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You Asked: Does Religion Trump Love?

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I are discussing marriage. I was brought up in an Italian Catholic family, and although I am not very active in my faith, the traditions and values that have been passed down are still very important to me. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was raised Catholic but is now Agnostic. I knew this when we started dating, and it's never bothered me. I admire that he has searched for his own truth and is happy with his own beliefs. I have fallen in love with a kind and generous person, and his beliefs, or lack thereof, really don't have any influence on my feelings.

The problem is now that we are discussing marriage, I would like to honor the traditions in my family and marry in a Catholic church. He is willing to do so but has mentioned that it would make him feel uncomfortable, and I really want this day to be about the two of us. We have discussed other options, but for some reason they are just not sitting well with me. I know I can't change his feelings or mine but I worry about the future and how this will impact our children and our relationship. I am one to fight for love, but in this situation is love enough?

— Religion Woes Rachael

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Dear Religion Woes Rachael,

First of all, I want to point out that it says a lot about your relationship that you're both taking the time to discuss this prior to getting married. Differing religious views is always a tricky terrain to navigate, especially when it comes to building a life with someone. And like any other serious issue in a relationship, the solution comes down to your willingness to compromise.

I would start focusing more seriously on the issue of how you want your future children raised — it can seem incredibly premature when you're not even officially engaged, but in the end it's a less negotiable and more serious issue than a wedding. You both need to keep your expectations realistic. If you find that you just can't come to an agreement, then it's likely that you'll be waging this same argument throughout the rest of your relationship, and you'll have to decide if you're willing to do that.

As you work through this, keep in mind that there are compromises out there if you're willing to make them. Do research online and don't be afraid to reach out to other people who might be in similar situations to find out what their solutions and hardships are. And most importantly, keep an open mind and examine every possibility. Once you have all the information, you can make a more educated and definitive decision about your future.


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