I always thought that I had a stable and good marriage. We were happy and busy with life and raising our kids and things were going relatively smoothly. Things shifted, however, when I went through a personal faith transition 16 years into our marriage. My thoughts, perspectives, religious beliefs, and what I wanted in life were all completely shifting and I did not seem to be the same person that my husband had initially married and known for so many years. Much of our foundational connection had been based on our similarities in our LDS faith and it's perspectives and culture. So when it felt like that foundation of similarity was crumbling as my religious views changed, it felt so threatening to the stability I thought we had which was terrifying.
I worried and struggled as I questioned whether my marriage could handle this new and different version of me and whether I should even risk unmasking these parts of myself that I felt were changing. Our differences were becoming more and more apparent and I doubted whether we could still find meaningful connection as two extremely different people. Would we slowly drift further and further apart if I were to be more authentic and if the differences between us grew? I didn’t know how we would raise our kids around topics of religion and values and I felt like I was stuck in a very confusing and impossible dilemma.
During this tumultuous time, I was also enrolled in multiple professional training courses by various relationship experts. I soaked up everything I was learning through the lens of my own mixed-faith marriage situation. I was surprised to discover that what I thought had been a stable and good marriage was actually very conflict-avoidant and only had a surface level of intimacy. I learned that despite my book-knowledge from previous training and education, I really had no clue how to deal with these fundamental differences within a marriage or how to have conflict in an effective way that promotes connection. I sought out further training from some of the most world-renowned experts who could train me specifically on how to deal with big fundamental differences in relationships. As I learned to apply the concepts that I was learning, a whole new world of intimacy and friendship opened up in my marriage.
I now do things differently. We engage in difficult topics and conflicts in new ways that have led to deeper and much more meaningful conversations that help us both feel closer instead of further apart. These conversations have allowed us to learn things about each other that we hadn’t known in our many years together. Consequently, our friendship has deepened. We have learned to support each other's life dreams in ways that we hadn’t even discussed or imagined previously. Our relationship has transformed into something so more profoundly intimate and connected and meaningful than it has ever been. Our relationship now feels infused with hope and energy and excitement! We have developed a new vision of what we want to create for our family and why we want to be together.
I am here to say that I have been there! I understand the complexities of a mixed-faith marriage and how that impacts everything such as family relationships, raising kids, and struggling to even have conversations with your spouse about things that matter to you. I know how challenging it is and I have witnessed the very real pain of so many other couples in very similar difficult circumstances. However, I am proof that differences in marriage, even fundamental differences as big as faith, religion and values, can be the BEST opportunities for connection and meaning. I have built this into my marriage from a place of feeling like our differences were an obstacle to our connection, now to a place of feeling deeply connected by our differences and even more solid in our love and vision for our future together both as a couple and as a family.