Interfaith relationship questions... LONG - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-11-2010, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I don't make it a habit to discuss marital issues on the internet, but I'm feeling really stuck with this one. And I don't know whether to put it here or in parents as partners. I chose spirituality, b/c this issue revolves specifically around spirituality.

Anyway, for some background. DH and I were both members of the Episcopal church when we met and got married. I joined after being raised Catholic and spending a few years studying agnostic/atheist/Buddhist. DH is a cradle Episcopalian (his father is a former priest, and his grandfather was a priest... so strong familial ties).
When I was pregnant almost 3 years ago, I began sensing some very stong spiritual connections to the divine feminine and to the earth/creation. As I have explored this a little more, I feel some pagan/earth based leanings in my spirituality. I went to one Pagan meetup group, but didn't really feel comfortable. I have been attending a UU church for the last couple of months and I like it for the most part, although I have decided to wait a long time to make a commitment to any spiritual community. DH has, for the most part, still been attending an Episcopal church that he really likes, but recently has been expressing a strong desire for us to attend church as a family. We are trying to brainstorm ideas for how this would work best for us.
Now for a little more background. We have been having some significant marital issues, and I feel very disconnected from him and have for a long time. I won't go into everything, but I feel like it is important to know that our marriage is on rocky ground and I have been considering my reasons to stay in the marriage.
Back to the issue. Yesterday, we were talking about the church issue, and he expressed an extreme discomfort with paganism. I tried to probe a little more to find out what specifically he was uncomfortable with, but he didn't/couldn't/wouldn't elaborate very much. Basically just saying that it isn't what he believed. And finally he said, "and that just makes it one more thing that I don't want to talk to you about." There was a lot more to the conversation, but this was a sticking point for me. He kept trying to say that he was sorry for saying it and that it was the wrong thing to say... but I think it was honest and that he actually meant it and the only reason he was apologizing was that he knew it upset me. Anyway, fast forward through some other relationship discussion and to this evening. We were talking about it some more... and I tried to explain to him that the reason I was trying to have him tell me specifically what he was uncomfortable with was to determine if those things even applied to what I believe. B/C if his areas of discomfort don't apply, then it isn't even something we have to worry about. If it is something that applies, well I was hoping that we could tackle those issues and come to a point where we could be comfortable with and respectful of each other's differences. And his response was that if I forced him to have a conversation he didn't want to have, then it was going to be bad for both of us.

So now, I am in a position where I feel unwelcome and unsafe to talk about or express my spirituality in my own home. And I don't know what to do with that. I know this is probably a good issue to discuss with a counselor, which I have been trying to get him to make time for an appointment for a few months. But we don't have a counselor right here right this moment. And so I'm hoping that someone might have some helpful words for me.

mommy to Christopher 2/29/08
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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Hi,

From my own experience, a communication breakdown is a sign that a relationship is in very serious trouble. If your husband has things he feels he can't talk to you about, and vice versa, then things are not in a good place.

I have told my kids (now adults) more than once that I would rather argue with my hubby than to feel like I couldn't talk to him. At least if we're arguing, we're communicating. Of course, we do have a standing rule here that open communication is a requirement and we can't go to bed with unresolved issues. It's gotten us through ten years - second marriage for each of us - and we're looking at many, many more years.

You have to be able to talk to each other. It's just not right to be holding back from sharing your thoughts and feelings.

I'm sorry if it's not what you wanted to hear. Remember, it's just my experience. YMMV.

Trisha

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Old 04-12-2010, 02:38 AM
 
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I agree that you have to talk through it, and it's better to have painful things said and talked through than hiding (not always easier though).

I also can understand possibly what your husband means. It's something my DP and I have worked on, because there are some things he didn't want to say, because he didn't want to upset me, however if we're hiding things from eachother, we can't communicate well, and things break down.

If you can't talk about it together, then you really do need to find a counselor who can help you as a mediator to talk about it.

