Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mixed Marriage

In many ways, being married to a Mason carries the same burdens as marriage to someone of a different religion. His belief in the mythology of Masonry and participation in archaic, secret rituals can leave the wife feeling excluded. In some ways, it is worse than a religious difference because a woman cannot even "read" the ritual book as it is written in a cypher using only the first letter of each word. The meaning is passed on by rote learning, one Mason to another.

If, for example, a marriage is between a catholic and a protestant, they at least have a common holy book, can attend each others services, even convert if they choose. Between more different religions, the holy books can still be shared, discussed, even debated. Seldom are there rituals that cannot be explained so that there is understanding between the spouses.

Full participation, in this country, is not an option. At best, a wife can attend banquets and installations, but her presence is entirely peripheral. Joining the womens' auxiliary organizations may be satisfying to some. However, one is no closer to knowing what her husband is doing at all those meetings she may never attend.

Few religious adherents, in the United States, attend more than one or two meetings per week. The abundance of appendant Masonic organizations makes it possible for a Mason to belong to a dozen or more. Each has it's monthly meeting and often, a multi-day annual convention. Men elected to district or state offices are expected to make visitations upon other groups, greatly multiplying the meetings available to attend. This can lead to a sense of abandonment as the he leaves home all day Saturday and 3 nights in the same week, or travels out of state for a 3-4 day meeting using his vacations days to do so.

Most modern women hold jobs as well as keeping the house and rearing the children. She cannot follow her husband from event to event. Despite the claim made by Masonry that it will not interfere with duty to family, that is not my experience nor that of many women I have talked to. His Masonic duties tend to come right behind those of his employment leaving family a sad third in line for his attention.

Any hobby can get out of hand and take too much attention. The problem is that most Masons don't think of it as a hobby. It's a devotion, an obligation, an oath-bound allegiance; it insinuates itself into every available niche. Similar to the Marine's motto "God, Country, Corps", wife and family come in a distant last.

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