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Author Topic: Neo-Paganism: Paganism and Partners  (Read 133 times)

Grace

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Paganism and Partners
« on: September 12, 2018, 12:50:56 pm »
Hello All,

As I mentioned in my introduction post earlier today, I have recently returned to my pagan beliefs and am still figuring out my path at the moment, but one thing that is...holding me back - for lack of a better phrase - is the reaction of my partner to my spiritual revival and I guess I'm looking for other peoples advice on how to best navigate this. (apologies if this isn't the right place for this topic, I'm still finding my way around the board)

For a little background, myself and my boyfriend have been together 4 years and while we were both raised in the Catholic tradition, I wouldn't say he is religious. I told him about 6 months into the relationship that I consider my beliefs to be closest to that of a pagan faith and that I like to express this by being close to nature and keeping emblems of the elements in my space. His reaction was, I guess, normal. He just kind of said 'Oh' and then changed the subject. He didn't seem to have a problem with it, more that he didn't understand it and didn't really know what to do with the information. I decided that was the best I could hope for, and as I wasn't "active" in my beliefs at the time it wasn't as much of an issue.

But since my recent return and renewed connection with my beliefs, it has become a little trickier. For the first while I agonized over whether to give him a heads up that I was becoming more active again, or to simply let it be between us and see if he mentioned it. But I felt the secrecy of it was perpetuating an association with shame about my beliefs (originally manifested by my family) and I also felt that I couldn't give myself over fully when I was scared he'd look over my shoulder at what I was reading etc. So I wrote him a letter outlining that I felt a renewed connection, outlined briefly my beliefs so he could better understand, and explained that I would really appreciate his understanding and respect in regards to practicing within our home, having my altar at home etc.

I have to say, his reaction to the letter was so sweet and he reassured me that he doesn't judge me and that it is no big deal to him, and that I am of course free to do what I want in our home. It was so lovely and honestly a bit of a relief for him to be so accepting. However, since that he is still quite awkward about it. For example, if I'm on the PC researching a certain path etc and he comes in and asks me what I'm doing and I tell him 'Just research' even that is enough for him to become like a deer trapped in headlights and either change the subject or leave the room. Same goes for books I'm reading on the subject, or really anything to do with it, he looks kind of terrified.

I realize I am asking him to accept something he is unfamiliar with and has little to no knowledge of, and I have no interest in him being interested or really having anything to do with it, it's personal to me. But does anyone have any tips on how to maybe make him a little more comfortable with it so he doesn't freeze every time some reference to it is made?

I have finished setting up my new altar today while he was at work and I am nervous about what his reaction will be to it when he gets home later, even though he said he was fine with me setting one up as long as it was tasteful. The last thing I want to do is make him feel uncomfortable in our shared home, but I am finding it difficult to balance between giving myself space to work in my beliefs and keeping things as low-key as possible for his sake.

I'd appreciate any advice or tips anyone might have to navigate this as smoothly as possible.

G.

MeadowRae

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Re: Paganism and Partners
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2018, 03:13:14 pm »


I have to say, his reaction to the letter was so sweet and he reassured me that he doesn't judge me and that it is no big deal to him, and that I am of course free to do what I want in our home. It was so lovely and honestly a bit of a relief for him to be so accepting. However, since that he is still quite awkward about it. For example, if I'm on the PC researching a certain path etc and he comes in and asks me what I'm doing and I tell him 'Just research' even that is enough for him to become like a deer trapped in headlights and either change the subject or leave the room. Same goes for books I'm reading on the subject, or really anything to do with it, he looks kind of terrified.

I realize I am asking him to accept something he is unfamiliar with and has little to no knowledge of, and I have no interest in him being interested or really having anything to do with it, it's personal to me. But does anyone have any tips on how to maybe make him a little more comfortable with it so he doesn't freeze every time some reference to it is made?


It sounds like your boyfriend is really unsure what to do with the information. There isn't really a way to force someone to be comfortable, but he does seem accepting, so that is good! He could be dealing with ideas that he was raised with and doing his best to overcome them, but I don't know you guys well enough to say.

I wouldn't try to hide any information from him. He may just need some time to get used to your practice. I think not saying anything about it would make things more awkward in the long run. Maybe you could ask him if he has any questions about it? Sometimes people have ideas in their head of what paganism is without knowing a person's path.

Jenett

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Re: Paganism and Partners
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2018, 08:22:18 pm »
He didn't seem to have a problem with it, more that he didn't understand it and didn't really know what to do with the information.

One thing I've learned over the years is that talking about religion (and religious stuff) is a skill, and it's one a lot of people don't have (even people who grew up religious. Actually, often *especially* people who grew up in a religious community, moved away from it as an adult, and didn't explore other religious options.)

Have you asked him what kind of information would help him? What parts he wants to know?

