Needing Advice on a Relationship


#1

Alright, this is a very complicated story, and it may seem foolish, as you’re all probably much older and much wiser than I am. But I’m hoping that someone can offer some advice or support.

I’m in love with a man from England. (I live in the U.S.) We met on the internet and became great friends. I realized I had feelings for him but we weren’t together, because he was pagan and I’m Catholic. God moved in my life a lot at the beginning of high school and opened my eyes to Him, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle being in a relationship with someone whose beliefs so drastically contrasted mine. But I prayed for him, because I knew I loved him, and I prayed that God would change his life.

And He has. He really has. My boyfriend (finally he’s my boyfriend!) has started going to church and listening and talking to God. His heart hasn’t fully turned over yet, but I’m praying that God will continue to work in his life and our relationship and draw us closer together and banish all the dark forces that ever gripped him. (I sent him a rosary and just recently saw it – amazing that the crucifix is a Benedictine cross just like the one I wear around my neck, and I never knew because I got it off the internet and sent it directly to him! THAT was someone upstairs sending a message!)

Anyway, he just recently visited and we saw each other for the very first time. We have known each other for at least five years, and I’ve loved him for two, at least. We talk every day on the internet and instead of the phone we use voice services and microphones. But we actually got to meet. He stayed for a bit over a week, and I can now say with certainty that I’m completely in love with this boy. I finally got to go to church with him! God brought us together once and I trust that He will again if it is meant to be, but now my boyfriend’s back in England and it’s tearing us up. It’s hard to trust that everything will be okay when so many laws and hard-to-understand requirements stand in the way if we choose to get married someday.

I guess what I’m wondering is this: it seems the easiest way to get him residency is to marry internationally and then apply for his residency. That’s fine. But what is the best way to do it? He plans to join the Catholic church, and I know it tends to be a relatively long process with lots of classes and special prayers at Masses (some friends have joined the church). He said he wants me to be around when he does that, and I want to be around for him too. I want a good wedding, I want to be married in the church. But the only option, then, is for him to join the church in England and deal with all the classes and everything all by himself. His family will likely be less-than-supportive, for they’re pagan too.

Would it be even remotely acceptable to have a sort of … law-only wedding, and then when he gets residency, to have the wedding in the church here? To me the wedding in the law wouldn’t be anything but a way to get him here. The ceremony in the church would be the important one. And we wouldn’t live together or anything like that until that took place. Our chastity is very important to both of us. I just don’t know if that would be okay. But if we were married legally then he could join the church here and we could marry in the church after that, then get a house together and start our life as a married couple.

It seems incredibly important that he become Catholic before our wedding.

Of course, all this is looking way into the future. I’m probably putting the cart in front of the horse. It’s just that part of me is so sure about this because God seems to have guided everything from the start, even though some of it you don’t see 'til you’re looking back, you know?

I’m feeling rather hopeless right now because the distance is killing us. It feels like God created him just for me, just like I always prayed for – the perfect man, we fit together. I never thought I’d even get to be with him and now he’s turning his heart over to God, but the fact we’re from two different countries is in the way now. I’m trying hard to trust God and believe that He will pull us through if it is meant to be.

Does anyone have any advice at all? I know this is really out there. Sorry for babbling, it’s just been on my mind constantly.


#2

I am not Catholic, but from what I know of Catholic teaching, the important thing is the church wedding, not the civil wedding. Sin comes into the picture when you live together as a married couple when you are not married in the Church. Since you would not be living together before you were married in the Church, you would not be sinning. I see no reason why there would be a problem with marrying civilly in order to make it more possible for one of you to move to the other’s country.

I’ll be praying for your situation!


#3

I’m in a similar (but different) situation. My boyfriend and I both live in Korea, but far away from each other. He is Filipino, I am Canadian, and it’s very difficult for him to get a visa to Canada unless we’re married.

Anyway, I asked for advice on CAF and was told that if we got married in a civil ceremony for immigration purposes, we wouldn’t be able to have a Church wedding later. What I was told was that we could have the marriage blessed by the Church, but we couldn’t get married if we were already married. (Frustrating, but logical.)

