First of all, I want to say hi to everyone as I am new to forum. In order not to beat around the bush, I will get straight to my question. I am a practicing Catholic and have been so all of my life. My boyfriend (who is a practicing Christian but not Catholic) and I are planning on getting engaged soon, but there is one thing holding us back. We are not sure exactly how to raise children in a interdenominational home. Neither of us knows of any families in which both parents continued to practice theirdifferent faiths and their children did the same. We are searching for a way to interweave our two faiths that shows equal amounts of respect and knowledge with as little confusion as possible. If anyone can give suggestions, or if you are doing the same or know of a family that is doing successfully please let me know. Any responses will be appreciated.
I would suggest that after 13 years of a mixed marriage and having been a member in 4 different parishes and the spouse of a congregant in three Presbyterian congregations, that there are few if no real world examples of “interchurch couples”. It sounds nice but I don’t know any family where each spouse is active in his own church, somewhat active in his spouse’s church and equally sharing with the kids.
The inevitable arguments will start with birth control, the obligation to go to Mass the day after your wedding, the weekly obligation to go to Mass even if you accompany him to worship at his church, whether or where to baptize the baby and many others. Dr. Laura gives some good advice here. Ask him to live as a Catholic for a year(weekly Mass, daily prayer, no going to his church. After that year if he can convert, then marry; if not go your separate ways. It sounds cold but marriage is not easy and kids make it harder. I thought as long as the kids were Catholic it would be okay. Well actually living a Catholic life is difficult when you are second guessed that everything you believe is “not obligatory”
Here are some books and articles on the subject.
Paul and Jeanne Simon, Protestant-Catholic Marriages Can Succeed (New York, NY: Association Press, 1967).
Alasdair Heron, Two Churches-One Love: Interchurch Marriage between Protestants and Roman Catholics (Dublin: APCK by Beacon Printing Co. Ltd., 1977).
Theresa Rebeck, Catholic Update: ‘Mixed’ Marriages: Helping Interfaith Couples Grow (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1981).
Barbara D. Schiappa, Mixing: Catholic-Protestant Marriages in the 1980s A Guidebook for Couples and Families (Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press, 1982).
Elizabeth Bookser Barkley, Catholic Update: Interchurch Marriages: How to Help Them Succeed (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1990).
George Kilcourse, Double Belonging: Interchurch Families and Christian Unity (New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1992).
Report of the National Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Uniting Church in Australia, Interchurch Marriages: Their Ecumenical Challenge and Significance for Our Churches, (Strathfield NSW: St. Paul’s Publications, 1999).
Center for Marriage and Family, Ministry To Interchurch Marriages: A Summary Report, (Omaha: Creighton University, 1999).
Center for Marriage and Family, Building Relationship, Interaction, Decision-making, Growth and Enrichment Through Spirituality (BRIDGES), (Omaha: Creighton University, 2002).
John C. Bush and Patrick R. Cooney, eds. Catholic/Reformed Dialogue in the United States, Interchurch Families: Resources for Ecumenical Hope, (Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002).
Sandra L. Stanko, United in Heart, Divided in Faith: A Guide for Catholic-Protestant Couples (Allen, TX: Sun Creek Books, 2003).
A paper adopted by the Second World Gathering of interchurch families from eleven countries held in Rome in July 2003, Interchurch Families and Christian Unity (London: British Association of Interchurch Families, 2003).
I think it is really hard for people who are strong in their individual faiths to make this work. If one is “eh…not a big deal” it has a fighting chance. And I have seen it work when the couple was beyond child bearing years.
I was Catholic, married a man of another Christian faith. Both of us ended up leaving our churches and raising our kids in another faith.
Wish I had a happily ever after story for you, but I don’t. I have a great marriage and a great husband, but I know this would not have worked this way has we been adamant about our religions.
If your Catholic faith is your primary priority…you might need to let this relationship go…
I am the child of a Catholic mother and Protestant father. So was my husband. I think it will work if one of you gives up your religion, agrees to raise the children in the chosen church and supports that 100%. I just don’t think it is ideal.
My husband and I were both baptized Catholic as babies. I was raised Catholic, with a deep respect for my Protestant relatives. My husband was turned off religion completely by parents who couldn’t let go of their own beliefs long enough to share them. If he hadn’t agreed to raise the children Catholic, I wouldn’t have married him.
That being said, I took the kids to church alone. I took them to Catechism alone. I taught them to pray alone. He talked me into having my tubes tied because it was recommended. By then, I just wasn’t strong enough in my faith to fight him and the doctor. After receiving his Sacraments, this has been hubby’s deepest regret. We are trying to save enough money to have the procedure reversed but it isn’t exactly cheap.
Now that the man I am married to loves the Church as much as I do, I know what I was missing all those years. I know what our parents were missing. I beg you, for the sake of your children and your future happiness, don’t go there. Its not worth it. Find a nice Catholic man who will share your faith and help make it stronger. The only love that conquers all is God’s love.
