Becoming a two-church family?

She’s not happy with their current church. Her husband wants to stay.

Our elder offers several suggestions for reconciliation.

Dear EWC:

I have been unhappy in our church for about three years. I feel as if they aren’t preaching the truth. Also, the way they have responded to COVID-19 just really hasn’t sat well with me.

My husband is involved with the youth group and refuses to change churches. He says he doesn’t want to change because he thinks he will be throwing away all the relationships and the time he’s invested in the youth group. I can honestly say I’m miserable in this church. So I think there are only two options: I can either continue to go to church there and be miserable or we can go to separate churches.

My mom and dad went to separate churches during my high school years and it was really hard on their marriage. We have a two-year-old son and so I feel it would be hard on him going to two different churches. My husband thinks I’m not very involved with the church and that’s the reason I’m not happy. We live forty minutes away from church and it’s hard for me to be involved when I have a young child who has a bedtime and a routine. I’m truly at a loss of what to do.

Folk replies:

I am very sorry that the problem of a church home is creating a division in your family. Because your parents attended separate churches while you were growing up, you know first hand how hard this can be on a marriage. The problem is that you are no longer happy attending the church your husband attends; in fact, you are miserable there. You feel that there are only two options available to you: either to continue to attend your old church with your husband and be miserable OR to attend a separate church and risk putting a strain on your marriage. I do not feel, however, that these are the ONLY options available to you. I think there are a couple of compromise solutions that you might want to try first:

1. You and your husband could try alternating between BOTH churches. You could go to his church one week and then go to yours the next.
2. You could try your husband’s suggestion of becoming more active in his church to see if that makes a difference. In order to make doing this possible though, your husband will have to step up and assume responsibility for the care of your son when you are busy with church activities. If your husband is right, greater involvement will make you happier with your old church. Even if he is wrong though, he will know that you at least listened to his suggestion, and this may make him more open to considering changing churches
3. You can be patient, continue to attend your new church, and instead of criticizing your old church, you could try sharing your excitement about your new church with your husband. Your enthusiasm may eventually cause him to come around and try attending your new church with you. Giving him the time he needs, in other words, may make transitioning to something else easier.

I know that church is traditionally a family affair and I know that you would really prefer it if you, your husband, and your son could all attend the same church together. At the end of the day though, what’s more important than attending church together is that you honor God in the way that is most authentic to you. In other words, if you are miserable attending the church your husband attends, you should not go just to keep the peace. Continue to invite your husband to join you and your son at your new church, and ask your new pastor to invite him as well. Invite your new church friends to your home and introduce them to your husband. If your husband is reluctant to leave behind the friends he’s made at his current church, it might help him to know that the people at the new church are welcoming and that he will quickly make new friends there as well.
I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this.


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