Religion vs Spirituality: Which Is Best for Your Marriage?

When you decide to get married you get to sort through all kinds of questions. Who will be in your wedding party? What will the dress code be? Where will you go on your honeymoon? These are definitely important questions, but have you asked yourselves some of the really BIG questions such as…

  • Where does religion or sprituality fit into our relationship?
  • Will we go to Church every week?
  • Will we raise our children in a faith community?
  • Or are we searching for something else?

Don’t worry. If you’re ready to walk down the aisle but don’t know about the “hereafter”, you’re not alone. So many of the couples who come to me for premarital counseling share that they are “spiritual” but don’t really know what it means to them. Many of them have grown up going to Church, but for various reasons, they have drifted away from the religious practices of their childhoods. Most of them want to believe in something, but can’t quite reconcile what they have been told to believe in Church vs what the modern world tells them to believe.

I have always loved to learn about world religions and spiritual concepts. My studies have taken me from my family roots in the Catholic and Eastern Othodox churches to the ancient concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism, Native American traditions and beyond. I continuously seek out the common threads of each through myth and ritual and bring them into my belief system, while allowing myself to let other beliefs and practices go when they no longer serve me. Through over 25 years of study, I have realized that it is not necessary to define the ultimate religion, or uphold traditions just for tradition’s sake, but to reach ultimate truth though a connection to the Divine itself.

Should We Be Religious or Spiritual?

I tend to believe that most people are very spiritual but have been brought up in a religion, which provided structure for the desire for spiritual connection. The two concepts seem interchangeable, but there are a few distinctions. For a religious person, the concept of God is predetermined, named, and comes with a set method on how to worship that God. A spiritual person, on the other hand, turns inwards to find their truth and finds God within themselves and all of life. When someone is spiritual, they have a connection with themselves and life on a soul level. And ‘God’ isn’t an external force like in most religions. It is nice to include both the structure of religion and the freedom of spirituality in your daily life….in whatever way makes you feel inspired, connected and fulfilled.

Maybe you are more on the spiritual side and your spouse is a bit more religious. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, so don’t feel like one of you has to make big changes. Even though there are noticeable distinctions between spirituality vs. religion, these comparisons aren’t meant to be absolutes or an attempt to polarize one against the other – or you vs. your spouse. Whichever path or combination of the two you follow is the personal and subjective expression of your journey of awakening.

Whether or not you want to join an organized religion, or go out in the woods and commune with Nature (you’ll find me in the latter), we owe it to ourselves and our partners to know what we believe as individuals and to be guided by our own inner voice. Yes, we all need mentors and teaching methods, but if an external authority, be it a book, a person, or a religion, has final control over everything we do, say, and think, it is impossible for us to find and begin to live out of our own truest, deepest souls. We must learn to find our own internal authority and come to trust its guidance—that is true spirituality.

So What Does Spirituality Have to Do with Marriage?

You probably already know if your spouse is involved in a particular religion or set of beliefs. And if you’ve never talked about religious or spiritual beliefs with them at all, you need to find out before you get married. It might be easy to assume that you share the same faith, but every devotional path has unique qualities that may or may not groove with your beliefs, even if you both practice similar traditions.

Now that you grown up enough to be married, you may have grown out of your faith a little bit. Maybe you’ve stopped going to regular services, or are drawn to other religions and philosophies. That’s all part of the journey. Sometimes we need a break from all the seriousness of Church and want to explore the world outside of ourselves. We often are curious about our spouse’s faith and feel pulled between what you grew up believing and something new. I truly believe that if you love the teachings of a certain religion, and they ring true for you, then by all means weave them into your life. But if something just doesn’t feel right to you, it is up to you to find another path that does, or not have a specific path. It is definitely ok to be in the “I don’t know” phase when it comes to things of the Spirit.

While it certainly is not necessary for either of you to go to Church if that isn’t your thing, it is important to realize that your relationship with your spouse is a direct vehicle to the Divine. For reals. Marriage is one of the most profound opportunities for personal growth out there, and I encourage you to allow your relationship to teach you how to be a better person. More humble, more compassionate, more patient, more purposeful. When you find the truth of Divine Love in your life then everything becomes a sacred teacher leading you to the truth.

And what is this ultimate truth? Most spiritual “gurus” will tell you that the truth is we are all ONE. God is everything, everywhere, eternal. Therefore God works through you and through your partner in your relationship. Whenever we are challenged by our partners or comforted by them, it is the grace of the Divine that is either pushing you to break through your wounds and patterns, or holding you in safety so you can gather your strength and share love right back. If we can each see the other as a way that the Divine speaks to you, shows you your faults, helps you grow, cradles your spirit – and that you are doing the same for them – then we can evolve on an inner level in a way that is more direct, dynamic and desirable than any other spiritual path.

A Divine Marriage

Would you like some more help with including matters of the spirit in your marriage? I have created a premarital online course that will give you powerful insights about your spiritual and psychological beliefs and how they affect your relationship. I’ll provide you with lessons on how to create special traditions, how to include your faith in your marraige (or not!), and how to give your marriage a real sense of purpose that rises above the mundane. All you have to do is answer a few questions in each lesson, and then I’ll give you some feedback. It’s simple and painless, I promise.

I want you to think of your relationship as a vehicle to help you evolve on a soul level. It is a way to feel accepted for all your gifts, flaws, and experiences, and a way to offer your partner the compassion and support that you seek. Be of service to your partner’s needs as if you were indeed serving someone divine and holy. Because you are doing just that in your relationship, and even if you never set foot in a church or say your bedtime prayers, know that you are living your truth through your relationship, and that is truly enough.

Religion vs Spirituality: Which Is Best for Your Marriage?

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