Friends and Family with values different than your own

I’m just wondering how others deal with friends and family members that don’t hold the same moral values that you and your immediately family do. How do you maintain loving feelings for them when their behaviors would be considered destructive in your view?
For instance, I don’t use illegal drugs, don’t drink to excess, there’s no pornography in our home. No occult stuff either, no going to psychics. No gambling. We don’t watch movies/shows that are sexually explicit or promote violence.
It seems that almost everyone out there thinks one or more of these things is okay. Its hard to make friends when other women think its okay to go out for drinks without your spouse, or that going to the casino sounds like a good plan. I belonged to a parenting forum where I was shocked to learn *I *was the odd one who didn’t ever try (let alone continue even as a parent!) to use marijuana.
Should we just remove all these people from our lives and continue to pray for them? That’s what we’ve always chosen to do, and let me just say it makes for a very lonely existance. I’m stumped.

My sister & her husband have different values than I do.
I love them dearly - they “were there” for me during a very tragic period in my life.

I respect them both as very intelligent people. I consider myself somewhat intelligent.
So I wondered, how can 3 intelligent people have such apparently different viewpoints?

So now we talk. A lot. Good discussions.
Trying to understand the truth each other has to offer.

I do not try to convert them - they do not try to convert me.

Through these discussions, I have grown in my understanding of my beliefs.
And we have grown in our love for each other.

I trust God that He will not lead me down the wrong path.
That what He offers me will only help me to travel the path I am on.
So I do not shut others out of my life nor me out of theirs.

Go with Love, Go with God

Having done at some point all but one of the things you listed and a good many more, I’m quite glad my good Catholic family did not choose to ostracize me as it seems you would in their place. Their different values didn’t land them on a ‘dead to me’ list either. We disagree on many things, but do so politely and with mutual love and charity. I don’t try to correct what I see as their errors (unless it’s about to result in catastrophe) and they for their part had the kindness and good sense to realize that while admonishing the sinner may be a work of mercy, it is not a full-time job.

If you are going to be a light to the world, shunning the very people you want to illuminate is not a very good way of going about it.

Should we just remove all these people from our lives and continue to pray for them?

Of course, continue your praying, but why would you want to remove them from your life? I could understand if a person’s morals and lifestyle was so extreme & despicable I did not want, no, make that could not, associate with them in friendship.

Or I may understand that their friendship & association may at times challenge my own faith and beliefs. But, personally, this has made my faith grow, not diminish.

Or I can understand how your friends may treat you a little different, or behave differently around you, due to your faith. For instance, maybe a dirty joke isn’t shared when you are in their presence. But isn’t this a sign of respect for your beliefs, & not wanting to offend you?

My friends with different values do not try to convert me, I do not try to preach to them. Although we may not agree, we do respect each others beliefs. But I find it very interesting that their children very often ask, & join my kids at Mass, with permission from their Mom & Dad :smiley:

I understand the benefits of a religious cloistered community, but there are also many disadvantages if this seclusion is applied to a normal family setting.

Its hard to make friends when other women think its okay to go out for drinks without your spouse

My wife & I do this occasionally, and often need to for professional reasons. I have total trust in her, as she has in me. Never been a problem, but this is also due to our love & respect of each other on top of our religious & moral beliefs.

My mother is very liberal in her outlook, so our values totally do not mesh. During conversations we just typically avoid what we don’t agree on. If a subject comes up, I stand firm on my beliefs but I respect her right to have her own opinion.
As far as associating with people who have different values, if they aren’t family, I would steer clear of close friendships with people who don’t share your values. But in the case of family, unless their behavior is destructive to YOUR family, I would just overlook the differences and keep conversation on a neutral level.

That’s not OK?

OK, I’m going to be completely honest with you here. I think your being a little judgemental and way too strict. I can see not wanting to hang around someone who currently uses pot, but just because somebody did it in the past doesn’t make them a bad person. Everybody screws up at some point in their life, including you, and usually people learn from their mistakes and move on. I used pot when I was a teen. So does that mean you won’t hang out with me? :confused:

Honestly, if you continue at this rate, you won’t have any friends left.

What would happen if we walled ourselves in with only like-minded Catholic people? How would we ever become “Fishers of men”? How could we ever be a good influence on others? I was once living a different life, what if others had shunned me and judged me? How would I have ever been brought along to faith?

