While I wouldn’t dare tell you which guy to pick, I can tell you what my own experience has been. In my opinion, compatibility would have less to do with being Christian or Jewish/atheist than it would with the personality of the individual. I have seen some Christian partners who are supportive and willing to compromise, and I have seen some who are not. I have seen atheists who have been very supportive of their Jewish spouses, and I have seen some who have undermined their children’s religious education.
In addition to my observations of other families, I can also tell you about my own experience as someone who has been in an interfaith relationship for 30 years and has raised an interfaith family for 24 years. I am Christian, and my wife is Jewish. We decided to raise our children as Jews. However, I did not convert. We also agreed that I would share my religious celebrations with our children without having them believe that they were “both” religions. Making a long story short, my wife and I worked very hard to create a game plan to make our relationship thrive.
Perhaps it was easier on us because we were both religious and could relate to going to services and celebrating with family. Maybe our children find their situation less confusing because we all believe in the same God. No matter what, though, I believe we are better off for having done a great deal of talking things through and planning ahead, as well as being willing to compromise. We do it out of love for each other.
The situation you are in is not easy. No relationship is without issues. I think that if you follow your heart and are ready to work with someone who’s ready to work with you, you will make the right choice.
Jim Keen is the author of “Inside Intermarriage: A Christian Partner’s Perspective on Raising a Jewish Family.” He has been in an interfaith relationship for 28 years, and has been an active participant with his wife in raising their two Jewish daughters. They live in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Jim teaches in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.