At JOI, we often focus on intermarriage and the challenges the couple – and their families – will likely face throughout their lives. But an interfaith couple doesn’t just meet and decide to marry. Usually there is a courtship, and it’s during this period that most couples find out how their families will react to dating someone of another faith.
This comes up because of an article we read on the website for JVibe magazine, titled “To Date or Not to Date?” In the article, the author says in her household, where relatives have been able to successfully navigate intermarriage, the religion of her boyfriend not an issue. But then she asked some of her friends how their parents would respond. The answers ran the spectrum from accepting to “outright prohibition.” Some friends, because they know how their parents would react, won’t bother with interfaith dating. Others will “simply tolerate whatever comments and anger their parents care to dish out.”
The article’s author notes that, like in her family, if “special attention is made to synthesizing cultural traditions and religious beliefs, interfaith dating and ultimately marriage can be successfully accomplished within a Jewish household.” This is true, but only if the family is able to talk openly about honestly about interfaith relationships. Some parents might react with disappointment at the news their son or daughter is dating someone of another faith – and they will tell them as much. Other parents will welcome their child’s partner openly. Each family will be different, but what’s most important at the end of the day is that the family works through the challenges together. How families react, in that momentary second, may determine the future relationship with their children and grandchildren.
We’d like to hear from you – what is the experience like in your family?