Husband is Atheist


I plan to convert to Catholicism and will begin attending RCIA in the Fall. As excited I am about joining the Church, I’m also terrified. You see, my husband (who is atheist) really hates the Church with a passion.

Though he grins and bears the fact that I will be attending Mass, he absolutely forbids me from taking our children. He says he will allow our children to be baptized as infants, but no further involvement will be permitted by him. No Sunday Mass, no religious education, no confirmation, no nothin’.

Our children will only be permitted to attend Mass, religious eduction, etc. if they specifically ask to go. Basically all I can do to influence my children is pray, be a good example, and talk to them about the Church as much as my husband will allow.

I fear that my children will never believe in God, or may actually grow up to hate the Church with the same intensity that my husband does. If that is that case, haven’t I failed my children? The fact that my children could end up spiritually dead due to my negligence as a parent is terrifying to me.

My husband assures me that if I take the children to Church, or try to teach them the Gospel in secret, he will divorce me and sue for custody of the children.

Do I have a moral obligation to raise my children in the Church at all costs? Should I let my husband divorce me and pray that I win custody of my children? What if I don’t win? Can I be forgiven by God for allowing my children to be essentially “lost” to the Church?

Converting to the Church has not been easy for me- and I haven’t even started the formal process yet! My husband mocks me constantly for my belief, detests the doctrines of NFP, and laughs in my face about convalidating our marriage.

Believe it or not, he’s a good husband and father besides his intense disbelief. I fear divorce because, one, I love my husband, and two, I’m a SAHM with little education and minimal job skills. I divorce would also hurt our children emotionally.

Me converting to Catholicism has put so much strain on our marriage. I know that I am supposed to serve God before all others, but sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right choice.

Thanks for listening.


Wow, well he doesn’t sound like he gives a dang about his family or you. I think you should at least take them until they are at the age of concent at which time they can chose for themselves - does your husband belive his kids have brains and they are capable of chosing? He is not giving them a chance to think for themselves. I say take them anyway.

The chances of a father getting custody of the kids is not that great - weekend custody is more the outcome than not (and yes that comes during mass) but you can also get them involved in chuch activities and there is almost always something going on during the week church related. I don’t believe the courts can descriminate when it comes to money in custody cases - it’s not whoever has the most money gets the kids. The mother really is favored unless she’s on drugs or something.

I mean what’s going to be his defense? Judge we were good until she wanted to take the kids to church? Wow, I doubt that will look good to the courts.

I think you should take your chances. His keeping them from the church will make them turn away from God most likely - they won’t even have a chance.

Talk to your priest. They should at least attend until they are able to chose for themselves. If your husband says he’ll divorce you then maybe that’s best. He may drag you down in the end anyway.


There is a lot going on there and I don’t think I can give you any good advice. I would suggest attempting to post this on the Ask an Apologist forum because they could be helpful. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

In Christ,


Hello and welcome to the forums and the church.I don’t know the reasons for your husbands hostility toward the church but I will be praying for Him.The Holy Spirit can take a heart that appears to be made of stone and soften it and transform it.I was as 'hard hearted-headed as one could be,“Jesus can transform us”.Being a stay at home Mom is commendable and in no way is a liability.Have no fear,Jesus will take care of everything.:slight_smile:


I find it interesting that your husband would allow the kids to be baptized. Have you asked him why he is willing to make this concession and what his beliefs are on baptism? There might be a crack there in his rationale.


I really think you need marriage counseling. The fact that he mocks constantly what is dear to you and threatens you with divorce and taking your children away from you does not sound like a healthy, loving relationship. The courts will not take custody away from you simply because you take your children to church. That’s nuts. Men thinking of divorce sometimes have grossly unrealistic ideas about child custody.

My husband used to be an atheist (he has since converted), he never did such things. There are still things we don’t agree on (not religion, thankfully) but he would never mock me or put me down. This sounds like more of a control issue than an issue of religion. “He wants what he wants and to hell with your feelings.” That’s what it sounds like to me. He’s willing to (try to) take his children away from their mother if she teaches them something he doesn’t believe exists?

I am so sorry you are going through this. I really, really would seek counseling. I also would pray the rosary regularly, if not daily, for your intentions in this matter.


