I’ve always held the ideal that spouses are supposed to be your best friend. So in that light, I was somewhat disturbed recently when my husband told me that he didn’t feel like he could talk to me about struggles he’s having with religion.
It’s true that except for a brief period when we first joined the Catholic Church together, we’ve never really seen eye to eye on religion, but I usually thought our beliefs were similar enough not to matter.
When we got married, he was a loud and vocal anti-Christian with leanings toward Eastern religions. For my part, I was somewhat anti-Christian but also a Wiccan with an agnostic attitude toward God. I’d always been fascinated with some of the symbols of the Catholic Church that I’d grown up around because my extended family were all Catholic.
We joined the Catholic Church together 10 years ago, which was good at first because we had a progressive priest. But after they transferred him, I began to see the Church as regressive and its members hostile and judgmental. He remained within the church for several more years while I didn’t. I guess that was the first time period when I actively disagreed with him about religion.
Now he has joined the Episcopal church, which he sees as being close to the Catholic Church except with nicer people and more tolerant views on whom they accept. I have no problems with this and we don’t argue over or debate religion anymore.
But possibly in light of his cancer diagnosis, he’s still left with questions and wondering. I can’t possibly understand what that’s like, to have your religious struggles take on that sense of immediacy after a brush with death and facing your own mortality.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what his issues are because he’s glossed over them in talking about them. I know that part of it is his general disgust at the Old Testament of the Bible. I know another part of it is his appreciation for Eastern philosophies and texts like the Tao Te Ching. Maybe he’s having trouble integrating everything? I also know that a lot of it is being turned off by the behaviors of other so-called “Christians.”
All of this makes sense to me, which is why I don’t understand why he doesn’t feel like talking to me about it, why he thinks I won’t be much help. Unless he wants someone to show him how to make peace with his faith as a whole.
Because while I do understand disillusionment and having an appreciation for Eastern philosophy and I respect the Episcopal path he’s pursuing, I can’t help him integrate his beliefs. Specifically, I can’t make his attachment to the Episcopal church stronger than it is, if that’s what he’s in fact looking for. I don’t know if it is or not.
What I know is that I’ve come to a place of feeling at peace about what I believe. I think there’s some type of God, a positive force for good that I credit for the good things that happen. I often just call it “the universe,” because I do think it’s universal. I have no problems with some of the Bible stories and think Jesus likely really existed and he can be a good teacher and role model for us. But I also have no attachment to the Bible, either, or a personal need to participate in regular services based around its teachings.
Not really knowing what my husband’s looking for because he won’t tell me, I wonder if he’s still feeling that the Catholic Church is the Truth and just can’t reconcile their exclusion of so many, including his transgender child. Or if he wants to give up on all of it but feels too scared.
I know that I’ve already been through that and it was a great source of turmoil for me. And if so, I think that is something that you have to do alone and it’s uncomfortable, even painful, to realize that you don’t believe in any of the beliefs you once held as true.
But whatever the source of his questioning and discomfort, it does bother me that he says I can’t help and he doesn’t feel that he can talk to me about it. I don’t really know why he feels that way. If spouses are supposed to be best friends, shouldn’t they be able to talk to each other about everything? Or is that an incorrect assumption on my part?