Religion and Relationships: The Jew and her “Goy” Boy

Jewish girls like me are told that all we have to worry about when looking for love is finding a nice Jewish boy when we reach prime dating age. Well, one out of two ain’t bad. When I first met my boyfriend, his religion was the last thing on my mind. He was nice, respectful, smart, funny, handsome and he sparked my interest. However, when things started to get serious, my parents, friends, acquaintances and basically anyone with an opinion seemed concerned that Brandon was not a Jew.
My friend Rachel also fell in love with a goy (short for goyim, which stands for a non-Jewish boy in Yiddish), and like me, she faces incessant nagging and lecturing from her family and friends. For Rachel, Judaism plays a pretty important role in her life, and prior to meeting her goy boy, she was looking for a nice Jewish boy on JDate, a Jewish dating Web site. She found plenty of nice Jewish boys, but it was the tall, blonde, blue-eyed, goy Ken who stole her heart.
Just a few months into their relationship, Rachel and her boyfriend Ken had deep, serious conversations about what they believed in and how they wanted to raise their children. It seemed a bit early to have conversations about marriage and children, but in order for their relationship to work, Rachel needed to work out their beliefs and how they could resolve and compromise on fundamental differences. There are times when the simple fact that she is Jewish and Ken is not is too much for her to handle, but is she supposed to dump her almost-perfect man just because he was not born into her religion?
Why does religion have to factor into whether a couple is going to have a happy, successful and long-lasting relationship? My mom tells me what her mother told her: “Because it makes things easier.” But relationships are inherently difficult. It doesn’t matter if both parties are the same religion, race or sex because relationships are just hard work. If Brandon was Jewish, I would still have issues with his flakiness and he would still dislike that I slam doors and talk too loudly on the phone.
For me, the fact that Brandon isn’t Jewish makes him all the more interesting; I want to learn more about him and what he thinks. What does he believe in? Who does he believe in? Why does he believe in these things? Asking these questions forces me to ask them of myself and look deeper into my religion and how it defines who I am. I went with him and his family to church on Christmas Eve and although it was a bit strange because I was the fish out of water, it was a fascinating opportunity to learn about something I had never really studied