The Older You Are, The More Likely You’ll Marry Outside Your Religion

Chelsea Clinton bucks the trend and marries a nice Jewish boy at a young age.

What inspired you to write Til Faith Do Us Part?

It was a combination of personal experience and professional curiosity. I had grown up very familiar with the Jewish communal conversation about intermarriage. But I started to wonder: Does any other religious group care about this issue? As it turns out, a lot of them do. From Muslims leaders, who are worried about widespread secularization and assimilation in the US to evangelicals who are concerned about “missionary dating” (I promise it’s not dirty), many religious communities are trying to figure out how to enjoy the great religious tolerance of America, while at the same time preserving their religious traditions and the strength of marriage.

What’s the most important take-home message for readers?

I think the most important finding from my 2,500 person national survey is that the older you are when you wed, the more likely you will marry someone of another faith.

This period we now refer to as emerging adulthood is having a very significant effect on our views of religion and marriage. We are away from religious institutions for so long we forget that they might be important to us down the road. (More than half of people in interfaith marriages did not actually talk about how they wanted to raise kids before they got married)

Is there anything you had to leave out?

Nothing important.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your topic?

That people in interfaith marriages are people who never cared about religion to begin with. In fact, I found that people who attended religious services every week as a kid, people who described their family growing up as “very religious” and people who went to religious school regularly were no less likely to marry out than people who didn’t.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when writing?

I was writing primarily for families who have been affected by intermarriage and families that might be soon (which is almost everyone by this point).

Are you hoping to inform readers? Entertain them? Piss them off?

I was mostly hoping to inform them. No one had done a survey as extensive as mine on this topic before. A lot of the debate about intermarriage tends to be more heat than light. I think I probably said some things that annoyed people. They assume that because I am a conservative Jew married to an ex-Jehovah’s witness that I would offer an unqualified endorsement of interfaith marriage. But I really did find that there were real effects on marital satisfaction and, in certain faith combinations, the likelihood that a couple would end up divorced.

I did hope to entertain them too. A reviewer for the Christian Century found me  “very, very funny.” Who knew?

What alternative title would you give the book?

“Mixed Blessings” was the runner-up. But it was too wishy washy.

How do you feel about the cover?

I wish it made more people buy the book. But I’m probably blaming the wrong person.

Is there a book out there you wish you had written? Which one? Why?

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis because I’d be rich and someone besides the Christian Century would find me very, very funny.

What’s your next book?

“Got Religion? How Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back” will be out in May.