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Chris in VA

Thx all. NM

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My kids are younger so no btdt advice, but...

 

My feeling is that the more important thing is that young people (and everyone, really) be realistic about romance and not fetishize the whole first moments of a relationship or believe in the whole "there's a one true love" thing. I think when people buy into that, they end up perennially dissatisfied because nothing can ever meet their vision of the perfect partner or the early endorphin rush of first falling in love.

 

Within that though... I think it's okay to appraise a relationship and end it or fight for it depending.

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I started dating my husband when we were both 16. We didn't go to the same high school and initially didn't go to the same college. He is of remarkable caliber and I frankly don't deserve him. I will be forever thankful that we worked through some difficult times and have been married for 20+ years. 

 

If they love each other, and he's a good guy, it's worth it to try to work things out as they come up. Obviously there are deal breakers worth ending a relationship over, but normal disagreements and challenges should be worked out. Love is love, no matter their age.

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I think only the 2 of them can determine that. 

 

DH and I were young loves, high school sweethearts, long distance for a while, etc. We had a few little bumps and bruises (not literal), but kept not actually wanting to be apart, so kept working it out and getting back together. 

 

After a number of years, I realized I was in a place where I had lost myself and only knew how to be his girlfriend, and I realized that was incredibly unhealthy, and I made the absolute gut-wrenching decision to break up, for real. It was, still to this day, one of the hardest things I've had to do. 

 

For 10 months, we were sometimes friends, sometimes enemies (we were in the same small college, small town, etc.), both of us dated other people, until, one day, I realized I was my best me when we were together, and I was again solidly "me" and not just "his girlfriend" and we cautiously started dating again. We were married less than a year after that, and are celebrating 20 years this October. 

 

I agree with Farrar, though, the key is to not idolize the first serious romance as "the one", to let her know that even if they've mentioned marriage at some point, it's okay to change their minds up until they get to the altar.....while at the same time respecting the fact that maybe, possibly, it could be that they end up happily married. Follow her lead, and when or if a situation comes up, pray about it as you support and encourage her through it. 

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this?

This has caused significant difficulty in my marriage, though it's more complicated than that and wasn't present at the beginning.

I would not again marry someone who did not share my faith(or in our case, I did not share his when we married; he has since left his faith while I have found one) or had significant theological differences. This would now be a deal breaker for me.

Edited by MedicMom
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Im not entirely sure I understand the concern. Is your daughter asking your advice?

Does she seem to have a healthy understanding that even if this doesn't work out that doesn't mean she won't find someone down the line? Or is your daughter unheathily obsessed with making this work out no matter what? Or...?

 

Or have they had some normal challenges that causes her or him to question the relationship and you are wondering whether they should be trying harder to stay together or whether you should be advising daughter to walk away if it isn't working out?

 

Parenting is so hard. Hugs for your concerns. I'm sorry for all the questions. I just wasn't clear on where you are coming from. Best wishes.

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Yes, MedicMom, that is what I think might happen, but I just dont' know, of course. 

TheReader--I could totally see them breaking up and then getting back together, but again, we will have to see. 

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This has caused significant difficulty in my marriage, though it's more complicated than that and wasn't present at the beginning.

I would not again marry someone who did not share my faith(or in our case, I did not share his when we married; he has since left his faith while I have found one) or had significant theological differences. This would now be a deal breaker for me.

I am a Christian and I married an at-the-time non-Christian (I wasn't really living the life of a Christian at that time either). I'll be honest, it has been very difficult! Now DH has become a Christian, but because we grew up so differently (regarding our faith) it is still something that I've struggled with. I love my DH and I am thankful I've married him. That being said, I will encourage my kids to find a mate that has very similar values, especially spiritual. It is amazing how much our differences affect our daily lives.

 

ETA: Medicmom...I didn't mean to quote you! My response wasn't directed at you, but since our responses are similar, I will just leave the quote.

Edited by Just Kate
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Im not entirely sure I understand the concern. Is your daughter asking your advice?

Does she seem to have a healthy understanding that even if this doesn't work out that doesn't mean she won't find someone down the line? Or is your daughter unheathily obsessed with making this work out no matter what? Or...?

