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Religion and Relationships


Sometimes religion can get in the way of relationships, especially when families put pressure on the individuals. In many cultures, strict adherence to religious “laws” creates significant stress for couples, especially if the two people are of different religions or even of different denominations or sects within a religion.Christians have Baptists, Protestants, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutheran, LDS,

Catholics, etc. Jews have Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc. Muslims have Shia and Sunni, etc. And the list goes on and on. In many of these, marrying or dating outside the religion is frowned upon or even forbidden. While I am a “believer”, in my humble opinion, these are all simply beliefs in a higher power.

So, the question becomes if you find yourself in love with a person of a different religion, or religion is creating conflict in moving your relationship forward, how should you handle it? The answer lays with each individual and the couple together. I always tell couples to remember that most often they are in a relationship with or are marrying an entire family and not just a single person. For some who don’t practice their religion or are atheist or agnostic, there is not an artificial barrier. However, for most, there are decisions to be made. This issue should be dealt with prior to furthering the relationship, especially if the couple is planning to have a family.

A few years ago, a couple came in to see me. He was Muslim, and she was Christian. Both of their families were very much against them getting married. As much as they loved each other, both families put so much pressure on them, asking them to choose between each other and the family and religion, that it was impossible to move forward. As hard as they tried, they could not get past the obstacle that religion put in front of their relationship. The pressure was too great, and they broke up.

Relationships are complicated to begin with. Don’t let lack of planning, particularly about religion, destroy your relationship. Get some professional help if you find yourself stuck in a conflict.

Until next time, this is Dr. Andrew telling you to “Be kind to yourself.”

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