Q: When my boyfriend and I started dating, our relationship was totally God-centered and it was amazing. Then we started getting more physical and God slowly started going away from our relationship. We went to Confession and promised to be pure, but we keep falling back into temptation. How do you take a relationship that has fallen away from God and has gotten way too physical, and get it back to a pure, holy, Christ-centered one?
A: Choosing to center your relationship on Christ is going to bring you the most peace and lasting happiness. I’m glad that you want more for yourself than to settle for falling into a pattern of sin.
Sometimes we, as Catholics, think going to Confession and promising it (our sin) won’t happen again will magically give us the power to stop sinning. While Confession is a great start, it is just that – a starting place. God gives us grace to continue moving forward, He offers us help to avoid sin, and we have to do our part to follow His path to holiness.
Here are some suggestions to refocus your relationship, to make it Christ-centered:
- Make prayer (your times of talking and listening to God) a priority. You need Jesus by your side; daily prayer is essential. Spending more time in adoration and frequent participation in Mass are really helpful. The more we make prayer a habit throughout the day, the more easily we recall Jesus’ presence during times of temptation or trial.
- Decide if you can actually be around your boyfriend and not fall into temptation. If the answer is no, then you simply cannot spend time with him. Period. I know that is hard, but you have to respect yourself. You have to protect your soul! True love wants the best for the other. If you’re not bringing each other closer to God and instead you’re leading each another to sin… then you need to separate.
- Set boundaries for your relationship. If you feel that this is the man that God is calling you to marry (which is the purpose of dating), you need to put Christ back at the center of your relationship now. Talk with your boyfriend and let him know you must set up new boundaries. These boundaries will help you love one another without regrets. If your relationship doesn’t work without the physical intimacy, then it’s not the right relationship for you! Start today – no more time alone in private places where you could fall into sin. Check out some of the sweet things Brian did for me on our dates, and check out this great date idea to help you avoid impurity.
- Continue to go to Confession. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not only a great starting point, it’s an endless source of grace and blessing for your soul that you should be frequenting. Going to Confession on a regular basis will help you stay accountable. It will also fill you with God’s mercy, love, and grace. Return to Confession again and let God remind you of how loved you are.
- Honestly acknowledge the places, situations, and environments that have become near occasions of sin for you. Then continue forward with the concrete steps of living out the Act of Contrition where you say, “I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.” As you make the decision to really avoid these occasions of sin – even putting yourself at times in an awkward position where you say, “I have to leave this place now,” you will find that God will reward your faithfulness. You will feel peace and freedom in choosing to follow God’s will for you.
- Choose a saint to pray for your relationship. Frequently ask this saint to help protect and guide your purity and your vocation.
Remember that God wants your happiness even more than you do. Do not be afraid to trust Him.
Do you have a question about dating and relationships you’d like to ask Brian and Courtney Kissinger? Email them at [email protected] and your question could be the next blog post!