Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“We Have Different Values. Is it a Lost Cause?”

religious_symbols

I met “Calvin” about three or four months ago and we are now exclusive, seeing each other several times a week. I am in my late 20s and he is in his early 30s. We get along wonderfully. Calvin is smart, funny and attractive, and he treats me incredibly well on so many levels. We are both interested in pursuing a long-term relationship and have made it clear we are not looking for anything casual and are looking for real, hopefully long-term love.

The only major differences that we seem to have that are problematic are differences in values. Primarily, these are political and religious; Calvin is very conservative and I’m definitely much more liberal. Politically, I can understand and respect his views and, while I don’t necessarily support all that he supports, I am mostly okay with it. When it comes to religion, however, we definitely have different views. He is Christian and attends church regularly. I am not and do not go to formal services. I am 100% okay with him ascribing to his beliefs and actively attending religious services and so forth, but I am not likely to change my views nor go to church.

The main issue is that Calvin has made it clear that it is important for his future family (wife included) to go to church, have discussions about religion, and follow such values. I realize this seems early in a relationship to discuss this, but, hey, for a girl approaching 30, it feels reasonable. At first he made it sound like it is a deal-breaker for his significant other to not ascribe to his views, but then, after some awkward/sad silence and tears, he said maybe we should revisit the conversation later.

I’m not sure if there’s any chance of compromise on either side. He’s expressed how much he cares about me and is falling in love with me, but I don’t know if that’s enough. I hate to ask him to give up on his specific dreams for the future, but we work so well in so many other facets that I’m really torn. I don’t want to table the issue to just have it become a deal-breaker in several months — what’s the point? — but I guess I’m hoping maybe he will be less rigid in his view of what he wants me to be religiously. Any advice on what to do or how to approach this? Do you think these differences are so big that a relationship might not work in the long-run anyway? — Non-Believer

Yes, sadly, I do think a fundamental difference in values and the way two people practice those values are detrimental to the long-term success of a relationship, especially when at least one person in the relationship has already communicated that it would be a deal-breaker if the other person doesn’t share and practice his beliefs. It would be one thing if Calvin were open to marrying someone of a different faith — or no faith at all — and if you were open to raising your children in church and perhaps even accompanying him to services. But you’ve both made it clear that that isn’t the case.

He wants a wife who shares his religious beliefs and practices. You aren’t going to be that person. One of you will forever resent the other for not being who and what you really want. Staying together to see if you develop enough love to weather the storm of your differences is just begging for heartache. It’s like adopting a child you know you can’t keep. Why let yourself fall in love when you already know your heart will be broken? For the experience? You’re looking for more than just an experience. You want a forever. This isn’t the guy who’s going to give that to you. At least, not without some pretty serious sacrifices on one or both of your parts — sacrifices it doesn’t sound like either of you is interested in making.

As sad and hard as it will be, you need to MOA before you’re even more emotionally invested. If what you’re looking for is a life partner, you need to keep yourself available to the person who can be that for you and it doesn’t sound like this is it, sorry.

***************

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289 comments… add one
  • avatar

    artsygirl January 9, 2013, 9:10 am

    LW – This sucks but Wendy is 100% correct. If your BF was fine with his future wife not being religious that is one thing, but he has flat out said that he would like his family to be involved in organized religion. The only compromise I could possible suggest is if you can find a religion/church which is acceptable for both of you. I would suggest Unitarianism which believes that there is truth in all religious and the path towards spiritual growth is more important than the doctrine.

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    • Brad

      Brad January 9, 2013, 10:16 am

      Not trying to start any fights, but this would not work. Any “serious” Christian (for lack of a better way of saying it) would not consider a Unitarianism establishment to be a Christian Church. Unitarianism’s beliefs are inconsistent with some of the core doctrins of Christinanity, such as the holy trinity or salvation through Christ alone.

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      • avatar

        SuzQ January 9, 2013, 11:05 am

        Agreed. I’m a church-going Unitarian, and I’m an atheist. It’s fabulous, but not for someone who wants to hear about how best to follow the bible.

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      • avatar

        Christy January 9, 2013, 11:26 am

        Plus it’s not like many atheists are interested in spiritual growth or any religion whatsoever.

        (Not speaking for all atheists, obviously, it was just a thought about how atheists might not be into UU.)

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      • avatar

        SuzyQ January 9, 2013, 1:18 pm

        UU is filled with atheists. A large % of the ministers are atheist. The common thread of UU is the desire for community and spiritual growth – we believe in the spirit within. And some also believe in god as well.

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    • becboo84

      BecBoo84 January 9, 2013, 11:44 am

      I actually love this suggestion, but from what the LW said, I’m not sure “Calvin” would be into it. It’s always worth a try though!

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 9:16 am

    “I hate to ask him to give up on his specific dreams for the future…”

    He is bascially asking you to do that though! He’s already expressed his want for a wife is religious and a church goer. You are not and are not really willing to be. So what’s the point?

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    • avatar

      csp January 9, 2013, 9:18 am

      but what is he asking from her? It is a realitively small time commitment. My husband loves football and we watched 12 hours of football last weekend. That is a big time commitment but I love him so we make it a part of the schedule. I don’t see why it is a big deal to wake up on sunday and spend an hour in a pew.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 9:21 am

        I don’t think religion is really the same as football. Religion is the fundamental beliefs of a person. Football isn’t.

        And FWIW I’m a die hard NFL and NCAA football fan so I get watching 12 hours of football in a given day. But very different political and religious views would be a deal breaker for me.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 9:26 am

        Right, but, for example, My mom was catholic and my dad wasn’t. My mother in law is catholic and my father in law wasnt. Both of these men sat at church politely and celebrated Christmas and Easter, but they maintained thier own beliefs. They let thier kids go to sunday school. But that is where it ended. So I would consider it like working out. You find time in your schedule and go, take from the sermons what you like and dismiss the rest. Why give up a man you love?

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      • avatar

        bethany January 9, 2013, 9:28 am

        It sounds to me though, that the LW’s boyfriend doesn’t just want someone who is going through the motions. He wants someone who actually BELIEVES what he does. You can’t really fake that.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 9:35 am

        I am making the assumption that this guy is conservative politically and a christian. Not a conservative christian. Those are very different things. Why not focus on what you both agree on then what you don’t agree on.

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      • avatar

        oldie January 9, 2013, 11:33 am

        I don’t know why you would assume he is not a conservative Christian. It seems fairly clear from the letter that this is exactly what he is.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 9:38 am

        Yup, I agree bethany. It read to me that he did not want a wife that faked the motions but rather a believer.

        And sitting through a Christmas or Easter service is very different from sitting thorugh service every single Sunday. We’re talking 2 (maybe 3) big religious events per year verses 52 Sundays a year. Hugh difference in time commitment.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 9:47 am

        He didn’t say that though. He said go to church, have discussions and follow the values. Now the last two lines could be interpretted differently. But follow the values could just mean give money to charity, follow the commandments (which is most of our legal system anyway), and be nice.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant January 9, 2013, 11:03 am

        What does “have discussions” mean to you? Do you imagine them having weekly (or daily!) discussions about whether God is real or not? To constantly be arguing over who’s right? I don’t think that’s what he’s envisioning.

        It seems quite clear that he wants a woman who is equally as passionate about shared beliefs. And that’s fine but that’s not this woman. Hes not asking her to passively accept his faith in their household he wants someone who is as equally invested in his church as he is. If she cant do that they should move on.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 12:04 pm

        See, That is what needs to be clarified. I have an Uncle InLaw that will hold dinners and will “pray” before that saying we will all go to hell and we better save our souls. That is one religious discussion. Another is praying before dinner. One is telling the nativity story to kids and having a picture book of different stories of the bible. Mormons actively learn and study all world religions. It can mean alot. I am guessing that if he was a fire and brimstone guy, she wouldn’t have fallen for him.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant January 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

        In dunno even in the tamest of your scenarios she would be asked to actively participate in something she doesn’t believe in.

        Take the nativity story. Would he be cool if she followed up the story with her true opinion, that she didn’t believe in the virgin birth or that the Jesus was not The Lord savior? Somehow I don’t think he’d be cool with that. So she would be asked to lie.

        Now if she weren’t asked to participate and lie about her on beliefs that’s another thing. If she knew he was going to tell the story and didn’t object, fine. But that she’d have to participate in said storytelling…

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 12:45 pm

        That seems harsh to do to a little kid. bring up the tooth fairy and clarify that all fairytales are fake and there is really a guy in the big bird suit. I would guess that in the USA most non christians know the nativity story. Just tell the story and when kids are old enough to understand more, talk to them about religious mythology.

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 12:49 pm

        This isn’t a harmless fairytale though, it’s his religion! To compare it to the toothfairy is just insulting. These are his core beliefs that he wants to teach his child, he should have every right to do so but so should she.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant January 9, 2013, 1:02 pm

        I’m not saying it should be banned from the just that if its something she doesn’t believe she not be asked to participate in telling it. He can tell the kids the story while she watches New Girl in the next room. It would be shitty of her to undermine him and tell the kids it’s a false story later – just that she shouldn’t be forced into joining them.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 9:48 am

        I am not invisioning him saying they have to read the bible every night and her dress like little house on the prairie. or

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. January 9, 2013, 12:14 pm

        Although she doesn’t state what kind of Christian he is, if he’s Catholic, it’s more than one hour a week, if you’re serious about it. You have to take all the sacraments, go to classes…Some Catholics I know go to church every day.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 12:53 pm

        Right, but that is an unreasonable expectation. Most regular Catholics go to mass once a week and mass is an hour. go to the 8 am mass it is 40 minutes, no music. I have moved to 9 states and all masses are an hour unless they have alot of announcements. But that is asking alot more involvement then what she stated above. Now, I dated a guy who did bible study then service and then you have lunch after and it is half the day. That is alot more to ask. But if they love each other, they can talk and say, lets find a church that we both can tolerate that gives us the time commitment that we desire.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. January 9, 2013, 1:56 pm

        My parents are of the 1-hour mass variety, but my father’s family is more hard core. Their mass sometimes lasts up to 4 hours. I remember sitting in a hot little church for half a day on Sundays when I would visit. There’a a lot of variation out there, even within a belief system.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 4:19 pm

        I just think that everyone is assuming that he is an evangelical and he very well might be. But if he is just a normal person who wants to share his values and the way he grew up, I don;t think she should walk away so quickly. I think she owes it to herself to learn what she is talking about.

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      • KKZ

        KKZ January 9, 2013, 1:59 pm

        It may not be a big deal to you to go through the motions, or for your family members it may not have been a big deal, but for some it really is a big deal, especially if they have a stated reason for opposing said religion. I’m referring to the difference between an apathetic atheist, who just doesn’t really give a hoot about religion in general, and a passionate atheist, who is not only firmly in touch with his/her own beliefs but may actively rail against theistic beliefs. Depending on where the LW falls on that spectrum, being asked to go through the motions could be no big deal, or downright insulting.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 4:25 pm

        That is fair. However, they have been dating for 3 months. If she was a passionate athiest, wouldn’t his bible love really be a turn off? Like, I am a PASSIONATE moderate politically. That might sound silly but I am all about the middle. I can’t stand people on either side of the political spectrum who can’t give an inch. If I was dating a guy like that, I would be so turned off. They seem to connect so these levels make me think that they should learn more before making a decision.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle January 9, 2013, 9:25 am

        haha, I wouldn’t date a guy who was religious & I also wouldn’t date a guy who loved football.

        But anyway csp, belonging to a church is more than spending “an hour in a pew”. It sounds like he’d want her to be an involved member. Why should she devote so much time to a faith organization she doesn’t even believe in?

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 9:32 am

        See, it sounded like to me that he wants her to go with hypothetical kids and not complain. I think in most organized religion, you find things you believe in and some you dont. So you spend your time in the parts you like. For example, I am catholic. I am a catholic who likes doing the charity work but I also was on birth control for a decade and wouldn’t be caught dead at a right to life march. I will sit some days at church and do the moves and other times a sermon will make me think differently. It is ok to have different opinions.

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      • avatar

        bethany January 9, 2013, 9:47 am

        Sounds to me like he wants someone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior. Either you believe that, or you don’t.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 9:59 am

        But she didn’t say that in the letter. Based on what she said, it was go to chuch, live by the values.

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      • avatar

        Michelle.Lea January 9, 2013, 10:10 am

        I dont think she *had* to say it. Why would you want someone to go to church on a regular basis and not believe? As a Christian, that just sounds off to me. And I wouldn’t want someone to go just to please me, that would feel fake and horrible.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 10:45 am

        See, I think it is all how you frame it. So you would want someone to go because you want to raise your children that way and be a family unit. I am arguing that it is part of any other issue in the marriage. You do it because you love each other and want to have each other in part of your lives. To gain a different understanding of your partner.

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 11:06 am

        The kids thing is where it gets me. I could understand sitting in church for an hour every week for your partner (although I wouldn’t do it.) But to be forced to lie to your own children about your beliefs and keep them hidden from them to play “happy family believes” is so wrong to me.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 11:12 am

        But do you have to lie to them? Or do you say, ” there are alot of different beliefs and this is one of them.” I mean the bible and most religious texts say all sorts of things and can be interpretted in many different ways. So you can figure out how to navigate it in a way that works for both of you. Noone knows for sure. the Amish might have it right, who knows.

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 11:20 am

        You don’t have to- but it sounds like he wants her to. Otherwise why would it matter if she went to church with him? If he was willing to say “this is my belief, your mother believes this, and there are many different beliefs in the world” then there would be no need for her to join him.
        Many people want to raise their children to not question the beliefs their parents hold and having an openly interfaith marriage allows the children to question.

