Cultural differences can be a barrier to a successful relationship. Choosing a spouse of a similar background is certainly something to consider. What about religious differences? Can they be a barrier, as well? Which difference: cultural or religious, is harder on the happy outcome of a relationship?
When two people fall in love, their differences become benign. The couple becomes blind to their polarities in lifestyles and backgrounds. Love is what matters. The race or religion difference seems to be a problem with families and society, not the couple.
Well-intentioned family and well-meaning friends remind the couple that they are two separate people from different cultures or religions that should not belong together. Parents of mixed couples, for the most part, may be hesitant to accept inter-racial or inter-religious relationships, an attitude borne out of love for their child, and fear of societal reprisal. Even if the two families wanted to support their children, societal pressures may have a serious impact on their ability to do so.
Take, for example, a Middle-Eastern man married to a European woman. The European female certainly would not do and act as a Middle-Eastern woman is expected to do. So, is the European woman really marriage material for an Arab man? As another example, let’s look at an inter-religious relationship between a Hindi or Palestinian and someone of the Jewish faith, or a Shiite Muslim marrying a Suni Muslim? In relationships such as these, charged as they are with political and societal negativity, it would be hard for a family to support their children.
Faith issues may not seem so very great when you are deeply in love, but, make sure that you can respect each other’s faith, and that you have a clear idea how children will be brought up – whether in faith, or with no specific faith until they are old enough to decide for themselves. The latter course is one which many inter-faith couples choose.
The key to bridging any cultural or religious difference is communication and understanding. More than likely there will be a potential impact on your support systems – your family and friends. Understanding that impact from the outset, and acknowledging the role that society’s view plays, means that you and your significant other can build a solid foundation with eyes wide open.
It is true that religion or culture may be the issue that comes between you, but, frankly isn’t it just as likely to be finances, parenting, or your working lives? Ultimately the two of you are the only ones who can decide how much your inherited religion or culture matters to your future life together.