Hey wait hang on, that doesn’t work. He actually can’t do that. What makes him have decision over the kids? I’d hardly think that his testimony would hold in court. I think the mother would actually have a better chance.

How can he justify to the judge that because you taught the children the gospel he can take custody of them. That doesn’t work, his reasoning is incorrect because you are a parent too. But I think the best would be to ask an apologist. But one thing for sure is, this can’t be a happy marriage. Especially if a husband talks about divorcing his spouse and taking away the kids (even though that won’t work i don’t think) he doesn’t understand what marriage is, as simple as that.

If your husband wants to laugh about the faith, tell him he can come argue with the theologians here instead of picking on a person who just converted. I will pray for you. Ask this question to an apologist, and seek counsel from a priest. Also regarding the NFP issue, since you are catholic, you would have to observe it. He can’t just have his way with you, you are Catholic, you have complete right to defend it. God Bless you and him in this troubled time.


You are in my prayers! Your husband sounds like a controller, if you do not do things his way then he threatens you with divorce and taking the children away! Why does he laugh in your face? that is abusive.:frowning:


This is something I’ve never understood. I can understand (from personal experience) that one might not believe Church teachings. But where would such a HATE come from? :confused:


Maybe he is an ex-Catholic. I’ve found that the most hostile hatred for the Catholic church comes from people who were raised in it. The same seems to hold for those Jews who hate Orthodox Judaism intensely…often they or their families were Orthodox.

The late John Cardinal O’Connor once said to me (when I expressed bewilderment to him as to why so many former Orthodox Jews and former Catholics harbor such contempt for their former religions), “Only true religions produce true apostates”.

He had a point, I think. After all, we don’t see former Unitarians or former mainline Protestants running around, screaming how much they hate their former churches.


Wow, my prayers for you.

My feeling is that it tends to be people who are most insecure in their own belief (be it atheism or something else) who are most scared to allow it to be questioned or scrutinised by exposure to differing views. Although I don’t think it’d go down well if you said so to your husband.

Marriage counselling is absolutely called for as a matter of utmost urgency - no wife should be mocked by her husband, and no kid should grow up in a house where people’s beliefs are mocked. Neither should anyone EVER be threatened with divorce for their religious beliefs.

It’s mental abuse, when it boils down to it.


That is hateful behavior which crosses the line into controlling, IMO. I think you need to seek marriage counseling for this. Choose your counselor wisely. I would also alert your priest to your situation. He may be able to help. Good luck and God bless.


God will give you grace to get through this diffucult time. Continue to love your husband despite his behavior. Love is more powerful than hatred. Surely you care about his eternal destiny very much. Love is among other things, a power. If it is a power then it does something. It conquers. It is victorious. Christ is risen from the grave. Love is more powerful than death. You did not say how many children you have. Your husband is the father of your children and you are their mother for all eternity. The two of you have created with God, beings with immortal souls, whether your husband believes this or not. That means that you and he are united in them forever. At some level he probably realizes this to some extent. It also means that divorce is impossible. You can divorce civilly, but are united forever in the children. A friend is a priest who visited a dying 18 year old in the hospital almost everyday for a year. The boys parents went through a bitter divorce. They would come to the room of their dying son and stand on opposite sides of the bed. The animosity was evident. Yet each was experinencing the very same intense pain and grief. They were united in the life and death of their son. It is a pity they could not be united in love and the boy went to his death suffering over his parents ill will toward one another. Persevere in loving your husband. Return good for evil.


Wow, excellent post.


From what you say here, the problem is not that your husband is an Athiest, but that your husband is cruel. No loving spouse would mock the other’s religious beliefs.

Please, find someone who can give you good marriage counseling.


I find this thread very interesting. You see, I was in a very similar position.

I used to be a very intense atheist. And when I got married, I made sure I married someone who was essentially the same religion, an atheist/agnostic. My wife was Japanese and rabidly anti-Christian. She actually supported the idea of executing Christian missionaries and converts in her country. While I myuself stopped short of murder, my wife blamed Christianity for every evil in the world. She even managed to blame the Catholic Church for the 9/11 attacks claiming that if it were not for the historical hatred between Christians and moslems, they would not have attacked the USA.

Then in 2003 I had my sudden and miraculous conversion. I began attending Mass.

