Relationship. Is disagreeing on the purpose of life a fair reason to end a relationship?


I have been dating this woman for a while. We have a strong, healthy relationship for the most part. We have our disagreements. But in a recent conversation, I posed a question:

“What is your goal in life?”

And her answer and the discussion after left me wondering whether I want to continue this relationship.

She shared that her goals were earthly goals like education and marriage and a career. Which is fair. But when I brought up, that to me, although I consider those things important, I don’t set those as goals to measure my life in—she disagrees firmly.

I understand that to work hard and progress is important. But I posed the scenario that if the world were to end tomorrow, and she did not reach those goals, would she consider her life unfulfilled? And she said yes. I did my best to explain that to me, if I died to today I would not consider my life any less because I don’t have much. Or I haven’t accomplished certain earthly milestones. But, she continued to insist on their importance.

I am curious to hear your thoughts. And any insight/advice on how to continue would be appreciated. :+1:t3:


A complacency through contentment doesn’t provoke change, the world seeks to shape and mould us and our resistance through desire to align ourselves to Gods will is a blessing. When this catalyst is close it helps us the most.

I’ve no doubt that you evangelise through example as we all do so there is hope for unity. God has plans I’m sure, designs on us only He can understand, I don’t believe in coincidence therefore and so it might be useful to examine this domestic situation slightly differently.

My enemy is my asset and unbeknownst to him He is a tool in the craftsman’s hand. I believe.

I almost forgot! If you love her then stay together I think, you can evangelise through example but that takes time and increase your empathy and patience, more graces.


I wonder if you can accept the goals she has, such as wanting a career, marriage and education? If you, for example, did not want a relationship with someone who wants a career then perhaps that will cause more problems than disagreement on more metaphysical goals? I had very weak faith (bordering on atheism) when I married my wife, but we agreed on key practical goals - we both wanted children, and she wanted to be a full time Mum which I was happy with (though I would also have been fine if she had wanted to go back to work). That meant practically I had to ensure the income for the family. We have had 28 happy years of marriage, and my faith has grown (she has always had a quiet but firm faith).

And perhaps beware of wanting to find someone just like yourself in thoughts and ideas - you may find living with such a mirror ultimately more of a problem than a joy :slight_smile: Sometimes we might grow best with people who bring a different view with them.

Whatever you do, I would say be most wary of any thoughts of wanting to change/mould/bend the other person to be more like you. That is bound to be frustrating for you both, and ultimately may stunt your own growth as a person.

I wish you both well :slight_smile:


I think her reaction was understandable. If my boyfrined told me that material things aren’t important to him I would be a little concern too. Maybe she was so insisting because she thought
you are lazy and using this “material thing aren’t important to me” as an excuse not to push yourself toward a better career.
Yes, material things are not important. But when you are married and have kids… money becomes a big part of your life.
You should talk more about this with her. If you think about about breaking up with her just because you have different opinions… well then good luck finding a wife :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


It’s reasonable for a person on earth to have some earthly goals. Even holy people like priests and religious have goals, such as completing their educations, choosing an order to join, pursuing some kind of particular ministry or lifestyle. It’s also reasonable for a young woman to have goals like education, marriage and career. As for how you would feel if you died today, you don’t have any idea how you would feel because you’re not in the situation of actually dying.

You say you’ve been dating this lady for a while and have a “strong, healthy relationship”, yet you’re thinking of breaking up with her over this? Doesn’t sound like a strong, healthy relationship to me. I would frankly wonder if you’re even “relationship material”.


Does she share your faith? If she does, then you have the common goals of a holier life (even as you address those material things) together. If she does not, it is a very serious problem and the time to determine if you can spend your life trying to get someone who doesn’t share your faith into Heaven is more than difficult.


Unless I’m missing something, this doesn’t seem important enough to end the relationship over.
If you had completely different goals, like you wanted to travel and never have kids, and she wanted to stay put and start a family, that would be an insurmountable difference.
It seems like you both put different emphasis on things.
Is she a believer?


my first thought is what is her faith?

you are judging her goals as against her faith.

and what is the measure of your life?


If you’d met the right one, you’d know it. It doesn’t sound like you have.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


Thank you,

I appreciate the charity in your answer. To be clear, I do have these goals set for myself. And I strive to work hard and obtain these things. But at the end of the day, I don’t consider them things to measure my life by as she does. That is the difference.

We are both Catholic. And with that in mind I had believed at first that we would share a similar opinion on the irrelevancy of the material. So I was more than a little shocked to hear say(even after discussing the idea that our lives are in the end not measures at all by earthly accomplishments) that she puts more weight into those accomplishments than in the other pursuits of her life.

