She grilled me with more questions, made sure I knew how disgusted she was, and eventually just got up and left. I sat through the last hour of class clenching my fists to keep my hands from shaking. By the time the teacher let us go I was a wreck.
My husband and I had been married for less than a year when my faith began to fall apart. My doubts started with emotional pain, and slowly turned into insurmountable questions. At first, my husband didn’t understand what was happening. He would get frustrated and combative with me when we talked about religion, or he would get sad and shut down. But my husband and I are absolutely committed to good communication, so it wasn’t long before we learned how to navigate our new differences. He learned to be gentler in the way he expressed his opinions, and I learned not to project my frustration with the Church onto him.
Just like any marriage, mine has ups and downs, struggles and victories.
And yet, people continue to assume that my marriage is falling apart at the seams, because I am no longer a professing Christian. I used to feel that way too. I was taught that having common beliefs was absolutely fundamental to a healthy marriage. “The family that prays together stays together!” If someone’s marriage “failed” it was because one or both of them weren’t Christian enough. I was scared at first, afraid that my questions were slowly but surely pulling us apart and ruining our beautiful relationship. But it’s been well over a year now, and we are only getting closer and stronger. I have learned that I’ve always loved him, not for praying before dinner, but for helping me clean the kitchen afterwards. I’ve loved him, not for Sunday morning church, but for Saturday morning cartoons, in our pajamas, eating captain crunch. I’ve loved him, not for his unshakable faith, but for his sincerity and passion.
Our marriage gets stronger every day. Not because we are committed to God, but because we are committed to each other. No matter how religious you are, marriage is not easy. My husband’s faith gives him peace and strength, but it doesn’t grant him superpowers, it doesn’t replace commitment and effort. Marriage still requires us both to make sacrifices, to stay up late and talk out the problem, to be painfully honest and vulnerable. All the hard work and communication pays off. Last night as I drifted off to sleep I marveled at how incredibly connected my husband and I are. We know each other’s hearts on a deeper level than ever before. Our strengths far outweigh our weaknesses and our joys outweigh our troubles. If we continue to communicate and grow like this, there is nothing that could come between us, nothing that could shake us enough for our marriage to “fail.”