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.
1/17/2023 11:23:22 am
You had said you'd do a post about how your ex handled learning about your relationship with Chris. I am very interested to hear how that went, and I know several others from the group are, too. Are you planning to do a post about that anytime soon?
1/17/2023 03:43:15 pm
LoL- no worries, Cindy. I can do a brief post on that, too.
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