Boyfriend's issues with marriage

Hey everyone. My boyfriend and I are both 20 and have been dating for 3 and a half years, but have been having issues communicating about getting married. That’s mostly because we began dating in high school, when neither of us were at all prepared to plan for marriage, so it just never really started. So he and I had planned a couple weeks ago to have a talk about it so that we could be on the same page and yesterday was the talk.

So he began by telling me his issues with marriage. The first is that this is the only relationship that either of us have been in, and although he loves me and is comfortable in our relationship, it sounds like he wonders if this is IT. The second issue is a cross that he seems to bear. It seems that the promiscuity of society and the overly-sexual behavior of people around him affects him pretty negatively and causes him to fall. He says he prays about it, talks to trusted people about it, and hasn’t found it to be helpful. He didn’t go into detail too much and that’s fine with me, because I know it’s probably highly personal and between him and God.

I’m not angry at him at all for these issues, but at the same time, I’m a little bummed. I definitely didn’t know these things, and it’s a little hurtful to know that he doubts our relationship at all, as well as faces temptations and feelings about (assumingly) other women.

My question is: what is the best thing to do to support him and our relationship? I’m trying to be understanding and I don’t want to put additional stress or shame on him, but I’m not sure how to exactly “get over” this. I’ve considered maybe a period of time that we take a break in our relationship to allow him to work on these issues, but I’m just really not sure. I want to do this the right way. Any suggestions? :confused:

Oh one more question: is this a pretty typical thing for guys to face? I don’t mean to call it “normal”, but I’ve seen a lot of guys on these boards struggling with the same things. Just curious.

Thanks everyone :o

You never mentioned if he is Catholic or not? If he is then ask him to go to weekly Confession so he can be healed by the grace of God. I bore the same cross and it was only through the rosary and weekly or every two weeks going to Confession that I was able to get over it. Only God can help him but he must seek out God first.

To be honest, I think confusion is a good thing to be hit with when you are 20 years old. Marriage is a covenant between man and woman where the two become one flesh. If he is having questions this could be why. Ask him if he would like to find a retreat to go on by himself and you can go on one as well. Be apart from each other during your retreats to completely focus on God and He will let you guys know what must be done.

God bless, I will keep you two in my prayers

I would definitely postpone marriage or engagment until you get
a clearer picture of how you two really stand.

First off, the male nature part-I am a guy. Many men struggle with a higher sex drive, and more men are sexually aroused by the visual. Yes, I know women are as well, but men are easier aroused by the visual. I don’t struggle with it, (I have my vices, sexual desire is not one of them) but I know of many men who do. An honest man will admit, “yes, the temptation is sometimes there, but I just choose to resist it. It’s hard sometimes.” An honest women will say, “Honey, thank you so much for trying to control your base natures. I love you.”

There are several amazing books (written by female Christian psychologists, by the way) that describe the male sexual nature in pretty much the same way I do. I can get you the names if you wish.

Your an amazing young girl for asking this question. It can be hard sometimes to discuss. Your boyfriend is very lucky.

Second, your WAY too young to even think about marriage. Live first, then worry about it the important stuff. I’m ten years older than you (30, for all you non-math people :wink: ) and I rarely think about it, except as some distant event.

It is nothing to get worked up over. If he is 20, and the worst his carnal longings have produced is some angst, then he is probably a really good guy to consider spending your life with.

Unless he just explodes, but you didn’t mention that he was the ‘pressure cooker, introvert’ sort.

But, now that I have your attention, consider it from his perspective: all Catholic vocations have the character of the eternal (Holy Orders makes a man a priest forever; Marriage unites two souls forever). This way of structuring things grates on society, which measures things instant-by-instant. Society offers a sea of instant pleasures, that he might sometimes imagine as being preferable to the tranquil eternity that you offer him.

We all know which is better, but the question comes down to whether he has the self restraint or not.

