Relationship Question


#1

Hello everyone,

I'm a 19 year old college student and my boyfriend is 21 and in his last year of undergrad at the same school that I attend. We have been dating since June 2008 and I really think that he is the one that I want to marry. I have dated a lot of boys in my past (when I was not religious) but never connected with any of them like I have connected with my current boyfriend.
My bf (let's call him B) and I have so many things in common because we come from similar backgrounds and have the same values. We both grew up in the same area, we both have the same group of friends, we both think family is more important than anything else, we both are very thrifty with our money, we both want to have kids, and we are both Catholic. I think we are already so far ahead of most couples our age in regards to values compatibility and future plans.
Now I say that B and I are both Catholic, but if you had to rate level of religiousness on a scale of 1-10, B would be a 6 and I would be an 8. In general I feel like I am more inquisitive about my faith and am constantly seeking out books, articles, forums (like this one!) to learn more about Catholicism and grow closer to God. However, B doesn't do any of this. In fact, when I try to talk to him about religious things, it seems like a very one sided conversation.
See, B is not normally a talkative person at all, and usually it doesn't bother me. He has explained to me that it's just a difference between girls and guys. And I've read articles that have confirmed this difference in gender communication: Girls talk to form relationships and guys talk to seek information and get things accomplished.

Yet, this definitely bothers me. I want to be able to talk with B about God and our relationship with Him and also pray together- but at this point it's just plain awkward. He's told me before that to him religion is something very personal and not something he likes to share with others. I've experienced this first hand when he refused to go on a retreat with our campus ministry because there would be "group sharing." He went on a similar retreat at his Catholic high school and HATED it.

I know in my heart that a solid relationship is founded on God and that a couple should help each other grow closer to God. But sometimes it almost feels like I'm dragging him...
I respect that everyone is on a journey to God and some are farther along than others, but how close should a guy be to God before I can seriously consider tying the knot with him?

So I guess my question is mainly directed to guys (but girls feel free to share your opinion): how do I get my boyfriend to open up about his personal relationship with God? And if I can't get him to open up, will this doom our (possible) marriage?

Other background information that could be potentially useful:
We both attend mass together on Sundays but he never goes with me to praise and worship because he disdains it. We fight about this sometimes. He says it makes him very uncomfortable. But I love praise and worship so much and I've had ideas of maybe leading my own worship band at my local parish. I can't imagine doing this without his support : (
We currently struggle to remain sexually pure. We were having sex for a few months, but have since stopped (we both felt it was wrong and felt very guilty about it) but we are still tempted by oral. However, B doesn't think oral sex is as bad as sexual intercourse and thinks it's no big deal if we do it. He still admits that it's wrong but just doesn't want to give it up. He receives Communion when we go to Mass but knowing that this is a mortal sin I don't...and when I've tried to talk to him about it we just end up agreeing to disagree. I think B knows it's wrong but doesn't understand WHY it's wrong, and lacks the curiosity to research why. And that really bothers me!

Please help me. I want to know if I'm wasting my time being with him.


#2

What your probably dealing with is a guy who has different beliefs than you. He doesn’t want to share them because he’s afraid of losing you and/or weakening your own. Certainly it seems he has an inclination to believe in God, but he may not subscribe to all the dogmas you do. It’s really up to you, can you be with someone who isn’t as deeply rooted in there faith? Don’t forget that Mother Theresa struggled with her faith throughout her life. Does it really make a difference? True he will be a little annoyed with the choir boys like the ones at retreat. That aspect of your psyche might even annoy him a little, and the singing! From my own life: I love going to Temple for the Torah section and Kiddush (Jews get to eat and drink wine after service), but I hate the chanting and singing. It’s just a guy thing, its terrible music and boring.

Your not even past the 18-24 month stage of infatuation yet, give it some time.


#3

Hi, I read through your post and started thinking… I think that it’s very important for you both to address the purity issue first. You might have different worship preferences, and you might be more open about your faith, and that can potentially work in a marriage. But the impurity part, and especially him going up for Communion without having confessed this, can really damage your relationship and most importantly, your souls. One of the purposes of a Christian marriage is to help each other attain salvation. That means guarding each others’ purity…and this is the most loving thing to do. This includes not only abstaining from sex, but from oral sex as well. I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, but it’s a very important issue. Since you’ve both already had sex, probably the best thing to do would be to start living chastely (according to your state of life, which is single) and to get reconciled to God through the Sacrament. I’ve struggled with impurity in the past, but now that God has helped me overcome it, I’m very glad He did.
Please read over this article and maybe give it to your boyfriend to read as well :slight_smile:
insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=244&Itemid=48

