Married Catholics Protestant couples, please give me your advice


#1

Hi, I was wondering if there are any Married people out there where one spouse is a devout Catholic and the other a devout Protestant. I am curious how possible it is to find happiness in this kind of situation and how to find common ground in raising your children. I know these kinds of marriages must take a lot of work, but I am hopeful that people are able to find happiness in these situations.

I love my Catholic faith so much, but so far, even though my fiancée has tried to learn about Catholicism (read many books, attending RCIA) he can not currently agree with numerous teaching of the Catholic Church. He is an Anglican Christian. We really do love each other and want to be married, but would like to find examples of other couples who are already in this situation and how you are able to make it work. :slight_smile:

Thanks :slight_smile:


#2

Here is my input.

1.Take


#3

Yes marriages like this can work. I have been married to a non-Catholic for 23 years.

1.Take you time there are many issues to work out before marriage.
2.Establish your nonegotiables. - No artifical birth control, mass every Sunday and Holy Day, No sterilization, Children to be raised Catholic, etc. Note that these things while required by the Catholic church are not issues to a nonCatholic. Noncatholics do not require that you use ABC. Although you are required to raise your children Catholic your spouse can also tell them about his beliefs. (Children are exposed to this anyway and I have found my children to be much stronger because of this)
3. Expect some troubled water but be ready to choose love at that point in time.
4. Find common ground in your faith - living good moral lives.
5. Let the other know that God is first in your life and that must be accepted.
6. Vow to get your spouse to heaven by helping him/her live their faith to the very best that they can.
7.Respect, Respect respect. For example, if your spouse believes they cannot eat pork, drink alcohol then eliminate them from your home since that is not necessary for your religion but may be by theirs.
8. There are many things that Catholics believe but your spouse may not agree with but the question is will they be willing to allow you to follow your religion. Example - no meat on Fridays during lent.

Hope that helps.


#4

Catherine,

It is very different for someone who is already married and one who is contemplating marrying a non-Catholic.

The one who is already married must make the best of their situation, come what may.

You, on the other hand, are about to create such a situation, which I highly advise against. You may “love” your fiance, but your faith is primary and you cannot be united. A house divided is dangerous. You will be up against a lifetime of arguments especially when children come. You, as a Catholic, are obligated to raise your children Catholic. If your fiance disagrees with “numerous” Catholic teachings, how on earth do you expect to teach your kids those truths without him undermining them either passively or actively?

Catherine, find a Catholic who shares your faith and values, who will be the leader in the household, the role model for you children.

There are so many posts on here of spouses in mixed marriages asking “what can I do?” when they are up against the worst situations. I would never want that for someone who is not yet yoked into such a marriage.

Please reconsider.


#5

Hi,

Yes, mixed marriages are possible, and YES, they take some work. Hopefully most of the work is done before the marriage. You both need to sit down and discuss how things will be handled, especially the children. At the same time, realize that either of you could change your mind later on which could make the other spouse feel they were lied to or betrayed. Children can change a person. For instance, let’s say your husband agrees to raise the children Catholic, but once your first child arrives, your husband realizes how much he wants the child raised in his faith. What happens then?
Should you marry someone who isn’t Catholic? I think that is something only God can tell you. Maybe it is His plan that you two are married, maybe not. But that is definitely something I would consult Him about. There are some who would say that mixed marriages are NEVER part of God’s plan, but I can guarantee you that it was God’s will for my husband and me to marry. He is Catholic and I am Baptist. We have a great marriage. God is at the center of it. I couldn’t imagine my life without my devoutly Catholic husband. God is GREAT for bringing us together.

On the other hand, there are MANY who are not as blessed as my husband and me. They have tons of problems that just don’t seem to have a resolution. Just make sure this is something that both you and your fiance pray about. Then pray some more! Make sure this is what God wants for the two of you. Otherwise, you may be in for a long, trying marriage.
Good luck and God Bless,

RyanL’s Wife


#6

I think it really depends on how devout each spouse is. My husband was raised as a non-denominational Christian and still considers himself to be one. But, he only goes to Mass with me, he doesn’t attend any other church’s service except for when we both go to Christmas and Easter services with his parents. He wanted to get married in the Catholic Church, he wants to raise any children we have Catholic. So, for us, it’s not really an issue. I know in my heart that this is the man God intended for me, so I’m comfortable with my choice.

On the other hand, I honestly don’t think I could be married to a man that was active in another faith. I’m fine with going to church with my in-laws occasionally, but I wouldn’t want to have to go to another church and to Mass every Sunday. Plus, I think it would be confusing to any kids you might have.

