Disparate faith heritages: Interfaith relationships and extended family members
This is a qualitative inquiry into the experiences that individuals have had with their families as a result of being involved in a relationship with someone raised in a different faith tradition. Seven males and nine females participated in individual, semi-structured interviews. A theme analysis of the interviews was completed. The participants in the current study described how the nature of personal religious convictions held by family members powerfully influenced their reactions to the interfaith relationship. In addition, familial challenge and support had more to do with family members' individual life experiences, the level of exposure to faith diversity, the level of transparency with family, and the level of commitment to shared values, as opposed to being related to the particular faiths involved in the couple relationship. The individuals in the present study reported much more support and success than has been noted in previous literature. Understanding the nature of attachment that exists in a family, the level of respect for independence and the process of claiming "personal authority" together serve as useful constructs for understanding family support and challenge in the context of interfaith relationships.