Should I Give Up Holidays for Love?

When a Catholic falls in love with a Jehovah's Witness, it's time to ask how much she and her boyfriend should compromise.

Dear Thomas,

I'm 23 and have fallen in love with a Jehovah's Witness. We've been together every day for 6 months. He hasn't practiced his religion since he was 21 (he is now almost 29). But he says he will more than likely go back to it when he has a family. I grew up Catholic, with holidays, and my family would be very upset if I threw our family holiday time away as well as possibly becoming a Jehovah's Witness. He really won't budge too much or compromise, but says he's in love with me. What should I do?


--Ashley

 

Dear Ashley,
Falling in love is a creative kind of craziness. You lose perspective, become obsessed, and do silly things. It’s a delicious experience that can make you feel alive and happy. I think of it as one time in life when your deep, mysterious soul takes precedence over your practical mind, and that’s a good thing. But this state of being in love is not a good one for decision-making. Eventually, you have to see through the fog of romantic love to the nuts and bolts of an enduring relationship, if the love-madness is heading toward marriage.

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I think people often overdo the requirement of compatibility. Marriage is, by definition, a union of different worlds. It isn’t just a living arrangement worked out by two rational, conscious people. At every wedding, families and friends also get married, for better or worse. You bring your family and your memories of childhood with you to the relationship, as does your partner. It’s all quite complicated and deep.

One crucial element of a solid relationship is respect for each other’s background, beliefs, attachments, and hopes. This is especially true when it comes to religion. While some people happily convert to their partner’s religious tradition, just as often differences in belief cause conflict. Your man doesn’t sound willing to respect your beliefs and traditions. The way you celebrate holidays is important. They give you security, tradition, and meaning. It may be important to your future happiness not to give them up.

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Thomas Moore
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