As Chelsea Clinton prepares to marry Marc Mezvinsky, their wedding has rekindled an age-old debate: Can interfaith marriages work? Chelsea Clinton is a Methodist, while Marc Mezvinsky is Jewish.
Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky: Interfaith Marriages and Grim Statistics
According to the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001, couples in mixed marriages are three times more likely to divorce or separate than those in same-religion marriages (as reported by Washington Post).
And statistics look particularly grim for Clinton and Mezvinsky. According to a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, marriages between Jews and Christians stand a greater than 40 percent chance of getting divorced within five years.
Obvious roadblocks to successful interfaith marriages include potential opposition from the spouses’ communities, conflicts over how to raise children, and whether or not spouses can respect each others’ religious traditions.
The families can often present a challenge, particularly if they actively oppose the interfaith marriage. No marriage (whether interfaith or not) is perfect. And, without the support of their families, difficult times can be additionally challenging if the couple only has each other to lean on.
Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky: Hope for Interfaith Marriages?
Yet, while one can’t turn a blind eye to potential roadblocks, there are just as many arguments in favor of interfaith marriages. One writer at InterfaithFamily.com argues that overcoming such roadblocks can actually strengthen a marriage:
“A strong marriage between two committed partners can withstand a little soul searching. In fact, I believe one thing most strong marriages have in common is the passage through a period in which both partners have to face truths about themselves, each other, and their relationship for it to continue.”
In a way, interfaith marriages can serve as a refiner’s fire, in that it prompts them to delve deeper into their individual religious histories and search for answers about faith, religious identity, and fundamental beliefs. If they are able to approach these questions with mutual respect and understanding, then there’s no reason the marriage can’t combine the best of both worlds (or one world, depending on what decisions they make).
Interfaith marriages are rising fast, but they’re failing fast too, Washington Post
The Strength of Our Interfaith Marriage, InterfaithFamily.com