Catholic dating a non-Catholic, Will marriage succeed?

I’m 25 years old Catholic born and raised and dating a non-Catholic. My boyfriend of 2.5 years was raised Southern Baptist. Since we are both Christians, we essentially agree on the fundamentals; Jesus is God, Jesus died for our sins, have faith in Him and spread His word.

He does challenge the Catholic faith and sometimes he has valid points. One of his reasons for disagreeing with the church is that some of what we Catholics practice is not found in the bible, rather it is written by the church.

We’ve tried compromising by attending a few non-denominational and Methodist churches, but I would prefer to remain Catholic. He doesn’t ask for me to convert but as of now he doesn’t want to raise our (future) children Catholic.
I guess my question is, are there successful marriages in which a Catholic marries a non-Catholic? **

I do want to just throw out there that my parents were Catholic ( my mom a convert in order to marry my dad), they later divorced. My mother married my stepfather (protestant) and my dad is now on his 3rd marriage (all women were Catholic). In this instance my mother and stepfather have had a lasting marriage and they are opposing religions. He simply attended mass with her (but their marriage is not recognized by the Church).

It worked for my parents for 52 years.:smiley:

My mother’s adopted father was a Presbyterian minister to boot.

My dad was nominally Baptist. But he never went to church. He would attend Mass with us on the big occasions - First Communion and Confirmation.

My parents did get married in the Catholic church, all the kids were raised Catholic. My parents were married for 40something years, and would be at about 60 now, I’m sure, if my dad hadn’t died.

I’m not sure why you would categorize this example as a “valid point”. It is not.

Sounds like you need some further catechesis on your own faith. It is not an option to go to some other denomination.

This is non-negotiable for a Catholic. It is a promise you must make in order to receive permission to marry a non-Catholic.

I guess my question back to you would be regarding your definition of “successful”?

My definition of successful includes going to Mass as a family each week, praying Catholic prayers in the household, practing the faith as a couple and family, having Catholic traditions in my home, being united in faith and vision for my family.

My definition of successful does not include arguing about the faith, compromising the faith, being tempted to leave the faith and go somewhere else, refusal to raise my children Catholic.

“Successful” mixed marriages typically mean one or the other person compromises a core part of who they are (something no one should be eager or willing to do), or they didn’t really care to start with and let the other spouse do whatever they want.

Well, I wouldn’t really call a marriage outside the Church (i.e., mortally sinful situation) in which one party doesn’t really have a strong religious affiliation and “simply attends” mass with the other *successful *in the full sense of that word. “It works for them” and “it’s pleasing to God” aren’t really the same thing.

Mixed marriage is very perilous. The ramifications have already started to present themselves in your relationship.

You will receive feedback from people with examples of “yes it works” or “no it doesn’t”.

I suggest you back up a bit and really think about how YOU want to raise your family, practice your Catholic faith, and your particular situation.

Your boyfriend doesn’t sound like a “non practicing” Baptist. He sounds like someone with definite ideas on how we wants his marriage to work-- no Catholicism.

That isn’t really going to work out for you. So, regardless of what others say they are not you and their situation is not your situation.

I think your boyfriend has laid it out pretty plainly for you. As a Catholic, that is not something you can agree to. I am sorry you have invested 2 years in this relationship without thinking forward to where this would lead.

For me, it’s pretty black-and-white. No.

The marriage might last, but it will not be successful in the way it ought to be. The vocation to marriage is a vocation to holiness; you and your husband will keep yourselves accountable, to your children (which the Church “requires” be raised Catholic), to the Sacraments (which he won’t be pursuing), to a prayer life, and to general holiness – if there are misunderstandings about the way salvation is achieved, for example, or teachings of the Church (i.e., no contraception, purity in marriage, etc.), you’ll be greatly troubled.

I’d go speak with a priest together. Have him bring his questions. Ask him to consider RCIA classes.

But, before any of this, bring this to prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. Only God can tell you whether this is right, and perhaps a non-Catholic husband will be your cross to bear, in order to be a witness to him and his family, etc.

God bless you! You’ll be in my prayers.

If it’s merely a “preference” to remain Catholic then you’ve already compromised, no?

Speaking as an Evangelical minister who is far from anti-Catholic (I am a strong supporter of the Evangelicals and Catholics together document) I would counsel you to be very careful.

While it is true that you are both baptized followers of Jesus Christ, if you marry you will both face many challenges - only some of which are evident now. If it is going to work, you both will need to have a deep respect for the other’s faith community and be willing to participate in the life of that community. In addition, as you have mentioned, there is the issue of the children.

IMHO, conversion is not the answer either. Wanting to get married to someone is NOT a good reason to change churches. This should be done only if one is convinced in one’s heart and never should be done as a matter of convenience.

May our Lord give you both wisdom and the courage to follow that wisdom.

There are so many variables to a successful marriage. It would be impossible whether this difference would have a significant impact.

Southern Baptist and Catholicism are nearly identical in terms of morality. (there are a few important variances - is he willing to use Natural Family Planning only for spacing children?) However, despite these similarities, many Southern Baptists believe that Catholics are not even Christians and only give lip service to Jesus. How would he react if you took up a devotion to the rosary?

His insistence that every belief and practice be explicitly biblical is irrational. The Bible does not elevate itself so highly and many of his own beliefs and practices are not explicitly biblical anyway (there are frequent threads on this forum concerning Sola Scriptura - as well as articles on the main site).

