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Two to Tango: In an inter-faith marriage, how do you deal with religion?

Counsellors also say that even though couples may think it too far in the future, it’s imperative to discuss how they want to bring up their kids and what faith would they want the kids to follow.

Written by Amrita Sharma | New Delhi |
March 29, 2016 2:01:34 pm
kareena saif_759_varinder When a couple accepts each other’s faith with respect, then inter-faith marriages can be beautiful and enriching. (Source: Varinder Chawla)

When couples get married, there are many adjustments to be made for the relationship to keep working. But when people of two different faiths get married, then the challenges they face are unique.

It’s not just the culture, the lifestyle, the food habits, the tradition but the very faiths that need adjustments.

Take the case of Huda and Vinay. When the two got married, they felt that they would not face any issues since they had taken a conscious decision to enter into matrimony. But with time certain issues started rearing their heads which the couple was not prepared for. “For me, when Huda’s parents started calling me by the Muslim name I had taken during the nikaah ceremony, I did not like that. They knew that I had agreed to the ceremony only because I wanted us to get married but that did not mean I had converted to Islam,” says Vinay.

Other things also started cropping up in their marriage with regard to religion. “Every time I would go their place they would insist that I wear the sindoor or the mangalsutra but I was not comfortable wearing that. I hated the fact that Vinay would not say anything when they put pressure on me,” says Huda.

Experts say that when it comes to inter-faith relationships, couples need to get a few things clear before getting into a marriage. Issues such as what festivals to celebrate, how to deal with in-laws and relatives, what tradition to follow and so on, should be discussed before taking the relationship forward, since they have the potential to drive a wedge between the partners.

Counsellors also say that even though couples may think it too far in the future, it’s imperative to discuss how they want to bring up their kids and what faith would they want the kids to follow.

This is what happened with Kusum and Charanjeet. When they got married, they had no idea that tradition and religion would take its toll on their relationship. When they had their first child, Charanjeet insisted that he would be brought up in the Sikh tradition, but Kusum was not ready for it. “I had never imagined my son to be brought up like this. My husband does not wear the turban, so I assumed that such a thing would have no bearing on our child. But, now, Charan and his parents were adamant that he be brought up a Sikh. I have no problem with that but Charan should have discussed that with me before taking such a decision with his family,” says Kusum.

Experts say that while open communication with each other about the subject of religion is important before the couple decide to tie the knot, it is also important to respect each other’s faith. In absence of such an understanding and respect, problems are bound to crop up and sometimes can damage a relationship irreparably. But when a couple accepts each other’s faith with respect, then inter-faith marriages can be beautiful and enriching.

This is what happened with Priti and Mark. When they got married, it took them some time to get adjusted to each other’s faiths, their traditions and festivals. But they both had spoken about it openly before getting into any commitment. “We had decided that we will celebrate both faiths and the respective festivals. After all, we were only adding more celebrations into our lives, and both of us felt more enriched by it,” says Mark.

Read all the Two to Tango columns here.

“We celebrate Holi, Diwali and Christmas with equal zeal and we see no reason for any differences on that account,” says Priti. In fact, the very first year of their marriage, Priti made a Nativity display and invited all his family members for a Christmas party, which not only touched Mark a lot but also endeared her to his family. “It’s all about respecting your partner’s faith. The fact that we accord the same importance to each other’s festivals and traditions makes our bond much stronger and richer,” says Mark.

Experts say that when it comes to inter-faith unions, respect and consideration for another’s culture, tradition and beliefs is the key to a lasting relationship. If there are issues of faith that you feel strongly about, it’s important that you discuss it with your partner before committing so that there are no unpleasant surprises thrown at the other.

Counsellors also say that sometimes major problems arise not so much because of different faiths but lack of communication and understanding regarding their different approach to one another’s faiths. As long as such sensitive issues are clear, there will be no cloud over the relationship.

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