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alex596

I am a non-Mormon dating a Mormon who will be on her mission by the end of the year

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I have been dating a lovely Girl who is part of the church for just over 6 months now. There is no doubt in my mind, at this point, that I love her and she loves me. However she has just sent her mission papers away and will be getting her call within the next 3-4 weeks.
This isn't news to me, although I didn't know she was planning on going on a mission until 1-2 months after we started dating. However, I have known this was coming and that by the end of the year, she will be out of contact completely for 18 months.
This scares me to death.
I want to spend the rest of my life with this person, however I'm worried that her being away for so long and being totally focused on her religion and her mission, is going to end up with me getting left by the wayside.

To clarify, although I am not part of the church and have no intention of becoming so, I have the utmost respect for what she believes and have been supportive of her choice to go on a mission since I found out about it; I think that what she is going to do is a wonderful thing.

I understand that her focus should, and will, be completely on her mission leading up to her leaving, and that will help her to put the fact we will be apart out of her mind. But that doesn't make me any less scared that things aren't going to be different when she get's back. I think it goes without saying that an awful lot can change in a person's mind in 18 months.

I'm in two minds as to whether I should just try and move on once she has left or whether waiting for her is the right thing to do. We've tried talking about it, but none of us can really come to a conclusion and just want to spend the little time we have left together enjoying our relationship.

I feel like this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and I can't bare the though of losing her.
I've come here for an outside perspective on the situation so any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you

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As hard as it may be for you, it isn't just about you.  Sounds like she has chosen to serve a mission.  Making this kind of commitment isn't something done without a lot of thought and prayer.

 

And as hard as it may be for you, unfortunately you need to let her do this.  Let her be focused on what she needs to do out in the mission field.  Love her enough to let her go.  I know rather cliche but it fits here.  If when she comes back and you two reconnect, well there you have it.

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Alex592,

 

When talking to members who find themselves in this position I tend to give a certain set piece of advice.  I see no reason why this advice should not also apply to non-members.

 

Let her go and don't wait.  She is going to(should) have 18 months of in intense growth.  She will be a different person (hopefully better) when she gets back.  You need to need to spend that time living and growing as well.  Go out and live your life while she is gone.

 

If when she gets back the two of you want to try to reconnect that is fine, you can get to know the new her and she can get to know the new you.  

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Alex, I know this is difficult. I'm sorry about that. I do agree with the others that you need to support here in doing this, it will be a great experience for her. And you should date while she is gone, If you are still available when she gets back, you can see how things go from there.

I also wanted to remind you she won't be "completely out of contact". She can write letters and emails weekly and receive them. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but as a missionary mom, I cam tell you it's better than nothing. :)

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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So, do you think she'll grow out of this 'religion thing' she's got going on and hope she'll return to normal when she gets back? Or will you be her 'project'? People go on missions to convert non-believers into believers. Do you expect that she will just give up on the values she will be espousing for the next 18 months when she gets back, just to be with you?

 

Unfortunately, I've seen these kinds of situations where a missionary comes home and gets married to a person who is not a member of the church or is not as committed to living it as much as they are. Quite frankly, in many instances the former missionary ends up a few years later regretting the decision to marry the non-believer, even though they may still love that person very much. There are ordinances and experiences that they wish they could share with their spouse that they will never experience in this life. If there are children, the non-believer spouse will not be able to fully engage in baptisms, confirmations, endowments, sealings, etc., or will not be able to participate in at all. Does the non-believer expect the believer to give those things up for him/her? Is it fair to the believer to have a spouse who is never 'evenly-yoked' to them for the rest of their lives?

 

I know this comes across as pretty harsh, but sometimes reality is not what we fantacized about before we enter into these kinds of things. Most non-believers don't realize the pain they put the believing spouse through when they think that their love is bigger than deeply-held spiritual beliefs, and that everything will end up rosy. A deeply religious person who ends up being married to a not-so-religious person or one whose beliefs differ from their own generally winds up being hurt by the failure of the spouse to choose to live the same life as they desire to have. So I ask again: is it fair to her to ask her to give up her deeply-held beliefs just to be with you? Or do you think that maybe you could put a little effort into seeing if her religion is something you might enjoy being a part of?

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Alex596,

 

For what it's worth, you are far from the first person to be worried about this.  My own sister was up in arms about her boyfriend leaving on a mission (and my sister is Mormon, so understands the culture).  It's great that you're so supportive of your girl friend.  A couple points of advice--

 

*  If you truly believe a person is "the one" and that the two of you are supposed to be together forever, what is so terrible of waiting 18 months more?  Especially if one is young (early 20's) and still have maturity growth to go through anyways (a mission will help with that).

