While waiting for the bus on my way to work last Tuesday, a headline in one of the local free news dailies (that is, reuters/cp/torstar repeaters) caught my eye. “All they need is love”. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the following Canadian Press story about the rise of interreligious marriages. Hmm. That’s a pretty cheesy title. Maybe “Interreligious marriages on the rise” was too bland. Anyway, the story’s based on a study published by Statistics Canada. Check it out.
Interreligious marriages on the rise: study
By LORRAYNE ANTHONY
TORONTO (CP) – Tina Verma wore a traditional red sari when her bridegroom placed a wedding band on her henna tattooed hand. It was the picture perfect Hindu wedding for a girl born in New Delhi – unless the guests took into account the man beside her.
The groom, a Canadian Christian, wore a black western suit. A few minutes after the Hindu ceremony, the two were married by a United Church minister. Then they walked down the aisle as guests threw flower petals on the newly married couple for good luck – a Hindu tradition.
As Canada becomes more culturally diverse, nuptials involving individuals from different denominations and faiths are also becoming more common, a new study finds.
While only 15 per cent of married or common-law couples were interreligious in 1981, by 2001 such unions had grown to 19 per cent, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.
Of the 14.1 million Canadians in couples, nearly 2.7 million had a partner from a different religious group, the study based on census data finds.
Like many of my Baha’i friends who aren’t yet married, I wonder about what it takes to create a successful marriage. I wonder whether I’m strong enough, spiritual enough, or lucky enough to be able to make a “fortress for well-being” with another person and to make it last. I wonder why so many marriages end up in divorce, and fear the possibility of having to tread down that painful path. Marriage doesn’t sound like something I should have so many worries about—so why do I worry?
Recently posted on one of my many subscribed mailing lists was a quite thought-provoking article about Baha’i marriage which, if it didn’t answer all of my questions, at least showed me a new way I could look at them. It’s called Creating a New Bahá’í Marriage Culture, written by Raelee Peirce, a Bahá’í who works as a Parent Coach in North Carolina. The article explores how parents can help give their children a positive view of marriage and relationships. A short excerpt follows to give you a taste of it:
A list of “Do-Nots” is not a great way to inspire or create acceptance of this law. Instead, we should be emphasizing the joy of sex and what a fantastic gift it is within the marriage relationship when our children are young. We need to share with our preschoolers the idea of marriage and we need to discuss the concept of finding a husband or wife when our children are in grade school rather than entertaining the idea of boyfriends and girlfriends. We need to create a family culture that does not include our children or youth engaging in frivolous boy-girl relationships. For example, when a six-year-old talks about “liking” another of the opposite sex, one should not consider it cute and exclaim to others that Jamal has a little girlfriend. As a Bahá’í parent we need to say, “Jamal, it’s wonderful that you like Emma; it’s great to have lots of friends. One day when you are much older you will find a girl to be your wife and have a beautiful Bahá’í family!”
Read the article. What do you think? Does it make sense to talk to our children about marriage and relationships from an early age? What about the idea of having boyfriends and girlfriends—where does that fit in? What about the lessons we learn from popular Western culture (consciously or not)—shouldn’t everyone have as many boyfriends or girlfriends as possible to ‘try things out’ before settling on Mr. or Mrs. Right?
Now here’s something I want to personally recommend to everyone reading this. Whether you’re single, married, divorced, or whatever, if you’ve EVER thought about marriage in any way, shape or form, Both Eyes Open, a marriage workshop facilitated by Baha’i authors Suzanne Alexander & Craig Farnsworth should definitely interest you. I’m going — it’s only $40 if you sign up before Friday, April 15th… it’ll be time well spent! This workshop can help you:
DEVELOP the skills and practices that assist in creating lasting marriages by getting to know one’s own character and understanding one’s partner’s character
LEARN vital consultation and communication skills
EXPLORE how to apply the principle of the equality of women and men within marriage
UNDERSTAND some of the spiritual practices that strengthen marriage
LEARN how to make unified service and time choices
This is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL stuff to help you understand how to create the “fortress for well-being” that is a strong and unified marriage. Come on out! There’s a session for couples on April 30th, and an open session (singles, couples and everybody else) on May 1st – both at St. Paul’s University, on Main St (close to Lees).