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Have you ever left a church your family still attends?


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Has anyone here ever made a decision, independent of their spouse, to stop attending church - either church in general or simply a particular church you've been attending? If your spouse wasn't supportive of your decision, how did you handle that fallout? What about church members who are unaware of the situation (simply because there is no relationship) but who insist on being "Nosy Nellies?"

 

 

To explain this particular situation, I stopped going to our church a couple of years ago. It was sort of a gradual thing, and then I finally told DH that I was going to take an extended break and re-evaluate after the following New Year. This was last year, and I told him that I just wasn't ready to go back, maybe never would, but I wasn't closing the door completely. The reasons are unimportant and I don't want this to devolve into church-bashing so I'll leave it at that. Needless to say, DH has been decidedly unsupportive, often pushy, manipulative, and verging on bullying to try to get me to return. The one or two times that others have asked where I am, he has sort of skirted the question. Apparently, last week someone (that we barely know and have zero relationship with) asked him where he was living now and DH got a very strong impression that the man thought we were divorced. *sigh* I'm frustrated with the whole situation. While I'm sympathetic to DH's feelings, I don't think I should have to go just to make an appearance for the nosy busy-body club and make DH feel "more normal." Also, to be clear, I have NEVER asked him to lie about where I am or what I'm doing. I have no problem with him answering honestly or even just saying, "she's taking a break." Whatever, I really don't care about their opinions... but he does.

 

Honestly, I've come to a point where I'm contemplating getting a job where I have to work on Sundays just to make the whole situation easier for everyone. At this point, I dread Sundays so working couldn't possibly be worse.

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When my husband was a teenager, his dad stopped attending the denomination of his upbringing (Mennonite - so there was a strong ethnic dimension) and went to another church, while his mother kept attending the Mennonite church. They seem to have a supportive relationship and, though awkward, I think they made it work. They now attend a third denomination together.

 

Your situation does sound frustrating! Supporting each other seems important to me, and I'm sorry you don't feel that from your DH. Since you can't change his behavior, maybe you could concentrate on supporting his decision to stay at the church by occasionally (ie, a couple times a year) attending an event there. Busybodies are good at dividing people and I'd try to avoid letting them do that to you and your DH.

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I just went through a very similar experience. After awhile I finally just told DH that I didn't plan on going to church, but that if I did want to go I would let him know. That alleviated a lot of the conflict and stress. We moved and I am attending church again, but the circumstances are completely different. I'm sorry you're going through that. It is heart wrenching for the whole family. PM me any time!

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Yes, I have. It was during a time when several factors combined to make church attendance something I decided I was unwilling to do. I've been a life-long Christian/church attender so this is a big statement, if you will.

 

The reasons: My marriage was in a bit of a rough spot (not headed for divorce court but in a rough spot). I had become increasingly dissatisfied with the church we had long attended, and dh was unwilling to look at leaving the church. I was angry at God.

 

I took about six months and worked through some things alone at home every Sunday morning while my dh took the kids and went to church. I felt some guilt, only because of the kids. But I was unwilling to not be genuine at that point in my life and go when I had no desire. Dh was very disturbed by my not going, and I'm sure there were people who thought we were separated, but he did not pressure me. He just silently prayed and was patient. I actually went through a similar experience a few years prior but it didn't last as long. During that time, he invited the pastor and his wife over to talk to me because he was so disturbed. During that meeting, the pastor and his wife were lovely, caring and nonpressuring. The pastor told me some very reassuring things that really hit home for me. They just loved on me and then left, no pressure or guilt. I still remember some of the things that were said to me. They were a balm to my soul.

 

Back to the more recent church break. :) I had a very spiritual experience while listening to a hymn on youtube as my family was a church. I was alone and worked things out for the time between God and me. I kept the details private for over a year and long after I had started attending church again, I shared with dh my experience.

 

We have since left our church and found another, which was not a smoothe or easy transition, as dh does not move or change. Ever. But he did. He knew we needed to - it just took him some time to get there. In the end, I think there was great benefit to me "leaving the church" and taking a sabbatical. I'm back. I'm better. I never pretended. I think that is a better way for me to have worked this one out.

 

I share all of the openly because I have no shame about any of it and in the hope that it can help you, OP, or maybe someone else. I'm an open book here. (((hugs)))

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For you is it THAT church or just church in general? If it is just that particular church, is your dh open to visiting other churches together?

 

 

I would be open to trying another church, but he is not. He agrees with a lot of the issues I have but for him, none of them are reason enough to go elsewhere. For about a year before all this started I went to a new church started by the son of the home-church's pastor. I was okay with it, but DH decided to go back to the home-church because he didn't like that it wasn't a "real" church. As in, they are very laid back, met in a school etc.

