Proselytizing -- in your own home

Krista - posted on 10/31/2011 ( 42 moms have responded )

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I lurk in other groups -- I admit it. I like seeing how different people think.

Anyhoodle, on religious groups, on more than one occasion, I've seen a mother posting who was NOT religious when she got married. She got married to an equally non-religious guy. Fair enough, right?

But then, after being married for awhile, the wife finds religion and goes at it whole-heartedly, and is very upset that her husband won't follow suit, and prays non-stop for him to join her in her faith.

Do you think that this is fair? (And just to note, this isn't to pick on Christians. This could happen in any permutation, including a Christian couple where one spouse suddenly LOSES their faith and becomes a hardcore atheist.)

Is it reasonable for someone who has converted to expect their spouse to convert along with them? Should the spouse TRY to follow their wife's (or husband's) faith (or lack thereof) in order to maintain harmony in the relationship?

Would this be a deal-breaker for you? How would you handle it if your husband (or wife) suddenly had a huge change of faith and was after you to follow suit?

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Denikka - posted on 11/06/2011

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That actually seems pretty accurate Emma. Switching from one obsession (or addiction) to another. A lot of addicts, from smokers to hardcore drug addicts, don't actually DEAL with the addiction that they have. They just switch to another, more socially acceptable addiction.
And sometimes that more socially acceptable addiction is religion.

Denikka - posted on 10/31/2011

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I read the post that I believe that you're coming from.

It just makes me shake my head. My father is a born again Christian. He has been fairly forceful in wanting to pray with me and for me. He has been forceful in *disagreeing* with certain of my lifestyle choices (from taste in music to my own belief system).
If my spouse EVER treated me in that way, I would leave them in a heartbeat.
It has nothing to do with beliefs. I don't even have a problem with Christians who want to share their religion. I DO have a problem with anyone who is pushy about anything. I don't need a Christian in my home crying and praying every day about how I'm going to Hell any more than I need a vegetarian in my home who goes on and on about the poor innocent cow I'm scarfing down.
If you have that little respect for me, then I don't need you around me. I am an adult, I can make my own decisions. I have no problem with someone sharing something that the love. From music to religion, go ahead and share.
Just don't shove it down my throat, don't blast it from the rooftops and when I say I'm done, let it be.

[deleted account]

The newly converted are the most annoying IMNHO. If I were married to an atheist and he suddenly abandoned all reason and jumped on a religious bandwagon, I'd be very worried about him. Sorry if this offends a few but I think that those who go this path have issues. I would be exceedingly uncomfortable around anyone who made such a massive change in worldview (in either directly). If it was a slow change over time, that I could handle but a sudden Road to Damascus conversion would make me take him to neurologist.

Krista - posted on 11/01/2011

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I'm much the same way as the others. If my husband suddenly became a devout Baptist, for example (which would be about as likely as him sprouting wings), and was content to do his own thing and have his own faith, then I could live with that. It would definitely create a distance between us, though

But if he was nagging me to go to church, and wanting to ban certain items or forms of entertainment from our home, and wanted to change the agreement on how we raise our son...then yes, I'm afraid that would be a deal-breaker for me. I accept that people change within marriages, but if the person becomes the polar opposite of who he was on his wedding day, then that can be a tough one to swallow.

Minnie - posted on 10/31/2011

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According to the Bible, if such is the case, the wife (or husband) is not to proselytize but to win the spouse over with her/his actions and love. And that's it.

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[deleted account]

As much as we are a couple and will marry in a year.We are also indivduals and i really respect that, honour and amire it.

I would never want him to follow me or the other way around.If we didn't see ourselves being apart of the religion we newly found.I wouldn't allow it come between us and if it did then there is huge cause for a big discussion before it puts us on separate paths and that we would NEVER want.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 11/10/2011

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No it is not fair. I married my husband for who he is, not who I could get him to be. He is not a work in progress.

