I find myself grateful for my husband, who has no personal stake in my religious identity except inasmuch as it gives my life meaning and joy. If he had been religious like me when I met him, I'm not sure there would have been enough spaciousness in my own religious identity, once wedded with his, for me to move out of my former religious tradition and into my current one. I'm not even sure I would have been able to voice my concerns about my former tradition as boldly as I have in these last few years. My husband's non-religiosity opened my eyes in a profound way, inviting me--gently--to examine what it was that I found compelling about life as a religious person. As I heard him ask me again and again why I stayed in my tradition when I spent more and more time bitterly murmuring about it, I had to ask myself the same.
Leaving the Roman Catholic Church was a bit like getting a divorce, and you just don't get a divorce when you're Roman Catholic--not unless you want to be ostracized by a whole lot of people. If you've loved it once, you're expected to love it always, no matter what it might cost you. Further, in an abusive marriage (the kind where one partner's life and calling is deemed to be to less important or not important in comparison with that of the more powerful partner), if the one being abused has no promise of support from those she loves when she leaves that marriage, how can she draw from within herself the courage and strength to leave it anyway?
I am fortunate, in a way. Because my marriage with my husband is so healthy and loving and strong, it was able to illuminate the increasingly toxic character of my relationship with my former religious tradition. Because my husband had no personal stake in my religious identity, I was able to give myself permission to transform it.
Divorce is a rending of identity, and it is, from every story I hear, profoundly painful. And yet, in cases of abuse, there may be redemption in it. I am grateful not to have daily cause for murmuring anymore. I'm grateful to be in a tradition that, though imperfect, fuels rather than diminishes my hope, diminishes rather than fuels my anger, and honors rather than silences my voice. And I am grateful for my hubby, whose greatest expectation for my life is that I daily pursue my deepest joy. I find myself steeped in blessing, having let go of that which diminished my life and embraced that which resurrects it.