Monday, July 9, 2012

When Religion Breaks Up a Marriage

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For most of us, religion forms a pretty big part of our lives, right from when we are born up to when we become adults and begin thinking of who to partner with for the rest of life's journey. It becomes an even bigger deal then because not only do people have to share the same morals and values, most of which stem from their early religious/non-religious upbringing, you also have to consider where what role religion will play in your wedding, the marriage proper and in raising your children.

When a couple have different religions, there is potential for conflict, especially when one of their faiths is not conventional, such as Tom Cruise’s Scientology. After jumping with exuberant and love-pumped joy on Oprah's couch and the whirlwind romance that followed, Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes in an Italian Castle with all pizzaz and paparazzi. To those of us reading about it in the papers, it was a fairy tale and the princess would spend happily ever after with her prince charming.

Not so. Katie Holmes walked out of their Hollywood mansion last week, 5 years into the marriage. According to sources, the split could have been caused by differing opinions on religion. According to the Daily Beast,
Holmes’s papers cite “irreconcilable differences,” and TMZ’s sources say the two couldn’t see eye to eye on Suri’s involvement in the church. Holmes was raised Catholic and converted to Scientology before marrying Cruise in 2006, but she’s reportedly worried about their daughter’s involvement in the religion. Suri, who’s 6, is now old enough to participate in what a Village Voice report describes as a Scientology practice called “sec checking,” which is a security interrogation by an ethics officer of the church. The report also implies that Holmes didn’t like what she saw of the religion over the past six years and has chosen the opportune moment to pull out. - Source

If it is true that it is religious differences that caused the marriage break-up, I really don't find it surprising that it was Katie Holmes who began to chafe. The truth is that when marital gender roles are in play, as they often are, it is the women who are more impacted in most tussles including the place of religion in the home. Most times, it is the woman that has to convert to the husband's religion, and then make sure to bring up the children in that religion, no matter how she feels about it.

Some homes and some couples are able to come to a compromise, and I have seen when the couple in the marriage decide to allow each person to continue to practice their own religion as a way of maintaining peace  in the home. This may even extend to how they raise the children. This Muslim/Christian couple I know split the children by gender, girls go with their mum to the mosque, and boys go to church with their dad :)

In another family, where both were Christians but from different denominations split the children based on order of being born. First child goes with the father, and the next with the mother, and so on. This may sound strange or funny, but it worked for them.

There is of course the thinking to totally avoid religious difference by only marrying from one's denomination and even from the same church. This may work, but again, individual opinion on certain theological topics may differ and if one doesn't know how to talk things through in a level-headed manner, small issues may blow up into daily warfare.

Another area of pressure may come from outside, from parents, friends, family and even from the people in the person's religion. While a Christian man may be happy to bear with his Muslim wife who is fasting for Ramadan, the people from his church who make snide comments may rub him off the wrong way and create cracks. This goes the other way too. A Christian wife's friends may deride the white garments or method of prayer of her husband's celestial or Aladura church.

This is where even I am guilty. As much as I try to respect most religions, I still find that some aspects of other religions I am not too familiar with, either get me laughing, or thumbing my nose. I catch myself sometimes and zip my mouth before I say something stupid. If I have already spoken, then I have to apologize. I think even as bystanders we can help couples retain their equilibruim in the face of religious differences by each being more tolerant and understanding.

But what is even more important is for the couple to respect each other, respect their differences, and actually respect the other person's religion. They also need to sit down and discuss how their religious differences will affect them, right from when they are still dating and courting, and as and when ever it becomes an issue again. They should never take it for granted.








15 comments:

  1. ds article has got me wonderin a few things too. Myne permit me 2 do ds-i'm igbo,d first born of my parents.mum is a pastor,dad is a serious xtian. My g.f who i'd lov 2 marry is muslim,fulani.her dad is a staunch muslim. We both lv ourselves,we've never discusd religion bt its an undiscusd chasm bw us. I'v considerd all d above options bt my friends wont just let me be...to them,it wont work.

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    1. I'm tempted to join the chorus of your friends, but who knows? I do think you guys just have to discuss it, burying your head in the sand definitely will not do. All the best.

