The One Mistake to Avoid in an Interfaith Marriage, According to Experts

It's one thing to raise a family with someone who has different tastes, hobbies and interests. But when your partner happens to have a completely different faith, maintaining a healthy family dynamic can sometimes be challenging. For one, avoiding having to compromise your core beliefs during a night out or navigating new holiday traditions is a whole lot trickier than simply negotiating a new allowance with your kids. In short, interfaith marriage is complicated. And it takes work

But according to experts, it's still possible to maintain a successful one—just as long as couples don't make the mistake of conflating religious practices with parental allegiance.

It might seem pretty obvious, but according to Rabbi Judy Greenfeld (also known as the 'Relationship Rabbi'), raising kids in a multi-faith home could lead to parental favoritism. For instance if a child decides that mom's religion is a better fit, it could negatively affect how they see their dad or cause them to assume that one is better than the other.

To avoid this, Greenfeld explained that parents should "make it clear that they’re not picking between mom and dad—separate religion from allegiance."

So, if you're a devout Catholic who's married to a Jew, you may run into some conflict when all the in-laws come over for holiday visit. But if you want to set the right example for your little ones, you may want to discuss these differences beforehand—and be very straightforward with them.

Greenfeld explained, "The key is to have a solid understanding of ‘this is what we’re going to do’ [to celebrate the holidays] and be able to explain your reasoning to the kids or grandparents. Don’t be wishy-washy."

Though it can be a challenge, the rabbi noted that interfaith families definitely work. She shared, “I have married many interfaith couples (including members of my own family), and I am a leader of a congregation that’s filled with intermarriages that are very happy and successful.” 

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