This is often a very touchy subject between couples. Having different religious beliefs usually causes some high tension in a relationship, especially if one spouse may not exactly be very supportive or understanding of the other. Is this a make-or-break situation? For some, maybe, but most either find a compromise or let it stew just under the surface – only to have it blow up between each other every few months or years.
I think there are some questions that should be asked of each partner in a situation like this.
- Are you looking to convert me into one religious practice and into another?
- Are you looking for support in your religious path?
- Are you looking to just not be alone when you go to church (or staying at home and away from church)?
- What is it about my spouse’s beliefs that bother me so much, and is this something that genuinely affects my quality of life?
- What are you afraid of by allowing your partner to believe something different than you do?
Your answers will differ to all those questions, but it’s something to get deep down honest about before having your next yelling match with your spouse over this subject. It may be time to discover what is at the root of your conflict over this subject in order to address exactly that instead of the symptom.
That final question is probably the most often cause of conflict due to the issue of salvation many religions promote. It’s entirely understandable that you want only the very best for your loved ones, so worrying about their salvation (in some religions) is built into the formula. Worrying to the point of nagging, however, does nothing to promote any religion you may espouse. Take a breath and back off a bit. Let the other person follow their own path, because there is very little anyone can do to force another to believe something they don’t want to believe. It’s just like how you can’t make a man fall in love with the idea of going to the mall with you when he’d rather go play golf. If it’s not genuinely the other person’s idea to begin with, forcing the issue will just cause resentment, which may lead to anger. It’s completely counter-productive.
This issue may be a big one between you and your spouse when it comes to your children as well. The same questions above apply to this. It’s all fine and good to expose your children to various religions, because they will eventually figure things out for themselves. Those of us who are parents are here to guide them the best we are able, but the choice is ultimately their own. If you push too hard to get them into one belief or another, it often results in the very opposite outcome. You run the risk of pushing them away from your beliefs, as well as from you directly. Guide in love and understanding without pressure, and support them no matter what.
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