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Your situation does sound frustrating! Supporting each other seems important to me, and I'm sorry you don't feel that from your DH. Since you can't change his behavior, maybe you could concentrate on supporting his decision to stay at the church by occasionally (ie, a couple times a year) attending an event there. Busybodies are good at dividing people and I'd try to avoid letting them do that to you and your DH.

 

 

Actually, I do end up going a couple of times a year already. We are on the "twice a year mandatory nursery rotation" so I go to those and I've been once or twice already this year though for the life of me I can't remember why. I will probably go Father's Day as well.

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Could you say something like, "I will continue to attend church with you once in awhile, but please do not continue to ask me or attempt to convince me to attend beyond that." That's what worked for me.

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I can't tell you how reassuring this is to me. You know, reading what you wrote reminds me that when I pulled away and said I would reevaluate after the new year, I really didn't. Even when I said that, it was an excuse and I had already made up my mind that I was done. I was not being honest with myself or with DH at the time so I had given him false hope that I would return.

 

Your husband sounds a LOT like mine, too. He does not change. Ever. For any reason. The idea of going to a different church is so far beyond out of the question for him I would have better results suggesting that we take our next vacation on the moon.

 

In this situation, for a variety of reasons, discussing with the pastor is very much not an option, but I'm glad you had positive results.

 

 

Yes, I have. It was during a time when several factors combined to make church attendance something I decided I was unwilling to do. I've been a life-long Christian/church attender so this is a big statement, if you will.

 

The reasons: My marriage was in a bit of a rough spot (not headed for divorce court but in a rough spot). I had become increasingly dissatisfied with the church we had long attended, and dh was unwilling to look at leaving the church. I was angry at God.

 

I took about six months and worked through some things alone at home every Sunday morning while my dh took the kids and went to church. I felt some guilt, only because of the kids. But I was unwilling to not be genuine at that point in my life and go when I had no desire. Dh was very disturbed by my not going, and I'm sure there were people who thought we were separated, but he did not pressure me. He just silently prayed and was patient. I actually went through a similar experience a few years prior but it didn't last as long. During that time, he invited the pastor and his wife over to talk to me because he was so disturbed. During that meeting, the pastor and his wife were lovely, caring and nonpressuring. The pastor told me some very reassuring things that really hit home for me. They just loved on me and then left, no pressure or guilt. I still remember some of the things that were said to me. They were a balm to my soul.

 

Back to the more recent church break. :) I had a very spiritual experience while listening to a hymn on youtube as my family was a church. I was alone and worked things out for the time between God and me. I kept the details private for over a year and long after I had started attending church again, I shared with dh my experience.

 

We have since left our church and found another, which was not a smoothe or easy transition, as dh does not move or change. Ever. But he did. He knew we needed to - it just took him some time to get there. In the end, I think there was great benefit to me "leaving the church" and taking a sabbatical. I'm back. I'm better. I never pretended. I think that is a better way for me to have worked this one out.

 

I share all of the openly because I have no shame about any of it and in the hope that it can help you, OP, or maybe someone else. I'm an open book here. (((hugs)))

 

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I've been on both sides.

 

Here's our tale...

dh left a church while the kids and I kept attending. I was fine with it and wanted dh to be where he needed to be.

 

As the one still at dh's former church: Even though I felt at home in that church I felt a bit lonely without dh. I didn't lie but it did feel funny telling people where dh was...idk, it just felt like they were sort of insulted at someone leaving their church, kwim? Ultimately, without dh there I was treated differently. The kids and I joined dh at the church he was attending and now we are in a third church that is the best fit for our family.

 

In a nutshell, I found that things didn't stay the same for the kids and I when dh stopped attending. The way things changed made me realize that this group of people wasn't "family" like I thought. To just be "part of a club" wasn't worth our family going separate ways on Sundays so we went with dh.

 

So, the church we joined dh at? That ended up a disaster and I stopped attending. Being home alone on Sunday was a wonderful, restorative time for me. I put in appearances but each one completely drained me/upset me. That's when we found our current church.

 

From my experience, putting in an appearance isn't worth it. Also, it seems this church doesn't know your family well enough to ask/care and is just making assumptions. It could be your dh is realizing, even unconsciously, that this church isn't really family after all and that's upsetting/distressing.

 

I do hope this all works out for you.

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I would encourage you to try to be patient, because maybe in all of this your DH is slowly changing. I know it's really difficult. My heart goes out to you.

 

Today we didn't go to church, because we were traveling. This would have never been allowed by DH a year ago! Tonight we are trying a church of a different denomination. That would have never happened in the past either. So much has changed for the good. Hang in there!

