by Reza Aslan
People assume that, because we are of different faiths, we must have major problems in our relationship. In fact, it has strengthened our bond.
When we – a Muslim and a Christian – fell in love, we didn’t think much about the differences in our religions. (People falling in love usually don’t think much, full stop.)
We figured what we did share – similar values, similar worldviews, and a similarly strong faith in God – was enough. We crossed our fingers and hoped we would be able to work out how to do life together as it came at us: step by step, conversation by conversation, decision by decision. Eight years, three kids, and one beautiful marriage later, that strategy seems to be working.
We are not alone. Interfaith relationships – as well as the pairing of a secular and a religious partner – are on the rise. But despite being the new normal in some parts of the world, the idea still makes some people very uncomfortable.
No doubt there are some unique challenges to interfaith relationships. But some problems are unavoidable when two people – of any background – come together. On the other hand, there are some advantages in interfaith relationships. There are studies that show that interfaith couples are better at communicating with one another than same-faith couples. In particular, they are better at communicating effectively and coming to an agreement about important issues. Perhaps this is because interfaith couples recognise from the start that they will have to negotiate their religious differences, and so they quickly learn how to carry this skill into other aspects of the relationship.