Mixed/Interchurch relationships...anybody with experience with this?


Just curious…how many of you have been in or are in an interchurch relationship with a non-Catholic Christian? (aka ‘mixed’, I’ve heard it called that before). I haven’t been able to find a definitive or good book on the Church’s view of this, and actual stories of this (If you can point me in the right direction that’d be awesome) I know I’ll get mostly marriage stories, but dating stories would be helpful, too.

What was their denomination? How did it work out, if you are still together? If you separated for whatever reason, what reason(s) were these? If you stayed together, how did you work through the theological differences (Sunday services, raising kids, etc)?

Basically what I’m curious to do is to learn from other people’s experiences :slight_smile: Practical tips for such relationships, what to watch out for, etc etc…

Thanks! :slight_smile:


I joined The Catholic Church on Saturday :slight_smile: My fiance is not anything right now (never baptized) but believes in God and Jesus and seeks (a little) more knowledge of the Church. He asks subtle questions here and there and I try not to get ahead of myself thinking he’s ready to join! It’s hard wanting things like praying the rosary together and sharing that same devout honor to the Churches teachings, but he does go to Mass with me and has agreed to raise our kids Catholic, so I pray and pray for Jesus to show him the light, and try to be grateful that at least I have a fiance.


My wife left the True Church and joined a misguided church after more than twenty years of marriage. To say that this caused a stress in our marriage would be the biggest understatement that I can make. I can honestly say I wanted to leave; I wanted to run from the pain that her path of conversion caused. It has led to my own spritual struggles as I attempt to understand how something like this could happen.

We’re still married and working on things. It’s only that grace outlives our regrets we’re still here - together. Our marriage is nothing like it once was. Where there was once unity there’s now easily discovered strife. We’re much more distant, we live almost different lives now.

Once people described us as being the “Perfect” couple. It was not a lie. Now, we’re just married. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but I used to adore her. She traded “beloved” for “wife” and I weep - when I’m alone - for that transition.

In short, I cannot stress enough how difficult your life may be with a mixed marriage. I would tell anyone who is not married to run away from the situation. It’s too hard. Really.


This is sound advice. You will hear it time and time again from people in inter-faith marriages.

No doubt, there will be those people who will appear and offer anecdotal evidence of how their marriage or relationship has worked, but that does not mean it is a good idea. I could marry a fervent marxist and atheist, and it COULD work out; doesn’t mean that is a good idea.

There are too many issues that come up, and once the bloom is off the rose, the things we promised each other are not as easy to actually live up to. When we are in love, we find it much easier to promise to baptize the children, attend Mass, raise them Catholic, etc. But that raraely ends up being the case. And the level of intimacy one achieves will NEVER be where it could have been if the biggest aspect of their life is not full embraced by their spouse.

As parents, we ARE responsible for the person we choose to parent our children, and will be judged as such. Making a capricious decision based solely on feelings and devoid of logic is not appropriate for a spouse or parent.

We have to look at the other person in question and ask ourselves “if I died today, could I see that person without a doubt raising my children as the devout, faithful Catholics that I expect and desire?”

If the answer is no, we shouldn’t be with them.


I married a non-practicing Southern Baptist. He is a big history buff and has always been interested in the Catholic faith from a historic stand point. After our first meeting with the priest several months before we were married things were more solidified in his mind. He agreed that he would convert to Catholicism and that we would raise our children Catholic. It took him about 5 years to “get around” to attending RCIA classes, but he did it.

Our faith is the center of our lives. I just couldn’t imagine not being able to share my faith with my best friend.

Although my husband was on board with converting, we didn’t see eye-to-eye on certain issues in the beginning. It was stressful dealing with these things and I found myself compromising when I didn’t want to. For example, my oldest son doesn’t have Catholic godparents because my husband didn’t understand the necessity. I gave in to his wishes and felt guilty for years.

I don’t recall any issues we had while we were dating as he was open to the Catholic church. Religion didn’t play much of a role in our dating life. We had a long distance engagement. Several of his friends were Catholic and he would go to Mass with them from time to time.


My parents are in a way, in fact when they were married (in the Catholic Church) neither of them were Catholic, but the priest who performed the ceremony understood the situation they were in and had them promise they would convert and raise us kids Catholic. My mom did after I was born and us four kids were raised Catholic but my dad has never converted. He was baptized in a Protestant church a few years ago, but he’s still unsure of going through RCIA. We are trying to work on him, maybe get him to talk to our priest about it, but he at least will go to Mass on the important days like Easter and Christmas. They have had some issues but I think what makes it work is my dad has respect for my moms beliefs. They will be celebrating their 25th anniversary next month.:slight_smile:


I dated a non-Catholic Christian, and was often irritated/dismayed by his comments such as, “You need to be baptized again, you weren’t really baptized,” and refusal to try to understand the Catholic faith. We eventually broke up.

