Dear Dr. Love,I am hoping you are able to offer some good advice as I feel I am in the most difficult time of my life. I dated my girlfriend for approx 2 years. We had the most amazing relationship. Everyone, including ourselves, expected us to marry.The problem is that we have had one issue in our relationship. We are both Jewish but I am more religious than she is. She has compromised and does several things my way and she expects me to compromise too. I understand what she is saying but have found that I am not happy with myself when asked to do things a way that I do not believe is right. I broke up with her over this and we have tried, getting back together again several times,to resolve this over 7 months.It always ends with me saying I can’t do what she needs and be happy with myself.The problem is that I am torn. One the one hand I love her so much I can’t imagine living without her but on the other I don’t seem to be able to live with her also. When we first break up I feel that I am making the correct decision but within days miss her, and feel sickened to my stomach over the thought that she is going to live her life without me. I get upset thinking of her being as happy with someone else as she was with me. I want to constantly know everything she is doing. Although I am not depressed these thoughts are definitely interfering with my desire to work by making me apathetic. Please help. I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give as I have been unable to find resolve by reading many of the books in print. I love her so much and wish with all my heart that the religious issue did not exist between us.catch 22: can’t live with her, can’t live without her
I can understand why you can’t resolve your issue, especially not through compromise. You and your beloved are locked into what is called a value conflict–meaning that your values clash. Because values are an integral part of a person’s identify, they are by nature nonnegotiable. This explains why you can’t compromise on values. To do so would be like asking you to give up vital aspects of yourself and your identity.So, where does this leave you both?You are in an awful bind because you do love each other.The only chance for your relationship to survive is to accept that you have different values and not try to modify each other’s values. In other words, you will both need to be able to say that is her way this is mine. If you can accept these differences, you have a chance at making it together.If you cannot accept your different values, then you will not be able to make a life together, because, as I already explained, compromising is not an option–as you have already experienced.At this point, you both need to sit down and talk from this new perspective. Lay out your differences and examine whether or not you can accept each and every one. Then, study what the consequences will be of these differences. For example, will you need to worship in separate synagogues. How will you transmit your values to your children? Will you teach them both parents’ values and allow the children to decide?Flexibility, creativity and tolerance of differences are the traits that you will need to cultivate in order to make this relationship work.After you talk, let me know what you decide. Good luck, I hope you can come to an understanding.