Counseling your children about taking a secular spouse


#1

My son has been dating a young lady for more than a year now.
The relationship distresses me because I am fully aware that my son is having relations with the young lady (when I found this to be true, I told him that he had to move out of my home and get place of his own) This went well and I retained a good relationship with my son. I also try to have a friendly relationship with his girlfriend.

I am hoping that my son's dating relationships will lead to a happy marriage but I am worried because he refuses to consider chasity as an important step toward marriage.
But now I think there are other considerations I should make him aware of...

I feel I need to tell him that because he is Catholic that marrying a secular Jewish woman(she is unbaptised) may be a problem from the get go... I'm thinking of the dispensations that will be required, the agreement to raise the children Catholic, etc.(and I'm assuming that down the road he will come back to his faith ,possibly after he has married this young lady) He has already told me that this girl is an atheist and he is pretty sure that this will not change. He is currently on the fence about coming back to the Church.

Should I talk to him about this or should I wait...? If so, how should I approach the subject without making sound like a personal attack on this nice young lady?


#2

Your son is old enough to move out, so he's old enough to make his own decisions on what religion, if any, he wants to practice.
God's given him free will.


#3

Of course you should talk about it with him. In charity, you should do all you can to help him return to the practice of the faith and to prevent him from making a serious marriage mistake,


#4

I agree that you should talk to him, lovingly, calmly, supportively, and make him aware of the potential problems with the religious differences in their relationship, and with ignoring his own faith -- then having done it once, leave future decisions to him and his girlfriend.

If he's old enough to be living on his own and considering marriage, and if you've brought up all the relative issues, I think you really have to let go and trust in their decision about their marriage.

I learned by the incredible loving but hands-off example of my perfect mother-in-law how to BE a good mom and mother-in-law to my twin sons and their wives, and the knowledge has rewarded all of us with wonderful relationships for 18 years (and counting). .

A "marriage mistake" is certainly not guaranteed by the disparity in faith -- it may be harder to achieve a good, solid marriage without sharing faith, but it's absolutely possible.

You have the opportunity here to set a very positive or very negative tone for many years to come, and in the end, it's their marriage and life together.

Good luck with your decision.


#5

I think what your son needs is a firm understanding of what marriage is, and what the Church's teachings on it are. Teaching him about Theology of the Body would be a good idea. The Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West, is a very good overview, in question answer format, of John Paul II's teachings. West has also written a book called Theology of the Body for Beginners. It is also very good.

The Church's teachings on chastity and on marriage go hand in hand. To reject the former, is to reject the latter as well. Before the relationship goes further, he should know and understand the teachings on marriage (and hopefully begin to accept them, even if he doesn't understand them yet).

To many people, probably your son included, the Church's teachings just seem to be arbitrary and prohibitive. But once you learn what they really are, and the theology behind them, they make perfect, beautiful sense.

I agree that if he is old enough to move out he is old enough to make his own decisions, but he doesn't seem to have a very strong theological basis on which to make such decisions.

While he can and should make his own decisions, you can give him some resources that he can improve his knowledge with. That way neither one of you feel like it's a lecture or anything, but just a "Here, these books are highly recommended, and I thought they might help your discernment, since you're in a relationship and also trying to learn more about the Church" (Since you said he's on the fence, I assume he is at least willing to learn more theological teaching, etc, before completely dismissing it.)

Like you said, there is also the issue of dispensations, etc, if he chooses to marry her, but that would be addressed by his priest in the marriage preparation process.


#6

We share the same anxiety, i.e. how do you catechise the Prodigal Son while he is still on his "journey"?
Grown, out of the house, independent, experiencing and choosing the world, voting for abortion supporting candidates because they sound good and represent "youthful" ideas of fairness and equity, and despite years of Catholic schooling not attending Mass. Girlfriend of 5 years but no marriage in the plans and although she is a convert from her youth she is not attending Mass either.
We will answer to GOD for what we do or do not do as regards the condition of their souls on the day of their judgement, but with all his Catholic education there is nothing I can teach him, that he has not heard. The question is "why" doesn't he apply it and live it?