Angela - posted on 11/10/2011

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I learned a long time ago not all belivers of any faith are the same and try not to judge anyone. It is all about respect, Hope it sounds like your family not only respects each other but supports each other...very nice!

Hope - posted on 11/10/2011

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I have been married for 9 years in November and been a Christian for 4 years. I can say at first it was a little hard because I started to change and my husband didn't like it. If I tried to talk to him about church we would have an argument. It was more to do with his personal experiences growing up in a very strict Christian house hold that scarred him into thinking I was going to turn our home into the same one he grew up in. Now we have an agreement, I don't talk about your try and turn our home into a crazy strict house and he does not belittle me because of my personal beliefs.
When it comes to our children the younger to come with me to church every week because they are only 5 months and 3 years. I older child since he was 5 years old, now 8, comes with me every second weekend. I want to expose my children to my Christian beliefs but at the end of the day it is there choice if they follow Christianity or not. I do know when the reach high age I will the decision up to them if they come to church with me or not.

Angela - posted on 11/10/2011

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Lacye, no I would not have a problem with him sharing at all with my kids. It is how they learn, I just would want to leave it up to them. If they wanted to go to church I would be fine with that too. Of course I would share my views and beliefs.

The only way I would oppose is if it was a cult or something or something I totally against and find harmful. For example I would not allow Scientology in my home or some new weird cult following..

I would also let him share with me, and talk of it to me. As long as I was respected.

My Mother tried on every religion when I was growing up, she had more religions than husbands and that is a lot! She finally settled on this very extreme from of Christianity.

She is too extreme to me, along with her husband/family. I respect their religion but I don like how judgmental they are of non believers.

When my Mother married her last husband she adopted his 6 children, then they went on to adopt 8 more kids, actually more 2 she sent back! (BTW I do not agree with her actions) but she pulled all the 6 of the husbands natural born out of school, she homes schools all of them. They can not date, etc and the only activities they have are chores on their farm and a small church.

I was visiting one summer (to introduce her to her newest granddaughter) and one of the kids asked me if I would go to church I said no, he said why not and I said because it is not my belief. He promptly told me he was sad because I would go to hell along with my family and he would not see me in heaven.

Also they are prejudice against Muslims, blacks, homosexuals etc and make really rude remarks that I can't deal with so to me they are hypocrites. My son is black and gay and they do not seem to care or see how hurtful this is to me. I now refuse to bring my children around them. If my husband acted like them I would run...far far away and do my best to teach my children tolerance and respect.



ETA that was a first visit in many years..... and it was the last visit to my Mom's. We talk occasionally or FB but that is the extent of it.

Lacye - posted on 11/09/2011

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To the ones that talk about if the spouse tried to force his/her children, what if the spouse isn't trying to force the kids but trying to share his new found religion with his children. Would you still have a problem with it? I'm only asking because it's not uncommon for a newly converted person to want to share that new religion with his/her children.

Lacieann - posted on 11/09/2011

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I think it would be wrong to expect your partner to change their religious or spiritual views.
I would be fine with what ever path my partner chose as long as he didn't feel the need to pressure me to join him. Or try and prevent me from finding my own path.

Stifler's - posted on 11/09/2011

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When I went to church there were heaps of people who came and their partner didn't and wasn't a christian. they never broke up over it. or they were different religions. i know a couple she was assemblies of god and he was seventh day adventist and they were married until she died at like 80 something.

Jeannette - posted on 11/09/2011

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OP - I don't think it is reasonable to expect your spouse to convert. Ask nicely, but then move on doing your own thing if the spouse doesn't want to participate.
It isn't a deal-breaker for me at all. I have a great husband even when we disagree.

Jeannette - posted on 11/09/2011

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@Dennika - I think your statement regarding being secure in your beliefs is spot on. I think security/insecurity plays bigger roles in our lives than we would like to admit.