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  2. ....My ex girl friend broke up with me coz "God said" am not the right person, to be fair she is married now...Maybe God showed her that guy..I don't know (Eddie Murphy Voice), but oh well if only we could do it like the Gypsies in Britain and kidnap our future wives, am all for that..lol...47vids.com

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    1. The days of wife kidnap are over I'm afraid, lol...

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  3. u said it all when u said our religious beliefs shape us. i feel marriage especially and relationships in particular are all about compromises. How much compromise is enough or too much is the matter for another day.

    Personally, I hope I dont have to raise my children in a religion I dont believe in-that is tantamount to hypocrisy, compromise gone to far? But I like the logical way u described some couples tackled the matter - after all who is to say that a child will stay on in the religion he was brought up?

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    1. Thank you Onyi, I would find it hard to do that too.

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  4. There is a lot to worry about in a marriage; adding religious differences to it just another hell of an issue. The can hardly be a compromise because marriage is not only a physical union but a spiritual union too. Best advice "marry within your Faith"...Christain-Christain,Moslem-Moslem ans so on... Emy

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  5. There is even another problem, this one between couples in same religion. Apparently being of same religious colour is not enough, people split because they ά̲̣яε of different denominations. A close friends wedding was called off because his fiancee's parents insisted that their daughter must be wed in the catholic church. The groom's family, Anglicans, said God forbid. That was the end of that. Another friend tied the knot only up to the traditional wedding, after 2 years, the two familes have still not agreed if a priest or pastor should officiate the white wedding.
    My dad has been whispering that kind of nonsense too because my fiancee is catholic, while he is "Redeemed".
    But I will kill him.

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    1. abeg don't kill your papa oh

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  6. @kayceeuzor, its so sad that even within christendom we have put up walls of segregation as far as marriage is concerned. My father is a roman catholic knight and my hubby to be is anglican. my dad threatened fire and brimstone and almost made me out to be the family black sheep, only cos i dared to go outside the staunch, conservative, catholic upbringing i had to bring "that anglican boy"-in his own words. Funny enough, my own mother i anglican.....left for me, as far as you declare that Jesus is Lord, I`m good....Getting my dad to see reason was the most traumatic and stressful exercise i had ever done. But i said to myself i will never break up with this man i love, just because of the church he goes to, and our churches are even similar...the only way to settle was to get my hubby to agree to wed me in the catholic church. For some reason, people believe that one denomination is superior to the other in terms of doctrine and the interpretation of the gospel. However, life is about giving concessions and compromising, Try as much as possible to carry everyone along, cos finally, my joy knew no bounds when we knelt before my dad on my traditional wedding day and he blessed us, i would not have wanted it any other way. I think unions between two different religions, is a bit extreme though as beliefs and values may clash a bit.

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  7. This speaks to the importance of understanding what we're getting into before we take the dive, particularly when the religion of our partner is way outside the realm of our worship experience. It would be a little unsettling for me to live in a family where we worship not only in different places, but in different fashion altogether.

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  8. This couple was a fraud from the start.
    Scientology isn't a religion, it's a discipline. She knew what she was getting into when she married him, so what gives? I'm beginning to believe the rumours that he's not Suri's Dad and she signed a contract to make him look normal. The contract is over and it's time to move on.
    I don't always believe what i read about these celebs, so all this her Scientology talk is all wash!

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  9. I cannot overemphasize the role religion is playing in making or breaking relationships/marriage. This is because religion (especially for those who are devoted to it) plays a big role in forming people's values. Personally I cannot say one religion is better than the other, especially as within Christianity we see so many differences. What I know, and what I advise couples prior to marriage is it is better to be married to someone who shares the same beliefs and values as you do. Religious differences will always rear up sometime in the marriage. If the two are so filled with love and plan to overlook their differences in religion, they should both agree prior to marriage how they plan to handle the differences both for themselves and their children. If they agree to follow one religion, the other person should know in details what that religion he/she is agreeing to entails. Also they should give their children a right to choose (of course when they come of age).

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  10. To me compatibility in religion is of utmost importance if a marriage must survive, the bible says can two work together except they agree? it also says do not be unequaly yoked together with .........What will be the foundation of a relationship if it is not based on religion? I dont think its a wise thing to do.

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