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      • avatar

        MMcG January 9, 2013, 11:03 am

        It was have discussions though too – presumably as a family – and how do you participate in those conversations, that are really important to your SO, if you don’t believe!?!
        That’s different than checking a box for an hour a week…

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 11:13 am

        True, and they need to talk about what that means. I could mean bible thumping and hellfire and brimstone or it could mean telling the nativity story to children and praying before dinner.

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      • avatar

        oldie January 9, 2013, 12:08 pm

        I am quite sure that ‘live the values’ means a lot more than giving to charity. It means he expects her to live the life of a conservative, fundamentalist Christian wife. He couldn’t be much more explicit. Not at all sure why you are so determined to read this as simply a request to sit with husband and kids in church. If she marries this guy, her entire life will be centered on that conservative church.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 12:18 pm

        She said he was conservative politically and a christian. not conservative christian. Now he might be that. But breakdown how that is different in the confines of marriage- don’t cheat, dress conservatively, don’t swear, don’t drink to excess, be nice to your spouse, don’t worship golden cows? It is really easy not to sin when you are in a marriage. It is normally things that happen outside of marriage that cause strife. It might be more than that, if it is, she needs to weigh it herself. But it might not be as terrible as she thinks.

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 12:44 pm

        actually, in the confines of marriage, a lot of christian couples believe that the man makes all the decisions- that is in the bible. that certainly means a whole hell of a lot more then “dont cheat”, ect…

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 12:54 pm

        At all of the Christian weddings I have been to, the pastor has said that the only bond more important than the bond of husband and wife is the bond of person and God. As someone who doesn’t believe I would hate knowing that my husband places more importance on his relationship with God than he does with me.

        Think about it, at it’s very core, their difference of religions is a difference of importance regarding their relationship.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 12:56 pm

        That might be true. He might be a complete asshole, we don’t know. But it might also be a very simple agreement. She might be throwing away the love of her life because she didn’t realize that it was as simple as prayers before dinner and an hour a week.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 12:59 pm

        @csp:why for you is it so simple for her to have to do something she doesn´t agree with or believe in? WOudln´tit be just as easy for him to not pray before dinner or not go to church?

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 1:14 pm

        My mom prays silently to herself before each meal. She is able to keep her beliefs and my dad is able to keep his. If they are going to make it work then they both need to compromise.

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      • avatar

        Oldie January 9, 2013, 7:33 pm

        Actually, she said he was politically and religiously conservative. “Primarily, these are political and religious; Calvin is very conservative and I’m definitely much more liberal”

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 11:03 am

        I have some friends who are like you. I am truly curious here: why would you subscribe to an organized religion but not follow all of its beliefs. There are other branches of christianity where birth control is “permitted”. As is gay marriage, etc. I just don’t get the whole “cafeteria catholic” thing.

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      • avatar

        mf January 9, 2013, 11:27 am

        I don’t get this either. I’d be interested to hear from someone who’s Catholic on how/why they manage this sort of thing. (Not being judgmental – I’m genuinely curious!)

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      • avatar

        llclarityll January 9, 2013, 12:43 pm

        I’m going to toss my name into the hat for this one. I was raised Roman Catholic, went to Catholic school, etc. The reason I’m still Catholic (for the time being) without agreeing with/following all of the tennets of Catholocism is because:

        At the heart of the matter, I believe in Catholocism’s roots and teachings. I don’t believe in the “add-ons” that the Church has decided to make “rules.” I truly value the traditions of the Church — I love everything about the services, the holidays, the holy days, etc — enough to stay a Catholic, at least for right now. I’m struggling with the big things now, though — gay marriage and few women leaders in the Church.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:29 am

        I would say I’m one of the ones you’re describing. I’m a practicing Catholic (try to get to mass on Sundays, but not nearly every day, send kid to catholic school, say prayers, etc.), however, I take birth control, have sex out of wedlock, say God’s name in vein, believe gays should have the right to marry, etc.

        I simply do not follow strictly. I think many people are like that, in any culture or religion. There are parts that I love about my religion, and parts that I think are wrong.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:30 am

        I think same can be said for political beliefs too. You can say you’re a democrat, but not agree with everything democrats stand for.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 11:39 am

        very true

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 11:52 am

        Right, but there is a great category for people like that – Independent 🙂

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:57 am

        Well that’s a whole ‘nother debate. A lot of people think their vote doesn’t count when they vote independent. I also think that if you agree with most, but not all, of the things a democrat does, that its ok and common to identify as a democrat.
        I wonder how many people in any group agree with 100% of the group’s beliefs.

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 11:49 am

        Right and my roommate is the same way. I guess my question is, isn’t there another branch of christianity that would suit what you like and don’t like about catholicism?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:55 am

        I don’t know, to be honest. The church I belong to, I love. I’ve been going since I was a kid, and its important to me that my kid goes there too. I know the people who go there, I know the priests, and I find them all to be people I am proud to associate myself with. So I have not tried to find another church.

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 1:58 pm

        I get that. Makes sense.

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 12:09 pm

        I think it is a cultural thing. It isn’t just a spiritual ideology or what you believe but where you came from. Your history and your family’s history. It is a value system based not on faith but good works.

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      • avatar

        Riefer January 9, 2013, 3:12 pm

        I think it’s a family thing too. If you’re Catholic, switching over to a Protestant religion is kind of a big deal. My grandfather for sure would freak the hell out if any of us did that. Which is why he doesn’t know I’m an atheist. 🙂

        Plus, switching religions tends to be a big deal. It’s like immigration. If you’re born in a place, you’re a citizen, super easy. If you’re not born there, well, you’re going to spend a lot of time and money on classes, tests, etc. Same thing when you switch religions. If there’s enough in the religion that you like, you might as well stay. There are also people who love most parts of their religion, and just want to change the intolerant parts, so they stay and try to change it from the inside.

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      • avatar

        Christy January 9, 2013, 11:30 am

        I’d love to hear responses–this is why I stopped identifying as Catholic. I’m either all-in, or I’m not.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:33 am

        I kinda replied above. I think some think of it like you, all in or not at all. And that’s fine. To be honest, I wonder if I would feel differently if I were gay, which is a fucked up thing to admit I think. In a way, a slap in the face to gay people that even though I believe they should have equal rights, I still practice a religion that does not believe that. There are things, like that, that I do struggle with. But at the end of the day, there are many things I think are great about it and choose to follow those. I guess you could say I’m a loose follower.

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 11:54 am

        I am proud of you for saying that!! Actually, my roommate’s sister is gay and she still goes to catholic mass every Sunday. I have to admit, it horrifies me a bit. Not to mention their parents almost didn’t go to her wedding recently because they were worried about what their church friends would think. They feel much more strongly about it, but still want to support their daughter. They did go to the wedding, which is huge, but how can they look at her and think she is going to go to hell?!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 12:01 pm

        Thanks Lianne. I think its extremely important to be vocal about what you do and do not agree with when you are part of any group. It makes others who agree admit the same and I think paves the way for change.

        I’m lucky in that my church is not anti-gay. My priest has a gay brother. Many parishioners have gay kids. Its not frowned up. Of course, none of those people would be welcome to marry in my church, which is awful, but one step at a time I guess?

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 1:59 pm

        I think that’s WONDERFUL. I can’t wait for a world where people are truly treated equally. Is that too optimistic of me?!

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      • avatar

        csp January 9, 2013, 11:39 am

        So, here is my logic. I am a cultural catholic. The way that jewish people can be cultural jews. The Catholic Church is an institution that is slow to change. It is the largest organized religion in the world and it cant change thousands of years of tradition on a dime. So to turn my back on my culture just because the priest wouldn’t approve of my BC pill isn’t worth it to me. Or the idea that the church tells families to love and not disown thier gay children but “marriage” is a sacrament that can’t be messed with, well I can deal with that stance and disagree with it. I just think the gay marriage arguement comes from definitions like Sacrament versus Secular.

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      • BriarRose

        BriarRose January 9, 2013, 12:43 pm

        Cafeteria Catholics usually stay in the religion because it’s what they know. I myself can probably be considered one, because I choose to attend mass and raise my daughter Catholic, as it is as much a part of my identity as being a brunette is. But there are aspects of the church that are not in line with my personal beliefs, such as birth control, gay marriage, etc. I live my life accordingly and vote accordingly. I’m sure it is difficult for outsiders to understand, but it’s just who I am. I’m Catholic, I go to church, I try to be a good person and I’m just living my life.

        Additionally, if a person wishes to live their life with religion as a part of it, some people tend not to just switch around. Sure we pick and chose within our religion, but we stick with it our entire lives. I personally think if one day I decided to become a Baptist (just picking a denomination here), that’s a bit more random than remaining Catholic my entire life but agreeing with gay marriage and voting for it when presented with the opportunity, thus disagreeing with one aspect of my religion.

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        SGMcG January 9, 2013, 12:48 pm

        Practicing Catholic here. I identify my faith towards being a traditional/progressive Catholicism rather than ultra-traditional. My husband is more cultural Catholic – he went through all the Sacrements and allowed our marriage to be convalidated. He goes to Mass with me when his work schedule allows, but he’s agnostic at best. I recognize how I practice Catholicism is pretty much unique to the United States. Most other Catholics adhere to the true infalliabilty of the Mother Church and the Pope, when Catholic School Theological History for me feels the right to question IS part of faith in action – towards the social justice spectrum.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 1:37 pm

        I was raised Catholic and I’ve remained a Catholic partly because it is my heritage and the faith that I know but also because the church has room for people who don’t agree with every teaching.

        I like that the Catholic Church believes in science and teaches evolution in Catholic schools. I could never belong to a church that denied basic science. I like that the Catholic Church doesn’t specifically teach the bible but teaches about the context of the bible and believes you need to know about the bible and how it was written to understand the bible. So I like that the Catholic Church doesn’t teach a literal interpretation of the bible. I like that the church has a long history of study and was one of the few places where children were educated during the Dark Ages.

        I don’t think there is a faith where I would agree with all teachings and yet I think the foundation that the church provides is good for my children. We’ve also met incredibly nice people at our church including some of our best friends. I’ve also met people I really don’t like at all.

        The Catholic Church teaches that you need to think for yourself and make your own moral decisions. It also teaches a great respect for life. Not just prolife, as in antiabortion, but in supporting all people. The Catholic Church puts as much emphasis on the Beautitudes (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.) as it does on being prolife. The Catholic Bishops draw up points that a Catholic should consider when voting and they include caring for the poor and marginalized as much as they include abortion. The Bishops also say that it is okay to vote for someone who is pro-choice as long as that isn’t the reason that you vote for them. If you feel that the democratic candidate is much better for the country than the prolife republican then it is okay to vote for the democrat. The Catholic Church gives a lot of leeway for personal beliefs.

        So you don’t have to agree with every teaching of the faith to consider yourself Catholic. The thing that annoys me about the Catholics who call others Cafeteria Catholics is that they are the ones who tend to deny Vatican II and do things like refuse to accept communion from a eucharistic minister (a lay person) rather than a priest. I see people every week at church who watch to see where the priest will be standing before they get in line for communion because they won’t take it from anyone but a priest even though the church says it is fine and uses the lay ministers. Some of them think that mass should still be in Latin, etc. They hate the changes of Vatican II and then complain that other Catholics don’t follow all the teachings of the Church. It is so hypocritical of someone to pick and choose for themself and then complain when others do the same.

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 9:29 am

        but if thats all she did, just sit in a pew for an hour, she would be a “shitty christian”. she would get gossiped about by all the other members, and above all, HE would know that her heart isnt in it and that she doesnt believe a word of the same sermon he is going to be basing life decisions off of.

        if really all he wants is for her to sit in a pew, then yea, id agree with you- thats not a hard compromise at all. but it is such a different thing to go to church because you live it and breath it, then to just go because you have to. im almost certain, from experiences with other religious people, that he isnt just asking her to sit in a pew for an hour on sunday and then go out for brunch- he wants a real, honest to god (ha), bible believing, church going, take it to heart and believe it kind of wife.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 9:37 am

        But, if you have a sermon that says, “Jesus said be good to the poor” you can believe in being good to the poor with or without jesus. So focus on what brings you together. Or if you believe god is good but disagree in what form god takes, you still agree god is good.

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 9:48 am

        oh i agree, i think that people could definitely do that- i just dont think that is what this LW’s boyfriend wants. he doesnt want the show, he wants the real thing. he doesnt want “well, i believe the message, i just dont believe in X thing”.. you know?

        also, the “have discussions about religion” lead me to believe he would want a bible study kind of very religiously-centered household, so i do think it would be much more of a commitment then a once a week thing.. like, i have known christians who have bible study every night. they pick out specific verses or whatever and discuss them and pray and kind of like solidify their religion and their beliefs every night- from the letter, that is what the boyfriend seems to want.

        if its as simple as you are interpreting it, i say go for it, though!

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        csp January 9, 2013, 10:02 am

        Right, if it is way out there, then she should let this go. But if it is having a children’s bible and the nativity and easter story. Or having “Veggie Tales” videos in the house. I think I am invisioning a moderate Christian who is conservative Politically.

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        Christy January 9, 2013, 9:48 am

        Yeah, but what’s the point of going just to sit in a pew?

        I definitely agree with your reasoning, though, katie. You’re saying my thoughts coherently, unlike me.

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        kerrycontrary January 9, 2013, 9:58 am

        I’m thinking that he wants a wife who is as committed to the church as her. While a lot of people aren’t judged in a church for being “shitty christians” if they just go to sunday service (I went to an evangelical church and this is not the case, at least for my church), I think this LW’s boyfriend is looking for a wife who would attend bible studies, women’s retreats, etc…

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        csp January 9, 2013, 10:06 am

        I am arguing that none of those requirements are listed in the letter. If he is asking her to sing in the choir and have the bible be the only book in the house, then sure, this won’t work. But that isn’t said. It says, go to church, live by the values (Which most people do in daily life anyway). The “have religious discussions” could mean alot of things including “have the kids know the nativity story”. Only the LW knows for sure.