Tara - posted on 11/07/2011

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If this were to occur I would request that my spouse give me the same respect regarding my atheist views as I will afford him regarding his religious ones. I would not interfere in his choice to practise his faith, if he wants to pray before meals he can do so, but I will not and I would even be respectful and not eat until he is done giving thanks.
Now if he were persistent in his need to convert me or our kids I would be very firm with him and let him know that under no circumstances nor conditions will I accept any forcing of his faith onto the rest of us. And it would be a deal breaker if he put his faith before his family and chose to continue his "missionary endeavors" I would probably give the ultimatum of leave us be or I leave.
But on that note, I don't think I would stay long term if he suddenly became a hardcore born again or something, for me a lot of what attracts me to my partner is our common opinions on things such as life, religion, spirituality, sense of self, understanding of the scientific world, etc. etc. so if he suddenly threw all of those things out the window to become preachy..... and it lasted long enough..... I would lose respect and probably interest in maintaining a long term relationship with him. It would depend how much religion changed who he was. If he became a sheeple? Gone like the wind....

[deleted account]

I know a guy at work who is in this position. He was a totally active Christian and got married very young to another active Christian. Now he is in his late 20s and is now realising that he no longer believes it. It's really tough on his wife, who keeps on begging for him to come to Church etc. When he told me this I privately thought his marriage is doomed. I just can't see how it will work in the long run as they grow apart in such a significant way, and I was tempted to encourage him to break off the marriage before any kids enter the scenario, because that will only make it harder. ps I didn't actually say it!

Angela - posted on 11/06/2011

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What Denikka said... and also many I think are making up for something, carry guilt.

Stifler's - posted on 11/06/2011

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Especially alcos/drug addicts who have found Jesus and get addicted to Jesus and telling everyone instead of drinking/shooting up. Did I say that out loud.

Krista - posted on 11/06/2011

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Yeah, a lot of the "converted" tend to be REALLY hardcore and overzealous in their beliefs, no matter what they've converted towards.

Denikka - posted on 11/06/2011

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There is a HUGE difference between those who were raised to be extremely religious and those who find religion later.
My father is a good example. When he was younger, he was a rebel. He was into a lot of things, drugs, sleeping around, etc. His parents were very religious, but he chose another path early on. He left not long after I was born.
After finding religion, he developed a holier than thou attitude. He thinks that he knows so much better than everyone else.
Not all are like this, but most born agains that I have met have been similar.

To me it seems that if you are raised with a strong faith, you're secure in your beliefs. If you're secure in your beliefs, you don't feel the need to attack things that are different. You may want to share, but it's more of sharing something that you love, instead of trying to justify yourself by shoving your beliefs down someone else's throat.
When you find religion later on, you wonder if you're doing the right thing. Even if you think you are, there's usually that seed of doubt. That little bit of questioning. And that insecurity. I have noticed that a lot of people deal with insecurity by having people tell them that they're right. They want validation. And when they don't get it, they can turn pretty aggressive.
Just what my experience has been, but I have noticed that this reaction isn't limited to religion.

April - posted on 11/06/2011

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Is there a difference in people who suddenly become devout and people who were raised with a devout mindset? I am wondering this because I wonder if there is a way to tell before you marry someone if they have an inclination towards making drastic worldview changes?

April - posted on 11/06/2011

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Also, as person whose first two boyfriends were EXTREMELY religious, I knew well enough not to go there. Both relationships only lasted about 4 months and both boys were constantly trying to get me to do something church related. My first BF kept a bible in his pocket. One day he took it out and gave it to me. He said, "Here. You need this more than I do!" He was devout Baptist, always asking me to go to church, tried really hard to convert me. My second BF was devout Lutheran--we didn't talk about religion but the unspoken words were loud. I could just see the judgment, I could feel it as if it were a blanket and I was wrapped around in it. I believe that this is the result of years of being raised the way he was--if my husband were to suddenly become devout in his religion-i just don't see him being so overwhelmingly judgmental as my former boyfriend was. I feel I could deal with the church going, the praying, etc.. as long as I was respected for my beliefs too.

