How to Tell Catholic Parents You’re Moving in with Your Bofriend

Oh the joys of having well-meaning Catholic parents. I don’t have a problem with religion or parents trying to do what’s best for their child. Yet, every child reaches an age where they start to make their own decisions. Once you become a legal adult, move out of your parents house and experience the world, you may find yourself with opinions different from your parents. Cohabitation is strongly frowned upon in the Catholic church and for some reason the church likes to complain about that more than the number of homeless, sick and suffering. I’m not hear to judge though, I’m here to tell you what happened when I told my parents I was moving in with my boyfriend. Believe me, I Googled for advice when I first made this decision and I would like to add my two cents. Maybe my experience can give you some good ideas on how to tell your Catholic parents you want to move in with your boyfriend.

How to Tell Catholic Parents You're Moving in with Your Bofriend

Consider Your Unique Family Dynamic

The reason I specify boyfriend is because I feel men have an easier time with this transition. For whatever reason, families don’t seem to freak out as much when a son moves in with his girlfriend, but all hell breaks loose when the daughter moves in with her boyfriend. I was honestly petrified at the thought of telling my parents. My family has a history of ignoring any uncomfortable conversation and pretending issues don’t exist. If said uncomfortable conversation is attempted or brought into light, my family acts like it’s no big deal so we can quickly move on to a topic that isn’t so difficult.

That said, my father has a history of using fear to sway my decisions. When I was a teenager, he explained to me how getting pregnant would inevitably result in the divorce of my parents. This plan backfired and only succeeded in motivating me to create a runaway plan if I ever got pregnant. I figured my parents would be able to remain married in my absence easier than they would if I was pregnant. When I chose my major for college, my dad flipped, called journalists in the area to inquire about their salaries and swore up and down I’d end up in financial ruin with the major I chose. I could go on.

My point is, I knew my father would try to scare me out of this. He might even get people to call me and beg that I change my mind. I also knew that, just like every other time he tried to scare me out of something I wanted to do, I was going to move in with my boyfriend anyway. With this in mind, I decided to wait until my boyfriend and I had chosen a place and a move-in date before telling them.

The First Reaction May Not be the Reaction

With an apartment and move-in date chosen, my shaking hands made the phone call. I almost wanted to wait until my boyfriend and I signed the lease, but I felt like that would hurt them more. No, I had made my decision. I was not going to be swayed. It was time to make the phone call.

Of course, I called my mom because I knew she would be the most understanding. She didn’t sound thrilled, but said she assumed this would happen eventually. I was going to let her tell my father, but he came home during our conversation. We talked about my apartment choice and all the typical moving things. When I got off the phone with them, I was feeling pretty well. They took the news better than I expected.

That was not their true reactions, though, at least where my father is concerned. When my boyfriend and I went to visit for east, only two weeks after our move, my father was very aloof. He spoke hardly a word to me and no words to my boyfriend unless he had to. Every few minutes, he’d let out a loud, long sigh. He was not okay with the situation.

Be prepared for comments. My father made a comment about not letting go of something his father gave him (even though no one suggested he do so) just so he could say he’d never dishonor his father that way, at least not while he’s alive. That was definitely a jab meant for me. He also made a comment that I might lose health insurance by living with my boyfriend. That is only true if he decides to remove me from his health insurance. He’s within his freedom to do so, but I’m not convinced my mom will let him.

Two things strike me as important about all this. The first and most important is that I had to be 100% sure about my decision before letting anyone know. The second is that I had to be prepared for my father or parents to disown me. That’s the worst that can happen and if you think your parents are capable of that reaction, make sure you’re prepared for it. Now, if my parents disowned me, it would break my heart, but it wouldn’t sway me. Even now, as I think of the silent treatment my father gave me over Easter, I don’t think I am at risk of losing a father. That is my decision and I will always regard him as my father. But, if he wants to lose a daughter, and ignore me for the rest of his life, that is on him.

So, how should you tell your Catholic parents you’re moving in with your boyfriend? I would say you should think long and hard about your parents, how they have historically reacted to you acting against their wishes and the best way to cause the least harm to your relationship with them. You deserve to live a life that makes you fulfilled and happy. If moving in with your boyfriend does that for you, go for it. I haven’t regretted my decision a single day. Your family will always be yours, though. No matter what, they are important and precious, so try to guide them peacefully into this as possible.

What if your parents were Catholic? How would you tell them you’re moving in  with your lover? Would you take your parents feelings into consideration when making you decision? If you thought your parents might disown you as their child if you move in with your lover, would you still do it?