God bless


#4

[quote="Monica4316, post:3, topic:179628"]
Hi, I read through your post and started thinking... I think that it's very important for you both to address the purity issue first. You might have different worship preferences, and you might be more open about your faith, and that can potentially work in a marriage. But the impurity part, and especially him going up for Communion without having confessed this, can really damage your relationship and most importantly, your souls. One of the purposes of a Christian marriage is to help each other attain salvation. That means guarding each others' purity..and this is the most loving thing to do. This includes not only abstaining from sex, but from oral sex as well. I hope this doesn't sound harsh, but it's a very important issue. Since you've both already had sex, probably the best thing to do would be to start living chastely (according to your state of life, which is single) and to get reconciled to God through the Sacrament. I've struggled with impurity in the past, but now that God has helped me overcome it, I'm very glad He did.
Please read over this article and maybe give it to your boyfriend to read as well :)
insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=244&Itemid=48

God bless

[/quote]

This is excellent advice. Sex, in the context of marriage, is a wonderful sacrament worth waiting for. Oral sex is still sex...


#5

My dear sister in Christ, I hope I can be a bit of a help to you as I have experienced something quite similar to your situation.

I am female, 19 myself. I began dating my ex-boyfriend almost two years ago and we began having relations from the very start. I wasn't in RCIA yet and my ex wasn't a practicing Catholic. However towards the end of the summer 2008 I started becoming very interested in Christianity and eventually Catholicism. At this point I really wanted to stop engaging in sin but my ex wasn't on the same page and we were constantly getting in arguments over matters of sin and faith. I kept at the relationship with the immature idea in my mind that I had some kind of power to "make" my then boyfriend have a nicely formed conscience aka faith. What finally happened is that I got pregnant and our relationship ended for good shortly after.

The truth of the matter is, we can not make ANYone but ourselves believe in God's Truth. If your boyfriend doesn't see that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, then the problem here is that he has a poorly formed conscience and the only way he is ever going to grow in his relationship with God is if HE initiates the change himself. The ONLY person you have control over is yourself.

First of all, for the sake of both your souls you shouldn't be alone together where you might possibly engage in any type of sinful activity. The temptation is too large to ignore especially because you two have already engaged in sexual activity.
Second, in my humble opinion, I would take a break from the relationship if I were you. You don't know if your boyfriend will ever accept the Faith for what it is and even if he does, you don't know when that will be. The best thing you can do is set a good, wholesome example for him and pray as much as possible. It is your choice though whether you want to remain in this relationship.

You really need to detach yourself from sin and all the near occasions of sin though. Remember that when you sin sexually with him you are putting his soul in danger as well as yours. If you truly love your boyfriend you will do your best to put an end to the sin. Your relationship definitely wont improve if the sin continues.

I hope I am not sounding judgmental. I am not judging you or your boyfriend. I just hope you realize that your boyfriend's faith issue is between him and God and you may have to accept that you two aren't ready for a real committment that is marriage.

I pray that things do improve however and that you and your boyfriend can find peace with each other and peace with God :)


#6

As a younger male who struggled with a LOT of the things you have described I will offer my experience... take it for what you will.

  1. I think Catholic males need OTHER Catholic males as friends/role models. I am very strong in my faith NOW but that is only because I had others to bounce things off of. I went from a 4/5 to an 8/9 in a few years because of this. (I also went to a Catholic school so that helped in finding said male friend)

  2. I think that you need to let him find faith "avenues" that he likes. A lot of guys are very TRADITIONAL minded. ie. a praise and worship group is going to seem very obtuse to him. Many Catholics are uncomfortable with this. I know that my wife and I like such things, but know a lot of our friends that dont.

  3. Learning to give and take is a huge thing in marriage and it sounds like you both know how to do this in some areas. In the areas that it is tough, you have to learn a way that you both can be comforatble. Some people will tell you that you MUST do things a certain way... I think that is silly, I think every couple is different. You have to figure out what battles are worth "Dying" at and which ones arent.

Most of all I think he needs an avenue to explore his faith. Finding a guy to talk to is KEY though. So many issues involve male specific points of view that he needs that counterpart. He is also at an age which is hard for guys. The 20-24 range is super tough. Talking to you, regardless of how close you two are may be difficult for him right now even though you are really close in many things, your faith might be harder for him.

