If you are thinking, “What does a topic like our creed have to do with our love lives?” you are not alone. As I said last week, when Eric told me ‘creed’ was our family/PreEngaged word for the year, I was less than thrilled.
How am I supposed to write about creeds for a year?
Why will our audience choose to read about creeds when they want to read about love, preparing for marriage, and making relationships work?
How can I tie creed in with subjects pertaining to budding relationships?
More than other years, I am not in my comfort zone with this topic. But whether I always want to admit it, being a little uncomfortable is not bad. It forces more study, more research, more soul-searching, and more growth. This year we are growing together. ~smile~
As I considered the meaning of the word, and how my lack of a solidified creed has affected my life, the question emerged, “Why does our personal creed matter to our relationship?” In reflecting on our thirteen years of marriage, I see a bundle of reasons why knowing your creed before joining your life with someone else is so important.
Two Christians Can Have Vastly Different Beliefs.
(It happened to us!) Eric and I met in a Christian environment. We did not run into regular challenges to test and highlight our faith when we were dating. I can remember feeling somewhat jealous of my dear friend who went to a state college as her faith and boldness grew while frequently faced with ungodly behavior, language, sexual sin, and Christ-haters. Because we lived in an academic and religious bubble where it was expected to look like a Christian (whether your heart was truly regenerated or not), we could talk about our faith all day long and all Eric and I could do was take each other’s word for it.
When we joined our lives together in matrimony on June 11th, 2005, we thought we had basically the same beliefs, though some different preferences of expression (I was raised Pentecostal and he was raised Evangelical. ~smile~). Then, life happened and suddenly our core beliefs came tunneling to the surface.
“What do you mean you believe that?!”
I can remember tears, anger, and maybe even a touch of fear hitting me as I realized my partner for life – the one God saw as my till death do us part mate – did not share my same beliefs about God, salvation, and living out our Christian faith. The differences were subtle on the surface, but huge underneath. Had we fleshed out the depth of our beliefs before getting married (maybe even before becoming serious about each other), we could have avoided many conflicts, tears, questions, and slamming doors. (Side note: We do believe salvation is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone [John 14:6]. We never disagreed on this main tenet of the faith.)
You Need to Know Your Creed Before You Can Authentically Verbalize Your Couple’s Creed.
This year, we hope to walk with you as you write and own your personal creed, and to further encourage you as you incorporate your creed into your romantic relationship. When we are unsure of our beliefs, or unable to verbalize them, we are more susceptible to falling prey to false teaching (Ephesians 4:11-14). And, when we do not have a creed, we are more likely to half-heartedly adopt our significant other’s creed without truly believing in it, causing problems later. Inevitably, life throws problems at us which uncover what we truly believe and where our faith lies.
Though not the personality trait I am proudest of, I tend to take the easy way if an easy way is available (or even able to be carved out). Generally, I do not enjoy thinking deeply or dissecting topics (aside from psychology and personality) and I hate any discussion which might possibly lead to the slightest conflict. I can last a few minutes in such conversations, but usually I want someone to tell me the facts so I can move on with my life. Because of this, I am tempted (and often give in) to blindly follow in Eric’s footsteps.
“You say this is what we believe? Okay. Looks good to me.”
In the moment, it is easier than digging and discussing – an activity on which Eric thrives (and on which I wish I thrived). It is easy to use the ‘I am submitting to my husband’ cop out… because basically, it is laziness. I admit that I have slothfully allowed myself to avoid deep spiritual study and introspection because I often find it exhausting. This results in me hastily and haphazardly attaching myself to a belief system which is not my own. However, the contents of our hearts eventually rise to the surface. Whether it be fear, anger, sickness or something else, our lifestyle and responses to stress show what we really believe. It brings us, and our loved one, face to face with the truth.
So, in my quest to avoid the difficulty of studying and nailing down my beliefs, I basically said, “This is what I believe too,” when Eric talked about his beliefs. I may not have said it verbally, but I implied it by not offering differing ideas or opinions. My apathy caused me to lie. Though I was not maliciously seeking to deceive, I lied about my beliefs, nonetheless, by not finding and stating them.
That was a lightbulb moment for me. My laziness leads to deceit. I never thought of it that way.
After study and prayer (and several of those deep discussions I generally avoid), Eric and I plan to solidify our family creed before the end of 2019. We hope you join us in doing the same. ~smile~
Our Personal Beliefs Lead to Our Personal Actions. Our Beliefs as a Couple Lead to Our Actions as a Couple.
It is overwhelmingly true that our personal beliefs impact our relationships – especially our marriages. We are the truest versions of ourselves with our spouses. Eric has seen some true ugliness spill out of me over the years and I have seen the same from him. We can only fake it for so long before the contents of our hearts spill out in our words and deeds.
When your core beliefs differ from your significant other/spouse’s beliefs, sooner or later one of two scenarios will occur: either there will be a war over which direction to take (imagine a car spinning in circles) or, one person will be dragged along, not thriving or contributing to the relationship in meaningful ways. Either way, goals are never realized. Destinations are never reached. Potential is lost.
What you believe matters and discovering it before you are someone’s spouse is ideal.
Maybe you are thinking, “I am just not sure what I believe. I need my special someone to guide me towards what I believe.” That is fine if you are truly discovering what you believe together. It is not fine if you are simply jumping on board with his or her beliefs to avoid putting in the work. There is not a couple on the face of this earth who share identical beliefs. We are too unique.
You and your sweetheart disagree on something. If it is something important, it will cause issues down the road. Is it not worth the effort to discover them now, if possible? In retrospect, I genuinely wish Eric and I had put more effort into discovering and challenging our beliefs with each other when we were dating. Had Eric realized this was a need, he would have jumped on it quickly. Being naïve, inexperienced, and (let’s face it) lazy at that point in my life, I would have done everything in my power to avoid the work and any potential conflict.
Avoidance rarely leads anywhere good.
We paid dearly for not deeply exploring this area of our lives before marriage. If we had it to do over again, we would not exchange vows before crafting written personal creeds and a couple’s creed – both of us contributing to the process as fully and honestly as possible.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Where will you go from here? Are you ready to start the journey towards creating your own written creed and eventually your couple’s creed? Is your significant other on board?
How will your personal creed impact your relationship and future marriage?