Advice Needed: Compromised Marriage or not?


Hi there,

I am hoping that I can get some advice on a difficult situation that is burdening me. I hope that someone may have experienced something similar or have views that will ensure I make the right decision.

I am a 30 year old practicing catholic (albeit not perfect). I have been in a relationship with a girl called S for one and a half years. During this relationship I have asked myself every day whether I wanted to marry S. After a year and a half I still do not have an answer.

I find her bright, intelligent, attractive and lively. We are very similar in personality. However, she is not a Catholic. Worse, she was brought up with the belief that organised religion is a negative thing. This was instilled in her by her father, who was brought up in Northern Ireland and suffered much abuse there. S’s grandmother was Catholic however. When we started dating I was very honest about my views, and S seemed open to them (in fact she was surprised that she would get on so well with a Catholic) so we agreed to give it a go. We did share quite a few moral views (abortion, etc.).

As our relationship continued I hoped that S would take a more active interest in Catholicism (I tried to gently introduce her to the church), but she did not. As a result a little part of me was always disappointed. My own spiritual needs were not being met. However, I do love her.

Now I have reached a crossroads over whether we should continue. I do not want to pursue the relationship if I cannot envisage us getting married soon. I have asked her for assurances about our marriage - including my need to raise the children as Catholics. S replied that our home cannot be a Catholic home because she isn’t a Catholic and doesn’t support the teachings of the Church. Her argument is that I am being uncompromising and absolute. It is my way or no way. She is merely supposed to accept my views on how to bring up our children. She accepts that I will take them to church but she will not support me in any way, and feels they should also learn about other spirtual theories.

In summary I need to make a decision - either to finish the relationship or continue. If I continue I will marry a girl I love but compromise the upbringing of my children.

I want my wife to be my spiritual companion and to raise children with God’s teachings, but I love this girl (and she loves me) and it will break my heart to never see her again.

Thank you for your help.


this is a deal breaker
you are a CAtholic and obliged to bring up your children in the faith. you will not be able to do that with this woman. she is asking for all the compromise on your side, which is a bad signal for potential conflicts in other areas of life.


Welcome to CAF! I am sorry to hear that you are struggling and I think that deep down you already know what the answer is, you may be just looking for some reassurance. Actually, you do know what you have to do. You have already stated it above as you can see by what I bolded.

Never (EVER) compromise your faith. As a married man with 4 beautiful children, I can tell you that as much as I love them and my wife, God (my faith) is what my life is built upon.

Build your house on a rock or build it on sand, your choice, but I will take the rock everyday of the week.

(trust me when I tell you that raising the children Catholic would only be the beginning of your disagreements when it comes to you wanting to follow the faith and she does not)

Continue to pray about this, but I think that your answer is clear, you just need to make that realization within yourself and take that difficult step to let her go after a year and a half. Jesus never said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it.

Your goal as a husband/father is to do everything in your power to get your wife and children to heaven, how can you do that with this relationship? Two become one flesh, her goal has to be to get you to heaven, will she accept that?


I think it will break your heart more to have children w/ this woman and see the damage she could do w/ her non supportive attitude.

Better to break your heart now than risk harm to future children.


Based on what you have writen, it would be a mistake to marry this person. You would enter the marriage with a divided heart and damage your own peace and security.
In addition it appears that both parties are “being uncompromising and absolute”, to use her words. She needs to understand that, in the catholic view, the children must be raised catholic even if one of the parents is non-catholic.

One final note. Raising children is a huge job, and diffucult enough when both parents agree spiritually, to have such a firmly divided situation would not be a good idea.

Of course no one can make the decision for you but, based on what you’ve written, I’d have to say this marriage is not a good idea.



I believe you already have your answer. You want a women who you can match spiritually with. You want someone who you can raise your children and grow spiritually with and help each other get to heaven. You seem to understand what the sacrament is about. Right now this girl is not that women that you need. She is denying apart of who you are because she doesn’t believe in “organized religion”. What does that mean about how she sees this part of your life? By not understanding your faith and religion she can not full understand you. Your relationship will always be incomplete. It is not your way or no way. It’s God’s way.** **

****Whenever I think about dating someone who is not catholic I have to think, “If I was to die tomorrow and they were responsible to raise the children would they continue to raise them catholic or let the faith slide?” That’s how important our faith is to us. It’s not something that is just a piece of us that can be hiding, It is who we are. Our faith is an integral part of us.

You need to find someone of equal yoke. This women has declared that she does not desire to grow and understand Catholicism and that she would be a negative force with in the house. Marriage is hard enough, so why decide to put yourself in that situation? Yes you love her but you love God more. Pray and Follow your true hearts desire.


