My friend Kay is concerned that her son is becoming serious about a non-LDS girl. “How can they have a happy marriage if they don’t have the same core values?” she asks. Kay defines core values as having the same religious beliefs. If a person’s core or most important values are religious doctrine and practice, I doubt a happy marriage to someone of a different faith is possible. Still, similar religious beliefs may not be enough for a happy marriage.
President Spencer W. Kimball offended many young people when he stated that, “it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.” Most people believe that more qualities than “good” are essential for a happy marriage. And most people consider more values than religious belief when choosing friends let alone a spouse.
When I look around in church on Sundays, I see many good people with testimonies of LDS doctrine. But I don’t see many people whose emphasis on values such as learning, tolerance, work, material possessions, love of nature, compassion, and healthy lifestyles is similar enough to my own to create any illusion that I could live happily in any kind of close relationship with them.
Even should a person find a one-and-only with identical core values, relationships carry no guarantee that one or both won’t change over the course of a lifetime. Obviously, erosions of some core values such as criminal activity or infidelity will destroy a marriage, but should an otherwise good marriage be dissolved if one partner loses faith in shared religious beliefs?
While I’m not recommending that young people disregard differences of religion when contemplating marriage, I do think they need to evaluate how core their own religious beliefs are. Unfortunately, many people choose a lifelong partner, before becoming acquainted with their own core beliefs.