Once the winter holidays, often called the “December Dilemma” come, you, as an interfaith couple, might want to do something special. It will test your communication skills and bring to light challenging issues related to faith in your marriage.
Bringing Family Traditions and Rituals to Acceptance
If you value your family traditions and rituals, and if you like to create positive and significant memories during special occasions, you can celebrate but maintain your identity at the same time. Enjoy, but preserve the values of your family traditions. Be open about this matter to your spouse, and the two of you will have fun together without losing sight of your heritage.
Traditions and Tensions
Some spouses go to the extremes and employ the hard rule of keeping their traditions intact, resulting to hostility and tension in the family. Sometimes, it’s inevitable. If you find yourself entangled in a situation like this, the best option is to be patient and calm while you think of solutions. You can’t immediately bridge differences, but a peaceful approach is a good way to start.
Discussing Your Differences
Maybe both of you come from deeply traditional families. What you need is an open mind. Accept and support the values of each tradition. Try to meet halfway. You can’t change each other’s backgrounds, but you can set a meeting point to settle the little glitches.
Building a Bridge to Blend Traditions
Your spouse’s religious preferences deserve support and respect as much as yours do. Keep in mind that you have to give importance to his or her traditions as much as you give importance to yours. Look to bridge little differences before they grow into a wide chasm between you and your spouse.
Respecting Your Spouse’s Faith
Your traditions may vary according to your religion. Both sets may have positive aspects, but your beliefs may be different. Remember that the path to the Almighty is the same. If you value this principle in your relationship, you will have respect for your spouse’s faith, and life with him or her will be free from tensions.
Keeping Your Identity
An interfaith marriage may not demand you to give up the values of your tradition, but it can pull you apart while struggling to keep them. The good news is you don’t have to suffer. Sit down and talk to your spouse. Come up with concrete answers, and set clear boundaries. Determine which rituals and practices you will participate in and will not participate in. If you deeply love each other, you will not let your differences destroy your marriage.
The Little Details
Spare the little details if you want. Some special types of food may be necessary on some occasions such as hanging stockings. You don’t have to let go of these fun family practices.
Honesty About Religious Concerns
Be honest about your concerns. If it bothers you to take part in a particular celebration or ritual, tell your spouse about it. Honesty and excusing yourself from the celebration are better options than to be present in a family dinner but appearing not to be enjoying it.
Planning Your Holidays
Plan your celebrations. Decide how to celebrate your secular and religious holidays based on your individual traditions. Don’t wait until the special occasion is only a few days away to make arrangements.
Holidays as No-Conflict Days
You’ve probably seen couples fighting during holiday dinners and other special occasions. It’s such a bad taste. It ruins the mood and the appetite for food. When you’ve decided to celebrate, stick with your plan. Have fun on the day, and don’t let your differences get in the way.
Sharing Your Holiday Calendar
Tell your relatives about the celebrations you are planning, so they can share in the fun. Maybe not everybody will be willing to take part in your “customized” celebrations, but at least, they won’t be able to say they weren’t invited. If you are to take part in your spouse’s religious celebrations, it will be a good decision to tell your own relatives about it. You can also speak with your in-laws about your decisions and concerns regarding the observance of religious or traditional holidays and celebrations.
Teaching Your Children Respect of Traditions
Teach your children about your customs and traditions. Explain to them why you and your spouse have these differences. When they’re older, they can decide for themselves what path of faith to take. For the meantime, the least you can do is teach them that each set of traditions and customs needs to be respected. You and your spouse can set a good example for your children by showing them that you can love each other and live peacefully despite your differences.
Definite Solutions for Your Interfaith Marriage Holidays
Solution 1: The Two-Religion Approach:
You can choose to have celebrations of both religions in your house. You can do what some families of interfaith couples do. You can have one room set apart for your religious celebrations while another room is set for your spouse’s. That way, both you and your spouse’s needs are addressed.
Solution 2: The Secular Approach
In some families, there are no religious celebrations during the holidays. Instead, their celebrations focus on the cultural aspects.
Solution 3: The Multicultural Approach
You can have bits and pieces of each culture, and fuse them for a more vibrant celebration. Just be sure you’re not breaking any rules.