April - posted on 11/06/2011

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Krista took the words right out of my mouth. It's one thing to go to church and practice your religion quietly. It's a whole different game when your spouse is doing everything to convert you. If my husband was going to church, avoiding religious topics with me, and not pushing the kids to believe I'd stay with him. If he was telling me I need to repent, if he was putting bibles in front of me, if he kept trying to get me to go to church, etc... I don't think I would stay with him. He would be so far removed from the person he was when I married him.

[deleted account]

I know this is gonna sound over-simplified, but the first thing that came to mind when I read the OP was: When I first met my husband and we were dating, we both enjoyed Italian dressing on our salads. Over time, I found that I preferred Ranch. So now we buy both and it's really not a big deal lol I know, salad dressing and God are on opposite ends of the spectrum but....salad is important to me dammit!!! LOL

I think it's unreasonable to expect ANYONE to change to your way of thinking. Even in marriage. For me, it would be a deal-breaker. When I met and married my husband, we were both unsure about how we felt about God. Over the years, together, we've decided that we just don't believe. If he came home toting a bible tomorrow and telling me I need to repent....well....first of all, I'd probably take said bible and try smacking him back to himself lol If that didn't work, I'd "allow" (for lack of a better word) him to do whatever it is that makes him happy BUT, if it continuted to be a situation where he was FORCING his newfound beliefs on me all the time, yeah, I'm outta here. Honestly, faith is such a personal thing. I think there should be a way for a couple to work together to stay together, even if one finds Jesus (or Buddah or Mohammed, etc). It doesn't HAVE to be a deal breaker. Both just have to agree to not force the issue from either side. Sorta like, "I won't try and force you to believe and you don't try and force me to NOT believe." There has to be common ground.

Keri - posted on 11/04/2011

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I am a Christian, and before marrying it was a requirement that my spouse share my faith and vice versa...Were my husband change his mind for whatever reason, I'd have o say that it may be a deal breaker for me, depending...I knew a religious woman who married a man who did not share her faith, at first he was fine with it, then he began to change and started to forbid her from doing anything that was part of her faith...it tore her apart, the Bible is very clear that we are not to marry a believer if we are one for this very reason. I would have to say were my husband to change and become this way I would leave, perhaps not divorce, but definitely separate, as to me my first and foremost relationship if between God and myself, my husband next, the children and so on down the line...but were my husband to step out from under God's hedge of protection, me and my children will not follow. :)

ME - posted on 11/01/2011

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I wouldn't necessarily go running for the hills over a change of faith, but if my atheist husband started demanding that I join him and become born again, the kids and I would skedattle...

Merry - posted on 11/01/2011

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As a Christian couple, if my husband were to switch to an atheist man it would be hard but id imagine I would stay married and hope it was just a phase or something. I'm pretty sure there's not much he could do to make me leave him apart from things that could injure or endanger me or the kids.

I'd be heartbroken but like Lisa said, I'd just pray and hope he came back around to the man I married.

Angela - posted on 11/01/2011

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It would only be fair if beliefs could be separate and respected. It would not be fair to expect their spouse to convert along with them and no, I would not try to follow his beliefs to keep harmony.

If my hubby converted to religion and involved the kids, IE taking them out of school, to a place of worship I was against I think I would have to leave him. We would be separate people with separate lives and I would let my children decide what was best for them when older.

If it was extreme IE he became a part of a cult or group that I thought would harm my children I would take all actions I could to prevent him from harming my children.

I would be resentful of my husband if he changed so much he was not the same person I married, but I would get over it and him. I would never compromise my principals to an extreme so why should he? It happens, people change and marriages end because one could not accept the change or different person really.

