The 5 Main Challenges of an Inter-Religious Marriage and How to Overcome Them

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About two years back I’d written a post on intercaste couples. Recently someone asked me whether there are any challenges specific to inter religious couples apart from the ones already discussed there. Let’s look at that in today’s post.

inter religious marriagePhoto by Sephiroty Fiesta

What’s religion?

Unlike a caste, a religion is a way of life. A religion has far deeper and broader effects on how you lead your life, how you think, how you perceive others etc., than castes. The challenges of inter-religious couples are therefore a lot more complex, running a lot deeper. After some research and analysis, I could finally boil down the often not so easy to define range of possible challenges of inter-religious couples to these fundamental five.

  1. Lack of support from friends and family: According to sociologist Lynette Clemetson, the relative lack support that inter-cultural couples might receive from friends and family in the initial period of their relationship, can give rise to trust issues between them later which makes the relationship difficult (Clemetson, 2000). The same is applicable to inter-religious couples also. I’d suggest you take time to understand each other fully, gain confidence in your commitment and only then introduce each other to your families, so as to earn more of their support.
  2. Challenges understanding each other: As you know, a religion is a way of life. For example, I’m a Hindu – I’m used to seeing idols worshipped every day in my home. If you’re a Christian this might come across as blasphemous to you. Religion shapes everything from lifestyle (consider the strict vegetarianism practised by Jains), to philosophy of life (think Muslims having their own legal code). Two people coming from two different religious backgrounds, thus, need to make extra efforts to understand each other. Fun activities like picking up a children’s book on the history of each other’s religions, or participating in religious holidays can be powerful first steps in the lifelong journey of overcoming such barriers.
  3. Patience and acceptance: There are always moments in an inter-religious marriage when differences in beliefs are probably really irresolvable. Such situations are inevitable. It’s not always easy to think outside the box you’ve lived in since birth. Being conscious of such a possibility and having the patience to accept differences and yet love each other for who they are is crucial for success of the relationship.
  4. inter religious marriagePhoto by Marriage Bureau

  5. Children: The most challenging aspect of inter-religious marriages is probably handing down beliefs systems and life philosophies to children. However all religions have the same values and spiritual aims at their core. It’s the practices and traditions which differ. You need to inculcate this basic understanding in your children early on and help them see each of your religions as just one more way to spiritual enlightenment. If you as an inter-religious couple can do it right, your children have the potential to grow up as more aware, more conscious people than children of same-religion marriages. The inter-religious family will also help them develop a truly open outlook of the world and treat human beings as human beings, irrespective of their caste, creed, race and religion.
  6. Parents: Some of you might think this should’ve been my first point, but I’ve deliberately moved it to the last. On the basis of my own experience I believe that in terms of gravity, outside challenges to a relationship can never even compare to the challenges any couple faces between them, to make their own relationship work. So far as your parents are concerned, you’ll convince them. Here are a lot of strategies to get that in line: Convincing Parents for Intercaste Relationship.

Are you in an inter-religious relationship? Do you know someone who is? What’s your experience of the joys and pitfalls of such a relationship? Make use of the comments section to let others know. 

31 thoughts on “The 5 Main Challenges of an Inter-Religious Marriage and How to Overcome Them”

  1. if there is “love” then, truly, as u pointed out-everything is taken care of…for eg. if 1 partner is strictly veg. & d other person’s menu cannot remain deprived of non-veg even for a single day…then 1 of them will have to sacrifice OR just understand n let d other partner carry on as before… here love comes into d picture, where u don’t seek to change ur partner and adopt ur lifestyle…

    1. You can’t be someone you’re not. Forcing yourself is a sure fatal blow to your relationship. The only healthy relationship is one of mutual respect – we can be different in some ways but we love each other for who we are and respect our individual beliefs.

