Faith is a sensitive and important topic to most people. It is a lifelong devotion that is non-negotiable for most people and is usually an integral part of marriage, child-raising, and relationships. What then happens when you find yourself falling for someone who isn’t very serious about their faith or has none at all. Most people consider this a deal-breaker from the get-go and remove any thoughts of a potential relationship with the person. Others would still consider a relationship regardless of religious differences. Many successful marriages exist between religious and non-religious people. The key is mutual respect and understanding as well as a lot of maturity.
- Discuss before-hand: Is the person religious but just unserious about religious? Is the person a deist? Is the person an atheist? It is very helpful to define their religious beliefs so as to know what exactly you’re getting into.
- Agree on possible conversion: The biggest source of fights between religious and non-religious people is the subject of conversion, usually with one person wanting to ‘convert’ the other either to religion or non-religion. The most successful relationships between the two occur when there is a mutually respected decision to not try to convert anyone. This needs to be hashed out. Are they open to being converted or do they wish to be left alone?
- Respecting boundaries: Almost nothing brings out the defensive and often angry side of people like religion. Again, the most successful couples in this regard are those who agree to remove the subject of religion altogether. If you disagree on beliefs, it’s best to not start debates about ti constantly or ridicule the others’ beliefs. This also means the non-religious person understanding and respecting the religious person’s beliefs which include times when they are praying, fasting or attending religious events.
- Child-raising: Almost all people insist on raising their children in the religion they belong to and even among couples who are religious, this can cause some tension (usually because they belong to different religions or have different doctrines). Before a serious relationship is even embarked upon, there needs to be a discussion on how the future children of the relationship will be raised. Will the children be taken to religious events? When the issue of one parent’s lack of religion comes up, how will it be explained to the children? Hash this out as early as possible.