Seeking advice from married Catholics...

How much of a problem is it to marry someone who differs from you on some matters of theology? I ask because I am dating someone who has some different ideas than I do. For example, he holds that we were not intended to be perfect in this life, while I believe that God wants us to try to be perfect on earth, even though we will undoubtedly fail. Another example: at a friend’s bachelor party, the friend unexpectedly decided he wanted to go to a gentleman’s club. The man I’m dating and another Catholic friend in the wedding party decided that as long as the bar faced away from the stage, it would be all right for them to go in and just remain at the bar and not partake in any of the “entertainment,” so they wouldn’t be rocking the boat but also would not be doing something that made them uncomfortable. I think that they should have told the groom that they didn’t want to go to a strip club and they would go somewhere else until they were done at the club, rather than going in. Mainly, I just do not want to end up marrying this person and having him teach our children things that I do not agree with. So, married Catholics of CAF, do these seem like big things, or are they things that will sort themselves out as we both mature?

I think you need to communicate with your significant other. Theology is a VERY BIG PART of marriage…it’s at its core. Marriage is a spiritual institution that spills out and redeems and lifts up the physical.

If you can find common ground, both be open to truth and willing to search for truth… than this is a positive thing.

LITMUS TEST FOR MARRIAGE: Can this man bring me closer to God. If he is willing to work on that with you…than he’s a possible partner for marriage.

You don’t have to agree on everything theologically…however, this WILL make it harder for you two than if you did agree…but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make a beautiful marriage.

These are not merely matters of theology. They point to more fundamental issues.

In short-- it is a BIG problem if you are serious about your faith. It is a SMALL problem if you are not. It is a BIG problem if you care about the example your husband will set for your children. It is a SMALL problem if you do not.

IOW, we cannot tell you how large or small this problem is. It depends on whether or not you want to settle for mediocre. Some do.

This is a common enough misconception about the call to holiness. It is easily corrected from an intellectual standpoint by providing documentation from the Catechism. It is not so easily corrected from a virtue and living-the-faith standpoint if the person in question rejects the Church’s teaching on an intellectual level or on a spiritual level.

The fact that he was not uncomfortable going to a strip club says a lot about his character.

The fact that he didn’t want to “rock the boat” says even more about his character.

Neither is saying anything good about his character.

Frankly, the “not rocking the boat” part is a bigger deal IMHO. In married life you are called on to make many decisions that will not please your parents, your siblings, your boss, your neighbors, your children, your friends, or others. If your spouse cannot stand up to peer pressure in small matters, you are in for a long path of hardship in marriage when it really matters that he/she stand up in large matters.

Is this a one time thing, or a pattern of conflict avoidance, rationalizing, going along with the crowd, and capitulating? You will have to evaulate that.

Yes, you are correct.

Then discernment has served its purpose and you have discerned this is not the person for you.

They were absolute deal breakers for me. I would not consider someone who went to strip clubs, even under faux duress, to be a candidate for marriage.

I am married to a wonderful man with whom I share the faith, and more importantly the practical day to day living of the faith.

I think this is a good point that you should focus on, PrayingDuck. If your boyfriend is more concerned with what his friends think than what you think or what God wants, that’s a problem.

As a point of perspective- my husband informed his friends (some of whom are also inclined to participate in such activities) that there would be no “gentleman’s club” outing for his bachelor party. It meant a lot to me that he was willing to stand up to them, and they respected his wishes. What would your boyfriend do if he became your fiance and his friends planned something like that for his bachelor party? Would he go along with it because he didn’t want to “rock the boat”, or would he say “no way, not an option”. Marry the guy who isn’t hanging out at a strip club in the days before your wedding, whatever his “reasons” for being there.

Ugh. That strip club stunt would have ended any dating relationship I have ever had. If it happened now the best case scenario is that it would put my husband and I in marriage counseling.

That’s an incident that you need to think long and hard about. He’ll say “don’t you trust me?” and “I didn’t want to cause a problem with my friends”. In which case you can kindly explain that you trusted him not to go to a place like that in the first place, and since he violated that trust you don’t know what to think.

I hesitate to post a reply, because I feel differently than the other posters. I am married to a non-Catholic Christian (he was raised Methodist). We were married in the Church and we are raising our children Catholic. While faith matters would be much easier if he were Catholic (he doesn’t go to mass regularly, for example), our marriage works. We have been married 25 years, so far, so good. My faith matters to me very much, although I’ll admit it matters now more than it did before the kids came along.

Regarding the strip club discussion - I don’t know how young you are, but this is a bit of a tradition in our culture, so I think its tough to judge this man too harshly. He’s making it work without coming across as a joy-kill. I loathe the places, but lets face it, this is something A LOT of guys do at this time in their lives. My husband’s friends have a better tradition (because they don’t want to drink and drive). They have a poker night/casino night kind of thing - groom takes the house at the end of the night, in an odd form of shower-style gift. My husband bought me a wedding gift with his take. There are all the “guy night” trimmings, perhaps dancing girls, I don’t know. But its an alternative to the seedy strip clubs.

We are in the world, not of the world. We need to find a way to gracefully navigate the ugly stuff, being a positive influence for our friends. The easy way out is to avoid the scene altogether, but maybe he is strong enough to control himself in a situation where he lacks the control. I think this says something positive about his character.

First off, I’ll admit that I’ve been to so-called gentlemen’s clubs on about half a dozen occasions. Truly, maybe 5 or 6. The first time or two, I’ll admit there was something of a “thrill” associated with it. But, once you’re there for a couple minutes, at least with the guys I was with, the conversation just kind of picks up to whatever you were discussing before you got there. In other words, the thrill only lasts a very short while. Plus the beer is outrageously expensive. The third and fourth times, my attitude was more like “Yeah, whatever.” The last time I really felt like not going but let myself get dragged along.