You should both be able to talk about your spiritual beleifs. I'm not sure that he has to "approve" of yours, or you of his, you just have to be able to communicate, and have respect about it.
For us, I know that DP beleives that humans will evolve past needing/wanting religion/G-d, and that he believes some humans (himself included) already have. I beleive that human life is lacking without a sense of divinity. We've come to respect eachothers beleives. (It helps that for instance, he sees that for me, I find meaning and am moved by the divine, and I see that he does recognize what I would call an aspect of the divine, (things like the majesty of sunsets, natural places, the power and connectedness of all things), it isn't divine or sacred or anything to him, it's just life. Basically, finding things to relate to and/or respect in our extreme differences).


Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:46 AM
 
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I don't have much advice for you I don't think, but you have my heartfelt sympathy. I can't talk to my DH about faith either. Fortunately (sort of) he just doesn't care, so I do my own thing and raise the kids in my faith. That said, one of the very few things we see eye-to-eye on is that church ought to be a family activity, so he comes along and helps out wrangle the kids, sometimes volunteering in the daycare which he loves because it gets him out of church and around the kids.

I must also say that I think your DH is being unfair with you to not even allow the conversation to take place. We've had similar issues in our relationship and, yes, he was right...some very painful things came out, and in the heat of discussing things we really didn't like each other for we said hurtful things. Our marriage isn't great and I don't expect it to get better...I stay because I believe it's the best for the kids to have a stay-home Mum homeschooling them (but that's another issue). I think that our inability to meet in a Godly space and the very different ways we see the sanctity of the marraige are a root cause of our problems.

HOWEVER...I understand that your DH might feel somewhat betrayed by your dessertion of your family faith. He married you in the Episcopal Church, he certainly expects his child to be brought up in the faith...you DID make those vows, remember? He may very well feel that you are breaking your marriage covenant.

Now of course you have every right as a human to grow spiritually and to expect your mate to support your growth. But he may be finding that hard given the direction it's going. Can you maybe begin a conversation with him acknowledging that you are splitting the 'family faith' in a way you didn't anticipate you would do back when you married and ask him if he might need to address feeling betrayed my you? It might be hard to listen to what he has to say, but it might provide an open door to the next conversation.

HTH.

Gwen , partner to D ; Mamma to T (6) , J (4) , and baby P
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Old 04-12-2010, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you all for your replies. We have an appt with a counselor this week. And I'm really hoping this is an issue that we can hammer out in our sessions. Yes, there has been a huge breakdown in communication in our marriage, and this is only one of the issues. And I definitely appreciate the insight that he might be sort of viewing it as me breaking my vows, although I don't know if he would phrase it that way. He has said that our shared faith was one of the things that attracted him to me in the first place and that that was what he had signed up for. I asked him if it was a dealbreaker, and he said no, but that it was still very important to him. So, idk, we'll see how counseling goes. I'm kind of nervous

mommy to Christopher 2/29/08
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:37 AM
 
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Glad to hear you are going to see a counselor. Hope it helps you sort all of this out.

Gwen , partner to D ; Mamma to T (6) , J (4) , and baby P
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:58 AM
 
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I don't have any advice for you but I thought I would recommend this book.

It's written by the author of Secret Life of Bees about her journey from a devout Christian married to a pastor through to understanding and practise of the divine feminine. I found it fascinating and she journals not only her spiritual journey but also its affects of her family, marriage, and community relationships.

Hugs to you - I hope you can find a peaceful path.
Karen

Blessed partner to a great guy, and mama to 4 amazing kids. Unfortunate target of an irrationally angry IRL stalker.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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Old 04-13-2010, 01:09 PM
 
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OP, I am surprised no one else has mentioned the following:

what about another Episcopal parish? Some are quite open to other faith traditions and paths and this might allow you to follow your path, your DH to follow his, while he entire family is together in one congregation.

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Old 04-13-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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ShannieSue hope it all goes well. Interfaith is really hard. I think I went on about how it went for us (and it still goes) it a bit in our DDC.

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