Should you marry someone who doesn't attend Church while you are dating?


This post is for very serious Catholics only, who have strong opinions about marrying other Catholics only. If you do not fall into this category, then this thread is not for you. :slight_smile:

There is this blog that I visit, and it addresses the situation of people who are single and who do not wish to be, and feel a sense of suffering about it.

I think that the blog is aimed at women, though men are not excluded from the target audience per se.

The author of the blog addresses the problem (though I have not been to Church, really - I am speaking secondhand) of a lopsided ratio of women to men in churches - that is, a lot more women than men, and the problem of women wondering where they may meet their men.

The author of the blog makes a suggestion that I am wondering your opinion on. She suggests that we should consider the idea of finding a man outside church circles. Now before you think this means that she implies finding a man outside the boundaries of YOUR particular church, she is rather suggesting resorting to finding a man even IF he does not attend any church at all for whatever reason. Not only that, she is suggesting that even if the man is a nominal believer, that this offers great potential for the woman to offer spiritual encouragement to the man, in the hopes that maybe all he needs is a “little help” to get back on track with God, etc. That denominations are not important when it comes to marriage, etc. Well as someone who is seriously considering Catholicism and eventually converting one day, I seriously beg to differ. But somehow I don’t know how to express WHY it matters (I’m not always good with words).

I had been frequenting that blog for some time but I can’t figure out the right words to comment on it, because it seems that since in Catholic culture, attendance at Church is a pivotal aspect of it, and the lack of attendance constitutes a mortal sin, it is not a light issue as to whether the prospective spouse (man or woman) goes to Church. It is a lifeblood of Catholic living is it not?

Note: I am not saying that just because someone goes to Church, it makes them “better” as people but don’t we have to consider, that, if we want to marry a Catholic, whether or not Mass attendance is a priority in their life?


Love can be found between men and women of varying denominations and strengths of beliefs. Many people on this forum have strong marriages in which they do not share a Catholic foundation. My opinion is not designed to belittle these successful marriages but rather to share my opinion about why I did not seek a husband outside of the Catholic faith and why I would encourage others to seek first a spouse of their similar beliefs.

Catholicism is not a religion with many gray areas. Our beliefs are longstanding, firm and rich. It is not a easy religion to follow, as it calls one to be countercultural. During my search for a mate, I did date men of different faiths, but I could not have married them. I did so with the foolishness of youth and enjoyed my relationships with them while all the while not contemplating marriage… My reasons for wanting to only marry a practicing Catholic were as follows:

  1. Should we be blessed with children, I wanted my children to share my faith. Should I die before my children were raised, I did not want to worry about their religious upbringing. As it turned out, we were instead blessed with the cross of infertility, and I have not had to face the additional challenges of arguing artificial methods of conception with my husband.
  2. I did not want to debate things like birth control, abortion, or other matters of faith that Catholics hold true but other religions generally do not. If blessed with a surprise pregnancy or a child with a disability, I did not want to debate the life of my child.
  3. If I should be in danger of losing my life, I wanted my husband to understand my need for a Priest to attend to my dying needs.
  4. Finally and most importantly, the Pastor at our Church always used to say that he could predict whether or not a marriage would be successful based on whether or not the couple prayed together. There is no prayer greater than the one we celebrate each week at Mass, and I wished to share my life with someone who could share in the Holy Eucharist with me each week.

I did not meet my husband at Church. In fact, he was not a practicing Catholic when we met (though he was baptized and confirmed Catholic). He was a Catholic in good standing and strong in his beliefs before I ever considered marrying him. In my opinion, our shared faith has bound us together and has aided us when other parts of our marriage were not as strong.


This author is wrong on so many levels.

First, no person should be another person’s “project” to “fix them up.” That is disrespectful, manipulative, and dishonest.

Secondly, one cannot serve God and Mammon. When one starts to see marriage as an end to be achieved by any means one has missed the point and has created a “fasle god” and put it first. Marriage is a vocation-- a calling from God to live out one’s baptismal call in the service of family.

No one has a “right” to get married, nor should anyone seek out just any old warm body in the hopes of “fixing” them or “changing” them. What one should instead do is serve God in all things and be open to His will. Ultimately, God’s will is that we all attain Heaven. When we marry, our vocation is to get ourselves, our spouses, and our children to Heaven.

The best way to do this is to marry a person who shares your vision for your life and your family, your mission/vocation, and your values. That is the essense of what the Scripture means when it talks about being “equally yoked” although not specifically talking about spouses – when animals are unequally yoked they pull against each other not with each other.

If your spouse is not actively seeking holiness in their own lives, they will be unable to assist you in seeking holiness in yours and will not be able to assist your children either.

If you, as a Christian, are letting your light shine brightly on the hill in the service of the Lord then you will attract all sorts of godly men. You might even attract those who are unchurched by your example. If your good witness inspires them to seek out Christ, that’s great. But, it should not be a carrot on a stick in a relationship.