 

Or have they had some normal challenges that causes her or him to question the relationship and you are wondering whether they should be trying harder to stay together or whether you should be advising daughter to walk away if it isn't working out?

 

Parenting is so hard. Hugs for your concerns. I'm sorry for all the questions. I just wasn't clear on where you are coming from. Best wishes.

 

It's kind of just a general question about teen relationships, but yes, I am wondering what to advise, should things come up.

There was one point where they were trying to understand each other, and both of them asked the other's parent for advice and for more insight into who they were as people. (IOW, she asked his dad about him, and he asked me about her.) It was quite sweet, really, and they, I felt, were wise in the way they went about seeking advice. They also talked to each other, of course! lol But I was surprised. 

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this? 

 

This is a deal breaker for me. 

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Compatible faith is very important IMHO.

 

I do have friends who go to separate churches out of preference, but they have a common faith and share devotional times together. They raised their kids in both of their churches and let them choose when they matured.

 

I've had enough friends who have struggled with that to know what kinds of problems it causes in the long run when one is a church-goer, and one is not. One had a husband who was initially very supportive and even when to church with her. When their kids became teens and announced that they didn't want to go any more, the father agreed and that was the end of them going as a family. They almost split up over that issue, but in the end compromised where the mom went alone to the first service. Now the kids are grown, and she still goes alone.

 

Through all of the turmoil we've had, I'm thankful that DH and I have always shared in our faith. It can be a real unifying factor in marriage.

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The different faith issue would be a deal breaker for me, also - I am a Christian and my dh is not - this has caused huge difficulties in our marriage.

 

However, assuming i have expressed my concern over this issue to my dd once, I wouldn't keep harping on it, b/c that would probably just make her mad - and - really, it's her choice to make.  

 

But I'd be praying like crazy...

 

Anne

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It is fairly common for the wife to be much more religious than the husband. I'd actually prefer to have a basically secular husband (even if he identifies as the same denomination as me) than one who is very religious in a different faith. We don't fight about religion the way many interfaith couples of my acquaintance do. Would I prefer him to be more active in our faith? Of course. But he is a good man and it's not a "dealbreaker". 

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My 19yo son and his girlfriend have decided to "take a break from each other" for the summer. And I'm staying out of it. They need to figure this out on their own. That said, they are equally yoked. I really think the difference in faith is a serious issue.

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This has caused significant difficulty in my marriage, though it's more complicated than that and wasn't present at the beginning.

I would not again marry someone who did not share my faith(or in our case, I did not share his when we married; he has since left his faith while I have found one) or had significant theological differences. This would now be a deal breaker for me.

 

 

Same here.  And it has indeed caused significant difficulty in our marriage.  Not that we sit around and debate theology (we rarely talk about Biblical things), but more that my dh is operating on a completely different set of principles (or lack thereof??) than I am.   

 

And I've talked extensively to my kids about the pitfalls of marrying a non-Christian (they are Christians).  Plus, they've seen the ugly side of it firsthand, so there's that, too.  

 

 

 

I'll third this.  I converted from nothing to RCC after marriage and it has caused so much anger/tension/resentment that I could never recommend a faith/non-faith marriage.  I love my DH and wouldn't swap him out for anything, but if I should ever have the misfortune to be widowed, I would  never marry outside the Christian faith.  

 

Having said that, I do think it's different if a coulee knows, going in, that they have this difference.  I basically dropped a bombshell on my DH and I recognize how difficult that made our lives.   If you know ahead of time, you can discuss how to raise children, thoughts on divorce, positions on other moral topics, and decide if it's feasible or not.  But marriage is long and can be hard at times, I'd try to avoid intentional roadblocks if possible.

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This is a 17 year old we are talking about?  If they were decide to go into a life long relationship at this age, I would think it should be pretty ideal.  They'd both be mature and focused with common goals..  The best relationship advice my mom ever gave me is to never assume you can change someone.  You can change yourself and your expectations.  Is she happy with the way he is now?  The religion is not a deal breaker for me, though certain values would be. 

 

I also wouldn't assume my opinion would be welcome either at this age.  I wouldn't say anything unless asked. 

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this?

