How to make a mixed evangelical/Catholic marriage work

I know this is probably a commonly asked topic so I apologize a little for making it my first post.

My husband and I have been married for over 20 years. I was raised evangelical, he was raised without any religion, but when we got married we were both in a phase where neither of us was interested in religion and so that wasn’t the foundation of our marriage.

In the past 5 years, I returned to my evangelical faith and he converted to Catholicism (ironically because he saw it as more liberal than my faith.) He really loves his faith, which is interesting to see because he was a very angry atheist when we got married. He encouraged me to go through RCIA, I think because he was hoping it would convert me. I ultimately went through most of RCIA and read very extensively during that period, including “Rome Sweet Home” and the Catechism and a few other Catholic books. But in the end, I didn’t find it convincing enough to want to leave my own religion and I did not complete RCIA.

Now we’re at kind of an impasse. My faith continues to grow and I want us to put more of a focus on Jesus in our marriage. He says that even we do both believe in Jesus, but he doesn’t feel that this is something we can really combine and the only solution he sees is if I convert to Catholicism, which I can’t do. He has a special love for Mary and his chosen way of praying is the rosary and other devotional prayers to Mary. I guess I can see why that would be hard for us to combine, because I want us to pray together to Jesus and he wants us to pray to Mary for her intercession.

How can we make this work? I know that the Bible says that it’s really important for us as a couple to put Jesus first. I just don’t know how we can do that since it seems like we believe really different things. I know we both believe in the Bible and in Jesus as our savior, but the practice of our two beliefs couldn’t be more different.

Let me begin by pointing out that you really DON’T believe different things…What you have are different devotional practices. That is to say, you express each express your faith in a different way - and perhaps are drawn to a somewhat different form of spirituality.

But the foundational beliefs are the same…

So the first piece of advice must be to be patient with each other.
Then - be respectful of these different paths and celebrate the great commonalities.
We are saved by God through Christ and this is a gift that we have not earned.

Regarding prayer - prayer is important both as a couple and as individuals. So seek a compromise in this. Your husband loves the rosary. This is good, but it isn’t your “cup of tea”. That’s fine. He can pray the rosary during his private prayer time. There are many other fine prayers in the Church that can be used. The divine mercy chaplet might be one. Plus there are many litanies that can be used. Just google “Catholic Litanies” and you can find quite a few.
You can also use the Psalms as inspiration for your prayer time as a couple.

My point being that this does not really need to become a point of contention between you - if you are patient and loving with each other.

Hope this helps a little…

Peace
James

You could pray together. You could listen respectfully while he prays the rosary, perhaps joining in the non-Marian prayers: the Apostles Creed, Our Father, and Glory Be. Then he could listen respectfully to your prayers, joining in as he wishes.

Amen Paul…

I would add that, since the Rosary is, in large part, a meditation on the mysteries, the OP could - and indeed should - do this while the Hail Marys are said.

And by the way - to the OP - I love that you are here asking this question. Welcome to the Forums.

Peace
James

You claim to be Protestant. What in particular are you protesting?

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You might also look into the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

You might also look into the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think the idea of finding something for each of you–a Catholic devotion you can accept, and something like the Psalms which would be more your style–is a good idea.

Or, for you, i think that all the mysteries of the Rosary would be fine to meditate as all except 2 are found in the Scriptures which we share. The Assumption and Coronation of Mary are the only 2 which are not. This page has links to two sets of scripture texts to accompany the Rosary. This way you could share in his praying the Rosary.

Just to reassure you, your husband’s devotion to Mary is for the purpose of going to Christ–it is not “Mary-instead-of-Christ.”

This is a very good point to remember.

2decades,
You want to pray and worship God with your husband - that is - to pray with and for him and each other. Also - I think that each of you wishes to help the other to a more full faith and understanding of Our Lord - that is - to grow in holiness.

In Catholic theology this is how we feel about Mary. We wish to pray with her - to have her pray for us - to learn from her about Her Son - our savior.
So - just as you and your husband pray with and for each other - and both learn and teach the other - all with the goal of growing closer to God through Christ - so too do the saints seek to do all of this for and with us.

It’s all focused on the Father, through Christ.

Peace
James

I loved the ideas posted in by the above posters.

There is no reason why you can’t join in with the rosary with your husband.

The Apostles Creed, The Our Father and The Glory Be are prayers, IMHO, that all Christians should know and should be saying anyway.

I know plenty of Catholics who don’t really like praying the rosary or asking Mary for her intercession. Many of the them were former Protestants who have converted.

