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Spirituality impeding pending engagement

Published February 25, 2013 11:15 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • My boyfriend of three years proposed to me 10 months ago. I wasn't ready; he's been patient. He's now eager to know one way or the other and neither of us wants to waste more time, but I am completely torn. I feel like he is my soul mate and we connect on an otherworldly level. But I hesitate to commit fully because I am religious and he does not want to participate, even for my sake. I am also very spiritual and have a hard time saying yes to a life where I know I will not grow and connect spiritually/religiously with my spouse. I've tried therapy, we've tried giving each other space, and we've tried living our lives together until I arrive at an eventual conclusion, none of which has worked. What now?

To Commit, or Not to Commit?

Dear To Commit • Since you've tried everything else, the only remaining choice is to leave for good — not "give each other space," but exit decisively enough for you both to start healing and building new lives without each other. For the sake of argument, though: You say, "we connect on an otherworldly level" — and then, "I know I will not grow and connect spiritually/religiously with my spouse." Which is it? "On an otherworldly level" and "spiritually" sound like the same connection to me.

Dear Carolyn • You are correct in equating "otherworldly" and "spiritual" connections. I think it boils down to two issues I can't get past: I feel like I am not getting the spiritual nourishment I need to deepen my faith and live a more fulfilling life, plus there's the prospect of being the only parent providing a religious example and education for future kids. But are those enough to end an otherwise wonderful relationship?

To Commit, or Not to Commit?

Dear To Commit • If he was raised in a church community and then encouraged to decide for himself, maybe he'd agree to the same for your kids. He'd need to figure out where conscientious child-rearing leaves off and faking it begins, but it's worth exploring. You'd also have to prepare for these someday kids to opt out of your beliefs, but every parent faces that prospect, with any belief.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.