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Should We Break Their Hearts?


Guest Jillian W
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Guest Jillian W

My husband and I are young, mid-20s, and we are agnostic. We were raised Catholic but never really 'got' it, and we really tried. We've finally come to the conclusion that we are agnostic, and we feel so at peace for the first time.

 

We got married Catholic-style (which means it took a lot of time and energy and lying) to please our families, and it was shortly thereafter that we came to our agnostic-conclusion. Thinking about the church marriage makes us feel a little sick.

 

Our family members are Catholic; we've told some of them, and they're OK with it. But my in-laws are in their 60s, are very conservative and as they age are becoming less and less open-minded about people in life (e.g. gays, Democrats). They're old-fashioned - and very good people. We really respect them. But we've been advised that it would break their hearts to know about us.

 

We're very honest people - we hate lying. We could stand just not saying a word forever, but his parents expect us to go to Mass with them on holidays. I feel that it is disrespectful for us to take Eucharist, it's against Catholic beliefs for non-believers to do so, and it's unfair to us - that we're adults and still have to charade like this. I wish that we could sit in the pew during Eucharist - that's what non-Catholics are supposed to do. We wouldn't mind being in Mass if we just didn't have to pretend we agree with this stuff that we disagree strongly with. At present, we just try our best to make excuses from going to Mass with them, but at some point that's not going to fly anymore.

 

We've sought advise from those that we can trust, but we don't have many friends to ask, and some family members have called us selfish to want to tell his parents.

 

We would appreciate any advice.

 

Should we break their hearts?

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For me, being honest with my parents hurt some at first but is turning out to be pretty much for the best. I don't have to pretend and I can engage in conversation with them about their beliefs, helping both of us to connect on deeper, or at least more, levels. For my fiancee, telling his parents was a bigger deal because he hadn't really told them all along as it was happening (he lives away from his parents and mine are here). However, even though it is somewhat hard and awkward sometimes, he feels much better that he doesn't feel like he has to go to church and pretend and such. We are having a child (any day now!), and we have already gone so far as to let all of our family know about our beliefs and how we intend to raise our child based on those beliefs in a letter we wrote everyone. Most people have still be accepting of us. It has caused a little bit of a rift and maybe they are dissapointed. However, for me it has been important for people to see me for who I am and what I believe rather than think I am a Christian or a back slidden one (since I don't go to church and all that). It's really a personal decision. In psychology, we study something called cognitive dissonance. To my understanding it is when a person has a difference in what they think and what they do. It is said to cause problems for individuals until they make their thoughts line up with their behaviors or their behaviors to line up with what they think. I think that it is healthiest to be who one is as much as possible, even if it is hard at first. If you do decide to tell them, be prepared for the reaction and that it may take them some time to adjust (kind of like grief, actually). But, like I said, you two have to be the ones to decide what is ultimately best. You'll figure it out! At least you do have one another.

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Guest I've smelled the Starbucks

I too was raised Catholic. It's somewhat ironic that I personally know more "recovering Catholics" that are waking up to organized religion, then I know of any others from other denominations. I say that, because like you, I'm an Agnostic as well. I guess that I'm not (at least right now) willing to give up on everything, but I definately believe that organized religion is all a bunch of voodoo brain washing simply meant to deplete you of your hard earned dollars. Anyhow, onto your question. I don't think that there is a delicate way to approach it. I have an uncle who was raised a strict Catholic who was so terrified of telling my grandmother that he converted to Scientology (of all things) that she died not knowing. While your in-laws may be conservative in many of their views, I can't help but think that while they may be apalled now, that in time they will come around and recognize that life truly is too short to live a lie. Be prepared for the lectures, sermons and "we'll pray for you"s that will come along. My husband went through that when we married (he was raised a strict Southern Baptist), and while his mother still finds me to be the Anti-Christ, his family has finally accepted that he's not going back. Catholics are a funny bunch, either their strictly devout or their twice annual Catholics with the occassional wedding &/or funeral thrown in for good measure. I wish you the best of luck and hope that they can see that your happiness is more important than an organized religion that will force you to personally live a lie.

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