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.
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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