I guess that is the discussion I need to have with him, the "why". And from his response, I will know "if" there is anything I can do expect follow St. Monica's example and pray the rosary every day, and solicit the help of the Holy Souls of Purgatory, while waiting in hope and looking to the horizon every day for his return.


#7

My Dad was in a similar situation with his second wife. His parents told him over and over that she was mentally unstable and would only cause him pain, but he did not listen. When they got divorced and she went on to spend the next 30 years trying to wreck his life, he desperately wished he had listened to them. Your warnings to your son will probably fall on deaf ears now, but later on down the road it will mean a lot to him that you cared enough to try and stop his mistake.
I don't mean to generalize, but from the experience of friends and people I've talked to, athiest Jewish women seem to be particularly hostile to religion and will derail a marriage very quickly with the conflict this causes. You need to pray hard that their relationship ends before it leads to marriage.


#8

[quote="Julian0404, post:6, topic:214762"]
We share the same anxiety, i.e. how do you catechise the Prodigal Son while he is still on his "journey"?
Grown, out of the house, independent, experiencing and choosing the world, voting for abortion supporting candidates because they sound good and represent "youthful" ideas of fairness and equity, and despite years of Catholic schooling not attending Mass. Girlfriend of 5 years but no marriage in the plans and although she is a convert from her youth she is not attending Mass either.
We will answer to GOD for what we do or do not do as regards the condition of their souls on the day of their judgement, but with all his Catholic education there is nothing I can teach him, that he has not heard. The question is "why" doesn't he apply it and live it?

I guess that is the discussion I need to have with him, the "why". And from his response, I will know "if" there is anything I can do expect follow St. Monica's example and pray the rosary every day, and solicit the help of the Holy Souls of Purgatory, while waiting in hope and looking to the horizon every day for his return.

[/quote]

Sorry we have to commiserate instead of celebrate together. I hope that this changes for both of us soon. I will pray for both of our children tonight. Thanks for your reply!


#9

If he takes his faith very serious relationship will pose problems down the road assuming they have children.

Talk to him and ask him if he thought about these things and how he would handle them?


#10

[quote="Fidelia, post:5, topic:214762"]
I think what your son needs is a firm understanding of what marriage is, and what the Church's teachings on it are. Teaching him about Theology of the Body would be a good idea. The Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West, is a very good overview, in question answer format, of John Paul II's teachings. West has also written a book called Theology of the Body for Beginners. It is also very good.

While he can and should make his own decisions, you can give him some resources that he can improve his knowledge with. That way neither one of you feel like it's a lecture or anything, but just a "Here, these books are highly recommended, and I thought they might help your discernment, since you're in a relationship and also trying to learn more about the Church" (Since you said he's on the fence, I assume he is at least willing to learn more theological teaching, etc, before completely dismissing it.)

[/quote]

I ordered the ABC's About Choosing A Good Wife a book recommended by Colleen Kelly Mast(I haven't read it though and the title might be a little too obvious since he is already involved with this young lady.) So your recommendations would probably better because it focuses on discernment of marriage(his goal) rather than his choice of a mate which I'm sure he feels he has already done correctly.

I'll just save the ABC's of Choosing A Good Wife for my other son who is not currently dating.

Thank you and God bless!


#11

[quote="challam2010, post:4, topic:214762"]
I agree that you should talk to him, lovingly, calmly, supportively, and make him aware of the potential problems with the religious differences in their relationship, and with ignoring his own faith -- then having done it once, leave future decisions to him and his girlfriend.

I learned by the incredible loving but hands-off example of my perfect mother-in-law how to BE a good mom and mother-in-law to my twin sons and their wives, and the knowledge has rewarded all of us with wonderful relationships for 18 years (and counting). .

A "marriage mistake" is certainly not guaranteed by the disparity in faith -- it may be harder to achieve a good, solid marriage without sharing faith, but it's absolutely possible.

You have the opportunity here to set a very positive or very negative tone for many years to come, and in the end, it's their marriage and life together.

[/quote]

Sage advice. Thank you for your counsel. I truely want to be a good mother-in-law some day too.