The Church does actually recognize civil weddings, just not completely. As in, if we got married civilly, we can’t pretend that we’re not married. On the other hand, the Church doesn’t want Catholics to get married in a civil ceremony because it’s not a Sacrament.

My boyfriend and I have decided to wait in Korea, living frustratingly far from each other, until he gets permission to work in (not immigrate to) Canada. Then we’d get married there (or get married in the Philippines before going to Canada) and do his paperwork from inside the country. That way we won’t have to celebrate our wedding here, where his family can’t come and it costs a lot of money to bring my family.

I don’t know much about US immigration law, so I don’t know if something like that would work for you. British citizens can get tourist visas to America quite easily - could he come in as a tourist and transfer to a marriage visa once he’s inside the country? Or could you fly out to Britain and marry him there, and stay there until his visa paperwork is processed? Under Canadian law, he could also find a sponsor to invite him to the country to accept a job offer. Is that possible in America?

Anyway, best of luck to you and your boyfriend.


#4

My boyfriend and I have discussed this at length and we’ve decided that we are going to continue to visit each other on occasion, and if things work out, we’ll be married abroad or on a fiance visa and take it from there.

We will most likely get married in a small church ceremony with just parents and siblings (his two brothers and my one biological brother and whichever of my stepsiblings can or will come). Then, when we settle down in the U.S., we can plan a bigger celebration, with a reception. (: He has been baptised in the Catholic church and now classifies himself as Catholic again even though he has not been confirmed yet. He plans to be confirmed as soon as possible, either over there, or over here.

**If you get married in a small ceremony, is it possible to have a larger church ceremony later to include friends and family? Maybe a special Mass or something? **My mom said you could renew your vows, but ideally it wouldn’t be TOO long after we married. I don’t know on this subject and I haven’t been able to talk to my priest at home yet and quiz him on his thoughts. (: I simply think it would be nice to gather everyone in the church to celebrate the occasion in God’s house before the reception.

It’s all way in the future. We decided concretely that we won’t consider marriage 'til I’m out of school – it just seems like the most responsible decision. So, we’re talking three years here!

Thank you for your advice and opinions. (: You’ve helped Sen and me a lot in our discussion of these things and helped us make some pretty big decisions together. And thank you for any prayers you offer for us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without lots and lots of prayer – God has blessed us immeasurably and I also trust that the intercession of Mother Mary (I have asked her often to pray for our relationship) has drawn us ever-closer! We just want to make the best decisions and be happy and live our life as God would wish us to. And we trust that if it is His will for us to be together, nothing can stop Him!

Thank you and God bless!


#5

Not to throw cold water on you, but you shouldn’t even be thinking about marriage yet! You have known this person for five years, and been in love for two… ONLINE. You have only seen him in person for one week. Honestly, you know nothing about him. Not for sure. People lie online all the time.

You do not know how he spends his time. You do not know his habits. You do not know his friends. You have not met any of his family. You do not know how he keeps house, runs his finances, how he behaves in social situations. You have not had time or opportunity to see how his mind works differently from yours and how that might cause sticking points. (This one is true for my DH and me, and it was a couple years into our relationship before I realized it. Many times, we didn’t actually disagree, we agreed but saw things and expressed them in such different ways that we couldn’t see that! When we did disagree, sometimes it was because we just processed the same data so radically differently.) Staying on the topic of disagreements, you haven’t had the chance to see how he acts in a disagreement, nor how he will treat you after one.

Before you think of marriage, you need to spend actual, face-to-face time with him for at least a year. You need to see if he matches up to all the stuff he’s told you online. You need to get past that timeframe in which people can keep artifices up, and past which you get to know the “real him.” If you are serious about this, then one of you needs to get a visa to live in the other’s country for at least a year, so that you can actually have a real relationship in the same place.

And BTW, I don’t mean anything about him by this. All the same comments go for him too… he knows nothing, for sure, about you either.

Marriage is a commitment that lasts the REST OF YOUR LIFE. You need to be certain that you really know who and what your husband is before you tie your future to his.

