DR. WALLACE: I'm a Christian. My boyfriend is a wonderful fellow, but he happens to be an atheist and said he will remain an atheist until the day he leaves this earth.
I love my boyfriend, and he loves me, and we plan to get married in a year or two. My parents are also Christian, and they are quite against me marrying an atheist. In fact, they're horrified at the thought. I keep telling them that once we are married, I feel I can help my new husband to become a Christian, but my parents do not see this as a likely possibility.
My father has given me three speeches about "cutting my losses" already. I'm not nearly as stressed or freaked out about this as my traditional parents are.
What do you think? Are my odds good that I can win him over to my beliefs and morality? — Christian Girl, via email
CHRISTIAN GIRL: I think it would be a big mistake to enter into a marriage with the idea that you can encourage your husband to convert from an atheist to a Christian. If you truly continue to believe this is possible, this conversation would best take place before any marriage agreement. This way, the two of you could really have an in-depth conversation about this matter, and I'd further suggest that you discuss whether or not you would be planning to have children, and if so, how they would be raised — in church or with atheist beliefs.
I can understand why your parents are concerned. Their Christian daughter is about to marry a man with polar opposite religious view to theirs.
See where an open conversation goes with your guy. Everyone deserves the right to hold their own set of beliefs. But when two individuals are so far apart on a quite foundational part of a marriage, it can rightfully cause concerns. Don't focus on your parents here; focus on your own set of beliefs and your own comfort levels. Consider where you would be if you do your very best to convince your boyfriend to become a Christian, and he continues to refuse.
You may want to think carefully about how such a marriage would hold up over many years and decades with all of the opposite messages you'd each be sending to each other. In the end, it's your decision, but to move forward with a marriage believing you can change your spouse's core beliefs is not realistic.
PUT THE BRAKES ON THIS WEDDING
DR. WALLACE: My boyfriend and soon-to-be husband recently told me he is the father of his now pregnant ex-girlfriend's child! I've recently seen for myself that his ex is pregnant, and I understand she is due to give birth in late September. This means I'm now dealing with the issue of him having a child with her before he ever has one with me! This seems so unnatural and wrong on so many levels.
My boyfriend still wants to go ahead with our marriage, which we had previously planned for October, but now I'm not so sure I want to go through with the ceremony. We live in a moderately sized town, so there is bound to be a lot of gossip over this. We're not in a really small town, but we are not in a big city either. What do you suggest I do? I care for him but will admit my level of devotion has dropped somewhat due to the shock of all of this. I'm not sure how I will feel about having to be a stepparent at the age of 21, as the present wedding date is only two weeks after my 21st birthday. — Confused by His Pending Fatherhood, via email
CONFUSED BY HIS PENDING FATHERHOOD: I suggest you cancel the wedding at this time. Your boyfriend has a legal obligation to his baby once it is born, and this situation may be more than your potential marriage with him could endure.
At the very least, a delay or postponement of your wedding will give you more time to think things through and to make a decision that you truly feel is best for you and your life.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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