That said, a ‘mixed’ marriage can work, but it requires lots of patience and fortitude. My father in law was an agnostic when he married my mother in law, who was (and is) a very devout Roman Catholic. She prayed for forty years for his conversion, while he did things like yell at her for praying the Rosary if there was housework left undone, or removing the spark plugs from the car so she couldn’t drive herself and the kids to Mass. (She just walked.)

Nine years ago, on Holy Saturday, my father in law was baptized and received into the Catholic Church. :thumbsup: As my mother in law put it, “water on rock. I just prayed.” I think he converted partly because he really loves my mother in law, and he realized there had to be something to it, because she couldn’t be swayed and managed to bring up the seven kids in the Faith.

So it can work…but it can also include tears, pain, and problems.



I’m Catholic and when I met my husband he was non-denominational with a Baptist background. The first month we were dating, he tried to break up with me because I was Catholic and he said he didn’t think there was a future for us. I told him that was a silly reason to break up, since we had been getting along so well; we could cross the religious differences bridge when we came to it. It came :slight_smile: He went to mass with me once, and had a lot of questions. I wanted to show him what Catholicism is all about: love, grace, communion with Jesus. The hardest part was trying not to get defensive when he had misconceptions. So I made sure to look up his questions in the catechism/catholic websites, etc. I had to be really confident in my answers or he wouldn’t have trusted what I said. He started studying the history of Christianity and loved the traditions during Mass. He became Lutheran, and was through the first year of our marriage. We went to two services most Sundays, supporting each other’s beliefs. Sometimes we would debate the religious differences, which I think was good because it brought important issues up; however, it can also turn people off to the Church. So, after reading Scott Hahn’s writings about his conversion and his wife’s conversion (you can find this online), I backed off and encouraged my husband to study on his own. He probably read 100 books on theology, church history, Lutheranism, Catholicism, and conversion. One day, my husband came to me and said he didn’t know if he wanted to be Lutheran anymore. I told him there was nothing more I could tell him that he hadn’t already heard from me. The next step was RCIA; he could start and try it out, come to Mass with me and see if was a fit. He did it, and said Easter Vigil when he was received into the One True Faith was and will always be the most significant day of his life.

My best advice would be sure you are well catechized and know your stuff! Offer information when they ask for it, ask them gently why they believe what they believe, introduce them gradually to the Catholic faith, and pray a lot! Not every one converts obviously, but it’s important to be a good example of the Catholic faith when you might be their only genuine experience with it.


A presbyterian denomination. It didn’t work out. Views on certain important things differed too much (not including abortion or contraception vs NFP, actually). In fact, even the form of marriage would have been a problem. I wish all the best to her, but I’m not regretting the fact it didn’t work out.


Well I am not involved with anyone with a different religion but my brother is. His new wife is Christian and even though we were a little hesitant of how in the world they were going to get married, they were able to work things out based on what our Parish’s Priest advised. He let them know that they would need permission by her church and the bishop in order to get their marriage blessed through the Catholic church. She’s a dedicated Christian and we are devoted Catholics. After my brother and his wife submitted some paperwork to both Parishe’s several months later they were able to have their marriage blessed through the church…
Also my brother-in-law and his wife are going to be married through a different church all together. She’s Christian and he is Catholic and they are getting married through a different church that blesses all marriages through GOD without needing to be that religion, matching religions, nor part of that congregation, so they are getting married with God’s blessing and through a church just not Catholic nor Christian!:o :shrug:


Regarding the Church’s view, I’d suggest the encyclical On Mixed Marriage.


So I married not just a Catholic but a Catholic theologian (I’m Episcopalian). When we were dating it was really really important for both of us to understand the others faith. Our first “date” was to Mass and then to my Church. Once we started talking about marriage we had to make it really clear for eachother what we expected…the kids would be Catholic but would know about Episcopalians, we’d be married in a Catholic church…those kinds of things. We both go to both churches on sunday and for other holy days…we switch off for things that hit at the same time (one year Mass for Easter Vigil one year my church etc). It’s going to get harder, he feels call to be a deacon and I’m going to be a priest but the goal is for each of us to stay as involved as possible with the other’s faith journey. I know alot of people think my husband shouldn’t come to church with me but we both think its important that he does. The key for us to make sure the others faith is seen as important and valued. Communication is also so so so important.
We both know people that are/were in mixed relationships that didn’t work out and the main reason was because there was a huge lack of communication. The goal of relationships is to help people grown in all respects, including faith. If both people aren’t willing to do that it will never work, even if they are part of the same church. It just becomes even worse if one isnt catholic and one is.
As for the Church’s view on the matter: The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t fundamentally have a problem with it. The Marriage is still a sacrament and still valid. They pref. Catholic/Catholic marriages for no other reason then it normally ensures that Children with be Catholic but even that isn’t so sure anymore…the point is to grown in Christs love regardless.
Hope it helped :slight_smile:


My wife of 32 years was a Southern Baptist girl, complete with accent, choir credentials, and former teen club member.

