[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”640″][/media-credit]I had grown up in a Christian home. Until I went to secondary school, I didn’t know that there were other religions apart from Christianity. Every one, uncles and aunties, I knew attended the same denomination as me. In my denomination, church members were part of one’s extended family. After the Sunday service, we all stayed for one meeting or the other and socialized with ourselves. Midweek programs were part of our regular schedules. At the time I met my husband my paradigm about church was determined by these experiences. Did we discuss religion as we courted in preparation for marriage? We did. We used common place words like Christian, church, service and the like and assumed that we understood each other. Since we both were admitted to being Christians, we expected that after our wedding day, we will sail off to “happily ever after” land.
With the honeymoon over, it was time to decide which church to attend. And so began the search. We wanted a church from my husband’s denomination which was close to home and which held services in a language that we both understood, he being Igbo and I being Yoruba. We discovered soon enough that, even though, those were our stated criteria, we had a number of undeclared criteria that came from the paradigms we brought from our homes and church backgrounds. I was from a denomination that was congregational in outlook, he was from one that was parochial. In short, we thought we were looking for the same thing, but in reality we were looking for very different things as we visited one church after the other. Little wonder that after six months of visiting different churches, we were no closer to finding a church that we could call our own.
[media-credit name=”Image credit: Vencarta.com” align=”aligncenter” width=”640″][/media-credit]What helped us to get out of this gridlock? A realization on my part, that a wife goes away from her own community to join her husband. A wise older friend drew me apart and gently pointed this out to me. She asked me to take off my glasses that were tainted by my paradigm of what a church should be and look objectively at the core beliefs of my husband’s denomination. Were they significantly different from what I believed? I looked and truly, they were not. Were the practices different? Of course, they were. Was I able with some patience to learn the new practices and make the required adjustments? Yes I was. Many years have passed since then. I have not only settled in to my new denomination, I have become an “Iya Egbe” there. If I do not tell you, you will not know that I only married into the denomination. You will think that I was born in to it.
My take away from this experience? I question my assumptions when I am confronted with new realities. I encourage you to do the same. There are many situations you encounter in marriage which you find strange. They are strange only because they are different from what you are familiar with. When you put aside your assumptions and examine them objectively, they may not be as strange as they once looked.
This is part of a series called Honest Conversations by Modupe Ehirim. These are soul baring conversations on marriage and they contain deep truths and uncanny insight as she shares her personal experience with us. To read the other honest conversations, click here.