Advice needed: How to explain about Catholic marriage to a non-Catholic partner

Hi,
I am a Catholic and right now having a serious relationship with a non-Catholic partner. He is a nice man and taking our relationship very seriously.

Some days ago we had a serious discussion about marriage. He asked me how I think about marriage and I explained about the sacramental Catholic marriage and my belief in a ‘once in a life time’ marriage. He is a “non active” Christian and right now having a very ‘realistic and logical’ thinking about marriage concept because he had a traumatic experience in marriage. He divorced his ex-wife about two years ago because his ex left him for another man (his colleage). (Their marriage only last for 4 years and lucky they had no children). This bad experience made him very difficult to believe in marriage anymore.

He loves me and has done averything to convince me that he really takes our relationship seriously. However in our discussion he is trying to express that he is scared of marriage and said that his commitment to me is as much as when he is married.

He asked me to explain to him (for the sake of discussion and to convince him) about the difference between getting legally married and a partnership without marriage. He keep saying that the difference is only the signature in the certificate, as he has the same commitment anyway either way.

I need to explain about the importance of marriage for me as a Catholic, eventually. How can I explain to him so he can buy it. He keeps saying that marriage does not guarantee in anyway for a couple to stay together. He said the most important is his loyalty and commitment.

I already explained about my belief and faith however he is being so realistic and keeps giving me logical explanation about why it is difficult for him to believe in marriage anymore.

Any suggestion on how I should convince him.
Many thanks!

Perhaps explaining how marriage is the solumn swearing of an oath before God? Start there, perhpas?

[quote=cecileandrews]Hi, . He asked me to explain to him (for the sake of discussion and to convince him) about the difference between getting legally married and a partnership without marriage. He keep saying that the difference is only the signature in the certificate, as he has the same commitment anyway either way.

I .
Many thanks!
[/quote]

same old same old, he wants sex and all the benefits of a live-in housekeeper but does not want commitment and does not want children if it will mean any inconvenience to him. I am very sorry his bad experience soured him on marriage, but if he really loves you, your religious beliefs, which are core to your identity, will be important to him and he will honor them. If he does not, he does not love you. Period. How can you change his mind? by sticking to your guns and not being swayed by his arguement which is no argument at all, just a copout.

Marriage is a Sacrament, not a legal contract. He does not understand this, and might never understand it.

Why do you want to be with a man who does not share your Catholic faith, has no concept of Sacramental marriage, and who is not even free to be in a relationship with you due to his previous marriage???

You do understand that he has to get an annulment through the Catholic Church for there to be any hope of you two marrying?

Get some books on the Sacrament of Marriage. Books like Three To Get Married by Fulton Sheen. Books on what the Sacrament is and entails. I also suggest the book Annulment: The Wedding That Was by Michael Smith Foster. It has a good explanation of the theology of the Sacrament of Marriage and explanations about annulments, which you will also need knowledge of to discuss with him.

He views marriage as a legal contract, and not even as something that needs to be formalized. It seems like an attitude that leans towards “as long as I’m happy” not “FOREVER”. I don’t think he has the proper disposition towards marriage at all.

[quote=puzzleannie]same old same old, he wants sex and all the benefits of a live-in housekeeper but does not want commitment and does not want children if it will mean any inconvenience to him. I am very sorry his bad experience soured him on marriage, but if he really loves you, your religious beliefs, which are core to your identity, will be important to him and he will honor them. If he does not, he does not love you. Period. How can you change his mind? by sticking to your guns and not being swayed by his arguement which is no argument at all, just a copout.
[/quote]

I was thinking exactly the same thing. As soon as I stated reading this the alarm bells started going off. As a man who’s been around for a while, I can tell you there are more serious problems here than his understanding of the nuances of Catholic marriage. He has a serious problem with commitment. Dear sister in Christ: Don’t fall for it.

First of all you need to believe it yourself. Since he is divorced, he is not free to date. You should not be considering marriage to a man that is not free to marry. If you love him and he loves you, first take a stand and say that he must obtain an annulment before you proceed with any further relationship.

There are many good resources on Marriage. Theology of the Body is very good. Also the marriage talks by Archbishop Sheen “The Two Shall Become One” Actually most marriage materials by people faithful to the Magisterium are good.

The bottom line is that you can’t pick and choose which parts of the Catholic teaching on Marriage you want to believe. You can try to justify why dating a divorced man is not adultery but you certainly cannot justify marrying a divorced man is not adultery if you want to live the Catholic teaching on Marriage.

No one ever said the truth was alway easy.

Jmj

Hello cecileandrews! I would like to say a couple things. If your boyfriend is a Christian (has he been Baptized?) – he certainly seems to have a very “secular” mind or thought process. There is always a good chance that this will change – and it is certainly something to hope for! I gotta tell you though… there doesn’t seem to be a lot of incentive for him to learn about and respect your faith if you don’t stand up for it and live it yourself. I’m not questioning your commitment to the truth and to Christ Himself, only your understanding of that truth. Not to say that we don’t ALL have a lot to learn – me especially! :wink:

Let me be honest though… you are playing with fire, right now. It’s true. There is a VERY REAL possibility that this man is STILL MARRIED in the eyes of God – if so… my beautiful Catholic sister… what are you doing? Unless his former marriage is annulled, he IS married. And you deserve better than that. You really do.

I am not trying to attack your friend - he may very well be the kindest, most thoughtful, caring, sensitive, and considerate person you have ever dated or met! That is not the question you should be asking though. You shouldn’t be asking, “Well, he’s good to me… and he loves me… so why shouldn’t I make a few compromises?” Please don’t put on the blinders here, please don’t.

I understand that you would like for him to learn about your faith… and THEN he will understand why you feel the way you do about marriage. And he will THEN see what his current situation is in the eyes of God. That’s all very nice and you are a good person and certainly in the right for wanting him to see the truth. But… you should not continue your relationship with this man in this way.

I will pray for your happiness and courage my sister (you will need to be brave) – and I will pray for his integrity and humility to hold… because if you want to be with this man, he has some serious soul-searching to do.

May the Lord be with you!

Jason

Dear All, Many thanks for all your feedback and thoughts…

Another question: My understanding about annulment is only when the previous marriage was a Christian marriage. However, his previous marriage was not done in Christian church. They got married in Hinduism (his ex wife is Hindu) and he has been legally divorced by law. So is annulment needed in this situation. I thought annulment should only be required when the marriage was done in Christian way??? Is this right?

Many thanks!

Only Catholics are bound by the Church law to be married in a Catholic Church. Non-Catholics can be married any way they want, by a JP, hanging upside down from a tree, jumping a broom.

If the couple is baptised, for instance protestant, their marriage is sacramental. Marriages between non-baptised or where one partner is baptised and the other is non-baptised is considered by the Catholic Church to be valid and natural marriages.

A marriage between a non-baptised and a baptised person can be dissolved by the Pope and is called a Petrine Privilege. (google it) A marriage between two non-baptised can be dissolved by the bishop using the Pauline Privilege.

In any case a priest must be contacted and he will advise you about the next step and the procedure. So until your friend’s marriage is dealt he is considered by the Church to still be married.

Here is a link to a site that will give you some idea: lcdiocese.org/Annulments/determine.htm

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