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        MMcG January 9, 2013, 11:08 am

        But he didn’t say have discussions for the kids… she doesn’t even reference kids at all — it sounds like he is describing a woman who has fundamental religious beliefs that he could talk with and share his own. Sounds more like he wants someone who would be involved in the church, bible study, etc. not just show up for the kids… and that’s his dealbreaker… but when it got close enough to ruin a good thing (and she cried) he backed off

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        csp January 9, 2013, 12:23 pm

        You could be right. Or they could have been brought to tears because they were too busy defending thier choices then navigating a path in the middle. He might be simply saying that he has had a good, happy life so far. With happy memories and he associates that with his faith. He would want a marriage that is that way too full of love and little conflict. They can move together to find a middle ground.

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        oldie January 9, 2013, 12:14 pm

        He’s asking her to ‘live the values’ of his religion and have religious discussion with him. If she is living the values of his religion, he will expect that discussion to be supportive of his religious rules and values. If all he expected was that she would accompany him and the kids to church, she would have phrased the letter differently. She was quite explicit. You simply refuse to see it.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 4:38 pm

        It isn’t a refusal, it is another way of looking at it. How many multi religion couples do you know? People make different backgrounds, faiths, traditions work all the time. My dad is an executive and my mom a yoga instructure. I have a friend that is jewish and her husband is a southern black baptist minister’s son.

        They had one heated conversation and she is going to throw away a relationship that is marriage worthy? I think we are so quick to throw ourselves in boxes and write people off. Why not fight for love?

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      • Cassie

        CassieB January 11, 2013, 12:04 am

        But love is not enough to make a marriage survive. You need to be on the same page as the other person. If not being on the same page with the same religion, then at least being on the same page that it is okay not to share the same religion. But, they want two majorly separate things.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 10:46 am

        I think it could be very ackward if he wanted to pray for guidance every time they were going to discuss an issue or make a decision. Also, he could very easily pull out the bible and quote some verse to her and assume that their decision was determined by that verse.

        The letter writer needs to ask him what it means to him to live a Christian life and be a Christian family.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:07 am

        THIS!!!!!! This is it! they need to know what this really means for them. So well said.

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      • theattack

        theattack January 9, 2013, 10:11 am

        Why should she have to do that though? Football is just something you can kind of stare at the screen and tune out if you don’t like it. Religion is something that gets down to the very fiber of who you are and the way you approach existence and life. I am not a Christian, and I know that I cannot tolerate to listen to church sermons and the like because so much of what is included in that rattles my soul around so deeply that I’m fuming and nauseous. I could never listen to that every single week, and I would start to resent someone who asked me to. We dont’ know where exactly on the spectrum LW stands on this, but I’m willing to bet that if she thought giving in was an option, she wouldn’t be writing in to Wendy!

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        csp January 9, 2013, 10:17 am

        She should do that because she loves him enough to make the relationship work. I tone out chuch all the time and think about things like groceries. That is an accident but it happens. I am saying that if they love each other enough, they can find other churches, try them out, see what they like. They can negotiate it just the way you do a million other things in a relationship.

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      • theattack

        theattack January 9, 2013, 10:34 am

        If you find something offensively horrible enough, you can’t tune it out. Religion is like that for a lot of people. If you’re a Christian who tunes out church, that’s because the message is normal to you. It isn’t something that climbs into the depths of your soul and rips your brain apart. If you’re a non-Christian who tunes out church, I’m betting it’s because you’re apathetic to religion, and it’s not something that you’re actively opposed to. You might be able to do something, but that doesn’t mean other people can. There are just some very essential things that couples cannot compromise on in a relationship, and religion is frequently one of them.

        The sacrifices you make for love should be more like your example of watching football or overlooking the hair in the shower – not the basis of your entire belief system.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 10:37 am

        I´d even argue that a true christian shouldn´t tune out church either.

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      • theattack

        theattack January 9, 2013, 10:41 am

        Well they’re not supposed to, but it’s easy to run away with things in your head. I value giving my fiance my full attention when he speaks, but sometimes I start thinking about the clothes I need to wash or whatever. It’s not intentional. It’s just when you’re comfortable with something and your mind slips momentarily. I’d imagine it’s the same thing with Christians in church. There’s tuning it out on accident, and there’s tuning it out on purpose.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 10:44 am

        But saying someone that doesn´t want to should go to church since she can just tune it out?

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      • theattack

        theattack January 9, 2013, 10:59 am

        I didn’t say that……….. I said quite the opposite of that.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 11:02 am

        I wasn´t talking about you, csp pretty much said that.

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        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 11:23 am

        I tune out my husband sometimes. I tell him when I do though so that he can repeat himself!

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:20 am

        I am simply saying that there could be a middle ground. More than a yes or know. If her reaction is as violent as yours then it won’t work. If he is as crazy as some people here believe, then it won’t work. But, what if they found a liberal church that gave her “values” that she can live with and the religion he needs. Honestly, once your married, it is super easy to live a Christian “Value” life. I would say, before dumping a man she loves, she should go to church with him and see what she is really talking about. There are as many different types of christians as hairs on your head.

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        Addie Pray January 9, 2013, 3:29 pm

        But all the hair on my head is the same! Fine, there are 4 gray strands but I pluck that shit.

        I’m late to this party. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 4:41 pm

        you are so wise

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 January 9, 2013, 10:19 am

        Kind of shocking to me that you would make watching football analagous with attending church.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:24 am

        I guess I separate attending church with my inner spirituality. I just think that I go to church one hour a week and do extra events once a month so I spend 6 hours a month in church. I spend 6 hours a week in a gym. it just is one part of your life just like any other part.

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 11:29 am

        No offense but I think as someone who attends church (I do as well) it’s easier to do this than for someone who doesn’t. How would you feel if your husband had told you that he was an Atheist and he would like you to attend 6 hours of events a week where you would hear that God is not real, etc. I think you’re belittling her beliefs and feelings by making it seem like no big deal. In the same vane it should be no big deal for him to give church up.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:58 am

        I would say that 6 hours a week is too much. But also, I will argue that it wouldn’t be “anti god” the way religion isn’t “Anti atheism.” When you go to an event, it is “pro-belief” so if it was a “pro-science” event or “pro humanism” once a week, sure, why not? As long as a place is giving positive, life affirming values, then why not explore.

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 12:03 pm

        Christianity (it doesn’t say he’s religious or spiritual, it says Christian) is most definitely Anti-Atheism. And if you want to explore that’s great, but this LW states clearly that she doesn’t want to!

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        csp January 9, 2013, 12:33 pm

        I am saying that the message isn’t anti it is pro. So it isn’t antaganistic. I don’t think this is coming from a negative place but a positive place. He wants to share a part of his life with his loved one rather than stick it to her every week and show her why she is wrong.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 11:47 am

        But for a lot of people, and I mean a lot of people, church isn’t just church. It’s not just a thing on your weekly schedule like oh Friday 8am go to work, Sunday 9am go to church, Monday 8am Dentist appointment. Going to church is a part of your larger religious and spiritual self. Attending church is part of the way they follow their faith and express their faith and part of the way the connect with their faith and learn about their faith and a million other things. It’s not just a box on their to do list.

        Why go to church if it’s not connected to your spiritality?

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      • Brad

        Brad January 9, 2013, 10:20 am

        Simply going to Chruch on Sunday doesn’t make a person a Christian–there’s more to it than that. From the sounds of the LW, Calvin is looking for someone that believes in Christianity and is a practicing follwer of the faith. Two very different things. So while I understand the point you’re trying to make (and it would probably be good in other circumstances), in this case it’s an apples to oranges type of thing.

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      • SixtyFour

        SixtyFour January 9, 2013, 10:40 am

        Yeah, I remember my very religious friend described it like this:
        Sitting in a garage does not make you a car, same as sitting in a church does not make you a Christian. The LW’s boyfriend wants to marry a Christian.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:28 am

        You are absolutely right. But based on what she said, he didn’t ask that of her. Skyblossom said it best, she needs to understand what this means for him and them.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 10:40 am

        For many fundamentalist religions practicing the religion is more than an hour a week. It means Sunday School before or after services and weeknight services and the kids spending most of their time socializing in church sponsored youth groups. It also means financially contributing to the church and becoming a volunteer in the church. In a fundamentalist family the practice of religion permeates everything they do including praying before meals and before bed, studying the bible together and it often means that all the music played in the house or car is religious, etc.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 10:43 am

        Ooh the money is another excellent point. If having to donate a percentage of your income to a place you don´t believe in or like doesn´t lead to resentment, I don´t know what would.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 10:53 am

        Tithing is a dealbreaker for me. I, personally, wouldn’t be okay with attending a church that “mandated” donations. I definitely would resent my fiance if he was doing something with our money that I didn’t agree with/beleive in.

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        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 11:04 am

        My mom is Catholic and my dad is atheist. I asked her about the money thing because she does contribute a good amount every week at church. She said that it was a pre-agreed amount and that she would like to donate more but that my father also has a right to live the kind of lifestyle that he wants as well. Big difference is that my mom never tried to force her religion on my dad.
        With joint finances each spouse should be able to spend a certain amount on things that they want without complaint. My husband could do without the $20 on candles but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to buy them. Communication is key.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:31 am

        My parents were the same way. My dad started going to mass with us when we were kids and started asking why dad didn’t go. So he went every week, without complaint. I asked him recently about it and he said that the messages were nice about kindness and forgiveness and he loved my mom. That was enough for him.

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        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 12:02 pm

        My dad made breakfast for us. We knew that my dad didn’t believe, there was no pretending that my parents shared the same religion and I thank them for that.

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        EmJay January 9, 2013, 11:31 am

        This is true. I know a ” born again” christian and she is required to donate 30% if her weekly salary to the church and if she is late with payment, they call her to “remind” her the she missed a payment.

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        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:38 am

        Just for the record, I don’t believe this is the norm. Most churches accept, but do not require tithing or a weekly donation.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 11:42 am

        I know some distant relatives of mine (Jehovah´s witnesses, I think?) have to fill out every week how much money they made in order so the church will know they´re donating at least 10%

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 11:50 am

        I know of a church where it says clearly on their website under the info section that they require members to donate 10% of their yearly income. I don’t know if it’s inforced but it’s clearly out there.

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        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Oh yea, it definitely exists. Tithing is a real thing. But I’ve only experienced it as a choice, not a requirement. I personally do not tithe or donate money to my church.

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      • Brad

        Brad January 9, 2013, 11:40 am

        Woah that is absolutely unacceptable! Hearing stuff like this makes me mad. This is abuse of the faith. The bible DOES NOT require 30%!! Ugh!!! There is a verse that says something about donating 10% to charity, but if I remember correctly that doesn’t even have to be to the church specifically.

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        EmJay January 9, 2013, 11:57 am

        We have tried to tell her this in not normal. That a contribution is one thing but demanding that much of her weekly salary was not right. She would not listen. And her preacher, minister or whoever ( not sure of the term) would call her everyday on her lunch break ” to make sure she was following the way of the lord”. Then she would consitently try to force her religion on us.

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      • Brad

        Brad January 9, 2013, 12:03 pm

        Sounds more akin to a cult rather than a normal church.

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      • Lianne

        Lianne January 9, 2013, 10:58 am

        Sorry, but watching football and taking part in organized religion are very different. Especially if you don’t believe what that religion preaches. I wouldn’t “spend an hour in a pew” if the establishment I was in didn’t align with my beliefs and values.

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        SuzyQ January 9, 2013, 11:09 am

        He’s asking a huge commitment – to go to a church on a regular basis and listen to a bunch of views that she does not subscribe to. There are churches that only focus on Jesus’ love, but it’s not likely that’s the kind her very conservative bf attends. So she would have to hear how the heathens are damned and she’s going to hell for not truly believing. And once the kids start asking questions, is she gonna lie about what she believes? And those unless those “religious discussions” her bf wants are going to be debates, she’ll have to lie or shut her mouth during those as well. And will she be expected to pretend to pray at grace before meals? This is totally unrealistic.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 12:40 pm

        you are right. If it is fire and brimstone, that is different. She said he is politically conservative and a christian. That doesn’t mean fire and brimstone. It might be a jesus lover who likes a balanced fiscal policy. I am sure that if he was damning her to hell on a regular basis then she wouldn’t be having this hard of a time with the decision. Also, she said she didn’t believe in christianity. So what if she said “God, thanks for the grub” rather than Jesus thanks for the grub.

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        Krissy January 9, 2013, 3:21 pm

        This just feels so off point to me. I would not think of joining a religion as a relatively small time commitment. I would think of it as a complete surrender of my beliefs for someone elses. I could not just go to church once a week and tune it out anymore than I could go to the RNC once a year as a very liberal democrat. Part of my value system is to be open minded and compromise, but that does not mean that I have not thought long and hard about my belief system and am ready to just give up my time to listen to things I don’t agree with. I respect others rights to believe and practice what they like, but with the stipulation that they do the same for me. How about if you were dating a Muslim man and he wanted you to attend mosque with him. That isn’t just going to church for an hour a week, it is completely renouncing your belief in Jesus as the son of god and instead believing that Mohammad is the prophet. While there might be many things about Islam that you find great and workable in your lifestyle, I would think you would have a very difficult time giving up completely on Christianity to join Islam. This is how many atheists feel about going to church. Sure there are a lot of great things about Christianity, but there are things that we find fundamentally flawed about it to the point that we would not subscribe to that system of beliefs.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 4:59 pm

        He is not asking her to believe. He even said he could possibly work this out. He is saying he wants a family to go to church. If I married a muslim and he wanted me to give up my culture, I think that is alot. If he said, let’s celebrate ramadan and christmas, well that is something we could manage. So my issue with devote atheism is it is based in “Anti god” it is what you don’t believe more than what you do believe. If you said I am a “Humanist” where your beliefs focus on the rationalism of personkind and the focus on the earthly relationships that bring you together, that is something that you can bring to a relationship and share rather than making someone give up something.

