Unmarried and vacationing...common question, different answers.
#1
It's going to be two weeks that I have been thinking about this and I have to make a decision ASAP.  As in tomorrow or the next day.

What are your thoughts about non-married couples traveling together?  It's a commonly discussed question in Christian or Catholic circles if you Google it but what do you people think here?

The general agreement is that this is a bad idea for many reasons.  Firstly and most importantly, it is conducive to putting oneself in a near occasion of sin.  When we are in unfamiliar environments, we are more liable to temptation.  Secondly, unmarried couples shouldn't be going around and engaging in activities or privileges reserved for married couples.  Thirdly, there is the matter of reputation.  The general presumption is that a couple vacationing together are sleeping together.  This is not a good reflection of our dedication to Church social teachings or being good ambassadors of the faith.  Overall, I can't say that I disagree with any of these arguments.

The usual solution is to wait until marriage and do these kinds of activities (the vacationing..) once a couple a married.  O.K., I follow that argument too.

But my situation is a little different.  I have a very small window where I will be able to travel internationally.  After that, it may be years before I could even entertain the thought.  Even if I hypothetically got married soon, this problem of an inability to travel would remain.  Would it be equally sinful for me to travel with my boyfriend?  I know that relationships are meant to be working towards marriage and not putting each other in the opportunity to sin.  On the other hand, I know that we can't be bending moral guidelines because someone has peculiar circumstances.

Solutions have been offered from other sources so I'll go through them to show I have thought about this one by one.
Travel with family: Well, he has no family to chaperon so that would leave my family.  My parents are saving their vacation time from work for my out-of-town medical appointments approaching in the autumn.  My brother and his wife have two small children; his wife wouldn't dare set foot ever in Russia (she's a Canadian), plus, she would need a visa.
Travel with friends: I don't know any of my friends that would be interested in joining us.  There is also the issue that they would need a visa as well = time problem.  His friends are in similar situations; they either aren't sold on the destination, need a visa or want a private vacation with their own g/f, spouse, etc.
Travel with another couple: I don't know any couple that would go with us.  See above response from his friends.  Couples apparently want romantic destinations and apparently, this is not romantic.  I'm sure if we said Mexico, Mediterranean, France or the Caribbean, we'd have takers.  But then, how does one have a modest vacation in some of those locales?

Having separate rooms, or even separate hotels, apparently isn't considered enough of a barrier according to responses to similar questions online.

I'm not going to bother my priest with such a silly question.  My parents think the trip is a bad idea.  As they said, couples don't go away together and things don't happen, be realistic.  They said to be even more realistic with my boyfriend and his obvious past moral transgressions.  In the end, they said I am a grown woman, can make my own decisions, will have to deal with my own guilt, conscience and God.  A week or two is a lot of time to sin and cross lines.  I know right now I can say I am dedicated to retaining whatever virtue I have but other answers to similar questions say we cannot rely on own our judgement in such cases.

I have to decide ASAP what to do because all the hotels in Suzdal seem to be booked (weekend of cucumber festival) and only one has rooms.  There are even little icons in the hotel room (a red corner) so that's a nice touch.  The Golden Ring has many churches as it is composed of ancient towns that have a lot of Orthodox history.  (Good for my boyfriend, I guess.)  As well, he said as long as we are in the region, we could make a trip to see his father...which I have to admit, I am curious to do.  I really don't know what to do.  I want to live according to God's law but I don't want to regret on passing opportunities when I may not have the chance in the future.  What do you do? 
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#2
Zubr, that's a hard one!  I will be honest and say I think you and Lug might cross some lines.  Which ones and how severely, I don't know.  But we are talking about a lot of opportunity to sin without anyone really knowing.  The problem is the lack of boundaries and freedom  created by an extended trip.  It puts Lug at a huge advantage to push things if he chooses.  If it were me, I wouldn't do the trip unless you were engaged and going specifically to meet family.  Then again, it's not me . . .  And when I met Pilgrim, I lacked the moral fortitude to make wise choices (heck, nobody even mentioned chastity as an option!  I was sent off to school with a massive bag of condoms from a very liberal mother).  You were taught differently than I was.  Perhaps I'm coming to this with my own sinful past in mind. 
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#3
I agree with everything you said, really.  That's why I am so conflicted over the whole situation.  It's probably really naive of me to think a cucumber day full of people dressed like the plant, and older traditional people, mixed with families, is a really asexual excursion.  It's the other days and all the other time that really, anything could happen.  Conversely, I struggle that I want us to have a good grouping of memories before things get strange around here.  As well, I don't know when I will get the opportunity to meet his father again.  So, there are pros and cons.

