Marriages founded in religion?

[Note: Originally posted on my own blog but was declared kosher by cinepro so I’ll post it here as well: http://zackc.wordpress.com/2008/07/03/marriages-can-be-founded-in-religion/]

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Caveats: I’m not married, not religious.  These are just some thoughts.  Take them with that grain of salt.

For the past few years I’ve read several message boards and something that’s constantly coming us is people who lose religious faith, and wake up to the realization that they have nothing in common with their spouse.  They married when both believed the same thing, and when one changes belief, it fundamentally changes the relationship.  The reason is that people believe marriages can be built solely on the issue of shared religion.  Which I guess is true as long as they belief the same.  Because religion provides social networking opportunities and spiritual fulfillment [for some] and also if two people believe they can get through the tough times because they’re married “in the gospel”. 

This all changes though if one of the spouses changes belief.  The apostate spouse often wakes up to learn that they have nothing in common with their spouse.  They love their spouse, but don’t like their spouse.  They aren’t as compatible with their spouse as they might be with some other person.  Things go downhill, as both realize they don’t have much in common except that they went to the same church.  The change in belief can also lead to changes in political, social, and moral views.  Leading to a radical personality change.  Leading to either an unhappy marriage [for the kids of course] or divorce.

Some can make it through [as evidenced by some of the people who battle on in difficult marriages, but they sacrificed the chance to search for personal compatability in favor of going with the person they’re going with.  Part of this is the issue that young people want to have sex, and marriage is the only place where sex is acceptable.  So young horny people marry whomever so they can get it on.  But once those passions are fulfilled and children start to arrive, what do they have in common?  Often times not enough. 

Marriages within religion that lack anything beyond the most basic compatibility issues [hey you’re a woman, I’m a dude, we’re young and we go to that Church, lets get married and get freaky] are like building brick houses without mortar.  Sure it’s fairly solid, but there’s no mortar to fill in the cracks.  And if you look closely, you realize that the bricks move about and cause friction within the house.  Subtle movements, but ever so slowly they shift until they collapse.  Why?  Because relationships can’t be built on one issue.  You need numerous levels of compatability.  Both in case of changing opinions, but also fall back positions in case of arguments.  You have to have common ground to fall back on.  Alright…so you disagree about religion and GOd…but perhaps you like the same books and movies and you like talking to each other and you like to both go dancing etc etc.  Find more compatability folks.

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2 Responses to Marriages founded in religion?

  1. Cinepro

    As someone who dated his wife for a couple years before marriage (and knew her for several more before that), I have always been mystified by the seemingly common phenomena of the quickie-marriage at BYU, where a couple dates for a few weeks or months before getting engaged and married.

    While I’ve never observed these marriages to be fundamentally different or weaker than others, I wonder if the common LDS-bred beliefs and goals of the couple serve as a sufficient mortar to the relationship when one or the other faces doubts.

    Your post also makes me think of the wife in the movie “The Single’s Ward” who loses faith and succumbs to alcohol and cigarettes in one fell swoop, thus dooming the marriage. Who can blame the young husband for dissolving the marriage poste haste?

  2. Seven

    I dated my husband for only 7 months before marriage but knew after only a month that he was the one. You get that feeling of being home when you connect with the person who really understands you and shares the same values, dreams, and tastes in music/movies, etc. I didn’t need to date longer but he has several times expressed that he wishes we would have now. I believe most Mormons are very hasty in getting married (after they meet the right person) so they can remain temple worthy. When you’re in love it’s a challenge.

    Loss of the Mormon faith, even with the most perfect match, leaves a huge hole in the marriage. Dreams and goals for the children (mission, temple marriage) and eternal marriage are gone. The chain has been broken. The life plan you once had so much security in has been ripped to shreds.

    Mormonism is so intertwined with every part of the marriage that it’s difficult to have a conversation without it. I love to sit back and observe it with TBMs… It’s almost impossible for them to not bring up something about the church or religion in whatever the topic of the moment.

    To no longer have common ground on the most deep and meaningful thoughts of life, many couples are left with nothing but the superficial mundane conversation to keep the peace.

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