Hello lovely reader,
Today I am going to breach upon a subject very dear and ever present in my own personal life – marriage to a non-catholic. Before I dive deep into my personal experience, struggles, successes, and tips, I want to let you know that this article purely represents my personal opinions and experiences and the directions I have been lead towards through my own personal spiritual training.
The beginning of us…
I am extremely blessed and proud to say that I have been married to my husband for a little over three years. These last three years have been full of much joy, spoiling, and happiness, but like any marriage, they have also been full of struggles, hardships, negative emotions, and heated arguments. When my husband and I first were married, I entered the marriage with my faith present in my life, however, it was not something that I fully embraced each day. In other words, I was worshipping and going through the motions (well, at least sometimes I was), but I hadn’t undergone a full convergence with my faith and I hadn’t been seeking a relationship with God.
My husband entered our marriage as an Episcopalian, one who was very supportive of my beliefs and agreed before we were married to raise our children Catholic and to always aid me in my own spiritual training. For the first year and a half of our marriage, my husband and I rarely attended church. At the time, I felt almost estranged from my church community and was fearful of returning. Our lives were filled with very little utterances of faith, God, prayer, or the Bible.
The great divide…
But, during this time, our relationship felt to me as if it were hollow. It felt empty and wobbly as if it had no legs or foundation to stand on. I love my husband more than any thing on this Earth, he comes second to God in my heart. However, it felt as if our marriage was struggling and I knew it was because of me in some way. It was something I was feeling and experiencing that he was oblivious too and that he, understandably, did not understand. After months of arguments and little tiffs that continued to build up to a point of almost no return, I realized that we were divided in our marriage; something greater than petty squabbles had come between us – my faith.
My lonely convergence back to my faith…
Into the end of our second year of marriage, something altered my life forever. A convergence. A convergence back to my faith. God had been working on me for months, through college religious classes, biblical study, and faith inquiry He lead me back to the Church. For the first time in my life, I actually understood the meaning of creation, the meaning of God being our Father, the meaning of all the things I had been taught by the Church and had just soaked up as educational information. I had listened and retained what I had been taught, yet, I had not understood.
Beginning with a class on the New Testament, I underwent a painful and extremely tear-jerking struggle for two months. At the time, I wanted so desperately to go to my husband for support and to cry into his shoulder, however, I was frightened to. He had never been one to be outward about religious discussion and I felt as if he would think me a fool for crying over things I was going through spiritually. Eventually, the crying and great despair retreated and left behind a resolve to build a relationship with God no matter the cost. I began to realize the great love God has for each of us and I truly felt it in my heart and soul. It was an amazing feeling. Again, I wanted desperately to run to my husband and tell him of this great joy and spiritual peace I had found and to describe to him my resolve. But, yet again I let my fear prohibit me.
A change was coming…
In the weeks after I had made my resolve, I began being more active in the Church again. I even helped my mother start a weekly Bible study because I yearned to read and understand the word of God. My daily schedule was completely changed and everything was put second to my morning and evening prayers and meditations. My life was truly changing and my husband, soon, could see it.
Finally, I came forward to my husband and told him of the long journey I had struggled with on the road to convergence. I opened up my heart to him and explained my feelings and desires going forward and how I wanted to change my life. Understandably, my husband did not know how to react. He had never grown up in an open and religious family. Though he did not turn away from me as I had feared he would, he did not run in open arms to embrace me and try to communicate about the past and coming trials and joys.
Enter the beginning hardship of marriage between people of different faiths…
Once my heart was opened to my husband, I felt greatly saddened by his response. At first, he tried to participate in my morning prayers, however, I soon asked him to stop because his attention was elsewhere and his actions were continuously distracting to me. At times, I struggled, because it felt as if he was frustrated or tired of my faith and the way I enacted it on a day to day basis. However, as I later discovered, he was struggling with his own spiritual convictions and his own faith.
As I began attending our Bible study sessions, I was provided with insight into other people’s Catholic marriages. I was able to see how the husbands and wives would take part in deep spiritual reflections and discussions and would ultimately build a greater bond with each other. Now, I know the marriages of these couples are not perfect, however, they did show me something that I desired greatly – a marriage that was centered in God. A spiritually open marriage, free from fear or reservations of spiritual discussion. With time, my husband and I have been able to greatly work toward that.
