As an experienced therapist serving couples throughout the Las Vegas area, I often encounter people who are struggling with questions of religion and spirituality. Many are wondering if they can remain within the faith communities they’ve been part of for years – in some cases, all their lives.
This is a life-changing decision, no matter how you look at it. Leaving your religion means that a crucial part of your history will be left behind. This makes the transition very traumatic – very much like the death of a loved one. It is the end of a certain kind of reality, and therefore, a major shock to the system.
When couples decide to make this change, they are fortunate in the sense that they can walk this difficult road together. Still, there are many things they need to know as they provide love and support during the transition.
THE CHANGES COUPLES FACE AS THEY WALK AWAY
Breaking away from a faith that you can no longer comfortably live with is both a painful and liberating experience. Many couples tell me that they feel a huge sense of relief, even excitement about the new possibilities that leaving the church can bring.
Certain problems are solved when we walk away. For example, you will no longer have to twist your thinking and behavior to meet religious doctrines that were hard for you to follow. You won’t have to work hard to bridge the mental gap between the church’s view of the world and your own perceptions. Still, both of you may find yourselves fighting your way through long periods of guilt and confusion.
For devout couples, the church can be a one-stop-shop for social and spiritual needs. Churches provide a coherent worldview and meaning and direction in life. They also offer structured activities and emotionally satisfying experiences. Without these resources, how will you find a place where you belong – a new community where these important human needs can be met?
A TIME OF LOSS AND CONFUSION
Questions like these point to the forces that can make leaving your religion a long, lonely, and confusing process. Departing from the fold means multiple losses, including the disappearance of many friends and in most cases, the loss of some family support. Some couples find they must deal with open anger and shame when church members criticize their decision to leave. The same people who were so warm and understanding once may suddenly feel like enemies.
I see many couples and individuals who need help with feelings of anxiety, grief, anger, and bewilderment as they sever ties to their former lives. They find their old beliefs are tightly bound with deep-seated needs and fears that go back to childhood. This can cause tremendous struggles that relate to our sense of self-worth and identity. Who are we when we are no longer the people we once believed we were?
WITH THE RIGHT SUPPORT, BOTH OF YOU CAN THRIVE
If you’ve made the decision to leave your faith community, you will need tremendous support to get through the difficult times. I want to reassure you that I am here for you. As a long-time therapist helping couples strengthen all aspects of their relationships, I can empower you to deal with the inevitable bumps along the road to your new life. Working together as a team, we will explore new skills and perspectives that will help keep your relationship healthy and enable you to move forward.
To schedule a confidential appointment, get in touch with me today.