Veto Factor is a term I use to describe a characteristic of a relationship that makes this relationship simply unworkable for one or both people.

You’ve probably heard the saying, "Close doesn’t count, except in horseshoes and hand grenades." In terms of mate selection and important life issues, close doesn’t count. You either determine that all of them aren’t acceptable or all of them are acceptable. You can’t take one characteristic and simply assume it doesn’t exist for them.

In my previous installment I listed Family Planning and Smoking/Drinking as veto factors in any new relationship; now I want to talk to you about two more of my ten of these most important veto factors. I want to tell you why I believe they can make a relationship so difficult, and when we’ve done this, maybe you’ll be able to determine which of these ten apply to you.

Veto Factor Number 3

The third veto factor relates to the emphasis on religious beliefs and spirituality. Now I want to tell you that as I travel around the United States I have been on hundreds of radio and television programs. I’ve held scores of seminars around the country and I’ve determined that the position you take on religion and spirituality in particular is so crucial that if the other person takes a very different position, you may very well want to veto this relationship on the basis of this alone.

I don’t know any good marriages in which one person is highly spiritual and another person isn’t spiritual at all. Spirituality is so central to our very existence as human beings that if we have it, we need to have someone who is very much like us if indeed we are to bond with them at a fundamental level.

Within the Christian community the issue becomes even more important. On eharmony, the relationship service that I founded to help serious singles find highly compatibility matching, we have over fifteen Protestant denominations available for members to choose from. We tried to center on the major denominations, because in North America there are hundreds of Christian denominations!

Each of these denominations centers on a belief in Christ and a commitment to his teachings, but after that, the differences can be considerable. For example, if you were raised as a Lutheran and hold the doctrines and traditions of the Lutheran church near to your heart, you may not be comfortable with someone from the Church of Christ. However, it may be that the common bond of Christ is enough for you to share a wonderful life together.

Whatever your personal decision, good marriages only occur between people who haven’t felt like they’ve had to give up a significant portion of who they are. Examine and list the important tenets of your faith, and make sure that your potential mate shares them.

Veto Factor Number 4

A fourth veto factor area may be interethnics, interreligious, and interracial factors. Now obviously we need to be very thoughtful in the way we talk about these. In Los Angeles today for instance, 41% of all persons in the last census were Hispanic. 15% were Black. 11% were Asian. 33% were white and all others. Many persons of different ethnic backgrounds live next door to each other. The children go to school together and they may likely find in each other persons with whom they would like to consider spending the rest of their lives.

I get a lot of calls from people who say, "What do you think of interethnic, interreligious, and interracial marriages?" Here’s what I think. I think it depends very much on how much similarity there is between the two persons. If for instance, you grew up with different ethnic backgrounds, it may well be that you carry certain customs and expectations into the marriage that are diametrically opposed on various issues. This is certainly true in the religious area. If for instance, religion was important to you and you are Jewish and for another person it isn’t important to them and they are Christian, or vice versa, the two of you are going to have more difficulty in your relationship.

Interracial marriages sometimes succeed, but the divorce rate for interracial marriages is significantly higher than for same race marriages. Interethnic, interreligious, and interracial situations simply create greater complexity in the marriage relationship. So, if you encounter someone who is in a different ethnic group or a different religious group or a different racial group, you may determine that that is a veto factor for you.

Over the next few issues I’ll take a look at the rest of my ten Veto Factors-stay tuned.