Q. You help individuals and couples who are transitioning out of their faith. I know this is complicated, but what is one bit of counsel for couples who are trying to navigate a change of faith together?
You’re right, it is complicated. I think approach it in two parts.
- One is attending to oneself and your own feelings about what’s happening in terms of the changes.
- The other part is attending to your partner.
You’re looking to hold on to yourself and your own beliefs and values and your feelings about the changes while really working to be curious about your spouse’s world and how it might be changing.
To change such a fundamental thing as religion or spiritual practice can be really, really frightening and painful and often involves a loss of identity, so try to be curious and kind and compassionate while the spouse is making this transition. This will not only support them to have a healthier, more successful change process, but also can really protect and nurture the marriage and the relationship and buffer the effects.
Q. It’s a common fear for couples getting married that their partner will change, but what hope is there for those getting married?
Oh, I love this question. I think it is fundamentally hopeful!
Change is tough. We humans like the status quo, but it is so hopeful because it suggests that we are always growing, that we are always learning. Being in a close relationship or marriage can be a great catalyst for our growth, so I think to recognize that even though change be frightening, painful, difficult, it can ultimately lead to us becoming who we really are.