Everyone already thinks we're sleeping together because apparently, once you see someone for over 2 weeks, it's an automatic assumption.  :eyeroll: Once they find out otherwise, there is ridicule, 'he must be gay or have HIV' or I'm frigid.  :eyeroll:  So, chastity has been a big thing: I remember my parents leaving prayer cards in all kinds of strange places.  They still do.  :LOL:  Besides, my mother and father would be the first to slut shame me beyond infinity.  It's a strange world.  And I want to do is look at some cathedrals and vegetables.  I wish the physical and spiritual world weren't so hard to handle.
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#4
Zubr,

Well, I suppose put that way a cucumber is a bit phallic nature . . .    :LOL:  I really didn't see the cucumber festival as anything but a fun, slightly odd festival.  It's a little like goat races in the south of France.  :) 

I really don't think the problem is the activities you have planned or your intentions.  It's just that intentions fall apart sometimes when there's someone we care for a great deal.  I've watched you move from cautious optimism to figuring out how to share your faith and invite him to mass, to exuberant philosophical debates and second guessing that same conversation, to religious concerns, and now a trip out of town.  There are a lot of ups and down here and a lot of uncertainty.  Now, normal relationships of course have those ups and downs and a certain degree of uncertainty, but you are talking about a major trip abroad with a man that you still harbor some concerns about.  In the jumble of all these emotions, is there a possible misstep?  Of course.  By the time I started traveling with Pilgrim, I knew he was the man I would marry; I had no doubts and neither did he.  I was also taking him to visit with my family, and I should mention that it didn't go at all well.

Chastity is a beautiful thing and can strengthen a relationship.  Is that what he has in mind?  Are you sure?  Is it possible that away from home, he might push things a bit?  In the moment, can you guarantee your reaction?  With Pilgrim, I couldn't . . .  Will this trip be a near occasion of sin?  I think anyone would tell you it very likely is a near occasion of sin and perhaps a source of scandal and confrontation in your relationships with family.  Is that really a road you want to travel?  I guarantee the recriminations will be painful when you get home . . .  Is it worth all of that? 

What do you mean by "before things get strange around here"?  Do you mean his flirtation with nationalism and Orthodoxy?  Or is your health the major concern?  If health is the issue, I would caution you that going through the next progression in your illness will require support from family - and a lot of it; I think it might be imprudent to create tension in those relationships you need most.  After all, is Lug going to be there and take you to appointments, sit with you in the hospital, and all that?  Has your relationship hit that point?  Are you sure?

Since there are so many issues and so many questions unanswered at this point, wouldn't it be better to decline and plan some nice memories closer to home?  It's what I would tell my own daughter to do.  Then again, I would also step back and leave her to make her own choices; as an adult, you have both that right and the sometimes horrible necessity of accepting the consequences of your actions. 

HUGS and prayers for you both.  Whatever your decision, you will continue to be in my prayers.

