Different Religions: How Couples Make It Work
Shirley Budhos of New York City, who was married to a foreigner of a different religion, said, "In my family, with many religions represented, we have no conflict over this issue. I believe in personal will, which means my children, their children, my spouse and other relatives make their own decisions based on their inclinations, not on trying to please me."
"I was happily married to a man of a different religion," said Elaine McGinnis of Lanham, Md., "but we discussed these differences before marriage and they never became an issue. We were able to teach our children that all roads lead to God and that mutual respect in all relationships is the most tangible evidence that one believes in a higher power -- despite the rituals that may surround that belief."
Gale and Ian Kilmer, of Leicester, N.C., are in their late 60s and are recently married. They're of different religions. "I attend with him on Saturday, he goes with me on Sunday. Problem? What problem?" said Gale.
Leo Inglesby, a widower from Bethesda, Md., was married to a woman of a vastly different faith. Two of their children were raised in her faith, one in his. Leo said, "Neither of us sought to impose our faith on the other. Each loved the structure and comfort that our religion provided. We felt it important that our children begrounded in the message of faith and love. I don't care what religion a person is, just that she has religion."
Although raised in different faiths, Shirley Ferazzi of Bellflower, Calif., and her husband never fought about religion in 39 years of marriage. "After four years, I decided it would be easier to raise the family in one faith," said Shirley. "I was not talked into the decision."
Kaye Pinkowski of Indianapolis, was married for 32 years. Although of different religions, she and her husband had open dialogue about their convictions. They successfully raised four children.
Jeannie Snapp of Hillsboro, Ohio, is dating a man of a different religion. "I'm willing to attend his service.The main thing that matters is that we have matching values."
When Bill and Fran Blake of Jackson, Mich., married morethan 60 years ago, they were of different faiths. They raised four children in a religion they considered neutral, feeling the important thing was that the children were exposed to a religion.
Believers and Non-Believers
As the above stories indicate, the ThirdAgers we spoke with felt that merging different religions often works. But when a religious person gets together with a non-believer, some say the relationship may not fare so well.
Harlow Staley of Northbrook, Ill., says he dated a woman he cared for. Regarding religion, "It wasn't important to me, but it was to her. I'm an atheist. She's a leader in her church. It was a relationship-ender. It could have been a serious relationship. We got along great otherwise."
Dawn LaCroix of Omro, Wis., dated a non-believer. "When I watched his attitude at a Christmas concert in a public auditorium, I knew we were going NO WHERE."
"I dated a remarkable gentleman," said Pam Kinsinger of Iowa Falls, Iowa. "He was blind, but he lived a fulland productive life. I did not continue dating him when I found out he was an atheist. The blindness I could handle, the other I could not."
Different Religions, Wonderful Marriages
Pamela Williams of Muskogee, Okla., summed up this topic nicely: "Sometimes it's easier to be with someone who shares the same belief. But more importantly is that you respect each other's beliefs and realize they are a part of the other's makeup. I don't want to force my beliefs on anyone nor have them force theirs on me. I've known many couples who had different religions andwonderful marriages."
Tom Blake is a syndicated newspaper columnistin southern California and the author of three books ondating and relationships for the ThirdAge generation.Click here to sign up for Tom's free "Finding Love After 50" newsletter.