Deconstructing with your Partner (Grace & Space - A Newsletter from the Deconstructing Mamas)


You were raised religious, married young, got busy having babies and now?


Uh-oh.


You’re deconstructing and rethinking your faith, the very system of values that compelled you to form this family in the first place. Guess who’s been through this rodeo and got some life hacks for ya? This girl. (points to self)


Over the years, people have asked me how I’ve done it, deconstructed with my husband (I know, who even says husband anymore, I’m so old fashioned) and I do have some tips and insights if you’ll indulge me.......


You were raised religious, married young, got busy having babies and now?

Uh-oh.

You’re deconstructing and rethinking your faith, the very system of values that compelled you to form this family in the first place. Guess who’s been through this rodeo and got some life hacks for ya? This girl. (points to self)

Over the years, people have asked me how I’ve done it, deconstructed with my husband (I know, who even says husband anymore, I’m so old fashioned) and I do have some tips and insights if you’ll indulge me.

First, a disclaimer: the goal of successful deconstruction with a partner is not to ensure a long term monogamous marriage. It’s high time we dismantle that relationship model as the only measure of a successful life. Your deconstruction may lead to you discovering you’ve been in an abusive relationship—very common for those who were raised in the sexist, fundamentalist culture that harbors abuse—if your deconstruction leads you to the liberation FROM your marriage, I send my deepest respect to you for doing a very hard and right thing. Your deconstruction may lead to you and your partner becoming more whole, authentic, and alive, AND you still end up parting ways because you both have the agency to decide the path you want moving forward. That also feels like a smashing success to me.

Second, some prerequisites: in order to be able to deconstruct WITH your partner, like everything we do in relationship to another human being, it requires consent.

  1. Your partner needs to be willing to listen to your genuine wrestling with your faith.

  2. Your partner needs to not be a bigoted asshole. Of course, as for all of us, there is room for growth to evolve into a better human being, but if they’re just stubbornly bigoted, then skip to the divorce, you’re better off deconstructing without them.

  3. Your partner’s theology requires a bit of openness beyond hell and brimstone. Hell is a hell of a fear drug, and again, you can’t deconstruct with someone who will let their fear of hell consume you while you’re trying to get free.

Unless your partner has signed on to this journey you’re embarking on, you won’t be deconstructing WITH them, just deconstructing in their vicinity. That’s a lonely place and I hope you find plenty of support from others for your journey.

If you find that you can check, check, check those prereqs, then you are in a good position to deconstruct alongside your partner. So if a successful long term partnership isn’t the goal of deconstructing alongside your partner, then what is? I think a worthwhile goal is to invite your partner to join you in this wild ride—that you may have companionship during these rocky times, that you may learn from each other, sharpening your clarity through your deconstruction, that you may know each other even more intimately and recommit to one another with more authenticity and agency that you will hopefully reclaim through deconstruction.

And if that leads to a sappy happily ever after, well, I won’t begrudge you that outcome. So, are you ready? Here are a few ways to help you deconstruct with your partner:

DIFFERENT TIMELINES

You and your partner are going to deconstruct different things at different times in different ways, because it turns out we DO NOT BECOME ONE THE UNITY CANDLE IS A FREAKING LIE. We are individuals who share life together. It will go a long way if you can respect that your partner is deconstructing at a different track. For a minor example, neither my husband or I grew up cursing at all, we were good evangelical kids. As I deconstructed, I felt ready to let that religious obligation go, and he just didn’t agree. It was a change from the way we knew each other, and the ways we related to each other. And I recognized that those little changes are a very big deal. So I respected his process and didn’t push the issue, giving him time to get used to the changes that were happening inside of me.

The way I see it, being together in relationship is a hard thing (it’s also a really easy, fun, delightful thing, but it requires intentionality,) and deconstructing is also a hard thing. But what will make it triply hard, instead of just doubly hard, is if we try to control the way our partners are deconstructing. I never tried to control my husband. I was very busy focusing on my own deconstruction, and because of prerequisite number 1, he let me do my thing. And I, in turn, let him do his.

SOCIAL LOCATION

Remember that you and your partners are deconstructing from a different social location. I’m an Asian woman, my husband is a white man—he and I did not receive the same instruction manual even though we grew up with the same subculture. I was told to submit, submit, and submit some more. He was told to pursue, to speak, to go on grand adventures. He and I could both be deconstructing the sexist nonsense of evangelical culture, but we are not going to be deconstructing from the same lived experiences because of our respective identities. This is not to say that we need to be comparing which partner had it worse, but that we need to be mindful of the realities that some of our deconstruction is going to carry our unique flavors of trauma because of our respective social locations growing up in it.

There is an opportunity to aid each other in deconstruction here, because we can offer our partners a perspective that they cannot have and what is deconstruction but blowing up presuppositions and smashing biases? We can help each other deconstruct with education, empathy, and ultimately get to know one another more authentically along the way.

