The "Love Issue" of Oprah Magazine — 22 days until Valentine's, ladies — has several essays under the heading "Love, the Great Adventure" about lasting romance. In one, O Henry prize winner Sheila Kohler, an Anglican, writes about her mostly-happy interfaith marriage to a Jewish man (the lovebirds are pictured at left). But her union is not without warts, and Kohler bravely exposes them all. She talks about the minor fights they had "over who would do the dishes and how they would be done," but then gets into messier territory, like her complaint that he doesn't say "I love you" enough. Then, as the kids say, Kohler goes there. "Did the six million dead Jews have to come up quite so frequently?" she ponders. Not only that, in an admitted moment of rage, Kohler shouts at her husband "You're just a stingy Jew!" He later comes back with a comment about how all the pork eating must have diminished her brain function, which leads Kohler to wonder, "Had I married a racist? Worse still, had I discovered that in my heart of hearts I was a racist...Were men and women so very different? Were Jews and Christians incompatible?"
Kohler doesn't really answer her own question (she ends the essay discussing how she and the hub resolved their kitchen issues, but doesn't really come back to the Jew business), but as a Jew who lives in sin with a Protestant, it definitely got me thinking. My boyfriend and I make joking comments all the time about our stereotypical differences: Whenever he gets mock-offended by my filthy mouth, I always tell him to stop being such an "uptight WASP." And sometimes, when I burrow my face into his armpit, he'll comment about my "pointy Jew nose." Is our banter really masking some deep-seeded prejudices we hold about each other's backgrounds? Or are we enriching each other through religious differences? Does it not matter at all since neither of us has actually stepped foot in a house of worship since the Clinton Administration? So many questions dislodged from one little Oprah essay! Just like Kohler, I don't have the easy answers to these questions, but I will say that my boy is so WASPy that he puts mayonnaise on everything. If that's not an insurmountable cultural difference, I think we're probably okay.