Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
"I am a part of all that I have met."
I have always been touched by this quote from Tennyson. It holds such a beautiful, powerful and yet simple truth. It is a reminder to us all that good or bad, we are an enduring thread woven into the fabric of the lives of all we meet. We have left our mark and it remains.
I think of this quote when I look back on my time with David. For four years, he was my friend, my boyfriend, my best friend. He was the person I turned to when times where trying and the one I celebrated with in times of joy. He was my soft place to fall.
We started out like every other couple--fearless and beautiful, full of hope and future. When we walked together we used to say that we were the ambassadors of love and happiness unable to contain what we felt in our hearts. And although we were an interfaith couple, he Jewish and I Catholic, we courageously faced the challenges of our interfaith relationship head on. We discussed how we would raise our children, how and what holidays would be celebrated and we tried, as best we could, to assuage the fears of our families. It was often a running conversation with no hard and fast answers. And it was often a struggle. Both of our families had their own concerns based in love. And David was often haunted by what his late father, a Holocaust survivor, might have felt about us being together. But our love and mutual respect for each other kept us bound and determined… for four years.
At the time, our breakup was almost impossible to endure. We had built a life together. Letting go of the dreams of our future was a seemingly impossible task. It would have been easy to blame the breakup of our relationship on the fact that we were an interfaith couple or to blame it on the pressures from family. It would have been easy to be able to point to any one thing and proclaim it the cause. But, like any relationship that fails, it is never just one thing. And it is never the fault of just one person.
For us, the differences in religion helped to shed light on many things. The differences allowed us the opportunity to truly understand ourselves--as individuals as well as partners. They allowed us to see how we handled conflict within ourselves and with others. They made us consider the importance of our family heritage and its profound effect on us today. It taught us to be true to ourselves and that love is something to fight for. But it also taught us the hard lesson that love is not always enough.
This is not a cautionary tale about interfaith relationships. My experience would not have kept me from entering another had one been presented to me. This is only a small insight into the relationship between two people who did their best and in the process realized that despite their best efforts, it just wasn't meant to be. I don't regret one iota of time or one bit of energy spent. On the contrary, I am grateful for it and grew because of it. I learned that I am strong. I learned that I have a great capacity to love and to forgive. I learned how to compromise without losing myself. I learned that just because someone doesn't give you enough doesn't mean that they're not giving you all that they have. Most importantly, I learned that my relationship with David profoundly shaped the woman I am today. Our relationship permanently fashioned the pattern of my life and of his. Our histories are woven together. And, because of this, we will always be a part of each other.
I am happy today. Happier than I ever thought I could be and I am in love with a wonderful man who complements me in a way that I never thought possible. David and I continue to share mutual friends and I know that he has also found happiness again. When I inevitably look back on our time together, it is with a platonic love and nostalgia. And still, as it was when we were together, I want only the best for him.
I continue to trust in God's plan for me. And I continue to believe that people are put into our lives for a reason… to learn, to grow but perhaps not necessarily to be forever.