Inter-religion marriage, my experiences penned almost twelve years ago is still one of my most read articles. The inter-religion marriages even in India are now very common or should I say love marriages have an altogether different meaning in our lives today. Most young adults, have a very clear idea of what they are expecting in a marriage and who they are looking for to be their life-long partner. When people fall in love they don’t think at that time about religion. When a relationship advances further to a more serious note, the question of religion erupts.
Many a time I get e-mails from youngster, curious to know the repercussions of a mixed marriage. Unfortunately, the concepts of religion imposed on most of our children are very rudimentary. Even if they want, it is very difficult to break apart from that up-bringing.
|Men should realize they can change their wives’ outward behavior but what about their inner-self?
On the question of religion of their children, most women show a very strong desire to pass on their own religion to the kids. In my experience, since mother spends more time with their kids and they are emotionally attached to the kids, different than the fathers, they have a stronger influence on the child. However, my question to them is why this should become important as to whose religion children should follow. In our, still a male-dominant society, for all practical purposes, the children take the name and the religion of their father. The kids are baptized according to the father’s religion and are registered in school with their father’s religion. What is wrong with that? Well there are some countries where children adopt mother’s religion and their last name but most nations are still old school. I personally believe the women should not show preference in religion whether their own or their husband’s. If they are teaching children preferences they are inadvertently teaching the kids that the father is less important in their lives.
Another very common situation - women complain that the husbands before marriage had assured them of religious freedom but later it changed and wives were forced to adopt husband’s religion. Sometimes this is due to pressure from the families but for others it’s their own change of attitude.
At age twenty three, when I got married, I was already seeing Jesus as my savior (I still do) and every time in crisis, I closed my eyes in prayer, I saw Jesus. Men should realize they can change their wives’ outward behavior but what about their inner-self? By forcing women to follow their religion are they achieving anything? – the purpose is defeated right there. This was the attitude of my husband no matter what he won’t be able to change my insight so why bother trying and there was no need for him to do so, he believed. If women are praying it could be for the husband or for the children so which husband should have a problem with that? We both understood this theory with the result we never succumbed to the pressure from families.
Very fresh in my memory is the day after marriage my husband took me to meet his grandfather in a small place in Palwal (small village in India). His grandfather (Brother of my husband’s real grandfather – he had never married) had renounced the world and was living a saintly life. When my husband told him I am Christian his words of wisdom lingered in both our lives for good – If you change the bottle of a good wine; the wine would still remain the same.
It’s the inner-self that matters. Even if one changes his/her religion the personality of the person would still remain the same. When two people are deciding to get married outside their religion then they both should have at least this much openness. If it is not there then there is certainly trouble in marriage. Religion by itself may not be a big issue in marriage, if everything is going good. But if there is trouble in marriage then religion becomes a very strong added issue.
These are some of the basic questions young people should ask themselves before plunging into inter- religion marriage and if the answer to this is. ‘It doesn’t really matter’ only then the couples should go ahead and get married. This is a very basic question but is of utmost importance and has serious repercussion on the strength and longevity of marriage (inter-religion). The answer should be in all honesty and seriousness and not on the basis of a strong desire to get married to the person supposedly, you love.
In the end, I still believe, marriage is a very complicated situation. I also agree with the age old saying, “It’s very easy to get married but very difficult to stay married”. Specially, now days when we are all living in extreme stressful conditions, married life is not unaffected. The bottom line then - efforts!