Ultimately a woman who chooses this course will have to ask herself what happens when it doesn’t work? What happens when she finds herself emotionally involved, perhaps past the point of turning back, and yet her man has not been “fixed up”?


Could you provide a link to that blog?

As a male, I would like to chime in that there a lot of Catholic males who attend Mass every Sunday/HDO and are also looking for similar Catholic females. As far as needing “a little help” in getting back on track with God, sure, we all need that little nudge to stay on course, but what you are describing is what is known as “missionary dating”, which is pretty much considered a disastrous basis for a marriage. I wonder if that in fact is contributing to the high divorce rate?


Norseman, I can provide a link to the Blog but at the moment there is not a blog entry that corresponds directly to what I wrote about. I think that if I look in the archives however of the blog, I will find the exact entry that inspired me to write this. Stay tuned:D


Ok, I am finding the appropriate link:

this link is to the November 2007 archive. You must scroll down to the date of November 25th, 2007 in which the title of the blog entry is called Unequally yoked with unbelievers.

Hoping that this works.

This issue had been addressed previously somewhere else in the archives but I do not recall where. I think this is a good start. For the record, my comment to the entry is the first one in the bunch. It might come off as a little harsh, but this was about 3 months ago.


If a woman is a serious Catholic she should be looking at pleasing God over pleasing herself. Being Catholic pleases God. Going to Mass pleases God. If she is looking for a husband, she must realize that she will eventually be united in flesh with that husband. Why would she purposely seek to be united with the flesh of a man who does not go to Mass and does not please God?

The fact that is Catholic and attends Mass doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be a good husband. But, for a man to be a good husband to a faithful Catholic woman, he has to do both of these things. If a woman doesn’t feel this is important in a man, then IMO, then her faith isn’t as important to her as she might claim.

A man is to head the family as Christ is to head the Church. If a man is a lousy leader (which he is if he isn’t in the true faith or if he is a lapsed Catholic), why would any serious Catholic woman want to be his wife and follow him into destruction?

IMO, being a faithful Catholic is more important than being married. I wouldn’t put my relationship with God second to my relationship with people–even if I was desparate to be married.

It’s naive to believe that it’s possible to keep the marital relationship separate from our relationships with God. The two relationships often bleed into one another. A man’s spiritual weaknesses, if they do not heal, will eventually drain away his wife’s strengths. That’s just my opinion.


Although there are a lot of sensible things said on the blog regarding misconceptions about singleness, this entry strikes me as “you should be so desperate to find a husband that you will lower your standards”, which can be disastrous as well. Additionally, it seems that this blog is written from a protestant perspective, and the writer seems to be based in the UK.


As someone who has married someone who is not a church-goer—

Bad, bad, bad idea.

It has made my marriage harder.

I would never say “never marry a non-Catholic”. But if you’re looking for someone to marry, I’d say: look for a good Catholic. Do not settle for a non-Catholic. I realize there are lots of good people out there who are non-Catholic. But if you want your household to be Catholic, and you want to have a Catholic marriage, you need a good Catholic to marry. If you do not marry a Catholic, you seriously decrease the likelihood of this happening.

Religious values affect so much of our lives. There are the obvious examples: contraception, abortion, raising children, etc. But then there are the less obvious examples: What you watch on t.v., what you’ll discuss in front of your kids, the kind of language he uses, how he spends his money (does he believe in Providence).

It’s pervasive.

Multiply these potential sources of tension in a marriage, and you have trouble.

The best solution: don’t go there. Look for a Catholic.

There may be situations where it truly is impractical to look for a Catholic. For instance, you live in a non-Catholic country with an overwhelmingly non-Catholic population. But that’s not the case for most of us.

Don’t settle. If marriage is worth it to you, it’s worth doing right.


Marriage is hard work. It is even harder work if each of the spouses is pulling in a different direction from the other.

Religion is only one of the things that a single person should look for in a spouse.

Other things to consider are: culture of origin (should be at least similar), attitude toward money (should be the same), attitude toward children (should be at least similar), attitude toward his parents (he will most likely treat your parents the same way he treats his; he will certainly treat you the same way he treats his mother), attitude toward housekeeping (if one of you is a slob and the other is obsessively neat, both of you are going to be extremely unhappy), and of course you need to share common goals.

For Catholics one of our goals is to get to Heaven. Part of our job as husband and wife is to help each other get to Heaven. But it’s no fun if one person is doing all the pulling.


For me, God and following Him has always been more important to me than ANY man…which is why I never dated until I was 28. Then, it struck me ‘Having someone to share my life with…hmmm…that would be nice’, but I KNEW he had to be Catholic, and he had to have similar world-views…So, I signed up for ‘The Catholic Unattached Directory’, wrote to 29 men on the list (this was before the internet became big), there were about 9 or 10 who I seemed to have enough in common with (outside regular church attendance), I met them-near work, for a lunch-date and then ofcourse ‘attraction’ came in, both ways! Some simply weren’t attracted to me, no matter how devout I was, and vice versa…In the end, my final date was with a man who is now my husband of 7 years. With him it clicked on all counts: yes he was Catholic, yes he went to church regularly, yes we both loved Lourdes, yes we both had an interest in the Church Fathers, yes, we had similar jobs…world views…we were attracted to eachother! But, we both felt that in order to have a sacramental marriage and to be able to raise a family, BOTH spouses needed to be Catholic. Because, as someone else said: once you have kids it’ll be like pulling in opposite directions, you won’t agree on how to raise them, Catholic or not, First Communion or not, Catholic school or not…It leads to so many problems. And, I agree a spouse is not a ‘project’ you ‘fix’…I wouldn’t want to change anything about my husband, he may have faults but I would not change him for the world, and he feels the same way about me!

