marriage to a protestant

Is anyone, cradle or convert in a marriage with a protestant? I’m wondering what it’s like? Also, if I convert, I can’t promise to bring my kids up as Catholic, is this a problem?

Religion: protestant on a journey
"Is anyone, cradle or convert in a marriage with a protestant? I’m wondering what it’s like? Also, if I convert, I can’t promise to bring my kids up as Catholic, is this a problem?"

OK, Eruvande, you are a Protestant, who is looking for people to tell you what it is like for a Catholic to marry a Protestant.
Then, a question personal to you : that as a non-Catholic, you may not raise your kids in the Catholic religion.

I have some relatives is this situation.
As to raising kids, in a “mixed religion” marriage, one parent decides which religion his/her kids will have (if any).
If the Protestant parent “Wins” the discussion, then that child will be raised Protestant.
Since that parent is NOT Catholic (and isn’t interested in raising the kids Catholic) that is NOT violating Church doctrine (because you aren’t a Catholic, who would have to follow Church doctrine).

Anyway, this is the way that a Million-or-More of Americans live their Marriage (and 10s of Millions of non-Americans live their Marriage).
As long as you do not choose to squabble with your Spouse about the situation, Life can be pretty Normal.

Catholics (and Protestants) can make Good Spouses.
Or, they can be AWFUL Human Beings, who frequently torture and torment their Spouse (and Children).
So, if you have a choice, it would be nice (for you) to marry a non-Devout Catholic, so that he/she won’t (someday) demand that your kids get fully exposed to Catholicism.
Many marriages are ruined over this Issue.

So, if you are considering marrying a Catholic (and the non-Catholic does not use Contraception), you better hope that your Spouse does not FORCE you to raise your kids in a Religion that you don’t want them to be raised in.
One of you will HAVE to bend on this issue (or get into a messy Divorce).
It is better to discuss this issue with a Spouse-to-be before the Wedding ceremony.

:slight_smile: thank you for your post!

To clarify, I am a protestant married to a committed protestant, and I am interested in converting to Catholicism. We already have children. I can’t honestly see him being willing for me to suddenly start raising them as Catholics (not to mention it being somewhat bewildering for them…)

My sister married a man who was raised Lutheran. For a long time they attended Mass together. Their first child was baptized in the Catholic church.

Then her husband decided to join a Presbyterian church and became active there. They’re second child was baptized in the Presbyterian church. The family would attend both services on Sunday. After a while, it got to be too much for the children to spend hours in church on Sunday (so I’ve been told) so now the only service the family attends is the Presbyterian one. Their third child was baptized in the Presbyterian church.

Basically, from what I know from my sister’s marriage and other interfaith marriages, it’s harder for the Catholic to remain in his/her faith over the long term.

Eruvande explains the situation more clearly : "I am a protestant married to a committed protestant, and I am interested in converting to Catholicism. We already have children. I can’t honestly see him being willing for me to suddenly start raising them as Catholics (not to mention it being somewhat bewildering for them…)"

I will answer, assuming that you MIGHT want to introduce your Kids to your possible new Catholic religion.

First, You are not a Catholic.
So, it does not matter . . . Yet.
If one day you take the BIG Step, and Convert, then this issue becomes a possibility.
But, please know, if your Children are being raised as Christians, this is good already.

Second, You are a Christian, and therefore, the “LEAP” to Catholicism is NOT a Quantum Leap.
You could easily begin – bit by bit – to “Feed” some Catholic doctrine to your kids.
I mean, you don’t have to recite a Rosary every night in front of the TV set.

Third, If you someday Convert … this will change the Family dynamics quite a bit.
And, your kids will Naturally be interested in what you have done (i.e., What’s this Catholic stuff about?).
So, your kids might actually get excited about the concept of the Catholic Church.
This scenario played out twice in my own Extended Family (both with Converting Moms).
In both families, at least one child WANTED to become a Catholic (and eventually Converted).

Luckily, in these Conversions, the Hubby kept his Protestant kids, and begrudgingly allowed his other kid to side with his Mom (and her Religion).

Fourth, It is best to NOT de-value Protestantism to your kids (if for no other reason than you have taught Protestantism to them for years, and told them that this is Good).
Just ADD the beauty of the Catholic experience (without all of the Dogma).
This will also make Hubby much-more receptive to you discussing Catholicism with them.

All of that being said … You do not seem interested in talking to your kids about your change in Religion anyway.
As a Protestant, you can keep relating to your kids as a Protestant (even if you become a Catholic).
The “Fact” alone that you are a practicing Catholic probably won’t affect your Kids adversely (unless you make it an issue).
Find a Religion that feels “right” … and practice that Religion.
Good luck in your Spiritual future.

