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Strengthening Your Mixed Faith Marriage
I know all about the struggles in a mixed faith marriage. I am in one! I want to share with you four things that have made HUGE improvements in my marriage. DO NOT underestimate these things. They may sound simple, but I promise if you do them they can fix your mixed faith marriage.
Module 1: The Manual
For each relationship we have in our lives we have a corresponding manual. A manual is an unspoken set of instructions you have for a relationship, it is basically your set of expectations for the other person.
When our spouse’s do not follow our manuals (which happens frequently), we get upset, frustrated, annoyed, and resentful.
Manuals frequently cause suffering in a mixed faith marriage.
Here are some manual examples in a mixed faith marriage that can cause problems:
-A spouse should always stay faithful to the church.
-Couples should attend church together.
-A mixed faith marriage is not ideal.
-If you loved me you would support my decision (to stay or to leave).
-We should be on the same page.
It HURTS when a their is a faith transition. It hurts for both partners.
This hurts because your spouse is not following your manual, they are not fulfilling your expectations. You wish they would be different than who they are.
Are you willing to abandon your manual and love and accept your spouse for who they actually are and as opposed to who you wish they would be?
Recognizing and abandoning manuals can have some of the most profound impacts on healing strained relationships and strengthening healthy relationships.
Take some time and write out your manual for your spouse. Write out all the things they should or should not do. All the things they should or should not say. Put it ALL on paper. Be honest. Do NOT filter yourself.
My Manual for my spouse:
How do you act towards your spouse when they do not follow your manual?
Is this helping your relationship? Why or Why not?
Module 2: What You Can Control
We do not have control over many circumstances in our life. We literally cannot control what others do or say. We cannot control their choices and beliefs. We cannot control if our spouse chooses to believe or not believe in the church.
This is one reason we can get so frustrated in our marriages as they are impacted by a faith transition. We desperately want to control our spouse’s beliefs. We want to control what they say and what they do. We want to control them because we think this will help us feel better.
While we cannot control many things, we CAN control what we think about our spouse’s beliefs, choices and words. We CAN control the stories we tell ourselves about their beliefs, choices and words.
What story are you telling about your mixed faith marriage? Write it out here:
Is it scary? This is why you are feeling scared.
Is is sad? That is why you are feeling sad.
Are you the victim? That is why you are feeling disempowered.
How to do you feel when you think about your story?
I feel ______________________________________.
Is this a feeling you want to feel? If not, why are you choosing to tell that story?
You have other choices.
Is there another possible way to tell this story?
Module 3: Your Powerful Thoughts
The average person has 60,000 thoughts go through their head each day. Many of those thoughts are repeats from yesterday.
Our thoughts create our results in life and this means that we usually create the same thing over and over in our life.
This is why you see so many repeated patterns in your mixed faith marriage. Are you tired of having the same conversations over and over? Are you tired or feeling hurt all the time? Are you tired of feeling scared all the time?
If it is time to stop repeating some of those conversations and reactions, then it is time to practice thought awareness. It is time to add some new thoughts in order to create some new results. Thought awareness becomes a game changing skill in any marriage, but crucial in a mixed faith marriage.
The most important and most obvious step to thought awareness is to pay attention to your thoughts. You may be surprised just how infrequently you actually do this!
Some common thoughts in a mixed faith marriage are:
-This is so hard.
-This is not an ideal marriage.
-I wish this never happened.
What are your common thoughts about your mixed faith marriage?
Now ask yourself:
-How does that thought make me feel?
-Do I like that thought?
-Will that thought help me reach my goals?
Free writing is a great tool to use in becoming aware of your thoughts. It can be helpful to choose a topic and write down all your thoughts on that topic without any filter or editing. Be honest with yourself. You may find that you self-edit as you write, try not to do this. After about five minutes you have a whole bunch of thoughts and you can decide if they are worth repeating tomorrow. This is a great tool to use to explore a particular subject in your mixed faith marriage.
Choose a topic to free write about to discover some of your thoughts. Topic to consider are Sundays, coffee, Mormon history, raising kids, etc.
Put all your thoughts on one topic here:
Module 4 – Communication
It is challenging to know how to talk about a faith transition. How do you make changes in your marriage, family life, or Sunday schedule? Is it even possible?
It is! With the right tools you can successfully navigate a faith transition and have a great mixed faith marriage.
One of the most helpful tools I’ve used in my marriage as I have navigated my faith transition is what I call ‘Difficult Conversations.’ This is a tool I learned from Life Coach Brooke Castillo. This is a great tool to use when you need to talk about a challenging topic with your spouse. The steps are:
1. Let go of the need to be right, or prove your point.
2. Start with “Tell me what you feel about (insert topic)” or “What are you thinking about (insert topic)?” Fully hear your partner. Make every effort to truly understand their thoughts and feelings. Note: keep releasing the need to be defensive or disagree.
3. Re-state the facts that you can both agree on. Facts do not make anyone right or wrong, they are common ground.
4. Reduce the issue to one statement:
• You are making these facts mean: ___________________________
• I am making these facts mean: ___________________________
5. Now only talk about the solutions. This may take some time. It is worth it. Do not discuss the problem, this is very tempting, only discuss possible solutions.
CONGRATS! You finished the course! These are some great tools that can be used over and over. Be patient with yourself as you develop and practice new things.
If you are ready to learn more and get even more support let’s talk. Email me at email@example.com and ask for a free call. We will set up a time to talk about your mixed faith marriage.
Wishing you the best!
Certified Life Coach