Anna x



I think this is a good thread, but I’m wondering what kind of replies you were expecting to get here. In your first paragraph, you indicated that you only want replies from Catholics “who have strong opinions about marrying other Catholics only”.

There are quite a few Catholic women on this forum who married non-Catholic men and don’t regret it…but you’re not going to hear their opinions if you don’t welcome them.


Hi Ack,
I had been thinking about that particular statement of mine for sometime after I wrote the thread, and realized that it looked like it was too exclusive for Catholics only; I was simply looking for that perspective because I had that perspective myself.

However, maybe I should have reworded that statement to say, that the thread MAY not be for you, instead of the thread ISN’T for you at all.

Hope that helps some.


I have to agree with “Saint No One” from personal experience of marrying a non Catholic. Sometimes it can work as with the case of my own father. Maybe that is why I took the chance. I did my best to convey my “demands” about attending mass, how the children were to be raised,and major issues such as birth control and abortion. How was I to know that he simple agreed the same way someone else checks the block? Why should I have expected him to really agree with these issues that were so foreign to him? In the end, after 22 years of marriage I got the message loud and clear, that I simply asked him to promise too much, he never really meant it and BTW “you are Catholic so you can never divorce me.”

Well, I did divorce him, the hardest most painful experience anyone can imagine. How many times I wished the church simply didn’t allow Catholics to marry nonCatholics. I know that may be an unreasonable wish but, there will always be differences a couple will encounter. Marry someone with as much in common with you as possible, especially the issues you value most. I assume, for most people here, religion is at the top of the list.

The second time around, I would not even think about a man if he did not attend mass regularly. For me, I need someone in sync with me. I cannot “fix” anyone.

The dysfunction of our marriage took its toll on my children as well but is something else. Now I can tell my children, and pray they listen, to talk about all this before marriage. Then, be patient and watch. A person’s love of God and Our Lord will show. If there is any fixing to be done, do it before you make your vows.


When I was single, I never considered marrying anyone except a practicing Catholic man. I have five sisters and two of them married men who were not Catholic, but became so in order to marry my sisters. Both are divorce for the Mass was not important to the men after marriage. I think it matters, not to say that some people make it work in their marriage.


As a Catholic married to an Atheist, I found this forum extremely intriguing. I know there are several entries on this page from divorced women who were originally married to non-Catholics saying not to do it. You can’t tell someone not to do it. If they’re in love and everything else in the relationship is right on target with their views and opinions, which was the case when I got married, the questions shouldn’t be whether or not they should marry this non-catholic - the question should be whether they think their marriage will effect the way their Catholic life is currently being lived. I had my doubts and yes, I still get frustrated with my husband’s lack of faith, but I am my own person and my husband is one of the greatest, most supportive people I have ever met. He may not believe in God, which, yes, is very upsetting at times, but he is so morally sound. He’s extremely pro-life, is letting us raise our kids Catholic, very honest, very hard-working, and a very loving father and husband. Somedays I wish I could change him, but I know that’s not realistic or logical. God wanted me to find him and marry him for a reason. He had me fall in love with this wonderful man to make my life better, and it has been. And if I’m making his life better by introducing God and all of the Catholic Aspects in it, then I would say that’s a good thing. Don’t seek out only non-Catholics, obviously, but don’t disregard great people that simply don’t have the knowledge of Catholicim and God or don’t have the faith that all of us were brought up with and came to love. God has everyone on this Earth for a reason. If you’re a strong person who is very stable in your life, I don’t see why marrying a non-Catholic person should be the most horrific thing you could do.


How do your children feel about the fact that their father will not be coming to Heaven with them?


I am going to give the advise that Blestone gave on the thread “Best Marriage Advice Given?”

50% of all marriages end in divorce
10% of faithful Catholic marriages end in divorce(meaning go to mass almost every Sunday)
1% of faithful Catholic marriages who pray together nightly end in divorce


If someone won’t attend church while you’re dating, why on earth would you expect that they would start once you were married?


I do understand people’s viewpoints about those who have a good marriage to a non-Catholic by focusing on things that they have in common, but as for me, the pain of the differences outweighs the joy of the commonalities because I can’t imagine the loneliness it would feel for me if I had to practice my faith all alone, and not with my husband. I don’t know…that kind of separation of faith feels tantamount to eternal separation from God in hell. Is it just me?

I can’t seem to imagine a life if I cannot worship together with my husband.

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