Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are we allowed to ever change?

On another skeptic blog, JA made the comment "Why is it always the less religious parent who has to hide his beliefs and practices?". I thought about his comments through the lens of my situation and that of my fellow skeptics. Since most of us were ostensibly religious at the time we got married, it is us who is changing the dynamics of the relationship. In this light, I believe it is reasonable for the still religious spouse to be bothered by this change in our beliefs/actions. Likewise, I don't think it is fair for a spouse to become religious when both partners were irreligious at the onset of their relationship. Of course, from an OJ point of view, this is obviously seen as a positive move and it is the non-religious spouse that needs to get with the program.

This is not just true when someone undergoes a religious transformation. I think the same thing would hold true for anyone who significantly changes the dynamic of a relationship from the understanding they had at the onset. Such cases like someone who suddenly decided they wanted to quick their white collar job and live the life of an artist or someone who decided they no longer wanted to have any children. There are no right or wrong side of these issues. Rather, if they deviate from the understanding that one spouse has initially, then it is reasonable for them to be bothered when a change occurs.

So does this mean that nobody is allowed to change anything from the time they get married until they die or risk divorce? In short; no, they really aren't. Well, at least not in a significant manner without the buy-in of their spouse. Whenever we look for a partner, we are looking for personality, intellectual, religious, physical traits among others that appeal to us. So it should not be hard to fathom that by changing one of our core traits, out partner will have to adjust accordingly. Sometimes these changes can be accepted, other times they are just too big of a change to accept.

In a nutshell, I feel that this is the basis behind my fear of coming out fully to my wife about my religious views and practices. I love my wife dearly, but realize that some changes are just to great for a partner to accept and fear that this may be a deal breaker for my wife. My marriage isn't based solely on our common religious views that we shared, but it is certainly was one of our common views initially and one that my wife considers important. .