Trying to discuss engagement with my boyfriend


I’ve read through probably every forum on this site related to seeking vocation and discernment for marriage…I have seen a lot of good advice and would now like to ask for help and insight to my own situation.
I have been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half now. We’ve known each other for a decade, and were very close friends for 3 years before we started dating. It was one of those best friend turns into a significant other type relationship.
While we were becoming very close, we also both returned to God. My boyfriend had left childhood Catholicism for a militant atheist adolescence. When he went away to college, he returned to the Church and is now very traditional. At the same time, our friendship actually led to my conversion from agnosticism/Protestantism to traditional Catholicism as well. I am celebrating 2 years in the Church next Easter :slight_smile:
Essentially, we are both very traditional and serious Catholics. I will go ahead and tell you that we follow the rules and guidelines laid down by the church…there is no cohabitation, making out, hanky panky, etc.; although it was not always that way. When we first decided to move beyond friendship there was physical intimacy and neither of us had a very chaste adolescence I am sad to say. However, when we decided to begin dating exclusively, we also chose to go cold turkey with our bad habits and to move forward as would be respectful for a Catholic dating relationship.
So now here we are, seriously dating, seriously Catholic. And I’m wanting to talk about marriage. We talked once, separately, about discernment of our vocation with our priest…but it didn’t really lead anywhere and it has been months since he brought it up. Our priest kind of gave us the “go ahead and do it”, but my boyfriend is skeptical and has gone to other priests asking for advice, sometimes receiving a really different answer from what our own priest said.
When I try to talk to him about marriage, he says that i bring it up too often and stress him out…that we need to spend more time just “being” in the relationship in order to see if it is right.
I feel like I do see marriage very clearly in our future, I try to pray on it often, and I feel like I’ve been given certain signs. It hurts me that he doesn’t want to talk about it, but I don’t want to pester him so badly that he resents it, when engagements should be happy and exciting…
Please any advice on patience, or how to talk about this sort of thing, how to discern if marriage is right…
We are young, but marrying age. Both mid-twenties…
Thank you for anyone who reads this long piece, God Bless You


Gracious, sweetie, don’t date anyone you wouldn’t consider marrying. He obviously isn’t comfortable with the situation. I would have to lay down the law to him – either we discuss marriage, or we break-up. If you were the one for him, he would have known it from the start. You know when you’ve met your spouse. He’s on the fence and that’s a red flag.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


As hard as it may be to hear, you can’t force him to marry you. Pressuring him into marriage would be a recipe for disaster. He needs to make that decision and make it happen of his own accord. I don’t know why anyone would feel the need to discuss potential marriage with multiple priests.
I think you need to decide how long you’re willing to wait.
I’m not suggesting you do this, but when I waffled on setting a wedding date with my now wife, she basically gave me an ultimatum after a certain point: decide you’re marrying me, make it happen…or decide you’re not and we’re done.


Don’t talk to us about this, talk to him. Sit down and tell him everything you told us and if he’s not ready, tell him that you need a break.


I agree with this. Is he the kind of person who overthinks or over analyzes things in general?

Not that anyone should rush into marriage, but no one could accuse you of rushing things. It sounds like you have been dating long enough (especially considering that you were friends long before even dating) for him to know whether he wants to marry you (and vice versa).


He is absolutely someone to over-analyze… he’s an engineer by trade and his conversion was very much an academic one before it was emotional/spiritual. I’ve tried to approach it by saying that marriage, like belief, is one that takes hope and faith… but I think he is looking for 100% certainty.
With how long we’ve known each other I don’t understand why he still feels uncertain, and that is probably the greatest point of my insecurity about a future together


One of the things my current wife and I did when we were decerning was to go through some courses togeather; For Better…Forever by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak and Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas.

Both books have chapters on various topics and then discussion questions at the end of each chapter. You read the chapters seperately and answer the discussion qustions togeather. This would let you man work out where he is at in an organized and structured manner. It would also let you know were each of you are at in various areas that you might not have ever discussed or thought about.

After we got married, we wnt through a seminar (on DVD) called Choise Wine; Seven Steps to a Super Abundant Marriage. The original seminar, which was filmed for the DVD, included couples in all states of marriage from dicerning to married 50 years. It works the same way in about 1 hr sessions of watching the DVD and then discussing various questions.

This approach might clearify you situation for both of you.



This is not true. I spent two years of my life dating a guy that I was sure I was going to marry. Absolutely sure. But it didn’t happen. He did a lot for me. He helped me stop cussing, he helped me love myself, he helped me overcome a pornography problem, he even helped bring me back to the faith (even though it was a Protestant faith). He even got me a promise ring. But then one day, despite all we’d been through, he just decided he didn’t want to be with me anymore, so he took back his promise, and I gave him back his ring.

You know you’ve met your spouse when you put that wedding ring on their finger and you exchange wedding vows.


Relationships move forward or they die.


Sorry for your loss, but yes, it’s true. What you experienced is someone who saved you, but that’s not always a spouse’s job. Yes, we improve each other, but we should strive to live God’s will – be what we are to be, and the spouse complements that. The “you’re just too good to be true” is a real feeling, and is accompanied by a swooning experience.

One of our student managers in my labor position in college said he “just knew” when he had met his spouse. Conversely, I knew I had had a call to a particular monastery when I set foot on the property. Alas, they were in the process of suppression. My former spiritual director said he knew he was to be a priest when he set foot on the seminary grounds. Many sisters of a Midwestern convent said they knew they had arrived home when they arrived at the convent.

