Growing up in my dynamic Jamaican family, there were a couple of truths that I lived by: Jamaican food is the best, Reggae and Soca music are a must and God is REAL.
However, as you grow up, and some of the things that you absolutely believed in begin to change. Thankfully, this list has never changed for me; my list has only expanded over time. But what happens when you marry someone who has a different list than you? How can you reconcile your different beliefs?
It’s simple: being in love with someone doesn’t mean you both need to be the same person who share the same beliefs. You love your partner because they are different from you, not because you are the same. When I first met my husband, we were college freshman at Penn State University. We were 18 years old and we came from different parts of New York. I was a naive girl born and raised in Manhattan and he was a street-smart intellect from Hollis, Queens. We had different likes and hobbies but we both loved a few of the same things: horror movies, eating spicy food, hot weather, Halloween and reading.
But since we have been together, it has been clear that we will never agree on religion. And that's okay with me. Here's why:
1. We respect each others' personal journeys without judgement.
Growing up, I didn’t go to church every Sunday morning, but I went quite a bit. I have several family members that are ministers and devout Christians. For me, I always struggled with some of the tenets of the Christian faith. To make it work for me, I made decisions about what I wanted to believe in and the type of lifestyle I wanted for myself. On my quest of discovering different faiths, I stumbled upon Unitarian Universalism and fell in love with their seven principles. Currently, I am still on a religious journey of finding a church that I want to join and increasing my faith practices every day. However, my husband is not. He has chosen to not share my beliefs in God or other practices I adhere to. He hasn’t since we met over 14 years ago, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I have always respected that we have different stances on religion. My choice to believe in God and the connection to the universe is a personal one. Whether my husband wants to believe in God or not is a personal decision that has nothing to do with me. In life, we spend too much time focused on what other people are doing instead of focusing on our own journey. If we all focused on our goals, the world would be a lot less judgmental, hostile and stifling.
2. For me, love means appreciating the differences between you and your partner.
My husband is my best friend and my favorite person in the world. What kind of friend, wife, or human being would I be if I couldn’t respect our religious differences? I love my husband for his genius brain, his strength, his personality, his fortitude and so many other things about him. Whether he believes in God or not, doesn’t take away from the love I have for him. I respect his decisions and beliefs in this world, as I appreciate his respect for my religious decisions. That is what love is all about!
3. I can still pray for my partner.
My husband doesn’t pray or believe in God, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use my religion to benefit the loved ones in my life. I pray for him and other family members as often as I want. The beauty of having a religious belief system is others don’t have to be a part of it to benefit from it.
4. Discussing different beliefs can make you more clear on your own belief system.
When my husband and I first met, we constantly discussed our beliefs and theories about life. More than 14 years later, things haven’t changed. When discussing religion and my belief system, I realized that I needed to re-educate myself on why I believed in certain tenets. This is a good thing. If you can’t explain why you believe in something, then it isn’t clear why you are sticking to those beliefs. Ultimately, his challenges forced me to recommit myself to learning and understanding my faith-based beliefs.
5. For me, there is more to life than my faith.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that for me, there is more to life than religion. Yes, our faith is important. However, we have a lot to think about each day. Our religion is just one of the main concerns we carry with us in our lives. Does our religious difference come up every day with my husband? No. I encourage you to remember that your faith or beliefs support the other aspects of your life. Whether you and your partner share the same beliefs is not the end of the world. There are many other things to discuss, debate and enjoy with each other!
Natasha Nurse started Dressing Room 8 to provide a web-based resource where women can gain personal and professional empowerment through her fashion and lifestyle focused blog. Dressing Room 8 helps women learn how to think with clarity, dress with confidence, and live with purpose. She is the Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine and she co-hosts a podcast with her husband called WokeNFree. Follow Natasha on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.