TRAUMA INFORMED

When I learned about religious trauma, my deconstruction game leveled up. Before, I thought I was changing my mind about doctrines, rejecting toxic doctrines for better, healthier theology. When I realized I had religious trauma, I understood my anger, my anxiety, my outbursts at my unsuspecting partner was about my body’s response to feeling unsafe. At that point, it didn’t matter what I was saying, whose arguments were more articulate, and whether or not he agreed with me. What mattered was that my body was feeling unsafe and my nervous system needed to be regulated into safety. I said earlier, because of our varying social locations, we have our own unique flavors of trauma. As we’re deconstructing alongside our partners, at some point, one or both of you may be triggered into a trauma response, and that is not a time to tease out the nuances of your favorite progressive influencer’s hot take. It’s a time for deep breaths, ample compassion, and coregulation. Unless we are trauma informed, we risk exchanging anxiety and derailing from the work of deconstruction by inflicting additional pain on each other.

Sometimes my partner and I, because we’ve stayed together through the crucible that is deconstruction, will say something like, we still love each other because we’re still the same people. At first, I felt okay with that response because there’s something satisfying about a constant, when everything certain has been pulled out from under you, it’s comforting to know there is someone in your life who has stayed the same. But as the years went on, I’ve chuckled to him and said, we can’t keep saying that anymore. We cannot reasonably say we’re still the same people, we’ve changed so much.

Esther Perel says, many of us have several relationships/marriages in our lifetime, sometimes with the same person.

Change is the name of the deconstruction game. It’s scary, but I do it because I’m fighting for what feels more true to the human experience, and I don’t ever want to settle for a relationship that is any less authentic. It’s worth the work, I promise. [This piece was written and originally posted on Cindy Wang Brandt's website which you can check out HERE.]

 

Latest News: We Were Interviewed on a Fantastic Podcast The Sparrow’s Call is an outreach to what pollsters have come to call, "The Nones," "The Dones," and "The Searchers." Our intent is to minister to these 3 groups, their loved ones, and pastors and churches who want to be aware of unnecessary obstacles. They have created a podcast addressing how faith and science and deconstructing collide into one giant, jumbled, wonderful, sacred mess. It's called Voices in the Wilderness and you can hear our episode here: Facebook YouTube

Sneak Peek for Our New Season

We have been interviewing and recording all summer in preparation for our new season. Our guests include Brian McLaren, Joy Vetterlein, Grace Hufschmid, Angela Herrington, Lizz's dad (otherwise known as Pete Enns), Ben Cremer, Daneen Akers, Shelly Robinson, Erika Graham, Brittany Meng, Cassie Gottula Shaw, Danielle Shroyer, and a special episode to kick it off with Lizz and Esther. We will explore how we can heal from purity culture, what we do with our faith after doubt, raising ourselves while conscious parenting, decoding original blessing and debunking original sin, recovering from church hurt, and SO MUCH MORE. We will be editing over the next few weeks just in time for our launch on Tuesday, September 13. Our Private Facebook Community Don't forget to sign up for our private and exclusive Deconstructing Mamas community on Facebook for those of you who want to move to the next level with us via our Patreon platform.

DIPPING YOUR TOES At this level, for as little as $3, you can ask questions, experience a safe and welcoming community with others who are deconstructing and receive special surprises along the way from Lizz and Esther.


You will also have access to our private Youtube podcast videos that are solely for Patreon supporters (coming soon). Head to this LINK to sign up!!

 

Resources

Our weekly shoutout goes to @megccowan on Instagram. If you are struggling with purity culture in real life, she might be a big help to you. This is what she had to say to explain just a little bit better.


"It’s ok to feel ripped off by purity culture and the way you were raised to think about s-x and intimacy.

It’s totally understandable that you feel mad, frustrated or defeated by how it’s affected you.


But whether you continue to allow it to have the say over how you feel about your body and s-x life is up to you.


I know it’s a tricky topic but honestly, I love my work in this space.

I love walking alongside people as they throw off the layers of shame and step into such beautiful freedom.


It’s absolutely possible for you.

Message me and let’s talk about how you can begin."

 

From the Podcast Archives

Cindy Wang Brandt, cohost on the Parenting Forward podcast and author of Parenting Forward, really digs deep into the subject of religious trauma and how that plays out in parenting. How can we heal ourselves, make good boundaries with our families of origin and give ourselves grace and space in the process? Cindy is the guru when it comes to deconstructing and parenting. She is a wife to one and a mom to two. She has done the hard work of helping parents unpack and heal from their own religious trauma so they can raise children with healthy spirituality. This podcast episode is packed full of so many nuggets of wisdom, but Cindy breaks it all down super practically. So if you are starting this journey or are in the middle or even far along, this podcast episode has something special just for you. CHECK IT OUT HERE: THE RELIEF-GRIEF SANDWICH






Follow Cindy on Social Media Here: Facebook: Parenting Forward Raising Children Unfundamentalist Group

Instagram: @parentingforward

Twitter: @cindywangbrandt Website: www.cindywangbrandt.com Parenting Forward Conference

 

We want to again remind you that we are so glad you are here. We wouldn't be the same without you. You will always find GRACE for where you've been and who you are now, and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be.


Carry on, our new-found friends. Welcome to the twisty-windy, full -of-adventure faith path that's laid out before us all. Love,

Lizz & Esther

P.S. One last bonus thing....do you ever wonder why you are so afraid, or struggle with anxiety as a real-life issue? Check out this reel...it will have you laughing and crying and punching walls, perhaps.








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