Should I change my faith for the sake of marriage?

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What you need to know:

  • Can you see clear differences that exist between your religious beliefs and his?
  • If so, how will those fundamental differences impact your relationship?

Hello,

I cheated on my Muslim boyfriend of four years with a Christian man. We fell in love and so I left my boyfriend for this new guy.

We dated for several years. Initially, I had concerns over our religious differences because I am a Muslim but he reassured me it was a non-issue. He told me I was free to practice my faith but should we get children, they would follow Christianity. I was okay with this arrangement.

However, after dating for a while, my concerns about our differences resurfaced. I couldn’t bring myself to end the relationship because I love this man very much. 

I then decided to cheat on him hoping this would make it easier for me to break up with him. Unfortunately, he found out and was furious! I felt terrible for betraying his trust like that.

I don’t want to convert to Christianity as that would make me the black sheep of the family. I can’t get over him either. What do I do?

Hi

Great relationships are built on a bedrock of core values that must be embraced by the two partners in a relationship. 

Being part of an interfaith relationship, adds another layer of diversity that partners have to deal with in a relationship. It is therefore noteworthy that you have identified this issue as a core value that is causing you great anxiety.

Of course, religion or the lack of it plays a major part in the way a couple relates and deals with issues.

Your worries on how children will be raise up and generally how both of you will relate at a spiritual level is definitely something you need to explore.

I am of the opinion that, one has to deal with such issues and come to a common understanding if their relationship is to be fruitful. Fear, intimidation and manipulation will only make things worse.

One religion is fundamentally different from each other. Therefore, it goes without saying that the difference in the way faith if practiced between Hindus, Muslims, and Christians etc. is different. 

However, finding out what attracts two people who practice two different religions to each other is key. 

What connects you must be stronger and lasting compared to what divides you if your relationship is to weather the storms.

In a previous column I had given some questions that I believe will help guide you:

What are the core differences? 

Can you see clear differences that exist between your religious beliefs and his? If so, how will those fundamental differences impact your relationship?

How fundamental are these differences? Can you live life without them affecting who you and your children want to become? 

In addition, if you were to embrace your partner’s religion, will change your doctrine, values and practices you hold dear?

These questions will guide your reason and help you determine what you can and cannot compromise. If you cannot agree on the way forward, the best thing is to go your separate ways. 

Remember, one’s religious inclination affects their behaviour, beliefs, values, and practices.
 
Will your religious views be respected?

You need to determine what causes you greatest concern. Marriage is about meeting certain expectations and life goals you have set. 

If for example, getting married to him will robe you of a significant part of your dreams, then it will be difficult for you to respect each other.

So, if you find that your religious differences are so fundamentally different, I suggest that, rather than argue or fight because of your religious differences, come to terms with the fact that you face irreconcilable religious convictions. 

However, where parting is inevitable, make the choice to respect your boyfriend's beliefs as a choice he has made towards embracing his spiritual destiny.

Does any of you feel pushed or forced to covert?

Matters of religion and faith are a personal choice. Our religious convictions can either be based on what we saw our parents practice or the result of a personal encounter with God.

As a result, neither your partner nor yourself should force or manipulate conversion for purposes of marriage. It is clear that, two cannot walk together unless they are agree. 

Your spiritual agreement will help define the principles that govern your faith and practice as married people.

Sharing and exploring differences or similarities helps a couple make wise choices on whether the issue of religion is key to how their marriage will be lived. 

When a couple finds a common ground in issues of spirituality, this will create a deeper bond for the two of them.

What will it take to move ahead:

First, acknowledge that there are issues that cause you concern. Second, how serious a concern do they cause in you? 

Third, are you able to do something about these issues? Fourth, if the issues are core enough to hurt your future, then move on with life without regrets. 

Fifth, both of you should be proud of who God has made you to be. No one can love you better than you love yourself.

In general, the amount of freedom involved in the relationship will depend on how physically and emotionally safe the relationship is.

The relational environment determines a spouse’s ability to speak their mind and give their opinion without fear. In turn they are confident that their opinion has been heard and taken into consideration. This is what will result into an affirmation for each partner. 

Additionally, the spiritual environment in a relationship contributes to the emotional wellbeing of partners. 

This speaks into the values the relationship embraces and practices. Values in turn reveal the culture and character of the relationship. Knowing how safe you feel with your partner will bring about greater ownership. 

Values such as trustworthiness, respect, and empathy will contribute to the safety and security of a relationship. With a safe environment, learning is easier and help growth of the marital potential.

Send your relationship questions to DN2Parenting@ke.nationmedia.com

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