This might be an unpopular opinion, I haven't read what everyone else has said, but she needs to be so so careful. This is a reason to break it off, if nothing else. My parents ended up divorced over essentially this issue. Oh, other things were what looked to be the cause, but in the end the mismatch in spiritual belief and then spiritual maturity meant that my Mom's essential, soul commitments and responses to tough situations were of a fundamentally different root and character than my dad's. And he pretty much made a confession of faith to make her happy so she would marry him. That dog don't hunt, as they say.

 

He sounds like a great guy, but if she is a Christian I'd reiterate to her, in serious terms, what scripture has to say on being unequally yoked. It's a total heart breaker sometimes and can make raising kids with the person extremely difficult.

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They are still young enough that the faith part would not be a dealbreaker for me, because I would assume they would both continue to grow in that department. We have found this sort of thing one of the harder parts of parenting. It is no good saying to stay out of it. When it is your child and it concerns marriage, you are likely in it whether you want to be or not. We mostly do stay out of it. Possible breakups in serious relationships is the exception. We have counseled stay in until it is obvious you should get out. Serious differences in life goals, differences in family culture and manners that lead to not being able to convey respect or feel respected, inability to fulfill the other person's emotional needs, those are all reasons for letting go. Determining this takes time, patience, and communication. When the time came that they thought they needed to take the devastating step of letting go, ours wanted confirmation from us that they weren't doing something stupid. This meant that they had to do quite a bit of explaining to us. Usually, it hasn't been a surprise because they did some worrying to us earlier or because we had serious doubts to begin with (that we kept to ourselves). My husband and I never dated. We got together in high school. We feel really unqualified to help with boyfriend girlfriend nonserious relationships. We only become involved when a relationship becomes serious or long term, by which time, because we are a pretty close family, we know the girl, at least some, usually, and have a better idea of what is involved.

 

Nan

 

Eta that differences in faith would not be a deal breaker but differences in what they think is right and wrong would.

Edited by Nan in Mass
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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this? 

 

I think being on the same page with regard to faith and other "foundational" issues before marriage is important. However, that's not a guarantee that there won't be disagreements about that issue later.

 

No matter what is agreed to or understood at the outset, sometimes one spouse changes his/her mind in later years about an important, settled issue. That can create tremendous upheaval. If it's handled wrong, sometimes the damage never fully heals. So I think it's important that both parties know how to address those kinds of potential disagreements in a way that is mutually respectful and compassionate and with the understanding that neither side may "win."

 

That's something I plan to discuss with my kids. HOW you (general you) deal with those disagreements can--if badly done--do more harm than the disagreement itself.

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Just my opinion....if you need couple's counseling before getting engaged (unless you have gone through a trauma) that is a red flag.  

 

 

I don't know how much to put up with otherwise, being in love often means that you do not act with wisdom.

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What misunderstandings are they having? I'm with WoolySocks that it should be pretty easy compatibility at that stage of dating. The things that have caused problems for DH and me have been family/kid/money/external stressor type things. We didn't have arguments much while dating. We debated subjects (both lawyers now), but we weren't having to negotiate personal issues. If you have to put a ton of work into it at that point, it would be overwhelming once you add in the work you'll have to do with careers, children, etc.

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this? 

 

For whatever it's worth, I've begun to worry about this.  Well, the future in this regard, and in reverse.  My daughters are friends with some amazing people, and I do sometimes think about which ones would be "perfect" for them.  Not in a plotting way, lol, but thoughts that pop into my head.  And then I remember that most of them have religious backgrounds.  

 

I know it worked out okay for me. Dh is basically agnostic now.  But I now see it as much bigger deal than I did when I was young and a bit naive.

 

Yeah, zero advice!

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I had a conversation with a close friend about this recently. She was remembering back when we were both dating our soon-to-be husbands how easy our relationship seemed (Dh and I are very compatible) whereas she and her guy were always "working it out" "making it work" "working through some things." Her marriage ended in divorce and, looking back, she sees the red flags in those early struggles. So. Much. Work. For what should be--in the early stages--pretty carefree.

 

I'd also strongly advise her to consider the faith issue, and to be honest with herself as to whether she thinks she can shelve her faith (maybe, but with resentment?) or get him to change his (don't count on it).

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this? 

