Faith can be a huge factor in the success of a marriage. Research has traditionally told us that if you share the same faith your chances of a healthy, long-lasting marriage are great; but if you marry someone of another faith then divorce papers are almost certain. But Sheila Gordon, president of Interfaith Community, believes that this latter school of thought should be reconsidered.
Within her own community of interfaith couples, she estimates that the actual divorce rate is much lower than for couples in general, sitting at around 2 percent. Why the misconceptions?
Gordon says that the existing data for interfaith divorce is “scarce and outdated” and that the experience of such couples has changed greatly with the times.
“Not only may the attitude toward religion differ within couples, but couples also function in different environments,” she explained. “Some live in areas where interfaith families are not common; others are surrounded by others like them. Some have parents or grandparents who are immigrants and whose religious identity is tied to another culture — and some have parents who oppose the marriage and others have parents who provide thoughtful support. Some bring to their marriage a strong educational background or an inclination to anticipate and analyze.”
In other words, assuming that an interfaith marriage will fail just because it’s interfaith is a flawed way of thinking. If you are part of an interfaith relationship where the religious sameness isn’t important to you or your community of friends and family, then you stand a much better chance of a long-lasting marriage.
In our personal experience, this means your interfaith marriage stands a better chance in heavily populated metropolitan areas where cultural differences are more accepted than in areas like the Bible Belt, where there is a more solid through line of religious belief.
If you’re still uncertain about whether your interfaith marriage has what it takes to survive, sit down with your spouse and discuss it. See if there are any belief points that would be deal breakers. Also, define your core beliefs, not just as a religious (or non-religious) person, but as someone with a moral code. If you’re in alignment and you have a supportive community surrounding you, there is no reason your marriage can’t be just as successful as an intra-faith marriage. Good luck!