|The Cupid is Naked|
|Written by Tuvya Zaretsky|
In the fable, The Emperor's New Clothes, two greedy men con the king.Â They supposedly present him with magic cloth, which only wise men could see.Â Sadly, the king commissioned a magnificent suit of clothes from the magical cloth, wanting to believe that it was truly worth the fortune. He wanted to believe that what he received matched his imagination and not the truth. The moral of the story has become an iconic warning against the dangers of ignoring reality.
This month, I would like to apply that analogy to the notion of love and romance in the context of Jewish-Gentile couples. In this perspective, statistics reveal a reality that is more often faced with challenges than bliss. Perhaps the Cupid has no clothes.
Research from the fields of sociology and psychology on marital stability and religious identity reveals that Jewish-Gentile couples experience a greater variety of threats.Â In fact, marital satisfaction and stability have been shown to suffer more in the context of Jewish-Gentile couple relationships.
I wanted to understand the challenges that Jewish-Gentile couples experienced while they are dating, cohabiting, marrying and raising families.Â The results of a research study that I conducted were published in 2004. It can be found in the book I coauthored with Enoch Wan, Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes.
Professional research literature on the subject showed that religious faith is a contributing factor to marital stability.Â The greater the religious differences reported, the lower the sense of marital happiness was found.Â One researcher reported, "Mixed-faith marriages significantly increase the rate of disillusion and couples with no religious affiliation also have comparatively high rates of disillusion" (Vaughn Call and Tim Heaton, "Religious Influence on Marital Stability." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36:3 (1997): 390).Â In fact, a 1991 study found the divorce rate among Jewish-Gentile couples to be almost double that of endogamous, or Jewish-Jewish, marriages.Â No wonder there is tension in the marriage when the education and the upbringing of children are introduced to the mix.
The truth is that Jewish-Gentile couples report greater challenges to marital stability and satisfaction than do couples where both partners are Jewish.Â We haven't been able to find research that tracks the degree of stability in Jewish-Gentile dating relationships.Â That doesn't mean that there are no challenges.Â It only indicates that no substantial research has been reported so far.
Our research found five key challenges that were reported.Â Jewish-Gentile couples described confusion about their different ethnic and cultural identities.Â They reported tension over religious differences.Â Almost every lifecycle celebration presented challenges or disagreements for them.Â And perhaps the most consistent observation was the inability to find spiritual harmony as a couple and within their family.
Perhaps as you read this, you are able to identify some of the challenges in your own Jewish-Gentile relationship or family.Â Often, some of the battle is just being able to identify where the challenges are.Â There are resources, and this website is attempting to provide them as fast as they are developed.
At the bottom of the page is a section about Finding Spiritual Harmony.Â We think, because spiritual harmony is a core value to be developed in marriage relationships, that it is an area in which first steps can be taken toward finding marital satisfaction.Â We have found that one key resource is when couples purpose to achieve spiritual harmony together.
The Cupid might be naked. However, that doesn't mean it is too late to find genuine intimacy and spiritual oneness between Jewish-Gentile partners.
I would say after 28 years of a "cross cultural" marriage there simply is no spiritual harmony. It has for me, been like being in a marriage by myself. With loving respect I would counsel anyone contemplating this sort of union to consider strongly 2 Corinthians 6:14.
That being said, I believe for those of us who did not heed God's guidelines, should stay in our marriage and believe God to display His mighty work (Romans 8:28).