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Most people who are looking for love would be wise to cast a wide net. It’s a good idea to look beyond your own religion — if religion isn’t on your deal-breaker list (if you don’t have one, grab a pencil!)
But that means you may be spending this spring celebrating a different religious holiday with your new boyfriend.
It’s important to know how to behave when you’re with someone who has a different religion than you do, as well as how to behave around his family in order to make the relationship work.
The big three tenets to remember are:
If you don’t agree with the practice of taking communion, kneeling in worship or saying prayers, then don’t do it.
Be quiet about it and allow other people to practice their religion as they normally do.
Some places of worship have a dress code that is designed to show respect. It will usually involve covering parts of your body – from a bare midriff to your bare arms.
If you’re visiting a place of worship you’ve never visited before, don’t wear jeans or ratty sandals. Dress up a little in a conservative way.
Be tolerant if your date is not ready to dive into your religion with gusto. It takes time for some people to adjust.
Don’t expect people to have the same ability to adjust and embrace new things and vice versa.
Be prepared for them to want to celebrate the cultural differences quicker than the religious differences.
“The more prepared you are, the less
likely a fight will harm your relationship.”
If you are the one in a couple who is uncomfortable, figure out where your boundaries are by asking yourself exactly what you are OK doing and what you are not OK doing.
Respect your own journey. Take baby steps when exploring something new that feels a little odd at first.
Will you have a wedding conducted by one or more religious figures, representing both yours and his faith?
Will you do something completely out of the box, like choose a religion neither of you belongs to but both admire? Or will you have a nonreligious ceremony performed by a justice of the peace?
Ask the hard, specific questions, like whether or not you will have a circumcision ceremony if you have a boy and one of you is Jewish, if you will have the child baptized or christened and how often you want the child to go to church or religious school – if at all.
You will save yourself a lot of time and energy by doing this now.
If things get heated, don’t panic. Do seek counseling from a professional or a member of the clergy.
How will you handle those members of the families who may object to your marrying or dating someone outside of your faith? How will you handle a relative who is prejudiced?
The more prepared you are, the less likely a family fight will harm your relationship.