A couple of friends of mine recently got engaged. I am so excited for them. I also introduced them in the first place (and I am not exaggerating when I say that every single girlfriend that this guy has had has first had a big gay sleepover with me shortly before dating him; I’m obviously some sort of match-making aphrodisiac).
Because I’m a compulsive planner and also, I guess, a great big stereotype, I tend to imagine the logistics of any event, including weddings. And potential problems that can come up at weddings—and, thanks to Facebook, I was well aware of no shortage of weddings over the past several months.
A long story short? Religion (and religious differences) can play a major role in any marriage, but especially for planning a wedding. In a marriage, couples might convert or begin to disbelieve or change their religious views while remaining within the same faith or denomination. Even preexisting religious differences can cause friction in a relationship over time, especially when it comes to raising children.*
My friends share the same religious views, but that is not true for every couple. And just because a couple sees eye-to-eye on matters of faith does not mean that their families do. While to an outsider like me, the differences between different Abrahamic faiths seem academic, and the differences between Protestant and Catholic Christians seem even less significant (to say nothing of say, conflict between two Calvinist denominations of Protestant Christianity), these sorts of “church rivalries” can be a big deal.
Some people convert to the religion of their husband or wife. Some people bite the bullet and get married in religious setting chosen by their parents or their new in-laws. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding itself, and that can give them a lot of sway with the setting. Sometimes, a setting is chosen that will appease whichever set of in-laws is less reasonable.
Sometimes, couples elope. Have any of you had experiences like this? A fiance, fiancee, parents, or in-laws turning wedding planning into a matrimonial holy war?
*Seriously, you guys, don’t raise your children to be any religion. Please don’t. Don’t raise them to be your religion, don’t raise them to be my religion, and don’t raise them to be atheists. Do not have your infants or small children participate in any religious ritual in which their lives and souls are dedicated to any God, no matter if it’s a tradition in your family. That’s the behavior of an over-the-top 1980s villain. You can share your views, but children need to make informed decisions on their own.