I have a friend that goes to morning Mass and stays for the Rosary that is said by the remaining parishioners in front of the blessed Sacrament. She never says the Hail Marys but she does bring a prayer card that lists the Mysteries and meditates upon them while everyone else is praying.

My MIL is an Evangelical Christian and comes over to our house frequently for dinner. She says her version of Grace occasionally…if she so chooses.

Another idea is to read scripture together. Hubby and I are tackling the entire bible in a year (we’re almost done…:D). We read aloud the chapters every night.

First, welcome and thanks for asking the question! It sounds as though you have a very special marriage to survive this journey you have both made. God bless! And you sound like a very special wife to be so supportive and to even consider RCIA. God bless! While I agree with the ideas already mentioned regarding finding some form of common prayer and devotion, I wanted to add something else that follows up on another posters comment.

While I know many non Christian, mixed faith marriages survive and succeed, coming from a mixed faith , Catholic and Protestant marriage, I know from experience there are distinctions that can cause issues. These issues can be worked around but even with the most cooperative couples there is still the absence of the bond of having a shared faith life. This is not to say there are problems per se, but rather there is an absence of a more ideal harmony. Of course, discord can occur in a marriage of two Catholic spouses when one is very devout and the other is more liberal and rebellious. In fact this can perhaps cause more problems because there are expectation of harmony in a shared faith. But the point is that when a couple have a shared faith, a faith in which they actually hold in common all the beliefs and practices, there is a unity of the marriage that I did not experience, but that I know does exist between Catholic couples, that I believe is the ideal. Marriage is hard enough. I think the bible’s call for a marriage that is “equally yoked” is not just a good idea but the ideal.

So, as a Catholic, I naturally would feel that the ideal is that you would be Catholic and share the faith in the same manner as your husband. It seems he is being understanding in your decision not to become Catholic and I pray he will continue to be patient and respectful of your decision so that you marriage will continue to succeed. However, I would also like to follow up on a point of a previous poster. What exactly do you “protest” in your Protestantism? I would simply suggest that while you gave RCIA a shot, you do not close the door on the Church. While you were not convinced enough to leave your tradition, I would suggest that in your seeking truth you remember that there is only one truth. Christ either left His authority to One , Catholic and Holy Church or He did not. The Catholic Church claims its authority from the Apostles as Christ handed authority to them. This authority includes the creation of the canon of the bible and the Church’s authority to interpret the bible. As an Evangelical, who is the ultimate arbiter of truth in your interpretation of the bible and hence your beliefs? Yes, the Holy Spirit guides us to truth. But there cant be thousands of versions of truth as each Protestant denomination proclaims. Perhaps your one church hold the absolute truth out of all other denominations. But on what basis can you claim that? Does your particular church actually teach New Testament theology? If that were the case it would look like what the Church Fathers taught. But the Church Fathers , even the ones of the second Century , those taught by the Apostles themselves, were Catholic. They believed in the real presence of Christ, the primacy of the Chair of St Peter, the sacramental nature of the Church etc.

In any event, my point was not apologetic. It was that my suggestion to your situation is that one cannot go through RCIA , read even a great number of books and suggest the search is over. And that if you were my wife, I would be perfectly elated if you simply told me that while you choose not to enter the Church at this point, you would continue to be open to the truth , to what the Early Church Fathers taught, what the Catholic Church teaches. As a Catholic, one must be open to truth. For me that means that I learn from the Protestant world, through Christian radio and TV. I ponder the issues and raise the questions. I stay open. I happen to be confirmed in my Catholic faith, but I remain open to truth. My suggestion is that you simply remain open . Learn what the people closest to the Christ and His Apostles had to teach. As a good Evangelical, you are called to understand the bible. How better to learn what the bible teaches than to study those closest to it, the Church Fathers.

Of course what is good for the goose is good for he gander, so if you are willing to continue to learn, he should also be open to hearing good Evangelical teaching. My Catholic faith has been strengthened by good Evangelicals, but it has also been weighed against my Catholic teaching, which is how he needs to approach it.

So that is my suggestion to your situation. God bless you and your husband and your very special marriage!

Hi and Welcome to Catholic Answers!
I am so very happy that both of you are coming into a faith life. I know many people have prayed for decades that people come home to God and Jesus, and have a faith walk. Usually the rosary has been the prayer that they prayed for this intention.

Love the name you chose, 2decades. You said that you’ve been married 20 years, but that’s a very Rosary name to choose. :wink:

The Rosary is a prayer that is mostly scriptural. The ‘hail Mary’ are the words of the angel to Mary at the annunciation. The mysteries are found in the bible. Out of 20 mysteries, only 2 might give you pause, the assumption of Mary into Heaven and her being crowned as queen. There are teachings that would show you that indeed these both are very Christ centered, if you wanted to explore that. As mentioned already, there are ‘scriptural’ rosaries if that might make you more comfortable with the rosary. However as mentioned, it’s a devotion, and it’s not ‘required’. There are certainly blessings that one receives from praying it.

