If I could name one ESSENTIAL emotion to make a mixed faith marriage work I would name: Courage.
It takes courage to tell your partner the truth about your faith transition. It takes courage to listen to your partner tell you the truth about their faith transition. It takes courage to deal with the changes and shifts in the relationship.
Above all, it takes courage to feel the emotions that come up in a mixed faith marriage.
Wait, you may say, why does that take courage and why does that even matter? Arn’t dealing with the in-laws and the bishop and coffee bigger issues? No, they are not.
When we are not dealing with the anger, sadness, betrayal, fear and uncertainty (all pretty common emotions in a new mixed faith marriage) we are usually creating more problems for ourselves.
If you are like most humans, we are rather skilled at avoiding or distracting ourselves from our emotions. We watch TV, eat cookies, go shopping, work, clean, scroll on our phones – all in an effort to NOT feel an emotion.
When we avoid the sadness, anger, betrayal, fear and uncertainty that comes out eventually and usually when we are least prepared.
Does it seem like you can’t communicate without anger? This may be unprocessed anger or sadness.
Do you feel stuck in your choices? This is probably the unprocessed emotion of uncertainty.
If we exercise our courage and just take the time to FEEL our emotions, they will process and we will be able to then deal with the issues with a clear mind and not one flooded by emotion.
Often we don’t really feel our emotions because we are scared about what we will feel. Maybe it won’t go away, maybe we will lose our control. Maybe it will hurt too much.
When we really just feel our feelings – the vibrations they make in our bodies, we learn that we CAN handle it. We learn that it is not such a big deal. We learn that it will not kill us. In fact our resistance to emotion is often what causes us to suffer, not the actual emotion.
This is why courage is key. We need courage to process our emotions.
Once we have processed our emotions we are now in a position to solve our problems. Our pre frontal cortex is back in control and we can now make the decisions we need to and decide how we want to show up in our marriage. Emotional outbursts will not happen (they are actually scarier than processing emotions) and as a result things will change.
Courage takes learning. It doesn’t always come on its own. Let’s talk.