He can always contact me if he'd like.... my blog and twitter are in my signature... which you can then get my email. But if nothing else I would try to find him a male he can just ry and relate with in terms of your faith. Forcing any one issue aside from your faith in general may drive him AWAY from everything.


#7

Some people like quiet prayer, not everyone is into praise and worship with everyone else. Stop harping on him to go to retreat or praise and worship with you. He goes to Mass and he probably likes to pray by himself. Everybody is different. It doesn’t mean your relationship will not work out. You both are sooo young, take it easy, and don’t try so hard to make it work, you sound like a nice person, but you will push him away if you push too much.


#8

[quote="dashso40, post:7, topic:179628"]
Some people like quiet prayer, not everyone is into praise and worship with everyone else. Stop harping on him to go to retreat or praise and worship with you. He goes to Mass and he probably likes to pray by himself. Everybody is different. It doesn't mean your relationship will not work out. You both are sooo young, take it easy, and don't try so hard to make it work, you sound like a nice person, but you will push him away if you push too much.

[/quote]

I agree with Dash. We all relate to God in our own unique way. He goes to mass with you, he professes the same faith. That is good. He chooses not to be too outward showing with his faith, that is the level he is comfortable at. Encourage him to join you in private prayers and meditation. That could help.

Peace and Love
odopa


#9

I agree with the other posters that your boyfriend needs some more education on sexual morality. This is not a reason to look down on him, but he still needs it. You need to stop giving in to his requests too, as he doesn’t have the right to ask you to do things which are against your beliefs, even if they are different from his own and you don’t have any obligation to give him at least something of what she wants. Besides, it’s easier to cut temptation in a more sweeping way than in a less sweeping one. It’s probably easier to stay clothed and at arm’s length and in a more formal position (e.g. seated in separate chairs) than to withdraw in the middle of… of what goes beyond proper anyway.

On the other hand, I agree with the other posters that there are various forms of worship and that not all of them are right for everybody. It’s a great thing that you want to share your faith with your boyfriend, to try and help him deepen his own, improve “connection” with God. It’s not a good thing to be passive, although it must be remembered that there is internal life too - please note that you spoke about his “personal” relationship with God. Some aspects of it he may legitimately feel not very outgoing in talking about.

While faith is a social matter, not just private, and we are a Church and a community and not a random assortment of individual believers (and the Church is one, not as many churches as there are believers), for some people sharing details of their faith and religious practice might be difficult. Please note that this may be somewhat similar to how introverts and extroverts act socially. Not everyone is particularly spontaneous or natural. Some people are more on the reflective or even contemplative side. This is not necessarily a failure. You said group sharing was beyond your limits and also beyond your boyfriend’s. Perhaps the limits for him are a bit different yours and e.g. maybe he’s not quite home at praise and worship. Besides, as a man, he may find it more to his taste to take part in a more active and perhaps more “mundane” ministry, such as helping out with some work around the church that requires a man or something of the kind. Work can be prayer too.


#10

Basically, you are growing in different directions spiritually. Is that a good foundation for a marriage? No.

It isn't enough that he is a Catholic. It matters whether you are both on the same path spiritually. You seek to grow in your faith, share your faith, worship in a certain style, share experiences and intellectual pursuits of the faith. He does not.

To me, that's a dealbreaker.

I disagree with the stereotype that men don't want to pursue relationships verbally. My husband and I talk all the time about faith, politics, what we read in the Wall Street Journal, etc. My husband went through faith formation classes to teach catechism, he reads about the faith all the time, we discuss it all the time.

It's not some inherent difference in the sexes you've encountered, but rather a specific man who isn't interested in growing, learning, or sharing. Since growing, learning, and sharing is very important to you, you have simply found someone who isn't a good match for you.

Now, above and over all of that, he does not embrace Catholic morality or seek to grow in holiness. The purpose of marriage is growing in holiness as a couple and teaching/modeling it for your children. Again, I just see a mismatch in beliefs, values, and goals.

If you continue in the relationship you will be continually hoping to change him or that he will change himself. And, you cannot build a relationship on the hope that someone else will change.


#11

Hello Teresia,

I just picked out a few interesting points that I found in your post. I hope my advice helps.

This is very interesting indeed. If this is true, you might be able to use this to your advantage. But more on that later…

I’ve experienced similar things. Often the “group sharing” that goes on is equivalent to that of an ice cream social. People give their happy stories, which are met by smiles and nods of approval.