One thing I enjoy imagining about the ‘hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you’ is that when an angel appeared on earth and spoke these words, all the devils that were busy around the world stopped. Their eyes went big, and they thought ‘Oh oh’. Their hair stood on end, and if they ever wanted to make a scary movie to watch, it would contain this scene.

I think the issue you want addressed is that he is pressuring you to become Catholic. I would say that you both are in a place of growth and learning, and you both need time to find a new way of living life in Christ. Give yourselves time and be patient. We don’t become saints over night, it’s a process. You have way more things in common right now, just be loving to each other.

If you study the true Teachings of the Cat Church and the reasons why they are taught and their meanings, you will be able to instruct him when he shows indifference to your faith;)

On the other hand, The ultimate walk in the Cat faith demands a participation in the Communion of His Eucharist. Give this respect above all other matters and you will do well.

Keep asking things here, and follow those who give you answers from God.

God bless and keep you both growing in Jesus,
Michael

A couple people asked if I’m a Protestant, what exactly I’m “protesting.” Although I take the question as disrespectful, I will answer it without trying to engage in any debate. I respect your views and my husband’s, I just hope that the same is being extended toward me.

Evangelical Christianity is what I was raised with. I love my church and the warm community I have there. At my church we bring each other meals during hard times, offer to pick up each other’s kids, etc, but my husband still has not made friends with anyone else at his parish even though he participates as a lector. I like that my pastor goes into detail about Scripture to explain how the Word is relevant to our daily lives. This whole year my pastor has been taking apart one book of the Bible every week and explaining it in historical context and making those historical lessons incredibly relevant today. I just don’t get as much out of hearing the three passages read without explanation when I go with my husband to Mass. I like that my church has Bible study during the week and small groups, in the evening when working people can attend. The only thing my husband’s parish offers are groups during the day, when only retirees can go. I am very happy where I am and do not feel like I’d get enough to regularly nourish my faith at a Catholic parish. Once a week Mass is not enough to keep my faith alive. They have weekday masses but those also seem to be geared around retirees instead of people who have kids to get ready for school and jobs to go to.

You asked what I’m “protesting” - in all honesty I’m not “protesting” anything. I’m very happy with my faith and I respect my husband’s right to practice differently. I just want to find out what we can have in common, and it sounds like what you guys are telling me is that we can practice together if I pray the Catholic prayers with him. With all due respect, even if I share his belief in the Creed, for example, repeating those words feels empty to me. It feels more like I’m reciting poetry than talking to God from my heart. There are lots of Catholic doctrines I don’t agree with, many of the ones most central to the faith. I asked the priest about them during RCIA, he showed me where their justifications where in the Catechism and/or Bible when applicable. I just didn’t feel that the answers I was given were proof of the truth. But my point in coming here wasn’t to be talked out of my own faith or told that I have to repeat Catholic prayers, I just want to find out how my husband and I can keep our separate faiths a priority together.

My wife is Protestant, and we don’t have issue’s with our respective beliefs. We each attend our own services and we attend together when we can. Catholics have to go to Mass every week, so sometimes I will go to both. Protestants have more flexibility, so sometimes my wife will substitute Mass for the Protestant service. When we travel, we both attend Catholic service.

I like several Protestant speakers including Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen.

Catholics can be married to people of other faiths.

I believe the couple is supposed to get their marriage blessed by a priest. That can take 5 minutes.

Also, I believe the Catholic is to make every effort to raise children in the Catholic church:

catholicexchange.com/do-catholics-have-to-raise-their-children-as-catholics

We don’t have children, so that was never an issue for us.

Yeah - that’s a toughie. Catholic parishes are a lot different than the Protestant churches I’ve been attended. The parishes do what they can do and they don’t provide programming or bible studies for all the different groups in at the parish. (As an over 35, but not “senior” adult, I understand the frustration! I’m the first to admit Protestants do a lot better in that area.) However, I’ve learned to keep an eye on what the other parishes in town are doing because they often have programming not offered at mine. It’s very much a cultural thing, but on the other side of the coin, my friends who have multiple kids complain about never leaving church because their kids are in this and that and they are this committee or volunteer, so I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really about finding your niche and the right parish for you. (Which isn’t always easy to do).