 

This could be a difficulty. I've seen it not seem to matter much during dating period, however, as soon as children are in the picture it does. There is something about having kids and wanting to raise them with certain philosophies/backgrounds. Is he on the fence, blatantly atheistic, apathetic or somewhere in between? What does he think about her faith?

How important is this to her? This may also be difficult to ascertain since she obviously likes him and it may seem irrelevant to her now.

Other than this, I agree with MercyA. It's good practice to work on conflict resolution even if they don't get married. It also reveals a lot about a person's maturity in how they approach differences.

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It's true that people shouldn't idealize that first relationship, but they shouldn't discount it either.

Stereotypes are probabilities, not defining characteristics.

I'm glad I married lateish (29) because I did a lot of things in life before then that I wouldn't have done if I had been married, but I have also seen some great marriages that came about because people who knew each other really well essentially grew their adult lives together. 

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Here is all of my sage relationship advice for young people. 

 

Love can be real without being forever. Just because you break up doesn't mean you didn't have love for one another.

 

You can love each other, but not be compatible. When you recognize that you will always be working at cross-purposes, it's time to break up. 

 

You can love each other but not be good for each other. If one or both of you keeps getting emotionally hurt, or if you bring out the worst in each other rather than the best, it's time to break up. 

 

When there are more unhappy moments than happy ones, more tears than laughter, it is time to break up. 

 

If you find yourself making excuses to other people on your partner's behalf, it is time to break up. 

 

And again,  you can break up while still recognizing and valuing the love that was present. If you think that you are meant to be together, you should still break up for these reasons, so you don't permanently damage the relationship. If you are right about being meant to be together, you will come together again in the future, in a more positive way.  

Edited by katilac
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How do you figure it out? Trial and error.

 

And yanno what? Anyone with a lick of sense would have advised dh and I to quit each other forever, with good reason, when we were young. And they would have been wrong.

 

There's NO tellin'. The thing is to try to know yourself well so that when something doesn't feel right, you can figure out why. Ideally the other person would have the same self insight, but we know how ideally works.

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I do think that's a hard thing to determine, and it does depend a bit on what one's particular lines-that-must-not-be-crossed may be. I do think in a long-term marriage, some of the early red flags can disolve, or they could devolve and become big problems, KWIM? So there is somewhat of an element of luck involved in a long relationship anyway.

 

My DH has some characteristics that I wish were different and probably, he thinks the same about me. None of these unattractive traits have devolved far enough that they became deal-breakers, but I suppose that potential exists in ANY relationship.

 

For someone not yet married, I would not urge reconsidering the relationship unless something was clearly a serious red flag. This list is not going to be the same for everyone, but these would be reasons I would advise my DD to get out of dodge:

 

1) Controlling, abusive behaviour. Not a one-off moment of "He lost his temper and yelled at me," but any pattern of behaviour that indicated he wanted to dominate her time, control what she does/wears/how she does her hair, doesn't want her to pursue her own interests and her friends, etc. I have been there and I am hyper-vigilant of any whiff of that.

 

2) Addictions.

 

3) Defective attitudes about work and money. Not just, "struggling to find a good job right now," but some sort of chronic laziness and/or foolishness about using money. Someone not interested in gaining skills/cert/degree with which to reliably earn a living wage. Also anyone who is not bothered about ethical earning behaviour.

 

4) Anything that pointed to criminal tendencies.

 

I would also be very concerned about some mental health problems. Maybe not to deal-breaker staus, but I would want to have a good indication that the guy understands his mental illness and does not ignore it. I would not be thrilled if the guy didn't have any family to speak of or if he were a non-citizen. (Because I have seen first hand how difficult life can be trying to prove the legitimacy of a non-citizen when you are already married and have kids together. Just not a hassel I would want for my dd.)

 

 

ETA: typos

Edited by Quill
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Editing because I forgot not to quote.

 

 

I am religious (and practicing) and my husband is non-religious. It has caused no problems. None. If we ever split up, God forbid, that wouldn't be a factor at all.

Edited by OKBud

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this?

This is not a dealbreaker to me, because faith is subject to change. I don't have stats to prove this, but I believe that the current climate has more young people altering their faith in their twenties and thirties than ever before. Information is so readily available. There is, in many locations, no longer the homogenous village where everybody is of the same faith and hearing sermons from the same pastor/priest/whatever. The curious and the doubting can look up "flaws in ________ faith" and can decide that belief system does not cut it anymore.

