I'm new to this forum and forums in general, so bear with me. I will present a background of where I'm coming from then present some questions to you -- I'm not looking for a right or wrong answer here, just some advice, professional or otherwise.
I have been married for 10 years and have 4 beautiful children. Shortly after we were married my wife had a conversion experience and became a very devoted catholic. Changes came about slowly, but progressed to the extent that she would go to church daily. I did not share this enthusiasm to attend church so much (once a week was more than enough for me). Needless to say I did not share this conversion experience with my spouse, beyond the extent to which it was unavoidable for me. Nonetheless, I became more interested and attended church more regularly, if for no other reason than to make her happy and to ease marital stress.
This change in her lifestyle put a lot of stress on our relationship, and affected many aspects of our life. We often fought over the correct decisions of how to raise the children, correct discipline, schooling and of course marital relations. We fought often and fiercely, usually when the children were asleep. We did our best to resolve our differences every night before going to bed, but it seemed that we would continually argue over the same issues again and again. Eventually we cleared this hurdle and peace was found.
Over the past couple of years she has become interested in and befriended members of a Mennonite Congregation that lives about an hour from our house. They hold services on Sundays much like any other Christian Religion, which she has tried to attend on a regular basis. Some of the members come to visit occasionally, thankfully while I'm otherwise occupied with work or some other activity (with children, friends, etc). My wife now dresses regularly like an Amish woman, complete with little white head-covering and all. My oldest daughter (10) who looks up to my wife and follows her like a role model, also wears dresses of this type regularly to public school, but doesn't seem to care much what the other kids think (for which I applaud her individuality). My wife has abandoned her Catholic faith, and now considers it to be corrupt and un-Christian. I find this somewhat offensive, but not being overly-religious it doesn't bother me probably as much as it should.
Once again we are running into the same old arguments as before, regarding schooling, discipline, extra-curricular activities, internet and television usage. Once again the stress is taking its toll, which brings me here to this forum to explore some possible explanations and/or solutions to this recurring problem we are having.
Faith is very important to my wife, so I am trying to do my best to adjust to these changes every time they occur. I try to be supportive, allowing her to go to whatever church she deems fit. Our daughter and baby usually end up going to the Mennonite church on Sundays and my two boys and I will go to the Catholic church in town.
It seems very unfair to me to have to keep changing my lifestyle because my wife keeps changing point of view. I just want some stability in our marriage. I once read something that always keeps echoing in my head and gets truer and truer with every passing day: "A woman marries a man expecting that he will change and he stays the same. A man marries a woman expecting that she will stay the same and she changes." She will not go to a "traditional" marriage counselor because she feels that they will not be open to her Christian beliefs, and will clearly side with my "worldly" viewpoint. And it seems whenever we try to hash these things out on our own it becomes a conflict with what I feel is best and what she interprets the Bible says to be best, and that's just not an arguement I can ever win. She recently had a Mennonite couple in her congregation come down "just for some friendly conversation" which ended up being nothing more than me listening to an old man preach to me about how in order to be a good husband and father for my family I need to follow the Bible, more or less verbatim. I listened respectfully, but informed my wife that I wouldn't be party to that ever again.
I truly feel that I am no longer married to the same woman that I wed over 10 years ago, or the woman I was even married to 5 years ago. We've had the discussions about how she can still love me or I her after her having changed so much. I can only keep saying "because I know deep down you're the same person" so many times before I am going to admit that I really don't know.
What can I do to make my wife understand how much this is straining our marriage? We've had these discussions, but she always makes it out to not be her decision. For the sake of our children, divorce is completely out of the question. No differences that we share are more important than the well being of our kids. Is there anything I can do to make her the woman I married again?