My island earth


#1

I usually won’t post a question until I have searched the threads for similar content, but I don’t see anything that closely matches my problem, so here goes:

I converted to Catholicism a couple years back.
My wife did not and has no interest in doing so.
I am the only Catholic in both our families.
Unlike most of the questions concerning mixed marriages, we did not get married with an understanding of each others faith differences. We had similar faith, then I went and converted.
It seems I can no longer discuss God or faith in my own house anymore. It is a source of unending strife. My family supports my wife and barely acknowledges my existence. Any effort by me to even discuss God or faith is construed as brainwashing.
Just to make things trickier, my three children (12,5,& 3) go to my wife’s Presbyterian church and public schools. No discussion here either.
My wife doesn’t think the church has anything to offer children, the thought of trying to keep a 5 and 3 year old quiet during mass is unthinkable, as opposed to having them entertained in her protestant Sunday school.
We recently discussed sending the kids to private school. You can guess how that went.

I have been married 17 years.
I desperately want to love my wife and raise my children properly.
But I find myself at wits end with an ever increasing frequency.
It is hard to love someone who no longer respects you.
I don’t even know if she loves me.
I know she loves certain things about me, but there lacks a wholeness to our relationship.
Instead of Christianity being a binding source of love, it is a high wall full of brambles.
I am failing.
I pray constantly for guidance, strength, love, and faith.
I feel so alone.


#2

My prayers are with you and your family.


#3

Hello. My husband was Protestant when I married him, (eventually converted) and that was difficult enough. I can only begin to imagine how much more difficult your situation is. Your story reminds me a little of Scott Hahn’s converstion story. He was a Presbyterian pastor, and his conversion posed a great deal of difficulty on his marriage. (His wife eventually converted.) If you haven’t read or heard their story, it might help you to feel less all alone. Others have gone through what you are going through.

The phrase “high wall full of brambles” stands out to me because I’m a fan of fairy tales. Prince Charming had to pass through brambles to reach his Princess. (Both Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzle come to my mind.) Christ–the Real Prince Charming-- did it too; He wore a crown of thorns during His Passion. I much prefer roses to thorns, but they go together. It is part of love–the part that suffers–and true love is willing to suffer for the beloved.

I pray that God gives you His strength to get through your current difficulties. I suggest you seek confession often, examining what you could do better to love your wife as Christ loved the Church, Since talking hasn’t working out well for you, watch your words carefully and perhaps remain silent on matters of faith for a while. Never argue about religion. Support your wife and your children to grow closer to Christ through their current church. Trust Christ, and imitate Him as much as you possibly can.


#4

I had an answer all typed out and then lost it! :banghead:

As someone who did not make a promise to raise your children Catholic when you married you need to give yourself and your wife a bit of a break. You don’t have quite the same obligations that a Catholic marrying outside of Catholicsm would have. You do need to love your wife as the fellow Christian she is.

But that said, you are called to be faithful in spite of the opposition from your family. However you also should see yourself with a unique calling to eccumanism. You met Christ through Presbyterianism (or whatever Christian community of which you were a member.) It has been my observation that many of the teachings of Protestantism are also teachings of Catholicsm. But what is a teaching of lessor importance to the Catholic faith has taken on a more central importance in Protestantism. But such teachings can be points of agreement for building a Christian relationship.

I second the suggestion to read Scott Hahn’s story if you haven’t already. You might also look at some of Jimmy Akin’s writings, particularly “A Tiptoe Through TULIP”. I pray that you and your wife can come to understand that you are united in Christ, even if unperfectly.


#5

You need to refocus on the things you and your wife have in common. Even though you’re not both Catholic, you are both Christian. Read the Bible together, don’t debate it or argue about interpretations. Volunteer together, pray together.

When you talk about God and faith, talk about the things you both believe. It’s not like one of you is a Buddhist and the other a Catholic. Much of your beliefs are the same.


#6

You have been married for 17 years. You signed up for marriage as a Presbyterian, married a Presbyterian, christened your children Presbyterian, and were apparently either a Presbyterian or at least lived as a Presbyterian* for 15 years of marriage.*
You have a 12 year old, a 5 year old, and a 3 year old, who have lived all their lives presumably as Presbyterians, with their beloved Presbyterian mother, and their beloved Presbyterian relatives, and their familiar and dear Presbyterian pastor and Sunday School teachers, and all their dear, familiar, comfortable, and reliable Presbyterian friends and neighbors for spiritual and social support and friendship.

You abandoned the Presbyterian Church and converted to Catholicism.
Presumably you did this because you felt that Catholicism better meets *your *spiritual and social needs.
You now express disappointment with your wife and family because your spiritual and social needs apparently are not being adequately met with your newly established church and family situation which you yourself clearly established.

How are your spiritual and social needs apparently not being adequately met? Apparently your spiritual and social needs are not being adequately met because your spouse and children are happy with their comforting and familiar Presbyterian pastor and Sunday school teachers, Presbyterian relatives, and comforting and familiar Presbyterian friends and neighbors and church and traditions. They are not interested in your ideas that everyone would suddenly somehow now be better off with a Catholic pastor, Catholic relatives, Catholic friends, and a Catholic church with Catholic traditions.

I have seen parents endure tremendous hardships and make tremendous sacrifices in order to avoid having to uproot their children away from their spiritual and social support network of loving relatives, church, friends and neighbors. I have seen many cases of one spouse having to move with a career and commute home tremendous distances daily, weekly, monthly, or even work in and send money home from a foreign country just so that the other spouse can maintain the household in place so that the children can keep their spiritual and social support network of loving relatives and church friends and neighbors intact. throughout their formative years.

