Religion is destroying our marriage


I don't know if you can help with this. I'm married, almost 20 years. Seemed happy, but it starting to fade. My wife has gotten really into religion and church issues the past few years. (When we were dating, and in our first few years she never got involved in anything religious)I'm not knocking her beliefs, but it doesn't interest me. We used to go out and have fun, now she is always doing stuff with the church/group/etc...

Anyway, she knows that I'm not the church going type, and for a while she never pushed the issue, lately, she keeps trying to pull me in. If I say no, I get the cold shoulder and the silent treatment, If I say yes, I am put in an extremely uncomfortable position. Any advice you have will be appreciated


Most Helpful Guy

  • Differences of belief and commitment can be very problematic in a relationship. Religion is intricately involved in our behavior and our decisions about what is acceptable and not acceptable. The difficulty you face is that where you were once more similar to each other now you have a dissimilarity that is not insignificant.

    Religion is not the kind of thing that can be forced on another person, and asking somebody to violate their religious principles is equally problematic. My parents have struggle with this for years. They have reached an equilibrium where my mom doesn't invite my dad to religious events, and he just lets her do her thing. Of course there are still tensions over religion, because I think my mother would like to be more involved, but she has some limitations to her involvement because of lack of support, and it is not fun to do everything alone. She is also a little loose with some of her commitment though and is willing to participate with him in activities that don't concord with her religious teachings. They are both committed to staying together though and try to minimize the tensions as best as possible.

    Religion is obviously not something that everybody wants--in fact, I would say most people would prefer to have few religious commitments, even among those claiming a religion. Behavioral expectations and time commitments don't jive with a lot of people.

    You don't have to become the church-going type if you don't want to, but you may consider attending the social events. People will get the idea that you only are there for your wife after a while although at first they will probably try to "proselytize" you. You may just provide a listening ear for her to speak about the things she now finds important. We all want to talk about the things we think are important. Just set up the ground rules that you just aren't ready or willing for anything more than a sympathetic ear and the occasional social event.

    Best of luck, and I hope your marriage stays together happy.

    P.S. Why are you man writing under a female account of a 25-29 year old when you have been married for almost 20 years? So in reality you are a 40 something married man.

    • I really like your answer. I will try to sacrifice an hour of my time to make her happy. But I will have to talk to her and clarify my intentions, so she won't end up forcing me for more later on. You know how they get.

      By the way, this is my co-worker's account. She is 26. She let me use it to post this question. Thanks for your advice.

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What Guys Said 3

  • Getting religion is a divorcible problem in my marriage (from either partner). The reason for this is that religion tends not respect previous agreements and takes little notice of the individuals right to have their own beliefs and practices. Many people take it upon themselves to inflict their beliefs on everyone around them. This causes enormous friction. What's worse is that new religion often includes the unilateral change of a lot of pre-existing agreements.

    For example, if my wife suddenly got religion, she might demand that I get rid of books on other religions, my sex toys or even that I stop sleeping with other women. While these demands might seem completely reasonable to her, they are violation of the existing relationship. No one has the right to renegotiate the relationship without your approval. It's a partnership and the partnership is over when one person assumes the right to dictate the terms to the other partner.

    I don't envy you your position.

    • LOL, I wouldn't think religion would have anything to do with her asking you to stop sleeping with other women. For most women that is a given to entering into a relationship. But you swingers are a different breed.

    • Not really swingers as such. We are simply non-monogamous by design. In fact, my wife said she wouldn't marry me unless I continued to keep my female friends (many of whom I sleep with). This was because she understood that giving them would be an undue hardship for me and would give her responsibility for my entire libido.

  • Okay, I've been in your shoes for over 20yrs and finally got divorced, but your story may be entirely different. Here is the bottom line: you deserve respect and a relationship and so does she. Religion is not what Jesus preached about, the church stuff is just a social club seasoned with spriitual attitudes, and everyones beliefs are just that : BS - belief system, bullshit, get it? This is the thing, you both are commited to a relationship and that means you and her and not anything else. She and you deserve giving an undivided, undiverted attention to the care and nurture of the relationship without prejudice, opinions and BS. You need to tell her what you need and she needs to listen. And visa versa. Respect is paramount. No person is right or wrong but it is how you can relate to each other with respect so that both are heard and understood and loved and this is what you married for. If she can't buy into that, it's already over for you guys - have a meeting with a counselor to explain it to her and find out where you guys stand. Total awareness is key to overcoming religious predjuidice and blindness. remember Jesus noted that the most blind in the community were the religious leaders. Take no prisoners when demanding that you have a relationship without the BS.

    • I agree. I will talk to her about my needs, but I will also listen to hers, and come up with something in between. Thanks for your advice.

  • I have lost two partners because of religion.

    Although I am still bitter about these losses

    ( I really believed love was stronger than religion ),

    there is a pleasant relief now that I no longer have this problem.

    My lovely current girlfriend is, in toto, a better partner.

    Relationships are already difficult enough.

    And the powerlessness you feel because of her religion

    feels very hopeless.

    A nasty side effect is that

    the worse your relationship gets,

    the more she will gravitate to the religion.

    Regardless of reason for breaking up,

    in my experience the new partner always turns

    out to be a better choice.

    I never felt a previous girlfriend was a better match.

    Do not, my friend, be afraid of moving on.

    So, if you come to the point wherein you feel

    you have really tried everything you could,

    and you do take a big step away from her,

    I think you will eventually feel liberated.

    A weight from your shoulders.

    A comfortable breath of fresh air.

    New energy. New excitement.

    My summary:

    If the religion is stronger than you, then let go.



What Girls Said 2

  • I'm sorry to hear that that happened. What's good is that you still obviously love her and aren't jumping to divorce. You need to have a heart-to-heart with her and tell you how you feel. Make sure you tell her you respect her for what she's doing, but that you don't want it to hurt your relationship because you love her. ask her if you can make a compromise so that both of you are happy. Like she still does church things, just not as much, and you set aside specific times that you absolutely spend together no matter what. And also tell her that as much as you respect her choice to be religious, pushing you to join her only makes things worse. So really some key words to say when having this conversation are: respect, love, and compromise. Good luck to you!

    • I really like your advice. But I think the only compromise is for me to go to church with her, which would be more of like a sacrifice on my part. But I will try to talk to her and see what we can do. Thanks

    • I'm glad I could help :) if you think going to church with her is the only way, and you do that, you can make sure you get something from it too (like the reserved time for each other and her promise not to bug you about going to other religious events)

  • Offer to read Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) together. It's pretty sexy ;3 Anyhu, how old were you when you got married? My parents are 40-somethings just coming up on their 25th anniversary. You seem to be only 25-29 years old...

    • While Song of Solomon is in the Bible I don't think that qualifies it as inspired writing--it is basically love poems from Solomon about some of his many wives and concubines.

    • Thanks for the info.....and congratulations to your parents for being married so long. Marriage isn't as easy as people think.

      My co-worker let me use her account so I could post this question, and she's 26.