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        kris_ January 9, 2013, 5:32 pm

        It’s not just the time commitment, though. It’s asking someone to pretend that their beliefs are not what they are. Why should she have to do that when he doesn’t have to? Many people who chose not to attend church put a lot of thought into that decision and by asking them to do something that they’ve consciously decided not to have in their life is wrong. Choosing not to believe is just as important as choosing to believe.

        It would be acceptable for him to ask if she would come a couple times to see what he sees in it but not to convert her. That’s courtesy and showing love for your partner. It’s would also be ok for him to ask her to socialize with the church people outside of the church setting, i.e. a church picnic or something, since that’s equivalent to him asking her to be a part of one of his social groups. And if something like that is not her cup of tea, she should definately MOA.

        Also, having discussions? That doesn’t really work unless you believe the similiar things. Otherwise it becomes a discussion of differences and similiarities in religion not of something a specific religion believes in. The nativity example you give is also not a really good one. True that most Americans have heard of it but most don’t actually know it well enough to teach it unless it’s something they care about. I personally would never be able to tell my kids the nativity story without first looking it up, and then also telling them my point of view on it. It’s not something I believe in so why should I be expected to tell my kids the story? It would come off sounding very false.

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        temperance January 9, 2013, 5:58 pm

        I disagree. For a committed Christian, you don’t just spend an hour in church. You should be bible reading and praying on a regular basis, and if he requested a wife who does those things, he expects a faithful life.

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  • avatar

    csp January 9, 2013, 9:16 am

    LW, I don’t think this is a dealbreaker. Here is the way I would frame this. So you haven’t made clear about how conservative a christian he is but what you are looking at is One to two hours a week in a church and prayers at dinner. If you look at his christianity and the “values” that it requires, are those just the values of a good person in general? Don’t be mean, love each other, be thankful for what you have. Now, if this is a church that is picketing funerals or planned parenthoods, that is different. But you both can find a church that you like when you get married. Many couples do that.

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      ebstarr January 9, 2013, 11:09 am

      I don’t think she’s saying it’s a dealbreaker for *her*, though. She says clearly that she would 100% support him in following his religion. What she’s concerned about is its becoming a dealbreaker for him. Sure, she could go to church to support him, though it seems like maybe she doesn’t want to; but even if she compromised on that, from this letter it sounds like he wants someone who is a partner in faith. She simply isn’t that and has no expectation of being that, and it’s not like you can voluntarily change your own internal beliefs, really. Unless she misunderstood him or he changes his mind, it is probably a dealbreaker. It’s sad for her, though, and it sounds like he wishes it weren’t true as well. :-/

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle January 9, 2013, 11:43 am

        yeah, I’m getting it’s more of a dealbreaker for him & he told her so— then she cried, it was awkward, & he finally relented, deciding to “revisit the conversation later”. She’s right to be concerned.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 1:01 pm

        But if this was the end all, be all for him. The day after this awkward conversation, he would of broken up with her. Why stay?

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 1:04 pm

        because breaking up sucks and a lot of people hold out secret hope that the other will change….

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        ebstarr January 9, 2013, 1:17 pm

        I think he didn’t end it then because it made him sad to think about breaking up because he likes her, that’s all. That may be an optimistic take — some people think that he is hoping to somehow change her, which is probably ill-advised on his part. Maybe it’s a little of both but certainly sounds to me like a lot of denial (again on his part).

        Maybe you’re right and he just literally wants her to go and sit at church. In that case, who knows, maybe she is open to that (it didn’t sound like she is from her letter, but who knows, she might have just meant that she wouldn’t go to church *on her own*). Hopefully the LW gets more answers when she goes back to talk to him. And I hope that she is very honest about who she is so that if who she is doesn’t work for him, he can tell her that and they can break up before getting more attached.

        Best of luck to the LW anyway!

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        csp January 9, 2013, 5:12 pm

        I am hoping that this is a sign that they have a shot. That they both can merge thier traditions together and make some on thier own. I think they had one conversation that spun out of control and it spooked her. I think when they come together with calmer heads they can both look and see if they have enough in common to make it work. I think they should learn more about thier core beliefs, share passions together (both religious and cultural). I just don’t want her to turn her back on LOVE over something that might be a small request of as little as 4 hours a month.

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        ebstarr January 9, 2013, 10:47 pm

        Ah, this clarifies your earlier comment for me a bit. It’s nice that you are on the side of the LW, who clearly doesn’t want to give up on this relationship either. I do think it’s important for him to be very clear about whether he can accept her as a non-believer, because all the traditions in the world don’t make her less of one. But yes, I hope they have a shot too, for the LW’s sake, though I am less optimistic than you. 🙂

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        Girodet January 9, 2013, 2:48 pm

        Because Christians and religious people cannot believe that a person’s atheism is real or permanent. My experience is from being an Atheist in the belt buckle of the bible belt! When I discuss my beliefs with my religious friends it is like I am speaking a foreign language. They just cannot understand that God and the Bible hold no authority with me. Many times they have quoted the Bible in a discussion…why? Often people are hostile to me (not friends). Other times they are actually scared of me. You seemed to have these same views in the way you advice the letter writing to just go with it and attend church with him. You are not truly understanding what it means to be atheist.

        Anyway, we really need to know how nonreligious she is and how religious he is to give advice in this situation. Does she believe in God? Is she agnostic? In those cases then they could find a middle ground. But if she is an atheist and he wants religion to play a part in their marriage and raising of children then it will be a problem.

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  • JK

    JK January 9, 2013, 9:17 am

    Aw, this letter made me sad. 🙁

    Wendy is absolutely right, no matter how sad, LW. And seriously, as much as it will suck to break up now, it´s will be better than breaking up later on. I don´t see anyway this could work out without resentment down the line (check out the update from yesterday to see more opinions on this topic).

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      csp January 9, 2013, 9:23 am

      But what would she resent? She isn’t giving up anything. She isn’t a Christian but she wouldn’t be giving up another religion for him. So what is the big deal going to church once a week?

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 9:36 am

        I´m an atheist, and I wouldn´t spend “an hour” (catholic country so more like a couple of hours) a week stuck in an uncomfortable place with someone saying stuff I don´t believe. I don´t mean to offend anyone, but turn it around, why can´t BF stop going to church if it´s only an hour of his week? NBD, right?

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 9:43 am

        i agree JK- i dont ever want to actually go to church ever again. there is nothing for me there, and it ultimately just makes me angry. in this situation, the car ride home where i rage about whatever ridiculous thing that the pastor said that morning would be enough for this guy to leave me. haha

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 9:45 am

        Yep. My last experience in a church was a baptism, where the priest tried to exclude my daughter from going up to the front with all of her friends to see the baby being baptized (only baptized kids were allowed up, she of course followed her friends to the front). So you can imagine I´m not a fan.

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        Violet January 9, 2013, 2:52 pm

        Right there with Katie, I would be so annoyed at having to do that. I really do not understand how “go to church, have discussions about religion, and follow such values” could be interpreted as anything like “just going along with things to make him happy.” I don’t see that, not at all. The bf has the right to make this choice about his future, just as the LW does to have something different. I don’t see this working out.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 9:43 am

        Ok, I will argue it is a big deal to ask someone to stop a part of thier life versus adding something. I am also saying they can find a more progressive church together. Again, I used the football thing. To ask my husband to never watch football is a much bigger deal than to have me start watching football.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 9:48 am

        But LW would have to stop a part of her life in order to go to church. Even if it was sleeping in, or brunch with friends or whatever.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 10:09 am

        But those other things can be easily rescheduled. So she goes to 9am mass and can’t do brunch until 10:30. I realized yesterday that I watched infomercials for an hour on Saturday, I could have used that time to go to church.

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 10:16 am

        You’re saying this like Church could be swapped in for anything. But, it’s not about church itself it’s about religion. The one conversation they’ve had about this ended in tears. It’s obvious that they are on opposite sides of this issue. And it is very hard to meet in the middle on something like this. It’s a completely different issue than saying sure honey you can watch football from 1 to 4, i’ll just go grab a coffee with Jane and then come home and watch my recorded shows. She doesn’t WANT to go to church. Why force herself to do that for someone she’s dated for 3 months? Why sit and listen to something she doesn’t believe in? And then go home and discuss it. It sounds to me like a giant resent-fest waiting to happen.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 10:19 am

        WJFS

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        csp January 9, 2013, 10:21 am

        I would say it is religion, not spirituality. And I think it went to tears because they were fighting for thier sides rather than working to find common grounds. This isn’t all or nothing. “Religion” can be as little or as much as you want so I say it can be swapped for anything. So if he wants church every week for an hour, that is fine. I think in most religions there is more that we agree on than disagree on.

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 10:27 am

        he doesn’t seem to want it to end when the church service does based on her letter. and you’re right it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but there is a possibility that for them it is! and the thing is there might not be common ground for them. i think they need to have a second discussion about this and really think about what each other wants. if he envisioned a life where he and his SO attended church together, bible studies, etc and she envisioned a life where there was no religion at all it can be hard to find a middle ground.

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        MMcG January 9, 2013, 11:17 am

        csp – just because you are comfortable compartmentalizing your religious faith and tuning things out doesn’t mean everyone else is (and FWIW I know many Catholics that do, not trying to judge, but I know MANY for whom the divorce, same-sex marriage and birth control decrees are mere guidance… not to mention those friends who belonged to parishes where the priest has been accused of pedophilia…). Plus, many religions aren’t like Catholicism, the LW uses the word Christian not Catholic, which leads me to believe he belongs to a more evangelical faith and tuning out/checking the box on Sunday is not sufficient.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 4:49 pm

        He could be an evangelical and demand all sorts of crazy from her. But she is thinking there is something real here. She is thinking that things are getting real serious and is she ready to put her heart on the line if this situation can’t be resolved.

        I think they had one fight that got out of control and she is panicking. I say before dumping the man that could be her husband, why not get more information. Go to church one weekend, have a few more dates to see if he loves her enough to find a middle path together. I don’t want her to give up on a possible love filled, happy life with this man because they had one fight 3 months into a relationship.

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        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 11:28 am

        Adding Christianity into her life is the same as taking her atheism out. It is just as much as a sacrifice for her to go as it would be for him to not.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 9:50 am

        But religion and beleifs are the core of a person. Football isn’t (again said by a huge football fan). And I don’t see it as her just starting to follow his beleifs, but rather giving up her own beleifs (that she spent 30+ years figuring out). Really, they both should compromise and perhaps find a religion that they both could enjoy (something more about personal growth like Unitarianism or Quakerism) rather than either of them just subscribing to one’s beleifs. That’s how this relationship could work.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 10:13 am

        Right. I know a very conservative christian and catholic who got married and now go to a lutheran church. My inlaws were catholic and atheist/agnostic and they found a middle ground that served both of them. I feel most reasonable people can find a middle ground with a calm discussion if they love each other enough. I do many many things in my marriage because I love my husband and it makes him happy and he does the same for me.

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        bethany January 9, 2013, 11:07 am

        I think you’re missing the point though. This isn’t just about “going to church”. This is about a true belief system and a following of religion. This man is a Christian who believes in God and Jesus and has a personal relationship with the lord. He wants a wife who shares his beliefs who he can have discussions about God with, who will be active in his lifestyle. It’s not as simple as he wants to go to Church and celebrate Christmas.

        My brother and his wife are both Christian and God plays a very large role in their marriage. There is no way either of them could have married a non-believer (even if that person went to Church with them), because God is part of their lives. Their relationship with God makes them who they are.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 12:58 pm

        See, If that was true for this guy, why did he start dating and continue dating her?

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        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 1:19 pm

        Because attraction leads us to make decisions that aren’t exactly sound. Once that initial attraction starts to fade then you look deeper at what the relationship has to offer and start to make decisions based on that. That generally happens at the 2-3 month stage like this couple is at.

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        Oldie January 9, 2013, 5:54 pm

        He’s an evangelical fundamentalist. It’s his goal in life to save people for his religous doctrine. He’s willing to date her, because he thinks he can convert her over time. He will rebuild her morals/ethics/beliefs/thinking into something that is pleasing to him. He believes that his is the only correct view of religion and that because he is backed by and serving God in the only acceptable way, that God will find a way for him to prevail and convert the LW. That is his belief system. Which is one reason LW must MOA to save herself. He does not see her as an acceptable person. He sees her as an attractive woman with a mind that is a lump of clay to be molded by him. His religon says the husband is the ruler of the household and that it is the wife’s duty to submit to the husband’s rule. Don’t believe it? Read some of the fundamentalist Christian press.

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        Desiree January 10, 2013, 9:11 am

        People like that definitely exist, but there is no where near enough evidence in this letter to know that Calvin is like that. I went to college with quite a few guys who *were* that way, and I don’t see enough of the tells in the letter.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar January 9, 2013, 11:27 am

        And because you are open to it.

        It seems that he isn’t open – and neither is she. They want what they want and right now the plan is to hope the other changes. That plan is doomed to failure. My husband and I are different religions but the intensity of our beliefs, for lack of a more elegant way of saying it, is the same. No one is fundamentalist and both of us respect the other. There are differences in what we believe and what we call ourselves, but not in our approach to life and our values. I would be resentful if I had to be subjected to teachings I fundamentally disagreed with on the regular and so would he if I made him go to church. I’ve spent hours of my life at motorcycle shows and watching American Greed that I wouldn’t have otherwise but it just isn’t the same. None of those things violate my values. And religion is a compilation of values at its core – what to believe; how to live; your place in the home (in some cases). And you shouldn’t have to violate your values or your principles for a partner – compromise your time, try new experiences – sure – but if you have to compromise your principles for a man – then that is not the man for you.
        And not for anything, how we would raise the kids was a conversation that happened as soon as we got together so that there would be no issue at a later date when children actually appeared. There is no point in kicking that particular can down the road. Some times the answer is just it can’t work. It came real close – but it just fell short.

