Presbyterianism, whose bodies are also called Reformed Churches, share a common origin in the 16th-century Swiss Reformation and the teachings of John Calvin, and today is one of the largest Christian denominations in Protestantism.

Marriage help, new to reformed faith

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    Marriage help, new to reformed faith

    Hi there- I am just going to jump right in with a serious question. Nothing like a long newbie post, eh?
    Trying to provide some background info- I have been married for almost 15yrs. I have been a christian since 2000. My husband is also a christian. When we got married we attended a non-denominational church. It was baptist in name, but non-denom from what I could tell. We attended that church for about 8yrs. Husband was feeling like we needed a change in churches. I am still not exactly sure why, but sometimes I think that happens. We attended another non-denom church for about 2yrs. During this time we started having children. Due to some child-rearing circumstances, for about 15-18mos we did not go to church together regularly. I went one week, he went the next. Around spring of 2013 we were finally able to attend chuch together as a family. Hubby had been doing some searching and feeling inclined toward presbyterian. So we started attending a presbyterian church. I loved it. For the first time in a long time I had enjoyed going to church. I don't know when, but before that I had lost that enjoyment of being at church and fellowship of other believers. We became members of the presby church after attending there for a year. I enjoyed it. Kids enjoyed it. I thought hubby enjoyed it as well. We were building friendships (which is something hard for me to do). Then in the summer of 2014, hubby was looking more and more into the different aspects of presbyterian denominations and the different sections (pcusa, opc). He wanted to check out an OPC church nearby. He went to an evening service and liked it and wanted to go back. I was a little taken back by this since we had just joined a presby church a couple months before. I liked where we were at and didn't understand the desire for change. Nonetheless, I went with what he wanted. I was clear about my feelings about leaving the church we became members at, but told him that I would abide. Going from a presby church to an opc, 'ever family member in the service' was quite hard for me. So noisy with all the kids in the service, including our four young kids. There aren't any women's ministries classes. No sunday school classes for the kids to be in. We became members of this opc church in July 2015. I honestly still feel burned from leaving the other church that I liked. I have tried liking our new church, but it has been hard. My husband seems to like the reformed faith more and more each day. Meanwhile, I feel further and further apart from God each day. I can tell that my husband is transforming. At first it felt good. His temper was getting better. He was becoming more patient with me and the kids and in turn I was becoming more patient. But the things he says and decisions he makes are increasingly not ones that I agree with. I get them on a certain level. I understand why he believes what he does, but I don't feel the same way. The singing for example. We are not a 'psalms only' church. We also have a hymns book we sing from. We have just a piano player. I understand the point of view of singing only psalms and counsel-approved hymns. I get it on perhaps a mental/intellectual level. But I don't like it. I dread the singing aspect of church. The songs are soooooo boring. Singing a song that feels uplifting is encouraging and helps me to be ready to hear God.
    And I understand the point of view that we are not there to 'feel good'. We are there to worship God. To sing to Him. Again, I get it on an intellectual level, but there is a disconnect being knowing that and feeling/understanding on a deeper level. Worship is not about us. I hear that, but I don't agree completely. If a song is encouraging, what is wrong with that even if it isn't 'approved' of by a counsel? Jesus pictures are another example. Again, I understand that we ought not to have images of Jesus. I get it, but I don't understand the depth to which he talks about it. Our kids know how we feel about it. Can we just move on? Do we really need to change schools (private classical christian) because a teacher mentioned a Jesus Film being used in India as a missionary tool? More and more things like this creep up. And it feels to me dreadful. It feels like more and more 'rules' about things. God is holy. We should worship Him and be as 'holy' as we can to approach God. I get that. But God also loves us no matter how we come to Him. Knowing that can help us *want* to worship God.
    I try to come back to the main message Jesus teaches which is to love Him and to love each other. Love, within the context of what Jesus defines as love. Isn't part of love giving people the benefit of the doubt? If we know someone who works on Sunday, should we automatically assume they are being sinful? We have no idea what their circumstance is. Why jump to conclusions? Why is it even necessary? I think part of it is that we have four young children. We are given the responsibility to point them to Jesus. Raising children makes us hyper-vigilant to things we feel compelled to teach them about. "Kids, see that person? They shouldn't be working on Sunday." I prefer to say, "We think it is best for us to not work or shop on Sunday. The best way to tell other people is by being an example to others."
    I used to think that having different denoms was silly. That we should all be able to do the same things. Same kind of worship, etc. Then I came to realize that we are all different people with different personalities. What speaks to each of us is different. So why wouldn't different types of worship speak or resonate with people differently?
    We are increasingly of different minds on things and I don't know how to reconcile that. We have been at this church for about 18mos now. The people are nice. I have tried giving this a shot, but I just don't feel any different from day 1.
    I plan on taking with my husband about this, but I thought perhaps you all could offer some perspective I am not seeing.
    I am also dealing with some recently acknowledged depression issues. I don't know if this is a driving force (among a couple other things) for my depression or if it is just another tagalong. I am scheduled to see my doctor. Which will probably be another issue. That I am not just trying to pray it away and/or seek the church for direct help. I don't feel comfortable right now seeking the church for help. If I did, it would be a group of about 6-8 older men feeling like what would be a grilling session. They are very nice men, but it just wouldn't feel comforting.
    On top of all this, he has been wanting to go to seminary. Which would requiring uprooting our current lives and moving 2hrs north of where we are. I was initially against this (moving, not the seminary part), but I finally came around. That was just over a month ago. Then just two weeks ago he says we should wait another year due to finances. Last week he is back to trying to find ways for us to move yet this summer. This back and forth is in my opinion something he does every so often. Comes up with an idea. Then I have to wait it out to know if he is serious or not. I know he is serious about seminary, but the logistics are all over the place. I know it is a hefty decision for him to make, but the back and forth is frustrating. He asks me for my thoughts on it, but I don't know what is left to say. He knows that I want to wait another year. Partly due to the fact that we already told our children's school that we would be back for another year (after initially telling them we weren't). Partly because just two weeks ago he said we *were* staying for another year and I have already told family and friends that we are staying one more year, because *he* said we were. I just want some consistency.
    Our intimate relationship is not going well either. I have gained 30-40lbs in the last 4yrs. I feel disgusting. Our times of intimacy per month is getting smaller and smaller. He is a runner and stays fit. He use to initiate our intimacy quite regularly. In the last yr or so, he doesn't initiate much at all anymore. I feel like it is because I have gained weight.

