Recently I was with a couple of women, each of whom is married to a non-Jewish man. The first, I’ll call her Lisa, expressed her opinions with great intensity. She had strong beliefs on how to deal with an interfaith marriage, what to do, how to act, what to teach your children, how to celebrate the holidays. The trouble was that the other woman had a very different life experience. Lisa meant well but she was gauging all interfaith marriages by her own.
You may be confronted with people like Lisa, people who feel that they know how you should be living. Let me tell you two truths:
1. You are not exactly like anyone else, so you can’t live your life by someone else’s choices.
2. You are not so unique that you can’t learn from others.
My goal with each couple I meet is to help you find the right approach for you as a couple. Then I want you to create a game plan for how you’ll handling your children and extended family. I’ll share what I’ve learned from hundreds of couples as well as the results of studies. I want you to know the typical outcomes are to particular actions. It doesn’t guarantee that your family will duplicate “typical” but it can give you some guidelines.
In a couples discussion group each couple will determine what their course of action will be. All the couples share their goals, desires and concerns. Each couple finds their own way. If you think you are stuck, you can change that. If you feel the future is a worrisome mystery, you can change that. If you just want to have a plan or to hear what others are doing, you can do that. I believe that putting 16 hours into your relationship and your future are an investment that will pay dividends for decades to come.
One couple’s path
Juliet and Birger participated in a couples group. In the course of the group they became engaged. Today they have a beautiful son and are part of a loving community. Read about their process in this article.