You’re asking the wrong question.

Don’t marry him. The 3.5 years was your first sign. Your second sign was the communication issues. Third sign, he’s not Catholic. Fourth sign, it’s just an extended highschool relationship. Fifth sign, he’s not sure this is it. Sixth, he lacks sexual self-control. Seventh, he is secretive about personal issues that can affect a marriage. Eighth, you’re not happy with his answers.

Please don’t burden the community with yet another bad marriage. Wake up girl.

:nope::nope::nope:: I disagree with this assessment on every point.

“It seems that the promiscuity of society and the overly-sexual behavior of people around him affects him pretty negatively and causes him to fall.”
I just want to clarify my understanding of this part that you wrote. If his “failure” is masturbation, I would not be concerned. If he is cheating with other women, then that is totally unacceptable. Further, I would be more concerned about any 20 year old male that does not struggle with masturbation. The hormones and sex drive should be raging. If they are not, he may have medical issues that will haunt his marriage in the long term. You would be posting one of those thread complaining about how you husband never wants sex and how miserable you are.

You are both still very young. Take you time.

When it comes to marriage, the male fear of commitment is legendary. Similarly, our culture expects guys to be sexual. It takes a very strong will to stand up against unrelenting cultural and social pressure, as well has his own physical desires.

I agree with Paul1961. You both are still young. In the US, the average age for a guy to marry for the first (hopefully only) time is 27 years old. Similarly the average age for a woman is 25 years old. I think you will find that your perspective on the world will shift significantly over the next few years. Going slow is not a bad idea.

I should definitely be clear with a lot of points. First of all, he IS Catholic. He was born and raised Catholic and dating him opened me up to the Church and I converted. Second of all, we definitely are not getting married soon. We are both full time university sudents. But dating blindly without even considering the sacrament of marriage in the future is just fooling around, and that’s not what we’re trying to do. Just to clear those things up.

You’re not going to like my advice, but if it was me I would take a break from the relationship. Being together for so long at such a young age, you two do need to spend some time apart, get to know other people, discover other interests and hobbies. I’m not talking about going out and abandoning all your values and morals, but taking the time apart in a bit of self discovery would be very beneficial for your boyfriend, and especially for YOU. You can maintain a freindship with your boyfriend and it is always possible that you two are meant to be married. But right now, your relationship has grown as much as it can given your young age and that you both are not ready for marriage. A break would be healthy for both of you.

The initial post by “Lemonadish” is interesting in several levels. There’s some truth what Apollos says about moving on to someone else but on the other hand, the context today is vastly changed for the worst and perhaps she has someone she can work with here. Please forgive my lengthy and somewhat rambling response but I’d like to say all this and here goes.

The secularlized social landscape is sadly so far from the days when one did not cycle through several serious mates before “deciding to marry.” I’m someone (now in early 40s and happily married) who views with some regret how our era’s “anything goes” society did not value an early marriage when I was in my 20s and 30s,

There is a perpetuation of this notion that there is a “perfect” mate out there - never mind how we guys end up a bit distorted views of possible mates thanks to a one-dimensional culture that celebrates the “super-model” look and celebrity “hotties” as opposed to a more complex view that would account for non-sexualized love; loyalty, potential as a spouse and ultimately mother of your children, etc.

Take it from someone with a lot of “mileage” on him and a litany of serious relationships that I don’t necessarily made me any richer as it led me down a sinful path in my some 25 years removed from the Church. The girl I fell in love with age 19 (and I know her today as a friend who I catch with on occasion) in another era she would be now my wife going on now over two decades.

There was a lot of heartache to be had in having absorbed a societal message of “go slow” ; don’t get “tied down,” as well as the modern exagerated immaturity of men in their 20s. Thi (and not-coincidentally having parents who stopped going to church after my confirmation) led me down a very long path I don’t wish on anyone but I ultimately pulled out of it and not with all bad memories but certainly a sense that my children should not go down a meandering, non-challent path in search of their eventual spouse.