    So..... after all that I guess my question is: How to be in a relationship when we are increasingly of different minds as far as belief systems, church attendance, etc. Every part of our lives is affected because each decision we make depends on our belief system. I *want* to be willing to submit and abide by my husband's decisions, but I feel increasingly at odds with them. I love him. I want to trust him, but I am having a really hard time with that right now.
    I was hoping to get some advice from women, but perhaps hearing from other men might be just as helpful. Thank you for listening.

    #2
    I know I should just tell him this stuff, but then we get into arguments and sometimes it just feels easier to swallow it all myself.
    Comment>

      #3
      Hi Mrs. Cook,

      A couple of points. I assure you that I have noticed much of what you say as being true. I attended a non denominational church before becoming Reformed. One of the things that was a change for me. No youth groups during sermon. Children must sit in the congregation, which really makes any lack of discipline on the parents part noticeable. Our church expects children to listen to the same sermon, which gives us something to talk about on the car drive back home. The church isn't there to provide baby sitting, especially for ill disciplined children. Children are apart of the NT Covenant in a Reformed denomination though. You may want to seek help from other members as they vowed to assist our children and you in bringing up the child as one body in the NT Covenant, that is, if you are members.

      Secondly, I noticed the difference in worship. Reformed namely follow the regulative principal. Another words, we are to follow the strict guidelines in worship as laid out in scripture. This is in contrast to the normative principal which says, if it isn't spoken against then we are free to do. The message of hymns (traditional) usually have to do with this day's sermon. Worship isn't about emotionalism. Our test of proper worship isn't about whether we are entertained to the degree where our emotions make us raise our hands to the music and wave them around.

      Thirdly, amongst the non denominational bodies are the highest divorce rates in Christiandom. 50-70% compared to less than 20% for the Reformed denominations. Non denominational tend to equal or surpass secular society. Why do you think it is? Do you think the differences you're stating are merely an example of orthodox belief, involving discipline in not only the church but in our home life?

      As for the rest of you post, I only notice you say "feel" a lot. You used the word some 21 times. That makes me think you're judging based on another standard, your own emotional response.

      Seminary is a big step. We are called into Seminary and the office. It is not our own ambition or desires that lead us there. Personally, I was pretty committed and "feeling" motivated about joining seminary too. But I have been divorced and remarried which I believe disqualifies me from the office of Pastor. Now many non denominational churches would disagree. Just something to think about as your husbands "help meet".

      Excuse me for not really touching upon your personal issues or emotion. I just wanted to give you some things to think about, and nothing more, so please do not misinterpret my post as being judgmental or rather in the spirit of condemnation.

