Inter religious dating

May 2003 Doesn't everyone just love a new couple, full of life and energy and hope?

Over the years, I've basked vicariously in the glory of young love.

I've listened as excited couples wonder at their good fortune in finding their soul mates.

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And I've listened when young couples, so hopeful and passionate, struggle with religious differences and wonder if their love alone will overcome obstacles to the survival of their relationship.

Some interfaith partners say that they brought up religion on the second or third date because they knew that if they couldn't get through the negotiations of their religious future, it would be a "deal breaker." Others say that they waited until the crisis was upon them, doing their best to avoid the painful, emotional talks that are usually required to work through religious differences.

Often there is a certain cycle that couples go through when they initiate a religious discussion: they talk until they begin to argue, and then they go out to dinner and avoid the topic because their primary goal is to keep their relationship going. For interfaith couples, the wish to avoid the potential threat to their relationship often overrides the necessity of making religious choices.

Once a couple has decided to face the challenges before them, they often attend an interfaith workshop.

Each partner's ethnic/cultural differences create a type of "cultural lens" through which they view the world, affecting their communication styles and coloring their perceptions of other people's behavior.

For example, one partner may express anger through silence while the other partner expresses it through loud, angry outbursts.

This is likely a culturally influenced behavior but can lead to miscommunication if the partners do not recognize their different styles of communicating. One partner may prefer to pray privately if that is what his family did and what he is familiar with, while the other may prefer public expressions of faith.

I strongly recommend this because it gives couples an opportunity to talk with other interfaith couples, learn from them, and also hear from a counselor experienced in the issues of intermarriage.

The first stage of interfaith counseling for couples involves beginning to learn about themselves and their partner religiously.

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