Do You Talk About Religion In Your Relationship?

by Danielle Pointdujour

religion love & hip-hop

It has caused wars and killed millions, there have been movies and books made about it and it is probably up there with money as one of the most argued about subjects. When it comes to the subject of religion it is always best to tread lightly.  People are sensitive and passionate about their God, Allah, Buddha and for some, their lack of belief at all.  Most people try to simply avoid the topic at all costs, but there are definitely certain situations where the issue should and must be addressed.

Take Jen and Consequence form VH1’s Love & Hip Hop for example. This week’s episode, much like last week’s, found the couple struggling to balance the two totally different religions currently coinciding in their household, especially as it relates to their son.  Jen, who was raised Protestant, wants the couple’s son to enjoy some of the benefits of her religion such as Christmas.  This, however, totally goes against Consequences’ Islamic faith.  He wants his son to be raised in the ways of Islam and would like a hesitant Jen to convert as well.  In an effort to get an outside opinion on their ongoing argument, Jen agreed to go with Consequence to speak with one of his religious leaders, who said pretty much what we all were thinking.  Why didn’t you discuss this before having a baby?

Unfortunately, Jen and Consequence’s dilemma is a familiar one. Many of us avoid the sensitive subjects until it’s too late.  Just like many people wait until after the finances are in shambles to discuss money seriously, the same can be said about discussing religion.  While I would want my child to be raised in my faith, I would be open to a form of compromise if my mate’s religion differed from my own, and have no issues with broaching the topic well before sperm meets egg.

I don’t want to find out during my outing to find a christening gown that you’re an atheist.  I’ve had out-and-out screaming matches with exes about religion and my views on how I would like my children raised.  Some continued for a while after the yelling ceased, other died right there on the spot, but at least everything was out in the open and there was no vagueness on where either of us stood.

Discussions like religion and how it will be handled during a marriage are too important to leave on the table until the last-minute.  But then again since many people aren’t making marriage a priority in their relationships, they might not see the need to discuss such an important issue with someone they have no plans on marrying.  Perhaps that’s the issue that really needs addressing.

What are your thoughts on discussing religion before marriage?  If you’re in an interfaith relationship did you convert, or was there compromise?

  • Sasha

    Watching Jen and Cons the other night made me sad because I feel for Jen and was also slightly disgusted by the fact that Cons threw his religion in Jen’s face as a reason why he doesn’t cheat on her. The moment your relationship gets serious enough to be discussing marriage, major lifestyle/ choices should be discussed, money, homeownership, prenups, raising children if children is an option, etc. Actually I would say even before but every relationship is different. I am Catholic, my boyfriend has no religion. It bothered me and I sought guidance early on into our relationship about it from a priest who gave me advice that was extreme but I’ve prayed on it and am okay with the difference. It has presented itself to be an issue a couple of times (I got upset with him Easter of 2011 because he didn’t want to come to church with me, Easter 2012 he bought me a Snoopy dog with rabbit ears the day before Easter and I spent Easter day with family). We decided that if we do get married and if I can find a priest to perform the ceremony we will be getting married in the Church and that our children will be baptised and raised Catholic.

  • http://www.curlycrazy.com CurlyCrazy

    You definitely need to talk about religion before marriage, especially if it is really important to you. I was raised by parents of different faiths, and while they both were willing to share their religion with me growing up, neither of them pushed it on me, allowing me to make up my own mind when I was old enough. I am extremely thankful for that freedom. Likewise, their different religions never caused any real issues in their marriage (that I know of) and they’ve been married 40-something years! I think it works because they respect eachothers’ beliefs, and don’t try to change eachother.

    My husband and I have different faiths as well. At first I tried to convert, but I found that if it’s not in your heart, it won’t last long. So we just chose to respect eachothers’ beliefs and leave it at that. So far, so good. We’ve talked about how we’re going to raise our children and have come to a compromise I think we can both live with, but we don’t have kids yet so we’ll see how it goes. Although I am very aware that an interfaith relationsip is not for everybody, I think if you want to give it a shot, it can definitely work out as long as both people are willing to compromise on certain things and respect eachothers’ beliefs without judgement.

  • apple

    yes i think its important one of the deciding favors on whether i can date you

  • ImJustSaying

    Can I ask how they shared but didn’t push a religion on you?

