How does faith, your faith walk, fit in to your marriage? Does it? What would you say to someone who is on a radically different faith walk than her husband?
Paul and I have always had similar faith walks, in that we are both grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. We both consider ourselves disciples of Jesus, though we no longer participate in traditional forms of church. In spite of this common connection, we’ve always had very different ways of practicing our faith. Paul likes formal, high church rituals and theological debate. I like more grounded everyday rituals and value orthopraxis (what one does) over orthodoxy (what one believes.) Paul is more orthodox in his beliefs. I tend to practice a more blended faith.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years during our own evolving spiritual journey, and from other couples who have far more diversity between them.
Express what you need. Do you really need your spouse to be on the same page as you spiritually? Or do you just need them to listen to you as explain your experiences or ideas? A lot of times mixed-faith couples start out thinking they need to have matching practices, but what they really need is mutual understanding and respect.
Focus on the Commonalities. The core truths of many religious have large areas of overlap. For instance, The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you,” is found in one form or another in Confucianism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism. It is possible to practice different faiths and still celebrate the same core values.
Create Blended Practices. No one said you can't mix up traditions. Plenty of families celebrate Hanukah and Christmas, or have two officiants at the wedding. In our house we celebrate Christmas and Winter Solstice, Easter and Passover. These mixed practices can deepen you faith and broaden your understanding of the global community in which we live.
Practice Trust. This is the most important part! Partners with different spiritual or religious practices need to trust that the other is following a path that is true to who they are. No one can thrive in a religion they are forced into. And doubting that your partner is “right” or is making a “good choice” only damages your relationship. You trust each other in other major areas of your life. Practice that same trust in the area of faith.
What about you? Are you in a relationship with someone who has a different faith/religion/spirituality than you? How do you manage (or even celebrate!) the differences? Share your inspiring story with us in the comments. We need your insight. “There ain’t nowhere to go but together.”
Rachelle Mee-Chapman, specializes in customized soulcare for spiritual misfits. She works with clients at Magpie Girl to help them find a spirituality that fits; and hosts Flock, an online soulcare community. You can learn more about her creative approach in her free ecourse, Magpie Speak: a new vocabulary for soulcare. Friend :: Follow :: Presents!