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So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say something that isn't gonna be very "popular" and I'll probably get a "bashing" for saying it, but here it goes. Have you ever thought of submitting to your husband and attending church with him? Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord." Notice that this command isn't conditional. It doesn't say, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as long as he's doing what you want to do and you're getting your way." Also, 1 Peter 3:1 says, "...[husbands] may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives." I can't help but think that maybe if you'd be willing to attend church with him WILLINGLY and without any COMPLAINING, that perhaps he will eventually be open to discussing attending another church of your choice, or at least trying it out. I have found that when I CHOOSE to OBEY God's word and submit to my husband, not only is my marriage/life much better, but my husband is more open and willing to agree with me on issues of disagreement between us.

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So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say something that isn't gonna be very "popular" and I'll probably get a "bashing" for saying it, but here it goes. Have you ever thought of submitting to your husband and attending church with him? Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord." Notice that this command isn't conditional. It doesn't say, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as long as he's doing what you want to do and you're getting your way." Also, 1 Peter 3:1 says, "...[husbands] may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives." I can't help but think that maybe if you'd be willing to attend church with him WILLINGLY and without any COMPLAINING, that perhaps he will eventually be open to discussing attending another church of your choice, or at least trying it out. I have found that when I CHOOSE to OBEY God's word and submit to my husband, not only is my marriage/life much better, but my husband is more open and willing to agree with me on issues of disagreement between us.

 

 

Okay, I hope you don't see this as bashing, but I feel it's important that we not proof text this situation. If you read further in Ephesians, and take into account all the "one another" passages found throughout the New Testament, what you will see is a pattern of instruction for MUTUAL submission between believers. This means that as much as the wife might willingly attend to please her husband, the husband also must be willing to respect her need to take time out to reexamine her spiritual walk. When a woman meets her Maker, it's just the two of them - no husband in between them at the pearly gates!

 

OP, I understand your feelings, having been through times when I could discern a poor church fit months before my husband realized it. It is tough and an emotional place to be. Before being willing to admit a need for change, I know he dreaded the questions from others about where I was that he always got when i wasn't there. We have even had people - not true friends but church busy-bodies as described above - tell the pastor we had marriage problems! (I restrained myself from pointing out that they had violated their dearly held Matthew 18 policy by not coming directly to us...) The only marriage problems we have ever had have been those hefted upon us by hyperauthoritarian church leaders.

 

OP, I suggest that you do use the time you have away from Sunday church to examine your personal faith, and to sincerely talk with your husband about your spiritual needs. Please do not walk away from the church universal when the real problem is with local church polity, and not with the person of Christ and who He is to you.

 

Many hugs and prayers. Fight for your faith. Know where you stand. The clarity is worth the journey.

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So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say something that isn't gonna be very "popular" and I'll probably get a "bashing" for saying it, but here it goes. Have you ever thought of submitting to your husband and attending church with him? Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord." Notice that this command isn't conditional. It doesn't say, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as long as he's doing what you want to do and you're getting your way." Also, 1 Peter 3:1 says, "...[husbands] may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives."

 

No bashing here. Honestly, I assumed at some point someone was going to trot this out. About 10 yrs. ago I was you and probably would have said the same thing. The fact of the matter is though, I no longer believe that this is as much of a commandment as some would like to believe.

 

Most people will start and stop with Eph. 5:22. Sounds pretty straight up if you're just taking that one verse on its own. However, if you look at Eph 5:21 it says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." THAT, I believe is the overarching message here. It is not just saying, 'wives, do whatever your husband wants you to do because your husband is the boss-man.' It is telling us ALL to get along and think of others before ourselves. The subsequent verses, including the verses to husbands, children, slaves etc. are mere examples of how that looks.

 

When talking about one's personal relationship with Christ; however, I believe that comes before any wifely submission.

 

 

I can't help but think that maybe if you'd be willing to attend church with him WILLINGLY and without any COMPLAINING, that perhaps he will eventually be open to discussing attending another church of your choice, or at least trying it out. I have found that when I CHOOSE to OBEY God's word and submit to my husband, not only is my marriage/life much better, but my husband is more open and willing to agree with me on issues of disagreement between us.

 

 

In this particular situation, I don't care whether we look for a church "of my choice." I am perfectly happy to sit home or go to the park and study the Word of God with my Bible and maybe some reference materials or some other avenue. I have never once said that I want HIM to leave the church along with me. Certainly, if he wanted to and suggested looking for another church I would be open to it, but I am by no means saying 'that's what I want and by gosh I'm going to get my way or I'll just sit here and pout about it.' I am only saying, 'just like you feel that this church is right for you, this is what is right for me right now and I need you to respect that.'

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Okay, I hope you don't see this as bashing, but I feel it's important that we not proof text this situation. If you read further in Ephesians, and take into account all the "one another" passages found throughout the New Testament, what you will see is a pattern of instruction for MUTUAL submission between believers. This means that as much as the wife might willingly attend to please her husband, the husband also must be willing to respect her need to take time out to reexamine her spiritual walk. When a woman meets her Maker, it's just the two of them - no husband in between them at the pearly gates!

