“Ask a Priest: How Should I Deal With My Strict Catholic Boyfriend?”

Q: So I am not religious, I had some really bad experiences growing up and wouldn’t go back to a church. However, my boyfriend is a very strict Catholic, he goes every Sunday, is waiting till marriage, and doesn’t drink or smoke. For me, I have been able to give up some of the things he really can’t stand, because I would do almost anything to make this work. He is the most genuine, kind person. But I’m not sure what to do. It’s really hard because I don’t understand where he’s coming from, and I really do want to stay with him and am concerned eventually it is going to become a deal breaker for him. Is there any advice you could give to someone like me from the outside looking in? – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It sounds like a grace of God that you have met this young man. That’s not to say that you two are headed for a perfect marriage — I won’t try to speculate about that kind of thing.

Nevertheless, it is a grace because you have encountered someone you admire, and this is someone who identifies strongly with his Catholic faith and his relationship with God.

Perhaps this might be a moment to step back and rethink whether there might be something worthwhile in a church — in this case, the Catholic Church.

The Catholic faith isn’t something established by men. It’s about God and how God revealed himself to the world. He revealed himself in the fullest way in the person of his son, Jesus Christ.

What did Jesus come for? To bring a message of hope and forgiveness, and to suffer and die for you and me and everyone else.

God the Father, who sent us Jesus, is your Father, too. You are his beloved daughter, and he only wants the best for you. He wants you to get to know him better.

I mention all this to give you a sense of what animates your friend’s faith. His faith has probably formed his character deeply. And you can judge for yourself the results.

So maybe that is a place to start. You admire your friend for being such a genuine person. Perhaps you might want to learn more about the faith that has shaped him. For Jesus said, “Every good tree bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:17).

For now, you might want to cultivate your friendship with this young man. Little by little you might want to bring up the questions and fears and wounds that are on your heart.

It sounds as though your friend is keen on keeping the relationship chaste. This shows his respect for your dignity as a woman.

Chastity is also an enormous help in giving the both of you the time and space you need to learn about each other as persons.

For more reading about the Catholic faith, you might find the Compendium of the Catechism helpful.

Helpful, too, could be the Youth Catechism, or YouCat.

I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.

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