Mixed-Faith Marriage
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Old 02-09-2007, 12:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Mixed-Faith Marriage

Hi,

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?

-Art
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Art,

Welcome to Talk About Marriage. I just wanted to say hi, and let you know that the site is brand new so it may take longer to get replies here than on some forums that have hundreds of registered users. So keep checking back; it's actually growing pretty quick.

Judging from your post, you seem like a very patient person. I think you will find the answers you're looking for.

Chris
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Childrens well being

Art,
I can understand how you feel that divorce is out of the question for the well being of the children but possibly it may be better for them if you do divorce if you & your wife cannot resolve your differences. Children need to grow up seeing love & commitment between their parents. As they get older you will not be able to hide the fact from them that there is so much stress between you. Your children may even blame this on themselves. Try to get your wife to go for counciling with you. If she won't go, then go by yourself. It will help you a lot. I wish you both well & I pray you can work things out so you can stay together as a family.
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Old 02-16-2007, 11:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Kat,

Thanks for your reply. I do believe that for the most part, the children see that we do love each other, and we express our love to the children every day. I think going to a counselor alone, it wouldn't really give a fair presentation of our situation, since they will only be hearing one side of the story. I'm sure if I could get her to go, the story wouldn't seem so one-sided. I'm certainly not saying that I'm the "model" husband by any means, and I could probably use a good bit of councilling for my own "issues", and I think it would only be fair if she were also there to talk out her feelings.

-Art
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

If you're staying together exclusively for the children, don't. They won't benefit from having that much strain around them, and as was said above, they may even blame themselves.

I come from a mixed faith marriage of sorts: I am non-religious and my wife has her own pagan belief system. It caused some strain at one point, but we overcame that (though moved on to other problems). Never as extreme as yours, but we each had to come to understand the other's viewpoint more closely, even if we didn't accept it as our own.

It sounds to me like you are on very different paths and you definitely need to address this very explicitly and openly. If she will not meet with a regular counselor, perhaps one from each of your churches would do or something.

EDIT: Just realized that this is very old. I hope you've been able to work things out.
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
Hi,

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.


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 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?

-Art
Art,
Taking these above statements-I will say that you are NOT married to the same person you wed 10 years ago. Now, as we get older, we do grow. Growth is never ending. It seems that in her growth, spiritual acknowledgement is one of the things that's she's experiencing...however, it seems that she is easily influenced by those OUTSIDE of the marriage as opposed to her better half (you).
I'm going to have to say "shame on you" for not considering divorce for the sake of the kids. Would you have them live in a household that is clearly divided and unhealthy? What's really better for them?
I'll suggest that since your main issue us religious beliefs and changes, you should seek counseling-BUT NOT FROM A MEMBER OF A CHURCH, SEE A PROFESSIONAL therapist or counselor! If she cares about this marriage, she'll go to therapy with you. It seems that she too easily influenced by church members to be objective to anything they'd have to say, so the two of you need an unbias person assisting. If she isn't willing to work on this problem (and it is a problem), then this marriage isn't worth suffering through. And as the man of your house, you are responsible for taking care of this household....so what are you going to do?
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

Even thought this post is old I hope that this person does come back and let us know how it worked out.

I would agree though that you should never stay together for the kids sake. There is nothing good about a marrieage for the children that is having trouble that cannot be worked out. I would agree with the counseling for you together but if she won't go I do feel that you going to counseling yourself will help. It will help in the sense that it will help you to come to terms with where your marriage is at and how much you are willing to change in the end. Good luck to you and I hope it works out the way that you want it to.
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

This being so old I wish there where updates to it. It sounds to me though that you'd either end up with a marriage to a friend at best, or divorcing to save the kids from being in the middle. It sounds like you'll never get her back to where she was. You have to accept her for who she is now. People change after all. But in the same token she can't always expect you to go for the ride.

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Old 10-16-2007, 01:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

Well if the person who started this ever returns, I would suggest that he adopt a Mennonite view....which runs from Old Order Amish to something akin to Unitarianism! If he does that he also gets to take advantage of the man being in charge rule.

That would put an end to her dictating new religions every few years.
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Old 10-16-2007, 02:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

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Originally Posted by ACCER View Post
Well if the person who started this ever returns, I would suggest that he adopt a Mennonite view....which runs from Old Order Amish to something akin to Unitarianism! If he does that he also gets to take advantage of the man being in charge rule.

That would put an end to her dictating new religions every few years.
Well reguardless I think she is pulling people along for her ride while she looks for what fits her best. What would stop her from saying I am done with this so I no longer believe you have any say over me?

Not that it is healthy to have a relationship where one dictates to the other anyways.