I don’t say this to be mean. I say it to prevent you from making a marriage and then finding out one, five, or ten years down the road that you actually had no idea who this person was. I want you to have a happy marriage that will last for life. That is worth taking the time to really know someone before tying the knot.


#6

Speak to your Priest about this. Prayers.


#7

I realize that it is really early to be talking about marriage. I suppose that sometimes I don’t see it like that, because it feels like I have known him all of my life. And I suppose that because I am so open with him, I trust that he is equally open with me.

It’s not like we are going to rush out and get married. We’re just talking about it now because, in our circumstances, it’s important to think about things like that. I know that a week is nothing to base my opinion of him off of, and we do plan to spend a lot more time together. (At the end of this year, he will visit for just over a month, hopefully!) He hasn’t even met my dad yet! (:

I can’t lie and say that I don’t feel like we are meant for each other, that I don’t feel like God is drawing us together – because it seems like if God weren’t helping us, this would have never gotten very far at all. But like I said, we aren’t engaged (he says we are engaged to be engaged, which I think is cute). And there is a lot of stuff to work through still.

We have discussed a Work Visa. He plans to move to the U.S., if things work out. But the thing is, I don’t know whether he will be able to get a Work Visa. However, my dad is a manager at a company and might be able to find more out about Work Visas because he knows people who’ve married internationals, and employs people from all over the world. He says he’s going to talk to some friends about it to see if we can get more information (everything’s so confusing!) Ideally, Sen would come here to work, and that way we could spend a lot of time together while I’m in school. But we have to realize that that may not be possible. Also, I’m afraid that if he comes over on a Work Visa, we might get into trouble because of our preexisting relationship … like visa fraud or something! Maybe I’m just paranoid. x_x

And before we decide on anything, both of us still have a lot of growing up to do. We don’t know anything about the real world yet, and we both know that. After he left, we both talked about how terrifying it was to realize that we are growing up and need to start thinking about stuff that seems so … grown-up! Neither of us wants to jump into something we’re not ready for! (:

I still have three years of school left. Maybe a miracle will happen and he will be able to come over on a Work Visa.

So yes … thank you for the reality check. I realize that in my babbling and babbling, I sometimes seem immature and as if I’m not thinking things through entirely. But both he and I realize that there is a lot hanging in the balance here and that these decisions can’t be made overnight. And we both wish and hope and pray that there is some way we can spend that year (or two, or three!!) together before we marry. IF we marry. I mean, after all, we’re just kids … even if we’re over 18, there’s no way we can hope to know much about the real world yet. For the moment, it all boils down to hopes, dreams, and prayers!

But at the same time, I’m glad that he and I can discuss things like this seriously. I take comfort in knowing that we’ve had conversations about things like this and the future isn’t entirely obscured.

On *another *note, my parents divorced when I was in fifth grade, and his parents separated (while he was visiting – it was hard when he went back and had to deal with all that, and I couldn’t do much to comfort him ): ). We’ve been through family difficulties and broken homes and know the pain it causes to men, women, and their children. We don’t want that … so we don’t want to rush into anything without being fully prepared and having God at the centre of our relationship.


#8

I think before being concerned about HOW to get married, you should concern yourself on WHETHER OR NOT to get married to this man to begin with!

Here is what happens when good Catholic girls date guys who are not Catholic or who are Catholic in name only:
They either

  1. Go to church and RCIA to “please their women”, and really make an effort to take an interest in Church, but never do experience a conversion and after the marriage, and continue to struggle spiritually; or
  2. “Pretend” and “act” like they have really embraced the faith, then shortly after they’ve “landed the girl” and married her, they completely stop going to Church and praying.

There is a #3, but it is very, very rare. The man actually does experience a legitimate conversion. This is maybe 5 percent of the time.

I guess it depends on whether or not you want to gamble with your life and play fast and loose with it.


#9

Why would he do something like that? ):

I consider myself a person who has gone through a conversion, because even though I was baptized Catholic, I wasn’t raised Catholic. God worked in my life in amazing ways and completely changed my life around when I started to open my eyes to Him. And some of my friends have experienced the same thing – I have a friend who was an atheist, experienced an amazing conversion, joined the Church, and is now one of the most inspiring people I know, engaged to be married to a woman who plans to join the Church too!