His refusal to raise your future children Catholic could prevent your bishop from permitting the marriage. That would put you in the same position as your mother and you would be ineligible to receive the Sacraments. :sad_yes:

There’s your answer right there…

I am sure that it CAN work, but what are the odds that it WILL work? As one who is in a mixed marraige, I would highly advise against it. Marraige is hard work to begin with, and sadly being of two different faith traditions from my experience only adds tension and division. Anyone who takes thier faith seriously (any faith) should make it the most imporatnt thing in their life, but when you are unable to share and participate in that experience with the one you love, it makes life and the relationship harder than average. As I always say in this matter, I am not telling you what to do, I am only relating my experience. May the Lord guide you in your decision making.

I married to a non-Catholic in the Church. We have a pretty darned good marriage. My husband supports my faith life and attends Mass and other services with me when he’s not traveling. He’s non-religious from a non-religious family, and he has misgivings about some Church teachings that we discuss, but he doesn’t denigrate the Church. And if he disparaged me for my faith, we would have never gotten married in the first place.

For my part I don’t demand that he attend Mass with me or get passive agressive if he decides to sleep in on a Sunday. I’ve laced his person and his truck with Green Scapulars; I pray daily for his conversation; and I asked that he read the Catechism as his Christmas present to me. But I don’t hound him into converting, nor do I go all *hell fire and brimstone *about how he’s going to burn if he doesn’t convert. I also work hard to not get Church Lady-ish when he and his family discuss hot-button current event topics that involve the Church.

It also helps that his daughters are being raised Catholic.

So, the simple answer to your question is yes, a Catholic can have a successful marriage to a non-Catholic. But there are many factors to take into consideration that revolve around raising kids in the Faith and mutual respect for each other’s faith lives.

There was a recent thread for Catholic spouses of non-Catholics. It’s in the Family Life forums; perhaps you could locate that and read up on what other members do to have successful mixed marriages.

And an FYI: if you marry in the Church both of you will be required to answer in the affirmative when asked if you are willing to raise your children Catholic.


Yes, two compatible people can have a very successful marriage.

First of all a significant percentage of marriages fail. Longevity is a challenge even when everyone is on the same page. I don’t know what the stats are when a couple has sigificant differences and so I’ll leave that issue alone.

My concern is that he will not permit the children to be raised Catholic. Therefore you likely will not be able to be married in the Church. It also demonstrates a really conflict in attitude toward raising your children.

My ex-wife was raised without any religion although her parents were former portestants. She agreed that the kids would be raised Catholic and then six years into our marriage she had a conversion experience and did the full 1 year plus in RCIA to become a Catholic. Even though we are divorced we still attend Church together with the kids at times.

My God Bless You,

I see that this is your very first post on this forum ever. While some of the replys on this forum might appear very black and white and therfore “cold”, it has been my experience that overall the “Uber Catholics” that reply do so out of true love of the Church and its members. In short give this forum some time and I believe that you will find that it is a very rich environment for you to grow in your faith.

Peace, g.

People change a lot and the divorce rates are 50% these days. I understand that faith does have a lot to do with a prosperous marriage but compatibility factors also come into the picture which many of you have addressed. I would do anything for him and am willing to support him and I truly believe he will do the same for me. In fact, he is going to participate in lent this year.

I think talking to a priest would be the best advice. And I do believe my boyfriend would be willing to raise our children Catholic if it meant losing me, but that is something we would have to continue to discuss.

Not to be offensive but some of these responses are perhaps why he is not fond of the Catholic church. There are so many parameters on whether or not the Catholic church ‘accepts you’…when Jesus accepted everyone.

I do thank you all very much for your input. Especially those who have living experience.

Can it work? Yes. I know of a few marriages like this, and the couples are usually happy. But they started their relationship with their eyes open.

Religious differences, even between Christians of different communities, can cause disharmony in a marriage, therefore it’s important to sort out religious issues before the relationship becomes serious. It’s not fully clear to me how committed you are to Catholicism, but if you are, you should be aware that if you married your boyfriend, the Church would require you (but not him) to promise to do your best to raise your children as Catholics. I would suggest that you revisit that issue with him.

Keep open to the possibility that either of you may feel differently about religion, and if you are prepared to accept the negative consequences as well as any positive consequences of such potential changes.

:thumbsup: Agreed.

I suggest you use this courting time in your relationship to get to know your future spouse, and he you, deeply in the most important issues you will ever encounter and at the same time enrich your own faith and understanding of what the church teaches. This fourm is one of many good tools that can provide such understanding. Either you will grow together in truth and/or see each others flaws. Kind of a CAF pre-cana.:slight_smile:

Peace to you both!!!

First you will discover that you have a lot of problems once you have children and they start to grow up and religion will be only one aspect.

Second you need to work more on your understandings of Christianity including bible and sacred tradition. Where does it say that Jesus accepted everyone, He told people to go away while calling them brood of vipers, He even told Peter to go away because he was tempting Him.

Do not blame Catholics for telling you the truth, the Church accepts everybody that is willing to join her.

He has an incorrect understanding, then. The Church accepts everyone and calls them to repentance, just as Jesus did. Participation in the Sacraments is only limited to** those who have repented**, follow the Gospel and and are properly instructed in doctrine.

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