There are times in committed relationships where there are surges of interest and curiosity about a “higher power.” This can come from either challenges in the relationship or a desire for personal growth, intimacy, or community. But when one spouse brings up the question of spirituality when not regularly discussed, it can really rock the boat. Consider the following ways to approach your significant other for a smooth discussion about choosing a place of worship.
#1 - Consider the higher purpose of choosing a spiritual community. Would you be attending so that your spiritual needs can be met? Do you desire to serve as a volunteer in a community that has similar values and beliefs? Before going into the conversation, broaden your understanding of your higher purpose and the organizations higher purpose.
#2 - Consider and care for your spouse’s desires and state of being. Is your spouse sensitive to this topic? Is your spouse open to come with you? Approach your spouse with a state that is inclusive, inviting, and the most important one of all, stable. If you desire a place of worship because your relationship is going through rough waters, assure your spouse of the safety and benefit of this decision. Being stable is the most comforting gift your can give your spouse when you decide to “change things up.” The reason why stability is important is because transformation appears unpredictable. When people desire transformation and seek it, there is a quality of letting go and accepting what may come. Naturally, the dynamics in the relationship may change, but assurance of stability and commitment gives comfort to your spouse.
#3 - Consider the act in choosing a place of worship a bit like a road trip adventure. After inviting your spouse along (whether he or she comes with you or not) visit different places of worship, but don’t stay for your “whole trip.” With each place, discover the higher purpose of these organizations and find how each one is different. After you have made your visits, determine together which one is best for the both of you, or determine which one is right for you. You may find that the adventuring around was all you needed or you may find your spiritual home for the season you are in.
#4 - You may experience rejection from your spouse, which is more common than anyone realizes. Understand that your desire and choice for personal development, community, and service to others is a good thing. Overcome, any anxious feelings or doubts, by remembering why you are doing this. Is it to bring in more love to your life and marriage relationship? Is it to improve the way you personally communicate? Your “why” can give you strength and determination to persist in doing good things for yourself, your family, and the greater community. If a religious institution is “too much” for your relationship, you may wish to consider any other non-profit organizations that allow similar activities.
#5 - If you are in agreement that choosing a place of worship is good and beneficial for your relationship. Consider your investment of time. The average service time is about an hour. However, services can go on for up to 5 hours in some communities. How much time will be spent at the organization vs. time spent investing in your relationship? Will you serve together or separate? It is important to think through your involvement so that you respect each other’s journey and growth.
According to a study from the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/more-americans-now-say-theyre-spiritual-but-not-religious/) a growing number of Americans consider themselves spiritual rather than religious. Although there are many religions, not everyone who attends is spiritual and vice versa. Remember the key points as you go on to discuss a place of worship with your spouse: know your reason why, check in with your values and see if they are an all-around match, be inviting and stable, visit many places before you settle, when in doubt remember your why, consider all options, get on the same page regarding investment of time.