Fontevrault
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#5
Back in the good old days when youngsters were making the grand tour, they would have a chaperone such as an aged aunty. Do you have one or someone that could stand in for one? It would be a shame to pass up this opportunity, but it does sound like it could be problematic for you.
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#6
(06-27-2016, 02:08 PM)majellan Wrote: Back in the good old days when youngsters were making the grand tour, they would have a chaperone such as an aged aunty. Do you have one or someone that could stand in for one? It would be a shame to pass up this opportunity, but it does sound like it could be problematic for you.
I do have aunts and uncles that could step in.  And they are the type that would break up anything quick.  :LOL:

Oh Fontevrault, you are like everyone's net-mom.  :)

Ha ha ha, one would think a cucumber festival would have some kind of phallic element but the way it’s done, with cucumbers as little people, it’s more like a cannibal festival.  (In my eyes!  :jester: ) 

Again, all of your advice is excellent, sound and provides a lot of food for thought.  I am siding on simply not going at all or going by myself, buying some cucumber dolls and then seeing my family.  That way, I have my trip before it becomes impossible and I am removing the near occasion of sin from the situation.  He went away by himself for his own vacation so it would be a similar situation.  Or, I could get a big auntie to lay down the law... 

Yes, it is absolutely obvious I still have lingering questions about this man.  It’s probably because I overthink things.  He doesn’t owe me any explanations about his past unless they come into direct conflict with our future.  It is still really early in the relationship but he understands that I am not messing around here.  Meaning, I am not going to be free with my body or my mind to simply have a man around or date.  The goal is marriage but I am not pressuring him.  Without sounding like a hormone hysterics woman blinded by a pretty face, he is the man that I want to marry.  It seems early to make such a declaration but I just know.  Marriage is a beautiful sacrament and vocation so this is nothing I say lightly.  But I completely agree and understand shared vacations are for these kind of relationships.

Now, to quote him, and not to toot my own horn, he thinks he found someone really special.  He still believes my parents kept me in a cage.  :crazy:  He’s said I’m the girl he wants to marry but… and there is always a but, he needs to mull some things over first.  One, he says it is much too early and we need to see how each other handles hardship together first.  Second, my illness scares him.  When we just hang out and do average everyday things, it’s not something that comes up.  But, he has concerns about how he will handle it if things change.  He admitted he never had responsibility to someone before (he’s had relationships but they were physically based) so being a husband is quite daunting.  And, his parents were never married (shacked up as he likes to say) so he doesn't know how to picture a healthy marriage.  He believes joining a church will help in answering a lot of life questions.  It sounds so simple but he's not embarrassed now because there are people helping him/praising him in his decision.

Chastity is the big problem here and why we shouldn’t have even considered going away in the first place.  Please excuse my crude language but he’s really struggling with this part of the relationship.  He’s been sexually active since his early teens so cutting it out cold turkey isn’t working in his favour.  He’s the butt of jokes around his friends (male and female) that laugh at him that he’s apparently grumpy because he just needs some action.  But, he understands where I stand and like he said, he doesn’t want to mess anything up.  However, putting us both in a near occasion of sin when I know the situation beforehand, and what could happen, makes it a terrible circumstance.  I told him that the further he gets into his faith, the more equipped he'll be handle all this kind of stuff.  Part of this comes from not putting him in a situation that is difficult for him like a vacation.  He's a child of God too and I have to respect him as well.

Yes, the ‘when things get strange’ comment referred to my health.  As for the ultranationalism, I told him he is entitled to investigate his belief but as soon as he crosses the line into crap like eugenics, ethnic cleansing and the such, no way, not dealing with that.  Not going to deal with any anti-Catholic rhetoric either.  I understand what you mean exactly though: I can simply rely on my immediate family in the future.  I cannot be sure that he’ll be there for me or run off scared until it happens.  Does he say he'll be there?  Yes.  But I won't know till it happens.  I don’t want to cause any unneeded drama because I wanted a couple weeks of strolling the countryside.

I really wish I had another opportunity to meet his father but that can’t be the only reason to place ourselves in such a state of temptation.  It was a bad idea from the beginning but I think I placed too much weight on us doing the right thing instead of considering the power of sin.

