Religious Extremism and Seeking Divorce: What You Should KnowWhen you and your spouse no longer share the same beliefs as a result of him or her subscribing to what you consider to be radical ideals, sharing a household can become beyond difficult. We aren’t talking about a slightly different view on something or a difference of opinion on one issue; we are talking about behavioral changes so severe that you no longer recognize your spouse – nor feel safe in the home.

What may have caused your spouse to become a religious extremist?

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), people who are at risk for becoming extremists and cult members are those who have a need not being met. It may sound like a child throwing a tantrum, but on a “grownup” scale, this is where unhappy, unsatisfied individuals can land. These identified needs can make a difference between your spouse remaining the person you fell in love with or becoming someone you no longer recognize.

The seven personal needs are:

  • Power. Those who lack control over their lives lack self-confidence or feelings of importance that can lead to a superiority complex expressed through violence.
  • Achievement. Feeling accomplished is important to self-worth, and those who feel like they have failed in fulfilling this need may believe they can make a positive change in society by following through with violent attacks.
  • Affiliation. When an individual doesn’t have the close relationships he or she needs, that desire can turn towards companionship in groups where others share that commonality. Members of extremist groups are experts at homing in on individuals with this weakness and inviting people into their fold.
  • Importance. Most people need to feel recognized and respected by family, friends, and coworkers. If they do not feel valued, it can push them toward groups where they are made to feel valued based on their performance in furtherance of the cause.
  • Purpose. People who feel their lives lack purpose can become much more open to extremism, where the goals of the group are usually clear cut.
  • Morality. When an individual who is closed off to other ideas begins to feel his or her strong belief system is being threatened, he or she can more easily be drawn into activities and groups designed to uphold what they believe.
  • Excitement. Some people need to try new things to feel alive, even if they seem dangerous, and can be unintentionally lured into religious extremism by other who have glamorized it.

Religious extremism can make a marriage dangerous

A spouse’s views can change so much that the change alters his or her entire personality, thought process, way of life, and how you are able to interact with one another. If this has happened, then you may need to begin weighing whether you can envision your marriage moving forward in a healthy way. Therapy or counseling may help reverse the course of your marriage, and help your spouse understand why he or she was so drawn to the group.

If you feel that you and your spouse are at risk for splitting because of an extremist mindset and you believe all of the indicators are there that it will only get worse, it would be wise to do some divorce planning. This can help you:

  • Create a plan to help you and your children leave safely, which may include a protective order.
  • Determine child support you may be entitled to.
  • Establish whether you might be entitled to alimony.
  • Designate your marital assets and what you might be able to walk away with.
  • Design a child custody and visitation plan that you would be comfortable with under the circumstances.

At the client-focused law firm of McCabe Russell, P.A. our Columbia divorce attorneys take your safety seriously. We know that it goes much deeper than just incompatibility and we are here to offer you a safe place to discuss your legal needs. To schedule your confidential consultation with a member of our legal team please call 443-917-3347, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form. We also have offices in Fulton, Bethesda, and Rockville.