I do love her, dearly, but I have two major qualms that seem to conflict in this situation:

  1. I do not want children I raise to be thought the biggest goal in their life is what they achieve on Earth.

  2. I do not want to have her believe nor do I actually want to have her believe she needs to change who she is.

Also, I am doing well now in my work, but nothing is guaranteed forever. So if I was to lose my job, and be unable to provide for her down the road, would I be a failure in her eyes? This we have yet to discuss, but it is what I think about. Because I think this question reaches that far.


Perhaps I am not relationship material. You are right. But that is part of the discernment of my vocation. Whether I am fit to be a husband and father at all.


This is something you both need to discuss, a lot. If you are going to have children (which as Catholics, I would assume you are), then your absolute first priority has to be providing for their needs. If your potential wife is going to have a career of her own, then she should be able to provide for herself, but when children enter the picture, they are both parents’ responsibility to provide for, and if you and/or your potential wife would like her to be a stay at home mom, then the responsibility for bringing home money to provide the children with a stable life is going to fall on you.

Even if you are raising the children in a relatively non-materialistic environment, where you budget, live in a small house and don’t buy them the latest gadget every holiday, children are expensive. If you want to send them to a Catholic school, there may be school tuition involved; if you just want to send them to a good public school, that may dictate the cost of where you live.

I understand this is a bit daunting, but if your potential wife is planning on having a career, she may be thinking in terms of being able to provide not only for herself but also for any children, should something happen to your job, or even happen to you (husbands do become disabled or even pass away). You really need to talk to her about this.

If you are not ready to step up and assume this provider burden for potential offspring, then please don’t get married unless and until you are.


I don’t think you and I would be successful partners. However I assure you, I am not lazy, nor has she had any reason to believe so.


Well I’m going to have to agree with you. What we have materially and what we’ve accomplished education and job wise won’t mean a hill of beans when we take our last breath. It’s all about how you lived, how you loved and how you served others. If all she sees are this world’s “things” and nothing beyond that then you may have to think about moving on.


There’s a big difference between “all she sees are the world’s things” and an honest answer to the questions of “what do you want to do in life” asked to a young person.

Most young people are not yet so focused on the spiritual that they do not have a set of life goals. In fact, it’s healthy for them to have the goals. Most young people, spiritual or not, would not be happy with the idea of dying before they got a chance to do the things they want in life, whether that’s finish college, get married, have kids, or enter religious life. If they had some progressive illness with a lot of time to think about passing away, they might get around to the idea that earthly goals don’t matter so much, but it’s a lot to expect your average twentysomething with any sort of normal ambition to not care about earthly goals.

Although I do not wish to judge the OP, in my experience, men who would say stuff about earthly goals not mattering when I was in my teens and 20s, back in the dark ages of the 70s and 80s, were usually covering up for their own lack of ambition or lack of desire to get locked into any kind of life where they’d have a responsibility like going to work every day to provide for kids. They wanted to bum around “finding themself”. And that might be a perfectly good activity for them, but it’s not going to work for the girl who wants a relationship with a responsible husband who will be a responsible father.


If you are not married, then any serious red flag is a valid reason to walk away from a relationship. Dating/courting is a period of discernment during which we explore the very issues you bring up.

Having very different ideas about the purpose or meaning of life can be a huge barrier in a relationship, especially when it comes to raising a family. You don’t need others to share the same deal breakers to give you permission to act in your relationship.

Everyone has deal breakers and they vary. If this is one of yours then move on. I think it’s fair, if you have been together a long time, to make sure you understand one another’s point of view so you know you are making an informed decision, but beyond that, if this worries you feel free to act on it.

No one here is going to have to live with your decision and the consequences of it, keep that in mind when reading the responses. I think shared values are one of the most important foundations for a lasting relationship.


I didn’t said that you actually are lazy. I was telling you what she might think.
Be open about what she has to say. Don’t dismiss her point of view just because it is different from yours.
If it turns out that she is too materialistic it can become a problem. The only way to know this is by talking to her.


You said that you do not measure your own life that way, but just to be clear, were you saying (or implying) that she ought to feel the same way about her own life? You see, if you are telling her that her education and career are not really important, that is a serious problem.

That is a somewhat lofty, philosophical question. Not everyone can think in those terms, and that is a good thing. Different people have different talents, see 1 Corinthians 12. What God-given talents and gifts do you see in her?

Her goals and their importance to her are quite understandable, and in my opinion they should not be a problem. Go back to basics. Does she have faith, hope, and love? And do you? If so, a good future relationship may be possible.


Yeah. I don’t want to assume anything about the OP or his job situation, but I’ve met more than a few young traditionalist Catholic men who seem to want to have a stay-at-home wife with a boat load of kids but don’t seem to have any ambition to have the kind of decent paying career that would make that feasible.


I appreciate you not judging me. I appreciate that is not assumed that I am like these other men.

For the sake of this topic, to be able to address my question, can I request that even if it is hard to believe. That you assume the best intentions, and assume the best about me. Focus instead on the question. And believe that it is intended with sincerity.

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