Agnostic boyfriend with so many questions but refusal to ask them

My high school sweetheart and I have been together for almost four years now. He was never raised in a church going household. He considers himself baptist, but has only went once or twice when he was younger with friends. I consider him to be agnostic, he believes there is a God, but that’s about it. I have tried to talk to him about it all but he doesn’t like to feel, in his words, “stupid”. He has so many questions but some of them I am unable to explain further or more clear for him to understand. I try not to push him because I feel like if I do, then I will just push him away from God.
We have been talking about marriage for a while now, and have kind of been planning things. He understands that I want to be married in the church and give my marriage to the Lord, but he has said that, “ it feels like I have to jump through hoops to marry you, when we could just get it done faster and sooner somewhere else.” By the “hoops” he means the marriage classes we must take before we can venture down the isle. He feels that we shouldn’t have to prove to someone else we love each other. I have tried and tried to explain to him that they are only to try to decrease the Divorce rates and see how well we communicate, but not having gone through those classes before that’s all I have to give him. I have had friends in the church try to explain but he still doesn’t understand it. In the end he says that he will go through with it because that’s what he has to do for me.
This makes my heart heavy because I do love him, but I do not want him to feel like he is being pushed into doing things he isn’t comfortable with. My question is, what can I do to help him find his way? I have offered him to come to mass with me multiple times but he says he doesn’t feel comfortable there and stays home. He won’t talk to anyone for fear of looking bad for not knowing, and he is starting to get flustered when I bring it up, so I have resorted to letting him be until he has questions.

So much no.

So much.

Let me go through point by point.

  1. You’re young.
  2. So he is “of faith” but his parents never expected him to live it.
  3. Religion is not a minor thing. He should be able to defend his position without defaulting to a third-grade level dialogue of “stupid”.
  4. He “feels like he has to jump through hoops to marry you”??? What in the world does he think of marriage then? You are correct, pre-martial advice is highly important, especially in those under 25 and especially, ESPECIALLY in those who are 20 or younger. In short, he’s telling you he doesn’t care that he’s putting his entire future at risk AND putting your future at risk because he doesn’t care to get professional advice.
  5. Marriage is all ABOUT pushing to do things for your beloved that you are uncomfortable with.
  6. He refuses to go to Mass and stays home on the couch because he “doesn’t feel comfortable???” And you buy it? Does he do anything for your sake?

You know, I get it. You are both still young. Your expectations are low and your relationship is fragile.

But you are talking about a life-long commitment. Children. Sickness. Low money. No money. Buying a house.

At this point, I wouldn’t even rent an apartment to the two of you, your relationship is so volatile. By which I mean that neither of you are willing to be an adult and are both dancing around any conversation with life-long substance.

Honestly, neither of you are showing half the maturity necessary for a healthy marriage. I would suggest you speak to a priest on your own and look at the FOCCUS test or other such marital prep items. I think you will find that your relationship is entirely devoid of 90% of the conversations needed…and with half of those you are at odds with eachother.

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This isn’t casual discussion.

H[quote=“Xanthippe_Voorhees, post:2, topic:460770”]
By which I mean that neither of you are willing to be an adult and are both dancing around any conversation with life-long substance.
[/quote]
There is no dancing around conversation, if that was the case I would be completely ignoring the topic. I am just trying to keep him from being pushed further away until I know how to approach it better. This isn’t about getting married right now, what I’m trying to do is figure out how to help him understand. My grandmother is a devote Catholic who was agnostic and she has told me not to push him. So instead of attacking this post because I am young, maybe you could give me some useful information that could help me get through to him. Not trying to be disrespectful.

You have to understand that being young IS a disadvantage. Statistically, it puts you in a totally different category. Being under or around 21 and looking at marriage makes a HUGE difference in the kind of advice, preparation and mindset you need to avoid divorce–or worse–abuse or becoming an abuser.

You can easily look up the stats.

You are walking on eggshells when it comes to your faith, which should be the most important thing in your life.

Your grandmother has wisdom if you are not looking to marriage. But your post indicates otherwise. You are thinking about marriage.

Your boyfriend is refusing to participate in any constructive, helpful or meaningful conversations unless you drag him there kicking and screaming. He has no desire for self-reflection or self-improvement. He only wants to do something only to make you happy. Does he have no passion or motivation to understand what he faces as a young man looking to be married?

I didn’t mean for it to come off that way, I apologize. I think that due to his upbringing, he does lack that drive. He is a child of divorce, old enough to just barely understand what was happening. He had nothing to really cling to, he wasn’t taught about god, he wasn’t taught how sacred marriage is. To be quite honest he and his brothers were raised like wolves. So, I believe that before marriage could happen, he has to find God and see Him in all his wonders.

:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Given his background, he needs some thorough professional counseling.

He and his brothers were “raised like wolves”

I say this with all due respect…you cannot give him what he needs. His attitude has very little to do with God and everything to do with deep psychological damages.

So there is really nothing I can do?

Unfortunately, no.

It’s really hard, and it’s really sad. It’ is heartbreaking that you are in this position, and he means so much to you.

The outcome of a marriage at this point would be disastrous. Perhaps you have every hope for and every ability to have a good marriage. You may be perfectly dispositioned to do so.

He is not. He is a hurting little boy. He should have been in therapy from the day his parents decided they were no longer going to be a family unit. He should have been properly loved and cared for.

He was not. He is the unfortunate recipient of an enormity of neglect, if not outright mental abuse.

It is truly an unfortunate thing. My heart goes out to you, especially in your youth.

Should he receive proper mental health counselling over the next few years, should he be able to come to terms with the neglect of his childhood and begin to view marriage with a healthier perspective, there is hope. But it is years down the road at the very least and much of it depends on his desire to seek help for his childhood wounds.