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Old 12-23-2007, 03:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

Hi,

I am also new to this forum and my case is similar to Artemis's, with the differences below. I am in need of some good advice here.
1. We have an only son, 17 years old, schooled in a Christian school.
2. My wife's slide into fundamentalist Christianity has been going on for almost 12 years now.
3. Nothing in our respective backgrounds has ever been related to religiousness in any way, shape or form. No members of our families, close or extended, are or have ever been religious (on the contrary my upbringing has been very freethinking).
4. Another important difference with Artemis's case, is that it was me who initially came in contact with some missionaries and then introduced her to them. It was just out of curiosity and I came to my senses pretty quick, but it still can be said that somehow I started my own downfall.
My wife's discourse in our familiar circles is completely different from her discourse in our church circles. In family (I mean extended family here) she is very reserved to talk about faith, especially in my presence. She is very close-minded and gets easily upset on this subject.
Her position in our controversy has been "let's love one another and accept the fact that we cannot change each other", but my main concern here is my son. So far I have been just a churchgoer, have criticized various aspects of fundamentalism, but never challenged it head-on. Now I'm afraid that if I start to do that, it may be troubling for him and I may do more harm than good. On the other side, it is very hurtful to see him acquiring the same beliefs his mom has. Is there any way to challenge this situation somewhat smoothly? Is there any way to save my marriage without continuing to be my wife's doormat as I have been so far? I am very open to any ideas about this, even more so because no one of my extended family or close friends would be able to fully comprehend the situation.

-Ernie
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Old 12-23-2007, 11:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ernie View Post
Hi,

I am also new to this forum and my case is similar to Artemis's, with the differences below. I am in need of some good advice here.
1. We have an only son, 17 years old, schooled in a Christian school.
2. My wife's slide into fundamentalist Christianity has been going on for almost 12 years now.
3. Nothing in our respective backgrounds has ever been related to religiousness in any way, shape or form. No members of our families, close or extended, are or have ever been religious (on the contrary my upbringing has been very freethinking).
4. Another important difference with Artemis's case, is that it was me who initially came in contact with some missionaries and then introduced her to them. It was just out of curiosity and I came to my senses pretty quick, but it still can be said that somehow I started my own downfall.
My wife's discourse in our familiar circles is completely different from her discourse in our church circles. In family (I mean extended family here) she is very reserved to talk about faith, especially in my presence. She is very close-minded and gets easily upset on this subject.
Her position in our controversy has been "let's love one another and accept the fact that we cannot change each other", but my main concern here is my son. So far I have been just a churchgoer, have criticized various aspects of fundamentalism, but never challenged it head-on. Now I'm afraid that if I start to do that, it may be troubling for him and I may do more harm than good. On the other side, it is very hurtful to see him acquiring the same beliefs his mom has. Is there any way to challenge this situation somewhat smoothly? Is there any way to save my marriage without continuing to be my wife's doormat as I have been so far? I am very open to any ideas about this, even more so because no one of my extended family or close friends would be able to fully comprehend the situation.

-Ernie
Chances are he will be more open and free thinking later in life. Let him get the religion from your wife and the free thinking from you and e will learn to be a man all on his own.

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Old 01-18-2009, 06:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

From the way I see this there are two possible outcomes concerning the children. They will either grow with a high respect for people of all faiths, (which is wonderful) or they could mature with complete confusion as to what is right or wrong for them.

It would worry me if my spouse wanted to change religion after being so devoute. It appears (though I may be completely wrong) as though your wife is searching for something... that she is looking for something to make her complete in some way and not really allowing her faith to be just a guidance. You have been very kind to allow her freedom of expression, but it sounds as though she is unhealthily dependant on faith. Religion must be a personal matter and one that can be shared and discussed, not forced upon others. I think that you must take considerable time before making any decisions regarding this. I really hope that you find a happy conclusion that will be best for all concerned, but perhaps it is kinder in a mixed faith marriage to allow the children to choose their own path and not press upon either one religion. x
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Old 01-23-2009, 05:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Mixed-Faith Marriage

I think there's an element of thoughtlessness involved in adopting quite fundamentalist relgious beliefs after you've already entered into a marraige. Fundamentalist religions place all sorts of demands on their adherants so if you sign up well it involves your spouse as well. I have to wonder when people do this are their other motivations involved? I mean maybe they're in a bad place emotionally and think religion will fill the gap.

Just to describe where I'm coming from, I used to be C of E hubbys an atheist, I was never particularly interested in relgion mainly because I've met so many people convinced of their own beliefs that they ignore anybodies elses beliefs. So I kind of enjoy having sunday for a day of reflection in the home without having to traipse to church and go through the whole rigmerole.
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