I mean, before these things I thought conversion was something that didn’t happen often, but with what I have seen and experienced myself I guess it seems incredibly possible and powerful.

I always prayed God would work in his life and He has. I always wanted him to open his eyes to God for himself, even if I could never be with him.

You’re right, I don’t want a man with an empty relationship with God. I just don’t believe he would be false in matters like this. Still, you’ve given me something very important to think and pray about. No matter how happy I am with him, I could never be truly happy with someone who doesn’t love God above anything and everything else in his life. But God changes hearts and lives. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it.

I’m not perfect either … I mean, there is still a ton of stuff for me to learn about the Church. I think I see myself as being similar to him in this way. I missed so much growing up without a strong Catholic family. I definitely want that solid base there to give my children what I never had.


#10

Because if a man likes a girl and wants to marry her, he will do what it takes to achieve his goal.


#11

In my opinion, that is incredibly foolish on his part. Say a man really liked a girl who was Catholic and her values were different than his. Wouldn’t that factor in? Why would he marry someone with such different values if they compose such a great part of a personality? Why would he make the commitment to be abstinent and to be open to life, in today’s society, if those things were unimportant to him, especially when there are legions of girls who are equally unconcerned?

I see the point you are making – I know a lot of Catholics just go through the motions, especially after they convert for a spouse. It just seems like a lot of work to go through when they could just find a woman who’s just the same, somewhere else, and not have to go through such great changes.

My boyfriend and I have discussed religion a lot, from the start of our friendship. I’ve always made it clear, or at least tried to, that I would never expect him to change for me. I believe the choices he has made are for himself and for God, and have little to do with me. I would never ask him to change for me. That is selfish and cruel.

I suppose there is a great difference between people who marry and go to church, and people who marry and make God a central aspect of their lives. It would be more difficult for a member of the latter couple to make such a commitment without being sure of his faith.

I never want to slip into the Sunday-Catholic lifestyle. I trust that as he and I grow closer and get to know each other even better than before, we will come to incorporate God into every aspect of our life. I have a great seen the change over time and there is still room to grow. There will still be room to grow when we are old and gray.


#12

Don’t worry about that. There’s no regulation that says he can’t come over on a work visa if he has a pre-existing relationship with you. That’s not visa fraud. If he got a work visa and then wasn’t working, and instead immediately moved in with you (with or without the marriage) that would imply that he had lied about his motives. However, if he is actually working, then he is fulfilling the terms of his visa and he’s in the right. If they ask him whether he has contacts in America and he lies about it, that would be visa fraud, but if he tells the truth, that he met you online and is planning to court you in person, that shouldn’t pose a problem. Once you get married, though, he will have to change his visa status.


#13

I agree - in my case it was #1. During our dating time he came to bible study with me, always went to Mass with me and even went through RCIA. Now that we are married, he has told me he may never actually convert and getting him to go to Mass with me is a constant struggle.


#14

I’m sure this is a difficult journey, feeling like you’re meant for this person, especially with (as you see it) a conversion that you fostered. Maybe you are meant to be together. …

But you asked for advice, from the more “seasoned” crowd. I do agree with other posters about not really knowing him. It sounds like you are trying to work somethings out to remedy that. But I’m also worried that by investing so much to cross an ocean and live in a new country, you both might feel like there is too much at stake at that point to back away from a relationship. (I know that’s the bst way to get to know him.) Think about people who plan weddings and begin to feel like it’s wrong to get married, but go through with it anyway, to avoid embarassment, or because so much money has already been spent. You aren’t going out spending money yet. But, while you say you have a long time to go before you think about marriage, your posts suggest that you are extremely marriage minded. (And again, the scary part being that you haven’t actually spent time with him.)

Also, you are young. I’m guessing 19? I certainly won’t tell you you don’t know what loves is. You have valid feelings, and a right to them. The feelings you have right now for him, will change in a few years. You will have to develop a more evolved kind of love for him. The “electricity” of a new relationship doesn’t last. So when that is mixed with people who are so young, and haven’t been around enough to understand these things, it makes for a difficult situation. Think about it, the giggly new feelings will have faded by the time you’re 25.

