How to Make an Interfaith Marriage Work

Marriage is hard work. Creating a relationship that is both loving and productive, and that is supposed to last forever, is simply impossible without meeting some obstacles along the way. Even if both husband and wife have similar values and backgrounds, this happens, so imagine the difficulties someone like Esther Nenadi Usman, form finance minister from the Southern Kaduna state in Nigeria, will have had. Not only were her work pressures tremendous as a female economic and financial minister in Kaduna, meaning she broke through the traditional gender roles, but Senator Nenadi Esther is also in an interfaith marriage. What Mr & Mrs Usman have shown, however, is that, through hard work and mutual respect, it is possible for a marriage to not just last, but to thrive.


What Is an Interfaith Marriage?

As the name suggests, it is a marriage between two people who practice different spiritual beliefs. While they are accepted in the modern world, many religious groups in developing countries still frown on them. Whether acceptable or not, however, all interfaith relationships will meet some particular obstacles. This is why Esther Nenadi Usman and her husband have developed the five key things required for a successful marriage. Best of all, what Nenadi recommends can and should be applied to any marriage, be that interfaith or not.

5 Strategies to a Successful Marriage

  1. Communication. Esther believes that no relationship can survive without proper communication. In interfaith relationships, the issue of spirituality must be openly discussed before the marriage is agreed on.
  2. Create certain house rules. Esther Usman and her husband have clear agreements on which religious holidays they observe and how. They have also agreed on how much each will be involved in the other’s traditions. And they have set boundaries in terms of what is and isn’t ok.
  3. Discuss children. Long before agreeing to marry her husband, Nenadi Esther had discussed children with him. Deciding on the religious education of prospective children before marriage is very important, as this can be a significant deal breaker. Both partners must be clear about expectations in terms of children.
  4. Talk about families. Family bonds and relationships are important to most people. However, in interfaith marriages, they can be a bit trickier, particularly if the older generation is somewhat more traditional. Esther Nenadi Usman and her husband have a great understanding of the relationship they want with their family, but also of how easy or hard it has been for the rest of the family to accept their union.
  5. Always focus on the positives. Whether the relationship is interfaith or not, the reality is that a marriage will encounter problems at some point or another. It is important, during those times, to remember all the positive things that have happened. The love that has been shared, the obstacles that have been overcome, the progress that has been made, the laughter that has been had – these are all good things and remembering them regularly also reminds both partners why they agreed to get married in the first place.
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