Recently I connected with an associate of mine who, for some odd reason, felt comfortable with sharing that she thought her husband was foolish. Why? Because as a woman raised in a Jewish household, she couldn’t understand how a person who had just won a battle with cancer STILL didn’t believe in God. During this inappropriate conversation I wondered how someone who is such an avid believer and participant in the Jewish community could marry a man who was an atheist. When I asked her she said, “He told me he didn’t believed in God before we got married and I just didn’t believe him. I figured he just wasn’t active in a particular religion. But now [13 years later] I wonder if I would have made a different decision if I knew he was serious?”
This encounter made me think about the role religion plays (or should play) in relationships. While many believe atheists are just one struggle away from claiming a religion and that Muslims, Christians, Jews and the like all worship the same God but just use different paths towards Him, neither of these perspectives recognize the huge part that religious rituals play in our lives. The paths we use towards God (fasting, praying daily, acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, etc.) or the lack thereof (in the case of an atheist), shape a large part of who we are and how we view the world. While I believe we should respect each others differences, when you decide to expose your heart to someone who views the world so drastically different from you, I believe you are setting yourself up for heartache.
Religion is complex and extremely personal and in many cases, one cannot ignore it for the sake of a relationship. Avid believers should think of their religion like their head of hair; your hair can be cut and altered to fit the trends of the time but when it grows back, it will protrude from your scalp just as it did when you were a child. You can’t change it. It’s who you are.
With that said, don’t find yourself questioning your spouse’s spiritual intelligence 13 years and 1 tragedy into your relationship. Recognize that you can’t deny who you are when searching for the person who is right for you.
Can you drink to that?