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A devout churchgoer and a lukewarm believer — does their relationship stand a chance?

LOVE
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Different levels of church attendance aren't necessarily a deal-breaker.

For years she has been a part of a church community and attends daily Mass, but he only goes to church on Sundays (at best) and holidays. How can they make their relationship work? What do you do when your loved one doesn’t want to go to church with you? How do you react when he refuses to go on another retreat? Or what do you do when he says he thinks you go to church too much?

Christianity is a state of heart

First, remember that Christianity doesn’t simply equal going to church. It has to do with the state of a person’s heart. A Christian attitude is not defined by how many church activities you participate in; your ability to love is what best reflects your closeness to God. Your ability to be in a relationship is, to some extent, a measure of your spiritual life.

So, before you assess the level of religiousness of the other person, you should adopt broader criteria. It may turn out that your boyfriend is not as un-Christian as you think. Perhaps, despite his reluctance to attend multiple services per week, he lives out God’s love in everyday life. He may prefer to pray privately and spontaneously during the week, instead of going to liturgies or prayer groups. There is a good chance that your goals are convergent, despite having a different way of naming and implementing them.

Talking about the details of your desires and dreams for the future can verify if you really are on different paths. Although now you might be at a place where you perceive a serious inconsistency that makes it impossible to continue the relationship, perhaps you will discover common ground in principles, if not in all the specific ways you practice them.

Most importantly, talk

Talk about your shared values; they are the foundation of every relationship. Think about them very broadly. You should both ask yourselves a general question — what is important to you? Although a discrepancy in key values may make it very difficult or impossible to build a close relationship, an agreement on basics, even if you diverge on specific practices, can be the foundation of a solid future together. You can complement each other and learn from each other.

Only conversations with mutual understanding, being open to differences and to adapting your own habits, can ensure the future of your relationship. It’s worth postponing for a moment the topic of the next trip to a retreat, so you can talk about what is most important: how do you want to live? “Church” topics can sometimes cover what is most important and what you need to focus on.

And what if he really is “lukewarm”?

It may turn out that your values are not really the same, and you differ on very important issues. Your beloved may in fact turn out not to be serious about his faith — someone who doesn’t spend time in prayer or reflection, and who doesn’t seek God in everyday life. However, even this may not be a reason to break off the relationship immediately.

Sometimes it’s worth inviting your significant other to deeper conversion. Helping someone of lukewarm faith to draw closer to God isn’t easy, but perhaps it’s not without reason that God put this person on your path. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an obstacle to God’s plan for your life; it may even be a chance for its implementation. So, do not treat your boyfriend as a threat. Fear is never a good signpost; it stands in opposition to love, which is the one thing that can work wonders in your life.

Only the attitude of love that comes from your heart and the way you function in everyday situations can persuade your boyfriend to come closer to God. Your reaction to his being late for a date can be more important than telling him about the Gospel of the day.

A person in the early stages of a relationship with God can only be convinced by seeing faith in practice, in concrete acts of love in everyday life. It doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect and pretend to be someone who has no shortcomings and weaknesses. On the contrary, show your imperfections and your faith that God loves you in spite of them. Try to love your partner in the same way.

True love — meaning patience, kindness, lack of jealousy, no self-seeking, and no keeping records of wrongs — will bring them closer to God.

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