Interfaith WeddingWeddings are most often cause for joy, but sometimes parents have trouble with the idea of an interfaith union. They may be upset or distressed for a variety of reasons. In a fast-changing world, some people may view their religious and cultural practices as an anchor in a storm. An officiant may assist the future couple in addressing this kind of resistance to change while supporting their commitment to one another.

Here are a few suggestions for helping family and others adjust to something that may feel new and uncomfortable:

  • Demonstrate empathy. Parents may come from a strict tradition and feel threatened. Compassion may be a more effective tool for change than reaction.
  • Embrace compromise. Give and take is inherent to a successful blend, and may prove to be an essential skill throughout the marriage as well.
  • Allow space for parents to voice their concerns. They may feel less threatened by any breaks in tradition if they feel as though they have been heard.

This may be a wonderful opportunity for the people getting married to gain some insight into their future in-laws, who are likely to figure into many blended events to come.

Why Parents May Be Upset

Sometimes it helps to better understand why someone is upset, especially if you feel differently. The roots of resistance may run deep. While is it important to support the couple and help them stay resolute regarding their choices, a little empathy may help calm the waters. Reasons for distress may include:

  • The spouse-to-be does not practice their religion
  • The ceremony is not scheduled to take place in their church
  • They feel the couple is leaving God out of the picture
  • The couple is not dressing or behaving as expected
  • Their son or daughter is betraying his or her own culture, and/or honoring their partner's traditions more
  • They are afraid of what people may think
  • They are set in their ways
  • They are somewhat prejudiced or suspicious of another culture

Sometimes it may prove difficult to put everyone at ease. It may not be possible to change someone's mind if they are determined to close it off. Exposure and education may work wonders, however.

Understanding Their Struggle

Resistance to an interfaith wedding may stem more from worry than from antagonism. Without the opportunity for open discussion, parents may wind up speculating on what they believe to be worst-case scenarios for their children. They may be worried because:

  • They feel their child and/or grandchildren may suffer
  • They suspect the marriage may not be properly blessed
  • They are concerned the ceremony may not be considered an official sacrament of their child's birth religion
  • They believe they have somehow failed as parents
  • They fear they may be embarrassed in public
  • They feel betrayed or are being forced to participate in something contrary to their faith
  • They fear being shunned by relatives or by their community
  • They feel they have lost control, or that their hopes for their child are gone
  • They are afraid their heritage may be diluted or not carry on into the next generation

Joining Together in Peace

Weddings and even the prospect of a wedding may give rise to intense emotions, and rightly so. The decision to join together in marriage is evidence of a deep commitment between two people to step into the future in loving support of one another. Sometimes, people close to the couple take longer to come around to something that may seem unfamiliar and threatening. It is possible that they may not come around at all. While this may be difficult and painful in the moment, if the couple is able to leave the door open and clear space in their hearts for those who may not yet understand or accept, their union may be truly blessed.

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