 

We were totally posting at the same time. :)

 

 

OP, I suggest that you do use the time you have away from Sunday church to examine your personal faith, and to sincerely talk with your husband about your spiritual needs. Please do not walk away from the church universal when the real problem is with local church polity, and not with the person of Christ and who He is to you.

 

Many hugs and prayers. Fight for your faith. Know where you stand. The clarity is worth the journey.

 

 

This made me a little teary for so many reasons. Thank you.

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(((hugs))) Contessa

 

There have been times in my marriage when I dutifully went along with dh's wishes on things, and that was the correct choice for us. But needed some time away from church and alone so that God might do some private work with me. It took time. It was restorative, though. It was cleansing. When I returned to that church with my family, the time away gave me patience with dh as he made the change to move to another church. That took about another year or so, maybe not quite that long. The church we are at now feels very much like home. It took visiting several churches to find it. The process of visiting churches was difficult. We had been at our prior church for 15 years. We were married in the church, our three youngest kids were dedicated in the church, and my mother's memorial service was at that church. My dh is close friends with the pastor. I am close friends with the pastor's wife. The threads between us were strong and long. So I tried my very best to have patience with dh while he walked out the decision to leave, as he was patient with me while I walked out my non attendance, which did not have a known end but was a one week at a time decision. One day, it was just okay for me to return. I was the only one who could decide when it was okay. I did not make the decision not to attend lightly. It weighed heavily on me at times....well, every Sunday when my dh and kids left without me.

 

I don't know what the outcome will be for you, OP, but, for me, answers were found in the seeking and even in the existing quietly. At the time I could not see it, but it was leading somewhere. More (((hugs)))

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Honestly, some people do not deal with change well at all. My mother and father stayed in a spiritually DEAD church at the expense of their marriage and my mother still attends there now. The reason for attending this church was simply that their parents had attended there and they were comfortable. You dh may find the idea of change too overwhelming to cope with. My mother could not stand the idea of leaving her church even when it offered no spiritual teaching or support for her family. I will say my mother does not manipulate other people into attending that church with her though. She is happy to go by herself. I think your dh may not be able to change, he may attend this church until he dies if you never have to move, but he needs to learn to be respectful to you if you don't go. For you to be comfortable with the situation he needs to acknowledge that manipulating your wife so that you does not have to change is not okay. As a matter of fact his behavior makes it clear to me that he is probably not getting life expanding teaching that he is willing to absorb to grow.

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My husband, who at one point had been in seminary and preached, had a crisis of faith and then became an atheist and stopped attending church with me, our kids, his parents, my parents and at the time both sets of grandparents (one from his side one from mine.) One church member foolishly asked my mother if my husband and I were separated because, apparently in her mind, not attending church equals separation or divorce(!??!) My mother said, "Why would you ask me that question. Ask her yourself." Of course anyone who started out NOT asking the me is clearly the kind of person who wouldn't ask me in person after mom pointed it out.

 

Anyway, a couple of people my husband had a bit of a relationship with tactfully asked if I thought my husband would like them to contact him to chat. I asked him. He said, "yes." They were good listeners and were very kind. It didn't change anything, but my husband said he felt loved by their attitudes.

 

Later I changed churches because of serious problems with leadership at that church. Also because it was prone to legalism and tradition. About 70% of the congregation left over about a 10 month period of time. The one I'm at now isn't a great fit for me, but I'm not sure the one that is exists.

 

I would not ever consider manipulating, bullying, pressuring, cajoling, guilting, or hassling anyone into attending church. Not only will it not work, but if someone sincerely for any reason doesn't want to be there, pushing them in the front door will only have a corrupting influence on the church just like if a believer showing up for the wrong reasons will have a corrupting influence on the church. Only the people who genuinely want to be there for the right reasons need to attend and people are capable of regulating themselves in this manner. No one need decide for anyone other than themselves. They need to respect where other people are spiritually and be open to listening and answering any questions the person might have. And no, I don't force my kids to go to church once they're teens. They're free to attend or not as they please. One of my teens does and the other doesn't.

 

It's possible you don't share the same faith. It's possible you're attending the wrong denomination. It's possible you need time alone with God. It's possible you're going to the wrong kind of church within your denomination. It's possible any one of many other things could be going on. I'm sorry you're being hassled. I know a little bit of how your husband might feel right now, but it sounds like what he's doing is counter productive.

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I really think this depends on so many circumstances. If it is just a matter of not being really "fed" at this church, i'd go just to show my support of him. Not because I agree, but to be supportive. If, however, you have somewhere else you wish to worship, than that is different. But if it is just sit home and watch tv, or go to church and sit respectfully beside him, I think you should go. My husband does with me on occaision and it means the world to me. I know he isn't there for himself, he is there for me, and I feel so loved when he does it.

