How to Make A Multi-Faith Relationship Work



By Jon M. Sweeney and Michal Woll for

In "Mixed-Up Love: Relationships, Family, and Religious Identity in the 21st Century," Jon M. Sweeney and Michal Woll address the joys and hurdles of being in a multi-faith relationship. Drawing on research, personal stories from friends and acquaintances, and their own experience as a mixed-faith couple, they show that — even as multi-religion romance has become increasingly common in the 21st century — spiritually committed couples can still find the situation challenging. In this exclusive essay for Bookish, Sweeney and Woll break down four guidelines for overcoming the difficulties and focusing on the pleasures of having a partner of a different faith.

Spiritual commitment can matter more than belief.

Our friends Rachel and Jeremy met in their 30s after Rachel had already been married and divorced. She’s an involved mainline Protestant, while Jeremy’s an active Conservative Jew. She remembers, after her divorce, praying to God and asking to meet a spiritual man this time around. Meanwhile, Jeremy was ending an unsatisfying relationship with a fellow Jew, one who was completely uninterested in Jeremy’s religious commitments and values. So, the relationship between Rachel and Jeremy progressed quickly and easily despite the Christian-Jewish divide. Today, they’re married and raising two kids, trying to combine the practices and teachings of two religious traditions in one home.

Faiths can be integrated with a little creativity.

Then there are Lainie and Phillip: She was raised Catholic and became primarily a practitioner of earth-based, or pagan, religion, and Phillip was raised a Unitarian-Universalist and still remains involved in his church. When they married, Lainie and Phillip integrated a handfasting ritual and a blessing of the four winds into a simple Unitarian ceremony.

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