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        SuzQ January 9, 2013, 11:01 am

        I don’t think this guy is interested in finding a more progressive church. He has been very clear on that.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 6:03 pm

        I hate football so having to watch football would be a dealbreaker for me. I would hate to spend that much of my weekend tied down doing something I dislike.

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        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:40 am

        I totally agree. Its strange that people equate an entire set of beliefs with only an hour of church.

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 9:38 am

        He doesn’t just want her to go to church though. He originally said he wanted someone to discuss religion with and follow those Christian values. It would be the same as her asking him to become an atheist. It is a big deal to become a new religion. If he said all he cared about was the kids being Christian and her supporting that, it would be different, but that’s not how it seems. At least from this letter.

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      • theattack

        theattack January 9, 2013, 10:39 am

        Exactly! Those discussions would end up being disagreements every time. They wouldn’t be trying to take a message away from something together and grow spiritually. It would either be him preaching to her or her saying she thinks it’s all BS.

        csp – asking someone to add religion to their life for you is just as offensive as asking someone to take it away.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 9:41 am

        She would be giving up something though. HER BELIEFS. They might not be as strong or formazlied as this guys, but they are hers.

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        Christy January 9, 2013, 9:45 am

        It is a big deal for some people–my gf is atheist, I’m vaguely Catholic, and she despises ceremony and sitting still for an hour. I didn’t ask her to come to Mass with me on Christmas Eve because (1) she wouldn’t be getting anything out of it spiritually and (2) she’d just be sitting and reading the Bible anyway. It would be like taking a literate 4 year old to church for the first time. It wouldn’t really add anything to her life to go, because it’s not like she would be listening anyway.

        In my opinion, many people drag their non-believing significant others to church in hopes that they start believing. And that is the problem–you’re hoping to change something fundamental about your significant other. Or else you just want them there for appearances, which doesn’t really serve a purpose, either.

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        Eagle Eye January 9, 2013, 9:52 am

        I mentioned this on the interfaith post – but this is exactly why I never bring my boyfriend to synagogue with me, he’s more than welcome, but its all in Hebrew and usually runs about 1-2hrs depending on the service, he’d be bored, I wouldn’t get as much out of the service because I’d be worrying about him…etc.

        Its fine, he stays at home and makes sure that dinner is ready when I come home!

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        MissDre January 9, 2013, 10:10 am

        I would never, ever spend an hour sitting in church for anyone. If a man asked me to do that, then he’s not the right man for me. And that’s nobody’s fault, it just means we’re not compatible.

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        Michelle.Lea January 9, 2013, 10:19 am

        I know you’re playing devil’s advocate here, but think about it in another way. If I married an active Pagan practitioner, (i’m a fairly liberal Christian) and say this person went to a weekly Pagan service (no idea if those exist, this is hypothetical), while I might attend a larger event or celebration with him, I would not feel comfortable attending a weekly service, because I do not subscribe to the same beliefs. I would feel out of place, and like a complete imposter. I would not feel like I could have discussions with these people because of the vast differences in beliefs, even if we were all cordial with each other.

        So where would the resentment come in? If LW’s husband attends church without her, it’s possible he will start doing things with the church without her. He will bond with other people with the same beliefs and she will feel left out. His resentment would pop up when/if they had children, and she was not agreeing with him on the way to raise them with Christian beliefs. I admit this is one of the reasons I am ok without children – it’s pretty important to me, and i wouldnt feel comfortable with a ‘compromise’ of my beliefs in that area.

        It sucks, but moving on is probably the best option.

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        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 10:22 am

        I completely agree. If he is truly ‘active’ in his church then he probably will look to do things outside of the church service itself with other church members. And I think that is where the biggest possibility for resentment comes in. And they both need to ask themselves if that is how they imagined their life.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 10:35 am

        Imposter. That is the word I couldn’t come up with. If she was just going through the motions and not a *true* beleiver she would be an imposter. And a person with strong convictions (which is what this man appears to me to be) would most likely not be okay with that.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 10:40 am

        I don´t even think it would take so much for ther eto be resentment. If my husband were dragging me every sunday to a cool draughty hall where someone was lecturing me about stuff I didnt believe in , you could count on me resenting it. And I´m sure my husband would resent having to drag me there and me being miserable as well.

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      • theattack

        theattack January 9, 2013, 10:47 am

        It would be especially awful to know your husband was taking the message to heart, and he is now going to look at the things YOU do differently. Suddenly something that’s always been okay isn’t now because church changed his beliefs about it, but it didn’t change yours. It’s a spiral effect. This is why it’s so important for couples to grow and learn and make goals together. If your goals for personal growth are conflicting, you will quickly become incompatible, especially if they relate to things as big as religious concepts like eternity, sin, and forgiveness.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 11:06 am

        Here is my feeling though. So I was born and raised catholic and am now married to the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus (For non-catholics, that makes me a super catholic). Now, over my lifetime, I have questioned my faith and in high school i didn’t believe at all. I really loved buddism for awhile. My point is, that when I didn’t believe, I still went to church. With the church scandal, we went but didn’t contribute money. You go, you sit and even if you aren’t a believer, sometimes the words are nice. Very few people are true believers 100% of thier life at 100% confidence. Most people sitting in the pews or even giving the sermons have doubts and fears. So she doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, she can still believe he was a nice dude who helped poor people and prostitutes. So if it was pagen, you would say “I should recycle more and appreciate the natural beauty around me. Maybe I will hug a tree too”

        If it was a pagen who wanted me to dance naked and smear mud on myself then that is different. The same way that I wouldn’t say this if it was a christian church where they handled snakes and spoke in tounges

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 11:11 am

        First off, your Pagan comment was kind of offensive.

        Secondly, I think a lot of Catholics would be dissappointed/annoyed/offended that you would just go through the motions and attend the Catholic church if you hadn’t accepted Jesus as your savior. I mean taking communion and other sacred rights that people who weren’t baptised in the Catholic Church aren’t allowed to do- doing those as someone who just “thinks Jesus was a nice dude”…I’d be offended and I’m not even that religious!

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        MMcG January 9, 2013, 11:26 am

        I think a lot of Catholics have made an internal bargain where the showing up seems to be sufficient – all about appearances because the majority that I know sure as hell don’t follow the Pope’s doctrines! – and maybe because of the history of the Catholic church, the fact that it’s also a nation-state in addition to a religion, etc. and the fact that the Catholic Church has done some REALLY screwed up things in history adds some layers to the disassociation (that and the fact that if you give enough money it appears you can get away with most anything – paid for annulments after decades of marriage with children anyone!?!)

        However, as someone who is related to all sorts of faiths (inc. Catholic) that definitely does not hold true across the Board. Mormons for example can’t just show up and tune out for a Sunday…

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 11:36 am

        I’m sure you’re right that people do make that bargain- but I also think a lot of people would be upset with the “just showing up” mentality. I know my more religious family members would be. And, I don’t see the point in “showing up and tuning out”…why go at all? If you don’t back your church, why associate with it? I know Catholicism has a lot of nuances I don’t quite understand like only following certain aspects, but I don’t get it. I guess that’s why I’m not Catholic!

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        MMcG January 9, 2013, 11:58 am

        Preaching to the choir GG! I dropped out of Sunday School because I couldn’t believe some of the stuff they were saying, and my being there was apparently disruptive to the other believing children, so why put on a show that I have to get up early for? 😉

        I’ve attended lots of different services actually, but it’s much different to accompany someone as a guest or friend during a holiday, or attend a friend’s religious ceremony as a witness, than it is to pretend to actively partake and believe. One seems in the spirit of fellowship, and one just seems like faking it.

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        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:43 am

        I think the point was that many if not all struggle with their beliefs and thats ok. Its good to question. You can go to chruch every Sunday while trying to come to terms with your beliefs. There’s nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t call them imposters, as opposed to a man who goes to church and pretends to believe bc his wife made him. That I’d call an imposter.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 11:56 am

        I agree. To me it sounds like csp is advocating for the LW to just suck it up, go and sit there disengaged, which is very very different from someone who is actively working through their beleifs (even if they haven’t converted/accepted Jesus).

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 11:50 am

        The Catholic Church has no emphasis on accepting Jesus as your savior, that is a protestant thing. The Catholic Church does teach that you have to make your own decisions about what is right and wrong, although it does strongly emphasize what it thinks is right and wrong. It teaches that you aren’t commiting a sin if you believe that what you are doing isn’t a sin. So that gives Catholics the ability to be Catholic and still think for themselves.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 12:08 pm

        I admittedly don’t know much about Catholicism. But I think the point is the same with or with out the baptism part. Just going and sitting there, disengaged is pointless and I would guess a lot of congregation members/worshipers would be annoyed by it. It seems to me that csp is suggesting she just go and sit there and suck it up. (Which is different from going and being engaged and trying to figure out your faith.)

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        csp January 9, 2013, 5:24 pm

        I was trying to make a rediculous point to prove a real one. There are some christians who play with snakes and believe god won’t have the snake bite them. Is that asking alot, of course. Is asking some to dance naked asking alot, of course. Will most faiths ask either of you, of course not. But if a pagan wanted to burn sage in the house is that something that you are going to dump a person over, I wouldn’t.

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        bethany January 9, 2013, 11:25 am

        “So she doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, she can still believe he was a nice dude who helped poor people and prostitutes.”

        THIS is the issue though. Her BF wants someone who believes that Jesus Christ IS the son of God, not just some dude who was nice to prostitutes. He wants someone who believes in Christianity (The mainstream Christian belief is that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human and the savior of humanity).

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        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 11:36 am

        But would you be okay with sitting through a weekly meeting where someone denounces the bible and says how it’s all a bunch of BS and Catholics are awful and God is fake? That is what he is asking her to do- listen to the opposite of her beliefs and put a smile on her face and raise their children in that way. Every week, hearing her beliefs dragged through the mud.

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        Violet January 9, 2013, 3:06 pm

        But CSP, you made a CHOICE to do so. You CHOSE to explore other options, and CHOSE to continue attending your services regardless. Those things were done because YOU wanted to take part in them. I don’t think that example really compares to having someone tell you that you MUST do these things in order to stay in a relationship or marriage with them. You seem to be taking away the LW’s agency to decide how she wants to live, and she very clearly stated that she did not ever plan on attending services. This is not a case of two different religious folks letting one another worship (or not worship) as they wish and coming together as a family later. Both parties clearly stated what they want. Relationships end all the time because of different goals, it doesn’t mean those people didn’t love each other.

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        csp January 9, 2013, 5:19 pm

        I am saying they had one heated conversation. They spoke about what they expected over time. She hasn’t attended church with him or attempted to learn about what this would really mean for her. He hasn’t explored he culture or beliefs either. They had one big fight and she is about to walk away, instead of giving up, why not explore with an open heart and mind then judge.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. January 9, 2013, 12:33 pm

        I agree with this. I am a Pagan pracitioner. I was raised Catholic but left because it just didn’t work for me. My family is still Catholic. The reason I left was because I just couldn’t sit there and even pretend to follow the beliefs I was taught because I just didn’t. I felt like a hypocrite and a liar. While I know couples who are inter-faithed and make it work, it takes compromise and balance. Both sides have to feel valued. I honestly do not know if I could marry a Catholic, because so many of the things I was taught as a child are in direct contradiction to what I believe as a Pagan. I do know I would resent my SO making his faith mandatory for me. I believe everyone has the right to choose their own path, not have it forced upon them by someone else.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. January 9, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Of course, a strict Catholic wouldn’t want to marry me, either, without me converting. So I guess that problem is solved.

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        temperance January 9, 2013, 6:01 pm

        As an atheist, I find what you’re saying to be completely incorrect. Going to church for her could very well mean giving up her identity.

        That’s what it would mean for me.

        Christians seem to have this idea that if you’re not religious, you have no beliefs. That’s false. I am very happy with my belief system and do not believe in Jesus.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle January 9, 2013, 9:22 am

    This would have been a dealbreaker for me at the start—-I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you can compromise on this. Believing is one thing, but Calvin is actively part of a church, holds conservative values, & expects his wife to “have discussions about religion, and follow such values”. I’m betting there are layers to his core values that haven’t even been revealed yet.

    If you stay, you’ll only fall more in love while simultaneously discovering additional things about him that conflict severely with your own beliefs. That’s a recipe for resentment. Also, I’m getting the impression that Calvin hopes to change your mind (“revisit the conversation later” is a clue). Let this relationship go now, before either of you becomes too emotionally involved.

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    • katie

      katie January 9, 2013, 9:34 am

      i definitely agree that there are layers to this that the LW hasnt even thought of yet- when you get into the conservative edges of religion (any religion) there are things that you might have never thought of that you wont be “allowed”, and things that seem really innocent and not a big deal- for instance, many conservative christians think that santa is the devil. would you be willing to give up a christmas without any mention, picture, statue, ect of santa? would you be ok with a 100% jesus-based christmas?

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        Desiree January 9, 2013, 9:49 am

        I have to wonder what conservative Christians you’ve dealt with. I’m from the Bible belt, my family is very conservatively Protestant, and I’m Catholic, and I have literally NEVER met a Christian who is anti-Santa. I’m not saying they do not exist (you seem to have met quite a few), but I don’t think it is super widespread across the country.

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 10:05 am

        at my christian school we werent allowed to talk about santa. christmas was about jesus, and nothing more. no santas were allowed (pictures, ornaments, ect).

        i think for a lot of christians its a way to show the ultra-religous-ness that they have, because christmas is really a secular holiday, it was created to be that way, so by taking out major elements, they are essentially doing what anyone from other religions do.. it says “we dont celebrate what is “normally” celebrated. we celebrate special x, y, z things, and do NOT celebrate a, b, c things because of our religion.”

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        Desiree January 9, 2013, 10:31 am

        That makes me sad. It seems needlessly divisive to me.

