Nkem Ndem: When Your Spouse is not as Spiritual As You Thought

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    You know the drill. You’ve seen it happen one too many times, or perhaps it has happened to you. You meet a charming, witty and handsome young man who initially seems to have a great relationship with God, goes to church, is in a service unit and quotes the scriptures, but upon getting to know him, you realize it is all a façade: he does not uphold the Christian values that he preaches or claims to believe in and he is not even covert about it.

    Or. you meet a very hot but homely and reserved girl… you intuitively feel something isn’t quite right – especially since she is a “Yoruba Muslim”, while you are a Northerner yourself. However, she mentions her family is a strict Muslim family and you accept her. But, after you proceed to marriage, you find that when she said she was a virgin, she meant she had quit sex for a while, not that she had not ever had it. You now literally have to drag her to the mosque; she does not motivate you to pray as you should anymore. She drinks and she does not care for any kind of fasting. In fact, she starts to mention her intent to perhaps change religion…and you wonder how you didn’t foresee all of that.

    Earlier this year, my path crossed with that of a dazzling young man. Perfect at first: he was 6’2,well-built, an introvert, book-smart (I initially confused this for intelligence), his mother was a pastor, and most interestingly, he mentioned that my church was his “island church” as he lived on the mainland. I mean, I quickly noticed that he was feminine and little too radical (he was all for feminism, gay rights, e.t.c) but it was different, and I found it quite refreshing.

    About five weeks into talking, I invited him to church, but he declined, saying he would attend the following week. I did not see anything wrong with it. Actually I thought it may be difficult for him, considering the fact that his ex was an usher in the church. He probably didn’t want to run into her. Then sometime within the week, dude now mentioned that actually, he was “agnostic”. I knew what being agnostic meant and to be honest, I would not have judged him at all had the first thing that came to my mind not been the fact that he had lied about his belief at the initial point. To be fair to him, he had actually said to me: “I am spiritual, not religious”… still… that was a far cry from being agnostic. I hate lies. It is a deal-breaker for me.

    He went on to share how Christianity did not make sense to him and there really was no proof that God existed..e.t.c., sending me torrents of memes as though his intent was now to convert me. While we were having the chat, I was just on my bed staring at the ceiling and thinking: “Adonbilivt! I nu Kwa! Tell me ‘suntin’! As expected, the scripture “Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what partnership has light with darkness?” immediately came to mind. I was still in that toxic honeymoon phase and super attached to the dude, so it was no surprise when I found myself wondering what kind of Christian I would be if I judged him. I quickly turned to another scripture in 1 Corinthians that said: “ … To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means, I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” And decided I would not wear my own belief like a signboard on my forehead, rather I would make myself approachable in that aspect so that he would not feel judged, rather he would see the light through me.

    Perhaps my plan would have worked, had he not turned out to be quite the narcissist and his belief no longer even the issue. As it was in my case, many people go on to fall into relationships with people who later on reveal that they are not at the spiritual level or as religious as their partners initially assumed they were. How does this happen? How can you really tell the spiritual level of the person you want to be with or marry? Even more, how do you handle the relationship after you find a disparity between your initial perception and the reality based on what they are they now exhibit?

    It is simple: spirituality is relative and having a picture in your mind of what a spiritual person should be like, is what limits you in the first place. Every single person is on his/her own spiritual path, despite what religion or faith they subscribe to. Despite how fervent they may have been in faith at the time you meet them, or how much of your expectations they met, there is no guarantee that they will remain the same. And when they eventually fall short of expectations, you cannot really say that they had lied [unless they clearly did, like my agnostic fellow] or they had led you on.

    You must remember that spirituality is personal. You can only be in control of yours. Whether the partner is willing to work on himself or not, all you can do is focus on yourself and do your own thing. Perhaps, you will be tempted to blame them and condemn them for backsliding or being unfaithful, but that kind of “You are trash and I’m better than you” mentality is nothing but self-righteousness and even pride. When you catch yourself getting into that frame of thinking, just recognise it, and let it go. 9 times out of 10, it would lead to debates, arguments and then breakup, separation, or divorce. Instead, set boundaries with them and be their light. Do not give up on them or dim your own light either. Continue with your level of spirituality and even do more work to move on higher. Over time, your partner will see the benefits you enjoy as a result and fall in line.

    Have you had to deal with a partner or mate turning out to be less spiritual than you were made to believe they were at the initial stance? how did you handle the situation?

    Written by: Nkem Ndem, a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for online writing(web content and blog) and editing, screenwriting, ghost writing, copy proofreading and reviews. She has since worked with Jumia, SpiceTV Africa, Bella Naija and Glam Africa. Check out her Instagram: @kem_dem, twitter: @ndemv and snapchat:@ndemv. Email: nkemndemv@gmail.com.

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