…And we’re back! Now that school is done and my job has started, life is starting to stabilize a bit. I’m hoping to keep us on a monthly schedule for new posts, so be on the lookout!
So, I get emails concerning Freemasonry fairly often, actually more often than I thought I would during my hiatus. About once or twice a month, I get an email with a question that is now fairly familiar to me. Everyone has their own story, of course, but the main idea is the same. Generalizing it a bit, it tends to be something along the lines of, “My husband goes to Lodge, even though he knows I don’t like it. He won’t help at home. I feel like Masonry is more important to him than his family.” While I would not usually say this so directly in an email, I will take the risk of making a blanket statement here. Freemasonry is not to blame, your husband is just an asshole.
I know I tout this a lot, but really, I think it is one of the most important bits of advice that anyone can give the SO of a Mason. It’s important for you to know and understand, what Freemasonry teaches, even in just a very general sense. You see, when a man takes his obligation, that is, when he kneels down and puts his hand on the volume of Sacred Law (usually the Bible), he swears that Masonry will not come first. Yes, you read that correctly. He swears that his obligations to his family, his job, and his deity of choice come before his obligation to Masonry. Think of Freemasonry a bit like a high school extracurricular. You’ve got to keep your grades up in your classes, that is, the important stuff, if you want to be involved. If Masonry is coming first, you’ve got problems; you’ll want to read the rest of this article.
I know that a lot of people have hang-ups about the secretive aspect of Masonry. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again here: Freemasonry is not a secret society, it is a society with secrets. And lets be real, their secrets aren’t even anything awesome. They consist of a few handshakes, ways to recognize each other, and some exact wording of some ritual. If you, for whatever reason, want to know these things, Google is your friend. That being said, I do not recommend looking these things up if you are a current candidate. It can ruin the immersion aspect.
Sometimes, especially “back in the day” (aka, 1950’s) Masons were ill or misinformed about what was and what was not a secret. It is not always spelled out in black and white. Because of this, many Masons simply chose to share nothing instead, which fed into all of the ideas about Freemasons that the conspiracy theorists love. Sometimes it can depend on the jurisdiction, but chances are, if it’s written out in plain, longhand English, it isn’t a secret. This can, of course, get more confusing with oral history jurisdictions, but that’s another article entirely.
Again, I do strongly recommend anyone dating a Mason to educate themselves as much as possible. Explore this blog, don’t be afraid to send me an email with specific questions. There is a lot of misinformation out there about Freemasonry. I’ve found that the best resources tend to be either in print, or in person. Brother Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies is an excellent resource. I’ve read the whole thing cover to cover, and honestly can’t recommend it enough. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry is also excellent.
Going and meeting people in your Mason’s Lodge is also a very valuable resource. Not only will getting to know these folks possibly make you feel more comfortable, but it will also allow you to gauge how much time other Masons are spending at Lodge. Ask to meet the current Worshipful Master (essentially the President of the Lodge), ask to see the Lodge room. These things are okay for you to ask for, and again, doing so may make you feel more at ease.
Talk to your Spouse
I know I’ve given this advice probably about as often as I should take it myself. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Life gets in the way sometimes. If you are feeling that your Mason is too involved in Lodge, and/or spending too much time there, make time to sit down and talk about it. Schedule it if you have to, but get it done. Find out what they like about Freemasonry, what they don’t like. What motivates them to attend so much? Is it because they enjoy the Masonic work so much? Their Lodge is just so super awesome? Or are they avoiding the obligations of work, home, kids, etc?
If it’s that they are so overjoyed by Masonry, awesome. What are you, as the SO, going to do with this information? Are you comfortable with this, or do you need them to tone it down a bit? Are you happy to help, get involved, or would you rather not? This is totally your choice. Do not feel pressure to get involved if you aren’t interested. It’s perfectly normal for spouses to have interests that their partners don’t.
That being said, sometimes just knowing what is going on at a Lodge meeting, or meeting the other members of his Lodge may help put your mind at ease. If he isn’t sure what he can tell you about what happens, I recommend reading over this post together, and talking about it. If you do want to get involved, don’t be afraid to jump in feet first. There’s always fundraisers, car washes, raffle tickets, fun nights, etc., etc. Don’t forget, it’s okay to say no sometimes when you need a break.
Alright, so, lets say that your spouse isn’t overjoyed and overexcited by the teachings of Masonry, and is instead using it as a way to avoid other responsibilities. He’s being a bit of an asshole by going to Lodge and getting more involved, despite your requests for him to not, for help with the kids, whatever the case may be. It happens. In this instance, I recommend two things: communicate, and get help.
Communicating and Getting Help
Obviously, direct, face to face communication is best. Speak directly with your SO about Freemasonry, how you feel about it, and the issues you are having. Its it just them spending too much time at Lodge? Too much money? Avoiding responsibilities? You just don’t like it? Let them know. Adulting is hard sometimes, but it is often unavoidable. Compromise is the key. You might not get exactly what you are looking for, but be sure that your partner is willing to listen and find a solution with you. If they are unwilling to budge, it’s time to sit down with a professional who can act as a moderator.
There’s a ton of tips online for communicating with your SO. It’s also something that everyone can be better about, no one is perfect. Some of these include using “I” statements, and finding both of your preferred love languages and communication styles. If you find that its not going well, or that you need help communicating, that’s just fine. The help is available, you just need to ask for it. Many local colleges offer free marital counseling. Sometimes its nice to just talk to a third party. If you are in a situation where your spouse refuses to go, just go by yourself until they join you.
In addition to this, do not be afraid to contact your Lodge if you are having issues with your Mason being too involved. It may seem weird to think about, but in a way, it is your Lodge too. Usually there is a phone number or email address available online under a Lodge’s contact information or on their website. If you aren’t sure which Lodge to contact, do a Google search for “[Your State] Grand Lodge”. This should have a site with all of your area’s Lodges and their contact information.
When you send an email or make a phone call, this will usually go to the Lodge’s secretary. When you contact them, you do not need to say anything more than, “I am ______’s partner. I need to talk to the Worshipful Master about a personal matter.” (I would not worry about confidentiality, Masons are good at keeping secrets, remember?) I would recommend meeting with him in person, if you are able. Hopefully they will be able to whisper some good council, and get your Mason back onto the right path.
As always, if you have any questions about anything mentioned in this article or otherwise related to Freemasonry, do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org