How To Make The Most Of The Holidays When You're In An Interfaith Marriage

Being in a supportive and loving relationship is great. And it makes special events even better when you have your favorite person by your side. That could include family events or dinners or even just birthdays or work parties with friends. You want to share your life with your partner, and if you're serious enough, children and marriage might be on the horizon. Maybe you're already there and feel fulfilled to be with the love of your life, till death do you part and all that jazz. But marriage isn't easy and neither are relationships in general. Healthy ones take work and often hit obstacles and bumps, especially during stressful times like the holidays.


Holidays can be fun, but they can also be a lot to deal with, especially with a spouse and in-laws. Plus, if you two are in an interfaith relationship there might be a few more hurdles to get through during the holidays as well. How do you decide what traditions to uphold and when to make new ones? As with any issue in a relationship, kindness, care, and communication are going to be your best tools in figuring out how to navigate the holidays in an interfaith marriage.

Be open and patient when talking about holiday traditions

Communication and openness are vital in all aspects of a relationship, and you'll especially benefit from being open while discussing your interfaith holiday situation. "Making sure that you and your partner fully understand where each other is coming from and how each of you [feel] is key," life coach and author, Sarah E. Stewart, told Wedding Wire. Talking through traditions that are important to both of you can be emotional, but communicating with kindness is the best way to go. "Support your partner, even if it may be a little awkward, that is a marriage," Stewart said.


If this is the first time you're bringing your partner home for the holidays, your discussion will take on a few other layers, considering you also need to talk about potentially splitting time between each other's family parties. Plus there are extended family and other people involved that might not be as understanding as you and your partner are about each other's religions. That support will come in handy during this time as well.

Along with communication, another essential relationship skill to utilize is the power of compromise. Figure out what part of each partner's religion or holiday is the most important to them and see how you can bring it all together. You can combine religious symbols and decorations or you can scramble it all together. But make sure that if one partner is giving something up, the other side is too.


Create your own traditions

Again, compromise is great. But instead of sacrifices here and there, you can always create something totally new or eclectic if you're both okay with it. "Experiment, mix, and find what works for you," psychotherapist F. Diane Barth, LCSW, explained via Psychology Today. Decide on how to make your joined religions or holidays uniquely yours so you both can enjoy and love them. Barth even suggests joining an interfaith group for extra support and ideas from other couples in a similar situation. 


While trying to compromise or come up with new traditions, tensions can rise. Barth reminds us to treat the conversation with kindness and remember what's important at the end of the day — your relationship. Remember that your differences are great and can even be why you work so well together; don't let them ruin the holidays or your relationship. "See if you can find anything in your partner's beliefs that reflect some of the things you most value about him or her," Barth explained. "Put those thoughts into words in a conversation, or even in a card that you give him or her, signed with love."

Listening will create the happiest interfaith holiday with your partner

When tensions do arise, don't say, "we always did it this way," F. Diane Barth wrote on Psychology Today. That isn't helpful and kind of negates the plan to compromise. There should be no guilt-tripping or pushing your partner into your way of doing things. And even though it's easier said than done, especially during the holidays, try to be as flexible as possible. It's not fair to hold one person's traditions or family time above the others, so try to compromise fairly and be open and flexible to starting new traditions or trying different things. When compromising feels too stressful or tense at the moment, take some time to cool down and regroup.


Samira Mehta, assistant professor of women and gender studies, and Jewish studies at the University of Colorado Boulder interviewed several different interfaith couples and found patterns between ones that made things work well and others that struggled (via HowStuffWorks). Mehta's research showed that a happy holiday occurs when all members of the family group feel heard, understood, and respected. Couples and families who successfully navigate the holidays tend to do so with a communication style that focuses on collaboration and generosity.