*  A mission is a period of growth, both for you and the missionary.  Try to stifle that growth by living in a time-capsle.  Ie, go live your life!  Do things, learn new skills, meet new people, maybe even date ;).  These are great things.

*  No, your missionary friend will not be on Facebook 24/7, but they still email every week.  That's hardly no contact and you'll see the growth the missionary has: the tears, the triumphs, and the wisdom.  

 

General note's about non-Mormon/Mormon dating, as a person who's married to a non-member myself.  A relationship with Jesus is not a hobby you do on the weekends, but rather it is something that incorporates your whole soul.  That is something you'll need to understand on a VERY deep level for the relationship to be long-term.

Edited by Jane_Doe

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And as a counterpoint to John Doe...

I was devout Catholic when my Mormon husband asked me to marry him. He knew what he was getting in to, I knew what I was getting into, I said yes without hesitation and we got married one week later. That was 17 years ago. My husband and I are more in love today than we were then.

And then there was this die-hard Mormon who married another die-hard Mormon... they were so dedicated to their faith that they held leadership positions in the Church. 4 kids later, they got a bitter divorce... and kids left the church. All of them.

So... why is one working and the other broken?

Marriage is a lot more than I'm Mormon, he's not Mormon.

Anyway... when she gets off her mission and she still chooses to marry you - she would know what she's getting into and so should you. So, if you want to marry her, you got 18 years to study and learn about everything you'd be getting into. And yes, you can't put your life on pause waiting those 18 months. There is much to do and learn and prepare and achieve in the next 2 years.

Edited by anatess

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I dunno. That's like using the, "My Grandpa smoked 5 packs a day and lived 'til he was 100. My neighbor didn't smoke, ate right and exercised and died of cancer at 40" reasoning to not bother taking care of oneself or refrain from smoking, etc...

 

Sure. There are same-faith marriages that fail. There are interfaith marriages that work out. That doesn't make it, generally, a good idea.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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I dunno. That's like using the, "My Grandpa smoked 5 packs a day and lived 'til he was 100. My neighbor didn't smoke, ate right and exercised and died of cancer at 40" reasoning to not bother taking care of oneself or refrain from smoking, etc...

 

Sure. There are same-faith marriages that fail. There are interfaith marriages that work out. That doesn't make it, generally, a good idea.

The point is... it is A LOT MORE than smoking versus exercising. If you understand what that LOT MORE is... then you can make it work. Interestingly, this has the same echo of that "discernment" I was talking about in the Stranger Danger thread - just blankly saying - Stranger - he's a danger - is the same as just blankly saying - He's not a stranger - he's good!

And this is all related to - I'm Asian, my husband is American and I make good money, my husband is a struggling student, I'm independent, my husband is die-hard Republican... etc. etc.

Is it better if I would have married an Asian, well-off, independent, Catholic? Yes, of course! But I didn't because I would rather make this important covenant with an American, poor, Republican Mormon who I know for sure is an upstanding, respectful, righteous, God-loving guy who shares the exact same understanding as I do of what a Marriage means (divorce is not an option for a Catholic) and who chose to marry me.

Edited by anatess

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Look at it as a period of growth and not something detracting from your relationship.

 

Even after marriage, circumstances have led for my spouse and I to be separated for the benefit of the progression of our family. I in no way mean separated like a preamble for divorice. I mean we had to take jobs in different cities.We knew it was temporary and it was the best thing to do at the time. No regrets. Sure, it was difficult, but they were periods of growth.

 

This will be a great time for you work on your spiritual and personal growth as well.

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I think that deliberately eschewing other dating opportunities because you're waiting for a missionary is, in general, a bad idea.  Two people who want each other when they're eighteen, may not find themselves on the same life path by the time they're twenty, even if they are followers of the same religion.  And, if I may be blunt:  Those problems are exacerbated when the person doing the waiting is not a Mormon. 

 

As you've probably seen here, Mormonism does have a very strong (not universal, but prevalent) subcultural belief that it is generally preferable to date and marry other Mormons.  Your girlfriend, as a missionary, is going to be immersed in that subculture for a year and a half.  Certainly there's nothing wrong with keeping in touch with your girlfriend and hoping that you can rekindle a relationship when she comes back; but I would keep my options open and avoid hitching my wagon to the idea of a marriage with this particular girl.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I think that deliberately eschewing other dating opportunities because you're waiting for a missionary is, in general, a bad idea.  Two people who want each other when they're eighteen, may not find themselves on the same life path by the time they're twenty, even if they are followers of the same religion.  And, if I may be blunt:  Those problems are exacerbated when the person doing the waiting is not a Mormon. 