 

I would not stay with someone who antagonized me about my beliefs, but then that comes down to a lack of respect that I wouldn't support in any relationship.

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They do have a big difference--she is Christian and he is not. This could come up more as her faith matures, or...not. What about things like this? 

 

In that case, I'd have to reiterate what others have said. Advise her to read the Scripture on being unequally yoked. Remind her that obedience to Scripture is not optional for Christians, however difficult it might be.

 

What a heartbreaking situation. I think I would advise her to break it off now. The longer she waits the more painful it will be. 

 

Ultimately, of course, it is her decision. At 17, I wouldn't forbid her to see him or communicate with him. I'd give her your input and then, as others have said, pray, pray, pray. 

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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This has caused significant difficulty in my marriage, though it's more complicated than that and wasn't present at the beginning.

I would not again marry someone who did not share my faith(or in our case, I did not share his when we married; he has since left his faith while I have found one) or had significant theological differences. This would now be a deal breaker for me.

 

Along these same lines.  There are many things that dh and I have worked through but this has rocked our world. It totally effects how you make decisions on $$/child rearing/friends/so much else.

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In that case, I'd have to reiterate what others have said. Advise her to read the Scripture on being unequally yoked. Remind her that obedience to Scripture is not optional for Christians, however difficult it might be.

 

What a heartbreaking situation. I think I would advise her to break it off now. The longer she waits the more painful it will be.

 

Ultimately, of course, it is her decision. At 17, I wouldn't forbid her to see him or communicate with him. I'd give her your input and then, as others have said, pray, pray, pray.

 

:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

I would never do that to my child. This is exactly the kind of pressure-people-with-the-Bible that has hurt SO MANY people over the centuries. "Don't be gay! The Bible says it's an abomination!" "don't have a career! The Bible says a woman must be quiet and a keeper of her home!" "Slavery is not wrong! Only being a harsh and cruel master is!" I could go on, but I will stop.

 

I understand this is a normal Christian response, Mercy, and I think you are one of the most tender-hearted posters here. I just can't ignore this, though, because I think it is so wrong-headed to try and use the Bible to support something that is simply your preference. I'm sure you don't *think* it is simply your preference, but it is. There are lots of wonderful people who are not Christians and lots of Christians who are not wonderful people.

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I would never do that to my child. This is exactly the kind of pressure-people-with-the-Bible that has hurt SO MANY people over the centuries. "Don't be gay! The Bible says it's an abomination!" "don't have a career! The Bible says a woman must be quiet and a keeper of her home!" "Slavery is not wrong! Only being a harsh and cruel master is!" I could go on, but I will stop.

 

I understand this is a normal Christian response, Mercy, and I think you are one of the most tender-hearted posters here. I just can't ignore this, though, because I think it is so wrong-headed to try and use the Bible to support something that is simply your preference. I'm sure you don't *think* it is simply your preference, but it is. There are lots of wonderful people who are not Christians and lots of Christians who are not wonderful people.

And more to the point, there are many non-religious people (and people of other faiths) who will support a religious spouse's personal relationship with God better than many religious people, who think, perhaps, that they know for sure how to be a Christian (or anything else) in the world.

 

Iow a good match can deepen your faith, even when you don't see eye to eye.

 

Obviously there are some religious bents that decree one own faith is imperfect if it does not inspire others to adopt the same faith. Interfaith marriages won't work for them. And, like Quill said, many ppl choose to be derisive of their spouse's convictions. And that's really sad.

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In the relationships I've seen, long term, where major differences in faith haven't caused an issue it's been when the faith partner is marginal/name only sort of thing. Even that is tricky, because the marginal partner may well become more faith driven as they age and life changes. 

 

This area, when one person is way off the other in "religiosity" I've seen it bring heart ache. 

 

I broke up with a boyfriend over this issue--my parents didn't pressure this. He later became a Christian. We got back together and eventually married. In his case, this was totally sincere and has been proven true over the next 20 years of his life. But I do know situations where the less religious person pretended to be more so, which is far worse than your daughter's situation where both are being honest. 