The thing is, I don’t know any guys who actually *enjoy *those places once they get in the door.

I haven’t been to any since we got married, but most of my visits did occur while we were dating. My wife’s attitude has changed considerably since those days. If we were dating now, I doubt she would put up with it.

As for the broader issues: in our married experience, my wife and I don’t agree on everything but we agree on enough of the big picture to make it work, and we knew we did before we even considered marriage.

You can’t judge his character, or whether or not he’d be a good husband from this situation. Lots and lots of people, me included, make mistakes of judgement that in hindsight we wouldn’t make.

The question is not really if these issues are big things to us, but if they are big things to you, and it sounds like they are. If you are seriously thinking about marriage to this guy then you have to resolve all of this for good NOW, otherwise, he is not the THE ONE for you and you should move on.


Please tell me you did not buy this. Inventive…I’ll give 'em that…

Everyone here has pretty much echoed my sentiments on both sides of the issue. On the one hand, he is a wonderful Catholic young man who goes to spiritual direction, daily mass, and weekly confession. On the other hand, he grew up with a rougher crowd and not in a super strong Catholic environment and definitely has some of the influences of the world on him, and I think he sees the way he deals with things as okay. Many of his closest friends are very good Catholics, but many are not Catholic and do not live moral lives. He tries to just lead by example and bring Christ into the conversation when he sees an opening. I think that’s fine, but I also think that sometimes his efforts to be friends with them end up with them influencing him, rather than the other way around, despite his good intentions. I believe part of this is because he is 22 years old, and I believe he has some maturing to do (as do I) before he would be ready for marriage. Thankfully, due to both of our school situations, it would be a couple years before either of us would be able to marry, so there is time to gauge whether he is going to mature or not.

As for the strip club incident, I know without a doubt that he did not intend to take part in any of the usual strip club activities, and if the bar had not faced away from the stage, he told me (and I believe him) that he and his friend would have left. A very devout Catholic girlfriend of mine recently ended up in a similar situation actually, and she ended up staying at the strip club but felt extremely uncomfortable. That’s why I have a hard time judging him for his choice in the situation; just because I personally would have made a different choice, I understand why he felt that it was not his role to tell the groom what to do for his bachelor party, and why he did his best in the situation to keep the stain of sin off his own soul as much as he could without leaving the group entirely. I know he certainly would have preferred that they not go to the strip club at all, and that was not originally on the weekend’s agenda.

It’s just hard because in many ways, he is a blessing to my spiritual life and does help me grow closer to God. He is a very strong Catholic in so many ways. In other ways, I don’t know if we would be compatible in marriage, and I certainly don’t want to waste my time on someone who I am not going to marry. Many of the things that bother me, however, are things that may just be the result of immaturity. I know my father was very similar when he met my mother, and he grew up quite a bit in the time that they dated before marrying–she definitely would not have married him if he hadn’t. Part of the problem, I think, is that I prefer to stay in my safe Catholic bubble, and he believes we should go befriend all kinds of people, but sometimes those people can have an effect on him. I don’t know. Part of me wants to wait it out and see what happens and whether he grows or is remaining static in the coming months, and part of me wants to just date someone who is already the “perfect Catholic.”

To be fair, it does sound a bit ridiculous. However, I have known both my boyfriend and the friend for several years, and knowing their characters, I honestly do believe that it was the best compromise in both of their minds–they wouldn’t have to leave the group, but they also would only have to interact with the bartender and the tvs showing sports behind the bar. Both of them find strip clubs repulsive and sad, and I 100% do believe them when they say they were not watching the stage. I certainly don’t think it was the best course of action (nor the worst), but I don’t think either of them were trying to come up with some kind of sneaky excuse or anything; in their minds, I truly believe they felt they were doing their best to avoid the “main” sin of the situation.

Praying Duck, I recently read a saying that I really like: “A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on one another”. He sounds quite mature for a 22 year old IMHO. If you love him, trust him, he sounds to me like a guy worth investing in. No one is perfect, and we cannot expect perfection from one another. Extended further, expecting a kind of perfection from your kids is a trap of another form. We are only human.

This is true. We are imperfect. However, trust is huge. I have been married for 25 years and my trust has been shattered by evidence of long term online affairs by my husband. I no longer trust or believe him. Be very careful what you do to your marriage. Once trust is broken it is hard - next to impossible to get back. It is only by remembering that Jesus said to forgive 7 times 70 that I am still married. But it is an ordeal. God bless

They DON’T exist. EVERY person has their own faults and quirks. You just need to decide if you can put up with his or not. Men may “grow up” but they rarely change. What you see is usually what you get (Unless he is under 18).

I think there is a big difference when there are differences in theology deals with a non-Catholic versus a Catholic. At least with Catholics there is a common religious base. With non-Catholics that divide can become very great, especially when they have children. With Catholics, I would tend to tell the couple to work things out.

As far as strip clubs go…well, I had been to some back in the day, always in the context of a Bachelor’s party. In my experience, with younger people it’s simply immaturity. There is an adaption stage for many people. Many younger men hang out with other young men that simply see nothing wrong with it. Then a girlfriend walks into the picture and sees everything wrong with it. Some men just never get it, others come to the realization that maybe objectification of women isn’t exactly moral, and they grow up. I recommend being insistent and firm on that matter, but in a respectful manner.

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