I still receive messages through this page from time to time. Traffic is nowhere near where it used to be, but apparently it's enough to warrant me checking my inbox more frequently than I had been. Sorry!!! :D
Anyway, I still receive questions about my marriage to my ex-husband, and I think that's because a good many of you found me by searching for advice about your own mixed-faith relationships. Some of the most frequent questions I get are "How did you make it work?" or "What were the warning signs?"
I always, always, always caution folks not to use me or my relationships as a barometer for their own. Doesn't seem to stop anyone, though. Ha ha.
Anywho, the most recent question I got was "Why did you marry him if you knew he wasn't Catholic?"
I believe I've written about this elsewhere, but when John and I were dating, I made it very clear what my stance was on children, marriage and the role of Faith within that marriage. Being a product of my own parents who were mixed-faith (Mom is Catholic and my dad is agnostic), I didn't see any issue marrying someone who wasn't Catholic. As long as he did not object to me practicing my faith and raising the children in that faith, I didn't really care. His faith journey is his own, and I was content with that. I never attempted to push him to attend Mass with me, I never asked him to pray a rosary with me, and I certainly never tried to convert him. I've always believed that faith journeys are super personal, so me attempting to force something someone isn't ready for is counterproductive.
Thus, so long as John left me to my own devices in the same way I left him to his, it made no difference to me.
However, that changed on a trip to Cape May. We were engaged at that point, and decided to vacation over a long weekend. I got ready to go to Mass and he began lamenting that I would "always choose God over him."
I was super confused because it felt like it came out of left field. I always went to Mass, so I wasn't sure why he thought being in Cape May would suddenly change that. He said, "But we're on vacation."
I remember laughing and saying, "So?" It was ludicrous to me that he actually thought being on vacation would stop me from wanting to go to Mass... as though I would just "take a break" from being Catholic. I STILL laugh at that because it genuinely showcases how little he actually understood anything. But I digress...
I said, "I'm Catholic. You know I'm Catholic. That doesn't just stop because I'm on vacation."
He then whined, "But what am I supposed to do while you're gone?"
I was dumbfounded, then, because I have never relied on other people to keep me entertained, especially if they had responsibilities to attend to.
I said, "I don't know, but I'm sure you'll figure it out."
I continued getting ready and headed out to Mass. By the time I got back, he was drunk, in the hot tub with a bottle of wine, and crying (actually crying) because I would "always choose God over him."
As someone who has never been tipsy let alone drunk in my life, I wasn't sure what to do with him, especially because he was getting loud and belligerent. We were in a bed and breakfast, and I was worried we'd be kicked out given his actions, so I called his friend, Chris (yup... current husband, Chris), because I knew he'd know what to do with John. Chris, who was living in North Carolina at the time, told me to get him dressed and fed w/ greasy carbs, so that's what I did.
Somewhat sobered up and back at the bed and breakfast, I told John that if he was seriously THIS upset that I would take an hour out of a long weekend to go to Mass, we needed to rethink marriage. He then said that he had been thinking about things and decided he didn't want kids and definitely didn't want to raise any that we did have as Catholics.
It hurt to hear, obviously, but I said, "Well, I'm really glad you're being honest with me. I'd rather find that out now than in 10 years." In that moment, it was clear to me that we were broken up. It wasn't fun, and of course I was heartbroken, but I also knew it was the right decision because you cannot compromise on something like that. We drove home the next day in silence.
I remember walking in the door and immediately going upstairs to pour myself out in my diary. My mom could tell I was upset and asked why. I said, "I called off the wedding."
Now my mom, who LOATHED the idea of us getting married, was probably giddy over the prospect, but God bless her, she held it together because she knew how upset I was. She calmly asked, "Why?"
I said, "He doesn't want kids and even if we did have kids, he doesn't want to raise them Catholic. So I called it off."
She was quiet for a moment and said, "That was probably very hard to do, but I'm very proud of you. It's better to call it off now than find this out later when you're stuck."
I just nodded and went back to my room to continue journaling. Doing the right thing is rarely easy, but it's easier than trying to clean up the fallout of doing the wrong thing later on. I've *ALWAYS* believed that, and this was no different.
So to answer this reader's question, when it became clear to me that our differences in faith were a problem, I immediately broke things off. It wasn't a problem until it became a problem, ya know? And prior to this conversation, John swore it wasn't a problem.
Why, then, did we end up married? Good question, and one I beat myself up over all the time.
A few weeks after the Cape May incident, John wrote me a letter apologizing for everything. He swore that it was the alcohol talking and that he'd been dealing with some depression on account of work/family. He promised that if I took him back, he'd be open to children and would, of course, allow me to raise them Catholic. I still have that letter tucked away somewhere, because I know, one day, my kids are going to ask me the same thing.
So because I was significantly more naive as a 20-something optimist, I believed him. Wedding was back on, and the rest is history. Unfortunately, as I came to find out later, he was just telling me what I wanted to hear in order to get what he wanted- me.
And as expected, cleaning up that mess has absolutely been harder than kicking him to the curb would have been. I console myself with the fact that I have two incredible boys as a result of buying into his lies, but I can't help but lament that they're growing up in a broken household. At least I was able to afford them a good, strong father in Chris, so they no longer lack a proper father, but there will always be natural hurt in them as a result of growing up bouncing between two households with two vastly different sets of morals and expectations.