The two biggest factors in predicting divorce are religion (the lack of) and age (the younger the worse). You and potentially he, seem to have religion. But the age…

Marriages change. You have to balance finances, juggle babies (sometimes literally) and family, see each other with bed head, and other unpleasant habits. When we all come to discover these things as newly married couples, it is easier for more mature couples to navigate that.

Also, do you want a career or to stay home with the kids? Either way, it is easier to get a masters degree or your career started before marriage.

I don’t want to be a wet blanket. If you are meant for each other, it will happen. Just trying to give an opinion of someone who’s married.

God bless. Trust in God.


#15

I don’t really believe that I had much to do with his conversion. I was praying for him, yes, but other than that I don’t think I did much … it was God who moved in his heart.

It’s difficult to think that I haven’t spent time with him, because we’ve been good friends for so long. I know that it’s weird and crazy and that you can never be 100% sure with situations like this, but we have shared so much and been through so much.

The circumstances are strange – we’ve been close for a long time, but it’s impossible for us to spend a lot of time together. In some ways it’s really hard. We do plan to spend a lot more time with each other in the next few years. I still have college to get through, and I have to decide what job I want, and that’s all very important.

I guess I just want to convince myself and him that somehow, everything is going to be okay – that’s why I am looking into all of this stuff now. If things don’t work out it won’t mean much, but at least I have a glimpse of what could, possibly happen. But no matter how much we talk and dream, we still know we have other things to worry about – his job, my school, working out ways to see each other.

My first post was just two days after he left, too, so I was an emotional wreck on a few different levels at that point in time. All I wanted right then was to have him back. The first couple days were spent discussing what might happen if things DO work out. Now we’ve talked about a lot of stuff and it’s easier to think rationally. I was silly, but I wanted to try to examine every angle. It’s kind of how I’m built – I freak out sometimes. It was an emotional rollercoaster and it definitely played games with how I was looking at things.

All I know is that we’re in love, and it feels like God is calling us to be together, and there are a lot of things standing in our way. With all we’ve been through it seems like there is clear direction. I pray every day that His will be done, not ours. It took me months to figure that out. And I feel like God has given me peace with the situation, now, and a lot of wonderful advice from people with much more experience than me. (:

Both of us come from shaky homes (my parents are divorced and his are almost there), and neither of us want that for our future or children. So we realize we need to just slow down, let go, and let God! I have a perfectionist/driven personality so that’s really tough for me sometimes, it’s one of the things I struggle with most, along with worrying over everything constantly.

Thank you all for your wonderful advice. You have given us both much to think about, and definitely helped me calm down and look at the big picture. I am going to try to meet with my parish priest next I go home and talk to him about this whole issue. He had the opportunity to meet my guy while he was here. (: He will be able to help too, I think, answering some of my questions.

I think that I have the answers I came for. Thank you again for taking the time to read and respond. This is a wonderful community. (: God bless!


#16

Hi Ragdoll,

I have read all your posts, and agree with the caution the others are advising. As for what Michael Saint says about him possibly becoming catholic, then after marriage changing, it is a biiiig possibility. My dad was born Catholic, but never confirmed until he met my mom. Then he went to church with her, prayed rosary with her family, helped her family out, and was a gentleman. Until they were married all was great. Then he changed, did not want to pray as much with her, didn’t want to help around the house much, and eventually left her twice. And he was the one that pursued her!

What I am saying, is don’t put all caution to the wind. Be careful. Perhaps spend a couple months in his country and town, getting to know him and his family, how he lives, who he has for friends, because that tells you a lot about a person and who they are. He has come here a couple times, but I think you probably need to take time and go there. Also, heed the advice others are giving you about this, as I think it is good advice.

It is true that you can meet the love of your life online, as my sister found another outstanding catholic man online, and they are to be married in July, but they’ve had tons of time to get to know each other better, as he’s moved to our town to be near her. I suggest if you think this relationship you have with your bf is worth pursuing, you figure out if an arrangement can be made where you both can be close together and learn about each other by spending more time together. I would not advise marrying before doing this. You really need that time.

God bless you!


#17

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