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13 thoughts on “How to Tell Catholic Parents You’re Moving in with Your Bofriend”

  1. I’m sorry that your relationship with your father is strained at present while he tussles with the understanding that you are an independent adult capable of making your own decision based on your own values. I hope he can reach a place of tolerance and then acceptance. I imagine it’s hard to go from rigid thinking about social rules to accepting that some people live life differently.

    My parents suck in many ways but one of their strengths is that they’ve always treated us as individuals and have accepted that we make independent choices once we are operating independently of them. My parents are also very liberal and tolerant which helps. My husband’s parents, however, were a little more like yours and not best pleased when he and I moved in together at 18. We were forbidden from revealing to anyone they knew that we were living together but that at least I suppose was as far as their disapproval extended.

    I hope you will report back about how your situation progresses and I very much hope it’s the case that your father accepts and respects your choices.

    1. I think they’ll get used to it. After my boyfriend broke his foot – he broke it on Easter – my father was much kinder. I even had a long conversation with him over the phone the other day. I think he just needed to pout for a bit to get his feelings out.

  2. “Two things strike me as important about all this. The first and most important is that I had to be 100% sure about my decision before letting anyone know. The second is that I had to be prepared for my father or parents to disown me. That’s the worst that can happen and if you think your parents are capable of that reaction, make sure you’re prepared for it. Now, if my parents disowned me, it would break my heart, but it wouldn’t sway me.”

    Very good information here. You must be 100% sure about something before you are prepared to endure the worst possible outcome. In this post, you were telling your parents you moved in with your boyfriend. However, the same logic could apply to any major life change that you know others won’t approve of.

    1. Very true. They say with high risk comes reward, but also the chance of failure. I always think it’s good to have some kind of plan if failure is the result. Even if your only plan is to accept failure and move on.

  3. Or you could just avoid the whole thing and move into an apartment in the same building and just never sleep there. This plan worked fine for the two years before my wife and I married. Of course that was 31 years ago! Things might not work the same any more…

    1. We’d been living near each other for years, but it didn’t make financial sense anymore. I suppose that could have been a plan, but it wouldn’t have made me happy. I was ready for this step. Now that we’ve lived together for a month, I’m more confident than ever this was the right thing to do for our relationship. Thatdoesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Every relationship is different. I actually have a friend who followed your idea, though it appeared to me they may as well have lived together because they were always together and slept together at night.

  4. I think this is a unique situation. There is an African byword that says: ” What the elders see when seated, a child cannot see even when on top of the highest mountain.” Let me explain.

    Regarding your choice of career, I think open communication would have solve that problem. By that, I mean you should have explained to your father how writing stories makes you happy and fulfilled and that it’s not all about the money. I think he will not have disapproved of it then. Sometimes parents want to be sure this is what their children really want before committing their resources.

    Your father may not be perfect but he, from experience, sees something that you are not seeing. The problem is not about sharing you life with another man, the problem has to do with how exactly you went about it – unceremoniously. I would have been even more aloof and your father is a good man to keep you on his insurance.

    Let’s think of it from another perspective and I am not doubting your boyfriend’s love for you; but if this guy really wants and values you, he should be willing to do a little mini-wedding. Even if it has to be only ten people (from both families) – something symbolic of your union before you move in. Unless you already have solid plans to marry asap.

    It’s possible you love each other deeply but I think, by your methods, you are making a mistake. Anything can happen later. According to poet Heine, “Matrimony is the high sea for which no compass has yet been invented.” Please let the guy play by the rules. You are so pretty (sincerely).

    1. Believe me, I tried telling him about all the different careers I could have with a journalism major and what makes me happy. He’s just not the type to accept that. He’s more of a “my opinion is the only correct opinion” kind of guy.

      I appreciate your opinion and my father’s, but I must make the decision right for me at the end of the day. Anything can happen after marriage, too. It’s not a guarantee. But I am not saying my way is the only way. Every relationship is different and what works for mine may not work for everyone. I’ve seen people marry in less than a year and live happy lives and people marry after 10 years do the same. I’ve seen people who don’t believe in marriage go on to creating a happy, healthy family with their partner. It is my opinion that the right path for a relationship is as unique as the people involved.

      1. No matter how unique one’s relationship may be there are always some standard procedures to abide by. Your decision may seem right today, but it may not be right for the next 25 years to come. Anyway that’s just an opinion. I may be wrong.

  5. Good for you! It’s always hard telling family members something that they might not agree with. Whether your decision is right or wrong in anyones eyes doesn’t change the fact that it’s your decision. If you feel like you made the right choice, and it seems like you do, then it was the right choice.

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