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 11:21 am

        “needlessly divisive” is a way to describe so, so much of modern religion…

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 10:26 am

        I’ve seen a ton of bumper stickers her in FL saying “keep Christ in Christmas” and the like. I think it’s probably more common than you think (the anti-Santa beleif that is). My fiance and I have even talked about not “doing” Santa with our hypothetical children.

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        kerrycontrary January 9, 2013, 10:33 am

        This just made me think of how my church didn’t really like halloween. Hahah why!? So they always held like an alternative “fall festival” where kids could get their faces painted and get candy. We also had a lady who through a shitfit when I wore spaghetti straps (no cleavage). I just ignored the crazies.

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      • Brad

        Brad January 9, 2013, 10:34 am

        Yikes that’s super conservative. I believe in the core stuff of Christianity but I don’t have a problem with Santa. I mean I’m pretty sure santa isn’t an idol or anything that extreme. Guess it depends on how a person defines things like that…

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      • avatar

        temperance January 9, 2013, 6:05 pm

        My younger sister was told at age 4 or 5 that Santa wasn’t real, because if she loved Santa, she couldn’t REALLY love Jesus.

        This was by her Sunday School teacher at an evangelical church.

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  • avatar

    bethany January 9, 2013, 9:27 am

    Sorry, LW, but I think it’s time to MOA.
    Shared values, are pretty essential to a successful relationship. You don’t need to have exactly the same values or agree on everything, but in my opinion you need to have a similar foundation. Your values shape the way you make decisions, and how you spend your time. They shape how you (might possibly) raise children. They influence how you interact with friends and family. To me, it doesn’t seem worth it to invest any more time in this relationship.

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    Kay January 9, 2013, 9:29 am

    I dunno about this one. My parents had differences in religion – both were raised Christian, but my mom always wanted us to go to church, while my dad never wanted to. We ended up not going.
    Later on in life (after the kids were grown and out the door), my dad changed his mind, but either way, we were still a happy family. My mom never resented my dad for not having the family go to church. She was able to keep her faith her way, and we were allowed ours.
    LW, that may seem more of a Disney movie approach to it, but it is possible to have that difference. However, if this is something that really makes you pause about the relationship, then you’ll need to ask yourself if this is something you two can make a good effort to talk through and come to some sort of happy medium, or you’ll have to move on. Either way you’re facing something that will be uncomfortable, but a little discomfort now is okay if it leads to inner peace and happiness in the end.

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  • katie

    katie January 9, 2013, 9:41 am

    this all comes down to compromise. what is he willing to give up? what are you willing to give up? can you both live that way?

    you knowing that he will have to give up his specific hopes for the future isnt a bad thing- peoples hopeful futures and dreams change all the time, and its perfectly fine to adapt that for someone you might want to build your life with… so honestly, i would point blank ask him to give up all his specific hopes for the future and ask him to envision a future where you both compromise where it matters to other person and see if he can live with that.

    ultimately, though, you hoping that he will become less “rigid” makes me think this is a lost cause… and if he feels as strongly as he does, why did he even start dating you in the first place? i dont get this- just like the update from yesterday- if you are so strongly in your beliefs, why not just go with those from the get-go, and not after finding out that someone who doesnt share them is awesome? it seems like a set up for failure/heartache/letdown/resentment (for both people) to me.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 9:45 am

    I think this does deserve one more conversation with him, but if the outcome isn’t different I’d say it’s time to MOA. He seems to want someone who is also an active Christian. I would ask myself some questions about him and your life before you sit down. Often when someone is that involved in church their activity with it doesn’t end when they leave the building. They attend small groups, bible studies, are friends with mostly people from church, etc. Could you deal with that for the duration of a marriage? Is that what you want? To have someone whose life revolves around something you wouldn’t choose to be associated with otherwise? I think he needs to in turn ask himself similar questions separate from you. Can he imagine doing things like small group, bible studies, etc without his wife. Or is that not the life he imagined either.

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  • avatar

    Desiree January 9, 2013, 9:56 am

    LW, I think I should tell you my story, as it relates to your situation. I was raised in a Christian family; I really disliked my family’s church (tons of gossips!), but I overall liked the faith tradition and wanted to stay in it. But in my early 20s I wasn’t sure how intensely active I wanted to be in my faith, so I dated guys of different religions. Ended up in a relationship with “Joe,” who was very nice and agnostic. We dated 2.5 years, during which I started realizing a lot about what I wanted in life, including that I wanted to be more active in my religion. There were a lot of reasons I broke up with Joe, but religion ended up being a significant factor. Now I am getting married to my fiance who shares my religious views, and I am so much happier to have that commonality with my life partner. LW, I know interfaith marriages can work, but it sounds like you and Calvin would both be a lot happier in relationships with people who share more of your values. Calvin is likely to become more entrenched in his religion as the years pass (particularly once there are kids involved), so I don’t see this situation making you happy longterm.

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    • avatar

      Marcie January 9, 2013, 11:02 am

      Desiree,

      I have the same kind of story, except I just dated a lot of guys, no matter what their views were. My husband has the same kind of beliefs and morals that I do, and we make going to church every week a priority. We are even considering moving closer (we live in a different city as our church) so we can be more involved during the week. I wouldn’t have wanted to marry someone with different views. I totally agree with everything you said.

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  • Brad

    Brad January 9, 2013, 10:04 am

    I completely agree with Wendy on this one.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones January 9, 2013, 10:23 am

    On the other hand, perhaps the relationship with her would open his mind and heart to other ways of being. Relationships can and often do that. He might start out feeling like he has those strong beliefs, but when he really gets to examine them by being around someone who sees things the other way, he might become a little more open and you could meet more in the middle. Otherwise, he never should have dated out of his little circle from the get-go.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay January 9, 2013, 10:25 am

    I think you should at least talk to him again. Values shouldn’t change from person to person, but they do. It’s like when a guy says he doesn’t want a relationship and then turns around and gets serious with a different woman. I know that’s not quite the same, but people are biased when it comes to what is a dealbreaker in different relationships.

    That said, even as an atheist, I see where he’s coming from. I know that it seems like letting him go off to church and believe what he wants would be easy, but I think you’re missing something. In Christianity, there’s a lot of focus on spouses being there to support each other in their faith. Marriage may be a legal thing for a lot of us, but for Christians, it’s religious. And for someone who has been going to church and hearing about the wonderful spiritual bond between spouses, I could see it being a priority in their lives.

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  • avatar

    TheTruth January 9, 2013, 10:37 am

    You found a great guy and you are approaching 30, if you MOA, the odds of you finding someone are significantly worse. There is a really good chance that you will end up settling. To me it sounds like you found someone who will not only be faithful, but will be a great father, and who will raise future kids with great values. Suck it up… go to church. For the record, I am a devout agnostic, but I regularly attend church, and I can say without a doubt, the people that go there are the nicest, kindest, and most caring people I have ever met in my life. Don’t be an idiot and fuck this up.

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    • avatar

      MissDre January 9, 2013, 10:54 am

      Whereas the people I’ve met in church are the most arrogant, condescending and judgmental people I’ve ever met.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 10:56 am

        Don´t forget hypocritical.

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        MissDre January 9, 2013, 10:58 am

        Yes that too!

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        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 11:49 am

        That really sucks. I found thetruth’s comment bizarre, but I was happy to see the part about nice, kind people at church. I’ve encountered mostly the same. I know jk has been vocal about her awful experiences related to the church and its so upsetting. I just can’t even imagine seeing those things go on in the church I belong to. Sucks some assholes give the whole church a bad name.

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      • JK

        JK January 9, 2013, 11:53 am

        Don´t worry, my bad experiences aren´t confined solely to catholicism. 🙂

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark January 9, 2013, 3:11 pm

        Don’t even get me started on my bad church experiences…

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        MissDre January 9, 2013, 1:45 pm

        Unfortunately I’ve had a lot of awful experiences with the church. My mother is divorced you see, and her own sisters told her that my brother and I should have been given up for adoption rather than raised by a sinner. When my parents separated my best friend wasn’t allowed to play with me anymore. In high school, a girl I became friends with wasn’t allowed to come over to my house, because my mother wasn’t married. My grandparents sent me to bible camp as a teen and I was told that everything I believe is wrong and that I’m going to hell (for the record, I’m agnostic and my beliefs shift as I go through life). My cousin married a Buddhist man and her church told her she was no longer welcome. My ex boyfriend was Baptist and I was not allowed to discuss my own beliefs in his presence. He’d get angry and say “We’re not having this conversation!” The list goes on and on. Pretty much every experience I’ve ever had with religion has been negative.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar January 9, 2013, 2:13 pm

        Just ridiculous. It’s like those people never bothered to read the bible with all the absurd judegements they shower on others. Who tells a small child she can’t play with her best friend anymore because of a separation? If that isn’t a sin – then I don’t know what is.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest January 9, 2013, 3:00 pm

        wFSs

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      • avatar

        Grilledcheesecalliope January 9, 2013, 4:43 pm

        I honestly think a lot of the problems with religion in the world could be solved by better reading comprehension. If the Bible says gays are made twice (at most – and it doesn’t really) but says not to judge and to be loving and kind 100’s of times which one of those is more important? – What’s the main theme of the story

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      • avatar

        Grilledcheesecalliope January 9, 2013, 4:43 pm

        I honestly think a lot of the problems with religion in the world could be solved by better reading comprehension. If the Bible says gays are bad twice (at most – and it doesn’t really) but says not to judge and to be loving and kind 100’s of times which one of those is more important? – What’s the main theme of the story

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      • avatar

        JN January 9, 2013, 3:32 pm

        I absolutely agree, I find it very strange to say that the LW should suck it up because it’s the best thing that’s going to come along. The truth is that the LW doesn’t have to settle at all, whether it’s in this relationship or a future one, and I think that sticking in a relationship where both parties have expressed their beliefs and aren’t going to bend on those is settling as well.

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    • theattack

      theattack January 9, 2013, 10:57 am

      Why do you think he will be a great father and raise kids with great values? There is absolutely no basis for that in this letter.

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      • avatar

        mf January 9, 2013, 11:33 am

        Good call. Sadly, faith does not =/= good father.

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      • avatar

        MMcG January 9, 2013, 12:01 pm

        If it did Warren Jeffs would be father of the year…

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    • avatar

      Desiree January 9, 2013, 10:58 am

      The LW has already secured the affection of a man she considers “smart, funny and attractive,” even though her views are different from his. I think it is perfectly reasonable to think she will be able to find a man who is “smart, funny and attractive” AND shares more of her values. And I don’t think someone should compromise on major issues out of a fear of being alone. I’ve seen people do that, and the guaranteed result is an unhappy marriage.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 10:58 am

      How in the world do you know this guy will be faithful and a great father? Going to church or being religious does not equal those two things.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary January 9, 2013, 11:19 am

      You are approaching 30 and the odds of finding someone are significantly worse. Hahahah no pressure on the LW right? Might as well just settle and compromise on religious beliefs instead of looking for someone who shares the same values as her. She should probably get knocked up within the next year since all of her eggs are going to freeze up and fall out of her vagina soon anyways.

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      • avatar

        Violet January 9, 2013, 3:12 pm

        Haha! Hilarious. WKCS.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 11:27 am

      But maybe sticking with a guy who wants a fundamentally different life than you do is settling.

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    • avatar

      JN January 9, 2013, 11:41 am

      I absolutely disagree with that. There is no need to settle, in this relation or in another one. He has already expressed to her that his desire is for his future wife to go to church, raise the family to go to church, etc., so wouldn’t that be settling as well?

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    • avatar

      Caris January 9, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Bahahahahahahahaha. Yea right.

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    • avatar

      EmJay January 9, 2013, 1:15 pm

      I disagree with you truth. You should not be pressured into changing your beliefs bc of your age. And just bc she is 30 does not kean she will not find sokeone better suited for her. My husband and I were both raised Catholic but I found another religion that suits me. I will not state what that religion is here do to some extremely hurtful comments made to me by some commenters awhile back which made me stop visiting this site for awhile. But my point is that my husband is OK with my chosen faith and we have decided to raise our future kids catholic and let them choose for themselves latter on in life. Yes they will be exposed to both religions but eventually they can believe in what they want. But to tell someone that they should suck it up bc you think they are too old to find someone better is wrong. Some people are very devout to their religion and NEED a partner who feels the same way. And this usually is a dealbreaker for alot of people, the LWs bf being so. What I think the lw should do is find someone kore oiberal with a more openminded approach to values and religion. This man is not going to change his beliefs and needs in a partner no matter how much he likes/loves them. And is will live a life of resentment with this man if she stays.

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      • avatar

        EmJay January 9, 2013, 1:22 pm

        ** and the LW will live a life of resentment
        Sorry for all the typos. Sometimes my phone doesnt show the box im typing in as im typing. N it is too sensitive

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      Lindsay January 9, 2013, 3:29 pm

      I’ve had the same experience. I lived with a group of extremely Christian ladies one summer and went to church with them, went to Bible study, etc., mostly because it was all they did and I wanted to make friends. I had a lot of fun, and actually enjoyed being around people who were actively trying to create a caring community together. Not all churches are like that, but not all congregations are arrogant and awful people either.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay January 9, 2013, 3:34 pm

      I got sidetracked by church stuff and forgot the rest of what I was going to say.

      In some circumstances, this advice might work. But it’s certainly not good enough advice to issue a command that the LW not “be an idiot and fuck this up.” Seriously?

      Besides, she’s still not going to be a Christian, and I think that’s what he wants, not someone who sits in the pews twiddling her thumbs all morning…

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  • avatar

    lemongrass January 9, 2013, 10:52 am

    The beatles were wrong: Love isn’t all you need.

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    • avatar

      j2 January 9, 2013, 11:14 am

      Nice!