When I came back from attending Mass that very first Sunday, I discovered my wife had been very busy. While I was gone, she had moved all my belongings, clothes, shoes, and all other items and neatly stacked them in the guest bedroom. She said I could come back only after I gave up the silly notion of attending Church.

Just before my confirmation, my wife made it clear she would not have the marriage convalidated. Working with my priest, I obtained sanation for the marriage. (A sanation is a form of convalidation when one of the spouses refuses to participate in a Catholic convalidation. It is intended for converts.)

A few months after my confirmation in 2005, the whole time I am in the guest bedroom and she was in hers, she gave me the ultimatum; stop attending Mass or she will divorce me.

Less than one week later she left me, left the country and filed for divorce from overseas. Our divorce was final in mid 2006.

Unlike Tabor_Farms, we had no children together so that simplified things greatly.

I submitted my petition to have the marriage annulled and received my first instance stating that the marriage was invalid a few months ago.

In short, when someone is so absolutely anti-Catholic, there is little their spouse can do, except live a Christian example. HOWEVER, you cannot allow him to prevent your children from learning about the faith. Tell him that the children need to be able to make up their own minds and they can only do that if they learn about the faith.

Tell him that if he persists in his silly belief and threatens to divorce you, you will make sure that the court will award you enough of a settlement that you will be able to continue to be a SAHM with him footing all the bills.

The next couple of years will be difficult. Do not permit your husband to use your children as pawns in a war on religion. You should tell him that no parent who actually loves his children would use them as a weapon of war against their other parent.

My prayers are with you in this difficult time.


Wow. Thanks for sharing that.


That’s sad that your husband doesn’t fear the dark outside and need the hand of Christ to protect him. He needs to realize to get into the clouds with the ghosts of other previously lived family members he needs to repent his quest for truth. He needs to pray by himself and look up at the ceiling and he will be sent a message from where lightning and snow comes from. If he doesn’t then as the heavily garb ornated man from Rome will not meet him in the end.

He still has a chance to get into the gilded gates where ghosts of Apostles are playing gold harps and living in the peace that they didn’t and couldn’t possibly achieve on Earth.:knight1: :knight2:


From what you say here, the problem is not that your husband is an Athiest, but that your husband is cruel. No loving spouse would mock the other’s religious beliefs.

Oh, I don’t know about that. I am an Intelligent Designer and my wife is an Aetheist and she hasn’t mocked me but gets very frustrated with my position and my conclusions there is a God.

Aetheists are classically rooted to their position that their conclusions are correct and everyone else is acting illogically, or delusional.

I wouldn’t call my DW cruel. She’s just acting out of her own reality that there is no God. She wants a companion that is like her, that’s all. So. . .I don’t pass judgement on her.

This is a difficult situation and not at all unsimiliar to my own . .my son wants to attend Church (he’s 10). . .the wife is anti-Catholic (not rabidly so but definitely disapproving). I would prefer to take him back to Catholic Church, since I know it the best.

She’d rather me take him to a non-demoninational church for him as a compromise. I am uncomfortable with that because I just wouldn’t know how to shepperd him thru that and would be totally reliant on pastoral direction.

So. . .the devil’s choice becomes “Family Peace” or “Developing Spirituality/Acheiving Salvation.”

It’s a difficult choice.

My position obviously isn’t “apologetic” so take it for what it’s worth. . .I’d just follow your husband’s direction. The age of 12 is too young to consciously make a “confirmation” anyway. The human psyche just isn’t mature enough to know what you stand for and what you beleive. It’s a few years away from that moral maturity is acheived in humans.

Let your children see you exist as a Catholic and come to you when they mature.

As you can see. . .not to straddle the fence or leave it “God’s hands” or “I’ll pray for you.”, I’d choose “family peace” in this instance.

Right or wrong. . .it’s the executive decision I would make.


Mockery of another is cruelty. It is not kind to mock someone, and to claim that you love someone and to then mock them is most certainly cruel.

Good for you that your wife does not mock you. The OP stated that the spouse does mock them.

There is a gaggle of illogical atheists out there today - spend some time on YouTube and you will :eek:. They are meanspirited and little minded.

“Aetheists” - I cannot find that in my dictionary, is it a new school of thought :wink: ?

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