For some religious couples, when you first got married, you may have imagined a life in which you and your spouse lived by and spread the word of God. That may have been just what you got, too, in the early days. Recently, however, your partner may have dropped a bombshell on you by announcing he or she no longer believes. As a result, you may be feeling lost, betrayed and devastated by the fact that your dreams of a faith-based home have come to an end. You may also wonder, where you do go from here?
It’s normal to want to end a marriage after one spouse announces his or her loss of faith. However, many couples strive to work through the challenges and work on their marriage despite them. If you decide to stay together after the big announcement, you will need all the support and guidance you can get to navigate the challenging path ahead. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.
Know That Your Spouse’s Decision Is Not Personal
It is not uncommon for individuals to believe that their spouse’s decision to leave the faith is somehow their fault. Maybe they should have committed more time to family devotion, or maybe they didn’t have family dinners as often as they should have. If you find yourself racking your brain for everything you did wrong, stop. Use your energy to ask the Lord for forgiveness and focus on the future. Let your partner continue his or her journey while you continue yours, and have faith that you two will find common ground along the way.
Let Yourself Grieve
Though you may accept the fact that your spouse’s decision is not your fault, you may still feel sadness or even anger over it. This is normal, and it is healthy to give into your emotions. While you shouldn’t lash out, you should look for constructive ways to channel your grief and express yourself. Start a journal and write in it regularly. Discuss your feelings with a trusted friend. Cry. Go for a run. Treat yourself to some ice cream. Be kind to yourself.
Also note that grief will come in waves. You may feel fine for months following the announcement, but then, on the day of your child’s first communion, the anger might come rushing back to the surface. Prepare for the heartbreak to reoccur, but don’t let it consume you. Instead, look to the light for the strength you need to move forward.
Nurture Your Faith
Now is not the time to slack on your own faith. Prioritizing religion is more important than ever, as you will need the Lord’s guidance through these challenging times. Commit to studying the scriptures on a nightly basis and not just browsing through them. Make time for meditation and prayer, and join a bible study. Finally, commit to going to temple or church. Focus on your own spiritual growth to find the motivation you need to move forward.
Ultimately, the future of your marriage depends on your ability to clearly communicate with your spouse regarding your own spiritual goals and aspirations. Decide what you’re willing to negotiate on, such as some religious activities, and what you’re not, such as church attendance. You should also discuss how you plan to navigate your spiritual differences when it comes to raising your children. Though combining children and faith is likely to be the most taxing topic you will face going forward, if you show love and respect for one another, you may be able to come to a compromise with which you’re both happy.
You’re likely to have a hard time in the early days following your spouse’s announcement. However, with the above advice, you can move forward in your marriage and work toward a new normal — and a new bliss.