Having Difficulty Showing My Wife the Joy of Catholicism. Please Help

Hello everyone.

This is my first post here. I signed up because I have a question that I hope some people who have been in the same boat could help me with.

I am far more Catholic than my wife and I desperately want her to explore her faith as deeply as I have and see the fun and joy that exists within it. Let me explain the situation a bit more clearly:

When we met, neither of us were practicing Catholics. In fact, she often would be the one trying to drag me to church on Sunday saying it’s something we should start doing again. We got engaged and I started returning to church with her and without her (every other week she would work on Sunday). I wanted to get back into the habit of going to church because I knew it’s how I wanted to raise the children that I knew I wanted to have once we were married.

The habit of going to Mass made me realize I knew very little about what was happening at Mass (even though I was a cradle Catholic and went to Catholic schools!). I started researching the Church. I started actually praying in Mass and outside of Mass. I found beauty in the liturgy through self-learning and I had prayers answered that were seemingly impossible at the time. My life changed.

My wife knew I was on a spiritual journey. She however took it far less seriously than me which I didn’t have a problem with at the time. About eight months into marriage, I started becoming the practicing Catholic I am today. I frequented the sacraments as often as possible. I found saints that I wanted to learn about. I found a deep devotion to Our Lady. I started reading as much as I could. My wife never was close to where I was spiritually, but she certainly progressed with me, albeit much slower. For instance, she would sometimes skip or try to skip Mass if we were out of town for a weekend while I pushed to go to every Mass early on. Now she understands Sundays and Holy Days are always days we attend Mass. She has helped me celebrate feast days for favorite saints and has even asked me about the Rosary–which I helped her pray (to my complete delight). She has volunteered at our church and has even attended a group for moms that are trying to grow in her faith. When we take long car trips (which is somewhat often), she brings books by Scott Hahn, Robert Barron, or CS Lewis to read aloud while I’m driving. She even seems to enjoy it when sometimes I’ll put in a Lighthouse Media CD. She has read Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly and Rome Sweet Home. She casually reads parts of Signs of Life by Scott Hahn too.

HOWEVER

She has told me that sometimes she feels like she’s simply “going through the motions”. She has said that she doesn’t get “joy” that I talk about out of it. She put up a strong rejection to going back to confession since her confirmation–after a long talk she actually gave it a try a couple weeks ago and it seemed to go well. While she’s read some choice books she fails to go out of her way to seek out books or information. She says she just can’t get the same out of it as I do and I tell her that it doesn’t fall in your lap. To get something out of it, you must put something into it. I’m not certain where she is at with her prayer life. I don’t know if she actually prays in Mass or if she just sort-of does. I know some people are bashful or don’t know how to approach prayer so I try to offer tips sometimes.

I do have a type-A personality and she is a type-B personality. I understand I run the risk of coming off as too much sometimes. Between my extroverted personality and the absolute joy I find in my spiritual life, sometimes I might be a little too much which obviously can result the opposite of what I intend. In fact, just one week after I got her to reconcile, last Sunday she said she wasn’t going to go to Mass because the only one she could go to was an 8am one (I had to go to an 11am one as I am someone’s confirmation sponsor). I was very disappointed. I told her I was disappointed. During the day she texted me, I think feeling bad, and said she prayed in the chapel at work (she works at a Catholic hospital). I told her that is good. She came home and I was determined to be loving and happy to her. I don’t want to be someone that is cold to her, I love my wife and being cold or upset would only hurt her faith. Also, I prayed at Mass for her and prayed a Rosary that afternoon for her all I could do the rest of the day is be a good husband to her. We had a nice evening and when we were in bed she said to me “are you mad at me?”. I told her no, but I was very disappointed. She told me that she’s not where I am in her spiritual life and that all of this was just sprung on her out of nowhere and it’s hard to keep up with me. She said that sometimes she just wants to “rebel” and that’s what she did that morning. I told her I understand her feelings, and I really do. I don’t know what I would think if it was the opposite happening–seeing as I was the one keeping her from church in our dating years. It forced me to reflect on the strides she did make–she has made way more strides than most people our age (30) in her faith and I am proud of her. She tries but she just doesn’t put the same into it as I do and I think she struggles with prayer or understanding the importance of keeping your soul as healthy as your mind or body.

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My fear is that our son and future children see parents that have different spiritual lives or that if something were to happen to me, my children would not be raised with a strong Catholic faith since I’d be the only one that tries to learn things myself so I can teach them to my children. I told my wife this scares me.

I love my wife more than anything. Our marriage is AMAZING. She is a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother. I just so badly want her to see the beauty, joy, importance, and truth of Catholicism–I know our marriage can be even BETTER! I want her to fall in love with her faith. I want her to be excited to share it with our children. While she is definitely making linear progress, it’s very slow and I fear it could just stop. I walk a fine line of trying to guide her in her faith and not trying to be overbearing. For instance: should I suggest she return to confession or not receive communion next week for purposely missing Mass or should I just focus on the big picture and not do what might be seen as “nit-picking” since I know overall we’re moving in the right direction.

