Men and women grow up with an idea of who they would like to spend the rest of their life with. Inevitably, this is a secular mental image. When asked about the ideal partner, people often site psychological and physical attributes. Few, however, mention faith. This would suggest that faith is not as important as we sometimes thing it is.
However, according to former finance minister from Southern Kaduna in Nigeria, Nenadi Usman, this is not quite true. Indeed, practically, faith can become a huge issue. At the same time, however, Usman believes that this is a difficulty that can be overcome. She, herself, is in an interfaith marriage, having married a Muslim man. And, for Nenadi, this relationship has worked.
Although her marriage has worked, Esther understands that this is not always the case. She, herself, is an inspirational woman who has made it her life’s mission to show others, and women in particular, that another life is possible. She was one of the first women to take on a position as minister, and particularly in economic and financial affairs. Her home of Kaduna is a traditional, conservative state, and one where her behavior raised a lot of eyebrows. However, when she became Senator Nenadi Esther, she showed her community that she knew exactly what she was doing, and that other women could do the same.
From the word go, Nenadi Esther Usman said that love will always reign supreme. Her and her spouse care sufficiently about each other to not jeopardize their marital bliss by religion. For Nenadi, love is universal and it transcends religion. Her husband agrees. At the same time, Esther Usman understands that marriages like her own face more stress. Hence, she has used her own experiences to develop tips to help others be equally successful.
Esther Usman’s Marriage Tips
Nenadi Esther believes the following tips can help anyone have a successful interfaith marriage:
- The wedding itself should incorporate elements from both faiths equally. Some people have two wedding ceremonies, others combine the two faiths into one.
- It is alright to convert to the faith of the other partner if it is felt that this will enhance the strength of the relationship. However, this should only be done 100% voluntarily, and not under duress or pressure of family members. If someone does not make this decision of their own volition, it will lead to problems later in life.
- The two partners should learn to understand the faith of the other, merging their personal traditions.
- Before children are brought into the relationship, both partners should discuss what their expectations are in terms of their religious education and beliefs.
According to Esther Nenadi Usman, the most important thing is to remember that we are all humans, regardless of our faith. What binds us all together, transcending race, religion, color, gender, or creed, is love. Love is universal and any difficulties can be overcome by it through communication, respect, and understanding.