#12

[quote="m_crane, post:10, topic:214762"]
I ordered the ABC's About Choosing A Good Wife a book recommended by Colleen Kelly Mast(I haven't read it though and the title might be a little too obvious since he is already involved with this young lady.) So your recommendations would probably better because it focuses on discernment of marriage(his goal) rather than his choice of a mate which I'm sure he feels he has already done correctly.

I'll just save the ABC's of Choosing A Good Wife for my other son who is not currently dating.

Thank you and God bless!

[/quote]

I'm not familiar with the book you mentioned. I'm glad to hear you think the West books might help. I have read them both and they helped my understanding greatly!

Best wishes.


#13

Unlikely if he has no issues with premarital sex.


#14

Could you pray for the girl, ask that she be open to the Christian faith?


#15

Hi,

I'm not sure if there's much you can do to counsel him against taking a secular spouse if he's not practicing his faith. For what it's worth, I was raised Catholic but was very poorly catechised and had no idea what the Church taught in a lot of cases, or if I did know "what" I didn't know "why". Without understanding, I felt able to accept or reject any views. Without going into details on how I came back to the Church, it was going through RCIA that taught me what my faith believes and why. Once I knew that, I had a very different outlook.

Is there a way that you could convince him to go through an RCIA course? Perhaps approach it on the basis that he should know what his faith teaches before he gives it up. Obviously you know him so you will know if this would have a chance of working or how to approach it.

One last thing if you do convince him to go through RCIA - please make sure you find one that actually teaches Church teaching. I had a friend interested in converting so I got him to go to RCIA. He went to the Church closest to where he lives, which is not the same parish as I attend. I was shocked and appalled and what they taught him. I have a very orthodox priest, and assumed that all in the Diocese would be the same. One small example: your son woudl certainly not have a problem with having relations with his GF if he attended this RCIA.


#16

He went to ccd for years. My house is full of Catholic readings including several Bibles and copys of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ewtn is available in our area.
He rejected the faith in his late teenage years because he was lazy about Mass and I think he wanted badly to live a secular life.

He has told me on occassions that he doesn’t believe he can live a chaste life and that no one does that. Funny thing is his brother lives a chaste life.

Last week, I was talking to him. He was telling me some problems he was having with his girlfriend and again I recommended chastity. But I got choked up when we were talking and he asked me why I was upset. I told him it was because I have so much, I am so rich (meaning my relationship with God) and you have so little and I want you to have what I have because you are my son and I love you so much.

Is RCIA available for Catholic who have received all of their Sacraments?

I think his journey back needs to start with a Good Confession.


#17

Well, I was hoping that might help but it doesn't seem to be the case in your family (and the fact that his brother is leading a different lifestyle than he is only supports that).

From what you've posted, it sounds like you are already doing the right things. You've talked to him about what he's doing and trying to get him to see the light, but also keeping a positive relationship with him. I think both are vital to try to lead him back to the church. I'm quite certain you are praying for his return. Unfortunately, I don't have any advice other that to keep doing what you are doing!

To answer your question, at least at my parish a Catholic who has received the sacraments but doesn't know their faith well can go through RCIA. There are other courses available afterwards, but that is to cover the basics. I actually attended RCIA classes when I started going to Mass again and it was the best thing I could have done.

God Bless you and your family.


#18

m crane, you might want to see if your church or your son's church has the Catholics Come Home program. It's intended for Catholics who have had various degrees of the sacraments (baptised, first communion, or confirmation) but have fallen away from the church. It's similar to RCIA but it's focus is not on bringing in and educating new members but on bringing home former Catholics. Might be more up his alley.


#19

[quote="Sasha, post:17, topic:214762"]

To answer your question, at least at my parish a Catholic who has received the sacraments but doesn't know their faith well can go through RCIA. There are other courses available afterwards, but that is to cover the basics. I actually attended RCIA classes when I started going to Mass again and it was the best thing I could have done.

God Bless you and your family.

[/quote]

The RCIA idea is a good one and I will keep it in mind because I think sometimes a person needs to hear the truth from source other than a parent before it sinks in. In this case, the RCIA teaching may reach him better than I have.

Thank you and God Bless.:thumbsup:


#20

I will check around. You good folks have such excellent ideas.
Thank you much! :slight_smile:


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