The majority of online dating sites try to solve the problem of mutual attraction by focussing on matching people based on their shared interests and beliefs.
Indeed a huge section of the industry specifically focusses on such core traits, creating niche sites entirely based around strongly-held beliefs or particular passions.
But while shared opinions are often touted as being vital to romantic compatibility, there are those who believe the old adage “opposites attract” still has some weight.
To find out more about such relationships where two people’s core beliefs stand in opposition to each other, Christian Connection sat down with Dr Jane Hawking, the former wife of Professor Stephen Hawking.
As told in the recent biopic The Theory of Everything, Jane and Stephen Hawking were married for 25 years, during which time Jane was a committed Christian, whereas Stephen was often adamantly atheist.
In the interview with Christian Connection founder Jackie Elton, Dr Hawking speaks about their marriage, and why she believes it is possible for a marriage to work, even if the couple disagrees about such a fundamental question.
Talking about whether they argued about the topic of religion, Dr Hawking said: “At first we lived in harmony, each respecting the other’s point of view – and because he had been giving such a damning diagnosis I could well understand why he would not be inclined to believe in a loving God, let alone given how complex his researches into the origins of the universe were.
“He has to be able to see the proof of everything in mathematical terms.”
Dr Hawking described how her faith became a “rock and a blessing” in times of difficulty, and said that if both parties weren’t necessarily evangelical, then a marriage could certainly work, saying:
“It depends whether the couple argue about faith in advance or if one of them is particularly evangelical, or the other dismissive about faith.
“If they are both fairly relaxed on the subject then they have a better chance of living together happily.”
However, she admitted there were times where the weight of science put pressure on their beliefs, speaking about one particular time when they both went on a trip to Israel.
Jane said: “We went on a trip to Israel for Stephen to receive a prize at the Knesset. He seemed to delight in telling the press that he was an atheist and this I found very hurtful and disrespectful. In Jerusalem, of all places, the most holy city in the world. So I visited the old city several times and found great inspiration there — but on my own.”
The founder of Christian Connection, Jackie Elton, said the question of whether or not one should marry someone of the same faith is one of the biggest issues facing members of her site.
Elton said: “It arouses major debate and soul-searching. Our members really desire Christian marriage but it isn’t always easy to find a person with shared beliefs unless they are able to meet at Church or on a site like ChristianConnection.com.
“It is not always easy to be “relaxed” about faith differences in a marriage. It will require deep love, respect and true feeling for the other person’s perspective.
“Jane Hawking brings real life experience, insight and balance into this question. The marriage was truly one of both great blessing and hurt. Thousands of less well-known couples with different beliefs have had to face the same issues.”
Read the full interview with Dr Hawking here.