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Yes, I stopped going to the church my husband and children were attending. It was hard, but my husband was supportive. He & the kids also eventually left that particular church. The kids started coming with me, but my husband didn't for a very long time. He's attending with us now, but I don't think he'll join anytime soon.

 

That's my story in a nutshell.

 

 

But, what I found is that we did get pressure from some friends who are of the "husband is the spiritual leader of the household" type of belief. They completely discounted my own personal convictions because I guess I was just supposed to fall in lock-step with whatever my husband said. Thankfully, my husband respected me (not that it's always been easy for us, but I know it could have been much worse). But, anyway... I know you don't want this thread to deevolved into bashing... but is it possible your husband is getting a lot of pressure from his church friends, and that's where this is coming from? I'm very sorry that your husband is being like this toward you and your decision. I wish I had some words of wisdom to impart. :grouphug: It sound incredibly frustrating.

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DH has been decidedly unsupportive, often pushy, manipulative, and verging on bullying to try to get me to return. The one or two times that others have asked where I am, he has sort of skirted the question. Apparently, last week someone (that we barely know and have zero relationship with) asked him where he was living now and DH got a very strong impression that the man thought we were divorced. *sigh* I'm frustrated with the whole situation. While I'm sympathetic to DH's feelings, I don't think I should have to go just to make an appearance for the nosy busy-body club and make DH feel "more normal." Also, to be clear, I have NEVER asked him to lie about where I am or what I'm doing. I have no problem with him answering honestly or even just saying, "she's taking a break." Whatever, I really don't care about their opinions... but he does.

 

 

 

Have you had an opportunity to help dh explore his thoughts and feelings about the situation? Could it be that he feels awkward going by himself? Does it put him in situations where he feels judged by others, or where he feels he has to explain why you don't attend but doesn't really have the right words for it, or where he feels vulnerable because he is assumed to be single?

 

Sometimes dh's just need a sounding board for their feelings, and maybe someone to help them think through the situation and give some suggestions for handling it. When your dh gets pushy about you attending, can you focus on the *feeling* behind it, rather than the words? Can you voice what you think he is feeling, and then give him a chance to explain a little better or clarify things? Giving him an opportunity to talk through things from *his* perspective may help you both to brainstorm solutions that work for the whole family. It might be as simple as coming up with appropriate/diplomatic responses when folks ask him about where you are. Understand that while *you* don't care what these people think, *he* is the one who has to see them every week. If they are putting pressure on him (whether or not they intend to), he may be bringing that pressure home to you. Help him figure out how to deflect it instead of bringing it home.

 

I'm not saying you need to go with him. But there may be things you can do to help it be a less stressful experience for him to go alone.

 

Also - does he take the children? Is there any stress associated with that? Can you help him navigate that end of things?

 

Sometimes we have "mom skills" we take for granted, but dh's may need a little help. :-)

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I'm in the same type of situation. I lost faith in the denomination I was born, raised, and married in. Dh still believes. He has only gone and taken the children a couple of times since I stopped attending in November because he has fatigue issues. Thankfully, we haven't been hounded by members of our congregation. My issues are with the doctrine, not the people.

 

I've been doing lessons from Peter Enns's Telling God's Story with the kids on Sundays. I'm enjoying a different and more Christ-focused perspective. I have been very cautious about attending other denominations. There is a denomination that I like more than the others I've investigated. It is related to the denomination I left with some very profound and refreshing differences. I plan to attend the meetings they hold for people like me (disaffected members of the church of my youth) as often as I can. Dh even said he'd be willing to come sometime.

 

I don't know that I'm interested in weekly Sunday services. I'm enjoying our relaxed, family-focused Sundays with a short lesson and discussion. However, if dh liked this other denomination enough to want to attend it, I would be willing because I agree with its overall message and focus.

 

Dh was sad and scared when I told him that I needed to stop attending church. Our current denomination really emphasizes regular church attendance as well as complying with a laundry list of other standards and rules. He realized that church wasn't just unfulfilling for me, though--it was actively causing me pain every time I went. He knew he couldn't ask me to go under those circumstances. His one request is that I don't speak negatively about the church to him because he still believes in it. My one request is that he not push or badger me into attending.

 

So, we're making it work, but it is a delicate process. I hope you find a better way to handle this issue with your husband.

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I think what the previous posters have mentioned is very important. Change. Some people cannot handle any change to the normalcy of their daily lives. Dh needs to be sensitive to your spiritual needs as well, not just his. As far as putting in a token appearance, why? Winning approval points from strangers isn't going to strengthen your spiritual relationship with God. It seems like that is what this time is about for you. :grouphug:

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But, anyway... I know you don't want this thread to deevolved into bashing... but is it possible your husband is getting a lot of pressure from his church friends, and that's where this is coming from?