I have 2 situations currently troubling me - one sibling who is divorced, not annulled, and dating a single parent who is separated from their spouse. Another is expecting a child, conceived via in vitro fertilization, is very pro-choice. I could judge and shun. Or I could live my life, overtly faithful to Catholic teachings, so that there is no doubt in their minds as to what I stand for. With prayer, and trust in God, the opportunities will come to influence them positively. I am convinced of that.

This has worked for me before. As an example, I have a friend who was not Catholic.She knew from my lifestyle, always talking about church, inviting her to my church, my activities in my church. etc. that I was a committed Catholic. She also noticed that I had joy and peace in my life. As her life became increasingly not joyful or peaceful, she knew who to come to, and she eventually said “I want what you have. How do I get it?”. Now she has it. She is now a proud and happy practicing Catholic, and she is a positive influence on others, by living the example of her faith.


Praying for guidance for you.

I agree with the other posters here…

I do not agree with the mindset of isolating ourselves away from the evils of the world… I personally think we, as Catholics, have a responsibility to share our faith (in a loving, prudent manner… as an example) rather than isolate ourselves in our “perfection”. This is part of our call to evangelization.

Now, if you are personally persuaded to sin easily by being around these people, then by all means you should avoid contact with them… that is a different issue.

But even Christ himself dined with sinners. :slight_smile:

I thank you all for your responses. I did say in the original post that is does make for a lonely existance. I currently have NO friends.

I had no trouble when I worked (I quit in January), as I am an outgoing person when out of my husband’s presence, and I keep confidences so my friends know to trust me. A few still call every now and then, but we do not see each other anymore. In a workplace of 100 people, 33 were friends of mine, and 3 were particularly special to me. (I know exactly how many because I bought little gifts for each one when I was leaving to stay home.) .

I think I am just of late coming to realize the high cost of living with an abusive spouse. One of them is that I have trouble keeping relationships outside of a workplace, for fear of his judgement. Nobody is good enough. Heck, even *I’m *not good enough by his standards.

My highschool friends, believe me, I miss them. The last time my best friend called was 12 years ago, on my 26th birthday~ she was newly divorced (2nd time) & having a tattoo party at her home and was so drunk I could barely undestand her. I never called her again and didn’t return her messages. My husband told me she wasn’t a good influence and to end my friendship with her.

Pretty much the same thing happened with cuples we were friends with. Each somehow “messed up”, whether that was just cancelling plans last minute or finding out 1 had a cocaine addiction.

Please don’t be so quick to judge me, Masondoggy. You have no idea the kind of pain I have been through. Sometimes I don’t know whether the sky really is blue anymore, KWIM? I never said I wouldn’t be friends with someone who did illegal drugs in the past. Only with someone who is doing it now, as an adult, as a parent.

I’d consider myself pretty darned lucky to have even 1 good friend these days,

Well, not to be rude, but it seems you need to get your own house in order before you go judging others. Remember the speck in your friend’s eye and the post in your own?

Now that I have read your second post, I think you may really have no true basis for deciding what is acceptable and what is not. It seems you have been letting your husband, whom you call abusive, dictate these things, and calling it living Catholic values.

The having a drink without your spouse thing seems to have stuck out to many others, and it does to me too. Are you telling me that a couple of girlfriends going out for margaritas together is WRONG? I dunno which church teaches that, but it’s not the one I go to!

I hope you can figure out the best path for yourself in dealing with the things you need to deal with, and that you can find healing and healthy friendships. I think if you were to either a) get away from your abusive spouse and get some perspective or b) heal your marriage, remove the abusive aspects of it, and get some perspective, then you would find it easier, eventually, to make friends. And to accept that they will not be carbon copies of your own values.

Please, please don’t think I was judging you. I’m just trying to point out that your only hurting yourself because you could dismiss a friendship with somebody who could really be worth having as a friend. You may not know what your missing.

I understand wanting to surround yourself with people with the same values. But if you take it to the extreme (which is what it sounded like from your post), you can end up sadly alone.

BTW, I am watching my sister go through the exact same controlling problems in her marriage and my heart goes out to you. Please follow the advice that I gave her and get some counseling for yourself. You will be in my prayers right alone with my sister. :frowning:

[quote=JenniferMoon]I think I am just of late coming to realize the high cost of living with an abusive spouse. One of them is that I have trouble keeping relationships outside of a workplace, for fear of his judgement. Nobody is good enough. Heck, even *I’m *not good enough by his standards.


