Interfaith relationships... advice, stories??

I recently got engaged to a wonderful guy. He’s a reform Jew, and I’m one of those wacky Christian religions (the religion formerly known as RLDS).

We’ve covered the topic of children - they’ll be raised Jewish. I will get a Christmas tree, and it will be displayed in the living room, and not hidden in the bedroom. (I thank his mom for that one!)

Speaking of his mom, she works in the temple that his family attends, and she’s had experience dealing with other interfaith relationships, so she’s been a good source of information. But she told me that there are few rabbi’s that will perform an interfaith marriage ceremony, even in reform Judaism. Can anyone confirm/ deny this?

Also, is there anything else we should discuss before getting married? We’ve probably covered more than I mentioned above, but those issues are the only faith-related issues I can remember discussing.

I wouldn’t mind hearing stories about other interfaith relationships, so share away!

And I suppose, if anyone has any questions, I can answer them, but my answers would only be from my point of view.

I’m an atheist, and my wife is an agnostic. Our biggest problem so far, has been deciding which religion not to bring the children up under. :slight_smile:

Well I am in an interfaith relationship, She being LDS and me a Buddhist.

THe biggest issue is ensuring that the S.O. can handle you not believing everything they do. Also ensuring that the children are taught tolerence as they are being raised a particular faith.

Being RLDS you may see the issues here, LDS people feel they are the “one true” religion and if i child grows up learning this, yet sees mommy or daddy not believing there can be the pressure of “daddy’s not going to heaven with us” or some such thing.

Well, we were friends for a couple years before we started dating, and have been an official couple for 18 months now, so I hope we’ve gotten over any religious differences. Plus, we’ve even agreed to disagree on political issues!

I hope we’ll be good enough parents to teach our children tolerance and acceptance. Neither of us believe there is only one true religion (but your statements have me remembering Sunday school classes) so I hope that won’t be a problem.

Good luck with your SO.

Bandanaman, funny. :slight_smile:

Time for a compromise. Raise them as diests.

Dated outside the faith in High School. Horrible idea for me. It led to me staying away from church for a real long time. I guess it becomes a worse idea the more religious you are. If you are only nominally [insert name of religion here], it shouldn’t make a big difference. If you are strongly involved in your church/faith, it could lead to conflict – internal as well as with the SO.

Not much to add here. I’m agnostic, my boyfriend’s Reform Jewish but non-practicing. Most of the religious-type pressure comes from his mom, doncha know- she asserts a right to Jewish grandchildren. 'Course, since I refuse flatly to convert, any of my kids won’t be truly Jewish. So I guess I’m the problem.

Anyhoo, I’m certainly interested in any insights here.

[sup]I’ve got to start remembering to type in my blasted username and password before I hit preview. I just lost a wonderful well thought out post![/sup]

Scott’s older brother married in the faith last year, so his mom is already guaranteed jewish grandchildren via the female line. I don’t know if this fact contributes to her acceptance of me as a wife for her second son, but it can’t hurt.

I believe that in reform Judaism, they don’t strictly follow the “only jewish if the mother is jewish” thing. According to Scott’s mom, they’ll still take your money (or in other words, allow you to be a member.) :slight_smile:

All I can really say to you is that you’re dating the son, not the mother. Be as diplomatic as you can, but don’t let her run your life. Scott has a relative on his Mom’s side of the family who forced her future son-in-law to convert, and apparently hasn’t stopped there in interfering with their lives. YMMV.

*Originally posted by Tattva *

One important note… no matter how well you deal with the issue at home you must remember the religious “culture” you are bringing your children into. Just because you accept multi-religious households doesn’t mean the children’s relgious leaders and teachers will and they may speak out very frankly about what they believe will happen to the non-beiever after death.

We’ll definately remember this. I’ve only met one Rabbi, and he seemed like a very reasonable man, but there are certainly going to be intolerant people out there.

Well I have no direct experience but the three marriages among my college crew were all one Jewish, one Christian, so I know a bit about it. It is hard to find a rabbi willing to perform the ceremony but not impossible. Up in North Jersey where these weddings were, there is a founation devoted to interfaith marriages with several rabbis, priests, and ministers (sounds like a joke start doesn’t it? :)) on staff to help people out. You might see if something similar exists in your area.

Make sure your respective families are supportive of your decisions regarding the kids. You know they’ll want you over for the various holidays and mixed messages from all sides is the last thing you need.

Sounds like you are off to a fine starts. Good luck to you.

I was once in a relationship with a girl who did not believe that They Might Be Giants was the best band of all time! She didn’t even like them! Let me tell you, it made for a rocky relationship. To make things worse, she actually believed in the Violent Femmes! (shudder!)

It ended badly.

Of course, that was some time ago. I’ve since converted to the faith of the Dave Matthews Band.

I belong to that faith, as well as Wicca. I caught more crap from a Radiohead follower for being a DMB follower that I have for being Wiccan.

My hub is an atheist, and I have told him (and my atheist brother) that I will take it as a given that they will sneer at any mention of my religion, so could they please refrain until I am out of the room? This has worked surprisingly well. Children are not in our future so there’s no issue there. Hub has known from day one that there will be rituals held and classes taught at our house, he just asks that I give him some advance warning which is fair.

Married twice outside the faith, and am in an interfaith relationship now. I’m Jewish, and all three are Christian.

The best advice I can give is for each party to keep an open mind about the other’s religion. Celebrate the holidays and observances, and learn as much as you can about it. Don’t make demands on the other, because that leads to resentment.