 

He doesn't have church friends. The church is one of about 1,000 people, give or take, and there is really no relationship with any of them. The few people who have asked are people who only know us superficially from sitting in the same area every week, nursery, etc. but aren't friends. This is a big part of it though. He is very, very concerned with other people's opinions and perceptions where I am the complete opposite.

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Have you had an opportunity to help dh explore his thoughts and feelings about the situation? Could it be that he feels awkward going by himself? Does it put him in situations where he feels judged by others, or where he feels he has to explain why you don't attend but doesn't really have the right words for it, or where he feels vulnerable because he is assumed to be single?

 

Sometimes dh's just need a sounding board for their feelings, and maybe someone to help them think through the situation and give some suggestions for handling it. When your dh gets pushy about you attending, can you focus on the *feeling* behind it, rather than the words? Can you voice what you think he is feeling, and then give him a chance to explain a little better or clarify things? Giving him an opportunity to talk through things from *his* perspective may help you both to brainstorm solutions that work for the whole family. It might be as simple as coming up with appropriate/diplomatic responses when folks ask him about where you are. Understand that while *you* don't care what these people think, *he* is the one who has to see them every week. If they are putting pressure on him (whether or not they intend to), he may be bringing that pressure home to you. Help him figure out how to deflect it instead of bringing it home.

 

I'm not saying you need to go with him. But there may be things you can do to help it be a less stressful experience for him to go alone.

 

Also - does he take the children? Is there any stress associated with that? Can you help him navigate that end of things?

 

Sometimes we have "mom skills" we take for granted, but dh's may need a little help. :-)

 

Yes, we have had very extensive discussions about the situation on several occasions. I have laid out my opinions and he has laid out his. From his own mouth, his only concerns are that it makes him feel awkward, the perception of others, and that I am setting a bad example for our son. He admits that his concern is not for my actual spiritual health. You are right in that others probably think he is now single and that bothers him. We are ones that don't wear wedding rings either, so that probably doesn't help matters. I've given him ideas for what he could say like, "she's taking a break," "she's home today" etc. though, to be honest, the number of times people have actually asked where I am number far fewer than the number of times he thinks people are looking about him and talking about him behind his back about it.

 

Yes, he takes our son. There really isn't much of an issue with that because he is 14 and pretty self-sufficient. He does think I'm setting a bad example for him though. I've discussed the issue in general terms with DS, not going into great detail but just trying to help him understand why they go and I don't. He also knows that if anyone asks him where I am he should be honest and just say, "she's at home."

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Okay, I hope you don't see this as bashing, but I feel it's important that we not proof text this situation. If you read further in Ephesians, and take into account all the "one another" passages found throughout the New Testament, what you will see is a pattern of instruction for MUTUAL submission between believers. This means that as much as the wife might willingly attend to please her husband, the husband also must be willing to respect her need to take time out to reexamine her spiritual walk. When a woman meets her Maker, it's just the two of them - no husband in between them at the pearly gates!

 

 

Many hugs and prayers. Fight for your faith. Know where you stand. The clarity is worth the journey.

 

And any man who would expect his wife attend when she has a problem with the church, does not love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it. Why is it the submit thing always gets tossed into these situations and NOT the other equalizing commandment?

 

Dh and I did not attend together for a period of one year, but for different reasons. We had a very sick little boy at home, and our pediatrician recommended a rather secluded life for him for a period of time so he could get well and strong again and stop picking up every communicable illness in the neighborhood (especially since most families thought nothing of bringing sick kids to church - grrrrr....). I found a church with a very early service that I could attend alone and then get back in time for dh to leave and attend the late service at our church. We weren't under the same church roof for about 13 months. In the end, we left our church because we were judged for it. Doctor's orders meant nothing to them. I was a "shrew" apparently for not bringing all the kids to church and being there with dh, and he was not "leading" the home by not forcing the issue. We have never attended another church with even a hint of patriarchial tendancy since then. The worst thing was that dh was in complete agreement that ds needed to be kept away from people and had no problem with our arrangement at.all. However, this meant nothing to the congregation or church leadership.

 

Ultimately, conscience matters most. As the other poster said, it's between the OP and God period. I hope that eventually the OP and her husband are able to come up with an equitable arrangement that satisfies both of their spiritual needs.

 

Faith

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Justasque has a GREAT point. Part of what ticked me off when my DH stopped coming to church was that I didn't fit anywhere. I wasn't single, and u wasn't part of a couple. Not single parent, not young adult. And I didn't have a good reason for it as I had gone to a LOT OF TROUBLE to marry a church-goer. I had my life planned!!! I knew my DH had not lost his faith, but I had lost my place as Pillar of the Church. Argh!!!!!!!