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    • avatar

      Christy January 9, 2013, 11:50 am

      Comment of the year. I cannot agree enough. Seriously, Wendy, if you made posters of this, and cut lemongrass a percentage, I would definitely buy them.

      Or like business cards! To give to people who are being foolish for love.

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Mugs? Eh? Just saying…

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      • Diablo

        Diablo January 9, 2013, 3:59 pm

        Apart from the potential legal issues unless the quote is attributed to Lennon, if we’re branding DWisms, I’m still waiting for the “bittergaymark my words” mug.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo January 9, 2013, 3:59 pm

        Apart from the potential legal issues unless the quote is attributed to Lennon, if we’re branding DWisms, I’m still waiting for the “bittergaymark my words” mug.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark January 9, 2013, 4:08 pm

        As am I…. 😉

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      • avatar

        lemongrass January 9, 2013, 6:12 pm

        We have some lawyers here, don’t we?

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  • avatar

    SuzQ January 9, 2013, 11:03 am

    I think the LW is showing herself to be very mature and level-headed. She has to face a hard truth, though, and she probably knows it. It just isn’t a good idea for her to stay with the bf. They do not have enough common ground on a fundamental issue. Good luck in finding the right person!

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  • avatar

    SGMcG January 9, 2013, 11:06 am

    I wouldn’t say it’s a total dealbreaker as Wendy suggested. However, it could be a significant dealbreaker depending on how strongly he stands by the tenants of his faith and the exercised practice of it in conjunction with how you strongly you feel regarding the practice of yours. I’m assuming that the choice of your gentleman’s nickname is significant and that he’s a Reformed Lutheran/Calvinist. I know that among the Roman Catholics, there is a progressive and conservative faction, as well as the culturally identifiable moniker – and I imagine the same can be said for the Lutherans. Considering how early it is in the relationship, I’d MOA now rather than pigeonhole yourself into a standard you know will not fit because you’re afraid of being alone.

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  • avatar

    rachel January 9, 2013, 11:08 am

    Sorry, LW, I think Wendy is right. It is maybe worth having one more serious discussion about it, but I don’t hold high hopes that you will come to an agreement. Here’s the thing – you are hoping that he will become less rigid about this as he falls in love with you. I will bet that HE is hoping that you will open your eyes to god or whatever. A relationship where you’re hoping your significant other will change is NOT a relationship that will last. This is true for small annoying habits, and it is certainly true for fundamental life beliefs.

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  • avatar

    j2 January 9, 2013, 11:13 am

    One thing not addressed yet is the guy’s family.

    My hunch is that they are MORE “Christian” than he is. That is, THEY are high among the folk he expects his wife to be discussing “Christian” stuff with, doing “Christian” stuff with, etc.

    If this is the case, then the differences between LW and the guy are more “structural” than we have considered. That is, the internal conflicts LW rightly anticipates will not be limited to attending weekly church and having possibly-meaningful discussions with her husband, but will be there almost every time she deals with his family.

    I hate this, but MOA is what I recommend.

    (PS – at first I welcomed that this was not just another “facepalmer” but this is heartbreaking)

    🙁

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  • avatar

    HmC January 9, 2013, 11:18 am

    I know several very successful long-term couples who have different religious and/or political views from each other. But from my perspective, that’s different than having incompatible values. People from different religions can have the same values, as well as people from differing political viewpoints. I think it’s more important that a couple’s religious and political views be *compatible* than they be the exact same. If your values tell you that you need to marry someone of the exact same religious background, that’s your business and what works for you. If your values tell you that you need to hold the same fundamental ideas about human nature and heaven, but you don’t have to agree on what heaven is, then that can work also.

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      mf January 9, 2013, 11:40 am

      Very true. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, my husband is an atheist and I’m a Christian. But we both believe in open-mindedness and respecting others’ religions. We would never push our beliefs on each other or anyone else. I’m also fairly liberal for a Christian (I’m pro-choice and pro-marriage equality). And we both believe that faith – or lack thereof – is no excuse for irrational behavior or beliefs (I’m looking at you, Creationists and Fundamentalists!). So despite the fact I believe in Jesus and he doesn’t, our values are actually quite similar. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case for the LW, although I’ll be very glad for her if it turns out that way.

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    • FireStar

      FireStar January 9, 2013, 11:54 am

      Agreed. My husband and I are different faiths but our values are the same and our approach to our differences are the same. We don’t seek to convert; we don’t ask of one what would be burdensome to the other if the shoe was on the other foot; we don’t impose our beliefs on the other or belittle what the other believes as “wrong”. To be honest, you wouldn’t know there was a difference of faith unless one of us told you – it just doesn’t affect our everyday life at all since we live our lives where our values intersect. If you can’t live in/on the common ground – then it just can’t work.

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  • avatar

    MMcG January 9, 2013, 11:28 am

    I just love that his name is Calvin. Please be a Calvinist. PLEASE 🙂

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    • honeybeegood

      honeybeegood January 13, 2013, 12:22 pm

      Sorry to tell you, but I think they’re all Dutch Reformed now.

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  • avatar

    Caris January 9, 2013, 11:47 am

    It’s very simple. He needs to figure out if he is ok sharing his life with a person who does not believe the same things he believes in.

    I talked about religion with my bf before we even started dating, so when he asked me out he knew perfectly well that I did not believe in god. At some point he said that he could not see himself living with someone who didn’t believe in god. I sort of wanted to kill him because he knew perfectly well that I don’t believe in god. So why did he even ask me to be his gf when he can’t see himself long term with someone that doesn’t share his beliefs. I didn’t kill him of course, but I did ask him a lot of questions. Like, why is it so hard for him to respect my pov when I respect his. Why would it be so hard for him to live with someone that didn’t believe in god. If he had expected me to at some point embrace his religion. And basically told him that I would probably never start believing in god and that if he couldn’t live with that to let me know so that we could end what would be a pointless rs.

    He decided that he wanted to be more open minded and continue our rs. So here we are still together after 5 years. And this conversation happened when we were both 18.

    So it can work if you both want it to work. But it’s basically up to him to decide if he is ok with not having a religious/different religion SO. And he has to mean it. No one wants resentment in a rs.

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  • avatar

    Essie January 9, 2013, 12:00 pm

    There are people for whom religion = going to church once a week, and it pretty much ends there.

    Then, there are people whose religion touches many, many aspects of their lives. Their social life revolves around their church, they’re active in bible study groups and other church activities, they pray with friends often, they send their children to religiously-based schools. Their politics, their take on current events, the music they listen to, even the books they read are strongly influenced by their faith.

    I’m guessing that Calvin is much more likely to be the latter. I’m also guessing that he wants a partner who will share the *experience* of his faith. Someone he can study the bible with, someone he can pray with, someone who will be a partner in raising their children in the faith. If that’s the case, LW, I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to work.

    It sounds to me like you and Calvin have fallen in love despite your differences. He put off the discussion because it hurts to talk about it. He’s hoping that you’ll come to his faith, you’re hoping that he’ll be able to put aside his faith, and sadly, neither is going to happen. You can’t go into a marriage on the hope that your partner is going to change such a fundamental aspect of their being.

    It’s time for a long, heartfelt conversation with Calvin. Ask him if he’d be content with you going to church with him, knowing that you don’t believe as he does?

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle January 9, 2013, 12:08 pm

      This, exactly. If he was the type to just believe & be content with an hour a week of church, then it wouldn’t be a possible dealbreaker to him that his partner wasn’t religious.

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      Essie January 9, 2013, 12:16 pm

      Even if he said yes, just going to church is enough, I’d still be wary that he was nursing the tiny secret hope that if you came to church, you’d start believing. And that you’d be looking at years of subtle and not-so-subtle pressure from him, from his family, from his fellow church-goers. And his disappointment, as he realizes that you’re not going to change your beliefs.

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    • avatar

      Oldie January 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

      Actually, they’ve had the discussion. It’s time to MOA. Don’t get hurt worse by staying longer and dragging this out. Calvin wants a fundamental change in your beliefs. Unless you are willing to become a totally different person than you are, you really must MOA and look for a guy with whom you are more compatible. There are other kind guys who will treat you well and not require that you remake yourself. To me, that requirement to remake yourself puts Calvin outside the universe of ‘treating you well’ anyway. A couple does not need to share identical beliefs to be happy, but they do have to fully respect each other’s beliefs. Calvin’s religious beliefs do not permit the respect of competing beliefs. I think he has made this clear to you. You need to accept what he has said as the absolute truth about him. He isn’t going to change. Neither should you. There are other men, whom you will find attractive. Please don’t sell out on this.

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  • avatar

    Guy Friday January 9, 2013, 12:26 pm

    The main issue is that Calvin has made it clear that it is important for his future family (wife included) to go to church, have discussions about religion, and follow such values.
    It bothers me a little that so many people are jumping on this guy as being unreasonable for saying this. I don’t think he’s any less reasonable for wanting a woman who shares his faith to the degree he follows it than the LW is for not wanting to share that faith.

    This is absolutely one of those “neither party is to blame” situations, and while I don’t generally advocate the MOA approach, I think Wendy’s got a point: assuming you’re both steadfast in your positions (and don’t read his backing down on that initially as a sign that he isn’t; he just cares about you and doesn’t want to hurt you) one of you is going to have to sacrifice your beliefs for the other, and that person is going to resent the hell out of the other one. Now, honestly, if you revisit your position and you feel there’s some flexibility in it, so be it. If he does it, great. If you guys do come to some sort of compromise that you’re both happy with, that’s wonderful. And if you ultimately decide that your position isn’t worth losing him and toss it to the side (or he does), you’re not wrong to do that either. But if you can’t, you can’t. Neither of you are monsters; you’re just incompatible. And it will be sad, and it will hurt, but unlike a lot of break-ups there’s a great potential to remain friends, since you were both able to get out before harm was caused.

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    • JK

      JK January 9, 2013, 12:28 pm

      I don´t think anybody said Calvin was unreasonable. What IS unreasonable is for one person to expect the other to give up their religion or lack of.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh January 9, 2013, 12:30 pm

        yeah I agree, I think that’s where the debate is coming in. Dismissing feelings on either side are unfair. They both believe what they believe and it can be extremely hard to meet in the middle. As evidenced by the comments!

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      GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 12:35 pm

      I don’t think he is unreasonable for having those beleifs/values and wanting his wife/family to have the same. But it would be unreasonable for him to “force” her to give up her beleifs for hime (or vice versa).

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      • avatar

        Guy Friday January 9, 2013, 1:27 pm

        Well, but I think there’s a distinction between FORCING someone to do it and ASKING someone to do it. Or, perhaps more accurate to this situation, a difference between demanding she do it and asserting that he would be unable to marry someone who was unable to do it. I think my point’s more that some of the comments seemed to think the latter was wrong of hm to do, which I disagree with. I think the fact that he brought it up to her means he recognizes the same thing she does: that this could be a huge stumbling block, and they should probably figure out now if it’s something that can be overcome or not. I didn’t get from the letter that he was demanding that she do this, nor do I think the LW even thought he was. I think she saw it the way it was intended: an honest statement of the importance of his faith in his life, and asking if it IS something she can do or not so they know if they can make it or not.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2013, 1:40 pm

        I think you’re right and it is good that they both realize this needs to be addressed right away.

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        Desiree January 9, 2013, 1:53 pm

        “Well, but I think there’s a distinction between FORCING someone to do it and ASKING someone to do it. Or, perhaps more accurate to this situation, a difference between demanding she do it and asserting that he would be unable to marry someone who was unable to do it.”
        There really is a big difference. I was raised Protestant and my fiance is a devout Catholic. I knew from the start that he wanted to marry someone who would fully participate in the Catholic church life with him. He never asked me to convert, but he was open about his dreams for his future family. When it became clear to both of us that our relationship was getting more serious, I told him that I was willing to consider conversion but that I had two significant disagreements with Catholic belief that he would need to respect. I think he never directly asked me to convert because he wanted to feel confident that it was something I was doing of my own free will. It ended up working out really well for us, but our faith traditions were both a subset of Christianity, so that’s obviously quite different from the LW’s situation.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle January 9, 2013, 2:57 pm

        I didn’t see any comments that indicated he’s in the wrong to want what he wants— I think it’s just apparent from the letter that he DOES think it’s a dealbreaker, but is putting those feelings on the back burner, which is gonna turn out to be an issue if they each don’t own up to their incompatibility.

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        GatorGirl January 9, 2013, 3:19 pm

        I definitely agree with you, I didn’t chose the world “force” well. Which is why I put it in quotations. It is wise of both of them to recognize this issue is, in fact, an issue and to address it way before there is a marraige and possibly children involved.

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      lemongrass January 9, 2013, 12:42 pm

      There is nothing wrong with wanting someone who shares your faith, it is preferable! I do think that it is wrong to ask your partner to denounce their own faith and follow yours. This guy isn’t a monster by any means, I think he is just hopeful. This is simply one of those sad situations where everything else can be fantastic but there is fundamental differences and ignoring them would just make everything worse. I think that it is great that the couple are having these conversations now, even though it is painful and they will very likely come to the conclusion that it will not work.

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    • theattack

      theattack January 9, 2013, 12:45 pm

      I don’t think anyone is blaming him for it. I think by saying it’s an issue, people mean that it’s an issue for the LW, not in general.

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  • avatar

    Sheryl January 9, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I wouldn’t MOA just yet, BUT, I do think you should force the discussion, and talk about realities and compromises both of you are willing/able to make. If you can’t make it through the conversation, then yes, MOA.

    This may be because I’m not particularly religious, but from what I read in the letter, your “values” don’t seem that off, only how you classify them. You are both pro marriage, pro kids, in a loving environment. He sees a church as part of the picture, but you don’t.

    Try to understand WHY it is so important to have church? Are there really fundamental values he wants you to apply that you currently don’t apply (or are adamantly against) in your lifestyle, or would need to apply to raising children? Does he like the sense of community? Does he think you will go to hell when you die, or he will go for loving a non-church goer?