Tracey - posted on 10/31/2011

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If by "religion" it's a bunch of rituals, whatever they want to do. But if we're talking a real belief about the nature of reality, it could be really difficult to live with someone who believes completely differently. As Lisa said below, Christians (the ones who believe, who are not necessarily the same ones who are into ritual or who are in church, although there can be overlap) are to win their spouses over through actions. Real belief is not something that you can just expect someone else to flipflop on overnight. It needs to be intentional, or it's not real. If it's just a question of whose ritual you're following that neither of you really believes, then it shouldn't be hard to compromise.

[deleted account]

I almost responded right away, but I stepped away for a while and thought about it. We (Christians) believe that we have something worth sharing. And don't you want to share with the one you love the most? Your spouse. It's totally possible for an over-zealous new Christian to overwhelm and push away their spouse. But that's not the best way to go about it.

In my own family there is a couple who married knowing they disagreed religiously. The husband goes to church and prays for his wife, but doesn't force her to come. She's cool with him going to church and participating. She's said that when she's ready or feels like it, she'll come. I know it's difficult on both of them, but they love and respect the other. So far, the marriage is working.

Katherine - posted on 10/31/2011

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I agree. Forcing the religion on the children when they are that young and having one person non-religious IMO is wrong. They need to make their own choices.

Johnny - posted on 10/31/2011

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If my partner suddenly became religious, but allowed me to freely continue to be who I am and not force me to change how we agreed from the beginning that we would raise our child, then fine. I believe faith can be a personal thing and there is no reason that it needs to separate a marriage. However, if he were trying to convert me, change the household rules, the way our child is to be raised, and bring tension to the relationship, it might well be a dealbreaker.

Lady Heather - posted on 10/31/2011

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If my husband suddenly picked up religion and didn't bug me about my lack of it, I wouldn't care. If he became obsessive about converting me, that could definitely cause some serious marital issues.

Lacye - posted on 10/31/2011

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I am a Christian, my husband is an atheist. We don't talk about religion. There's our middle ground. He does his thing, I do mine. He makes a snide comment about my faith, I tear him a new asshole. :D

Katherine - posted on 10/31/2011

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That's a toughie. It depends on how important it is to her for him to be religious.
My dad was not and my mom was Catholic. My dad finally converted. Don't know if he was pressured or not, but he did it.
It also depends on how you are going to bring up your kids if one person is religious and the other isn't. IMO that's a huge problem So really how DO you bring them up?.

Becky - posted on 10/31/2011

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Well, praying for them is one thing - that doesn't hurt anyone, unless you're laying your hands on them and praying out loud for hours on end. That could be annoying! :) But constant nagging at a person, even your spouse, is more likely to drive them further away than to lead them to want to explore their spouse's newfound faith. I agree with Lisa, let your spouse see that it's real to you and that it's made a genuine difference in your life, and leave the rest up to your diety. :)
I don't believe the spouse should go along with it just to maintain harmony, because that wouldn't be a sincere faith. I don't think people should force themselves to try to believe in someting, for any reason. On the other hand, I don't think the spouse should be antagonistic and unsupportive either - although I can see how that would happen if the spouse who had found religion was fanatical and a nag about it!

Jane - posted on 10/31/2011

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The rule in our house is believe however you wish but do not proselytize in the house. Instead, simply demonstrate your faith through good works and treat everyone, especially family, with respect.

Married couples do not have to agree on everything, but they do have to respect each other's beliefs. That means one spouse can't expect the other to convert, but by that same token, the second spouse can't denigrate the first spouse's new found beliefs.

JuLeah - posted on 10/31/2011

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This happened in my family. One went from, fun loving and exciting to ... well, won't even mention the foul name of Harry Potter (the devils own child)

Kids pulled out of public school, home schooled for the most part, all new friends .... her husband went along - it was that or lose his family, I think

People change, people grow, people go temporarily insane

You stick with them, or .... Odds are it'd be a deal breaker for me .... I'd sure try to find middle ground first

Medic - posted on 10/31/2011

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Well I do not think that both people need to be of the same beliefs. My husband and I do not agree on religion and we work great. It is a total non issue.

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