Every year during Lent I try really hard not to eat meat on Fridays, and every year I usually fail at least once. Sometimes it’s intentional, like when I’m trying not to offend someone who’s cooked for me, and sometimes, despite a post-it note stuck to my computer clearly reading NO MEAT, I just forget what day it is. Last week, I bought a lot of fish for dinner and prepared many pies and pastas — all very enjoyable. However, I timed things badly, and we finished all of the fish before Friday. A mild inconvenience.
So, in my kitchen last Friday, trying to figure out what dinner should be, my husband shared my lament at having finished off the fish we should have saved for later in the week. After flipping through a few cookbooks, we found a recipe for a mushroom-based dish and he went out to buy the necessary fungi.
My husband isn’t Catholic. He isn’t religious at all, actually, but he probably still falls under the category of agnostic. He doesn’t need to give up meat on Fridays during Lent, but he does anyway. If he’s the one cooking dinner that night, he makes sure to accommodate me. He doesn’t give up swearing in solidarity with me, though he’s typically more mild-mannered than I am, so it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice anyway. At the same time, he doesn’t give me a hard time when my language gets ahead of me.
He’ll also come to church with my family and I on Easter Sunday, just as he does on Christmas. He has even sat through two Easter Vigils with us — a test of wills even for the most pious Catholic.
I’ve been pretty honest about being mixed in my own religious faith, and I’m perfectly alright with my significant other not being religious as long as he doesn’t mind that I am. If we have children, he’s all right with them being baptized and going to CCD. It’s probably easier than if the two of us had very strong feelings about two different religions, but he doesn’t have to go along with things as readily as he does.
It does help that he was raised in a very tolerant, accepting family. Some of his family members are very religious Protestants — his grandparents go to church weekly, and his uncle is a missionary. His own parents have no such inclinations, but it is very telling that such different opinions can exist in the same family and yet everyone still gets along very well.
In this way I have my own Lenten inspiration at home. Giving up swearing hasn’t made me as patient as he is, but it has made me think harder about what I’m going to say. That’s a step closer to patience. And it’s evidence to me of my security in my faith, that I can share my life with someone who doesn’t share my religious beliefs, and that neither of us feels the need to enforce their beliefs on the other. In a way, it’s improved my relationship with God and Catholicism that I have made a choice to be a part of the religion after leaving my family’s influence.
Do you have any examples of Catholic/agnostic (or other interfaith) couples where faith isn’t an issue? Do you think in a relationship it’s simple enough to just accept each other as you are? What do you think helps interfaith couples manage their differences in beliefs?
As for my Lenten resolve: I’ve done a little better this week with my resolve, only one slip up. I didn’t manage to go to church again, though. I think my solution is going to be to seek out a lunchtime mass this week, since I work from home.
Penalty Box Tally: $8.00
(Amanda has given swearing up for Lent and donates $0.50 every time she slips. Check out all of her posts here.)