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interfaith weddings - family

Interfaith Weddings: Dealing With the Family

Are you and your sweetie from different religions? We've got basic tips to help you handle your families.

Photo: Carol MacGregor of Happy Gatherings

If you're engaged or married to someone of a different religion, your family may not even think twice about it (lucky you!). Or, they may be unpleasant, unsupportive, or downright negative. Their rejection can be very painful, but taking a proactive stance may make things easier on everyone. Here's how to smooth things out.

Show Affection, Not Rejection

Many parents view their child's choice of a partner of a different faith as a rejection of all they've taught. If your parents feel defensive, there's no way they'll want to hear why your guy is so great. Instead, tell them how much you love and value your own religion. Assure them that you're not turning your back on what they've taught you, and that your children will learn about their faith, too. If you convince them that you value their opinions and beliefs, they'll be more likely to respect yours.

Assure them that you're not turning your back on what they've taught you, and that your children will learn about their faith, too.

Give Your Folks the Floor

Let your parents voice their opinions and offer advice (even if only they consider it advice). Then ask them what conflicts arose during their own wedding planning and early marriage. How did their families react to news of their engagement? If they could do it again, what would they handle differently? What truths have they learned about marriage? Really listen to their concerns.

Talking to your parents accomplishes three things: you'll learn what their real fears are so you can address them; you'll gain ammunition to defuse future attacks; and you'll honor them by asking their opinion.

Accept a Little Disapproval

If your parents just don't, or won't, agree with you on some points -- guess what? They don't have to. They can harbor different beliefs or a different view of how you should act, and you can go about your business, aware of their disapproval but loving each other anyway.

Keep the Door Open

Keep your family in your life as much as possible. If your parents are giving you flack, don't give them the silent treatment. By keeping in contact, you have a better chance to maintain perspective and remember that this dispute is only part of your relationship. Accepting your family -- foibles and all -- is part of accepting yourself.

If your parents are shutting you out, keep your door unlocked. Go ahead and send a wedding invitation; they may very well show up. If you're already married, keep in touch. Even if it's only by phone, you're still leaving the door open.

Set Boundaries

Even if your parents' input feels too painful, you should try to keep them in your life -- within limits. If conflicts arise every time you get together, keep in touch via telephone, or control the discussion by asking for input on specific items and then changing the subject. If needed, let them know you'll stick around until you hear one word against your beloved. Remember that you can set the terms for family interaction.

Don't Expect the Worst

You may find your parents' gloom-and-doom predictions pleasantly upended as they see you becoming happier over the years.

-- The Knot

See More: Interfaith Weddings , Wedding Ceremony + Wedding Vow Ideas , Basics for Moms