Another wedding anniversary is approaching for me, which has caused me to reflect on how my faith crisis has impacted my marriage and how my marriage has impacted my faith crisis.
I officially mark my faith crisis as beginning in January of 2009. However, I had an aborted attempt at a faith crisis back many years ago. I had just begun grad school and was fairly newly married. I tried to have a conversation with my husband about my concern that most all of humanity was destined to hell because of not living in the right time or place to hear about Jesus. The conversation ended with my husband defensive and angry and myself in tears. That conversation over dinner was the beginning and end of my initial faith crisis.
Fast forward to last year. The same old question which provoked my initial crisis began to nag at me relentlessly. It had really never left. I made a decision at that point to have a controlled, private faith crisis. (This sounds absurd, but it's the truth.) I started with the Internet, reading blogs and articles when the family was asleep. Then, I began reading books and leaving them out so my husband could see what I was reading. That actually took some nerve on my part. He saw books on evolution, textual criticism, and Biblical interpretation. Finally, at the end of the year, he asked me about them. I shared some of my struggles with a fair amount of reluctance. I spoke of the evidence I found for evolution and the fact that I no longer hold the Bible to be inerrant. He surprised me by remaining fairly calm and listening a great deal. A couple of months later, we had a good conversation during dinner where he actually admitted he shared some of my concerns and questions about the Bible. This was a pleasant surprise. Although my husband was uncomfortable hearing my thoughts in great depth, he asked for me to keep him informed at a general level as I continued to study and develop my thinking about matters of faith. It was a liberating gift to experience my husband's new found ability to accept me in my struggle. He still feels uncomfortable with many of my beliefs and will not engage with me for long on them. However, there is a new openness and acceptance between us that wasn't there before. We also feel closer as a result of this experience. I have wondered before what would happen to our marriage if I lost my faith entirely. I know there would be much to work out, but it's no longer something which frightens me. When I consider the possibility of a world without God, I somehow actually feel more connected to my husband, knowing I love him without needing to believe there is a God commanding me to do so.