Mystical Matters: Dealing with Spiritual Differences in Key Relationships

Dear Kajama:

I am very spiritual in nature. I feel my husband has many spiritual gifts but they are so strong that he shuts them and the idea of spirituality out completely. How can I get him to accept his gifts and not be afraid of them? How can I find a way to flourish spiritually without feeling like I have to hide what is so natural to me? I was born May 27, 1983.

Angela

This is a very common problem in relationships, especially long-term partnerships like marriage, because even if people start out on the same page spiritually (which is highly unlikely), over time their paths tend to diverge. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a problem unless you choose to make it one. Let me explain.

I have been married twice, once unhappily and once very happily, and in neither relationship were we on the same page spiritually. My first husband was a left-brained, logical engineer who was very science-oriented. My current husband is a very physical firefighter who tends to live in the now and is far from philosophical by nature. Interestingly, my first husband was actually more intrigued by spiritual experiences than my current husband, most likely because we were living together when I underwent a sudden psychic awakening. As he witnessed me experience one mind boggling event after another, it would have been hard to just ignore what was happening with me. I also often sought his help in trying to determine if I was losing my mind. We were both profoundly affected when my strange experiences proved psychically valid.

Given that my career is entirely spiritual in nature, one might assume that I would seek highly spiritual partners. While I do have a bevy of wonderful spiritual friends, I have never considered being overtly “spiritual” to be an essential quality in a partner. What IS essential is respect. Though they haven’t shared my particular interests or beliefs, both of my husbands respected my intelligence, how important spirituality is to me, and the potential validity of my beliefs. In my opinion, mutual respect is the key to a healthy relationship with anyone. If you feel disrespected for who you are spiritually, then the problem is not your husband’s lack of spiritual interest, it’s his lack of respect for who you are and how you think.

Here’s the thing about respect in relationships: it has to go both ways. To get respect, we must give it. I don’t know how your husband really feels about you and your spirituality, but it’s pretty clear that you don’t respect where he currently is in this area of his life, for you feel he “should be” more like you.

There are very few people in my own life who match my passion for spiritual study and exploration. While I treasure the kindred spirits who do share my interests, that doesn’t mean I love and treasure those who don’t any less. I consider my husband to be very spiritual in his own way. He is a lover par excellence; he has a huge heart. He also has his own special wisdom, as we all do. He is the happiest, most easygoing person I have ever met – far moreso than I tend to be. While some may call him “simple,” there is great wisdom in simplicity. At it’s heart, life is simply about learning to love and be happy, so though my husband shows no interest in spiritual books or psychic abilities or even “the meaning of life,” every day he spiritually kicks my butt in ways that really matter.

Through many years of spiritual readings and counseling sessions, I have come to trust that everyone is just where they need to be on their own spiritual paths. For some people, this means they are still looking to outside sources like organized religion for answers. Others are deeply engaged in an extraordinary personal dialogue with the Divine. Everyone is doing their own thing in their own way, for there are as many spiritual paths as there are souls in existence. This diversity is beautiful! We don’t need people to be just like us in order to love them or get along with them; we just need to respect each other, by which I mean that we don’t assume that what we believe is necessarily more valid than what they believe. Certainly, where you are spiritually is NOT better for your husband, or he would be there himself. He is just where he needs to be, as are you.

My son is very psychically gifted. He also said all sorts of amazing spiritual things when he was just learning to talk. For example, he could remember “God” from before he was born, and he was very surprised to learn that not everyone could. (He described God as a “big beautiful light that is all love.”) In his teenage years, he decided to put all of his faith in “science” and is now a devout atheist. I believe this is in part a reaction to me being a minister and him trying to find his own identity. While in some ways, this seems like a waste of tremendous psychic and spiritual potential, I am at peace with it, for I know that he is just where he needs to be, and if he needs to change somehow spiritually, he will do that in his own time and way.

As I believe that there is nothing more sacred than our spiritual beliefs, I am very quiet about spiritual matters in my personal life. Most people who are casually acquainted with me believe me to be nothing more than a writer and editor who creates website content. For years, that was all my own stepchildren knew, and they lived in my house! Over the years, I have refined my ability to sense when someone will be open to my spiritual views versus when someone will be somehow uncomfortable or threatened by them. This has enabled me to open up a bit more, though I still err on the safe side. As I aim to love everyone and accept where they are spiritually, I stay mum about spiritual matters when I’m with people who may not be comfortable with my beliefs.

You don’t have to share the same path or spiritual beliefs to have a great relationship. I adore my best friend and she has no interest in spiritual matters whatsoever. I have another friend who is very happily married to her husband of some 30 years. She is an atheist and he is a devout Muslim. She loves to travel the world, and he prefers to stay home. They honor and respect the differences between them, so their marriage works beautifully. She no longer tries to get him to travel, and though he never drinks alcohol himself, he doesn’t frown upon her when she indulges and even allows us to bring wine to the house for dinner parties. This is similar to a meat eater being married to a vegetarian or to any other fundamental difference in belief or lifestyle.

We all tend to want to make others more like us, yet we very much dislike it when others try to reform us based on their own views. It’s not only okay to be different from those we love, it is inevitable and wonderful and far more interesting than it would be if we were all just alike. Diversity also helps us avoid getting dogmatic about our beliefs, for different outlooks prompt us to keep questioning what we assume to be true. Since we get what we give in life, I encourage you to respect where your husband is spiritually as just right for him, and look for the special ways he is already wise and wonderful.

Kajama