Dealing With Religous Partner

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    Apr 06, 2007 7:42 AM GMT
    My partner of over eight years has become very religous over time to the point where it is having a negative impact on our relationship.

    We are both Christian and spirtual people although we are from different denominations (I am a "mainline" protestant and he is Catholic).

    My partner has started going to church / church activities 3-4 nights a week, he has built a alter ? / meditation station complete with a crucifix in the middle of our living room.

    I told my partner I was concerned about the amount of time that he was spending at church, that it was having a negative impact on our relationship. My partner said that his faith is important to him and I have no right to take this away (which I don't). I am all for people having a spiritual life but when it effects our relationship I am concerned.

    My partner is also running to his priest everytime we have some sort of marital issue to "confess" or talk. I told him I don't appreciate him telling the priest all of the details of our personal life (including our sex life!) he said as a Catholic he is obligated to confess. I should note that he goes to a liberal (or as liberal as a Roman Catholic Church can be)and that the Priest is very accepting of him / us.

    All of this church involvement is starting to change his views on all sorts of topics from politics to our sex life, he is becoming increasingly conservative.

    I am starting to get very frustrated and I am not sure how handle this.I feel like every day I know my husband less and less and that there is more distance between us. When I told him that I was frustrated with our relationship, he said that if I left him he would consider becoming a Priest.

    Other than his church involvement my partner is cute, honest and kind, we have a great home and good friends. I don't want to give up eight years of investment in the relationship but I am becoming very frustrated.

    Any ideas or suggestions on how to tackle this would be great.
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    Apr 06, 2007 1:49 PM GMT
    Wow, I'm not sure I really have any advice, but I felt compelled to respond. After 8 years, it must be difficult to deal with.

    I split with a partner after 7.5 years (this was a couple of years ago) and it sucked emotionally. I understand your frustration. What I do know is that people change and evolve, and at every stage of personal development you may, or your partner may, decide that your paths are growing away from each other. And that's OK.

    That's how I felt. Our breakup was difficult for about 6 months, but now we have a stronger, more trusting relationship than we ever had while we were together. We're just not romantically involved any longer. I'm not saying that's where your relationship is headed, just sharing my experience, for what it's worth.

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    Apr 06, 2007 8:18 PM GMT
    Religion is a touchy subject in a relationship. And when two people differ, it can often become devisive.

    He is obviously going through a "discovery" period in his life. This may change the dynamics of your relationship, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. It sounds like he probably wants support. have you tried going with him to church? You could make it something you do "together."

    Your partner is obviously going through something...He seems to be seeking out ways to find understanding/comfort/answers. Maybe trying to be there with him in that would be the most help, and would bring y'all closer.

    The alter in the room is a bit weird. That seems to be crossing some boundaries... If my partner had a big GI JOE collection, I wouldn't let him set up a display in the living room...that's a public space...have you talked about maybe putting it in more of a "private" area of the house? Like your bedroom, maybe a walk in closet/garage?

    As far as is a big piece of catholic tradition, and if the priest is a good one, all things said are confidential. Now, if he is using it as a "free counseling session," and not for confession, then you might want to suggest seeing a counselor of some sort. This would be a place more to process and learn, then merely confess, plus it would be with a professional.

    but I think showing interest in what he is doing/going through will go a long way. sometimes that's all people are looking for. Maybe he's wondering if you'll follow him or just run away.

    And you also need to voice your concerns. "That you feel left out, or neglected becuase of church things. That it makes you feel like he's not interested" or whatever it is you are feeling. Make it about you though, and try to stay away from "you do this, or you do that." When someone points a finger, the other person always gets defensive. And then communication breaks down...

    Maybe this could be a spiritual journey for the both of you, and could connect you two more intimately on a spiritual level. You know the dynamics of your relationship, and I only see what you have posted, so i could be misunderstanding, and it's hard to encopsolate everything in a small post. I just know that when I'm going through a time of discovery, it's so nice to have someone supporting you and cheering you on, but also being a voice of reason. Good Luck...

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    Apr 06, 2007 10:06 PM GMT
    I think "rhythm" hit the nail on the head. Talk to your partner when you feel the least frustrated about the whole thing. Be gentle/loving but direct by letting hom know how you feel. Ask him if you can join him in some of his chuch activities. Perhaps you should join him when he is with the priest for couple counselling.

    I believe in all things that we do, there needs to be balanc. Even more so when you are in a relationship.
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    Apr 07, 2007 7:21 PM GMT
    Another thought...

    Like you're partner, I'm a very religious person myself. (My altar--complete with crucifix--is in my bedroom though. In the orthodox church everybody has one.)

    It might not be a bad idea to take this opportunity to develop interests of your own. Maybe it's just me, but I like men who have active lives and passionate interests. For one thing, it makes for better conversation, and for another they aren't likely to make me their be-all-and-end-all.
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    Apr 08, 2007 8:38 PM GMT
    I was interested while reading your post but wasn't going to respond because I have no experience being in a relationship where religion was a big part of our lives.

    But the line in which you stated that he told you if you ever broke up he would become a priest stuck out in my mind. Have you talked to him about that statement?? Maybe he's reached a point in his life where he feels that becoming a priest is his calling. If he has become that obsessed with his religious beliefs then he may be trying to achieve a deeper connection. If going to church and praying to God in the living room (I just hope it doesn't block the television) is more important than your relationship......then....well, maybe it's time to re-evaluate things. Also, he shouldn't force this new obsession on you.