I second RyanL’s Wife’s advice–really spend some time in prayer and seek out if marrying this man is God’s will for you. It was my experience that He made it abundantly clear I was to marry my DH, hopefully you’ll be able to discern the same thing.


#7

When I married my dh he was a protestant. I must admit, I think we were on the same page with a lot of things. I certainly wasn’t a devout catholic-our 18 month daughter followed me up the aisle!
Now he is a catholic, and praise God we have journeyed together. All our children were baptised Catholic, because even in my ignorance, I was aware the catholic church was superior in some way.
God has been working overtime with us screw-ups, and we have a wonderful marriage, due to Divine nudging here and there!


#8

*When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ **He then said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ **He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ (Jesus) said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. **Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, ‘Follow me’ **– (John 21:15-17) *Hello Catherine W,

Whenever I have a issue that seems to conflict with my faith I remember the verse above… I will always choose my faith over anything of this world… If I compromise my faith I may not be able to handle the world around me…

I agree with 1ke. I would highly advise against it… I am married to a non-Catholic who does work with me. I married her while I was still searching. When I became closer and closer to understanding that the Catholic Faith is my faith she was shocked… She thought my Bible reading would pull me out of my Catholic issues… When they brought me closer and with more zeal for the Catholic Faith. I pray she find that the Catholic Faith is also her home!

I attend Mass sometimes with her and sometime not… If she wishes to go to a Christian service in our city I tell her I would go… but I will not miss Mass to go… I will go to Mass and come back home for the both of us to attend a Christian service of her choice. I consider it part of my ministery. Most people realize I am Catholic and I am not affraid to talk about my faith… I find most people chose not to talk to me directly about the Catholic Faith but will not hesitate to tell my wife… The Catholics do not believe this or they believe that… My wife, I love her, would turn immediately to me and ask me if this is true… this would spark my invovlement into the conversation.


#9

(Sorry this is long, I just want to give you all more info)

Thanks for your replies, my fiancé and I have been dating for about 3 years now and we are each others best friend and it seems our entire lives are based on each other and God. We both have prayed so very much for God to help us, to show us the truth and to reassure us that we should be together. And I really do think we are supposed to be together.
When we first met, I was and always have been very involved in the Catholic Church and have been trying to practice my faith the best I can. My fiancée was raised Episcopalian, but with the recent election of gay bishops his family felt they could not longer be apart of that church. So at that time he still had a strong belief in God but was not attending church. So I envied him to go with me to mine, and for about 2 years we would go to the Catholic Church together and it seemed like we were finding more similarities than differences between us. But this past summer this started to change. He wanted to get his family going back to church again and found an Anglican church were they felt they could belong. In addition to that we started seriously thinking about planning our wedding and marriage. Since I believe that the Catholic Church is the true church, I thought anyone who put in the effort to learn about it would come to this same decision. So I encouraged him to read some Catholic books including (Rome sweet home, Fundamentalism and Catholicism, and theology for beginners) as he began to read he learned more about the Catholic faith and has come up against some beliefs that he feels he would be going against God if he was to accept them (especially praying to saints, and infallibility of the pope) also he has many issues with things the have happened in history concerning the Church (especially abuses during the protestant reformation). In September he started attending RCIA as a method to learn more, but so far his experiences there have only left him more sad and confused.
Our attitude was basically that the only way our marriage will work was if he believed the Catholic faith was true. But I think having this pressure on top of learning has only made the possibility of him converting more difficult because he feels so much pressure. This has driven us and especially him to a state of such sadness, that every day is almost unbearably sad.
So… I thought that we are approaching this wrong, there must be another way. I was hopeful that we could be together even if he does not convert to Catholicism. And when we raise our Children that even though they will be Catholic that we can form the basis of their faith on the beliefs that we both hold including: The trinity, Jesus, reading the bible, strong morals. The way we would live our life concerning morals is the same, he agrees with all the Catholic teaching on morals that he knows of, including using NFP. I stressed that to me the most important part of the Catholic faith is the Eucharist and our future children must be able to receive Jesus in this way. However, (and I don’t know if this was bad to say) I think it is fine to pray to saints, but not necessary. Since this is a big issue with him, when we teach our children about prayer would it be bad to mainly emphasize to teach them to pray to God, but of course if they wanted to pray to saints I would let them. I was hoping we could find some kind of middle ground and still be together.
I really feel like it would be wrong for us not to be together. I really think God put us in each others life for a purpose and that we can help each other to become saints through marriage.