We had been daiting about 9 months, and though the relationship was serious we were not yet tawkin marriage. At first we attended both services. I was just going to be nice, and I would never leave my Catholic Faith. But it didn’t take long we only went to Mass.

After a couple of months of only attending Mass, she told me she wanted to convert. I asked her if it was because of our relationship and she said, " It is our relationship that introduced me to the Faith, but regardless of how we turn out, I wanna be Catholic, I feel like it is what I need to do."

She was attending classes when we became engaged, and we were married 6 months after her confirmation. That was 32 years ago.

She loves her Catholic Faith, and it never caused a drift with her Southern Baptist Family. Including her extended family. Nobody on that side tried to tawk her outta of it.

It is just my :twocents: but a good mixed marriage is a little less of a good, all Catholic marriage. Not that I think the former is bad, it just not the same.


Not to be nit-picky, but as so many “Christians” believe we Catholics are not truly Christian, we need to stop adopting their language and making this distinction. Not only are Catholics Christians, we are the original Christians. And the things that make Protestants Christians are the things they share with us. Belief in the trinity, belief in salvation through Jesus Christ, belief in Jesus’ promise that we will be with Him after death. Among many other things. Catholics ARE Christians.


Not to be nit-picky, but as so many “Christians” believe we Catholics are not truly Christian, we need to stop adopting their language and making this distinction. Not only are Catholics Christians, we are the original Christians.*** And the things that make Protestants Christians are the things they share with us. ***

Belief in the trinity, belief in salvation through Jesus Christ, belief in Jesus’ promise that we will be with Him after death. Among many other things. Catholics ARE Christians.
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Wow am I glad someone said that:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I am the child of an inter-religious couple. I wish I wasn’t. I wish they were both one or the other (preferably Catholic.) The whole family is…confused to say the least. We knew dad wasn’t Catholic and he didn’t interfere, per se, with my mother educating us in the Catholic faith, but you always wondered why…what is it that dad knows that we don’t know…that makes him not want to be Catholic? My parents are divorced now, which is not surprising. They just didn’t agree on the fundamentals in life, largely because of their religious differences. Speaking from the perspective of the child in such a marriage, I don’t at all recommend it.


I’m a cradle Episcopalian, and I married a wonderful woman who happened to be a semi-practicing Catholic almost seven years ago. It’s been pretty good, so far. At first, she would go to church with me sometimes, and we’d go to her church more often. After her father passed away and her brother was ordained to the RC priesthood about five years ago, she became more devout. She started praying the rosary every night, and going to mass at least once a week. Unfortunately, she also became quite hostile to non-Catholic expressions of religion. She insisted that I convert - I declined - and she forbade me to go to my church - I didn’t stop. She also insisted that I pray the rosary with her, which I do sometimes. It got better after she had a long talk with her brother about the subject. So now I take her and our young son to Mass every week, and she tolerates me going to my church early on Sunday mornings or to mid-week services. It works out well enough.

It’s worth considering that any person can change after you’re married. Maybe your spouse will decide to convert to another denomination; you really can’t control that. My priest told me to be patient and tolerant with my wife, and to remember: “Your marriage is more important than where you go to church.”

I also think that if you can only love someone who is like yourself, you’re really only loving yourself. I love my wife.




Hi. I just joined this site today, but your post caught my eye immediately.

My husband is Lutheran, and I am Catholic. This has never been a problem, but it has been the center of a number of discussions ranging from Church on Sundays to how we will raise future children.

It was something we began discussing back in college before marriage was even really discussed. I went to a Lutheran college, and I knew the chances were I was going to meet a non-Catholic man.

Nathan is wonderfully supportive of the situation, and it makes it much easier. We attend Catholic Church on Sundays, but he has no desire to convert. I support that decision. He attends Lutheran Church on Saturday evenings at 4:00 PM with his best friend so he can receive Communion.

We’ll raise our children Catholic as well, but most importantly we will teach them how to be good Christians and follow their beliefs.

Nathan and I have always understood that being good Christians is important. We do a Bible study together that is based on the Catholic Bible. I do a Christian book study with my girlfriends who are all Baptist, but we read Christian books that are not aimed at any particular denomination (ie. Elizabeth George, Beth Moore).

I think as long as you understand what the other expects in Faith, you will be successful. In the beginning of our dating, we did have a few disagreements, but we have worked through those. Prayer is the same no matter the denomination.

I also wanted to add that he has always been interested in the Catholic faith, but there are some fundamental issues in which he doesn’t believe. I respect that. While there are days that I wish he was Catholic, I mostly am happy that I am married to a good Christian man who respects me, treats me well, and loves me (and does the housework! :stuck_out_tongue: )

I hope this helps. I know it can seem tricky!


Masuwerte is Epicosopalian and his pastor told him this-

“Your marriage is more important than where you go to church.”



Yes, and I agree with that. Although he may have been referring to my particular situation, not speaking generally. He (and I) have a lot of respect for Catholicism. :slight_smile:

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