Unfortunately, an unequally yoked marriage is a most stressful marriage and in the end can be damaging to both parties. One of you will in the end give up something you do not want to and the resentment will be there. The best thing is to stop it now, if she is not willing to convert or allow the fruit of the marriage to be raised in the faith.


Sounds like you have given this some really deep thought. It’s great to hear you understand the gravity of marriage commitment, and commitment to your children!

It seems many members in this forum are very opposed to the idea of marriage between a Catholic and non Catholic. So do temper what you hear with that understanding. Ultimately, the question here is not whether you and your potential spouse will raise the kids Catholic, but rather, will you agree on how to raise them in the first place.

Taking religion out of the discussion for the moment, it sounds like she is objecting to supporting something she doesn’t understand - and is opposed to learning about it. It’s clearly important to you, but if she’s unwilling to learn more, that might be something to investigate further with her. Let’s assume the question were that after marriage, you wanted to eat only organic food, and she did not. If you express your reasoning, and she is unwilling to listen, understand, or support your decision, it sounds like someone will be upset, and someone will be selfish. That could pose a problem, as typically, poor communication or the unwillingness to compromise is a pattern, and could spread to many aspects of life.

Your situation here is of far more importance than your dietary choices. This is a question of your, your future children’s and her eternal salvation. That’s not something you should compromise on. From personal experience, when my wife and I married, she had no interest in becoming Catholic, but was willing to be married in the Church (by a Bishop no less), and also agreed to raise our kids in the Faith. While I always hoped, and knew, that she would eventually convert, that wasn’t something I tried to push - and the Holy Spirit helped her see the truth.

Accept that you cannot convert her (as only she and the Holy Spirit can bring about that miracle). But, if she’s unwilling to recognize and support the importance you place on your faith and your childrens’ faith, you may want to consider whether you are called to follow a different path.

But, it may be when you bring up Catholicism and future children, she’s really hearing “I want you to be Catholic, and I want 10 children”. Be sure she knows you do not want her to convert, especially not for you. But also, is she open to having children in the first place? That could be the real roadblock…


I was one of those who thought that not being married to a Catholic, even if he seemed open to grace, would not be a deal breaker. As long as we agreed on the important issues, I felt he was “catholic enough” that it wouldn’t be a problem. My faith was strong. He promised not to hinder my children’s upbringing in the faith.

Do not underestimate the power of Satan to get in the middle of this kind of hopeful arrangement and destroy all hope and make you doubt the very love of God. If your girlfriend is not baptized, you won’t even have the grace of the sacrament to help you.

She may be wonderful, but she is not the girl for you.

Because there are things ahead you don’t even see coming. And you will NEED her to love God like you do, and have YOUR faith and agree on how to raise your children TOGETHER.

My xh backslid. Now his comments and lifestyle are a scandal to the faith of my children. There is no marriage. And I’m the most sorry person in the world I tried to pin my life on the hopes he would come around all the way. There really was nothing to build on except me giving him the spiritual benefit of the doubt.

Go with certainty over doubt every day.


I am in a marriage to a non-Catholic who also believes that “organized religion is brainwashing”. That being said, he does not impede my bringing up our two children Catholic. It’s a subject we agreed to disagree on before we were married. Not having a truly sacramental marriage is a real burden for me, but it is a situation that I got myself into by my own choice. I place my marriage in God’s hands and pray that eventually he will come around. It is too late for me to go looking for someone who will share my faith journey, but it is not too late for you.

You state that “During this relationship I have asked myself every day whether I wanted to marry S. After a year and a half I still do not have an answer.” I think that you do not have an answer is the answer. If she were the right woman for you, you would know by now. I pray that you are able to find a spiritual companion and lead a blessed life together.


You know the answer, poor dear.

Be gentle when you break up with her, but get your message across.


This is hard.
Your heart is fighting your head.
Your head knows that this is not the person you should marry but your heart keeps throwing out “yeah buts”.
Your head needs to be the top decision maker. Your future kids are relying on you to pick a mother who will be on the same page with you.
Part of what is hard is that you may not have met the right woman yet. So in ending one relationship there is a sense of emptiness because you don’t have the next relationship in view.
It seems to me if you love this woman you would want her to have a spouse who is on the same wave length she is on. Why would you want to intentionally set up a life long union where there isn’t unity on the most essential things?
Is this hard? Very
Is ending this relationship wise? Yes
Will it hurt? Probably
Will you survive? Absolutely
The good news is your capicity to love is not limited to this one person. You have the capicity to love someone else as does she.


You have received some great advice…may I ask what you mean by ‘your spiritual needs are not being met?’


