When Faith and Relationships are at Odds

Issue of the week #2 When Faith and Relationships are at Odds

"I was so strong in my faith. I was certain that when we got married that my husband would 'see the light' and join me. I really loved God and I really loved Sam. It is true that we agreed to 'live and let live' when it came to religion, but I still had my dreams.

I even got my parents to acquiesce to the marriage. My pastor was not thrilled. He was concerned that marrying an unbeliever would draw me away from my relationship with Jesus. He strongly advised me to break off the relationship. He tried to tell me that such a marriage would never be as fulfilling as it might be. I just didn’t see it that way. Sam seemed so perfect for me.

"That was four years ago. I am starting to see cracks in the perfection of which I dreamed. It’s me – and my faith – and what has happened to it.

"At first, I 'cheated' on Sam. Despite our agreement that religion was off-limits, I sometimes tried to wiggle in some little hints that he consider changing his beliefs just a bit. The first time or two he just gave me a look that told me he was on to my little subterfuge. But then he really let loose. We’ve only had a couple of serious arguments in our four years together. They were both about religion. After that I stopped talking about it. It is hard, though, because Jesus was a big part of my life. , I used to “share” my faith so easily with friends, with people in our church. Now I stay quiet. I stopped going to church because I didn’t want to interfere with the time that Sam and I have together on weekends. I don’t talk about Jesus, because it’s off-limits. I feel self-conscious reading my Christian books because I am afraid Sam will think I am trying to push them on him. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that a peaceful marriage has become more important to me than my relationship with Jesus.

"With time, I’ve become rather disconnected. But I feel badly about it, too. I sometimes blame Sam for the fact that I have back-slid so much. We don’t argue about religion anymore, but the peace is not a harmonious one. There is always an undercurrent of tension. Even topics of moral and ethical issues become tricky conversation, because I would want to bring my Christian values into play; ask 'What would Jesus do?' and that would cause conflict. I always hoped my faith and values would strengthen our relationship. In the end, my faith has only distanced me from Sam – and my relationship with Sam has distanced me from my faith. "Maybe the pastor was right. Maybe my marriage is not all it might have been, had I made other choices. " Do you agree that a believer in Jesus (or other concept of divinity) who is dating or married to one who is not should break off the relationship? Do you suppose such experiences are an indication that Jesus is a distancing factor in interfaith relationships and perhaps even counter-productive in terms of establishing shared values to preserve marriage? Do you have a personal story to share on how your spouse or partner’s belief got in the way of developing a lasting and solid relationship?