Love versus Religion: To Marry or Not To marry
Love versus religion – should you marry, should you not. You are not the first facing this battle.
The battle between love versus religion in marriage decision is one that is not uncommon. One person meets another of different religion, both persons soon fall in love without noticing their religious differences but when the thought of marriage crawls in, uncertainty comes along. This is not an uncommon situation at all, and how do you tackle it? Well, let me lend you my thoughts on it, perhaps it will help you decide or avoid the situation altogether.
I begin by asking myself “what is love, and what is its bearing with religion?” The answer to the first part of the question came almost naturally but the bearing part needed some thinking. Love form the core tenet of most religions in the world today. Most religions if not all, are founded on the principle of love. Love is considered a present from God or even a representation of God. It is always preached and prescribed to the religious as the ultimate guide for meaningful living. In Christianity, Polytheism and Hinduism, ‘God is love’ and equally regarded as the true source of love. Love of God and of neighbour are for Christians the greatest commandments.
In Islam, the prophet Muhammad is reported to have said “you will not enter paradise until you believe and you will not believe until you love one another”. The common theme across all the religions suggests that love is divine and should be practiced and experienced by believers. Other terms from across different religious beliefs by which love is described include mystery, spiritual, fulfillment, power, trust, sensuous, compassion, benevolent, selfless, sacrament, and unconditional to mention but a few.
These terms offer good insight on what love is and for some people, one of these words may even be enough to define love. Standing on the established premise that love is a key component of most religious beliefs, I present to you an insightful biblical explanation of love which I think is all embracing.
“Love is patience; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. “ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV).
With love being a core tenet of religion, it follows that a truly religious person should be a loving person. It goes without saying that such a person should be kind, patience, persevering, protecting, truthful, trustworthy and trusting, forgiving, hopeful, and a good-doer. A religious person ought not to be envious of others in a negative way. He or she should not be boastful, full of unhealthy pride or easily get angry. This is what it takes to strive towards being an embodiment of love. It is what it takes to practice love.
These attributes of love is fundamental to even sexual love which often greatly influences people’s decision to marry or not to marry. Unfortunately, so many people pay greater attention to the ‘sexual’ aspect of love in relationships than they do to these fundamental properties. Many times people are more concerned about others’ physical characteristics; body built, height, skin colour or other similar traits as oppose to who they really are as individuals. For some people, finance, sex and romance are the key measures that determine if a person qualifies as a potential partner or not. Others may focus more on an individual status in the society or their family background.
These superficial characteristics, though a necessity, are not what would sustain a marriage through time and as such should not be put first. What you should ultimately seek after in a partner is what defines the person as a loving being before considering those secondary qualities. An important tactic is to use the AND logic; the person should be ‘sexual’ AND ‘loving’. Avoid where necessary the OR or NOT logic; if he or she is NOT this or that then he or she is a no-go. Such thinking can rob you of beautiful relationship encounters. Whatever decision formula you use, be sure that the priority is on the true characteristics of love. However, remember that no one is perfect but a person who would not make conscious effort towards perfection is a bad buy.
Now let me stir myself back on track – to marry or not to marry. Knowing that love is common to all religions and people’ personalities are a function of their religious beliefs it sounds good to scream Marry. There is no right or wrong answer here, but therein in the plurality of the word ‘beliefs’ lies the reasons why you should rethink marrying someone of different religion despite the existence of love in the relationship. Love might be a common ground but your religion may differ with that of your partner in many respects. Sometimes love alone is not enough reason for marriage especially if the love is ill-defined.
The decision to marry or not to marry is always a matter of choice. The first choice is go affirmative in which case you chose to marry. You should first of all ascertain that your partner is an embodiment of love and that he or she truly loves you. You don’t want to go into marriage with so much sacrifice only to be disappointed along the way. Once that is checked, confirmed that you are really attracted to the person and also that you truly love them too. Your definition of love should embrace the qualities mentioned earlier otherwise you might be making the wrong decision. Sometimes lust is almost indistinguishable from sexual love, especially when it is sustained over time.