Edited by sbgrace
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I had a conversation with a close friend about this recently. She was remembering back when we were both dating our soon-to-be husbands how easy our relationship seemed (Dh and I are very compatible) whereas she and her guy were always "working it out" "making it work" "working through some things." Her marriage ended in divorce and, looking back, she sees the red flags in those early struggles. So. Much. Work. For what should be--in the early stages--pretty carefree.

 

I'd also strongly advise her to consider the faith issue, and to be honest with herself as to whether she thinks she can shelve her faith (maybe, but with resentment?) or get him to change his (don't count on it).

 

at 17 and 19, you don't know what will happen.  people do change their faiths - even after marriage.

 

1ds has a very serious gf - he is religious, she is not.  (she was raised southern baptist -and hates it. she lumps all christian faiths within that paradigm.) both are mid/late 20s.  he has been extremely prayerful about this.  he wasn't very religious when they got together - but has become more observant over time.  they haven't reached a point they could marry yet anyway as she has a very serious health issue that would require very good insurance - and he's a college student. 

we've discussed this - he's been extremely prayerful about the relationship.  he does receive guidance, so I have no reason to think this is coming from himself when he's guided to stay with her at this time.  whether they will end up getting married or not -none of us know.  he's also pragmatic enough to know - if the spirit says "it's time to move on", then there is someone better out there for him.

I also know he is a better person for being with her at this time.  I do plan on having the "support him in his religious endeavors as he'll be a better man and husband for them."  sometimes she's been good at that - other times she's struggled with it but is moving forwards.

 

eta:clarification

Edited by gardenmom5

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I do want to add -I've known many people who had no faith when they got married - and became involved with one later.   or they were both very involved in one - and one changed.  

you don't know what will happen.

 

 

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I would never do that to my child. This is exactly the kind of pressure-people-with-the-Bible that has hurt SO MANY people over the centuries. "Don't be gay! The Bible says it's an abomination!" "don't have a career! The Bible says a woman must be quiet and a keeper of her home!" "Slavery is not wrong! Only being a harsh and cruel master is!" I could go on, but I will stop.

 

I understand this is a normal Christian response, Mercy, and I think you are one of the most tender-hearted posters here. I just can't ignore this, though, because I think it is so wrong-headed to try and use the Bible to support something that is simply your preference. I'm sure you don't *think* it is simply your preference, but it is. There are lots of wonderful people who are not Christians and lots of Christians who are not wonderful people.

 

this this this.

 

it's what enables me to have understanding of where ds's gf is coming from. . . my grandmother used "religious language" to try and manipulate her child and grandchildren.  I really understand why some people end up hating it - and lumping everyone in the same boat because they can't see the differences.

 

ds really wants her to talk to me - because I have been there, and have a lot more understanding of where she's coming from than he does.   she's not ready for that yet - and that's ok too.

I see my job as just loving them both.

 

reading scripture is good.  making pro-con lists is good. seeking information is good - but ultimately, you have to make a decision you can live with and feel good about.  and sometimes . . . . the one that comes after much prayerful consideration and reflection is 100% ILlogical .  . . btdt.  made absolutely no sense - but there was complete peace.  (and that's in regards to a previous gf of his.)

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I married in my faith...and had a view of what my life would look like, revolving around church.  Then, 3 years in, my dh, without abandoning the faith, stopped going to church.  NOW what do I do?  I'm not single, so no singles group. I'm married, but...?  How does THAT work?  It didn't cause division, but it did change my life to be different from what I thought it would be.  Twenty years.  That's a lot of time without shared experience.

 

He started going back after 20 years, joined the church Christmas 2006, but we had just visited an Orthodox Church for the first time, and he was all in from the minute he walked in the door.  We entered the Orthodox Church Christmas 2007...and now, I have to say, that if we didn't share this faith, it would be a LOT of time away from one another, and the praxis of our life would be isolating.  There are many faithful who manage this, and there is far less isolation for them in our parish than there was for me in my old church, where things were divided by age and marital status, but it still makes for a separation of experience...which, again, can be dealt with, but it is not ideal.  

 

During those 20 years when my dh wasn't going to church, we missed out on time together, but at least we were coming from a similar set of beliefs and so on, and that helped a lot when we had to make decisions about our life.  

