Two Churches, One Marriage explores the challenges and rewards that interchurch couples may encounter, as well as strategies for dealing with their religious differences. The program is grounded in research that studied interchurch couples, namely those who belong to different Christian churches or denominations. However, many of the ideas may also be useful to interfaith couples, those who belong to different religions (e.g., Christian-Jewish, Christian-Muslim). Couples with other religious differences (e.g., differing beliefs as to whether God exists) may also find the ideas helpful.
The program is divided into eight units:
- The Communication unit provides couples skills they can use when discussing topics related to religious differences.
- The Problem-solving unit offers a six-step model for identifying possible solutions to challenging issues.
- The Religious Differences unit offers guidelines for effectively managing religious differences between the couple.
- The Meaning of Marriage unit explores the couple’s beliefs about marriage, especially those informed by religion.
- The Spiritual Bond unit examines ways in which couples can develop a religious or spiritual bond in their relationship.
- The Religious Affiliation unit examines the pros and cons of changing religious affiliation.
- The Children unit explores how couples have addressed the religious upbringing of children.
- The Acceptance unit examines potential challenges that couples may face in finding support or acceptance within their family or faith communities.
Each unit not only contains information and skills for each topic, but also includes an application section with exercises couples can use to apply the ideas to their relationship. Although it is recommended that you work through the program as a whole, each unit is self-contained and can be completed separately from the others.
This program is not intended to give cookie-cutter answers to many of the difficult questions that couples with religious differences may face. Rather, it is intended to facilitate a process of exploration and decision-making that will help couples find solutions that are right for them. A solution or decision that may work for one couple may not be appropriate for another. Each couple has a different set of circumstances that must be weighed and considered. The couple is encouraged to use the information and tools provided in this program to achieve a consensus on how to address each issue.