I also get where you are coming from when you say that just reciting words seems empty. I struggle with that, but I have respect for tradition and the liturgy. For me, it helps connect me to the other people at the mass as well as the other Catholics living and dead. In the end, Mass isn’t the bulk of my spiritual life. It’s really not about the words, it’s about being present with God. The words just help a lot of people to get present.

Honestly, I always thought the Rosary was hokey and didn’t get why so many people were devoted to Mary. However, I’ve found that it’s one of my most favorite prayers - now that I’ve really accepted the power and gift of Mary’s intercession for us.

Making the marriage work is do-able, but you need to talk a lot about your expectations and feelings. For me, it got a lot more complicated once I realized, truly realized, that my husband would NEVER attend a Protestant church (outside the Lutherans) with me. Then we had our son and then I realized that if I was going to raise my kid in the church ( husband is Mr. I don’t care about religion), then how do I do that and give my husband a way to return church and do it with his family. I went to RCIA to see if I could really be Catholic - once and for all. If that bombed out, then I’d probably be a Lutheran right now. However, Catholicism makes so much sense. It’s really perfect, in a lot of ways. It makes a lot more sense than the generic Protestantism I grew up with. (There’s a lot more to the story, but I’m already going long).

Anyway - that’s my insight. Hope it helps. I know it’s hard when your husband’s a Catholic and you aren’t. I lived that for most of my marriage. However, I know situations where the wife never converted and the couple was happy. And situations like mine where I converted and I’m happy. But that’s just it - I did it for me. Husband looked like this: :eek: when I told him I was taking RCIA. :smiley:

[quote=rcwitness] Quote:

Originally Posted by 2decades
If you study the true Teachings of the Cat Church and the reasons why they are taught and their meanings, you will be able to instruct him when he shows indifference to your faith

[/quote]

What exactly would she be able to instruct on? He sounds like a solid Catholic man and she is a heretic. I’m confused on what he stands to gain by her instruction of the the true faith.

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Good question. Thanks for asking.

What I am suggesting, is that this sister in Jesus, takes a deep, personal interest in her husbands faith. I am assuming they already relate to one another their personal views of their respective faiths. Her husband may very well be a good, ‘solid’ Catholic. Yet he is a member of a body. Each of us builds one another up in the faith. Do each of us not learn new things all the time in our study and fellowship, or do you assume this woman cannot possibly learn the faith and raise his awareness of true Teaching? Do you assume the Catholic faith does not have treasures which an Evangelical, genuine Christian can discover and bring to light for her husband?

I dont expect her to share the things she does not agree with. But the things she does agree with. In this same endeavor, she will learn what she most likey did not know about true Cat Teaching, or also what she may have misunderstood from it.

Also, and maybe most importantly… If he is like me, and most Cats out here, he makes mistakes throughout his journey. When I do make mistakes, I know what helps me the most. When my wife appeals to my faith in order to correct my behavior. If this Christian woman can use his own faith to encourage him to be more Godly, then they will both be holy.

This is my advice to her. Using terms like ‘heretic’ won’t be super productive here. Not that it doesnt have its place, but not for accussing your wife/husband personally. My advice to him would be similar but would be able to draw from the treasures of Christ’s Teachings specifically.

This sister is showing lots of genuine effort and grace. She is seeking to Commune with him in Spirit and truth. My prayer is that God keeps giving her inspiration to do this very thing. In this way, all who are genuine will one day find Spiritual food in His Eucharist.

Hope that helps,
Michael

[quote=rcwitness] Quote:

Originally Posted by aTraditionalist

What exactly would she be able to instruct on? He sounds like a solid Catholic man and she is a heretic. I’m confused on what he stands to gain by her instruction of the the true faith.

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Good question. Thanks for asking.

What I am suggesting, is that this sister in Jesus, takes a deep, personal interest in her husbands faith. I am assuming they already relate to one another their personal views of their respective faiths. Her husband may very well be a good, ‘solid’ Catholic. Yet he is a member of a body. Each of us builds one another up in the faith. Do each of us not learn new things all the time in our study and fellowship, or do you assume this woman cannot possibly learn the faith and raise his awareness of true Teaching? Do you assume the Catholic faith does not have treasures which an Evangelical, genuine Christian can discover and bring to light for her husband?

I dont expect her to share the things she does not agree with. But the things she does agree with. In this same endeavor, she will learn what she most likey did not know about true Cat Teaching, or also what she may have misunderstood from it.

Also, and maybe most importantly… If he is like me, and most Cats out here, he makes mistakes throughout his journey. When I do make mistakes, I know what helps me the most. When my wife appeals to my faith in order to correct my behavior. If this Christian woman can use his own faith to encourage him to be more Godly, then they will both be holy.