You sound like me a year ago. In fact, on 2nd Feb last year she broke up with me.

She was the ideal girl for me, it felt, in all except the fact she preferred to be anticlerical and against established religion, Catholic Church as an institution, against absolute rules. She preferred to keep that as a matter of identity and it was also instilled by her father. As much as I had seen her father cross himself, however, his daughter was agnostic, verging on atheist but unable to go that far.

At any rate, the issues were wanting children at all, agreeing how to bring them up, the use of contraceptives or not, and some other things.

I only got to love her more after the break-up and feelings were maturing in me which should have been dying at that point. I even had no current desire to talk to her and the feelings would still somehow mature and grow. At this point I can’t say I wouldn’t want her back if she wanted that.

However, as time passes, I realise she wasn’t perfect, she wasn’t ideal, the relationship wasn’t ideal, it was rocky, we had problems and problems other than religious views. Does it make me love her less? Nope. But I realise some things don’t happen and some feelings aren’t returned. To be honest, I’m not even sure she really meant things she said about not loving me (then) or not having loved me that much (before), or if it was meant to save me pain and make me believe she was dumping me, while she was giving me up in a way. Who knows. At any rate, in the presence of certain circumstances, such as lack of will to have children - or rather the reservation that one won’t necessarily want to have any - which make the validity of marriage very doubtful, one shouldn’t marry.

Your case isn’t as extreme. On the other hand, as much as she can get along with the idea of not opposing the way you bring up your children, she harbours the idea they should be taught about other religious views. And I’m not sure she means it as just learning about them - more like getting to know more to pick on their own… People have that freedom, but children are to be brought up Catholic by Catholic parents. Children are not yet people who are freely able to choose. And you can’t raise your children half-Catholic half-not.

As other posters have mentioned, part of the problem is that she’s unwilling to learn more about Catholicism and that her opposition is not rational - she wants to be against established religion, partly because that’s what her father said. Worse things have been fixed by grace, but it would be extremely hard to fix that on your own.

You’re in my prayers. Perhaps give it a couple of days and pray too. Pray hard. Maybe a miracle is going to happen. Or maybe she isn’t the girl for you.


Get out. Neither you nor this woman needs a lifetime of doubt, regret, and haggling over dissimilar beliefs. If you are Catholic to the core, you need a Catholic spouse who can agree with you on everything from natural family planning to raising your children in the Catholic faith. And don’t forget both sets of in-laws. You could have a real mess on your hands with a mixed marriage.

Mixed marriages can work, but it doesn’t sound like either of you is willing to entertain compromise.

Get out.



To answer the question from whatevergirl:

Throughout our time together I have yearned to share my religion with S. I would have loved her to come to Mass with me (I always invited her with absolutely no pressure - she probably came four or five times and didn’t like it).

I would have also loved to spend time discussing my faith, what I had read, experiences of God in our days, maybe praying together. When I tried however it would quickly turn into a debate (not unpleasant, but always challenging my views). Gradually I got tired of these challenges and stopped talking about my faith. I wanted someone who would be as enthusiastic as I was and could help me explore my vocation and enhance my faith.

Thank you all for your advice and prayers. I have reached the answer and I know that we are not meant to be together. It is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make but there is a peace in me that tells me it is right.


Glad YOU asked as I was wondering the very same thing myself.


no the reason many of us are offering advice against this union is because the couple do no appear to share any of their deepest values and cannot agree on fundamental areas of child-rearing, which bodes ill for other areas of potential conflict.


there is another problematic statement here “my spiritual needs were not being met”. If that means you expect a potential spouse to fill your spiritual needs that is an error. Neither spouse nor parent can “fill my spiritual needs” only God can, and that is why my relationship with him and duty to him are paramount. The reason for marriage is NOT to “fill each other’s needs” whether they be spiritual, emotional, psychological, or material. The reason is to share utterly in every aspect of your life, and successful marriage requires people with healthy personalities and healthy balance in their lives.


Sounds like you made your decision, but something to think about now and in the future. When you say she’s “challenging my views”, I wonder if there are one of two things going on. In my experience, when I was asked about my faith by a non-Catholic, and I didn’t know the specific answers, I felt attacked, whereas really, the other wanted to know. Is she asking you the tough questions you can answer, and she fights, or tough questions you need help answering? It could be she’s trying to argue, but keep in mind, many strong and vocal converts to the Church started as Her most vocal opponents. When people come to truly understand and know the Catholic beliefs and practices, few can truthfully deny their validity. There’s no shame in not knowing how to answer her questions, but don’t run from them if you don’t know. This could be a great opportunity for you to more fully learn to love the Lord yourself.

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