You say that it is hard to love someone who no longer respects you, yet how have you shown any respect whatsoever for your children’s needs for spiritual and social reliability, consistency, and security?

If you were a 12 year old how would you feel if your father suddenly decided to join the church-of-the-month club and took up lecturing you about his new found “faith” and how you need to model your own faith life on *his *new found “faith”?
Your father’s new found “faith” just walked out on wife, children, church, relatives, friends, and neighbors to go join the church-of-the-month club and yet your father fully expects and demands that you listen to him and respect his “authority” on the subject of faith? He has got to be kidding! Children are not stupid.

At 12 years old if your dear old dad wants to go join the church-of-the-month club, you’d want dear old dad to go get lost with his new found friends and leave your established relationships with your teachers and neighbors and friends completely out of it, because a 12 year old is 2/3 of the way to adulthood already and has got his own spiritual and social support network that he has been working on for some time.
A 12 year old will hear all the stories from the other kids on the block and come to the realization that next year dear old dad might just well decide to go join the new-wife-of-the-month club because you and your siblings and mother aren’t meeting his personal needs any better than your church did.
Well, thank God for Mom and family and relatives and friends and neighbors and church that are all still there as solid support that give a kid a sense of self and identity and acceptance and security just for being oneself.

You’ve been Catholic for what? All of 2 years?
Your 12 year old has been Presbyterian for 10 very long years longer than you have been Catholic. (and child years are much longer than adult years)
Your 5 year old has been Presbyterian for 3 very long years longer than you have been Catholic.
Even your 3 year old has been Presbyterian longer than you have been Catholic.!

You were the one who walked out on their spiritual tradition and community presumably because it didn’t meet your own personal spiritual and social needs.
You took up with another spiritual tradition and community which likewise doesn’t seem to be fulfilling your personal spiritual and social needs either. You complain that you feel so alone. Of course you feel alone. You walked out on your wife and kids back at the Presbyterian Church to go get your personal spiritual and social needs met elsewhere, but somehow that elsewhere just isn’t meeting your personal spiritual and social needs any better. OK, so what’s missing? You are.


#7

#8

This is a really hard situation, and I will definatly be praying for you.

The important thing you have to remember is that you are married, and that means until death do you part, baby! :slight_smile:

It’s a hard situation when a spouse leaves an established way of doing things, but know that you are in the one true church, and from that you can derive strength to love your wife and children unconditionally. Pray for them constantly. Another beautiful thing about the church is the history that comes with it. Read the story of St. Monica. She was mother of St. Augustine. When she was married and had her children, neither her husband nor her sons were christians. She committed herself to love them completely and to pray for them. She was blessed, after many, many, MANY long years of prayer to see them all convert, and her son, Augustine, was canonized (though she didn’t see this on this side of heaven.)

She didn’t press the issue with them. She took strength in her faith, and prayed continually for her family. I’d encourage you to seek the common ground you have with your wife to ease the relationship, and wear a hole in the floor with your knees in prayer for your family. You are in a very powerful position to pray!

I was a protestant dating a catholic. Because he refused to convert, he made me study the church, and after 2 years of bickering, fighting, and even close calls to a breakup, I eventually found the truth of the faith. Stick with it! Even if it takes 20 years, it’s worth it!


#9

This is good advice. The vast majority of protestants that I’ve met that have opposed the Catholic Church have done so out of ignorance. Someone tells them a story that Catholics hide the Bible and don’t allow it to be read, that Catholics worship Mary and the Saints, that the Catholic Church openly preaches “hate” for protestants, etc and they believe it.

When you start with the similarities and they realize just how close Catholics and protestants are through most of their beliefs, they generally move from open opposition to disagreement. When they just disagree with you (rather than oppose you), conversations become easier and mutual respect returns.


#10

Wow, you should be a novelist.
You have a real knack for fiction.

You aren’t even close on my circumstances.
Even if you had my situation nailed, I would still disagree with your assessment.

Better luck next time.


#11

Thank you everyone for your replies.
It is encouraging to know that there are people out there who can offer sound and uplifting advice.

To clarify my situation and quell the temptation certain respondents have to make wild and embarrassing assumptions, I was raised Baptist and my wife agnostic. We spent years doing the protestant church shopping routine, interviewing pastors and testing congregations in an effort to find one that meets our needs and beliefs. Between our own moving from city to city and pastors doing the same, we never really found any church that lasted much longer than a year. I generally had a very low opinion of churches, and so we did much of our worship at home.
My research into my faith (in a better effort to defend it against the likes of the Jesus seminars) led me to the Catholic church. Once my eyes were opened I was completely consumed with the realization that I had been looking in all the wrong places for a very long time.
About that same time, my wife went on another interview session with local churches and discovered a reformed presbyterian congregation with a well spoken pastor at the helm. She has thus attended this church for the last three years. I am convinced that she will leave if this pastor ever leaves. She openly expresses disdain at guest speakers or during weeks when the resident pastor is absent.
Our children attended the Presbyterian church exactly for the reason someone else mentioned - they met their needs better. Now that our differences have started to solidify she doesn’t want them to go to my parish based upon principle.

No one has abandoned anyone. I laughed at that.
The children do not cry themselves to sleep. (Not over this at least…)

I am working to resolve our differences and find common ground.
I want to explore our common faith, but don’t know how to broach the subject without the hackles going up.
Christianity is such a center of my life now, it is hard to keep it within.

Thanks again for you kind words.


#12

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