    About to have the convo with my boyfriend. In passing he mentioned he wants our kids to be old enough to make their own decision. But I want to take our kids to church with me (not every Sunday but when I go they go) He responded that he would tell our kids they don’t have to go with me. Unfortunately, we were not in a place to continue the conversation. We are a long way from marriage and kids. I was raised Christian and in the church and I just want a view from the other side. He is loving and kind and we have serious civilized conversations about many major relationship elements, this is one where i feel i need some background on not pushing a child in a religion but still sharing your beliefs.
    Sorry if this got a little therapy session-ish.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    If religion is very important to you then it is MOST definitely one of the fundamental talks you should have before marriage AND should be brought up BY you even way before the “serious” dating stage. I know talking about religion makes people uncomfortable especially if you don’t share the same faith base as them but if you want to at least give your relationship a chance then it is worth talking about so you can decide whether their faith is a deal breaker for you or something you can compromise on (especially if you’re going to add kids into the mix) or even practice. Furthermore, just because you don’t share the same religion doesn’t mean you two are doom, there are plenty couples out there that don’t share the same religion (I know a couple now where the lady is catholic and her hubby is Hindu) but making it work and basically compromising. I don’t think nobody should force you to convert into a religion though, I think that is kind of a recipe for disaster.

  • MimiLuvs

    I was in a situation that is similar to yours, except I am the Atheist and my ex-boyfriend was Catholic.

  • Fa

    Talking before anything happens is so fundamental. I’m Muslim and soon after things started getting serious with my now fiance I told him straight: that he doesn’t have to convert but that I plan to marry a Muslim. A few months later he asked me for a Quran, and a little over a year after that he converted. Ultimately it was his choice, but he will say to people who ask that it was through me that he discovered Islam. The point is that we were both open and honest, and it worked.

  • http://www.straightnochase.com josie

    I am also in a similar situation. I am generally christian and my boyfriend is atheist. We have a son and he agrees that he can be baptized and raised christian if I want but we would also teach him about other religions. We also have had tense moments but have agreed to not let religion or non-religion be the breaking point.

  • http://gravatar.com/nicolebuchanan96 Nikki

    I was raised Christian but I stopped identifying as such over 10 years ago. My faith is what some would consider an ATR (African Traditional Religion) and I feel really strongly about it. My ex had been doing research of his own before we met so talking to him about it was cool. However, I haven’t been seriously involved with anyone in years and I’m not even sure how to bring up the subject. I guess as long as they were open and didn’t try to change my beliefs I would be cool. I dont really care what my future husband believes, as long as he believes in a higher power.

    Religion, faith and spirituality are touchy subjects. I can see how folks can have a hard time talking about them without taking things too personal.

  • OMSS

    Personally, it is not very important to me. As long as my partner is not too extreme- zealous theist or atheist or anything in between or around it- I am really not bothered. If they do come off as extreme I cannot see a future for us. My faith is not a strict one and cannot be tied down under one label. It is based on trying to be as loving and open-minded as possible, and is centred on doing the best you can within this existence. I would need him share these values to some extent. The religion or faith he identifies with is not a problem.

  • E.M.S.

    My boyfriend is somewhat religious (attends church from time to time) but I am not. However, we’ve simply reached the agreement to respect each other’s views. I don’t think religion has to explode into some huge debate between you and your partner if you lay it out there and decide how religion will, or will not fit into what makes your relationship.

  • SpkKay

    Previously, when I was unaware of who I was or what I truly wanted in life and for my family, a person’s faith could have been overlooked. However, as I grew stronger and more serious about my faith, practices, principles, etc associated with my faith, dating an unbeliever become nonnegotiable. However, I do believe that a relationship between two people with different faiths/beliefs has a higher propensity for success. The parenting techniques, values, etc that one instills in their children is directly related to a belief system. People can profess to giving their children the freedom to choose all day. However, a person’s belief system and values are revealed in every aspect of their lives from the way they conduct themselves, treatment of others, how they spend and allocate funds, education, etc.
    The issue with Consequence and his significant other is that he knew what he wanted, which is a family rooted in Islam, while she figured they can compromise and celebrate both. The aforementioned assertions from both of them indicated that neither of them are as serious about their faith as they say they are and pick and choose certain facets of their faiths that are favorable to them. She simply wants to celebrate the traditional, Pagan aspects of Christianity such as baking cookies, buying gifts, etc for sentimental reasons versus spiritual reasons. He pursued this woman on a serious level knowing that she was devoid of anything remotely associated with the Islamic faith. When he met her, she was not fully covered from head-to-toe, which he so lovingly took pride in prior to their meeting with his spiritual leader. He allowed his physical attraction to her and belief that she would be easily swayed trump his better judgment. While I am not well versed in all regions, I am certain that those who are of Islamic or Christian faiths are discouraged from marrying someone with different beliefs due to the inevitable dissention. One parent is encouraging church or mosque attendance or active participation in practices associated with each parents’ faith, while the other one is telling the child that they don’t have to do anything. The level of ambiguity concerning which parent is to be respected or the child being burdened with a fear of disappointing one parent or another would be overwhelming. A house divided is house where disharmony and strife excels.

