What should my daughter do if her boyfriend won't go to Mass with her?

My 20-year-old daughter is a devout Catholic. Her boyfriend has decided he doesn’t want to attend Mass with her anymore. They have been dating for a couple of years and she always believed she would marry him. But she feels this could damage their relationship and doesn’t know if she should break up with him because of his decision. Can you advise her?

Why has your 20-year-old daughter been dating this person for “a couple of years”? This may not seem to be relevant to your question but it is, so please bear with me.

I suspect that your daughter is in college and has been dating the gentleman in question for “a couple of years” because she does not plan to marry until she’s done with college (which is probably at least another couple of years down the road). But an exclusive relationship like this is supposed to be acting as preparation for marriage; it is not supposed to be an end in itself. Someone who does not plan to marry for years really should not be in this kind of relationship to begin with. There are any number of reasons for that, starting with the near occasion of sexual impurity, but there is another reason that bears directly upon your question.

Two people involved in a focused relationship that acts as a preparation for marriage seek to please each other. They want to live up to expectations. They are willing to talk about differences and work out livable compromises. They don’t do things they should know will upset or disappoint the person they are still hoping to impress.

In your daughter’s situation though, she has been dating this gentleman for years and still has no expectation of marriage within the near future. So he has no objective reason to want to live his life in such a way so as to please her, live up to her expectations, or accommodate her known devotion to her faith. Rather, he has plenty of time to weaken her own commitment to her faith and to pull her down to his level of spiritual commitment. If she continues to go along with this, he can justly say to her, “Hey, I let you know about my feelings on going to Mass long before we got engaged. You have no reason to expect anything different from me now.”

I can only say that I recommend she end her relationship with this young man. I hope she will also reconsider any kind of serious relationship with anyone until she is actually ready to marry.

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