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However, couples also indicated with equal vigor a willingness to learn about and from the other: “I shall learn more about the religion/culture/language of my partner.”This exercise highlighted the importance of discussing negotiables and non-negotiables as early as possible in the relationship, so as to avoid misunderstandings later.
However, even after going through the difficult process of negotiating boundaries, couples cannot presume that the initial lines drawn would be immovable.
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Yet all wrestled with the same concerns: different religious understandings of marriage (sacrament versus sacred contract, divine versus human institution), greater family involvement in mate selection and marriage, Islam’s proscription of dating, potential legal problems in countries with sharia (Islamic law) in force, greater cultural differences (and more difficulty distinguishing the religious from the cultural).
While addressing these topics with Christian and Muslim experts was necessary, couples agreed that one of the best aspects of the weekend was the chance to discuss their concerns with others in the same situation.
On a blustery weekend this past February, 26 people met at the Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago to reflect on the religious dimensions of marriage. What was unusual about this gathering was that it brought together Christians and Muslims who are married, engaged or seriously considering marriage.
Attendees hailed mostly from the Chicago area, but also from Valparaiso, Minneapolis, Rochester, Minn., and Seattle.
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