 

In Orthodoxy, it is different and less stressful... But still a PITB for the Single-Marrieds.

 

 

 

I agree that the modern church, any denomination of Christianity, does pretty much nothing to be inclusive and welcoming of single people, marrieds not attending with spouses, widows and widowers who suddenly find themselves not fitting into their usual paradigm, etc. The nuclear group of any church family, as a general rule, doesn't accept change all that well. What I've seen is that in most cases, the person who doesn't "fit" and especially if they did before but have had a change in circumstances that has caused them to not "fit", is best off starting fresh with a new congregation where that church family will get to know you in your here and now situation and not your previous circumstances so that they are not adjusting to a new perception.

 

It ought to be easier if everyone would just do what Jesus did, love unconditionally and stop being busybodies - and if the busybody nonsense would stop, people wouldn't be so darn concerned with everyone else's perceptions. Unfortunately, flawed humans don't really do this particularly well and some, especially with group-think involved, are particularly hampered.

 

My RC friends have had to leave their parish. I was shocked because I thought this group would be very supportive. But, her husband has leukemia and can't get his blood counts into a range that would allow him to attend church safely - he's pretty housebound - and she has to work two Sundays each month - she's a pediatric nurse. They were sending their children to church with grandpa just to help keep some version of normalcy for them when mom is working, but this was so badly gossiped about that they felt unwelcome. They've started attending a new parish and since that church family is not used to a vision in their heads of her and her husband and kids all together at once, they don't seem to have an issue with the kids attending with grandpa and her half-time attendance at Mass. Kind of boggled my mind that they had to leave the church they've attended for 20 years.

 

Faith

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Have you had an opportunity to help dh explore his thoughts and feelings about the situation? Could it be that he feels awkward going by himself? Does it put him in situations where he feels judged by others, or where he feels he has to explain why you don't attend but doesn't really have the right words for it, or where he feels vulnerable because he is assumed to be single?

 

This was my first thought, even though it might not be applicable to your husband.

 

My husband travels for work (all the time). Before we moved here, there were times when I would simply stay home from church if he was out of town, because it was awkward to be there without a husband. In fact, there were times when -- perhaps I'm imagining it, LOL -- a person who didn't know I was married would interact in a way that indicated interest. KWIM? I said to my husband, "Honey, we have to get this wedding ring resized, so I don't have to ward off my many suitors at church." ;) I'm only partly kidding here. I don't wear my ring around the house (catches on things), but I put it on to go to church -- lest there be confusion.

 

Seriously, for many single people, church is a place for scoping people out, you know? Oh, look, a man! Is he cute? Is he single? Is he divorced? Widowed? If he comes across as being available, he will have a greater resale value. :) Single women will want to know. A man who is obviously married or committed -- wife or girlfriend sitting alongside him -- is not going to be or feel as vulnerable as a man who shows up week after week with these poor, adorable, "motherless" children and no wife.

 

Now at this church, I feel completely safe, even when my husband is out of town for weeks at a time. Everyone there knows that we are MARRIED, that he travels, that he is OK, and so on. I don't constantly get asked, "Where's ____?" every week, in the sense of, "Why isn't your husband at church with you?" People just know he's somewhere out there doing his job. I do get asked, "Where's ____?" in the sense of, "What state is he in this week?" That's a comfortable question, but it used to be awkward to go without him.

 

All the men at this church relate to me like brothers or uncles. It's refreshing. I wonder if your husband feels vulnerable because too many women are attracted to his apparent "singleness," even though he may wear a ring? You might be surprised at how that ring won't deter some people! Even at church.

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I just wanted to say thank you for all of your thoughtful responses. Whether it was something with which agree or not, your taking the time to share your own stories and opinions has been greatly appreciated. You've all given me a lot to think about.

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My situation is a little different. We had been attending a church for approximately 10 years. Last year my stepfather died and I did a lot of soul searching. I had an experience that led me back to the church of my youth. These two churches couldn't be further on the Christian spectrum. I knew I had to follow my heart. I left and found tremendous peace. My husband actually agreed with me and came as well. The problem is that our two teen daughters have stayed at the original church. Our two youngest have come with dh and I. It has been complicated but we are working on it. We attend with our daughters if there is something special that parents should attend but not with any regularity. I also ask that they attend church with us occasionally so we can be together. It is hard since these two churches have very different foundational doctrinal differences. But we are learning how to be respectful of each person's choice. My husband's family also attends the original church which just complicates the matter. They seem supportive about my choice but they also have concerns.

 

I am now a firm believer that you must be authentic in your own life. Going to a church just because your husband wants you to is not a good idea IMHO. Everyone needs to be respectful of that decision.