I ended up graced with a wonderful wife and children but I still think there is a lot of wreckage in the way we encourage this notion of one’s 20s being “young.” That’s an adult. Time was a man came back from a war (think WWI or WWII) and got a job and “settled down.”

We don’t encourage that anymore - society at large, that is.Now we have the casualization of everything , down to the point where I have a 30–year old cousin (a child of a 1970’s divorce that tore apart a Catholic household) who just had a child apparently (that’s good she had it, mind you)…who apparently isn’t married…and has a live-in boyfriend, apparently “the father.” Sadly enough, I see her getting the equivalent of high-fives on Facebook from older cousins who should know better.
Likewise my 30-year old Catholic niece (also a daughter of an early '80s divorce of her Catholic mother -my sister- and father) who also became an unwed mother two years ago…feeling no need to “get married yet”…(they did baptize the child)…who (surprise!) is now alone because the guy ran off when times got tough… Absent the solidity of marriage, it’s so much easier for the man to run off and even marriage can be broken like a cracker these days. .As columinist Georgie Ann Geyer recently wrote in an op-ed on the rise of unmarried mothers, “where is the shame?.”

So to the last point by RascalKing, I don’t think it’s too young to think about marriage. For many generations, it was quite normal to marry at age 20, if not before as a teen. Even today, you can see some marvelous 60th anniversarys of (often Catholic) married couples but of course this was in the context of a more traditional culture, both within the Catholic world and the nation at large.

Will we ever put that genie back in the bottle? We now see the ill fruits (divorce, abortion, marrage being “optional”; confused gender roles, a "pornified culture,"etc.) of the baby-boomer laxity towards all traditions. I pray we can turn it around. My hope is that such destructiveness becomes obviously a bad path and ulitimatelys omehow rewards traditional behavior and I’ve seen a few signs of this, too.

As a final footnote, a woman’s fertility goes down markedly by the age of 30. How is 20 somehow such “too young” to start a family? Not in nature historically. It seems to me the world of freezing embryos and having a kid “when you’re ready” is linked to this idea that 20 is “too young” and that the man and woman should maximize their career earning potential before having kids, etc.

That all said, Lemonadish will have to monitor this closely. Apollos might be right. I hope not.

I agree with this 100%. People in their 20s are not children and should be thinking about marriage as responsible adults. Unfortunately, society encourages us to behave as perpetual teenagers, and maybe grow up in our mid-30s. (I wish I’d known these things when I was in my 20s.)

The only advice I’d give to the OP is not to rush into marriage when there are unresolved issues in the relationship. Your boyfriend sounds a bit immature at this stage. Hopefully he’ll grow up and figure things out in not too distant future.
Marriage is a serious thing and people should be very clear about what they’re getting themselves into. Talking about is a very good thing, at least you know eher he stands. So be wise: don’t waste time with men who are immature and are not sure if they want to be with you. Give him time but not too much time.

Good luck!


To say the times they are a-changin’ is just to say that more and more people are doing the wrong thing. Remember what they used to say in the 1970s about sexual morality? In the 1920s? The context has never changed; the popularity of foolishness has. The *style *of departure from natural law is the only difference.

Therefore the existence of a perfect mate is beside the point. The guy is definitely not a keeper and it would be stupid to “try to make this work”, as fools in denial like to say.

We’re not disagreeing substantively. I just didn’t want to let you justify a foolish choice as if this is the best she can hope for in this day and age!

I agree that 20 is not too young to be talking about marriage, there’s not really reason to wait if you find the right person. Also, 3.5 years is not too long, my fiance and I dated for 5 years before getting engaged.

But the issues is that he isn’t sure if you’re the one. I guess if it were me, I’d ask if he wanted to take a break and find himself. If you’re meant to be together it will happen. But he can’t go through life thinking “what if…” Because what happens if you were to get married and then in 10 years he’s still thinking what if he had dated other people? It won’t bode well for your marriage, that’s for sure.