 

The other thing is that things are probably about the best they will ever be at this stage in a relationship.  (At least that's my theory.)   If things are already hard, they probably won't get better with marriage.  This isn't to say that anyone gets to marry (or be) the perfect person.  But you have to know what you can deal with and that if it is hard now, dealing with whatever it is for 50 years isn't going to be a picnic.

 

 

 

 

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I would never do that to my child. This is exactly the kind of pressure-people-with-the-Bible that has hurt SO MANY people over the centuries. "Don't be gay! The Bible says it's an abomination!" "don't have a career! The Bible says a woman must be quiet and a keeper of her home!" "Slavery is not wrong! Only being a harsh and cruel master is!" I could go on, but I will stop.

 

I understand this is a normal Christian response, Mercy, and I think you are one of the most tender-hearted posters here. I just can't ignore this, though, because I think it is so wrong-headed to try and use the Bible to support something that is simply your preference. I'm sure you don't *think* it is simply your preference, but it is. There are lots of wonderful people who are not Christians and lots of Christians who are not wonderful people.

 

You know I like and respect you, Quill, but I can't agree with you here. My personal preferences have nothing to do with it. The Scripture is clear. 

 

Obviously people can be wonderful without being Christians, and of course Christians aren't always wonderful people. That's not the issue.

 

I don't care whom people who are not Christians marry, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else. But when someone is a Christian, they ignore Scriptural commands at their peril. Sin hurts people, now and into eternity. I wouldn't give my advice on something like this lightly or without thought. I do feel for Chris' daughter and wish her nothing but the best in life, and I've shared my thoughts with that in mind. 

 

I do appreciate the frank honesty with which you posted, and your very kind compliment.  :)

Edited by MercyA
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Well this is my 2 cents. I dont have old kids so I speaking from my life. dh and I have been an item since high school. I was 14. After he graduated he joined the marines and i stayed home. we had a long distance relationship for 4 years. we has some bad times. we were immature. everyone said we wouldnt make it. from day 1 dh and i knew we were meant to be for whatever reason. we each knew there was no one else for us. so my point is life was hard until around 4 years ago or so, but we worked through it all. we are in a good place. many will say relationships are easiest in the beginni g, but not for us. we beleived we would make it to where we wanted to be. 2 people with 3 great kids living the life we hoped for. it was all worth it and i'd do it all again although it really sucked. this life i have was worth waiting for. sorry for all lowercase. holding a sleeping baby. im just not that good.

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I married in my faith...and had a view of what my life would look like, revolving around church.  Then, 3 years in, my dh, without abandoning the faith, stopped going to church.  NOW what do I do?  I'm not single, so no singles group. I'm married, but...?  How does THAT work?    <snip>

 

There are many faithful who manage this, and there is far less isolation for them in our parish than there was for me in my old church, where things were divided by age and marital status, but it still makes for a separation of experience...which, again, can be dealt with, but it is not ideal.  <snip>

 

 

 

What is divided in your old and new churches? Like actual services? Study groups, ministries, all of the above? 

 

I'm just curious. I've only ever been to churches where most things were mixed groups of all kinds, certainly the services always had a very broad mix of people. Well, the sunrise service is usually 95% old people, but other than that, lol. 

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The difference in faith would be a giant deal breaker for me.  I know that things can change in the future, but no one has a crystal ball.  You can only go on what you have now in front of you.

 

When I was young, I saw that my parents worked hard on their marriage.  They told me how important it was to work on your marriage.  So, when I dated I thought to myself, "You should work on the relationship.  Like my parents do.  Even if it's not really all that good, you have to work on it and expect to compromise."  

 

It wasn't until after I got married that I realized that I was wrong about that.  I mean, yes, you might work on things by making sure you're communicating and regular things you'd do with any human relationship, but NO you should not have to work on it to *force* the relationship to work.  There's a difference.  I realized looking back that I was thinking that just because I was dating someone, I had to force the relationship to work, as if the stakes were as high as a marriage.  
 

But when you're dating, you shouldn't be forcing the relationship to work.  If there are too many differences in personalities or beliefs or whatever, there are no stakes.  You are free to walk away and you haven't broken any covenants.

