Your Wife is Trying to Shove Religion Down Your Throat

When I met my wife I wasn't into religion. We heve been married for almost two years and the other day she confronted me, telling me that she feels like our marriage isn't going to work because I am not as religious as she is. Because I don't sit down and read the bible with her at night.

I have nothing against religion but I am not a religious person. She tells me different things the bible says about relationships and how if you have a believer and a non-beleiver, the marrriage will not last. I work a full time job and plus I go to college full time in the evening after work. I spend my weekends with my family or with her.

Her family is real religious so I don't speak to them at all because every time I do they start preaching to me about God and how I need to find him. I don't drink or do drugs, I served five years in the Marines I thought I was doing pretty good with my life so far. I'm not saying that I don't beleive I just don't take it near as serious as she does. Especially to the extent that its worth ending our marriage over.

She knew how I was when we first met and I went to church with her a few times. We have a pretty good mariage for the most part. We have arguments from time to time over small things but nothing like this. We have split up before and got back together and I truly thought everything was going good until the other night. I go to work and school and come home. To be honest, I will never be like her when it comes to religion. Just as I never expect her to be into computers and duck hunting like I am.

What advice can you give me to address this problem. I don't want to live my life with someone who thinks that I need to change my life with God. That's something I should be able to do on my own. She takes religion very serious to the extent that I should be able to relate problems we have to problems in the bible and ask God to resolve everything. Sorry I'm not like that.

Can you help me?

Signed by: 
I Don't Want to Live My Life This Way
Answer: 

You and your wife are experiencing a religious value conflict. Since it is rare for mates to share identical values in all areas of life, value conflicts are common in marriage. Because values make up the core of an individual, your wife cannot expect to change your values, any more than you can expect to change hers.

When couples experience such conflicts, they need to accept and respect each other 's differences. Clearly, your wife is having a problem in respecting your values. The first thing we need to understand is why your religious beliefs have suddenly become a problem for her.

As you said in your letter, she knew all about your beliefs before you married, and she married you all the same. If she didn't feel the need to change you before, then why is she trying to change you now? If I had to guess, I would say that she is unhappy with other, nonreligious aspects of the relationship. Because she is so devout, she thinks that only the bible and God can provide solutions to your relationship problems; and for this reason, she believes that your relationship issues will remain unresolved until you also ask God for help.

She may think that your lack of religious observance is her problem, but I am sure that she wouldn't be trying to shove God down your throat if all were well in the relationship. At this point, your only hope is to steer away from religious discussions and ask her talk about the relationship. Speak from the heart, tell her that you love her and want her to be happy with you, ask her what it is that you are doing or not doing that makes her unhappy in the relationship.

If she tries to talk about religion, gently steer the conversation back onto you, her, and the relationship. If she insists on talking religion, you might say, 'I have the impression that you think I am unable or unwilling to be a better husband to you. . . and that I would need a miracle--like finding God--to help me to change.' You might also tell her that she wouldn't feel as desperate for outside help unless she felt that you were beyond reach.

Be accessible to her. Be open. Be responsive. Accept responsibility for disappointing her. I view this power struggle over your lack of religious observance as a symbolic communication. She is saying, symbolically, that she feels that you are unable to be responsive to her; that she needs God in order to fix you and the relationship. If you prove otherwise, she should be willing to give God a rest. Let me know how you make out.

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