My husband and I come from very different religious backgrounds. He was raised Catholic with a mother who fought for the anti-abortion movement. His father, in his later years, returned to the church where he attended on a daily basis with truth and conviction on his side.
I was raised Methodist. My father is an agnostic who doesn’t have much time for “religious nuts.” His term not mine. He met his current wife at church while still married to my mother. A divorce ensued. For this reason and others that have occurred within my marriage religion to me often feels problematic, unsafe, and hypocritical.
Anyway, B is much more of a straight line liberal Christian believer and I am what I would call a seeker of religious tradition from several faiths. I attend a liberal church with B and our family but I also like attending the local Buddhist Temple and the Unitarian service. This has at times caused issues in our marriage. B believes we should go to church almost every week and feels if I do not attend with him it sets a bad example for our children. He believes church should be a family affair not two people going to separate services at differing religious institutions. And while I agree that might be ideal I don’t want to be bound to convention or ideas of what one must do to prove that they are indeed religious a/k/a a “good” person. I want to be free to explore/learn those things that meet my spiritual needs whatever they may be that week.
Along these lines it has recently occurred to me that if we are indeed a unique creation of God then that must carry through to all parts of our lives. I am unique. I like books, horseback riding and meditating every day. B is also unique. He loves to play his bagpipes, he rarely reads a book, and he wakes up in the morning (every morning) to read the Bible. It seems to me that while religion gives a nod to the uniqueness of us all that it should follow this would also be true concerning religious preferences and beliefs. Why is it we expect that because we are all unique we will have different preferences and yet somehow, for the most part, couples are suppose to have almost identical beliefs when it comes to God? In almost all areas of life this is not expected but in regards to religion the expectation is there held fast and tight by society and often by couples themselves. I mean up until recently people of differing faiths were often ostracized by their own families if they married outside of their religious traditions.
Personally, I like to think that by exploring different religious perspectives, I have the kind of faith needed to fill in the cracks that most people find exist between the discrepancies in what they personally believe and what they are taught they must believe if they are following their religious traditions “correctly.”
Sometimes I wish that B could just accept that for me attending church with him is a gift for us both. It shouldn’t matter why I am there just as long as I am and I want to be. My reasons should be mine alone and not some sort of test regarding whether those reasons are “good enough” or if this makes it so we are not “compatible.” And while, for the most part, B is not that uptight when we don’t see eye to eye on how we both practice our spirituality; I know that he wishes that we had this common bond in which our ideas meshed together in a way that would strengthen our relationship instead of emphasize our differences.
Perhaps someday my spiritual believes will align more with B’s… or maybe not. But one thing I do know is that I don’t want religion to further divide our marriage. It is foolish to expect that we will be thinking and feeling the same way at the same time. So I just hope that God’s love will shine bright enough to light the way along both of our spiritual paths, whatever they may be, as we journey through live/marriage together.