Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Baptism issue must be resolved
Q: I got into a huge fight with my girlfriend a while back. She says if/when we have kids, she wants them baptized in the Anglican church. I was incredulous, because she has told me repeatedly that she is an agnostic, leaning toward atheist (as am I). Neither of us has been to church for years. I asked her why she possibly could want her children baptized if she didn't believe in it, and her responses varied from "Just to be safe" to "It will be so cute and my mother wants it."
I refused to be part of it. If my kids want to be baptized they can do it when they are old enough to make their own choices.
We eventually let the conversation drop, but this is weighing heavily on my mind as I decide whether to take this relationship further. Don't get me started on the church wedding she "has always dreamed of."
A: Context, context. How's her integrity in general? Are these exceptions, or does she often want things a certain way and then adapt her beliefs accordingly?
Working together is key to making relationship work
Q: She readily admits the contradictions, but doesn't want to back down. Part of it is pressure from her mother, whom she can't say no to, and her friends, who have had those dream weddings.
We've been dating 18 months and wouldn't get married for at least a few more years. And we have a great relationship otherwise — rarely fight, challenge each other (in a good way), have great adventures, share some interests, are willing to try the ones we don't share. She is a great friend and companion.
But, again, it's that next step that I don't know about. I've told her flat out that we have a lot of work to do if we want to get married someday, because we are both stubborn people who disagree on some of the big things you don't deal with in our current situation: finances, kids, etc. She agrees.
So the tricky part now is figuring out when to say "We're a great couple, but marriage isn't in the cards for us." Any advice on how to know when you've reached that point?
A: I see stubbornness as hindering both of you. All marriages are different, all people bring different advantages — but the thing that gets people to work together is that they work together.
Duh, you'd think, but I bet you can tick off five marriages that are strained by someone who doesn't budge: "He won't go to therapy," "She refuses to talk about it," "We've been having the same fight for years," you know the list. Stubbornness is immaturity wearing a veil of social acceptability. That's it. And immaturity kills marriages.
As it happens, your girlfriend has immaturity running around in two other costumes, as well — caving to Mama and wanting what all her friends have. So, yes, you two do have a long way to go.
But the distance to cover now is personal — you both need to make peace with who you are. That "point" you mention is all about feeling assured of when to stand firm, when to bend, and when being with someone simply bends you too far.