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Document Details :
Title: Mapping the Challenges that Intermarried Couples Encounter
Author(s): JOANIDES, Charles
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Date: Autumn 2004
Using an approach that shows the need to utilize both social science and theology, this article outlines some conclusions that have emerged from the Interfaith Research Project (IRP) that has been conducted for the past six years. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) called for this research to study the population of members who are marrying non-Greek Orthodox partners, a number that is estimated at 75% of the church's marriages over the past two decades. A case study is presented to show how the author's theory brought the complex social "ecology" of intermarried couples – the numerous interdependent subsystems revolving around the couple as couple, as well as individuals and extended families – into relief. This map of intermarriage and its difficulties allows the church to meet the need of interfaith couples for assistance. Throughout the article are descriptions of the methodology employed to describe the unique territory that intermarried couples and their families must negotiate. The author then explains how his theory will help these couples, as well as those who minister to them, sort through and identify the factors in their lives that give rise to challenges unique to their situation. With such a high rate of inter-marriages, this theory should, first of all, serve to develop better marriage preparation for this particular population. Secondly, this theory should give those who counsel intermarried couples a clearer picture of their audience and how to listen and respond to their needs. Finally, this theory should help mildly conflicted couples feel empowered to work toward mutually satisfying solutions to the special challenges involved in an interfaith marriage. Although this theory was based on research conducted for the GOA, the author holds that it would be a useful approach for intermarried couples of other Christian and non-Christian faith groups to work through conflicts related to ethnic and religious differences.