What you need to know:
- Do not underrate the depth of emotion and attachment some spouses have on issues of faith.
- Both of you need to understand that relationships were meant to enable you to create a bond that will enlighten you.
I’ve been your loyal reader for many years, and I would like to thank you for your role in helping mend relationships. I got married last year, but my marriage is full of arguments. My husband gets easily annoyed, and most of the time, I’m the one who apologises for the sake of my marriage.
When we settled down, we talked about getting a neutral church since he’s a Catholic and I’m Presbyterian, but he insisted that I join his church. I joined him because I wanted to be an obedient wife. I kept encouraging myself that things would change and I’d adapt, but it’s not happening.
So today, after church, I decided to tell him that I cannot continue attending this church because I really don’t get their routine. I told him that I’d allow him to go with the baby we are expecting to his church and that I would go back to my church.
He did not listen to me and put his foot down on the matter. His word was final. I had decided to sacrifice myself for the sake of the baby, but it was not working. This is not my thing. What should I do?
Thank you for being a fan of the column. I trust it has been of help over the years. A few essential facts about relationships are worth noting.
First, relationships are spiritual as much as they are physical. Second, your conflict management style needs to embrace the complexities involved in dealing with emotive issues like religion. Depending on how both of you were raised, do not underrate the depth of emotion and attachment some spouses have on issues of faith. Whether spiritual or physical, the way we navigate our association can make things complicated or rewarding. The skills we use will help reveal a lot that could help us avoid future pitfalls.
Note that, somehow, you could see that religion was becoming a problem in the relationship. It appears, however, the way you dealt with it was more from a compliance space than from a place of reasoning through the issue without fighting each other.
Of course, I realise that your man seemed to have already made up his mind on the issue. Remember that our perception of people and our expectations concerning them play a big role in how we choose to relate to them. Knowing that the people we allow into our lives can have limited or unlimited influence on us depending on our initial agreements when we agreed to the marriage. This includes the way we make decisions on varying issues. On your part, your man seems to have known how to push or influence the choices your make.
Sadly, your man has failed to realise that marriage is about two people, not one. Second, both of you need to understand that relationships were meant to enable you to create a bond that will enlighten you. What I see is an enabled control and manipulation environment affirmed by how your husband relates to you.
For example, when your partner chooses a particular church or religion to be what they subscribe to, great practices for those seeking a deeper marriage relationship demands dialogue, collaboration and understanding.
Your current fight is based on one assumption, since our social and spiritual relationships matter, the environments where this take will matter. The uneasiness you both feel is real. Sitting together and communicatiing to each other clearly and without bias will make a huge difference.
Your communication should centre on what’s essential, like: What exactly makes you differ? Suppose it is the faith the denomination stands for. In that case, the two of you have to be careful not to immediately trivialise what each partner believes but rather look at how each one of you will be fed well spiritually. Since this is the discussion, you should have had before getting married, getting to a joint agreement may require additional support from a spiritual leader that both of you respect.
If the spiritual environment we relate to fails to support your relationships, it will erode any gains the two of you have and continue to make in the relationship.
Currently, the state of your relationship does not promote a listening culture. Listening to each other’s convictions makes them feel their contributions matter. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that, while listening and understanding other people’s communication is key, we must determine for ourselves what will make practical sense. Manipulation, coercion or silence has never been the way to build a happy relationship.
Take time to consider the strength of your relationship, give each other the benefit of the doubt, avoid generalisation, and prioritise building a common approach. Remember, there are other great charismatic Catholic churches that could actually surprise you with their worship and teaching.
What are you willing to let go that will not compromise your core values and who you are as a person? Second, are you fighting a losing battle? Finally, what will it take to redirect your focus from what will be more productive? I encourage you to walk through the two steps above and shift your focus to other critical priorities.
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