A more bonded and spiritually centered relationship prospers…
Over the last several months, through many trials and struggles of our own, my husband and I have communicated greatly on the topic of our marriage and how our faiths play a role in the union. There have been times when I felt alone in our marriage due to our disagreements on important points. We both, for a long time, had trouble communicating with each other our true beliefs on certain topics and what we desired in life.
Though these hardships were ever present in our marriage, I continued my personal spiritual changes and continued my daily prayer and meditation schedules. I prayed and begged God everyday to bless our marriage with peace and connection. And in time…he did. Eventually, we were both able to communicate more comfortably with each other (mostly because we had discussed the topic so much in our arguments), and we realized truly how we each felt about certain things. Soon (and still) we were partaking in regular spiritual discussions about not only my faith, but his and how we both felt about certain points. These conversations were (and are) such a blessing to me that I actually cried with joy the first time. Though we often left the conversations without certain beliefs altered or changed, the conversations helped us understand each other better. My husband soon understood where I was coming from, how hard it had been for me to live life almost separately from him. I soon understood his reservations and why it was hard for him to open up about certain topics. It was as if we could see into each other and know each others hearts.
Looking towards an imperfect, but growing future…
I know this story so far portrays a fairytale style vibe in which there is always a perfect ending. However, we have not reached the ending. Our marriage is young, and as we move towards the future, there will certainly be more struggles, hardships, and disagreements for us to encounter. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way, because my experience has taught me that these struggles and hardships, though painful and often torturous, help my husband and I grow closer together. These experiences are helping to build our relationship and help it to grow closer towards the marriage I yearn for – a marriage in which God is ever present.
Marriage between people of two different faiths is always going to be trying, unless the people do not practice their beliefs. Each faith, no matter how close on the surface, produces different opinions, beliefs, and practices which will eventually conflict with each other at some point. However, as long as God is in your marriage, these conflicts can be used to instill a closer bond and build your relationship. I have found that the marriage I have continues to strengthen my beliefs, because I am standing up for them each day and I am continually explaining them to my husband to help him understand my soul.
Some tips to those who may be struggling in their own marriage…
- Explain to your spouse how important your faith and connection to God is to you. Back up your words with your actions. Do not be afraid to SHOW them how important your faith is by making the time to pray and meditate. Do not be afraid to bring faith-based pieces into your home or to attend Bible studies or church services. By doing these things, you are showing your spouse how dedicated you are to your faith and to building a relationship with God.
- Ask your spouse to be apart of your spiritual journey. Ask your spouse to attend church or bible study with you. Ask them to participate in your morning prayer. Just offering them the chance to be included in your spiritual journey shows them that you desire them to be apart of it and also helps them see how you act and reflect during these times. Do not give up. Even if they decline you the first or fourth time, continue to ask them to be involved and embrace each of their declines with a smile and an ‘ Ok’. Overtime, they will realize how important it is to you that they participate.
- Develop a plan for your Sunday services. Communicating with each other and developing a plan for how you will each spend your Sundays will help relieve a lot of pressure and negative feelings towards church going. Staying true to your faith and attending services each Sunday, whether your spouse comes with you or not, will show your conviction to your faith. However, as we have done in our marriage, think about attending Mass and your spouse’s service each Sunday. At first, I didn’t want to do this, however, I realized that having my spouse attend Mass with me and not attending the services he asked me to go to with him, was unfair and unsupportive. I know this arrangement does not work for everyone, however, it has worked for us so far. Overall, developing a plan for each Sunday will help both you and your spouse understand your Sunday priorities.
- As a wife, pray daily for the Lord to bless your marriage with understanding and for Him to help you through the times when there is conflict. Prayer is a powerful tool and I truly believe it helps in every situation. Bringing our fears and desires to the Lord, especially those regarding marriage, help open the doors to welcoming God into your marriage and will help Him guide you through struggling times with your spouse.
- Above all, it is essential to be open to one another and to feel comfortable discussing your faiths. Be open to discussing your husband’s faith with him. Not being open with each other can lead to resentment towards not only each other, but to your religions and beliefs as well.
Question for you dear reader: How do you bring God into your marriage? If you are in a bi-religion marriage, how do you work through the struggles and hardships caused by differing beliefs?
As always, I want to thank you for visiting my little slice of the net and I welcome you to like my blog on Facebook for my inspiration and encouragement!