Marrriage shouldn’t begin with secrets

I have a wonderful boyfriend I’ll call “Ray.” We have a lot in common and are very happy together. Though we have not committed to anything permanent, we both want marriage and have discussed it.

Dear Annie: I have a wonderful boyfriend I’ll call “Ray.” We have a lot in common and are very happy together. Though we have not committed to anything permanent, we both want marriage and have discussed it.

However, there is one thing we don’t have in common — our religion. It doesn’t bother us (we actually have fun discussing our different beliefs), but it could pose a problem if we decided to marry. We’ve already agreed that a wedding in a neutral location would be ideal. The problem is, we have no idea who would perform the ceremony.

Neither of our families knows we are of different faiths, and we prefer to keep it a secret.

Is there such a thing as a “neutral” ordained minister? One who can marry us without the involvement of religion? We don’t want a courthouse wedding to be our only option. — It’s All About Love

Dear About Love: There are plenty of nondenominational ministers who can perform a ceremony that will have spirituality without a specific religion.

Look for a justice of the peace or a Universal Life minister, or Google “nondenominational officiant” to find other alternatives. Check with your clerk’s office to make sure the ceremony will be legally binding.

However, we question any marriage that begins with secrets. Please be mature enough to tell your families and handle the consequences. And if you ever plan to have children, the decisions about their religious upbringing (or lack thereof) could have an enormous impact on your marriage and the relationships you have with family members. Minimizing it now will only create bigger problems later.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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