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Dear Diva Rebecca,
I just want to have your opinion of my present relational problem. To have a glance of it, it's all about my relationship with my girlfriend who belongs to another religious denomination. To start the story, let me begin by saying that I met my girlfriend when we were in college. We fell in love with each other and from then on, we enjoy each other's company and have been on until now. If I may assess our relationship, I can say that it's almost perfect except for one thing: If I invite my girlfriend to attend the mass, she would outright hesitate and would say that she could not possibly do it. With regards to our religious convictions, I would say that both of us have a wonderful relationship with God. She has a strong faith in God. I am a catholic and she is a protestant. I'm also thinking of the future, if ever I and my girlfriend would get married in the future, I would like that I and my girlfriend attend the same church and grow together in our relationship with God. I have known the truth and have grown in my faith in the church in which I belong and the same is true with my girlfriend and her faith. I know that religious denomination is not important but what is essential is our relationship with God. Do I have to sacrifice the things I've learned from my church and unite with the religious beliefs of my girlfriend? Or shall I be the one to make an effort to have her follow my religious convictions to the end that both of us attend the same church? Or does it have to end in the bitter eventuality of parting ways due to religious differences?
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dear Conviction Challenged,
I received a similar inquiry in the past which was much more difficult and complicated. The couple was truly in love. The woman was Catholic with a very Catholic family. They required a traditional Catholic wedding and wanted the children, when they had some, to be baptized. The man was from a Buddhist family and his mother was an actual practicing Buddhist nun. She would have no participation in a Catholic wedding, would not condone any sort of baptism and threatened to not speak to either of them if there was any Catholic influence in the wedding. Now this was a major dilemma. They were facing excommunication from either side of the family. In this case, I wrote a very long letter but the basis was simple: nothing is worth throwing away a beautiful relationship especially since the family will get over it. It just takes time.
At least you two have the common factor of Christianity. You may have differences in your beliefs, but these differences can be overcome. You, yourself, already said, "I know that religious denomination is not important but what is essential is our relationship with God". If you already know this, then you know that you can survive this problem.
You have already achieved an incredible accomplishment. You have one of the most highly sought after assets that money can not buy: a loving relationship. Some people go through their whole lives without ever experiencing true love and the mutual benefits it can bring. This is something you should never ever give up on. So, you are having some problems dealing with differences. It is not the nature of the problems (religious convictions) which is important; it is how you deal with them. Every couple has differences and problems that they encounter through the course of the relationship. I do not think that one couple has ever made it through without having a decent-sized problem. There will always be small problems and large problems and they can all be overcome. The point is, your problem is not great enough to throw away such a wonderful treasure. And trust me, there will be more problems to tackle in the future.
With respect on how to handle this religious difference, I think it may be time to have a long sit down conversation with your sweetie. Let her know that this problem is troubling you and you would like to think of a solution together. Relationships are all about compromise and if you work together on the problem you can find an amenable solution. A good solution would be for her to attend your church and you attend hers on a rotational schedule. I know she has reservations about it now and this is why sitting down and discussing how much this problem is affecting you is important. If she truly loves you she will be able to make some concessions. I would also talk to your religious mentors and counselors together as a couple about the problem. I am sure that this problem has been brought to their attention many times and they may have some helpful solutions for you and wise words of advice. My parents had a successful union although my Mother's family was devout Irish Catholic and my Father's side was protestant while his father was the pastor of his own church. It was sticky at first but it worked out in the end. I went to both churches as a child and therefore got to experience both sides. It did not cause me confusion, but allowed me to make my own decisions based on total awareness. I think that was a wonderful gift from my parents!
Not everyone will agree with me, everyone has their own opinion.|
What would your advice be?
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