Dear Barb—Too Faithful for Marriage

Dear Barb:

I met this really wonderful girl last year while I was attending the University of Ottawa.  We get along great and have discussed marriage.  She lives in B.C while I am in Ottawa, but we are managing to keep in touch.  The issue is that Janelle is Muslim and I am Catholic and I have my doubts about whether we can make a marriage work.  We have had some heated discussions but have been able to resolve them so far, however, once we bring children into the situation, I am not sure it will be so easy.  For example, I definitely want my children to be raised Catholic, while Janelle wants the children to be raised within the Islamic faith.  Also, she has not told her parents that I am not Muslim, as according to Islamic faith a Muslim woman can not marry a Catholic man.  I foresee a lot of problems in addition to the distance, so I’m not sure if this relationship would work and if I should continue or end it now.  Thanks, Dan. 

Hi Dan:

Thanks for writing.  Since you already seem to have so many doubts this may not be the marriage for you.  Uniting two people with completely different religious beliefs is difficult, and if you have doubts going into it, it’s only going to make it that much more challenging.  You will definitely be met with many obstacles from her family, depending on how strict they are in following the Islamic law, as a Muslim woman may not marry a non Muslim man:

“Under Islamic law, regardless of the school of thought, Muslim women may not marry non-Muslim men, while Muslim men may only marry non-Muslim women who meet the definition of Kitabia (also spelled KitabiKitabiyyaKitabiyah, or ahl al-Kitab), or “people of the book,” which typically refers to followers of Christianity and Judaism.  In some countries, including Burma, Israel, and Indonesia, there appear to be restrictions on interfaith marriages involving people of religions other than Islam as well.”  (Library of Congress, Prohibition of Interfaith Marriage)

There are many issues that need to be worked out before you enter into this marriage.  For example, will you both respect each other’s religious practices and traditions? It is important that you each participate in the practices of the other’s religions, if you chose not to, it will create wedge, not only within your religious lives, but also in your everyday life.  You are already thinking about future children, and the faith they will be raised within.  Your children can be raised within both faiths, and then they will have the freedom to make their own choice as adults.  Before you choose to enter into marriage, you need to iron out all of these issues, plus possibly begin sharing each other’s religious practices now and see how comfortable this is for you both.  It is definitely possible to make an interfaith marriage work, but you need to be committed and I don’t feel that commitment from you right now.  The two of you need to discuss the direction you want the relationship to go.  Good luck Dan.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.