Do Your Religions Have to Match?
Q: I'm dating a Christian woman whose church is very important to her. I'm not very religious. I can go to church on holidays, but I'm never going to be there every Sunday. I really like her though. When her family comes to visit, she makes me go to church with her and acts like we go together all the time. I don't want to hurt her feelings or embarrass her in front of her parents but I don't want to act like I'm somebody I'm not. I've talked to her about this and she just brushes me off. She says I'll come around someday and see what she sees in her church. She says she has faith in me. I like dating her but I feel like we're kind of leading each other on by ignoring our different views. Most of the rest of the relationship is good. So I'm just not sure if I should put my foot down and stop letting her pretend I'm as religious as she is or just keep the peace.—Warren, 55
Dr. Susan: Are you the kind of guy who can stay quiet and "keep the peace" for years on end? Without building up resentment? If so, there's always a price to pay. That price is paid in lack of intimacy (being with someone you aren't able to be fully honest with), and having to do things and go places you'd rather not, while pretending not to be bored and avoiding criticizing your mate's choices.
Personally, if someone told me they had faith that I'd eventually come to see things their way, I'd consider whether they might be right. I did have a friend who remarried a very religious woman when he was 50. He got heavily involved in her church activities with her, in spite of previously having been an atheist. Some things are unpredictable. But there has to be some real love happening between the two of you. Nobody should brush off the other's concerns. Talk it out.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.