I (raised Catholic, now an agnostic type) dated a Jehova’s Witness for almost a year.

Yes, they’re not supposed to date outside their religion. (But strangely enough, he could marry me, just not date me. That whole sex being wrong before marriage I guess.) It was very, very difficult, and strange. His family didn’t know a thing about me. His friends (all JW’s themselves) were never anything but friendly and nice to me when I was around, but they expressed their disapproval to him when I wasn’t around. Not their disapproval of me, but the fact that I wasn’t a JW. They were concerned for him, because “one bad apple ruins the bunch.” He was breaking all sorts of rules in dating me; usually when young people in their faith date, it’s never without a chaperon of some sorts (another couple usually) and it’s all sort of formal.

Being kept a secret didn’t do much for my self-esteem; if he hadn’t been an amazing guy, I wouldn’t have dealt with it for so long. He never actively tried to convert me, but made it clear that it would have been easier would I just convert. It definitely wasn’t easy for him either; he was constantly torn between his friends and family, and me. I finally decided that it had to stop, and we went our separate ways. (Heh, consequently, he got married like 2 months later to a girl 10 years younger than him that he’d met once.)

Would I do it again? Probably not. But JW’s aren’t your run of the mill religious types. I’ve dated a Jewish guy, a couple Hare Krsnas, a Buddhist… no problems there.

Good point. I don’t remember discussing this with my parents.

Scott’s from the Chicago area, so you’d expect we could find at least one Rabbi who would perform the ceremony from there. We haven’t looked yet. Shoot, we don’t even know where we’re going to have it – I’m from a suburb of KC, Mo, and he’s from… well, the Chicago area. St. Louis is a great mid point, but neither of us has family or connections there!

I’ve read the Idiot’s guide to Judaism (don’t laugh!) and tried to pay attention. I attended Yom Kippur services this year with him. It’s really incredibly interesting. Do you know if there’s a book available with the sheet music of the melodies for the various Jewish songs?

Thanks everyone, and keep it coming!

When I first met my dear husband 29 years ago, I was a young reform Jewish girl, past-president of the Temple youth group, camp counselor at Jewish camps, and had never had a non-Jewish boyfriend. He was a non-churchgoing American-Christian (celebrated the national holidays Christmas-Santa Claus and Easter-Easter Bunny, and called himself an atheist). But the moment I laid eyes on him I knew he was the man for me!

When things got serious and we started talking marriage, I made my feelings clear: Our children will be Jewish. He agreed, but posited that we would celebrate Christmas-Santa Claus and Easter-Easter Bunny with the rest of the country. He just couldn’t give up those American holidays. (I had NEVER had a Christmas tree or Easter basket in my life!) I agreed.

So I learned how to decorate a Christmas tree (and I even made ceramic and bread dough ornaments!) and how to dye Easter eggs. He learned how to participate at a Passover Seder, and wore a yarmulke in the sanctuary.

Our son had a bris on the 8th day, performed by a moyel, and a bar mitzvah at age 13. Both kids went to Sunday school and Hebrew school. We went to Temple as a family, and we joined the Temple clubs.

Now, 27 years later, the kids are grown and we never go to Temple as a family. But we still celebrate the holidays as a family… ALL the holidays, and I have grown to love them all.

I think my husband is a wonderful man, and I adore him still.

Wow, that’s a wonderful story. Michelle, you really hit the nail on the head.

That’s almost exactly how our discussion went. We’re not planning on doing Christmas/Easter stuff for the children, exactly, but for “Mommy.” Did your children participate in Easter things like Easter egg hunts and Easter bunny candy? Did they have stockings for Christmas? I’m just trying to clarify what you mean.

I want to second an earlier mention for both of you to be ready for the reactions of friends and family. There’s bound to be someone on either side who won’t like the status quo.

I went through it with an ex whose best friend really pushed fundamentalism when she found out that I’m an athiest. My ex had been raised without religion (hippie parents), so she was pretty vulnerable, until she went away for a womens retreat weekend. She called me to pick her up early, because “They kept talking about God.” This friend still pushes fundamentalism in every conversation and it’s driven a wedge between them. Hopefully, it won’t happen to you or your fiance, but keep an eye out.

It sounds like you are doing a great deal of thoughtful planning. Mazel Tov!


We did the whole Christmas/Easter holiday shebang and it wasn’t “for Daddy,” it was “for the family.” I made beautiful needlepoint Christmas stockings for the children to hang over the fireplace; we left cookies for Santa Claus; we put Christmas lights on the house. We developed our own Christmas traditions, like putting up the tree on Christmas Eve and having pizza for dinner! We did everything except celebrate anything religious.

For Easter we had Easter baskets filled with candy and goodies for the kids, and an Easter egg hunt at Grandma’s.

We celebrated Christmas and Easter the same as we celebrated Thanksgiving, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Chinese New Year: as a fun holiday with neat decorations and great food to eat!

The Jewish holidays were celebrated and acknowledged as being religious, some of them fun, some of them serious, and definitely separate from the American holidays. I do not think my kids were confused at all. Son is 22 now, daughter is 18.

The question to ask yourself is if the (future) children will be Jewish, whether or not you want to separate yourself from the family and have separate holdiays “for Mommy.” Would you be alble to celebrate the Christian holidays as “American holidays” without bringing religion (Jesus) into them. I would not have been able do it if my husband had wanted Christianity involved.

Hope this helps.