And in general, how does it work in your relationship, for stuff one of you is interested in, and the other one is less interested in? (Some people have deals of "Talk about this for X minutes, and after that it's okay if I ask you to change the subject, but you get your X minutes a day if you want to share stuff." Some people just share stuff. Some people agree certain topics are off-limits because they can't talk about it usefully. I tend to think religion is not a great topic to do it with, but some people make it work, usually by being really clear about it being a deliberate agreement and why)

Anyway, if you haven't been specific that it's okay to ask you about it (or what it's okay to ask you about, if that's a subset), that might be a thing that might help. Or he might have other ideas. And if both of you are really new to talking about this, it's okay to realise it's going to be awkward for a while.

For the altar, would you feel comfortable talking about what things are on it, or a few of them? That might help him get more comfortable with it.
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Grace

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Re: Paganism and Partners
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2018, 09:09:29 am »
Maybe you could ask him if he has any questions about it? Sometimes people have ideas in their head of what paganism is without knowing a person's path.

That is a great idea and I'm a little embarrassed I didn't think of asking him if there is anything he would like to know! I guess I've been trying to tread softly and very gently just incorporate it without spooking him. I have been asking him 'Would you be okay if I did x' Instead of asking 'Would you like to know why I am doing x' or just asking him if he's curious in general. I'm wary of coming across like I want to include him, that's not my intention, but it's a fine line between trying to be courteous to someone in a shared space versus coming across like I want him to be part of it.

 But we are generally very good about being honest with one another and trying to openly communicate, I think because this is new territory for both of us (me sharing a space with someone while I incorporate my spirituality, and for him the whole thing is new) so we're still working out how to communicate about it.

Thank you so much for your suggestion!

Grace

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Re: Paganism and Partners
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2018, 09:58:50 am »
One thing I've learned over the years is that talking about religion (and religious stuff) is a skill, and it's one a lot of people don't have (even people who grew up religious. Actually, often *especially* people who grew up in a religious community, moved away from it as an adult, and didn't explore other religious options.)

I completely agree. Religion has never been off-limits for us, but we talk about it in a general wider world sense rather than personal most of the time. This is the first time my beliefs - which are different from what we both grew up believing - have come to the fore and that is certainly new territory within our relationship.

Have you asked him what kind of information would help him? What parts he wants to know?

This is something MeadowRae also suggested, and I'm embarrassed to say it is not something I thought to do, but it is something I will do.

And in general, how does it work in your relationship, for stuff one of you is interested in, and the other one is less interested in? (Some people have deals of "Talk about this for X minutes, and after that it's okay if I ask you to change the subject, but you get your X minutes a day if you want to share stuff." Some people just share stuff. Some people agree certain topics are off-limits because they can't talk about it usefully. I tend to think religion is not a great topic to do it with, but some people make it work, usually by being really clear about it being a deliberate agreement and why)

While we have vastly different interests, we're quite open about talking about them with each other and I've even come to appreciate some of his interests and hobbies (football, gaming) but wouldn't be as into them as he is. So far, there has been nothing that has been off limits to us in regards to talking about things, but we also realise there is a limit to how much the other person is interested. For example, he knows there is no use in sitting and explaining to me the value of adding a certain player to his fantasy football league, just like I don't sit and explain to him the way I am painting a picture or knitting an item. But when his fantasy football team do well, I celebrate with him, and he will admire the picture I have painted or the item I have knitted. While we don't share the same levels of enthusiasm for an interest, we can appreciate that they make the other person happy.

 And actually just writing that has made me realise a way in which I could frame this to him so that he might be more comfortable with it. While I don't want to trivialize my beliefs into him thinking its a "hobby" I think one of the things he might be struggling with is that to him, being part of a religion meant going to church once a week to pay your dues, my beliefs are much more "active" (rituals, observing the Wheel of the Year, cleansing space) so it might help him to get comfortable with it if he wants to see it more as one of my interests (albeit a sacred one) and that might help to demystify it for him. I honestly don't mind how he chooses to view it as long as he is respectful of it to me and, above all, is comfortable with me practicing in our limited shared space.

For the altar, would you feel comfortable talking about what things are on it, or a few of them? That might help him get more comfortable with it.

He actually had a very good reaction to my altar. I let him come home and see it, and then after a while I asked him if he felt okay with it and he responded positively. I think it might have been fear of the unknown, thinking I was going to cover the place in very overt symbols etc, but that has never been my style and to an outsider it just looks like a gathering of candles, ornaments and plants. But I will ask him if he would like me to explain why I have laid it out like I have or what the different things represent. Again, I am wary of coming across to him like I want him to be involved or take an interest, because I would hate to him to think I am trying to push my beliefs onto him. But I think maybe a frank and honest conversation needs to be had where I outline the fact that I'd like us to get to a place where it's okay for me to mention things about it without causing an awkward reaction, but that it does not mean I want him to take an interest.

Your comment has given me a lot to think about and some ideas of how to broach it to make him more comfortable, thank you!

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