#10

Hello Catherine,

You are correct about the issue of not praying to the saints. However, the Catholic must be obediant to the Teachings of the Church. This applies to your children. You may not personally pray to the saints. But it is your obligation to teach your children that the Catholic Church teaches you can and it is profitable to pray to the Saints. You cannot pick and chose what teachings you like and dislike if you profess to be Catholic.

The biggest issue of the marriage will be the children the marriage will produce. If it was just the two of you and the issues with the in-laws the issues could be handled easily. However, marriage is not about self… it is about the others… Children and spouse… For a Catholic to marry any other person outside of the Catholic Faith the Children must be instructed in the Catholic Faith. If your fiancé accepts this in all of its meaning… i.e. teaching the children that praying to the saints is TRUE then the marriage has a chance. However, time changes people as you have seen with the currents of his connection to the Episcopalian.

We do not profess the Faith of the Catholic Church because we believe they have the better answers… We profess the Faith because we believe Jesus placed his authority within the structure of the Catholic Church and this authority has been handed down through the ages to the Bishops in communion with the Pope.


#11

My 2 cents…

I just got married 2 months ago and with every passing day, I thank God more and more for having brought me a beautiful CATHOLIC husband.

I can not imagine how lonely it must be to be married to someone who doesn’t practice your faith, especially if you love your faith with your whole heart.

My husband encourages me to grow in holiness; he encourages me to go to Confession when I am feeling lazy, to pray to Roasry when I’m tired and it’s late at night, we go to adoration together, we are so excited about raising our children as Catholics, and maybe them becoming Priests or nuns, we teach each other the faith, we practice NFP, we both love the Church, we have pictures of the Pope, Mary, the Saints all over our house…

I genuinely feel so sorry for Catholics married to non-Catholics…how can you feel like you are fully ONE with your spouse, when you aren’t in communion with each other in the body of Christ?

Plus, I can imagine it would be awefully awefully lonely.

I wouldn’t advise getting married just because you love each other. Marriage is an extremely serious thing, the PURPOSE of which is to help each other get to Heaven, and to raise children for God…I know this may sound harsh, but I genuinely don’t believe a mixed religious marriage is the best way to set about achieving that.

Living in England, and so having seen LOTS of Catholic-Anglican marriages, and myself being a child from an Anglican-Catholic marriage…I would definitly recommend against it.

You will save yourself a lot of heart-ache.

ps- there is no such thing as an ‘Anglican-Catholic’. That’s a term made up by Anglicans, but doesn’t exist in the eyes of the Catholic Church. (which is all that matters)


#12

ps- praying to Saints is fantastic.

St. Paul said that all baptised believers are part of the body of Christ…why should that exclude dead believers?

They are part of the body of Christ…we are part of the body of Christ…we all all one body, in Communion with each other…and so we “pray” (/talk) to them, and ask them to pray to God for us, just as we would ask any living friend on earth to pray for us.

Just that the Saints are already in Heaven,. and so closer to God, and so their prayers are waaay more powerful!

woohoo for the Communion of Saints! Who wouldn’t want an army of Heavenly-dwellers praying from them to God?!!


#13

Very simply, you go through the hardest times in your lives together and you come out stronger. I appreciate your newlywed zeal; my DH and I had that knocked out of us a year into our marriage when I began having some major health problems. They took a year to resolve and in that time we grew from the lovey-dovey newlyweds we were into that solid one flesh union that long time married people have. If I hadn’t married my non-Catholic spouse, I wouldn’t be the person, or the strong Catholic that I am today.

That being said, everyone’s experiences are different. Catherine, I’d advise that you talk to other people you know who are in similar situations. You and your boyfriend are covering all the bases and it sounds like he may be interested in Catholicism, but just not ready to convert. Don’t write him off simply because he isn’t Catholic; there are many Catholics on this board who became Catholic because of their spouse. At the same time, you realize that there will be some difficulties that may arise because he isn’t Catholic. Look at it rationally, without rose colored glasses, and most importantly–pray, pray, pray for discernment!


