Is Your Date's Faith a Deal Breaker?
Is Faith a Deal Breaker?
Dear April Masini,
I just met a girl and she is amazing. We have so much in common, except for one thing: our religion. I am Catholic and she is Jewish. We've talked about this and decided it doesn't really matter to us right now and that we like each other enough to continue the relationship. However, some of our friends say we're not compatible and our relationship will never work out due to this major difference. I really want to try and make things work with us, but I'm really nervous that our religious differences make us incompatible. Do you have any advice?"
Sincerely, Religion in Relationships
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Religion in Relationships,
Religion isn’t a deal-breaker in relationships. Tolerance is.
There are many areas of compatibility that a couple can mesh or clash on, including sex, money, politics, family, and religion, among others. The important tools to have in your marital aid bag of tricks are the ability to listen — not just be quiet — but to express yourself and compromise and see the big picture.
Compatibility does not necessarily mean that both people in a relationship like to fish, snorkel and listen to jazz. It can mean that one person in the couple likes to fish, and the other one thinks that going on a fishing vacation twice a year is fine. It can also mean that one person in the relationship likes jazz, and the other one doesn’t mind it. The problems come when one person insists that the other one like jazz, want to collect jazz, be interested in factoids about jazz, etc.
Same with religion. If one person is very spiritual or religious, the only problem may come if the partner is not tolerant.
The other problem comes when there are children involved. Raising a child with religion — or a specific religion — can be a lightning rod for problems if there is not agreement. It is better to give a child a religion and raise them consistently with that religion than to let a child choose whatever religion they want to be at a certain age. Children today have enough pressure without having to make that choice.
Therefore, my advice to couples is to treat religion and spirituality like you would money or sex — and decide how much you want, how often, and what kind!
Religion can become a scapegoat for other problems in the relationship or in the community. In relationships, raising children with religion can bring up problems that have nothing to do with religion, but religion and the child become the lightning rod for the underlying issues. If there are underlying problems in a community, religion — especially a relatively new religion like Scientology can be the lightning rod for underlying community problems.
When someone speaks badly of your date because of their religious differences:
- Walk away. Avoid conflict.
- Address the comment by saying, "I’m sorry you don’t see what I do in my date. You’re missing out."
- You can also say, "It makes me depressed to hear you talk like that. If you can’t say anything positive then I’d rather you didn’t say anything." Your critic will then either take the hint and clam up, change his or her views, or continue to engage you, at which point you should walk away.
- You can dig deeper with the critic of your relationship by saying, "Have you always felt this way about people who differences? Where do you think these feelings of yours came from?"
Understand that it takes some people a long time to break out of patterns of behavior and thinking that they may have — including prejudice. Rather than fighting it head on, try to understand that it usually stems from fear of differences. If you can see the person criticizing your dating outside your race as someone who is fearful and needs help, you may be able to let any of your own anger about the situation, go.