I hope I answered some of your questions but if they were simply rhetorical for me to think about, well, sorry for rambling so much!
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#7
My experience has been that if you have to ask the question, you already know it's a terrible idea and you're looking for a way around it. Trust me on that one. :)
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#8
(06-27-2016, 05:33 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: My experience has been that if you have to ask the question, you already know it's a terrible idea and you're looking for a way around it. Trust me on that one. :)
Oh no, I agree with you.  I knew it wasn't a good idea from the beginning.  However, I thought because I have a small window of opportunity that it wouldn't seem like a rush to sin.  It wasn't a rush to get into bed but just because timing.

My father is trying the aunt or uncle route.  I'd have to pay their airfare north and hotel which is fine.  Only spoke with one aunt because of the time difference.  She thinks the idea of a chaperone is insane.  As in, we are two grown adults who are supposed to be physically involved.  "What kind of cult are you in?"  :eyeroll:
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#9
Zubr,

I'm not sure that I'm old enough to be your mom!  :LOL:  I think we may be only a few years apart in age . . .

I have no right to answers at all.  But I think you are making a good decision.  Lug may be the man of your dreams; he may be able to handle all the responsibilities that come with being a husband.  Then again, you may get ill and he will run for the hills.  There's no real way to tell until he has proven himself. 

I think you do have a right to certain answers about his past.  There are some things you should know: how many partners (approximate), whether or not he has been tested for the whole battery of STDs (and any positive tests and subsequent treatment), any kids . . . That being said, this is more about his past having an impact on the future.  These kinds of questions are only fair.  By that same token, he has a right to similar answers from you, as long as you are both moving toward marriage. 

I think you are quite correct about putting him in a position that makes it harder to be the gentleman he is striving to be.  If he has gotten used to regular sex and hasn't learned the self-control involved in a chaste relationship, then it certainly will be a struggle for him.  It is far better to be charitable to him in this case and not push boundaries - intimidating aunts or no.  :)

If it makes you feel any better, I knew within a week that I would one day marry Pilgrim.  I had no doubt whatsoever.  He took longer to arrive at that decision but we had discussed all manner of subjects by the time I met his parents.  We had tentatively named kids, knew how many we hoped for (approximately half the number we ended up with - so far), etc.  It was only a matter of time . . . 

As for Lug's father, perhaps he will come to visit when your relationship becomes more formal.  All things in due time.  :)

Fontevrault
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#10
Thanks again for your kind reply and thoughts.  I know you're just a few years older than me but so, so much wiser.  :)

Dating and finding a spouse are difficult to begin with and doubly so when one is a practicing Catholic.  He needs time to prove himself and that only comes from enduring many things together.  I'd have the same concerns about anyone even if they didn't have such an illustrious past.  What was it about Pilgrim that let you know in a week?  That's really something.  I remember how you two met so was it his intellect?

(06-27-2016, 11:05 PM)Fontevrault Wrote: I think you do have a right to certain answers about his past.  There are some things you should know: how many partners (approximate), whether or not he has been tested for the whole battery of STDs (and any positive tests and subsequent treatment), any kids . . . That being said, this is more about his past having an impact on the future.  These kinds of questions are only fair.  By that same token, he has a right to similar answers from you, as long as you are both moving toward marriage. 
This has been a really big issue lately mainly because of the fact if we do marry, I will be on immune suppressants in the future.  I have to be MORE THAN extra careful about this area.  Excuse the grossness but he doesn't even know how many partners he's had.  We're talking 20 + years until this February.  So, the STD topic has been one of recent discussion.  My past is a lot more boring besides the fact I coming with a warning: sets boyfriends on fire.  :crazy:  The main thing is that he understands the severity of the situation.  It sounds cheezy but it's like an after school special: you don't really consider how your own personal hedonist actions influence your own future and perhaps someone you (may) love until it is in black and white.

In my heart there is that little kernel we can get my really scary aunt (she's not scary per say but she's quite intimidating  :LOL: ) to chaperone.  He'd have bruises from wooden spoons or worse if he tried anything in her sight.
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