 

I know how hard it is to go your own way. It takes courage to find your own path.

 

Blessings!

 

Elise in NC

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I am posting from my phone (still no Internet at our new house), so I didn't read everything. I may have missed something, forgive me if I am repeating?

 

Are you attending church elsewhere? Maybe if you got serious about attending church on your own, then he would see that you do not intend to go back?

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I have done this twice, but in circumstances different from those of OP. Both times occurred because of unbearable situations in the parish. Never, though, was it because I wanted a different religion (or no religion). In the first event, I went nowhere for six months, in order to heal. I resumed attending church at a different parish, and the rest of the family joined me there within three months. . . . In the second event, the parish was bleeding to death by serious events. I left to attend a different parish, in order to free myself spiritually and emotionally from the disaster. (My confessor was the priest at this other parish, and I had friends there already.) My dh wanted to leave also, but two of our children did not wish to leave the only parish home they could remember. I spent over two years by myself at the other parish. Eight or nine months ago, dd decided of her own free will to switch to my parish, freeing dh to come too. Very shortly thereafter, our eldest and his wife also switched, in order to be with us, as well as to avoid some of the remaining "stuff". Two of our sons still attend the former parish, for their own respective reasons. (They are young adults, so make their own choices.) They sometimes come with the rest of the family to our present church because they, also, have close friends there.

 

As for other people's (mis)perceptions and reactions, there were painful experiences for me. The first time included me losing my best friendship formed since moving to this large city because she was instructed to drop me completely. The second time included some lies spread about me by a few people. I go back there for weddings, baptisms, and funerals, but always feel very uncomfortable.

 

Both times, my husband was my greatest staff and support. He understood the problems with which I struggled, and truly sympathized with my determination to do what was spiritually healthy for me. We both hurt inside, having a "split-parish" family, but both times the situation was resolved happily in the end. We are not thrilled about still being a split-parish family, but we can live with it for personal reasons that render it "ok". We never make such momentous decisions without consulting a trustworthy priest (or more than one) for guidance.

 

For OP, I have no answers, in that I do not know her personally. She is having a hard time, and I wish her a peaceful, happy resolution.

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I am posting from my phone (still no Internet at our new house), so I didn't read everything. I may have missed something, forgive me if I am repeating?

 

Are you attending church elsewhere? Maybe if you got serious about attending church on your own, then he would see that you do not intend to go back?

 

 

I'm not currently attending anywhere, just doing my own thing at home. However, there is a church not far from here that I just recently learned about that I'm interested in checking out. I mentioned the possibility of me going to a different church to DH and his response was, "that would be even weirder." I feel like I can't win.

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I agree that the modern church, any denomination of Christianity, does pretty much nothing to be inclusive and welcoming of single people, marrieds not attending with spouses, widows and widowers who suddenly find themselves not fitting into their usual paradigm, etc.

 

 

I cannot disagree with your experience, of course. It makes me sad, though. The passage leapt out at me because this has NOT been my experience in any of our parishes. Not at all. Makes me powerfully grateful for how things have been (and are).

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Are you against things about the church your DH is at, or just not into it? If it was really important to my DH, and I wasn't AGAINST what was being preached at his church, I'd try to go and sit with him respectfully. And then do my own thing later with the expectation that he would either watch the kids so I could do so, or go with me if I was going to another church and wanted his company. But, if what was going on was truly against my beliefs, and I couldn't sit there without feeling I was being imoral in some way, then I wouldn't go, of course.

 

I'm on the opposite side...I go to church and my husband stays home. I was Catholic when we married, but he was Episcopal and I'd been raised Episcopal most of my life. He was more comfortable in that church, so in the spirit of keeping the family together we went there together. Later, he stopped really attending, and preferred to stay home while I took the kids. So now I'm back at the Catholic church, as I see no reason to keep attending the church that makes him more comfortable if he isn't even going.

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Are you against things about the church your DH is at, or just not into it? If it was really important to my DH, and I wasn't AGAINST what was being preached at his church, I'd try to go and sit with him respectfully.

 

 

My understanding was that she had a problem with things going on in the congregation.

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Are you against things about the church your DH is at, or just not into it? If it was really important to my DH, and I wasn't AGAINST what was being preached at his church, I'd try to go and sit with him respectfully. And then do my own thing later with the expectation that he would either watch the kids so I could do so, or go with me if I was going to another church and wanted his company. But, if what was going on was truly against my beliefs, and I couldn't sit there without feeling I was being imoral in some way, then I wouldn't go, of course.

 

Katie,

 

My issues are not doctrinal ones, but with the leadership. I know that's very vague, but I don't want to discuss specifics publicly. It is not; however, an issue such as style of worship, casual vs. formal dress etc. Those are things I could get over because they're simply preferences.

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