Am I worrying for no reason? Is there something I can do that I’m not doing? Has anyone experienced this?

Hi, there!!

I’ve not experienced this, but my first reaction is to “let go and let God”. YOU are doing all that you can for YOUR spiritual life. She is more than willing to listen, read, pray, etc. If you push her too much, she’ll resent it. Just offer but don’t press. If she needs a “break”, then say okay, but GENTLY remind her that missing Mass is sin that needs Confession.

Other than that - enjoy the fact that she’s coming along at her own pace (and God’s!). :slight_smile:

Pax Christi!

I can sort of understand as my parents were in the position you seem to be questioning but it was my mother that was getting more secured in the faith and my father was more of “going through the motions”. I saw my parents having conflicting ideas but I am now in my 30’s and have witnessed my Dad changing his tune and he now is more involved than ever before. It took my Mom many years but her passion and focus paid off!

My Dad is deeper in the faith and my Mom has set a great example that I know I must uphold in my life and in my family’s with my wife….and our future children (God willing)

Sugabee43-

Your response made me smile and gave me hope. Thank you. I have thought about this and have taken this approach–it’s also what my confessor suggests. However, I fear that I still need to be there to move her along otherwise she’ll just get comfortable where she’s at. I might be wrong obviously but she wouldn’t have gone to confession a couple weeks ago with me coming into the room and saying “okay, we need to really talk about this. can you just TRY?”.

So, do you suggest I just gently remind her “you did so well going to confession two weeks ago, it stinks that you missed Mass on Sunday because that means you really should go again before this Sunday or you shouldn’t receive communion”.

Thank you for your response.

My recommendation would be to treat your wife like your wife and not your child. You are coming off in this post as very parental towards her.

Let her be. Be an example through prayer, service, Mass, etc. Bring in Catholic culture and traditions into your home. But don’t be EWTN 24/7. Yes, you can go overboard.

WOW. This response made me smile and gave me hope too!

Maybe everything will be just fine. My confessor told me that since our souls are united through marriage, every positive thing I do for my soul will help hers along. I like to think about that.

You’re right. I will strive to leave her alone. While I have been already leading through example of prayer, service, Mass, bringing in Catholic culture/tradition, I should strive to rely more on my example than my words.

Thank you for your response.

So glad you smiled :)!

Yes, that sounds okay - communication is everything, which includes voice inflection… so make sure your voice has loving, joyful, non-critical tones to it when you say that. Maybe even alter the “…or you shouldn’t receive communion” to something that gives HER the choice and so it doesn’t sound like a parent-to-child remark. Like, “I love that you went to confession two weeks ago!! It’s so healing for me. I’m wondering if you’d like to go again. I really need to (don’t we all ALL the time?). Would you like to come with me since you missed Mass this Sunday? Up to you…” And then you go with or without her, with not a peep more about it. :thumbsup:

Whoa.

I cringed a little bit when I read “I am far more Catholic than my wife”. No. You are both Catholic, though maybe in different places spiritually.

If you hadn’t written that she was your wife, I would have thought you were talking about a daughter. You seem to put yourself on a pedestal and look down at where she is disdainfully. I am sure that you care very much about her soul (as you should) and that you want her to experience the joy that you do because you love her. But be very careful in your attitude toward her. She is your partner, and her faith journey is her own. We are responsible for our own faith, and the best thing for you to do is live out yours and invite her to do things with you and your son.

Some people are more “quietly joyful”- there is nothing wrong with that. Your wife goes to Mass, reads religious texts, prays the rosary with you, volunteers at church and attends a women’s faith group? And that isn’t enough for you? She doesn’t need to “keep up” with you- let her live out and approach her faith in her own way. That may not be the same is yours, and that’s okay. I say this as someone married to a man who is in a very different place spiritually. He was baptized but not raised Catholic. But I would never treat him in this way. I pray for him and hope that one day we can share our faith more, but he is not my son and does not need to report to me about his spiritual activities.

As far as missing Mass goes- if she is aware that it is a mortal sin, there is not much you can do. Rather than “getting her to reconcile”, invite her to go along with you to confession, and stop there. Treat her like an adult, not a child.

I am very glad to know it helps some :slight_smile:

I can’t truly express how much I respect my Mother for setting the standard in my childhood home. But as men we have Even more impact on the formation of the home.

Below is a link to the USCCB site about importance of family life.

usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/children/children.cfm

Studies have shown children with fathers that attend church and keep the faith ARE MORE likely to attend and keep the faith later in life.

So THank you for being a strong Catholic and leading your home in the right path!! :smiley:

God bless you!!

This sounds like a plan. Thank you for your input.

“Far more Catholic” = “self-motivated, practicing”. I felt that explanation was obvious. I apologize.

