I think that most people would agree that religion is a pretty important aspect of compatibility in marriage and in a relationship that’s heading toward marriage. At least a compatible spirituality is pretty important, even if two people would not call themselves “religious” exactly.
I mentioned already that the boyfriend I had in high school was not Catholic like me, and how this affected our relationship. Although that isn’t the direct reason it ended, it definitely played a part. This is not to say that a Catholic and a Protestant (or even a Catholic and a non-Christian) cannot live a happy married life together. My Dad was not Catholic (incidentally, he was Methodist, too) when he married my Mom. He ended up going through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) to become Catholic when I was in middle school, 14 years into their marriage. Obviously, my Dad was open to the idea of Catholicism on some level, even if it took him a while to open up to it completely.
For as long as I can remember, I have always considered myself a religious person. In Catholic grade school (K-8) I never really questioned what it was I was learning about God, the Church, and what it meant to be His child and a good person. I consider myself blessed to have never seriously struggled in having a personal relationship with my God through prayer and the Sacraments of the Church. When I entered public high school, I didn’t lose that relationship.
Throughout my high school years, I would talk to God about everything I had on my mind. I would write him letters in a prayer journal; putting my thoughts down on paper would also help me to relieve all of those super-important high school stresses ;-). My Confirmation in tenth grade brought me even closer to God and into a deeper love for Him. I began to read the Bible more and looked forward eagerly to the celebration of the Eucharist every Sunday. Still, I had never encountered any real opposition to my faith. It was not until college that I would be forced to think through and answer serious questions, both for myself and another.
As I’m sure you have figured out, this happened when I met and began dating Daniel early in my first year of college. He had been a Catholic like me, but had fallen into a very different spiritual state than I had ever dealt with myself. He doubted the sincerity and truth of the Church, the Bible, and formal religion in general. He questioned the goodness of our Creator and the trustworthiness of Christian tradition; at times, he would even consider the possibility that there is no God at all. Naturally, this concerned me, as I was forming a very strong attachment to him at this point. I worried about our relationship and prayed constantly that God would show me how to get through to him.
In the meantime, I was being forced to answer difficult questions for both him and myself as I would spend hours debating. I wanted nothing more than to be able to persuade the boy I was falling in love with that there was an even greater Love that he would have to know if our relationship was going to last. I researched, I prayed, I argued, and I waited. Throughout my freshman year, I discovered more than ever the importance of asking questions. Questioning my faith and analyzing it in such depth only brought me to an even deeper understanding and conviction that what I believed was true. I also learned the power and importance of prayer like never before as I watched God slowly soften Daniel’s heart and draw him back to Himself. Today, we pray and go to Mass together all the time, thankful that God was able to use our relationship to bring us both closer to Him.