There are many marriages between Catholics and active Protestants. Some attend both Mass and protestant service, some go each to his own. A Catholic convert does not have to promise to convert his children, spouse, or anyone else. He should live a life of Christian faith and practice so that others can see the value of that life.

I suggest Dr. Scott Hahn’s conversion story:

I’ve been married to a member of the United Church of Canada for 38 years and we have raised 3 children.

At the time of our marriage, non-Catholics were still required to promise that the children would be raised Catholic. That is no longer a requirement.

Today, the Catholic has to promise to do everything in his/her power to have the children baptized and raised Catholic (but not at the detriment of the marriage); the non-Catholic is simply informed of that promise and what it means.

DH proposed to me 2 weeks after we met but we didn’t get married until 3 years later. In the intervening years we settled many questions that some don’t even consider until they meet with the priest. One of the first was what language our children would speak (my mother-tongue is French, his is English) and the next was what would their religion be. For some reason every time I asked, out of the blue, “What about children?” he always seemed to know exactly what was on my mind. Many of these questions were discussed while doing dishes at my parents’ house.

Our children were baptized and raised Catholic, and eventually confirmed. Their dad was always supportive, to the point where he learned the Hail Mary and Lord’s Prayer in French so he could help them with their prayers if I had to be out at bedtime. He attended Mass with me so that I wouldn’t have to cope alone with babies or so he would be there when I had to be a reader or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He took them to Mass when I couldn’t. In later years he was very involved in our parish choir.

Yet, when they got older and no longer needed two parents there to supervise, he wasn’t as diligent at attending and then it became an Easter/Christmas/Special Occasion kind of thing for him.

Sadly, none of them practice their religion now. I’m sure their father’s lack of religion is partly to blame. The two who are married both married civilly, one to an Anglican, one to a fellow Catholic – there were two moms at THAT rehearsal dinner who didn’t hide that they were unhappy about this choice even if we thought the two of them were the best thing that had happened to the other. All three were in common-law relationships. The one who has a child has told me in no uncertain terms that she will not have him baptized because she cannot lie to the Church and say she’ll raise her son Catholic when there is no chance of that happening.

Now, if DH had been very strong in his faith, who knows how things would have gone down. Things might have been much worse for us, because the kids would have felt a tug-of-war between their father and me. Or they might have seen two people committed to their respective faiths but COMMITTED and that might have influenced them to consider faith important.

You are already in a valid marriage with children. If you come into full communion with the Catholic Church, the Church is not going to insist that you forceably convert your children. No, it doesn’t work that way at all.

If you convert to Catholicism, you will not be expected to raise the children you now have as Catholics. I married a non-practicing Lutheran, but raised our daughter (on my own) as Catholic. It took 20 years, but my husband did eventually convert!

As ever, really helpful replies, many thanks. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to raise my kids Catholic, just that I can foresee a number of problems in the attempt.

There are a number of potential problems in marriages between Catholics and Protestants.

Well, the first obstacle is that one goes to a Protestant church every weekend. The other goes to a Catholic Church.

When children come, the children will either be Protestant or Catholic…so will either go with the husband or wife. Some choose to wait till their children are of age to decide, but really, that’s not advisable, since children need to be raised in their faith from little to learn the difference between right and wrong.

Catholics and Protestants may differ on contraception and other issues as they come up.
Catholics use Natural Family Planning (NFP) when applicable.

Sometimes, the differences between some faiths are so marked that some are actually actively anti-Catholic, in which case, that’d be even more problematic.

Catholics might want to have a rosary at the house, a religious statue, crucifix. We would believe that the pope is Christ’s representative on Earth. We go to a priest for confession.

We pray to saints and the Virgin Mary intercessory prayer. We pray for the dead, believe in purgatory.

We believe the Catholic Church is the true Church.

The problem with mixed religions is that it tends to split a family. We have had many a couple on the forum, later, with issues over faith.

Catholics are expected to marry in the Church, go to precana marital preparation. On occasion, a dispensation can be received in order to marry in another church, but a priest must be present.

We’re not to get married at the beach, say, but in a church.

Catholics are expected to raise their children Catholic, even if they marry to another in a church. The other spouse is expected to promise that as one of the conditions of marrying in that church.

Catholics also don’t believe in divorce. We may accept annulment, but we consider that a different matter.

It really depends on the other faith where the differences would tend to come. Yet other issues could also be raised I haven’t even mentioned.

Often, differences crop up when kids are present, or during arguments. The couple is not starting out on the same page. Couples have made it work, though, but generally the Church encourages Catholics to marry within the faith.

It’s so hard to have marriage work without starting off on different pages on the most important issue, that of faith.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit