Margot Carmichael Lester has a article about interfaith relationships at the MSN Dating & Personals website.
She offers the following pieces of advice (all expanded upon in the article) to those who wish to avoid religious conflicts around the holiday season:
- Start a dialogue
- Practice acceptance
- Manage expectations
- Spread the good word
- Give a little
Not surprising advice. But good advice, nonetheless.
I especially like the “spread the good word” bit:
“The person that you are dating may understand very well that you are of a different faith, but many of his friends and family just don’t get it,” says Elaine Bloom of Maplewood, NJ. “For instance, they may assume you will want to go to church with the family and participate in the service and don’t understand when you are reluctant or just don’t want to do it. They may ask about your Christmas tree and when you open presents and that kind of thing. If it’s not your holiday, it can be very awkward.” So either have your date fill in his or her friends and family in advance, or come up with a way of communicating this that feels comfortable—“Oh, actually I don’t celebrate Christmas; I’m (fill in your religion here)” can work well.
I get quoted in the article as well. (Because, you know, I’m a relationship expert :))
“It’s important to compromise without forcing the other person to give up his or her beliefs,” says Hemant Mehta, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay. An atheist, he dated a Catholic woman for a couple of years. “While we didn’t go to church, I don’t think that would have been a problem for me if it meant a lot for her to go.” Sometimes there are ways you can join in the other person’s celebration that won’t compromise your faith (or lack thereof), and vice-versa. It should be a matter of each partner finding a way to support the other.
I don’t know if other atheists would be willing to say the same thing.
Depending on the level of religiosity of the other person, I’m not sure how much of a compromise I’d be willing to make anymore, either. It’s tough to do a faith/no-faith relationship.
But I’ve gotten used to thinking that most people I’ll be interested in won’t have the same level of “enthusiasm” about atheism that I do. There’s going to have to be compromise somewhere.
[tags]atheist, atheism, love, dating[/tags]