Please consider, do you want to spend a lifetime with a man whom you can never recieve Communion with. You, and your children would not share that with Dad.
You could not pray the Rosary with your husband. That is such a special thing, how about Adoration - would he go and spend a Holy hour with you and the kids? Will he take the kids to CCD/Mass when you are sick?
When it came right down to it, the kids are someday going to want to know is mommy right and daddy wrong or vice versa or are they both wrong?
I would never advise my child or sister or friend to marry outside of the Church.
well isnt that a bit HARSH?
how do you know that this man would never convert to the Catholic faith? Perhaps this woman is the witness to the Catholic faith that he needs to convert?
If this woman were my daughter, sister or personal friend, I would advise her exactly as I did here. If the man in question is willing to convert PRIOR to marriage, fantastic. If not, I feel missionary dating is a bad idea and missionary marriage is asking for heartache and spiritual lonliness.
I converted long before my DH. I spent years being the wife alone at Mass. Taking our son to CCD, watching him serve on the Altar, recieving communion alone. For years, for hundreds of Sundays. It was so lonely. If you have not been there, you do not know what that is like. I could NEVER in good concience, advise another person to enter into marriage that will carry that kind of lonliness. We still loved each other, and my husband was not a practicing anything - had he been some other denomination, it would have been even worse because of the polar opposite beliefs.
Marriage is not about making romance official, it is much more - and why would anyone want to bring added stress on a marriage?
When I asked my wife to marry me, we had already agreed that I could only marry her if the children were raised Catholic. It took years of prayer to decide a marriage to a non-Catholic was workable and alright with God, but Catholic children was non-negotiable. Luckily for me, when my then-fiancee and I had our initial pre-marriage consultation with the priest she told him she wanted to convert, so I haven’t had to actually negotiate the interdenominational problem.
That said, I wanted to comment specifically because of the comment that seemed to suggest the options for the children would be open as well, which I think is problematic and probably contrary to the promise you will have to make to do “everything in your power” to ensure the kids are Catholic. For one, making it clear from the outset that the kids are free to practice whichever faith they choose doesn’t really seem like doing everything in one’s power. Secondly, acting like the two sets of belief are equally legitimate options is a) false and b) possibly an invitation to indifferentism - not necessarily conducive to forming good Catholics.
My advice, then: If you really think God is okay with the marriage in general (and I encourage LOTS of prayer, that coming from a person who decided in the affirmative), I would only do it with a firm assurance that the children would be raised in the Catholic faith.
Again. Been there, done that, beared the heartache. My hubby agreed to raise the children Catholic but he did not share that with me. It took him 13 years to open his heart to the possibility of receiving his Sacraments…13 very very long years. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
I appreciate all of your responses and they have certainly given me and my boyfriend a lot to think about (but I certainly do not want to stop responses so keep them coming!).
Deb216 - Do you think that I would still feel lonely if my boyfriend promised to go to mass with me and children every Sunday once we are married (we already go to both services together even though we are not enaged or married yet)? Just wondering. Though I do acknowledge it is still not accepting the sacraments, it is a step to understanding yes?
Also I would like to ask for everyone’s prayers. My younger sister is studying to be a Child-Life Specialist and at one of her practicums today she experienced the death of a patient for the first time. It was a little 7 yr old girl. I ask that you prayer for this little girl, her family, and all that grieve for her death. Thanks so much!
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. I am catholic and he was raised baptist. Before we got married it was ABSOLUTELY understood that the children would be raised catholic. BTW this is a promise that you make when you get married in the church.
I’ll tell you it’s not easy. There are many other issues you will have to deal with, starting with BC. There are alot of things you will miss out on too, praying the rosary, novenas, litanies, etc. When your children get older, they will also want to know “how come dad doesn’t have to go to church” Although, my husband does go 95% of the time, the burden for instilling the faith in my children is basically 100% mine. That is not easy, even for the most strong of catholics.
I remember reading about a married saint (can’t remember which one) who was married to a very cruel pagan. She prayed for years for his conversion and was a devout wife and mother, but to no avail. Then on his death bed he converted and finally found Christ after all of those years.
Whenever I get annoyed or sad that I can’t share my faith with my husband, I think of that saint and pray that God will grant me that miracle. Someone once told me that our prayers are most powerful during the consecration when the priest raises the host. So at that moment I always pray for two things; that Jesus will always keep my children close to him, and that my husband will convert, but I don’t push him or nag him about it. He is a very supporting husband when it comes to the kids, so I have hope that eventually he will come around. But, I always was prepared to go it alone.
Thank you for that story about the saint. It gave me a lot of hope, and I was definitely needing some hope and encouragement. He understand that he would have to sign something that says he know that I would do everything in my power to raise my children Catholic. I hope that maybe one day he will convert, but its not a condition to marry me. Thank you for your example.