Wednesday, April 21, 2010


i'm going to enter territory that i don't actually think i have any right to enter. please, before i do, understand that these are musings, not judgments, and i recognize that i far from understand the complexities of such situations.

but i really don't understand some people's marriages.

a few of them that i have exposure to perplex the heck out of me, because i don't understand how that could really work well, but a few of them make me sad because i think it must be very difficult for one partner or the other to feel safe and secure in such a relationship.

let me just take one that i was introduced to this week as an example. 

this marriage is a mixed-religion marriage, meaning that one person is a member of my faith and the other is not.  already, this is enormously challenging, especially if one person is committed and active in their faith.  i don't understand how people can negotiate that. again, this is really me being "how do you DO that?" not judge-y.  some people make it work, and to them i give enormous amounts of credit. i can only imagine that it would be incredibly difficult.  some partners are understanding, though, and supportive. that, of course, makes it infinitely easier.  the children situation would add additional layers of complexity, but sometimes the partner is equally fine with children being raised in the active person's faith. in situations like this, i would imagine that family life is not tense re: religion.

what about, though, when the active person's partner gets upset/angry/annoyed/insert negative emotion word here about the activities that revolve around church? if you know anything about my faith, you know that we are nothing if not engaged in church work.  what about a partner who doesn't want anything to do with church coming through the front door?

i don't understand how partnerships can work when there is such a huge philosophical and behavioral gulf standing between the two.  i just don't get it.

for me, it just boils down to having your back.  musicboy has my back.  frustrated as he may be at times (and boy is he) that he can't do more to alleviate my burdens as primary breadwinner right now, he has my back. he listens, willingly and perhaps too often, to my rantings and ravings about this student or that student or this lesson that worked or this assignment that is taking too long to grade. he may not have an immediate frame of reference (yet...but the education classes start soon!), but he does what he can to understand, to share. i do the same about music. i can't possibly understand the way he does, but i show up to everything and am a willing, happy cheerleader who sends cookies on band roadtrips and who bakes them for band bake sales. 

we have each other's back.

i can't help but feel like a relationship that doesn't allow you to fundamentally be who you are, with the freedom to express yourself about everything, could be stifling rather than stimulating.

but i also wonder about people who badmouth their partners in public or who exude this bubbling cauldron of frustration under a (very) thin veil of politeness. or, on the flip side, partners who are completely oblivious to their partner's needs or who don't follow through.

this second set of issues is certainly easier to do, even in a relationship built on friendship, trust, and deep love. we all tune out. we all get frustrated.  so, i guess i understand that.

encountering the specific situation that i mentioned earlier has really made me appreciate my relationship with musicboy so much more.  i don't need much to make me appreciate it--i love him every day--but i think i have begun to realize how precious it is and how committed i am to nurturing it. 

it shows me that i chose wisely, for all of the reasons that have always been important to me but maybe i didn't realize why they were so important at the time. i am glad that i chose him and that he chose me and that we choose each other again, every day.  i waited a long time for him, and sometimes i was tempted to choose not so wisely just so that i could make the choice.  it was worth the wait.  i can't even say that in strong enough terms.

i think i would rather be happily unmatched than unequally yoked.  i would rather be single than married but not to a person who supported me wholly.  perhaps that's easy for me to say now, but it wasn't easy for me when i was single.  it feels presumptuous to say now, except that i was 31 when i got married, and in my world, that is 6 months away from catladyhood.  so maybe i can say it with some degree of credibility.

i waited a long time because it was worth waiting for, being married for forever to someone i wouldn't mind hanging out with forever.  it's not a pair of shoes, that kind of work with that outfit or that you can only wear for a few hours before they are kicked off and cast aside.  life is hard enough. the last thing we need is for the most important relationship of our lives to be something that gives us metaphorical blisters.

and now i will back carefully out of this particularly loaded topic, since i probably shouldn't have been there anyway, and get back to grading.  


  1. So Chris only joined the church because he knew it would make me happy and that makes things a little rocky at times, but he always helps me get Parker ready on Sunday mornings, understands my mad dash to make hand outs for Beehives on Saturday night, and writes a check for fast offerings when the boys show up at our door.

    While it is difficult, not having that same background, he is supportive and that makes is a little easier at times.

    Should I have waited? Maybe. But no regrets. We have a beautiful family and someday we'll get to that forever part. For now we just try to get through the day-to-day stuff that goes along with the married and in the military life.

    I think sometimes that people probably look at us and think the same thing you do about your other couple friends. :) Because I definitely look at other couples and wish we were more like them. But then I look at other couples and am so, so grateful that we are who we are.

  2. As someone who is in a marriage of differing belief systems, I can tell you that...yeah. It's a daily challenge. It affects other parts of your relationship.

    It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, marrying someone who does not, in the least, share my same religious understanding (I won't say belief, because it's not a belief. it's a deep sense of knowledge and understanding); it was a decision that I did not make lightly. It took me 3 years of soul-searching and a whole lot of discussion about things like raising children before I made my choice. They'll be raised in my church. We were married in a Christian ceremony, despite the fact that his family is Jewish (he is agnostic, unsure of what's out there and wants scientific proof before making a decision). Religion is a part of our relationship, no matter what.

    To use your shoe metaphor in a different way--I guess the way I look at it is this: I'm willing to wear shoes that might make me a little uncomfortable--might even give me blisters. Blisters turn to calluses and calluses are what make your feet better able to handle wearing the shoes in the first place. There are some ways that this difference makes us a better couple. Because we talked so many things out, we're better at communicating with each other. It doesn't mean we don't have bad days, but it means that our bad days are less likely to turn into bad times. That's true for any relationship with good communication.

    I guess the moral of the story is: yes, it's hard. It makes a relationship much more difficult, but if you love someone the way that I love my husband, it's something that you have to work on and work through. I pray for him every day. I bring him to church as often as I can and I hope that one day he'll understand what it is that I understand. Until then, he'll keep on being the love of my life and the man I want to spend the rest of my days with.