My husband is the only man I’ve ever dated who didn’t practice the same religion as me. In fact, he wasn’t particularly religious at all. I embraced our relationship with an open mind and heart, navigating our obvious differences in belief.

I grew up in a Christian home, some would say strict, I prefer the term grounded. I went to private school, took Sunday classes, attended church twice a week, and received my sacraments in order and at the right times. I put on the plaid uniform every morning and lived by the word of the Lord.

It wasn’t just an hour of my week for Sunday Mass, it was our family’s entire life.

Aunts, uncles, cousinswe were all heavily involved with our church. Some altar boys, some Eucharistic Ministers, you name itour family was known in the church.

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My husband grew up going to church occasionally on Sundays, and that was it. It was his precursor to going to his grandmother’s house for homemade cornbread and biscuits. My husband steered down a few wrong paths and strayed from the life I know God intended for him to have. To keep some privacy in our home, I’ll just say I know my husband got back on solid ground due to work from the big man above.

He got married young, a courthouse wedding, which made a marriage in my church borderline impossible. He saw war and things kids shouldn’t be exposed to. (I say kids because 18 is still very young to experience the ugly up close in the Middle East.)

When our relationship grew stronger I came to learn my husband was full of anger in the form of loss of his friends and soldiers. He was mad, hurt, confused, and bitter by his year in Afghanistan. Not to discredit his experience, but the world has its fair share of faith-testing hurdles. There’s truly a lot of hurt and why did this happen to me? for people across the world. His was seeing death, repeatedly.

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I know God watched over him that year. There’s blind luck, and then there’s a higher purpose. He was carried through by God’s hands, and I pray in thanks constantly for him returning home.

My husband wasn’t shy about going to church with me at first though.

An evening mass is where he met my family. He felt like a fish out of water, but he wentfor me.  He gave it a try and didn’t feel it was where he was meant to be. I joined churches across our many moves as husband and wife, and he exclusively went to holiday Masses. Nothing more. Sometimes less. We struggled to get our son baptized and met with a priest about our goals as parents for raising our son in the church. It was hard for us as a couple not being on the same page.

Ten years later my husband doesn’t connect to the messages of church, and he chooses to sit out most of the time. I feel obligated at times to support him in staying behind and not dragging him to something he would rather not do. Then there’s the dilemma of me taking our son by myself and what message that sends. It’s truly a challenge we haven’t figured out just yet.

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I don’t want to push, pry, beg, or force. I don’t want to argue due to our differences in a higher power. Being married to someone whose journey into faith has taken pause is difficult.

Sitting in the pew without my husband, is lonely. I pray for him and his battered faith, and I pray we can walk through the walls of the church as a family unit in the future.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.