Even a wedding ring doesn’t guarantee that you’ve met your spouse. I highly recommend a novena to St. Raphael the Archangel. He’s the one I went to when I discerned I was being called to marriage.


Oh, engineers. That’s what hubby does. They have a very difficult time with spiritual stuff. Pray to Sts. Cosmas and Damien, the patron saints of engineers. Hubby has gotten it into his mind that church attendance isn’t necessary, and I’m not sure where he got that. He also had a deep hatred for the Catholic clergy because of the sex abuse scandal. Our son’s passing, and our pastor’s involvement with us, seemed to partially heal him of that. Please pray he returns to the sacraments before his job stress kills him.

If you’re unsure, break things off. Separation would probably do you both some good – and lend perspective.


You have been dating for a year and a half, known each other for a decade, and he can’t decide about marriage? After all that, he does not see you as a potential wife? You two should sit down and make a decision one way or the other. If he isn’t the one for you, you need to move on and find the right man.

A 3 month or 6 month no contact period might be a good idea. Either he will miss you, and want commitment; or he won’t.


You might tell him you don’t want to be exclusive anymore, that you want more than anything to marry him, but if he doesn’t want that, you need to do what’s right for you and start looking around for Mr. Right. And then do that! Date some other people. The worst thing that can happen is you make some new friends and you learn a few things about relationships, which everyone can improve on. The best cases are 1) He gets driven wild with jealousy, sees the light and proposes, and/or 2) You meet another Mr. Right.


I think this somewhat depends on your ages and where you are in your life. If you’ve known each other for a decade, and that started when you were 10, well, that’s different than you’ve known each other for a decade and now you are both 35.

It sounds like you are maybe early to mid 20s. You are feeling ready to settle down, and he isn’t. I think it’s the sort of thing you can get input on from the forum but shouldn’t rashly do what any one person says. Like some said “give an ultimatum” and I probably wouldn’t be inclined to do that.

What I would likely do is multi-prong:

  1. I would not do anything until after Christmas in case there were any surprises he wanted to spring on me for Christmas or New Year’s.

  2. If an engagement wasn’t forthcoming, in the new year I would tell him I’m not going to bring up marriage again for six months. During that time he needs to think about what he wants and his timeline for those decisions. I’d also let him know that if he’s ready to move forward with discussion before six months is up, he needs to be the one to bring it up.

  3. I’d request that when we next talk of marriage he should have a concrete list of reasons he does not believe we are ready to move forward in marriage.

If six months comes and he is either unwilling or unable to articulate a real reason for waiting longer to get engaged and move towards marriage-- I would consider it time to cut bait.

What is it that these other priests have told him that has made him so squirmy on the subject?


Whose idea was it to approach a priest for this counseling?

Why did your boyfriend feel the need to seek out a 2nd and 3rd Priest?

What “advice” specifically is your boyfriend after?


Thank you for the advice! I will look up the Saints you mentioned.

I’m sorry to hear of your son’s passing, I will pray for your family and your husband’s return to the faith.


I agree with the advice to separate if your boyfriend does not want to move toward marriage. If you are marriage-minded, it is not right for BF to monopolize your time when you could be spending it looking for someone who shares your goal of having a family and who wants to create one with you.


We’ve actually done this in the past where we took several months off of talking about marriage… this was earlier this year. I was talking about marriage too frequently and wanted to discuss the idea more, he didn’t think we were ready and there were some very concrete things we had to do in our relationship in order to discern. (At the time we were cohabitating, separate bedrooms and no physical intimacy, but we were living together and sharing rent costs with two other people). In order for us to have more clarity on whether marriage was right for us, I moved out. This was in May, and so over the summer I avoided the topic of marriage so our relationship could heal from the cohabitating. I brought it back up again in August after our anniversary but he is still reluctant to talk about it… this was when we went to visit our priest about discerning. Our priest spoke to us separately and individually gave us the green light, but he hasn’t talked about it since. So recently I’ve been bringing it up again…

The thing is, he has talked to two other priests (eastern cayholic) who have told him that because we have been physically intimate in the past, we have cohabitated, and we never took a break between those changes in our relationship, we cannot properly discern. They tell him that our judgement is clouded and that we need a full year with no physical contact and no alone time together, before we can be absolutely sure…

I think this is frustrating, just because of how dramatic and difficult of a change it has been…but we have done it. We have made all the changes for a respectful relationship but some priests seems to imply it’s not enough… our Roman Catholic priest believes we are ready to get married.

I can’t tell if I’m in the wrong and being impatient or if he is by not committing and discerning in a timely way…


The Covenant of Marriage is a serious one. He is not ready based upon your comments. My wife and I are Sponsor Couples for those in the Marriage “Que.”. There is a considerable amount of discernment involved in both the special weekend retreats and personal attention by we, the Sponsor Couple.

But…to get to this discernment point requires a commitment by both parties to actually begin the process. It seems to me, that by repeatedly putting you off regarding the subject, that he is not ready even to enter into PreCanna discernment work.


Well, I’d probably give it a break. Six months from now is the year the other priests suggested. I disagree with those priests but now he’s got that in his head.

I get it, but I think if you keep bringing it up it’s just going to make it worse. You are obsessing on it a little. I used to be that way too and had to let go and not try to be in control or force things into my vision of how it should be.

In light of this info, I would not even say anything about a six month thing. I would just drop it.

Let him bring it up next time. If it goes into next summer and he doesn’t say anything, then I think you need it make some decisions (and don’t bring it up on day 1 year + 1 day either).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit