Protestant Boyfriend and Catholic Girlfriend


I’m 19, and I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for almost two years now. It’s been a rough road for both of us, but things are starting to clear up. We’ve both been thinking lately how it’d be like if we get married (although it’s still a long way off).

I’m a Catholic and he’s a Protestant, and we already see so many problems if we get married. The big one is- if we do have a child, whose religion will he/she follow? Both my boyfriend and I already know that the likelihood of him/her becoming a Protestant will be 95%. It’s because my boyfriend has an entire family and relatives who are Protestants, compared to my family of four who are Catholics. The child won’t really be able to choose for himself/herself. And I know for a fact that I wouldn’t convert, and so is he.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if we do get married, how would our marriage ceremony be like? Will it be Protestant or Catholic? I’ve always dreamed of getting married in a Catholic church, but my boyfriend would probably have other thoughts. And even if we get married, do we go to church separately every Sunday? Or do we go together – one week to my church, and the next week to his church, and vice versa? But that means I wouldn’t be going to church every single week, which would be breaking the third commandment, “Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath Day”!

I’ve asked many people, and most said around the same thing as my mom: Dating is fine, but don’t get too serious and get married because it probably wouldn’t work out. The thing is, we went through a lot to be together, and we’re definitely serious about each other, but the question is, will marriage between us work out?

Thanks for reading :smiley:


Hello there, Rachelle ^^

First of all dating without the intent to maybe marry isn’t very constructive. So that’s fine, don’t worry. About getting married? There are a few rules and such for interfaith relationships regarding Catholics.

They have to be married in a certain way, for one. Catholics have to be married in a Catholic Church by a priest- preferably their parish. If you decide to marry in your boyfriend’s church, you would need to get a dispensation from the Bishop that allows the ceremony in a different place than a Catholic Church. You’ll already need to get one for marrying a non-Catholic Christian.

Your marriage, assuming he’s baptised, will be Sacramental. Marriages between a Catholic and one that isn’t baptised [Non-Catholic, non-Christians basically] aren’t Sacramental.

The Catholic spouse does have to promise to do their best to raise their children in the Catholic Faith, the non-Catholic spouse is informed of this. Do talk to your boyfriend about this in detail at some point- many people leave this off until they’re already married and there are problems.

As for Sunday, you’re right. Catholics have to attend Mass on Sundays, and they can’t receive Communion at Protestant services.

Yeah, I know it’s a lot of rules. ^^ My boyfriend’s a deist, so I know most of the rules in regards to all this by now.

It’s hard. It’ll continue to be so- doing things by God’s plan are hard, but His Church has all the rules spelled out nicely for us. And it isn’t impossible. We’re never given more by God than what we can handle.

I wish you the best, God Bless you, and I’ll keep you in my prayers.



Please learn more about YOUR religion.


A child shouldn’t be expected to choose for himself/herself when it comes to their upbringing. That is the responsibility of the parents. As for which religion the child will be reared in, that’s an easy one. If you plan to marry in the Catholic Church, you and your future spouse will have to agree that any children that you are blessed with will be reared in the Catholic faith. If your future spouse will not agree to this, it is my understanding that the Church will not marry you.

A mortal sin.

I’m kinda old fashion. Dating for reasons other than eventual marriage is wrong and a waste of everybody’s time. If you do not believe that a good marriage is possible with this person, then perhaps it’s time to find a nice Catholic young man. They do exist. I am not by any means suggesting that a Protestant and Catholic marriage cannot work. I am simply saying that a marriage such as this requires EXTRA effort by both spouses.


Think hard about the obstacles that hindered your relationship. Make sure that you don’t confuse love and wanting a lifelong committment with the “victorious” (I can’t think of a better word to use) feelings you have now that overcame the obstacles. You might be riding a wave of temporary, good feelings.

I didn’t read that you are engaged, but you are already stressing over your differences. Slow down.

Now, think about this. Your boyfriend might come from a big protestant family. If you have a child, your family could go from four Catholics to five, and six, if your future husband is Catholic. That’s a good thing.


I have been married for twenty years now to a Protestant. In fact, I’m not sure what he is these days. He was baptised an Anglican but was never brought up in any faith at all. Sometimes he believes, sometimes he doesn’t and basically, discussing faith, religion, etc. is a no no.

Before we got married, I told him that if we were to marry, that we would have to agree to be married in the Catholic Church (to which he agreed) and to bring up our kids as Catholics. He agreed to that too but said that I was not to try and convert him. Agreed again.

It has worked well. He has never got in the way with me bringing up the kids in the Catholic faith and has never interferred. At times in the past when my kids were younger, they would often ask why we all go to Mass and Dad doesn’t to which my husband responded "you do what your mother tells you!!!

As long as there is agreement and understanding about this before getting married, I don’t see any problems. However, I know that not everyone’s situation has been as simple as mine!


Why do people feel compelled to stay w/ one person at such a young age? I’ve never understood that.


You have to raise your kids Catholic. You can get married in a Protestant church as long as you have a dispensation.

I dated a Protestant once. Only now he’s atheist/agnostic (we’re just friends now). I told him from the beginning that if we married, kids would be raised Catholic and we’d be married in the Catholic Church. His extended family is hugely Protestant, while others are lapsed Catholics (mom’s side is white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, dad’s side is Portuguese and culturally Catholic). Meanwhile, I’m a convert, my family is smaller, and most of my Catholic relatives are still in Italy (and I’ve never met them). But because my faith is so important to me, I was not afraid to insist on that. I wasn’t going to let his family intimidate me (though his dad’s side wouldn’t, same religion, similar culture). We did end up breaking it off. Long distance and religious difference killed off any feelings we had for each other. We were together just over a year.


I faced a similar situation (to the one of the OP) twenty years ago.

I had a good friend who was a devout Evangelical Christian. I was dating a Catholic girl at the time, and we had discussed marriage many times. But she broke it off with me rather suddenly, and I was in a tailspin.

After a failed attempt to put things back together with my ex (three or four months after she exed me), I went back to my apartment, played the same song over and over on my turntable (no MP3s in 1988 or '89!), cried, and prayed for about four hours.

When I got up in the morning, it was like I was reborn. She was out of my will. Not out of my mind or my heart, but I was able to move forward.

What happened was over the next two months or so, this EvChr girl and I realized that we were attracted to each other.

From that point, and for the next year and a half, I prayed often for Saint Monica’s intercession. I spent probably fifteen minutes each weekday before or after the 6:30am Mass. It was an intense experience, extended over eighteen months.

We spend that time, nearly two years, going together to Mass and to a different non-Catholic Christian service each Sunday.

We dated, grew in our love for each other, married. We did marry in a Catholic simple ceremony. (A nuptial Mass would have meant nothing to her family) in 1991. She had, by this time come to understand that Catholicism was at least authentically Christian, and so she came to Mass with me, and did not attend Services.

There was an aborted attempt shortly after we were married to attend RCIA, but the couple that was conducting the classes made it a disaster.

Then we found a parish where the pastor conducted a very nice, informal enquiry session for those who were already Christian, but want to learn / become Catholic.

At the Easter Vigil in 1999, my wife was received into the Catholic Church. During that ten years before, we had lots of conversations, and I explained/defended a lot to her. But I never pushed her to become Catholic.

It was her desire… I desire that I firmly believe came by the grace of God through the intercession of Saint Monica.

Sorry I went on so long… I wanted to urge Rachelle (the OP) to pray, pray, pray and to learn, learn, learn as much as she can. Be ready to explain when he asks. Invite, maybe, from time to time, but never push. And be ready to wait, as it can take a long time.

You may attend his Services, but do not feel that you must do anything there that makes you uncomfortable. Listen to the sermons, read, listen to the songs. If they are unobjectionable, you may sing them, too. Praise and worship God, but don’t receive anything that is an analogue to a Catholic Sacrament. (If it involves bread, wine(or juice), water, or oil – stay away from it!)

You MUST settle questions about children and church going and financial support of Church not just before you get married, but before you become engaged. And do not become engaged to him if the settlements go contrary to your conscience and your knowledge.

Deacon Joe


When you’re young, you feel invincible, that anything is possible and that love between two people is stronger than anything.

I’m 19 too. I know the feeling very well.


I think you need to study up on the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage.

The purpose of marriage is to grow in holiness and raise children in the faith. How can you establish a Catholic family if your husband is not Catholic?

As to children, a Catholic is obligated to raise their children Catholic. None of this, “I know they will probably be Protestant” business. You are obligated to raise them Catholic.

And, regarding Mass. You are correct, you must attend every week. None of this every-other stuff.

Your mother is wise in telling you not to think about marriage to a non-Catholic. Unfortunately, telling you that “dating is fine” is a bit off base. If you date him, you naturally develop feelings for him and want to be with him.

So, do not date anyone that you cannot be married to. The purpose of dating is discerning marriage.


I am glad things have worked for you.

However, every time I see a post about how marrying a protestant is no biggie and it worked fine for “me”, I cringe.

I have several friends for whom the before marraige ‘agreement’ has turned into a nightmare. One married a evangelical protestand who said “sure” they would raise the kids Catholic. Until they had kids. Then he refused to allow the child to be baptized, got very aggressive in trying to convert the wife, etc.

A house divided is a dangerous thing. Again, I’m glad it “worked” for you, and if you never had to make any compromises that is good. And if your kids never got confused, great. And, if they never asked why daddy doesn’t go to church with you, great.

But, that is not something I would ever advise anyone to build their future on. A house of cards can come down at any moment.


This used to be the case, but the rules were changed by Vatican II, or by the “spirit” of Vatican II, depending on your sensibilities.


Ummm… not quite. I was married 3 yrs ago and we had to promise to lovingly accept children and to rear them in the faith…


By Catholic canon law, the non-Catholic spouse is not required to promise to raise the children in the Catholic faith. Whether the priest who married you followed canon law or imposed his own law is another question.


No, but the Catholic spouse is.


The promise made by the Catholic spouse in a mixed marriage also changed slightly after Vatican II. Here is Henri Fesquet’s description, from Nov. 12, 1964:

The schema of the votum on the sacrament of marriage was recently distributed to the Fathers. It contains, among others, some highly important propositions on the thorny question of mixed marriages, which is one of the stumbling blocks to ecumenism.

It is currently said in Protestant circles that there are two touchstones at Vatican II of the Roman Church’s good will: the declaration on religious liberty and the reform of canon law with respect to mixed marriages. Here is what the new schema on marriage requests concerning the second point. The propositions are expressed in the form of a votum because they suppose an eventual reform of the canon law now in force.

In order that canon law be more attentive, and in a more opportune manner, to the circumstances of people, in the spirit of the decrees on religious liberty and ecumenism, it is especially desirable that a clear distinction be drawn between the prescriptions on the marriage of a baptized non-Catholic partner and those concerning the marriage of a non-baptized partner. Consequently, the following points should be observed:

  1. For all mixed marriages, in requesting dispensation from the impediment, the Catholic partner should be gravely obligated and promise sincerely to see to the Catholic baptism and education of the children insofar as he can [italics added].

This last phrase constitutes a fundamental reform because for the first time the particular circumstances of each couple are taken into account, and final judgment is left to the Catholic partner on how far he can respect his commitment. It is no longer a question of a brutal order but of a pressing urgent exhortation. The text continues:

This promise is to be made by the Catholic partner alone. The non-Catholic partner should be advised of it in advance, and it should be determined that he is not opposed to it.
Likewise, the non-Catholic party should be advised of the ends and characteristics of marriage, which neither partner may reject.


As a Catholic who married a Protestant, I would just say that I wouldn’t recommend it. I know some people have no problems with it, and I’ve even known many spouses who were led to the Catholic church through their Catholic spouse, but that is not a guarantee.

When I was young and dating my husband, my religion wasn’t as important to me as it is now, so I didn’t think our difference in religion would matter too much. Now I long so much to have a spouse that shares my love for the Catholic faith, but that may never happen.

Like others have said, if you are serious about your faith, then wait for God to lead you to a spouse who is also serious and devoted to that same faith :slight_smile:


I have an honest question for those that married non-Catholics and are giving advice to the OP to not marry, or serious consider, her Protestant boyfriend.

If you seriously regret marrying her husband due to his not being Catholic, why are you still married? I would think that this would be a major problem to the continuation of a good marriage if one partner seriously regrets the action/lack of action of the other partner. Is it because you love your spouse and hope that one day they become Catholic, because you take the ‘for worse’ part of your marriage vows seriously, or something else.

I’m truly interested in your answers, this is not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings or to incite the board.


That’s a good question.

I ask myself a similar question: if someone is in an invalid marriage that cannot be validated, why are they still married, knowing they are in mortal sin?

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