One of the most common things people message me out of the blue to ask about is interfaith relationships. I guess when they're looking for advice, I'm the person they think is most likely to have the answer.
My first response (which I don't say) is generally, "What makes you think I'm any GOOD at it?" I don't have many marriage rules but one of the ones I do have is, never set your marriage up as a model for anybody. Everybody I know who does that ends up having a humiliatingly public divorce. And besides, it's embarrassing.
But I do have some rather general advice I tend to offer, and I think it's as good as any. I read a book once, In Faith and In Doubt, hoping it would have something helpful to say, only to find it was mostly about atheists marrying progressive Christians or Jews. The only thing they had to say about marrying more conservative religious people was "well, our book isn't meant for that, it probably won't work out anyway." THANKS THAT'S REALLY HELFPUL.
There are two kinds of advice I can offer. Advice before you get married and advice for after.
Should I marry somebody with different beliefs?
I can't answer that for you, obviously. But there are a few questions worth considering.
First, are you both people who prefer not to talk about religion, or both people who love to talk to religion, even with people you disagree with? Either way is fine. Where you get hung up is when one person loves their religion and wants to talk about it a lot, and the other is upset by the reminder you don't agree. Or when one or both of you find religion an important topic you'd want to talk about with the people closest to you, but also can't stand to talk about it with people you disagree with. Either of those is going to be a big problem. Religion is fine as a thing people don't really bring up. Not so great as a thing you desperately want to talk about, but it's a big fight whenever you do.
Second, how out-there are the beliefs we're talking about? Not just in terms of ideas. I imagine most people aren't that threatened if you believe in aliens or something, but what about practice? Here are a few beliefs and practices that can be a red flag if only one partner believes in them:
- no birth control
- male headship
- no meat
- no medical care / limits on medical care
- clergy get a say in family decisions
- children must be raised in the religion
- everyone not in the religion goes to hell