 

In my opinion, people who are dating should work on their relationship as much as they'd work on any other friendship, and maaaaybe a tiny smidge more.  They should not be overlooking red flags or major differences as if they were married and bound together with life-long vows, having to force the marriage to work.  If there are major issues, then they are not bound by anything and are free to walk away, and IMO should walk away.  

 

For me personally, the differences in faith would be too big of an issue to work around.  I can see Quill's point that sometimes we think we are seeing clearly what the bible says (like owning slaves is ok as long as you're nice to them), only to later realize that we weren't seeing what we thought we were (no, owning slaves is not ok after all).  But I think the "unequally yoked" scripture is pretty logical, even if you don't take it as a hard-core command.  It's the sort of "command" that is clearly written as a way to save us from heartbreak and not as a way to make us miserable because we can't have what we want. We can choose to ignore it, but the majority of people who do will suffer heartbreak from the natural consequence of having a major clash in the marriage.  There will be some who won't, but the majority will.

 

Bottom line: 

Different faiths is a deal breaker for me.

You shouldn't have to work on a dating relationship more than you'd work on any other human relationship.  If you're working that hard, then it's not a good enough match.

Edited by Garga
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You know I like and respect you, Quill, but I can't agree with you here. My personal preferences have nothing to do with it. The Scripture is clear.

 

Obviously people can be wonderful without being Christians, and of course Christians aren't always wonderful people. That's not the issue.

 

I don't care whom people who are not Christians marry, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else. But when someone is a Christian, they ignore Scriptural commands at their peril. Sin hurts people, now and into eternity. I wouldn't give my advice on something like this lightly or without thought. I do feel for Chris' daughter and wish her nothing but the best in life, and I've shared my thoughts with that in mind.

 

I do appreciate the frank honesty with which you posted, and your very kind compliment. :)

Chosing someone because they are also a Christian guarantees nothing. Being in keeping with scripture guarantees nothing. My beliefs are totally different from what they were 15 years ago, and if my marriage had been based upon both being Christians, it may not have survived the changes. Beliefs are not static. I think what is worse in any marriage is dogmatic views about the faith of one's partner. Suppose the daughter breaks up with Nice Not-A-Christian Guy and finds someone else who claims to be a Christian and does seem like one. But wait! What if DD is a YEC, while New Christian Guy is Old Earth? Or maybe DD is a Methodist, but New Christian Guy is Catholic? What I'm saying is, now you've made some judgement about guy has to claim Christianity, but it guarantees nothing, including the future forms that faith may take.

 

Should a Believer divorce a mate who has "fallen away"?

 

I think it is better to objectively lay out possible pitfalls, but I personally would keep the Bible out of it. In the same way that I would point out that Nice Guy seems financially inept, I would also point out potential problems with faith differences.

 

My DD is Protestant and her boyfriend is Catholic and we have had many discussions about how this might play out in the future. But those are her hurdles to clear with her mate. In the family culture in which I grew up, he would be considered "not a Real Christian."

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Here is all of my sage relationship advice for young people.

 

Love can be real without being forever. Just because you break up doesn't mean you didn't have love for one another.

 

You can love each other, but not be compatible. When you recognize that you will always be working at cross-purposes, it's time to break up.

 

You can love each other but not be good for each other. If one or both of you keeps getting emotionally hurt, or if you bring out the worst in each other rather than the best, it's time to break up.

 

When there are more unhappy moments than happy ones, more tears than laughter, it is time to break up.

 

If you find yourself making excuses to other people on your partner's behalf, it is time to break up.

 

And again, you can break up while still recognizing and valuing the love that was present. If you think that you are meant to be together, you should still break up for these reasons, so you don't permanently damage the relationship. If you are right about being meant to be together, you will come together again in the future, in a more positive way.

Edited by MooCow

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My personal view is that dating is not the time to "work things out" if they are big things. That is the time to run. A drug problem? RUN!!! If you are married and your spouse develops a drug problem, work it out if you can. Someone with a mean streak? Nothing to work out. RUN! If you are married and your spouse suddenly becomes mentally ill and mean? Try to work it out. The person you are dating has a family that doesn't like you and they won't take your side? RUN! If you are married and have problems with your in-laws, try to work it out. 

 

That is MY opinion, and like Dennis Miller, I could be wrong.

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