Spiritual life is often important for people, and you may want to share yours with your boyfriend. If church is important to you, you can find ways to incorporate your boyfriend into your church life. However, be respectful of him and his identity -- don't turn your invite into something that alienates him. Let him know that you are asking because you want to share an important part of your life with him, and be willing to accept his answer, even if he says "no."
Find out your boyfriend's religious or spiritual identity and where he stands on issues such as religion or church. Even if he shares many of the same beliefs as you do, he may still be opposed to going to church. Margarita Tartakovsky, Associate Editor for "Psych Central," points out that discussing and discovering differences is important because it helps you to reduce assumptions and tackle problems early. When you know how he feels on the matter and when you understand his spiritual identity, you can better tailor your request to his identity and have a better chance of not offending him.
Evaluate and understand your own religious identity and your reasons for inviting him to church. This self-reflection allows you to be genuine and know whether you're asking out of a desire to share an important aspect of your life or whether you're trying to change your boyfriend. Knowing your own identity will also help you be clear in your approach, having confidence in what you want rather than worrying that your boyfriend might think you're trying to force him to fit into a religious identity.
Explain your perspective. Tell your boyfriend exactly where you're coming from. You may have learned from your self-reflection that you want him to come to church with you to get to know an important part of you, or you may feel that participating in spiritual activities together helps your relationship. Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist teaching at Rutgers University, is quoted in a "Huffington Post" article as stating that the male brain is more predisposed to goal-focused behavior, which can extend from romantic issues to everyday life. So, when inviting him, giving him a reason for why you'd like him to come may encourage him to do so because it gives him a specific purpose to focus on in accepting the invitation.
Be direct and assertive in how you ask, but give him a chance to say, "No." Do not give him an ultimatum. For instance, you can say "I'd like you to attend church with me this week," and add your reasons why, but do not add conditions such as "Or I will break up with/be mad at you." According to Amy Cuddy and her colleagues' research in a paper for the Harvard Business School, many men value independence and may see such a request as disrespectful if you try to force them to comply. By honoring your boyfriend's independence, you establish trust, an important element in romantic relationships, and let him know that he has the room to explore his own religious identity in your relationship.
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- Do not invite your boyfriend to church in an attempt to change him. Respect his identity instead of attempting to force him to be a different person.
S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.
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