Thus, long story short, I never would have married him had I believed our differences in Faith would be an issue. However, I was lied to- repeatedly- by someone I naively trusted. It was a hard lesson to learn, but such is the way of life.
So once again, folks, please don't use me as some sort of litmus test or ideal when it comes to interfaith relationships. You should never compare your relationship to anyone else's... it's just foolish.
I've seen this meme pop up all over the place before New Year's. So many people allowed themselves to get caught up in pandemic nonsense, fear, and media coverage that they legitimately missed several years of living; they simply existed.
I know of several people who did exactly this... at least a handful who STILL act like the world is ending.
It just makes me so sad, because the last few years have been some of the most amazing for my family and I. They could've been amazing years for these other folks, too, but they allowed fear to drive them whereas I'm content to pass that responsibility off to God.
Chris and I are both essential workers and never fell into the routine of hiding away in our home. We are both very goal oriented, and we set our sights on moving him home, getting married, and starting a family.
We did all of that and so much more. We're currently expecting our 4th son (due in just a few weeks), we both began new jobs that bumped us into a new tax bracket, we visited friends from all over the country, we took a road trip with the boys and introduced them to some amazing museums and fun along the east coast, and we never once allowed the nonsense of COVID to slow us down.
We spent time with family, we made time for friends, and we built relationships within our community while making plans for the future and working towards making those plans a reality. So many other people felt and STILL feel stuck, watching the world move on without them and feeling angry that they, too, haven't been able to walk forward.
It's a shame... it really is a shame. This is the cost of fear. People like this legitimately handed over YEARS of their lives and countless hours of anxiety/worry for the guise of "safety" and the mirage of "compassion."
Meanwhile, people like myself, my husband, and countless other "essential workers" soldiered on. We went into the office, we did our jobs, and we ensured others were taken care of. And since we were doing that in our professional lives, we saw no reason that our personal lives should be any different.
More than a few people were irritated with us for this mindset. They accused us of being selfish- of "killing grandma" or not caring about the immunocompromised. I would always roll my eyes at such accusations, because such sweeping allegations were wholly void of reality.
My nephew is immunocompromised. My mother, too. My very job depends on my natural predilection for generosity and compassion shown to others. I, much more than those who beat their chest for bravely hiding in their houses while minorities and vulnerable communities did the heavy lifting of keeping society afloat, actually grappled with the very real damage pandemic restrictions/stupidity placed onto others.
While they could schedule telehealth appointments from their smart phones, the population I worked with couldn't actually afford a phone to begin with. How could they see doctors?
While they kept in touch with friends and family through technology, the population I worked with had no access to any sort of computers/tablets due to even the libraries shutting down.
While they ordered take out and delivery, the population I worked with was stuck eating PB&J on the regular because they did not have the money nor the ability to break out of the food desert they lived in.
While they placed order after order on Amazon to pass the time, my population, again, had no money with which to place those orders nor the technology with which to do so.
And while my population WANTED, very badly, to work, they could not because every opportunity was shut to them.
This is the sort of thing that made me so angry during the height of the pandemic and why I went out of my way to attend rallies against mandates that continuously overstepped the bounds of both legislation and logic. I was blessed to have a steady paycheck because of my status as "essential." I was DOUBLY blessed to have a husband who was ALSO considered essential, so our income was never hurt. Being in that cushy spot would've made it VERY easy for me to just bow out and let those bearing the brunt of things handle that fight, but that's not how justice works. That fight NEEDED to be fought by every available voice because the government and those in power were WAY out of hand (still are if I'm being honest).
But I digress. I'm so glad that we never waited for permission to live our lives and to ensure our boys were able to live theirs. My favorite memory of us, as a family, bucking the idiotic mandates in place was each of us tearing down the caution tape surrounding an outdoor playground. We had gone on a family walk around the neighborhood and were hoping the powers that be had finally reopened the park. When we got there, the caution tape was still up and they had let fallen branches and weeds crawl all over everything. Chris and I just looked at each other and went "Forget this" and we gave the boys the go-ahead to start pulling everything down. Chris and Vince pulled the giant branches off the jungle gym while Nate cleared away the weeds and tape. I was super pregnant at that point, so I videotaped it for posterity. It was a good lesson for the kids that "an unjust law is no law at all." As Thomas Jefferson said, "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so."
Anyway, after the boys had cleared the playground, families from the high-rise apartment complex across the street saw what we were doing and came down to play. It was AMAZING. Everyone kept asking why it hadn't been done sooner.
The reason is because no one was brave enough to step forward to be the first. Chris and I want to teach our boys to always be brave enough to step forward, and we lead by example.
That was from back in 2020. All those families who lived DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET allowed fear to hold them back from enjoying their own neighborhood park. How much longer would they have allowed fear to hold them back had we not stepped forward to say "Enough!"?
And this is just one of a million different instances. I know of two couples who pushed off weddings because of COVID. My own family tried to pressure me for the same (you'd think they'd know better by now... ha ha). But I wasn't going to give up all that goes with marriage (kids, building our lives together, etc) just because I was told I was supposed to be scared.
Incubus had it right in "Drive." We gotta continually ask ourselves how much we'll "let the fear take the wheel and steer."
The answer should be "as little as possible."
And this is why I appreciate my Faith so much. I truly believe that God provides and has a plan for everything. Thus, why on earth would I worry about anything but living the life He so richly blessed me with?
God is good, folks. In all things, God is good. Trust Him to steer you right.
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