An April 2013 piece in the New York Times Opinionator by Stanley Fish titled “Marrying Out of the Faith” caught my eye. See full article at http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/marrying-out-of-the-faith/?smid=pl-share He discusses his own experiences and Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book, “Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America.” I realized that we have done divorce mediation for close to 30 years and I can’t remember one case that a divorce was caused by an interfaith marriage. Even though it has not come up directly, it may aggravate the situation. Also, I have found that religion is often more an emotional than a spiritual issue. Many people who are not religious seem to become more so when they get married. This is not to say the issue of religion did not come up. Ironically, the issue usually comes up in a positive way. In determining a parenting plan for holidays, it was easier. If it was a Jewish and Christian marriage, there was no fight over who parented the children on Christmas, Chanukah, Easter, Passover, Yom Kippur, and other religious holidays. We once were special masters in case where the Jewish Father suggested parenting his children on the Jewish Holiday but when the Mother agreed he argued against his original suggestion. I have some funny anecdotal stories on this issue. In college a girl refused to date me because she thought I was not Jewish but never asked if I was. I am. I knew good friends of ours were an interfaith couple. When I met them, I thought the Husband was Jewish and the wife was Christian. It turned out that it was the other way around. I am not a big fan of conversion for the sake of marriage. If there is a conversion it should be because the person believes. One may be able to convert but I don’t think one can convert the emotional and cultural experiences of a child. I have seen many conversions. Often I have been surprised that the person was not born Jewish. Others seems like it was purely cosmetic. Often the person who converted is more religious than their spouse. I found his discussions of inter political marriages also very interesting. He indicates that people worry more about an inter political marriage than an inter faith marriage. I have noticed that most couples agree politically. I think it is more an unconscious compatibility issue.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at http://www.center-divorce-mediation.com/ CDM (278) 8/31/13