We made a list of everything we agreed on:
1) Our children are insanely adorable.
2) We find each other attractive.
3) We agree on how to spend/save our money.
4) Pixar makes good movies.
Being married to one’s opposite is a mixed bag of emotions. It is delightful, frustrating, enlightening, befuddling, lonely, humorous and surprising. Sometimes it is painful.
I’m a devout Christian; he is an atheist. I choose to believe; he chooses to not believe. This separates us more than anything else, because our religious views (or lack thereof) affect every single aspect of our personalities and lives. It is as though we are standing on opposite sides of an impassable, gaping chasm. I can make out the blurry outline of my husband, but I am unable to cross the distance that would allow us to see one another clearly.
He wasn’t always atheist. And in my younger years, such a declaration would have been a deal-breaker for me. It means praying alone, fighting to have spiritual promptings taken seriously, no longer having Christ as the center of our home, and struggling to find a way to raise our children in the gospel. Even when he did confess his feelings to me two years ago, my knee-jerk reaction was to suggest divorce. But I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t.
My husband and I are making this marriage work. For all of you non-believers and agnostics, you’re probably upset that I considered leaving him. For all of you believers, you’re probably stressing out on how I’m going to do this and stay faithful. Never fear! I have found peace. For those in a similar situation, perhaps you can find insights for your marriage.
Here are the three keys that are making our divided home united.
1) Keepin’ It Real!
Every marriage is a mixed bag of delight, frustration, enlightenment, confusion, loneliness, humor and pain! Every marriage consists of two unique individuals trying to create a lifelong union; there are challenges for every couple. Most people agree that divorce is the answer when a marriage is experiencing one of the three A’s—adultery, abuse or abandonment. My husband and I still love and respect each other, so why wouldn’t we fight to keep that?
2) Safe Haven
Barbara Snedecor, a member of the LDS church, summed up my sentiments when she said “feelings of isolation are often a painful reality in a part-member family. But we can choose to cheerfully accept what is difficult and to build on what is good.” My husband and I strive to do this by making certain our home is a safe haven. At home, my husband is allowed to express any discomfort over my Church’s policies or doctrines, and his doubt over the idea of an unseeing, unconditionally loving God. I am allowed to express my loneliness in worshiping alone and my fears of our children straying from the gospel. We have promised not to take offence or argue with each other in these moments. I listen to him, and he holds me. We are each other’s safe havens.
3) My Beliefs
Ironic, right? The thing that divides us is the main thing that keeps us together. But when I immerse myself in the doctrines and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am overwhelmed with love, understanding, and peace. When I pray to see my husband as God sees him, I do. God sees in my husband a man dedicated to loving and providing for his family, a man of humor, honesty, and kindness.
When I attend church and the temple, when I pray and study the scriptures, I receive spiritual guidance. Mostly, I get reminded that I need to focus on myself. Am I developing Christ-like attributes, such as faith and humility? True humility is “recognizing that no one can change someone else, but with faith, effort, and the help of God we can undergo our own mighty change of heart” (L. Whitney Clayton). Am I keeping my holy covenants? Am I remembering that His plan is a Plan of Happiness?
I love what Pres. Russell Nelson said in last October's General Conference:
My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world... We need women who can teach, women who can speak out... We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families... We need women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.
Heavenly Father loves me and my family. We are not forgotten or neglected. We are not alone. I know that “with God all things are possible,” and that includes giving me the tools I need to cross that impenetrable chasm that separates my husband and me (Matthew 19:26).