Every couple is unique. When you started your relationship in High School, there should have been no expectation it would last this long. Now that it has, it is natural to inquire whether it should turn to marriage. You both have issues. His are his and yours are yours. It is good that you are bringing them up now. From what you describe, it sounds like you are off to a good start. You can prayerfully help each other through. Both of you should continue seeking God first as He is the cornerstone of any relationship.

although he loves me and is comfortable in our relationship, it sounds like he wonders if this is IT

Do you mean he doesn’t have “in-love” “floating on a cloud” sensation when he thinks about you? That feeling is short term for those who experience it. Hopefully he will soon realize that isn’t what he needs, anyway.

what is the best thing to do to support him and our relationship?

Pray. Pray. Pray.

Say Rosaries with him. Pray for him when you are apart. Most importantly, continually seek God yourself and encourage him to do the same. The closer you draw to God, the closer He will draw you to your boyfriend (if marrying him is within God’s will).

Thank you sincerely to everyone who’s commented on this post. Your diverse opinions and points have definitely given me things to think and pray about. Much appreciated :slight_smile:

First off, I would like to congratulate you on becoming Catholic and becoming a member of the body of Christ.

I think you are asking the right questions at this point, essentially one begins dating (ideally courting) with the intention of marrying that person - when it becomes apparent that you don’t want to marry them or if things aren’t really progressing towards marriage then as you said it would be healthy to take a break and grab some fresh air. I know a couple (married now) that did the same thing for six months just to test how strong their relationship really was and after some time alone it became apparent to them both that they ‘had something’. They have been happily married for about 10 years and they are a strong Catholic couple. Thus, I don’t really think you could lose anything by taking a time out. It may also spur your boyfriend on to taking solid steps in changing his life.

Also, you have a right to know about the ‘issue’ he is struggling with if you are planning on marrying him. Marriage is a Sacrament, but problems that people struggle with before marriage will be there after marriage - in fact marriage tends to amplify those problems not diminish them. Thus it is definitely something you would have the right to know about if you were going to join into a one flesh union with this man.

Finally, dating more than one person will give you perspective - especially since this appears to be your first relationship.

Not sure if you would be interested, but here’s a book I gave to my sisters in an attempt to help them discern the correct man for them:

he ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband, by Steve Wood

God Bless

Perspective in what? Either two people being married to each other is within God’s will or it isn’t. A & B won’t get any better perspective by exploring “A & D” or “B & C.” More likely, it may confuse them.

The only other relationship that can help them is with God. If A & God have a strong and growing relationship and B & God have a strong and growing relationship, God will illumine them to know whether A & B should be married to each other.

I have actually heard someone suggest that heartbreak should be a prerequisite to finding the person you marry (this person, obviously, had had a broken heart). My response? Why do you want damaged goods? God is quite capable of developing relationships from whole people.

You are mis-characterizing what I said. I was merely pointing out that people can gain perspective by having more than one relationship. Here, I am not speaking solely of a dating relationship - one gains perspective by having more than one friend, working with and collaborating with more than one colleague, living in more than one geographical area…

I didn’t say “heartbreak should be a prerequisite to finding the person you marry”, and I am perplexed as to how a statement like that would be distilled from what I did state.

The point is high school dating relationships are different than dating relationships people have later in life. And it is conceivable that a relationship that began in HS, didn’t mature fully into the type of relationship that older people would have. Therein remains the possibility that some of the insecurities and maturity level did not fully develop, but were instead drawn out over a few years. This may not be the case, but if it were - courting another young man who lives his Catholic Faith and has a primary relationship with God above all could really help one ‘gain perspective’ in the journey to find a good spouse.


Thank you for elaborating. Your initial statement seemed too close to the disposable relationships so common in the world today.

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