...are the ones that make the biggest difference

5.17.2006

Gotta know when to hold 'em....

For no particular reason, things have seemingly come to a head in regards to the wife's and mine's exploration of Orthodoxy. We got into a little bit of an argument on Sunday over whether or not to start crossing ourselves during the liturgy. I've been doing it in my private prayers for some time, but out of consideration for her, I have not done it during the liturgy and wanted to start only when she was comfortable doing it together. We went to my mother-in-law's church service early Sunday morning before the liturgy for Mother's Day and then went to get coffee at a local cafe before heading over to St Nick's. We were having a pleasant conversation when I made the mistake of asking if she wanted to start crossing that morning. I've asked before and been rebuffed, but figured it was worth a shot. Things got a bit tense, which we resolved after church, and we ended up talking about Orthodoxy later that night. Basically, its coming down to the fact that the wife has stopped making forward progress in this journey, and frankly, doesn't want to go any further. She isn't saying 'no' to continuing to go to the Orthodox church and is willing to keep exploring, but she seemingly isn't able to get past any of the major issues she has with it. She hasn't gotten any more comfortable with the veneration of the saints and the Theotokos, is still troubled by the apparent lack of evangelism (only one person, a 13 year old girl, joined the parish this Pashca) and stumbles on the point of the sacraments. And the thing is, she doesn't really want to get past or accomodate herself to those things. There are also other problems that are probably quite parish-specific, namely, a lack of teaching and the fact that we haven't made any reasonably close connections with anyone in the parish during our time there.

So now I'm left wondering if its time to throw in the towel. I am not willing to join without her, primarily because we're probably going to start trying to have kids once I've got school almost finished and how would we raise them? And in the short term, we're both really struggling with the tension this is causing in our marriage. We know a guy from St Nick's who took 6 years of going back and forth before he was finally able to decide on Orthodoxy, so I still hold onto hope that even if we did stop our exploration at this point, there might still be a chance in the future. But I really don't know what to do. I'm not sure where we'd go, if I'm up for "church shopping" or if I'm ready to call it quits.

3 comments:

The Scrivener said...

Before my wife and I finally ended up on the same page and became Orthodox we went through probably about six years of being in very different places in terms of faith issues. She dragged me to Presbyterian churches for a while. I dragged her to Roman Catholic churches. We argued about sacraments, TULIP doctrines, predestination, veneration of the saints, Mary, etc. all the time. There were times when I thought I was willing to become Roman Catholic -and then, Orthodox- without her. But I'm so glad I didn't push it like that. Eventually, thank God, it worked out.

Benedict Seraphim said...

Patience, dear brother. You are a man, and thus your thumos is in high gear. But exercise patience.

For me, I've been on the road to Orthodoxy for about six years now, if you count my initial flirtations. I've been serious about it for four. My wife is perhaps more open to it at this point in time than yours, but just realize this takes time.

If she's still willing to go to services, go. Be sensitive to her needs and comfort. God will not divide you over this matter, so don't push to the point of division.

Be at peace. Know you're prayed for.

Hilarius said...

Amen to both my friends' comments above . . . although I'm not sure what a thumos is but I suspect it doesn't hold hot coffee!

Seriously - having faced similar major setbacks and seeming 'show-stopper' moments, I think you should continue to be patient, and rejoice that your wife is willing to go to Liturgy with you and that you share at least common belief in Christ as Lord and Savior. Not all of us have even that.

I would also encourage you to talk to your priest, as he might have some very sound counsel in these matters. I don't know whether you both have been able to go to an inquirers class or similar instruction (perhaps your parish doesn't do this?), but it's sometimes a better place to hear things than from the excited husband's mouth.

Anyway - you are in my prayers as well.