I love challenges, for me reading Lee & Leslie Strobel’s book titled ‘Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage’ provided insights by making connections in my own life. The book’s narrative by Lee (the atheist) and Leslie’s (the believer) experiences when dealing with a ‘yoked marriage’. Therefore, this book for me was about making connections to assist with my relationship issues that was not necessarily about religion rather it was about a ‘values collide’. Although both Mitch and I grew up Catholic and attending parochial schools through some of our informative years about the teachings of the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit gave us a sense of belief in a Higher Being but as we grew older somewhere along the way, we lost faith in the church. Nevertheless, I will save that topic for another day! This book is worth mentioning and perhaps some of my readers may need put aside the religious contexts, but instead need to look deeper into the text for meaningful information.
In the book, the element of a relationship described as a ‘values collide’ mostly about living life with God, dealing with a spiritual mismatch marriage. Furthermore, issues of raising children, behavior of the spouses in the tested relationship and how Leslie’s example of a Christian life soften Lee’s heart and he finally see’s the light and accepts Jesus into his life. Therefore, the connection I made in this book is that all relationships have sometime or other experienced disagreements about major fundamental beliefs. Assuming most of us have struggled with this notion, ‘values collide’ therefore I would like to cite some examples from the book that can provide some insight when dealing with daily life situations that often lead to disagreement with your significant other or spouse.
By integrating her belief’s in their daily life’s routine, Leslie not your typical bible thumper instead, she embraced Lee with compassion, love and understanding by valuing him as a human being and partner in their marriage. For instance, Lee did not want Leslie to give their hard-earned money to the church and yes this infuriated her but she honored his wishes. The result of this particular incident led to Lee’s approval of Leslie’s contribution through her own job to help the church. Another example, when it came to their children she made sure not to make an example of their father, but showed through the teachings of the church to love and honor their dad. Furthermore, every Sunday she would ask Lee to if, he wanted to go and if he did not she would not make a huge deal of it. Instead, she would kiss him and the children would follow suit and do the same. Lee described in the book that Leslie proved to him that she could love him and God, that she led a Christian life without judgment and this proved to him her compassion and understanding that led to a new love for his wife full of respect and gratitude.
Making the connection, Mitch and I have the usual struggles in our marriage such as finances and parenting style just like the Strobel’s so I tested the theory of respecting your spouse and his belief’s and guess what in trying situation’s it has helped with our communication with each other. Let me explain, ‘values collide’ situation, growing up in a liberal house my mother allowed us to experience life minus dangerous situations and make mistakes so we can learn from them. In contrast, for Mitch his upbringing was more structure with rules like a bedtime, social life and other aspects of a child’s life. Furthermore, parenting in a relationship with two separate view points, can be a daunting task which often led to major quarrels between Mitch and I. Applying the values Lee and Leslie portrayed in the book and instead of just making a decision without consulting Mitch, I will wait for his input on a specific issue like our daughter’s social life. Even though some of the time I believe he is being overprotective, following Leslie’s integrating her values, of a Christian life, I try not to let my daughter know of my disagreement with her father.
In summary a ‘values collide’ can happen in every relationship not just in marriage but also in our relationships with parents, friends and colleagues. In view of that, I believe that the Strobel’s book gave a good foundation in how to handle this challenge in all relationships. This book is for the believer and seeker, what you come away with it all depends on your perspective. For me it was about finding the elements of truth, in relationships it is important to respect one another and to love without judgment.
Strobel, Lee & Leslie. Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2002. Print
Lee Strobel’s Official Website: http://www.leestrobel.com/