    Dig in, and see what he says. See if you can meet some needs with compromise. I’m not convinced this is an immediate MOA situation until you actually talk it out.

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  • Budj

    Budj January 9, 2013, 12:57 pm

    A few different layers to this one:

    1) If he wants to be married ‘in the eyes of God’ (aka his church) you will be needing to convert. If this is something you don’t want MOA.

    2) If his church/denomination has to marry you for his children to be accepted in the church then MOA. (Not a likely scenario)

    3) There may be compromise here if he doesn’t need you to convert. If his concern is raising his children with religion then this is compromisable depending on how hardcore his beliefs are. Raise the kids with religion and when they are old enough (subjective term) they can decide if they want to maintain that.

    Obviously a lot of this depends on your s/o and how hardcore he is…if he is really hardcore he may view you as a weak link in his childrens faith which would cause issues. If he is less stringent about it then it could work and may be an opportunity to teach open-mindedness of other’s life choices. Ultimately, you know him better than us.

    While to me 4 months is an accelerated timeline to be discussing child-rearing…ha…I think you need to have the discussion of what he wants with religion in his future before this relationship goes much further. I don’t think it will work out based on the information given…typically religious people like religious partners or at least partners that will humor the motions, but if the relationship is important it is at least worth the conversation.

    As an aside – you don’t specify atheist or agnostic…if the latter I don’t really see what the deal is if he’s asking for an hour or so of your Sunday morning. I mean if he is a die hard 20 hours a week with his church community I could see more of an issue, but hey, that’s me. Live your life.

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    • avatar

      Desiree January 9, 2013, 1:45 pm

      1) That isn’t always the case. Churches vary enormously in terms of who they will and won’t marry. Even very conservative Catholic parishes will marry a Catholic to a non-Catholic (my parents did this); it is still an entirely valid marriage in the view of the Catholic church.

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      • Budj

        Budj January 10, 2013, 8:32 am

        Yea – should have clarified it varies. The catholic church in my area would not marry my brother because his fiance would not convert…they weren’t seemingly very strict up here either.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle January 9, 2013, 2:54 pm

      Buuuuuuudj!

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  • avatar

    DiDo January 9, 2013, 1:17 pm

    I am a longtime Dear Wendy reader but very rarely comment. I am today because I did a double take when I read your letter because I am just getting out of this exact same situation.

    A year ago I met and fell in love with a remarkable person who is also a very devout Christian. He, like your boyfriend, wants to be with someone who shares his beliefs and attends his church. While I am very supportive of his beliefs, and interested in exploring my own spirituality and attending church, I have my own beliefs and will never fully believe what he does. While there is certainly much overlap in our values, ultimately we were not aligned enough to get married and start a family.

    I write because I want you to know that others have been in this difficult situation. I am also in my late twenties and hoping to find a life partner so I took this issue very seriously. The last year has simultaneously been one of the most amazingly wonderful and devastatingly heartbreaking that I have ever had. I grew a huge amount personally and spiritually, but I am still in the heartbreaking period and I am not sure the amount of angst has been worth it. If you do not love him yet, it may be wisest to bow out now. That said, maybe your situation could have a different ending. I certainly hope so!

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    • avatar

      temperance January 9, 2013, 6:34 pm

      I’m really sorry that you’re going through this. I went through something similar with my last boyfriend, and I’ve been with another atheist for the past 8 years (damn I’m old) since.

      I was raised evangelical, but I was never faithful, I just went through the motions because I was terrified of Hell and the rapture. It came up when he and I talked about raising our future kids, and I blurted out that I thought he just went through the motions for his family’s sake, because no one actually believes.

      He does. Apparently a lot of people believe in Jesus and weren’t shamed and scared into it as young children, as I had always assumed. He married a woman whose views are very conservative, like his. I found someone who is a liberal atheist, like me.

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  • avatar

    MsMisery January 9, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Unless your belief systems both include a “live and let live” caveat, it isn’t meant to be. It’s great that you can be so open-minded dating someone who is so different than you, but it just isn’t destined for the long term.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark January 9, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Yes. This totally IS a lost cause and in a big, big way.

    Once again, I stand by my earlier point in the other letter that ALL religions truly ever do is cause problems and keep people apart. Religions were originally thought up as a way to control the masses… Frankly, it’s amazing that, in large part, they still do. It drives me crazy. The day we all stop fighting about our imaginary friends in the sky and end this stupid, infantile pissing contest is the day that REAL peace and harmony will arrive.

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    • katie

      katie January 9, 2013, 3:13 pm

      oh hey highjack!

      so i heard on the internet that madonna’s 80’s Sex coffee table book is the most sought after book not in print anymore. they are going for hundreds on ebay!

      i thought you would enjoy that. haha

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark January 9, 2013, 4:07 pm

        REALLY? How fabulous… I — of course! — have one! It’s not an 1980s relic though… SEX came out on my birthday (well, the day after) way back in 1992… 🙂

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      • katie

        katie January 9, 2013, 4:25 pm

        oh, weird, they said something about the 80’s… i must not have been paying huge attention, haha.

        so yea, bring that puppy out and BAM! your trendy now. haha

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      Oldie January 9, 2013, 5:35 pm

      That is not quite true. Religions were basically a way of establishing tribal identity and the core of common belief systems. They provided a second source of power in the tribe, a counter to the King/Chief/Pharaoh/General. When monarchs merged religion/civil power, declaring themselves to be divine monarchs, then religion became a way of controlling the masses. Even then, the Pope and other religious leaders were a partial balance to the monarchs. As you imply, the moral rules promulgated by the religions were seen as necessary for the regulation of the morals of the common folk, with the acknowledgement that the monarchs, nobles, and other powerful folk would elect not to follow them. The promulgated sexual values/morals were pretty much intended to prevent men from supporting giving inheritance to their wives’ bastard children and to ensure a continuing supply of cannon fodder for the military. Monogamy was hardly ever practiced by the powerful men; neither was avoidance of pre-marital sex. That was a restriction to protect wealthy men from marrying a woman already pregnant with another man’s child. Hard not to be cynical. Religion has very little to do with God. God is doubtless displeased.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark January 9, 2013, 5:49 pm

        True. I should have said instead that from the very beginning the rich and the powerful have used religion as a tool to control and enslave the masses. Frankly, it amazes me how much people like to be beholden to churches that time and time again have been proven to be beyond corrupt and morally bankrupt. It’s like vapid fools and their abusive boyfriends… Time and time again, they always rush back and they always believe that only _________ can provide them with salvation.

        Frankly, it’s all very fucked up.

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    You Go Girl January 9, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Progressive people like the LW are usually tolerant of differing beliefs, and she is able to accept that her boyfriend has different values. But for a conservative, fundamentalist Christian there can be no compromise. He believes that non-Christians are going to hell, and because he cares about people he will work hard to forestall that by trying to convert everyone possible to Christianity. He is looking for a wife who will pray with him, go to church with him and have daily devotions with him. He believes that as the man, he is the head of the house and he will expect his wife to submit to his decisions.

    His beliefs do not make him a rigid,mean person, and he will probably treat his wife well. But your desire to be an equal partner in the marriage will clash with his traditional views, and your liberal political beliefs are probably unacceptable among his friends and family. He has postponed the inevitable break-up because you are cute, fun, and he likes you a lot, and also because he is hoping you will convert. He sounds like a nice guy who will make a Christian girl very happy, but he is not the guy for you. I am sorry you have to go through the heartbreak of breaking up, but it will only get more difficult later.

    I recently left fundamentalism but am still a Christian, and I have many tea party, NRA, Republican, fundamentalist friends whom I love and respect. I am a blue-dog Democrat who believes in gay marriage, and I could never marry a conservative Christian.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark January 9, 2013, 2:04 pm

      Oh, and he’ll be the greatest of fathers, too. Should one of your kids should turn out gay… Sorry, but my patience with both Christianity and Christians was at its end decades ago.

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  • avatar

    Krissy January 9, 2013, 3:06 pm

    If you fall more on the agnostic or “spiritual but not religious” side of things, then I can see maybe compromising and attending church every once in a while to explore your faith with your boyfriend. If, however, you consider yourself more athiest, I would say this relationship is dead in the water. As an athiest myself, no one could get me to ever join a church again. This has nothing to do with how conservative or fundamentalist the establishment is. I just simply do not believe in anything that they are preaching and find the practice completely contradictory to my beliefs. Even the most liberal of churches would be offensive to me. That doesn’t mean that I also couldn’t understand someone’s devotion to their religion and respect it. I have no issues with others attending services and exploring their faith and spirituality. It really does come down to values. There are few things that I value less than spirituality, and being with someone for whom spirituality tops the list would be an automatic deal breaker for me. We would never see eye to eye. I also would not want to take away something that a person I loved truly values. It sounds from your letter that you are more open minded in your beliefs than your partner. Perhaps you value open mindedness over religion and he feels the opposite. Would you really like to spend your life with someone who does not hold the same value about something so fundamental? Just another way to look at it.

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  • Portia

    Portia January 9, 2013, 3:12 pm

    My initial thought is that I agree with Wendy on this one. Me and my boyfriend come from different religions with no intention of budging, but I’d say we’re at about equal levels of commitment to it and that’s what works for us. A good example is when he talks about Jesus, like in the context of the Christmas story, I agree that he’s a good mensch (he’s Catholic, I’m Jewish). We might disagree on religion, but we respect the other’s views and have an agreement about how it plays into our relationship. I’m totally down with going to mass anytime he wants a companion, and he’s happy to come to my passover seder.

    After reading the comments, I actually think that it might work, depending upon what he actually wants from his wife and what she is willing to do for him. People make all sorts of large commitments for spouses – I actually have a few family members who have converted for their spouse, but spouses support one another through careers (quitting a job to be a full-time parent and home-keeper is a fairly large commitment, for instance) and a bunch of other things. Not that I’m saying those are equal to religion, but they go in a category of things one does for a spouse.

    Then again, if he’s one of those people who believes a woman should submit to her husband and not have a job outside the home and be involved in church activities for ladies, I’m guessing this won’t work. And it sounded like she wanted him to change what he wants because of her, which is probably not going to happen, and that he wanted her to change because of him, which is probably not going to happen. So, unless you can have a serious talk and lay out what you’re looking for from a spouse (which I don’t think it’s too early to do at that age with very specific ideas about marriage) I’m going to stick with my initial reaction and say I still agree with Wendy that it’s probably time to MOA.

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  • avatar

    LuckySeven January 9, 2013, 8:45 pm

    Hey, so I’m late to the party, but I agree that it would be helpful to have a conversation about what is Calvin’s dealbreaker. Does he need a wife that will go to church and enthusiastically believe the same things he does? That’s okay if he does. It sucks for both Calvin and the LW, but like Wendy said, you don’t want to invest all this time into a relationship where there’s a dealbreaker.

    I also think an important piece of advice for the LW and for anyone who is dating, looking for a long-term relationship, is to think about what are my dealbreakers or non-negotiables? I’m a sucker for Patti Stanger on the Millionaire Matchmaker; I don’t agree with everything she says and I love my curly hair.

    But I think it’s important to know what are the five qualities you cannot compromise on and to find out early, first couple dates when it’s starting to become serious…

    Here are mine, for s*** and giggles…

    1. He treats me and others well, meaning that I won’t have to write in here and be told to Aim Higher. I enjoy my time with him.
    2. He wants kids and a family in New York City at some point.
    3. We are physically and emotionally attracted to each other
    4. He is stable financially. I honestly don’t care if he were to become a stay-at-home dad, but I just want someone whose financial values (ie live within your means, be responsible) match mine.
    5. He is not too serious about religion and our overall values mesh. I’m actually a raised Catholic, now atheist, but if I post on that I will be writing until tomorrow ; )

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  • TheLadyE

    Elisse January 11, 2013, 10:57 pm

    I just wrote a whole comment and deleted it. Instead of prattling on about my dating experience as a 30 year old devout Christian single woman, I’m going to give a different example to the LW and anyone else who cares to read it:

    Last year, while I was dating my now ex-boyfriend, he was renting a room in a house from a girl he knew from college. They were both the same very small, very misunderstood, denomination of Christianity, and went to the only college based on this denomination in the country. While my ex and I nurtured an extremely fulfilling relationship based on our mutual faith which helped us both become better people, Christian and otherwise, the girl with whom he shared the house was on-again with her boyfriend of several years who did not share her faith in the slightest. (He was also another denomination of Christianity, but notice I’m not naming any names!) In addition, he had two children from a previous relationship who were often at the house.

    During my time spent at the house with my ex, I witnessed several dynamics regarding her faith which broke my heart. While my ex and i would be talking about theology, reading the Bible or other texts, preparing for church, etc., her boyfriend (who eventually became her husband) and the children (who now live with her) outright rejected her denomination and any information about it. The children, especially, would react strongly and negatively to even hearing the name of the denomination or seeing any publication made by it! It was awful. While the girl was very involved in her church, she went alone while her boyfriend and his children went elsewhere.

    Now, these two are married with a newborn, and my ex and I have been broken up for nearly six months. So, in the terms of married-or-not-married department, clearly, at least right now, they are stronger. However, I could not imagine being the wife and mother in a household where my faith was marginalized or ignored. Having experienced my wonderful (except the end, of course) relationship with my ex, where EVERYTHING was based on our mutual faith and growing in it together, I cannot imagine having any future relationships be different or less than that. It made me cringe and feel so badly for her when I saw her family be so dismissive of her very core values and beliefs.

    Now, all this to say – I am not saying the LW in any way would be dismissive of her boyfriend’s beliefs like that. However, if you’re looking at the long term, it’s exactly what Wendy said – core values and beliefs are what make or break a relationship/marriage. I know for sure my parents have stayed married for almost 40 years because of their foundation in their faith.

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