Well, thank you for your help and honesty. I was really hoping there was something more I could do.

I guess, really, the only thing you can do is encourage him to seek professional counseling.

If he complies then there is hope.

But your dreams about a future with him should be tabled. He is not in a place to begin a life with someone, even if you are.

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Give him a copy of Pillar and Why We’re Catholic. Ask him to read it and discuss it with you. Take your time, you have plenty. Simple as that.

If he’s not interested enough to take seriously something so important to you, well, that should tell you all you need to know.

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I have actually already ordered “why we’re Catholic”, I thought that might help too. :blush:

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He seems a bit selfish. You should probably wait and try to contain your emotions. Sometimes people confuse love with feelings. Maybe you should learn more about how he lives and stuff before you consider getting married

You might consider checking out the Baptist marriage preparation course. Over here, it’s known for being more thorough.

If you do take the Catholic marriage preparation course, you may find it roots out any significant problem areas.

Don’t forget Xanthippe_Voorhees is a very educated person so her standards for a man, or his ability to communicate, might be higher than your standards. Her advice is good though, even though it seems hard-hitting. Marriage is serious stuff!

One point to add is that you seem very concerned with your boyfriend, but you also need to set some standards for yourself. Do you want to raise your children Catholic? Will they stay home with Dad when the football game is on and will you be okay with them not attending Mass? A father’s presence at church greatly increases the chances that your children will adopt your faith.

I doubt your boyfriend is ready for marriage but if you do take the plunge, you will get grace along the way, and you’re young enough to grow together and adjust to each other.

Katie Ann, your story with this boy is exactly a repeat of my mother’s story with my father. Your ages, the way he was raised, Catholic girl, non-believer boy. Everything, exactly. My mom’s parents warned her not to marry him. He did agree to take RCIA class to convert to Catholicism before their marriage. My dad stood in the back of the classroom with his arms folded and refused to participate. He wouldn’t even take a seat!

The priest pulled mom aside and told her she should not marry this man. She wouldn’t listen. I’ll tell you honestly, their marriage was a disaster. She stayed with my dad until he died, but my mother was very, very unhappy.

I see the same disaster looming for you. Don’t underestimate the strain that a “mixed marriage” can inflict. Don’t be unequally yolked with this boy. Don’t make the same mistake my mother did.

This is a widespread problem in our culture, it’s certainly not isolated to Catholics. My protestant friends talk to me about members of their families who refuse to accept faith. Even while these marriages stay together and may be considered successful, I believe it’s due to 1 of the 2 in the marriage persons remaining devout to faith

I can tell though in almost each case, the person of faith feels a deep disappointment in that the person they most love doesn’t share what’s most important in their life. That being the love God.

You’re very blessed at a young age to have kept the faith. I know very few of my friends that have. There’s nothing you can do, it’s entirely up to him to listen and hear the call of the Holy Spirit. What you have to ask yourself is how important God is to you and your future marriage and family.

For me personally and maybe others beyond 40, if I were given a chance to do it all again, I would have definitely sought a person of faith, particularly the Catholic faith . The Catholic faith , so long as you stay true, will be the only thing that will remain with you your entire life, even until death.

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If he really thinks that our faith is ridiculous, unnecessary, “stupid”, etc. I don’t think this is the right moment to discuss marriage. Maybe in the future, why do you have to rush?

[quote=“tom1, post:18, topic:460770”]
If he really thinks that our faith is ridiculous, unnecessary, “stupid”, etc.
[/quote].
He’s not saying our faith is stupid, he is saying that he feels less than because he doesn’t understand. There is no rush to get married. Like I said before, the post wasn’t supposed to be focused on that.
He has been respectful of my beliefs, never asks me not to go to any church event or mass, he has attended two of my nieces baptisms and one family wedding. We are both in our twenties and I am currently working on my nursing degree so we both agreed to wait to get married until I am finished (if we reach that point).
My focus really is about how to get him closer to God but not cramming it down his throat. I feel like most of his issues in life could be overcame if he finds God. My parents were both Catholic but my father hardly ever attended mass, so where I really saw the beauty in a couple who were so deeply in love with God and each other was my grandparents. And like I said earlier, my grandmother was not religious, she knew something or someone was out there but didn’t pin it to one being. When they were married my grandmother told my grandfather that she had two conditions, 1. She would never work while she had little children, 2. She would never become Catholic. She asked everyday to see proof that God existed, and she WAS shown something, to this day she’s will not tell me what it was. Now she is a very devoted Catholic.
So I know there is a chance I can get him in the right direction, I just need help figuring out how. I pray everyday for our Lord to show him something and for his eyes to be open and ready when he is shown.

Hi Katie. The situation you are in was the same situation I was in 17 years ago when I got married. Now I am soon to be divorced. Your boyfriend sounds just like my ex-husband: raised baptist, but never went to church; thinks religious things are stupid; refused to go to church with me; we didn’t get married in the church because of the “jump through hoops” thing. Of course it was my fault that I compromised and decided to get married to him anyways. I guess I did it because my father was not Catholic, yet he attended church every week with my mother and us kids and did everything religious without complaint (he was baptised Catholic on his deathbed). I figured my husband might be like my father. He wasn’t and never will be.

So what can you do? If he doesn’t want to come to weekly mass, maybe just ask him to come on Christmas or Easter. Tell him lots of people who never go to church go on those days, so he won’t feel stupid. If he refuses then time is all you have. You have to wait for him and that may be forever. He may never feel any need to come to God (as my ex is). But if you do get married, eventually the spiritual distance between the two of you could tear the marriage apart. It really is an important element to marriage and I wish I didn’t just gloss over its importance when I got married.

I wish I could offer you more hope.

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