However, I don’t really understand what it means to say that religion is “personal”. It is a system of beliefs, and so are our thoughts about physics and mathematics. All of them are systems of beliefs that contain either true or false tenets. Religion shouldn’t be treated differently in this regard.

And this brings me to my first point. If what you said in the beginning is true, then the surefire solution is to get him interested in researching his faith. There is a fact of the matter as to whether his belief system is true or false. It is not just some “personal” thing. How does he know that what he believes is true?

Of course, getting him interested is the tough part. I don’t have any advice, but you know him better than I do. I’m sure you can come up with a few things. He might just need someone to stimulate that inquisitive part of his brain.


#12

I want to be able to talk with B about God and our relationship with Him and also pray together- but at this point it's just plain awkward. He's told me before that to him religion is something very personal and not something he likes to share with others.

So why settle for a life with someone who won't share his personal thoughts on a very important subject with you? And you were sharing bodily fluids with someone who wouldn't share his personal thoughts?

You have life in the wrong order.

Listen to JenLovesYou. She learned the hard way.

Many men (not boys) can share their thoughts. Those are the same ones who think you're valuable enough to go out on a limb and exert some energy and reciprocate in a relationship without hiding behind some veil of privacy. I made the mistake of thinking that not being talkative was a guy thing (gosh, my xh used the same excuse, when I grew up in a house full of brothers who actually DID talk a lot!) when it was really just someone's emotional laziness and preference to be self-sufficient and isolated from someone he claimed to care about. It was death to a marriage. Be careful of someone whose world view is so male/female black white rigid gender roles that he uses it as an excuse to shut down and not communicate with you.

Another thing that's death to a marriage is a man who has told you he doesn't think oral is a big deal or as bad as "real sex" or whatever he calls it. Even if he's not doing it with you, someday in a marriage do you want to wonder where he is and realize with horror that you did in fact marry someone who doesn't share your values or your opinion of what seriously sinful sex is?

He needs to grow up in his faith.

And you need to date more. And have someone to compare him with now that you're seeing the value of men who have some religious outlook in life.

As he is now, he's too young and immature. You're not on the same page. He's a deterrent to you and your quest for a deeper relationship with God. The fact that you're fighting over boundaries and sexual attitudes is not a good thing.

He doesn't respect your boundaries, but boy are his walls high.

Red flashing lights.

You're young. Keep moving.

There's better over the horizon.

Let him grow up on someone else's time.

By the way.... you're both thrifty? Maybe YOU are! But maybe his "thrift" is really a stinginess with his money and possessions that reflects a larger stinginess with his emotions and thoughts and self. I found that one out the hard way too.... Similar actions do not always come from similar motives. He may be cheap, not thrifty. You want someone whose generosity of spirit is on par with your own.


#13

I'm an introverted 20-year old college guy so I'll offer my perspective.

It sounds like your boyfriend is afraid to open himself up. You said that you read that guys talk to seek information and get things accomplished, which is true. Us guys are much more focused on the outside world than the inner. We like to have the world under our own control and not rely on others. But what this guy needs to learn is that part of being a man is being brave enough to do things that are awkward and uncomfortable.

It's natural for a guy to think that it's stronger of him to keep his troubles and emotions to himself instead of sharing them with others. Revealing our inner world can make us feel lame and weak. But really, it takes a stronger guy to be willing to reveal himself for who he really is. We're so used to being independent and totally self-sufficient that it's scary to let ourselves be dependent on another person.

So he's willing to have sex with you but not share his faith with you? That's messed up. If there's any one person in the world that a guy should be willing to share his faith with, it should be his girlfriend/wife. You say that you both want kids and that family is very important to you. If that is so, then faith-sharing should be like priority #1. You're both going to be raising sons and daughters to be saints! Is your boyfriend going to be unwilling to share his faith with your children too?

Your boyfriend needs to take a lesson from the story of Jesus. Jesus is God, the most powerful being imaginable, the creator of the universe, the all-knowing, the eternal one. Yet he loved us so much that he was willing to make himself into a baby, a completely vulnerable baby boy that cried for his mom to feed him, to clean him, and hold him to her chest to make him feel safe and warm. And then when he grew up he allowed us to betray him, scourge his back, push thorns into his head, and nail him to a cross, killing him. This is what LOVE is. True love means making yourself totally vulnerable to the other person. Jesus didn't hold anything back. He gave up his complete power over us and the universe and made himself totally vulnerable, out of his love for us. Your boyfriend needs to do that for you if he really loves you.

I'll be praying for you both.


#14

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