Chapel of Optimal Life

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ADVICE: Dear Angel

I have met Ethan, the man of my dreams. He is everything I have dreamed of since I was a little girl. Trouble is, he a nominal Catholic and I am a nominal Protestant.

Ethan was raised Catholic in a fully Catholic family. One first cousin is a priest. Though no black sheep, after Ethan left home he has only attended Mass when he is with his family. He thinks of himself as a Catholic and lists that denomination on anything official but he isn't strongly into it.

You did say he was the man of your dreams, not the person of your dreams and he certainly sounds like a man, but hopefully he will get with the program and that paternal instinct will kick in and he'll become Daddy Perfect.

Ethan and I agree on all the most divisive issues between the religions but he wants his kids raised Catholic because, he says, he was and he thinks it made him the spectacular guy (my words) that he is today. I feel he doesn't want to face his family if he marries a Protestant and allows the heathen witch to raise his children as anything but full on, strict Catholics. They are having a difficult time as it is because I am not converting.

My mother was a free thinking Congregationalist and my father was raised Church of England Episcopalian. They had agreed before their marriage that any children they had would be raised, for the first ten years or so with one year at the Congo, one year at the Church of England. Both my brother (younger) and I did just that. At ten we were allowed to make our choice. My brother chose Church of England and I chose not to go near a church except for special occasions.

If my husband to be and I have children, I would like to do the same thing with our children, which means I'll have to attend Congo regularly every other year, during which time I would do everything I can to make it a fun and educational experience for my children.

Perfect Ethan is not so perfect at this point, because he is actually pretty lapsed at this point and he wants me, his wife, to bring the children, all the time, to Mass. He doesn't want to have to go. Even every other year.

I have said I would make the great 'sacrifice' and take the kids 'regularly' to a Congo or non denominationally Protestant church. Thinking of his family I am sure, he breaks into a cold sweat at that one and balks.

We are at a complete impasse.

Any compromises you can think of?

Any way to pass happily over this hurdle?

Easy Does It

Dear Easy,

I think you have been pretty accommodative at this point and Ethan should get off the dime and give a little, too. It sounds to me like Ethan may have had some bad experiences in church, not necessarily the one in the news but something as ordinary as a sarcastic priest. So many things can be traumatic for a lifetime, it is best not to push this seemingly immovable rock.

I can think of two compromises that might break the logjam.

One would be to get the grandparents to make the commitment to take the kids every other year to their respective churches. Your parents could go six months each during their year.

If this is impractical because the parents live too far away or they refuse to compromise or it is too much commitment for them, then I suggest that you and Ethan get up every Sunday, no shaving, no hair curling, casual clothes, and do the All American Drop Off.

One year of driving to 'his' church and one of driving to yours, drop them off and then come back and pick them up. It will be a good bonding experience for your little family.

Or one can deliver and one can pick up.

If he feels he can make this incredible sacrifice for his own family and kids and with his own wife, then write it out and both sign it. This a strict maternal type of thing or a strict religionist type of thing and he sounds like neither so he may sign and then slack off badly. You could either continue doing your year to your church choice and taking time off every other year or pick up his slack and do both or take them to your choice every year and occasionally go with them or....

You did say he was the man of your dreams, not the person of your dreams and he certainly sounds like a man, but hopefully he will get with the program and that paternal instinct will kick in and he'll become Daddy Perfect.

Here's hoping,




Some More Advice On Life From Kids


1. When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.(Melissa, age 11)

2. Never allow your 3-year-old brother in the same room as your school assignment. (Ann, age 14)

3. Don't sneeze in front of mom when you're eating crackers.(Mitchell, age 12)

4. Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a Tic-Tac.(Andrew, age 9)

5. Never hold a dust-buster and a cat at the same time. (Ramona,age 9)

6. You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. (Joey,age 10)

7. Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts. (Kelly, age 11)

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