[quote=duskyjewel]It seems you have been letting your husband, whom you call abusive, dictate these things, and calling it living Catholic values.

I agree. To be in fear of judgment from a spouse is, well, certainly not Catholic values.

Please get some professional counseling, if not for both of you, then at the very least for yourself.

You are in my prayers.

For those of you who say I should “get my own house in order”, I completely agree. That is why I go to a Catholic Charities counselor every three weeks and Haven House group counselng on every Thursday night. You must understand that after so many years of this, it only stands to reason that I would be confused about what is right and wrong when it comes to friends. Its been drilled into my head that I am disposable, as well as other people in our lives. I didn’t used to be this way, once upon a time.

JenniferMoon, Have you guys ever thought of going thu Retrouvaille? If you went thru a program like this, both you and your husband could gain a lot from it and might be able to heal the wounds. It would help him understand you and treat you as a human being, and as his wife and mother of his children. It would help you heal and also understand him better.

I was in an abusive relationship for 5.5 yrs. I was engaged to be married to this guy. He abused me emotionally and never let me go out with my friends, especially not to go out drinking a margarita or whatever. I had to “ask for permission” to go out with my friends, he literally made me hate my sister, he checked my emails and my phone bills just to make sure he knew who I was in contact with. When we finally got engaged, I only said yes because he pressured me into it. I’m glad I had the guts to break up with him 13 months before the wedding. He did threaten me, and threatened to hurt my family. My little brother (who was friends with him) had to tell him to keep away from us or he’d have the entire Navy after him (of course he exagerated a bit, he doesn’t know everyone in the Navy). You need to get help so you can feel and know your self-worth.

He’s only manipulating you and tries to use the “good Catholic” approach??? That’s not Catholic at all! He’s making you get away from your friends? Please, for your sake, take a look at the site I mentioned above. It’s a life/marriage saver! My prayers are with you.

You are NOT disposable!!! That’s the first thing you have to get into your head. NOT DISPOSABLE!!! Please look into Retrouvaille. It’s a program geeared to help troubled marriages. I’ve seen many couples go from abusive (physically and emotionally) to tame, kind, respectful, and loving.

I have a close friend, who, thanks be to God, was able to get out of a relationship before it got too bad…

It’s very hard to be friends with someone in an abusive relationship. Let me try to explain…

As my friend was experiencing some things and she wasn’t even telling my everything, I was there for her, I prayed for her and gave her advice. But it wore me out. I felt like I was being dragged behind a Mac truck… I was almost to the point that I was no longer speaking to her about her personal life (she also works for me, so we talked business, but even her job performance was suffering)…

I know this sounds bad, but all I could do was pray for her. I couldn’t be or do anything for her, she had to do it on her own, and it tore me apart inside, my heart hurt so bad…and fortunately, being near complete distance and near firing her from her job, she broke away from this man.

Guess what I am saying to you…yes, it is hard to be a friend to someone in this situation…but I would almost bet, those past friends still have you on their minds and if they are Christians, they are praying for you. So, you probably have more friends and family that you DO have alot in common or share values with than you realize…they love you.

Its funny you should mention Retrouvaille. My SIL (husband’s sister) suggested the same not two weeks ago. So I looked up the website and made the call. I explained my situation and they (one contacted me via email too) regretfully told me they doubt a marriage like mine can be helped. I’d have to first get permission from a judge, from husband’s Anger Management psychiatrist, and my own therapist, then convince the husband, just to attend. Because there was once a history of physical abuse too (up until about 10 years ago) they do have reason to fear he will do it again, under the situation of having to deal with his problem at Retrouvaille. They worry for my safety & others attending in that situation, therefore the need for professionals to sign their ok to it.

So many people wrongly think this is a *marriage problem *when in reality it is an abuse problem, with 1 person taking out his rage on another.

I wish it were both of us because then at least I know it could be worked on. I can’t fix someone else.:frowning:

Dana, thank you for you words of kindness and encouragement. I needed them.

**Thank you all for your replies. I am trying very hard to listen to the message and not be overly sensitive to criticism. I have to separate the ‘constructive’ kind from the kind I am used to.
Believe it or not, I agree with all of you.

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