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What can I do if I’ve had a spiritual conversion and my spouse hasn’t?

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The experience of faith in marriage has to fit together for the good of both

María Álvarez de las Asturias - published on 08/29/22

How can someone live a newfound relationship with the Lord well, without creating problems in their marriage?

Some of my friends have recently had the grace of encountering the Lord, through various spiritual experiences. We’re talking about people who were far from the Church, who did not have the Lord present in their lives, or had never considered the possibility of having a relationship with God.

How inspiring it was when they shared with me what these experiences have taught them! By doing so they let me deeper into their personal lives, sharing something really precious with me.

Besides helping me personally to appreciate and be a little more grateful (never enough) for the Lord’s presence in my life, they also revealed challenges to me. One of them is how someone can live well the relationship that they’ve just found or renewed with the Lord, without creating problems in their marriage.

The fact is, religious experience and level of faith aren’t always shared by both spouses. Perhaps you’ve had the kind of spiritual encounter I am talking about and your husband or wife has not. There’s a certain danger of distancing ourself from each other as spouses when we move at “different speeds” spiritually.

The experience of encountering Christ is a dazzling one. It’s like being on Mount Tabor: “How good it is here! Let’s set up three tents.” It makes you want to stay and live like this with the Lord, with all your time, attention, and affection focused on Him. But we must return to daily life; the disciples too, after Tabor, went to Jerusalem.

It’s true that they didn’t go alone; they went with Jesus. But the Lord didn’t say to them, “Yes, we’re going to stay here, because it’s very nice.” That experience with Christ was a gift that comforted them and filled their hearts for the difficult moments to come in life. For us, likewise, the experience of encountering the Lord is a gift that fills our hearts to return to our ordinary life, accompanied by Him.

Daily life

We will likely want to preserve the sense of well-being we have experienced, and to do so we may start to repeat the acts we did during those days, leaving our former daily activities in the background. To put it more clearly: we may think that it’s better to go to adoration at the parish than to stay and read a story to our children. And here it seems to me that we need to be careful to discern what we are doing for the Lord and what we are doing for ourselves, disguised as doing it for the Lord.

You might ask me, “Maria, are you telling me that it’s not okay to go to adoration?” Of course not! What I’m saying is, if you are married or parents, what the Lord wants is for you to love Him by loving those He has entrusted to you.

If, in addition, you can go to visit him, going to Mass during the week or to adoration … how nice! But, without realizing it, sometimes all this sneaks in as a way of escaping from our daily routine, which is tiring and complicated, and we seek our own emotional well-being. It can be more comforting to spend an hour singing to the Lord than struggling with baths, dinners, stories … Are we praising the Lord for His sake, or are we using it as a way of escape?

The Lord comes to lead us to a better path

It’s also important to keep in mind that, as I said before, many times spouses experience this discovery or renewal of their connection to the Lord and to the Church at different times. We have to have infinite tact and great affection and patience so as not to present the Lord as the “competition” that comes to steal us from our spouses or to create disagreements and suffering, but as the Love that wants to lead us on a better path.

If I go to the parish whenever I have a free moment and my spouse does not understand this, instead of uniting us, it will separate us. Perhaps, at times, it’s more pleasing to the Lord if we offer Him the sacrifice of not doing something at the church that we know we would like and that would make us feel good emotionally, and to love Him instead by enjoying a conversation, a walk, or just being with the person He has given us as our companion on the road to heaven.

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