This is my advice to her. Using terms like ‘heretic’ won’t be super productive here. Not that it doesnt have its place, but not for accussing your wife/husband personally. My advice to him would be similar but would be able to draw from the treasures of Christ’s Teachings specifically.

This sister is showing lots of genuine effort and grace. She is seeking to Commune with him in Spirit and truth. My prayer is that God keeps giving her inspiration to do this very thing. In this way, all who are genuine will one day find Spiritual food in His Eucharist.

Hope that helps,
Michael
[/quote]

Michael,

Thanks for taking time to provide some fidelity on your previous statement. I find forums difficult to follow at times since they lack the context of body language/tone. I agree with you for the most part. Hopefully in the process she stands to gain the treasure of the Church and wholeheartedly wish her the best on all of it. I’m not looking for static but protestants are not members of the body of Christ. Simply put, they subscribe to heresy thus they are heretics. I’ll cede the point that most protestants are protestant because of ignorance and/or family tradition. The danger I see is that if we falsely elevate their status to brother or sister of the faith then we give the impression that they are equals in theology and faith. That is kind of insulting to Catholics of all walks and rites. In the end I believe it is more charitable to correct someone rather then embrace their error. When souls are on the line, we shouldn’t beat around the bush.

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A heretic is not an apostate. Especially one who was brought up in these communities. The Church recognizes the sacrament of baptism in the Evangelical communities. This puts them in the Body of Christ. Their Communion is in the bread of the Word of God, in Holy Scripture. This is not a full or perfect Communion, yet still a common Communion in the one faith.

CCC #'s 817, 818, 819, 820, 821 …838

This Catholic can guide/correct the errors in the Evangelical doctrines, while it’s possible this Evangelical could guide/correct a Catholics wrong behavior. (Not that we know of any wrong he has done, but assuming he’s not perfect :p)

Peace bw/u
Michael

A couple people asked if I’m a Protestant, what exactly I’m “protesting.” Although I take the question as disrespectful, I will answer it without trying to engage in any debate. I respect your views and my husband’s, I just hope that the same is being extended toward me.

I understand your frustration in that. Yet, it is a legitimate question. If you don’t believe something the Church is Teaching, you should first know what and why She Teaches it and then why you claim your faith which is genuine is opposed to it.

Evangelical Christianity is what I was raised with. I love my church and the warm community I have there. At my church we bring each other meals during hard times, offer to pick up each other’s kids, etc, but my husband still has not made friends with anyone else at his parish even though he participates as a lector.

I was raised Evangelical. Using good behavior in your community does not give reason to abandon the true Church Jesus established. In other words, good works do not merit Christ’s grace (which is His Eucharist).

I like that my pastor goes into detail about Scripture to explain how the Word is relevant to our daily lives. This whole year my pastor has been taking apart one book of the Bible every week and explaining it in historical context and making those historical lessons incredibly relevant today.

If you have a passionate, devoted pastor who loves the Scriptures, that’s a blessing. But do you believe him to be teaching and interpreting everything infallibly? Even Catholic pastors can teach wrong things, and sometimes we aren’t always blessed with a great pastor. But do we follow them, or the Lord? We should study the whole Church’s teaching throughout the whole history of the Church. Are you learning about the Early Church Fathers and what they were taught directly from the Apostles?

I just don’t get as much out of hearing the three passages read without explanation when I go with my husband to Mass.

This will come with an open heart to God through the Eucharist. That is Jesus uninterpreted, unadultered, just all of us receiving all of Him. True participation, yet constantly calling us to deeper participation in our hearts, minds and relationships with others.

I like that my church has Bible study during the week and small groups, in the evening when working people can attend. The only thing my husband’s parish offers are groups during the day, when only retirees can go.

By not being involved in the Catholic Church, you are like the rest who take their gifts and offer them into divided communities, who choose the more comfortable path of compromised doctrines and rejection of humility to God’s teachers. Why can’t you help form a study group?

I am very happy where I am and do not feel like I’d get enough to regularly nourish my faith at a Catholic parish. Once a week Mass is not enough to keep my faith alive.

Then you say, the flesh of the Lord Jesus is inadequate to your needs. That the grace in the Holy Mass is weighed by your judgement to be insufficient. That your heart is being kept down by the highest prayer of the Catholic faith! Please take consideration with this opinion. Please, the next time you are at Mass, just pray, In YOUR own WORDS and THOUGHTS, that God increases your faith, that He opens your heart, that He takes away all your anxieties! The Mass is not about reciting prayers and empty motions! It’s about participating in heavens own worship and taste of Jesus’ sacrifice through faith and humility.

Continued…

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