Love Sees No Religion

You are decorating the Christmas Tree in one room while your partner is reading the Quran in the next one. Or perhaps you are preparing to light the menorah while your partner is devoutly and passionately atheist. For most of the year, these differences are really in the abstract. Being with the person, sharing a home or even talking about your day is your spiritual practice together.

Yet the holidays can divide you into camps. Suddenly you are all choosing churches, synagogues or just sitting on Santa’s lap for a few minutes to pay homage to the spirit of the season. Even a decision not to participate at all is its own sect these days.

But here we are and it’s time to practice some tolerance while you pull out the wrapping paper. Most of us will always have a tie, if even a negative one, to the religion we were raised in. And with the diverse choices of religion and backgrounds and the increasing migration of our global world, you may just find yourself deeply in love with someone who has never set foot in your place of worship.

Can you continue to grow your relationship in the midst of religious division? Can love really conquer all? Let’s see…

How do you really feel?
First, it’s time to ask yourself how important your religious beliefs are to you. Are they so important that you cannot imagine living in a family whose members may have different beliefs than you? Have you ever discussed this with your partner? Perhaps if children are not involved, it’s a non-issue. Wherever you stand, take this time to evaluate these things in yourself. Every relationship is ultimately a journey of self-discovery and knowing what you believe is a transformative experience.

Since this journey is not only all about you, resist (at all costs!) any attempt at converting your partner to your beliefs. If you are feeling conflicted about being with someone of a different faith, then that may be your answer. If they would like to participate in your religion authentically from their own journey then allow them to have their own experience. But if they do not jump to attend midnight mass with you, reach out to a friend or family member to accompany you. Your partner doesn’t have to be there for you for every need imaginable – that is what your connection to the universe is for. Your partner is just a human like you, having an individual journey, just like you.

Expand your consciousness
Throughout time, every human civilization has reached out for a spiritual explanation for everything from the changing weather to life after death. Whether that religion was born three thousand years ago or sprang from the mouth of a preacher down the road, there is something in it to learn. Shutting your mind against an idea before you have given it thought is contempt before investigation. This is the end of a teachable heart. And it is a wall that doesn’t need to be up. There is nothing to fear in learning of other belief systems. The best thing that can happen is that you find even more tools to love yourself and other people. The worst thing that can happen is that you are bored for a bit while your partner appreciates your support for their beliefs.

For many, it’s not their partner’s beliefs that worry them – it’s the beliefs of their partner’s family. Try to keep these things separate in your mind. If you are faced with the intolerance of an in-law, use the same principles. Try to avoid evangelizing for your own religion and just nod and smile at their attempts. Speak up, in love, if you have to – no one deserves to be insulted in any way. But there isn’t a need to hash it out at a Shabbat.

Love one another
We each pass each other in this life for a specific reason. You and your partner were drawn together in a complex and spiritual way that has to do with your energy, not your denomination. Before you judge your partners beliefs, remember that it is the way they treat you and your power in each other’s presence that really shows your spiritual condition together. You can appreciate each other’s differences as a gift that deepens your relationship. The more we connect to each other, the more walls dissolve between us all.

Above all, listen to each other and why you each believe what you do. Chances are, underneath the rituals and sacred days, the holy books and ceremonies, you connect at your core and that’s what really matters. So celebrate in every way and let love rule!

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