It is easy for you to know if you truly love your partner. The reverse should not be taken as a given; many relationship have survived on calculative pretense and feigned love only to crash along the way. This could happen if a partner has hidden or undisclosed motives for going into the relationship. Put the qualities of love to the test and get confirmations. For example, do you want to keep to your religion even in marriage, what is your partner’s response to this? If your partner truly loves you, he or she should be able to respect your decision and accept you without mandating you to change religion.
In fact, each of you should be genuinely interested in the other’s beliefs without having to leave your religion. Such knowledge is necessary in maintaining healthy interaction as certain actions or decisions you may take could stem from your religious view points.
What are your views regarding your children’s religion? The common thing is for the man to want the children to be of the same religion as he is but if love truly comes before religion in the marriage, then the man should not care much about which religion they will be brought up in. Is your partner trustworthy? Of course where there is love trust is inevitable. You want to be sure that they will not go changing their mind and the agreement made sometimes after marriage. This can be very disappointing. History should help you out here.
If you have had several quarrels in the past because of your religious beliefs then it is likely that he or she is not being sincere. This is especially true if they agreed too easily to your proposal. If your partner shies away from engaging in necessary conversations of religious nature, this could be an indication of discomfort. You want a situation that allows for cross learning allowing for healthy communication. Interest and support are the things you are looking for here; if they are available then it’s a good sign. And they don’t in any way mean conversion.
The second choice of answer to the question of whether to marry or not to marry is to go negative in which case you choose not to marry. This choice is a difficult one to make; it takes a lot of muscle to pull through especially if the relationship has lasted for a long time. Most times this decision follows a long time of self-questioning characterized by uncertainty, confusion and worries. You are not sure if you are making the right decision and wonder why you didn’t consider certain factors earlier on in the relationship.
If you find yourself in this situation take solace in the fact that you are not alone. It is because of you that I write this post. I must say that if you feel doubts and uncertainties at this point in your relationship then you are most likely right about choosing not to marry him or her. You probably didn’t foresee the possibility of a marriage proposal from the beginning. You simply met, found each other attractive, got attached and soon found yourself in love and now you are left to decide to accept a marriage proposal or not. If only your partner is of the same religion as you things would be a lot easier.
The practice of same religion in marriage introduces harmony and strengthens the bond among families and family members. It reduces chances of controversies especially when any or both partners are religiously fanatical. This is one of the reasons why many religious groups encourage members to marry within their own group. Some religious sects discourage or even forbid their members to intermarry. This position may seem bias and unfairly restrictively, but at the core of it lies good sense. It is a fact that most marriages work better where both partners hold the same religious beliefs. Since most religions do not condone divorce and advocate for healthy and lasting marriage, this position is almost inevitable.
The further apart your religious beliefs are to those of your partner, the more likely your relationship would lose the above hinted benefits. A marriage between Christians of different sects for example, is more likely to succeed than one between a Christian and a Muslim. One way around this is for one partner to convert to the other’s religion. But again, adapting to a new faith is not an easy thing. The change process could introduce some strain which may cause instability in your marriage. Change is a difficult thing. You may find that it is harder than you thought to adapt to the new religion or religious beliefs. In addition, you may even find yourself not liking it altogether, especially if you didn’t familiarize yourself with its practices during courtship.
Try to consider also the impact of such conversion on your family. It is most likely that your decision to marry witnessed considerable confrontation from them already. Maybe you were able to convince your parent that your love supersedes all and that you and your partner agreed to keep to your respective faiths. Your family may have agreed to the married just to make you happy but your decision to convert would only further weaken your relationship with them. Also consider the long term effects of such a change on your personal life financially, socially and career-wise. Be objective in your assessment; love might be blind but it doesn’t blur your mind from thinking.
In the battle between love versus religion in marriage, the decision to marry or not to marry boils down to choice making; one that requires a great deal of careful thinking about your relationship yesterday, today and in the future. If love truly supersedes everything else, then your partner should not just tolerate your religious views but accept and accommodate you and your beliefs, now and for always. Given that there is a better alternative, it is best to avoid this situation altogether.
The best way to do this is to choose carefully who you go out with from the start. And it can never be too late to breakup for the right reasons. If you have thought about it then it might as well be the right thing to do. Many roads lead to love. Don’t allow desperation or previous disappointments to stir you off course. Be patient and make the right choice.
Have a beautiful relationship!