‘Til Faith Do Us Part – How Interfaith Marriage Is Transforming America by Naomi Schaefer Riley, 2013.
I grabbed this from the “new arrivals” shelf. The author is a newspaper writer who was able to commission the extensive survey on which this book was based. She is very careful to ground her assertions within the data.
Riley says that Americans are not, by and large, “intentional” about marriage. We plan and work towards our careers. We may place a priority on living in a specific city or state. But we don’t PLAN marriage. I “came of age” in the sixties, when talking about what we wanted or expected from marriage became almost taboo. Young women were told to plan on self sufficient independence and if love, relationship and marriage happened, that was “nice”. What were young men being told? No idea…
Religion is important to many Americans, but most of us take a “break” from religious practice from the end of high school until some time perhaps a decade down the road. And so many important things happen in that decade! Very few people invest that time in deciding about matters of faith.
Riley takes a careful look at our attitudes towards diversity. It is widely accepted as a good thing. Riley’s conclusion: “Religion is not race and marriage is not a public school.” Intermarriage is harder (judged by divorce rates) than marriage within one’s faith, so looking for a religiously compatible spouse in not necessarily being prejudiced. Diversity within a family can have good impacts, but it also makes marriage difficult.
Maybe you caught the recent kerfuffle caused by a woman who said she now wished she had found a husband while at Princeton. She was roundly scolded for being “conniving”, but replied that the pool of really bright, interesting men is limited, and her critics were being unrealistic.
Riley thinks young adults should talk much more about religion, family life and community as they are courting and marrying. The relative “vacuum” (freedom?) of our twenties doesn’t last. We live our lives among webs of interconnection.
I particularly recommend this book to people who work with young adults, whether as teachers, counselors or religious leaders.