  2. im a hindu and my guy is a muslim.. We love each other a lot so do we respect our religions.. his family has no issues and haven’t asked me to convert.. but my parents are totally against it.. especially my mother has threatened me that she ll commit suicide if i get married to him.. they r looking out for an alliance for me.. n i dont wanna marry any one else coz i dont want to spoil someone else’s life.. they are not ready to even listen to what i wanna tell them.. they are not even ready to talk to his parents.. all our friends support us coz they like us being together a lot.. but my parents wont appreciate any of my friends coming and making them understand.. i have every thing in my life but they are literally asking me my life by asking me to forget him.. he loves me a lot.. and in this three years with him.. i have learnt how to love, care, respect relations and also how to live life happily.. they have seen my horoscope and in that its written that i wouldn’t be happy in my life if i marry him.. and i dont believe that coz i know how he is… please give me some advice as to what to do… im in great grief…

    1. Hi Priyanka,
      “They are literally asking me my life by asking me to forget him.” There, you said it. Unfortunately they haven’t left any option for you to believe that your happiness is more important to them than anything else.
      The first rule of life is – your life is YOURS, no one else’s. Of course your parents and everyone else you love are of central importance in your life – but only because loving them makes you happy. If making them happy and making yourself happy seem to run counter to each other, I’m sorry, but I guess you need to take a decision – one way or the other. I wrote a post specifically for you and other young people like you who face this all-too-common Indian problem. Here it is: Help! My Parents are not Agreeing to My Marriage!
      Let me know what you decided.

      1. u can ask ur boyfriend to convert to hinduism, just to appease ur parents, if he really loves u, he will definitely accept ur proposal and ask ur husband that ur children will be hindu and u and ur children will be creamated not buried after death, since hinduism is ur religion centuries old, which ur forefathers are following and saved from the brutal attack of foreigners, u know in islam it is allowed for a man to marry outside faith but not for a women, islam is a religion biased towards woman, so becareful and u can search on net implication of interfaith marriage, interfaith marriage are generally not successful.

        1. Well… depends really..You’ve brought out an important point – legal implications of converting to Islam, like the Sharia law coming into play etc. Well you’re right – that’s something to be considered. However, it’s not necessary for any one to convert to the other’s religion here. In fact you’d find that the most successful interfaith marriages are ones where neither has converted. The more freedom the partners enjoy, the more successful the relationship.

          1. mam, i am a hindu boy, in love with a muslim girl. she loved me too.we very well know that our parents will not accept it easily. we said each other that how long the time may be we will wait for our parents approval. we were in deep love….one day when her mother came to know about our love and she emotionally blackmailed her saying that she would commit suicide if she loves a hindu boy. she has no father. since her mom said that she said that her mom is only important , so please understand and leave me ……she is ready to face the problems …how could i convince her? i am sure i cannot live without her

          2. mam, i am a hindu boy, in love with a muslim girl. she loved me too.we very well know that our parents will not accept it easily. we said each other that how long the time may be we will wait for our parents approval. we were in deep love….one day when her mother came to know about our love and she emotionally blackmailed her saying that she would commit suicide if she loves a hindu boy. she has no father. since her mom said that she said that her mom is only important , so please understand and leave me ……she is not ready to face the problems …how could i convince her? i am sure i cannot live without her

        2. Dear brother Nitesh
          Please take out the Sentence u said” islam is a religion biased towards woman”. its the only religion which give equality to a women, just by seeing some nonsence muslims u cant say like that, And Sister priyanka Is Telling u Clearly that boys parents have no issue,, still u are saying these things,, m a muslim and i know muslims sisters who married a non muslim and living happily,,, understand the religion,,

          Sis Priyanka,
          U treid ur levelbest, now give some time to time and god,,
          god have his own time to do things,,

          1. If Islam is not biased towards women then pl explain why women can’t even enter a mosque? Explain acceptance of wife-beating (nushuz), inheritance of property by daughters whereby her share is only half of that of her brothers’, child marriages of girls . A 2011 UNICEF report concludes that Shari’a law provisions are discriminatory against women from a human rights perspective.

  3. Dear Admin, iam in a deep love with a Hindu Girl from Assam , i myself being a catholic from Kerela, although born and brought up in Assam, we are in relationship since we were in college ,4 years now. My parents are totally against this relationship although i never spoke or had never revealed them this matter, although my parents know it ,specially my sister who is the main villan , almost all of them are against this..They fear about Religion and social taboos, and also since the Girl is from Assam , Tribe Etc Etc..Im 26 yrs old and she is 25 now,She is employed as Govt Teacher and myself well established Travel Agency,although in her family specially her Mom has no objection and others too in her family, i love her to the core of my heart and i can never cheat myself and my beloved , My Mom treat me differentially in home, i cannot bear this mental agony daily , Should i speak everything out and get marry .Please Respond me personally apart from the Points you have posted in the Portal.