Solution 4: The Natural Approach
In some rare cases, couples celebrate by lighting candles on a beach or reflecting by a stream.
Evaluating Your Celebrations
Your decision to create your own holiday celebrations should only be realized after a thorough discussion with your spouse. Make sure he or she agrees to your plans. After your celebration, you must be able to evaluate if it has been a success or not. If it has been a failure, ask yourself what you can change to improve it. If it has been a glowing success, then you can have something like it again, year after year. You can then look forward to your other celebration plans on the calendar.
Dos And Don’ts For Interracial Married Couples
As an interracial couple, you may be facing many challenges in your marriage, which may involve other people like your family and friends. Acceptance of you as a couple may depend on your family background and the community where you live in.
Interracial Couples have many advantages as well as disadvantages going for them.
If your interracial marriage is facing challenges, there are ways to handle them, and they are listed below:
- Do follow what you believe in your heart.
- Don’t dwell on what others think and say about interracial marriages.
- Do trust and respect your partner.
- Do inject plenty of sense of humor in your relationship everyday.
- Don’t be unrealistic about your differences and about what you have in common.
- Don’t be around people who disapprove of interracial couples.
- Don’t consider your family’s opinions alone. Consider your partner’s as well.
- Do work on bringing your families together.
- Do help your children understand racial equality.
- Do keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of interracial marriages.
Preparing for the Challenges
It’s a given fact that every marriage will have its challenges. An interfaith marriage has even more challenges. If you’re about to get into an interfaith marriage, prepare yourself in all aspects, and discuss your concerns with your future spouse. Before you tie the knot, make sure that you have understood the challenges you will likely face. Anticipate the possible issues, talk about them, and plan your solutions. Figuratively, cover the holes in the roof before rain starts leaking in.
Having an advanced mindset will reap rewards for your relationship. If you think you’re prepared, there’s no reason why possible marital issues of the future should stop you from marrying the person you love.
Your love for each other will see you through the obstacles. This will be your source of strength should you be rejected by your own families or the community you’re living in. An interfaith marriage built on lukewarm feelings and then faced with opposition is likely going to fail.
Faith and Your Children
Prior to the marriage, you must also think of issues that might arise regarding having children in the future. Will they be baptized into your religion or your spouse’s? Learn the processes of your spouse’s religion. Consult both your family and your spouse’s. When the time comes for you to decide on matters of faith involving your children, do what’s right for them. Give them the liberty to choose.
Dealing With Your Children’s Questions on Religion
In the future, your children might ask questions about faith and religion. This isn’t uncommon in children of interfaith marriages. Provide good explanation. Don’t make negative comments about your spouse’s faith. Don’t force your own religion on your children. The best thing to do when they’re still young is teach them about both religions. Then later on, they can decide for themselves which path of faith to follow.
Attending Family Gatherings and Funerals
While attending family gatherings and funerals, you won’t be able to avoid dealing with and meeting people who aren’t of the same faith as you. Don’t treat them differently. Being friendly with them doesn’t automatically mean you subscribe to their traditions and beliefs. If you can’t do a friendly chat, be civil at least.
You’ll be able to gauge how good you are in handling your differences when religious holidays come. Plan ahead what you’re going to do on those days. Discuss with your spouse what you’ll be celebrating or what you’ll have to avoid, what you’ll be participating in and the things you’ll have to abstain from. If you don’t think you should attend a certain celebration with your spouse’s family, decline politely. Establish a middle ground in your relationship. Exercise fairness.
Communication is crucial in any relationship, much more in an interfaith marriage. Regular talks with your spouse will help you sort out your feelings and views, so you know where your relationship stands. For the stability of your marriage, talk!
Love and Respect
More basic than the conversations are the things that carry a relationship. These are love and mutual respect. Without true love, an interfaith marriage will succumb at the slightest opposition. Without respect and acceptance, an interfaith couple will just try to force each other to change, rather than support each other. But if you want to give up your traditions and beliefs in favor of your spouse’s, it’s your choice.
The bottom line is – an interfaith marriage isn’t necessarily a bad choice. It’s what you do as a couple which will dictate its success or failure.