I think you might have missed where she herself said she’s “going through the motions” and cannot find the same joy. I am respectful that everyone has a different journey in their spiritual life but I also feel that it is the husband’s and father’s God-given duty to gently guide his family towards a virtuous and holy life.

Thank you for responding!

Thank you, hiramross!

I have to say that simply starting this thread has made me really reflect on the progress we have made together and I am very thankful and blessed for where we BOTH are.

When I really think about it, her journey is amazing. Mine might have been like a rocket ship straight up, but hers is a more gentile and probably common route towards holiness. I really respect that about her and I can’t wait to go home and hug and kiss her now! I sure love her!

I also want to point out that, overall, my wife is treated like a queen. I show complete respect and reverence for her. She is the heart of our household. Just because I can come across as “parental” when it comes to talking about faith, I am not like that with anything else.

She knows I am lost without her. She knows that I would die for her and lay down my life every day for her and the family. I just want to be clear about this. My wife is my rock.

This. Very much this.

I must tell you that in your DW’s place, I would find your insistence that my spiritual path be the same as yours quite off-putting, and it would push me away from my faith.

But I understand your motivation. When I stopped smoking, I became quite obnoxious in my anti-smoking zeal. Why can’t everyone see what I’ve learned and am telling them? It took a while to realize that I had gotten to that point in my own time, and everyone else must too. (I’m still obnoxious about it, but slightly less vocal about it. :D)

I too see how it could push someone away.

Yes, I suppose it’s like that. It’s like I just can’t understand how other people don’t get how joyful and important this all is. It’s like I don’t want any more time being wasted where people are apathetic towards it. However I understand that the journey to it is very important and unless the journey is her own, it won’t be genuine. Thank you for your response.

Instead of pushing her to be more like you, I’d suggest a) letting her be her and b) inviting her into things you enjoy.

You said

My fear is that our son and future children see parents that have different spiritual lives…

What in the world is wrong with that? You have different jobs, you have different hobbies, you have different favorite books or movies. Why in the world should your spiritual lives be identical? Is God so small that everyone has to approach him in exactly the same way?

If you pray best with a rosary in your hand and she prays best by walking outside and being part of God’s creation, what’s wrong with that? If you find fulfillment by studying the bible and she finds fulfillment by feeding the hungry, what’s wrong with that?

At the same time, if there’s something you enjoy that you think she might also enjoy, why not invite her to join you?

Perhaps there’s a speaker at church next week. Sounds like an interesting topic. Invite her to come with you. If she’s not interested, that’s fine, you can go alone. But if she is interested, then it’s something you can do together.

If you enjoy praying the rosary every evening, why not invite her to join you? If she says no, or not now, then pray alone and try it again in a couple of weeks. Invite, but let her choose whether to accept the invitation or not.

Mostly, remember that everything is not up to you! Give the Holy Spirit room to work!

I apologize for the confusion. That’s not what I mean. I meant a mom who might be okay with skipping Mass (which is NOT something normal for her) or a mom that doesn’t set an example of prayer or a mom that doesn’t seek to teach the faith vs a dad that does all those things. So I more mean an attitude that might undermine faith in the household–I am not saying this is what happens or what I think is what will happen. It’s simply just something I sometimes wonder about and don’t want to happen.

Thank you for your response!

I don’t think Lorelei12 “missed it.”

Your God-given duty is to give your life for your wife.

I’ve been married for 35 years to a wonderful husband, so I know what I’m talking about.

The very BEST way for you to “guide your family towards a virtuous and holy life” is to LIVE that life and NOT say one word, not even ONE LITTLE TINY WORD, sir! Keep your mouth shut.

Unless your wife has some kind of physical disability that causes her to forget things, she KNOWS that missing Mass is mortal sin. You don’t need to remind her, not even gently. Just keep your mouth shut and DO your faith.

You said you want to show her the joy of Catholicism? Then act joyful. Sing. Dance. Joke. Play. Make love. Eat and drink moderately, but with enthusiasm.

You may not believe this right now, but a time, probably many times, will come in your married life where YOU will be the one that just “goes through the motions” of your faith. It may be a physical illness that drains all your energy, it may be the loss of a good job that destroys your confidence, it may be a child who rebels and questiosn everything you have ever lived and said.

At that time, your wife will hopefully be the one who undergirds you and helps you through the “valley of the shadow.”

One more thing you might want to try is an exercise in humility. Do something for God that is beyond your “Type A” personality. E.g., volunteer at a nursing home to sit and read to old people–a job that no one sees or thanks you for, and the elderly people themselves won’t necessarily remember you from week to week. Or volunteer at home to take over a chore that your wife hates; e.g., all the menu planning, grocery shopping, and food prep, or perhaps cleaning the bathroom.

Or perhaps you should join your parish choir, or volunteer to play the piano at Mass. I can guarantee that your faith will be challenged the first time someone comes up to you and criticizes your music and tells you to read the Church Documents.

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