  4. haii…am a Hindu boy and am in love with a Muslim girl for the past 2 years and we want to get married next year..her family wont allow but she is willing to come with me and I dont want to force her to convert…i dnt knw anything about the inter religious marriage laws in India can u help me out by explaining the laws???

  5. hi, i appreciate ur opinion n views in inter religion marriages , highlighting shortcomings n guiding people to handle such issues…but you have mentioned Islam is biased towards women…i understand that you dont know the depth ofststus of women in Islam….men n women are treated equal…both men and women hav to follow respective dress code…that does not makeeither of them less privileged…and in holy quran there is an entire chpter on women..women are given more educate themselves,earn and can choose their dear friend as in ll all societies people think man is more responsible for his family n think children will follow father’s religion…its often thought Islam only the religion forcing …its jus dat v follow our holy book n it does not force anybody…women are spoken good abt as v r biologically proven to bear nupbring the society..

  6. Hello maam.. M a jain n my love is a muslim. V both r 25 yrs old n working in respective fields. I told my parents about him an yr ago only because they wre forcin me to look fr suitable men. Bt since an yr, v hv nt got any conclusion. I hv tlkd to my parents calmly, aggresively.. Said il nt marry one bt him.. Also made him meet my parents. Bt d meetin ws disasterous. Instead of listenin to mon kept tryin to change his mind. Evn aftr an yr.. My parents r lookin fr men fr me.. Completly ignorin d fact dt m in love wid him n wont marry anyone else. Their concern is solely religion.looks, finance, family.. Al kpt aside.. Religion is d only issue. My bf’s parents r supportive n his mother hs told me to tke time n convince them. Bt how do i tackle d religion issue??? Pl shed some light. V r ready to settle down.. V r Saving money, looking fr homes.. Etc. V r in great stress n tension.. Wl b great if u cn undrstnd my problem n help me out. Thanks.

  7. hi,
    i am nitin.i fell in love wid my very old friend ,from 7th standard.she is a sardarni am a hindu aggarwal.we both love each other,her family completely agrees though i am lesser qualified then her,me being a successful graduate (pgd sort of) she being masters… brother also married a punjabi girl my parents accepted her too,but this tym my mom have high hopes from me getting a bania girl,,,,how to convince them…any help??\

  8. hey.. i m 20 .. my bf is 21 .. we both studied together.. bt my parents dont like him due to his caste .. he loves me a lot.. n doing every possible try to make me out of my caged house.. my parents take off my cell phone .. n never let me out of house.. :'( i m dying here… my parnts are pushing mental presure on me to forget him n marry the boy of their choice.. i dont knw wt to doo? me rozz roti hu unke samne but they never wipe my tears..:'( mee kya kru????

  9. I am a hindu guy and my gf is a Christine girl and she does not want to convert and I like my traditions very much so I want to what complications may come and what way I should deal and her parenst don’t like me at all.

  10. Hi im a hindu and my husband is a christian we had a mutual understanding stating that you follow your religion and i follow mine but after marriage it is very difficult to follow it if you stay with your inlaws you cant go to temples, you cant escape from eating non-veg, but down the lane after one year my inlaws started pressuring to get converted to christian. Husbands can promise many things during love but after marriage it is difficult for them to keep it due to pressure from family and society. Then the bad time starts and relationship will be under trouble so think before you act .I advise if it is intercaste or inter religion marraige dont stay with your in-laws be away only then you can be happy.

