I’ve been on a Pagan path for almost four years. It has truly been an amazing experience so far – I’ve learned so much that I would not have studied and met people that I would not have met otherwise. I’ve had experiences that have reshaped my outlook on life, my relationships, and the world in general. I’ve gone through a lot and I’ve changed because of it.
This is all fine and well for me, but, for my wife, and our relationship, it has been a real challenge. My wife is Christian (one of the good ones). This has honestly been the hardest part of becoming Pagan.
It was especially difficult in the beginning. It was really hard to describe what I was going through and what I was feeling. It was next to impossible to explain what my beliefs were since I didn’t quite know myself. I just knew something about this path was calling to me and it felt like the right direction to take.
Conversations are really tough. I made a change that I felt called to make but it obviously wasn’t what she wanted. Because we wanted to work this out without our children around our conversations usually started late at night and ended even later, usually with both of us tired and a more than a little frustrated. Not a great combination. But, as it turns out, we needed to have those talks (and still do).
I was very defensive when we first talked about it and, quite frankly, I was also selfish. It was her problem, not mine, to understand and get used to the changes in me and what I now stood for. I often hid from my own lack of understanding and pushed her away as she retreated.
My relationship with Paganism is not something my wife really understands. She doesn’t feel called to it the way I do. This is a hard balancing act – respecting her beliefs while practicing my own. It’s just as hard for her.
It’s also hard for her because there isn’t really a good support system for the spouses of Pagan folk. Finding someone in a similar situation is hard. Most of the Pagans I know are either with another Pagan or someone without a religious affiliation. Those I know in a mixed relationship are the opposite of us – the wife is Pagan and the husband is Christian.
As we move through this together I’ve found that open communication is critical to helping her understand what I’m learning and what I’m going through. But I also have to listen. It helps me to understand where she is on her path and how I can help her. I try not to be as selfish and remember that her beliefs are just as sacred to her as mine are to me, even if I don’t follow her path. In other words, she deserves from me what I’m asking of her.
The signpost for me is that although changes can happen quickly we have to take the time and effort to acclimate to them. I’ve had to work on being more patient, allowing my wife to take in all that has changed in our lives, and work on my communication. She tries to learn and understand more about my path and support me. She wants to know where I am spiritually and truly wants me to be happy. Things aren’t perfect between us but we’re closer than we have been – she even attends some Pagan events with me and I attend Christian events with her.
Life is interesting and we should embrace the things that make it so. We each believe in something that is truly fantastic and amazing, even if that something is very different.
Anyone out there in a “mixed relationship”? How do you cope with the differences without becoming little more than roommates? Does your partner participate in your rituals? Do you participate in theirs?