 

As you've probably seen here, Mormonism does have a very strong (not universal, but prevalent) subcultural belief that it is generally preferable to date and marry other Mormons.  Your girlfriend, as a missionary, is going to be immersed in that subculture for a year and a half.  Certainly there's nothing wrong with keeping in touch with your girlfriend and hoping that you can rekindle a relationship when she comes back; but I would keep my options open and avoid hitching my wagon to the idea of a marriage with this particular girl.

The whole of what JAG says here is great.

I bolded a sentence to explain why that is:

This is not just a subcultural belief but rooted in the doctrine of Exaltation. Basically, we believe that to attain the highest level of exaltation we need an Eternal Companion sealed to us through an Eternal Marriage which is the foundation of Eternal Families.

Marrying somebody who is not Mormon is basically having to accept before we even got a chance to marry, that we may not qualify for that highest level of exaltation because we can't seal an un-believer to an Eternal Marriage.

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I'm sure there is a part of you that would like her to not go.  That is normal, but I would strongly urge you to not listen to that.  You will harm the relationship trying to do that, and even if you talk her out of it she would likely wind up resenting you for robbing her of the experience.

 

Usually the best plan is to agree that the romantic relationship ends when she goes, no hard feelings.  Then keep touch via letters/email as friends and if you still happen to be single when she gets back then reconnect and see how things go from there. 

 

If that doesn't sit well with you than ask yourself: if you knew that waiting for her would end with the two of you getting married in a couple of years, would you consider it worth it to wait, are you willing to pay that price to become her husband?  And would she be OK with things turning out like that too?   If so, then focus on how to make things happen that way and have faith that if it doesn't work out, it will be because it wasn't supposed to be and somebody else will come along some day that will make you glad it didn't work out.

 

If you wait, you can write/email each other, send her care packages etc. so while you are not courting her you can still keep the relationship going.  You can be a partner with her in her mission by giving her encouragement and support and in return sharing in her experiences as she writes to you about them.  Yes it will change her (for the better), it can change you too and become a bonding experience if you handle it right.

 

She is not going to be dating, it's against mission rules, so baring some love at first sight miracle you can pretty much count on her not finding a new boyfriend while she is away.  As for you, you will need a clear understanding of what she is and is not OK with.  Is she OK with you dating other girls, holding hands, dancing, kissing, etc.  Where is the line between what she is OK with you doing, and what she will see as cheating on her?  If you got into a new relationship, at what point would she want you to send her a Dear Jane letter?  When the relationship becomes a romantic one, when it gets to the point of kissing, when you get engaged?  Even when you don't intend or expect to fall for somebody else, the rules should still be clear at the start.

 

I had met my future wife two years before my mission and I knew from the first night she was the one but she didn't know that.  When I left, I told her it was OK to date other guys while I was away to see if she could find somebody she would rather be with.  She dated a bunch of different guys, one of them got very serious about her but she didn't feel that for him.  Her letters helped me through some hard times and helped me be a better missionary than I would be without her.  I never wished I was back with her, I wished she could be there with me to share it even more. By the time I got back she knew I was the one for her and we married.  That doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.

 

If you wait, when you write her don't tell her about any dating you do.  Even if she is OK with it, hearing about it is an unwelcome distraction. 

 

Second, understand that one thing that may change is her desire/commitment to be married in a LDS Temple, where a marriage is for 'time and all eternity' rather than 'till death do you part'.  As a non-Mormon you can't enter a LDS Temple, and I'm sure that if it hasn't happened already that you will get some gentle (or not so gentle) pressure to take the missionary discussions yourself and join the church.  You may be tempted to go ahead with that as a means of advancing your relationship with her.  Go ahead and take the discussions if you want, but DON"T YOU DARE join the church as a relationship tactic.  If you are going to join the church, do it because you really know for yourself that it is true, and that even if she dumps you that you will stick with the church.

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Rough situation OP. My girl "waited" for me. Except she dated... a ton. Which was great for her. I guess you could say she didn't wait, she was just... available when I got back. I had to chase guys off left and right. 

 

I agree with those that say she will return a different person, but not in a bad way. For the most part she will have a deeper faith, deeper commitment, more love and kindness and a resolve to practice what she has taught so many people over the years. 

 

You should date, try to become a better man to become a better husband. Try to elevate yourself, as she will be doing, to be a better follower of Christ - no matter what your religious beliefs. The teachings of Christ are for all, even those that may or may not believe in him. 

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