Religious and faith differences can become major issues when people come to their final days before they pass or if they have not made proper preplanning for their funeral. Gender fluidity, Pagan vs Christian, and Traditional vs Evolutionary become more prominent in many aspects of estate planning. The funeral industry is probably one of the most Victorian holdovers in Western Civilization. There are many atrocities that happen at the hands of the family when religions and belief systems clash. Make sure you have filled out the appropriate documentation that states who has control of your body and you’ve made it clear what your wishes are for yourself. If you need help with this reach out to a local Death Doula. Many accredited doulas have been trained to be open and accepting of all lifestyle choices and faiths. The death bed is not the place to attempt conversion although many feel it is the perfect place to insure the eternal state of one’s soul. But is a deathbed conversion genuine when made out of fear in hopes of playing the odds that those words hold any sway should you find yourself being judged?
Happy Wife, Happy Life
Many of us were programmed with the suggestion that a happy person must have a spouse, a home with a white picket fence, a good job with a hefty bank account, two perfectly behaved children, and a dog. The strength of this perfect life rests upon the foundation of your faith. I can already feel the cringes as you begin to assume I am about to start testifying to show that I am happy and you can be too if you just join me! If you have been involved in any organized openly practiced religion in the South then you know that sharing your testimony is highly encouraged.
This in fact is my first tip for a healthy relationship, DONT! We will circle back to the psychology behind “witnessing your faith” to others.
Tip 1: Do not proselytize.
Tip 2: Respect your partner and their choice. Do not mock, scoff or show derision in any way, in regard to their faith, beliefs, or practices. Doing so disrespects something so deeply sacred to them that you could consider yourself literally stabbing them.
Tip 3: Don’t flaunt your practices in front of others. I’m not saying you should practice in secret but feel free to if you are so inclined. It’s one thing to say a silent prayer, it’s another to make an altar on the kitchen table where everyone has to watch you pray loudly over it in the middle of the morning rush hour before school and work. Spirituality is a personal practice.
Tip 4: Don’t Over-Share. This is close to the tip above, but different enough to need an explanation. In our social media culture, over-sharing is a boundary that is crossed regularly. It’s normal to want to share special experiences with the person we love and trust the most. In addition, we need to address the common aspect that if that person really loves you they would want to know and share in important parts of your life. Putting meaningful and spiritual experiences out there invites criticism, and can devalue your experience when someone questions you about it and not all of us are practiced in debate. But consider why you want to share it, is possible you are looking for validation. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep some things private.
Tip 5: Unconditional Love is Real. My parents taught me the definition of love was unconditional acceptance. That means you love every part of them even when they are not doing or being what you agree with. When you met this person, did you think, “I can only love this person once I’ve gained control of their spirituality and we are practicing together?” This is possible considering that some religions insist you marry within your faith. If this person was so great before conversion, why can’t you respect them enough to be enough just as they are? That has to do with the programming you’ve been taught and I hate to say it, but that is a cult mentality.
Do You Love Me?
This unconditional love aspect means you love them just as they are. If you see their faith as a flaw, that is actually a reflection of your issues. But let me propose a few questions to ask yourself.
- Have you decided that your belief system is the best and you only want what is best for them right?
- Do you really trust them to make the right decision for their own soul?
- What gives you the right to judge them?
- Where does that authority come from?
Now flip your point of view and answer these questions from your partner’s perspective:
- Do they show a tendency to make decisions that are dangerous and unsafe?
- Where does this deep desire for them to follow your faith stem?
- Is this a teaching from your spiritual leaders? Is this about your need for validation?
- Are they happy in their practice and spirituality?
- Can you pinpoint your disapproval of actual actions or beliefs? Where does this stem from?
- Can you find reasons that do not include your religious teachings?
Many Religious Groups Promote Witnessing Your Faith to Non-Believers
Let us dissect the psychological effects of this practice. Announcing your faith to those you know are likely to respond negatively requires a great deal of strength and intelligence because the usual response is that you then have to defend your faith.
- This is because proselytizing is about creating separation between members vs non-members.
- You realize you only feel understood and accepted within the group.
- Another component is the inevitable consequences of not participating fully will bring on feelings of fear and guilt involving the eternal state of your soul. As a paranormal investigator, I can confidently promise you we do not have any proven answers to the afterlife.
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust
Often these conversations should be distilled down to the understanding of how to act with Love. Is Love conditional? Is it about control or validation? Do you expect perfection or do you need to have a clone of yourself?
I recently had a difficult time in my own relationship when my partner who normally would just ignore my religious choice would, on rare occasions, scoff or be dismissive. This would, of course, anger me and make me want to defend my faith. However, I refuse to sound as if I’m trying to convert him nor do I want to discuss my private spiritual self with him either. This put me in quite a quandary as to how to deal with the situation and made me evaluate why I was angered.
I consider my life partner to be well-educated, and thoughtful and I know he loves me. It makes sense that I hold his opinion in high regard and he often validates my choices. However, he also feels the same about me. Being the independent person I am, he never thought his opinion carried such weight that it might hurt. Nor did I consciously understand I was seeking acceptance and validation. Once I put those things in plain view… I can easily forgive him for his mistake and forgive myself for those needs. We will continue with two very separate and distinctly different faiths under the same roof and continue to love each other for the unique selves that we each choose to be.