open dialogue will help you feel fulfilled and connected in your marriage despite your differences.
4. Don’t Try to Change Your Partner.
One key to making an interfaith marriage work is to accept your partner as they currently are. If you are constantly living in limbo, waiting to be happy until your spouse changes, you will be disappointed. You must accept your spouse exactly as they are. Your love can’t be conditional on them seeing things the same way you do. If you only focus on changing your partner, your marriage will not fair well.
5. Don’t Let Appreciation Turn into Expectation.
The first time your partner does something unexpectedly romantic for you, it feels wonderful! The surprise of unexpected support makes you feel grateful and full of love. However, if they continue to do this action, there is a tendency for that initial appreciation to turn into an expectation. Then when they are not there for you in this way, you are disappointed.
Interfaith couples can easily fall into this trap. If your partner joins you for religious services, participates in an activity, or comes with you to a church group once, it feels wonderful to be supported and seen. However, if you begin to expect them to join you every time, this will cause conflict. Try to appreciate the support when it is offered, but avoid planning on them always joining you.
6. Stay Flexible.
Your relationship will be stretched, shaped, and molded into different forms as unforeseen issues come up. Your beliefs may change over time with new experiences. Acknowledging the inevitable shifts in beliefs, values, and priorities that will come is crucial. Be open with your spouse about your feelings, and update them as things change.
How to Have a Strong Marriage Despite Differing Beliefs
So many couples are living in interfaith relationships. So many of these relationships have tension that builds over time, leading to the eventual demise of the relationship. However, many couples take the time to use the tips above and have a thriving relationship. The work is needed and necessary!
If you want to have a strong marriage despite having beliefs different from your partner’s, you need to be intentional. You need to create connection in your marriage around other things. If you are not able to bond over shared beliefs, find other points of connection that bind you together.
Below you will find 4 easy ways to find deeper meaning and connection in your relationship:
1. Study Your Spouse – Take time to dig deeper into who your spouse is and how they are doing. You may think you know everything about your partner, but that is the beauty of setting aside time to connect with and explore your spouse intentionally. The time you put in now will bolster your relationship through the harder times later.
2. Determine the Core Values of Your Relationship – Although you may have different religious beliefs and values, you can get on the same page with the core values of your marriage. This activity is more eye-opening than you will expect. As each of you silently eliminates values, you will whittle your choices down to just four core values that define your marriage. Pay special attention to your partner’s choices, and use this game to get fully in sync with each other. Plus, it can be fun!
3. Find Ways to Reconnect in One-Minute – Feeling connected to your spouse drives away so much of the tension and anger that drags marriages down. If you find small ways to reconnect daily, you will notice that even the big issues are dealt with so much more smoothly. It can even just be one minute of intentional time to choose to love your spouse and feel loved in return.
4. Work on Having a Happy Marriage – Having different beliefs does not mean you will have an unhappy marriage. Instead, constantly look for ways to create a happier relationship. The more work you put into strengthening your relationship, the less your differences of belief will cause you to feel distance and tension.
Dealing with Different Beliefs in Marriage
Any marriage takes work to be successful. Interfaith marriages are no exception. A marriage that includes two people of different religious beliefs necessitates more maturity, understanding, and compromise.
Knowing the specific weaknesses that could threaten your relationship will be a major factor in the success of your marriage. Just because you have different beliefs does not mean that you can’t enjoy the beauty of having someone there for you through all the ups and downs.
Consider the tips above, openly communicate, and remember the love that brought you and your spouse together initially. We’re rooting for you!