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

        #4
        Thank you so much. Very helpful. Yes, I noticed as well how many times I used the word 'feel'. I was thinking what you said as well.
        Thanks again.
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by Stacie Cook View Post
          Thank you so much. Very helpful. Yes, I noticed as well how many times I used the word 'feel'. I was thinking what you said as well.
          Thanks again.
          Needlessly said, Mrs Cook, I am a manic depressant. I have much to offer you as your brother in Christ. But I think that the things I pointed out are worth prioritizing first. Often, our circumstances do not change, but our feelings, whether happy, sad, or indifferent are a result of shifting our perspective.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

            #6
            Stacie Cook I hear where you're coming from. It sounds like you have been trying to be a good wife and follow behind your husband, and he has been blessed to have you follow behind him on his personal journey. It is hard to be constantly uprooted and never have a chance to settle down and build a network of friends. Depression is linked to major life changes, and it sounds to me all this movement in churches have been major life changes for you.

            I really don't know much about denominations and I think William is a good resource for you. But as a woman I feel perhaps you are losing your sense of self? I feel you because I have been there too, putting all my focus on my husband and family. It seems his views and ways are taking over your life? Without any disrespect to him, I wonder if perhaps you found your own activities, groups, friendships, that were an outlet for you and your own spiritual and emotional needs, you might be able to accept his ways more readily, if you yourself were feeling validated too?

            You said he was a runner, have you at one point been a runner too? Perhaps you could ask him if he would run with you? I'm just thinking of some way you could reconnect with him as an individual, putting aside the religion issues for a bit.

            I feel for you and will pray for your family.
            Comment>

              #7
              Originally posted by Stacie Cook View Post
              So..... after all that I guess my question is: How to be in a relationship when we are increasingly of different minds as far as belief systems, church attendance, etc. Every part of our lives is affected because each decision we make depends on our belief system. I *want* to be willing to submit and abide by my husband's decisions, but I feel increasingly at odds with them. I love him. I want to trust him, but I am having a really hard time with that right now.
              I was hoping to get some advice from women, but perhaps hearing from other men might be just as helpful. Thank you for listening.
              As a man, and a husband (and I hope you won't hold that against me, lol), my advice would be the same I have always given to wives in conflict with their husbands (for a number of issues): you should submit to your husband.

              I can think of wives in quite a bit worse conditions than you present here. As a husband I can tell you that it is vital for a man to know his wife supports him, and when it comes to your husband contemplating, perhaps, full time ministry, hopefully this is the will of God (and not a mid-life crisis). I would say that a decision to uproot the family should be an issue that both of you agree on, but, unfortunately, us guys are only human, lol, and sometimes selfish (don't tell anyone I admitted that...). What I can say is that when I consider what Scripture has to say concerning marriage, one thing that is for sure is that if you do submit to your husband...you will be in obedience to God, which is of course your, and all of our first obligation. I'm not saying that makes it right, but, it sounds to me that your husband is beginning a stage in his walk where doctrine is becoming more important. There are, I believe, correspondence courses that could be taken, just as a suggestion.Perhaps you might research those and weigh the pros and cons.

              As far as seeking out denominationally specific fellowships, it always amazes me when someone decides, before they are fully aware of the doctrine of a specific faith, to join one because "It just seems to be right." Our decision for the fellowship we attend should be a doctrinal issue first and foremost, though we don't negate the importance of the social aspect as well.

              For now, try to encourage your husband, and perhaps if he recognizes he has your full support he may relax a little and you will have opportunity to return this to a more desirable husband/wife venture, where you both make the decisions that will need to be made.

              As to the intimacy issue, perhaps a little more effort on your part might turn that around? You say you are not feeling attractive, how much could that be impacting the issue? Maybe he needs a little more encouragement. I will say that after nearly 16 years of marriage myself, neither I nor my wife are in as good of shape as we were when we were married, but, my love for my wife has grown stronger and that attraction is not just based on physical elements. But as they say, it takes two to tango, so give him the benefit of the doubt and let him know you are still attracted to him.

              Concerning depression, we all go through that at times, and sometimes we can let it go too far. You have much to be grateful for, keep that in mind, and stay away from meds.

              Hope that helps.


              God bless.
              Comment>

                #8
                Sorry for this quick reply. We have had a busy weekend.
                Thank you all for the input. I appreciate it.
                We have had a talk about these issues I mentioned. I am not sure we arrived at anything specifically, but we talked about lots of things and my concerns were heard and taken into consideration. I also have listened to my husband's concerns and taken them into consideration. Thank you again.
                Comment>

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Stacie Cook View Post
                  Sorry for this quick reply. We have had a busy weekend.
                  Thank you all for the input. I appreciate it.
                  We have had a talk about these issues I mentioned. I am not sure we arrived at anything specifically, but we talked about lots of things and my concerns were heard and taken into consideration. I also have listened to my husband's concerns and taken them into consideration. Thank you again.
                  G'day Mrs Cook,

                  Glad to hear you are both communicating. So often I hear of a break down of communication which only seems to make any given situation worst off. I don't mean to imply that a cool off period is not healthy, but I think most agree that the lines of communication must be open in order to help reconcile differences.

                  God bless,
                  William
                  Comment>
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