  • Pema

    If your religion/values are important to you do not marry or make a child with someone who has a different religion/values. Period. I think Jen was very naive in pursuing a relationship with someone who has a strong affiliation to a religion she is not a part of. I also have to wonder why he pursued a relationship with her (although it seems like he’s getting his way anyway so I guess it doesn’t really matter to him). Consequence was vocal about his religious beliefs from the start. She’s going to have a tough time in this relationship.

  • http://www.curlycrazy.com CurlyCrazy

    Basically, they would discuss their beliefs with me if it came up in conversation, but it was always phrased as “this is what I believe” and never “this is what YOU should believe”. Plus, kids are naturally curious so I would ask about their beliefs and occasionally ask to join in when they would chant or pray. They didn’t go to services very often, but if they did, they would let me go with them if I wanted to. But if I didn’t want to go, no biggie.

    I was raised that a person’s religion is a highly personal decision, and it shouldn’t be forced upon others. They let me explore what I believed without pressure. They would educate me about their beliefs and why they chose to believe that way but they never pushed it on me.

  • amy03

    He wants her to convert but she doesn’t have to. My cousin (who’s Muslim) is married to a woman who’s Catholic and she didn’t convert. She can if she wants to but it’s not an obligation. People need to be careful. Pushing your religion on someone else is not good. If the person doesn’t feel it in his heart, then it’s useless.

  • Fantastico

    +1 Thanks for sharing your honest history and opinions. I don’t understand why people are giving you thumbs down for speaking your truth.

  • steff

    Before i get in a serious relationship with someone i need to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to religion. People have the right to practice whatever faith they want to practice, but for me personally i wouldn’t want to be with someone who was a practicing Muslim, Christian or whatever. Simply because i have such strong views on religion (in that im an atheist) i could/would not want to compromise on that when the time to have children arises. And if my partner wants to carry on his faith with his children i woudnt want him to have to compromise on what he believes in, i couldnt handle the guilt. So just to minimise the risk of this, before i get serious with anyone we have to be on the same page, but thats just me personally. So many people have and continue healthy relationships with two different religious views, its just not my cup of tea.

  • LadyP

    To have someone of the same religious faith is a necessity for me. Even worshipping at the same religious facility is a must as well. For me, one of the greatest aspects of our relationship is to engage in worship together. Our bond is strengthened as well, as we grow within the same faith.

  • http://Addlily.weebly.com Shelby

    I never thought about religious differences until I was talking to a Muslim guy and he hinted at my possible conversion. Im in a better place with my faith and that kept us from getting closer. It’s easy for me as a Christian to initially blow it off bc we have that freedom kinda. But when you’re in love with someone who doesn’t and can’t see it that way it’s like a blow to the chest

  • Ma’at

    I’m spirtual and believe in God but I don’t belong to a religion. I’m in a committed relationship with my boyfriend who is Christian. In the beginning it was very hard but we got to the point where we loved each other enough to make it work and just respect each other’s points of view on religion or relationship with God. I think that’s the key or else it won’t work. I really believe religion is a personal choice and shouldn’t be forced upon anyone. Compromise is key and respecting each each other choice to worship in the way that they want to is important. I don’t want to be with someone who is a zealot or extreme with their religous views because then that person will never be open to respect my relationship with God.

  • http://www.frugalfashionguide.com Dayna (Frugal Fashion Guide)

    I’m Christian, though a very liberal and nontraditional one. My husband was raised Muslim, but now leans more toward Deism (believes in a Creator that doesn’t interfere in human life) and doesn’t dig organized religion very much at all. We did discuss religion and child-rearing while dating, but more often now that we have a child. And the conclusion for the most part is “live and let live.” I celebrate Christmas with our son; my husband does not. I listen to gospel and sermons sometimes; he deals with it. I don’t attend church at the moment, but it’s understood that I plan to take our son with me when I do. I think faith is valuable & important, and I will share that. For my husband’s part, he will teach our son to balance religion with science/reason/philosophy. But it’s important to remember that people don’t remain the same their whole lives and the conversation/compromise should be ongoing. My husband may decide one day to go back to Islam, or I may get more deep in my faith – but I think it’s all fine as long as we keep talking.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Lillian Mae

    RE: Simply because i have such strong views on religion (in that im an atheist) i could/would not want to compromise on that when the time to have children arises.

    I think this is where a problem arises for most; the children. If I were a member of a religion, I don’t see how I could accept the opposite of my beliefs being taught to my children. We could however, teach the children about all religion and hope they make their own decisions.

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