I think if you’re the “more religious” person in the relationship, it’s important to remember that not everything is going to make sense to the other person.
A majority of my friends are Catholic, and one of the things I frequently hear them say is that they want their partner to be Catholic as well. As most relationships and religions go, specifically those who are devout in their faith, typically prefer–if not, require–their partner to be of the same faith. For the longest time, I said I would never convert to a religion, especially one that I didn’t believe in. Needless to say, never say never.
My mother was raised Baptist, and my father was raised Presbyterian. When my parents married, my mom converted to Presbyterian. I’ve also had family members that converted to their partner’s religion.
I struggled with religion for the longest time. I never doubted that God or Jesus Christ existed, but rather, I just didn’t know what to make of it. I’ve never read any biblical scriptures or was raised going to church every Sunday. During my senior year of high school, I explored many religions. Obviously, with my parents being Presbyterian, I started there. I will admit that I still don’t know a lot in regards to specific religions, but that I found my “home,” when I began dating my boyfriend.
For the longest time, I believed that Jesus Christ was NOT the son of God on the principle of God being a spiritual figure than an actual human being (or as I learned, “of flesh and bone,” which God actually was made of). I moved to Arizona after I graduated from college for a job. I had a couple of boyfriends, many of whom were either atheist, agnostic or Catholic. In February 2015, I met my boyfriend, William. Our relationship blossomed quickly. On our second date, I found out that he was Mormon–don’t judge us yet! The only things I had heard about Mormons were negative things, like supposedly having multiple wives and “ridiculous rules” (which I might add are actually “commandments”), that people don’t typically abide by–not even devout Mormons.
Anyway, instead of stereotyping my boyfriend, I began asking questions. Is God a human being or just a spiritual figure? Do you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God? Do you have scripture that proves that He is? Do Mormons still practice polygamy? He was very open about it and probably less shocking than not, he had already served his mission [in Scotland]! For those who don’t know, missionaries are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) who are selected to go to a specific location to “spread the word of God and Jesus Christ, and to teach others about the gospel.”
In fact, I actually met with several missionaries, and they answered all of my questions, including the ones I stated earlier (and to answer your question: no, they do NOT still practice polygamy–it was outlawed many years ago). I do plan to convert–not because of or for William, but because I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church and that the Book of Mormon is true. I think building that foundation with God and with William are essential to the longevity of our relationship, especially once we factor in marriage and family.
I’m not saying all women are going to be as open as me to learning about or willing to be converted to your religion. If it is important to you, though, I think it’s definitely something that should be discussed. Here are two basic tips and points to think about when approaching the topic of religion with your significant other:
1. You don’t have to back down from your beliefs, but don’t shove them down the other person’s throat if you don’t agree. Basically, be open-minded, especially if you come from opposing beliefs (i.e. Catholicism & Judaism). These types of conversations can go sour really fast. At first, it was really difficult for me to even fathom half the beliefs that Mormons have. Over time and through reading scripture, discussions with missionaries and with my boyfriend, as well as attending church services, baptisms, and praying, I’ve learned why Mormons believe certain things that contradict what I once believed. With that knowledge, I came to respect and accept the beliefs.
2. It’s important to ask yourself, “What kind of significance does religion factor into my life and into my relationship(s)?” I think depending how you answer that question will dictate the way the conversation will go. For example, I met a guy who blatantly did not like talking about religion, nor did he believe in God (or any higher power). He made that very clear. As we continued dating, I realized how much that bothered me–not just that he didn’t believe in God, but that he didn’t even want to discuss anything relating to religion. On the flipside, I’ve also had men blatantly tell me that I’m “wrong,” or that what I believe is “sinful,” simply because I didn’t agree with their religion/beliefs.
I think if you’re the “more religious” person in the relationship, it’s important to remember that not everything is going to make sense to the other person. Or in other circumstances, they might not agree with you. I’m not saying you need a 20 slide powerpoint why you believe in your religion or why you “know it’s right,” but to try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Some people might’ve believed at one point and lost faith after a traumatic experience (like the death of a loved one).
Photo: Flickr/ Angel Rodriguez-Rey