My husband Arthur and I are, in many ways, total opposites. I write; he welds. I think big-picture, while he minds the details. I’m risk-averse, while he takes chances.
So, it’s no surprise that we differ when it comes to faith. I’m a cradle Catholic, born and raised in a devout family that attended Mass every Sunday without skipping a beat, said grace before meals, and visited churches on every family vacation. Arthur, while raised Catholic, is more lax. Where I am steadfast, he questions. Where I abide by tradition, he is ambivalent.
Early in our marriage, our divergent approaches to faith occasionally created tension between us. Sometimes, I felt like he wasn’t taking me seriously. Sometimes, he felt like I was judging him, even when I wasn’t – though at times, I probably wrongly was. Neither scenario does any good for any relationship.
As a married couple, we wanted to strengthen our relationship and build the foundation of a happy home, which, for me in particular, is a faith-filled home. What I came to learn was that relationship-building and homemaking are one and the same. Here are some ways we try to accomplish both.
Cultivating open, judgment-free conversations
My husband and I could spend hours talking, but when we broached the topic of the Church or Catholicism, things sometimes got a bit spicy. The turning point in our approach to discussing faith was when I began to publish in Catholic multimedia outlets. I enjoyed reading my writing out loud to Arthur, and now that much of it was centered on my experiences of faith, there was no dodging the bullet – we had to talk about it.
I was anxious at first about how our conversations might unfold. So, before we dove right into the heart of the matter, we made the conscious decision to be completely open to each other’s point of view. What resulted were fruitful and humbling conversations. When we allowed ourselves to fully listen, without judgment, we learned deeply about each other, discovering that we actually agreed more than disagreed on the central tenets of faith values. This approach of openness also took a lot of pressure off of ourselves, and we now engage in faith conversations as easily and naturally as we would about the weather.
Relying on teamwork to complete day-to-day tasks
Jesus told his disciples, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). Arthur and I decided early on in our marriage that we would work as a team and try to do as much as we can together, especially daily responsibilities and chores. When we both return from work, we aim to truly enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the evening, no matter what we do, whether it be dog walking, cooking dinner, or changing bed sheets. Doing menial tasks together makes them more fun and gives us an opportunity to talk. In these moments, although my husband might not necessarily see it this way, I can feel the Lord’s presence even more profoundly among us.
Maintaining mutual respect
Open conversations and teamwork help build mutual respect for each other, even when we disagree. Arthur embraces my love of my faith because that is a huge part of who I am. He doesn’t mind me buying religious artwork or visiting churches with me. In fact, he even hand-crafted a rosary out of pure copper for me. And I, in turn, respect his perspective by not being pushy anymore. I invite him to attend Mass, and when he declines, I let it be. After all, love is about meeting people where they are and growing together. I trust God will reveal, in his time, his will for our life together.
Ultimately, the cornerstone of a faith-filled home and marriage, even if your spouse is not on the same page as you (whether it be religion, politics, etc.), is love. We, along with many other married couples, chose St. Paul’s words as one of the readings during our wedding Mass:
Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
St. Paul couldn’t have put it better. Love is the fulcrum of Christianity. Love is what makes a faith-filled home and life. While Arthur might still gently tease my “Jesus corner” in our dining room, which is a wall full of religious icons, and while I will still pray St. Monica-style for him to get to know Jesus more deeply, I can rest assured that my home is full of faith because it is full of love.
Originally published August 10, 2022.