It’s time-honored advice, marry someone with the same religion as you. Or at least, be compatible on a spiritual level. What does this mean, really?
From the time I was a little girl, my parents told me to marry a fellow Catholic. Marriage, they said, was hard enough without a difference of faith. This was a little surprising coming from my mom, as her dad was Catholic and her mother was Lutheran. When I got a little older and went to Catholic University, I still held on to this belief. It took a few years to realize though, that there was more to faith than a religious label.
Plenty of people say they are Catholic, or Lutheran, or Jewish, or Episcopalian, or whatever. It’s easy to find someone with the same religious label as you. What is NOT easy, though, is finding someone with the same view of God.
You can tell a lot from a person by asking one simple question: “What would this person do if God showed up at their front door?” Some people would fall to their knees and beg forgiveness. Some people wouldn’t care. My family would answer the door and say, “Hey man! How’ve you been? We’re just sitting down to dinner. Want some spaghetti?” If you’re type who would invite God as part of the family, find someone who shares that. At the end of the day, a person’s ingrained view of God can affect everything! A person’s relationship with God affects every aspect of their life. This includes how they treat others, how they raise their children, and how they deal with the trying times of their life.
Like a lot of naive young women, I learned this the hard way. Spiritual incompatibility can make you lose sight of who you are. It wasn’t until I found my James that I remembered why my faith was important. James’s faith reminded me of my dad’s faith: a strong belief that God is a friend, a member of the family. God is a sweet, loving father who will always be there for you, no matter what you do. Go to church on Sunday, pray every day, at least just to say “hi”, because God loves you and wants you to be happy. Love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, and put your family first no matter what age you are.
It usually takes a while to figure out what kind of faith someone has. You can listen to them talk all day, but you’re not going to know who they really are until you spend some time with them. Faith isn’t just a personal thing, it’s a life changing, cultural thing. For me, it took a lot of mistakes and years of searching to figure out what was important to me. It’s not all bad, though, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Without those years of searching, I would never have found myself, my fiancé, and my faith.
3 thoughts on “Dating on Faith: How important is Spiritual Compatibility?”
I enjoyed your post. I agree and would also add that sometimes people use labels in place of a deeper understanding of what your potential spouse believes. Nothing is better than some crucial conversations on the topic where each person aids the other in explaining what they believe (why is not so important). Only after they understand each other will they be able to discern compatibility.
Catholic author Steve Wood has a couple of books on ‘picking a good spouse’. I understand they are helpful for people who want to ensure that faith is the foundation of their marriage.
Thank you for reading my post! I do agree that many people use labels when they don’t really understand what the other person believes on a deeper level. That’s very insightful. Interesting that you mention Steve Wood. I actually own and have read his ABC’s of Finding a Good Husband. My sister-in-law gave it to me when I was entering college. He does have some good advice, though there are a few things I think are problematic. Somewhere in the book he suggests that young dating couples away at college should find a “mentoring couple” during their courtship, and I remember thinking it a little excessive to put so much pressure on a young relationship. I haven’t read it in several years though, so I don’t remember everything.
Steve Wood is hard core. I have his “How to Raise Godly Children” and much of the advice is spot on (for me as a father of 2 kids). A couple of parts I disagreed with. However in this book, he starts the introduction with: I know that not everyone will agree with me.
On the mentoring couple – it would have been useful for me (married 16 years) to have a better model for a marriage based on God. My parents were divided on religion – Dad protestant, Mom Catholic.
Now we are learning our own ways so hopefully we will be a good model for our son and daughter.