Navigating the twists and turns of interfaith marriage

Leslie Patton by Leslie Patton

If dating someone of a different faith is tricky, then marrying someone of a different faith can be downright difficult and problematic.  Whether a couple about to enter into matrimony is Catholic and Jewish, or Muslim and Mormon, or Buddhist and Protestant, uniting the traditions, cultures and beliefs of two people, and two families, is undeniably complex.

Chicagoans Patty and David Kovacs chat about how they make their Catholic-Jewish interfaith marriage work.  The couple, who wed 22 years ago in Kentucky, say their marriage is successful because they are curious about and accept each others’ religious backgrounds.

For many second-generation Americans, a good marriage is just as much about having cultural similarities and understanding as being of the same religion.

“It’s both faith and common culture that matter a lot,” said 24-year-old Alejandro Beutel, who grew up with a Catholic mother and Jewish father.  He was baptized in the Catholic Church, but converted to Islam six years ago and is now engaged to a Muslim woman. 

“The religion means so much to me and even if I was to date a non-Muslim I would at least ask her to consider the idea of perhaps embracing Islam,” Beutel added. 

This religious openness is very important, say Patty and David, who advise engaged couples through a PreCana class at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

There, they stress to young couples that learning about and welcoming your partner’s faith is necessary for a happy interfaith marriage.

The Kovacs recently shared their personal story.

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