  11. I’m a Hindu girl..I’m in love wit a Christian guy for 4 yrs… But still not in relationship wit him..I love him a lot..he loves me a lot…but he is so egoistic to talk to me and he wants me to propose…a very few times he had spoken to me….but I have seen d true love in his eyes…and he alwaz looks at me….during my hard times he used to feel for me…i have seen his face…in recent times I have shown him how I deeply love him.. Actually I never mind to go and propose but my parents believe in arranged marriage and my dad saw wit my horoscope tat love marriage never suits me…and so I’m getting scared of this and I have stepped back to go &propose… I dunno what to do…he is so egoistic and Im scared of my life ..what if love marriage never suits me …and so I’m stepping back…

  12. LOVE JIHAD……stop this bull shit, hurting parents in the name of love is not love…may be LUST…this is the new way to kill and destroy the culture…

    1. Love Jihad is a myth. This is not my opinion. No one has yet been able to cite any real evidence of the existence of a concerted, planned movement called “Love Jihad.” So we’re not going to talk about it here.

    2. I dont understand about culture who said about culture and kill or distroying culture….I’m asking dennis who made this culture??? How it was made?? For every question only one answer I.e. human being…. Ourselves made all this social customs to run our life happyly but not ruin our life so leave about all this narrow mind and be a secular and rational

  13. Hi, I am a Muslim guy. My father is a driver.He raised me and sent me to a good college and now I am an engineer working for Dell. I am proud of him. He invested all his money in my education so i get a better life. due to my education he could not build a proper home. It’s been three years for me working here in Bangalore. I got engaged to a muslim girl (7 years younger to me) in July 2014 with my parents choice and I agreed because the family is nice. I barely talked to my fiancee. Just after two weeks i came to bangalore and met a Hindu Brahmin girl named Priya (name changed due anonymity issues). I started feeling love for Priya. I told my parents that i cant marry my fiancee because she is too younger to me and escaped. But now i do not have courage to tell them about Priya. Priya is such a nice girl that she wants to be with me and do anything for me. I do not want her to to Islam or do anything that hurts her family. Her family and my family will not agree for this marriage, and in case if they agree they will not be happy about i. I can’t go against my father because i love him more than anything because whatever I am today I am because of his sacrifices. I can’t be selfish. I love Priya but I am breaking up with her today.

  14. Hai am hindu, he is a christian .My whole family believe in castes,religion,i have only friends suppport .In my fute and my life i cannot think what happen will do give me some idea

  15. I’m hindu and my bf is Muslim we love each other alot theres no problem in his home they will accept us if our parents are accepting for that I hav to convince my parents mother who hav more religious beliefs I’m not able to convince her she is not listening my words she only say that what are you thinking about how can we live in society r u mad u don’t want us to live …..she is of against my love what can I do now if my parents accept my love then in his home they will .I can’t go away with him as we both don’t wanna do that .I want my parents to accept my love please help me what can I do how can I convince them

  16. Hi i am a hindu girl and my boyfriend is parents are against this marraige…i love my parents and dont want to hurt them but i love my boyfriend too..this situation is killing me day by day..plz help me and save me…what should i do to convince them for this marraige..i have tried everything.

  17. My name is Michael. I am a Medical doctor and a Christian. I have always desired to marry an Indian girl since I was old enough to talk. My mother is a single mom.She has not objected to my idea but she says she will be comfortable if she is a Christian too. I console myself believing there are Indians who are Christians but am not sure if they allow marriages from different communities. I believe my dream is valid and we’ll get married and live happily,get awesome children and prove people wrong.

  18. Hi,
    Am a Telugu Hindu gal in love with a Orthodox Kerela Christian. We are in relationship for three years now and have disclosed this matter to our parents.. In a span of a year’s struggle we somehow could convince our parents.. Guys parents want me to convert as they want wedding to happen in church but am not ready to. Though they said it is just for the wedding to happen but I can still follow my Hindu customs and traditions imnt sure how far it would be after marriage..on the other hand my parents said OK just coz of helplessness.. they want me to b happy. But everyday Its a mental torture to me .my relatives and family members call me and message me often brain washing and telling all the consequences. I understand them as well..but they dont understand he is my life and I cannot imagine else in place of him.. They asked me about kids religion. Would it be Hindu or Christian. I had no answer for it.
    Can someone please help me out of it.
    If I don’t want to convert is there anyway apart from reg marriage I can marry him with parents on either end blessings. Coz none of our parents want us to do reg marriage.

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