#14

Hello,
I have been married to my WELS (lutheran) wife for seven years! We have 4 awesome children. 3 girls and a boy. Your question is something that only you can answer thru much prayer! Every situation is different. I was told by a close Catholic friend that My marriage would be a living hell in ref to religion(of all things).
At times it is very challenging. We don’t go to church together, our kids were baptized Catholic and now she is trying her hardest to raise them WELS. It is tough! We thought we worked this out prior to marriage but sometimes people change. Make darn sure you discuss the importants with your potential spouse, birth control, raising kids Catholic, and making sure you attend church on Sundays and holy days. Tell your potential spouse you can not, i repeat can not, marry them unless he can agree to these. If he can’t except them I would take time away from him so you and he can pray about it. In my opinion my wife is not close to even considering converting to Catholicism. I thought she would have by now! Remember, you both will grow in your relationship with Christ and it is important you share your faith but don’t expect a miracle. It is a hard and challenging position to be in. I would not trade it for anything especially now that we have a family. Pray Hard! Proeliator


#15

My husband was definitely the one for me. I chose him when I was a lax, uncatechized Catholic. He has helped me become a much better Catholic. I love him with all my heart.

That said, I tell my kids (now before they are dating/courting age) that they should only date devout Catholics. They are in a different place than I was. They know their faith.

We’ve had a lot of problems relating to faith, contraception being the biggest. There was a point in my marriage that I was afraid we would separate over this one issue.

But, I would say that my friends who are married to devout Catholics have a level of intimacy with each other and with God that a couple in a mixed marriage cannot acheive.

**And, no matter what you envision, having children changes everything! ** I have a friend whose dh has now become so resentful of her faith and the faith of the child that he is actively persecuting her for practicing the faith.

Even if it isn’t active opposition, it is difficult to tell your kids that they are in the one true Church when their father they adore remains outside.

If you were my daughter, I would advise you to break the engagement or to wait until he converted.

If you find yourself determined to marry him (I’m sure he is a wonderful person), my advice is to talk, talk, talk all the time about all the issues. And, even more to pray, pray, pray.


#16

Catherine,

When is the wedding? This should be important to anyone offering advice.

God Bless,
RyanL

P.S.,
If you would like, I could offer some suggestions as to how to explain infallibility and the saints in a more palatable way. Feel free to PM me.


#17

QUOTE]When is the wedding? This should be important to anyone offering advice.

We don’t have a wedding date yet; we were hoping to get a better handle on this issue before we start planning a wedding. But if things go well, we would like to get married next Christmas time, like December 2007 / January 2008.


#18

This is true. And the children are more likely to be apathetic about the faiths of both their parents when they grow to be adults.

Remember, when your fiancee decided it was important to have his family go to church, he didn’t try to draw them to Catholicism. How will he feel about having his children grow up believing in the infallibility of the Pope? How will he feel about them praying to saints? Saying the Rosary? If he really cannot accept some of the crucial parts of Catholic life and belief now, and won’t even introduce his existing family to Catholicism, do you really think he’ll be comfortable raising his own children Catholic?


#19

Good. You have time. That’s important.

My recommendation?

You should stop talking about religious differences. Just don’t do it. If he says X, tell him, “Ok,” and leave it at that. Don’t insist on the last word. If he asks about Catholic doctrine Y, answer him but leave it at that.

What should you do (IMO)?

You should talk about everything ***but ***religion. Talk about whether you would like your kids to go to private or public schools, what you think about discipline techniques, how you’re going to budget your lives and savings, tuition savings plans, job aspirations, disabled parent care, TV habits for your kids, etc. Grow close and plan your lives.

But what about religion?

Live it. Do it. Be holy. Ask him to join you serving food at the local mission. Try to go to daily mass or make a holy hour. If that’s too much, say grace before and after meals. Pray the rosary on your way to work (CDs and MP3s available, free). Be pleased if he goes to mass with you, but don’t force it. Finally, P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens.) Love him like you’re supposed to, and work for his sanctification. Fast weekly, if required. Read up on your faith and know why you believe what you do.

Fighting will only drive you apart – many might like to see this occur, but if you discern that this is God’s will for you life you need to know the consequences of your current approach.

My two cents.

God Bless,
RyanL


#20

Thank you again for all your advice, I know some of it may be hard for me to hear, but I realize that in reality a Catholic-non Catholic marriage can be very difficult. I am always eager to hear more advice from anyone, but I was curious if there are any Protestants out there in this situation. I am curious to hear what the protestant spouse’s side sounds like in the Catholic-Protestant marriage. I’m sure it is very challenging for each spouse and that the struggles are similar, but possibly a little different? I just want to get more insight of what it will be like for my fiancé once we are married.

Also, I was thinking that maybe I could ask my priest to meet with us and try to help us, or give us some advice. Do you all think this is a good idea? Do priests meet with couples in this situation on a regular basis, or are they usually to busy for something like this?


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