My conversation with my wife the other day, talking about Hanukkah:
Me: Speaking of Hanukkah, usually each person in the family gets their own menorah. I know you’re not interested in Judaism as a participant, but would you like a menorah?
Her: I don’t need a menorah, love.
Me: Well, it’s not a matter of NEEDING one. I’m just asking if you want one.
Her: I don’t want one.
Me: *instant depression*
I know, I shouldn’t have asked because I KNEW the answer, and I don’t want to force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do so I didn’t force the issue. I just let it go. But honestly I was sad about it. It’s really hard for me because I so badly want her to participate with me– because I need someone close to me who can do this with me so I don’t feel so alone in it. It’s hard being the only one in my house lighting candles for Hanukkah, or Shabbat, or whatever it is I’m doing. It’s one of the major reasons why I haven’t been able to get myself out there and find a congregation. I’ve been too scared to go on my own. I want someone close to me to be by my side as I do it. Also, holidays should be spent with family, and I end up spending all of my holidays alone. And I hate it sometimes! I love my wife, and there are many benefits to an interfaith marriage, but sometimes I find myself upset that she doesn’t want to share religious traditions with me. She wants no part in any religious or spiritual activity, even the fun ones. Not only does it make me sad, it leaves me confused– because I’ve grown up in religious environments (and loved it), so I’m sitting here like WHY ISN’T THIS STUFF YOUR FAVORITE?! Followed by HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE IT IF YOU’VE NEVER TRIED IT?!
I need to find a space to do this with other people. Solitary ritual has its place, but I’m human. I’m a social being, and I just know I’m meant to do (most) ritual with other people. It’s how you create and maintain a spiritual community, and it’s a really meaningful and powerful way to commune with the divine. I’ll find my place one day, hopefully soon.