Unwed pregnancy - Dealing with parents


#1

Dear CAF members,

Goal: Achieve a better understanding by taking in perspectives from many people.

I am in a very serious relationship with my girl-friend since 1.5 years and she is 5 months pregnant. The pregnancy, while "unplanned", made us both happy. We are both adults in our 30s, self-reliant not living with our parents since a long time. Yes, the relationship was short so far, but we are dealing here with facts not with planning ;-)

I have no religion but I do rely on a strong set of principles. She is a non-practising catholic from a very religious family. While she told her family about her pregnancy, she did not tell them about me. Apart from one sister and one brother, no one in her family knows anything about me at all. The main problem of course is we are not married and not only had pre-marriage serious relationship but even now are going to have a baby. Her parents do not give her too much heat for this because she actually has a very weak heart and they understand the stress might be difficult to handle for her.

I would like to support her in any way I can within my hardly anchored principles. For example, I am willing to marry her (in church if we found a very open Priest) if it helps her deal with her parents but she says I would need to become catholic. One of my basic principles is respect for other peoples faith/religion. So I am not ready to lie to churches only to make her parents accept me. If I believe and become a catholic it would only be through me becoming a believer.. not through lieing.

Being very pragmatic, the only solution I can imagine to make everyone happy would be for me to meet her family and learn to know them as well as let them learn to know me. According to my girl friend, letting her parents know that she is still with me and that I want to take care of her, that I love her and she loves me would be unacceptable to her parents.

This is where I would highly appreciate different perspectives. Right now my mind can not process the idea that it is better for her to pretend the child has no father willing to take care of him and his mother rather than the child having a caring father that is not catholic.

Can you please share your perspective with me? You do not need to convince me you are right. This means you can also just describe how you feel about it rather than trying to explain it logically if it does not seem possible to explain. Let me just pick your brain and let it be explanations or emotions. I am not looking for ways to convince her either. I have the same concern than her family about her health problems and do not wish to over stress her. All I would like is help for me to understand better and sleep more peacefully (because with your help I understood). Without the understanding many crazy ugly ideas come through my mind as to why she might want to hide my existence.

I will also note that most of her family might want to actually kill me (and master many martial arts) if they did know I exist, but I do not believe it is a solution to live in fear.

Thousand thanks in advance!

Kind regards,
Ben.


#2

Just a short answer, not dealing with all the issues, I admit:

Catholics don't insist on someone converting before marrying a Catholic. As you said, that is likely to be a false conversion anyway -- just lying and saying you're Catholic when you don't really believe it. You would have to get a dispensation (these are easy to get) and get married in a Catholic church. You would also have to have the same idea of marriage as the Church has -- that it is permanent, that you both must be faithful to one another, etc.

I don't know why your girlfriend insists on you converting if you were to get married. Maybe she thinks this is what the Church requires, or maybe she is worried about her ability to raise her child in her beliefs with a non-Catholic husband there. But you should discuss this with her further, and maybe schedule an appointment with a priest so you both can discuss it with him. Obviously the last thing anyone wants you to do is join a religion you don't actually believe in. That would definitely cause trouble further down the line.


#3

@sheilathebard, thank you very much for the information that there exists a form a dispensation for this type of marriage. I do indeed believe in the same values than the church concerning marriage. I want to stay permanently with her and remain faithful to her and I am willing to make that promise.

What I would like to avoid in a church marriage though is an awkward lie where I might need to promise this to God as understood by the church. But I assume if my situation belief is openly exposed to the Priest, there probably would not be such an awkward moment right?

Is there any chance you could also share your thoughts as to what might make it better for her parents that there is potentially no father rather than having a father that is not a catholic? I have tried to understand this through conversations with her but as I mentioned she is not allowed too much stress due to health reasons and we did have a few stressful discussions about it.


#4

You are both aduilts, in your thirties, now expecting a child.

Marry her, become a husband, and give your child a father. As adults, this will be a decision for you and your girlfriend.

Please do not let childish fear of parental disapproval prevent you from doing the right thing.

Every couple has issues to work through. Take care of the issues, and set a date for the wedding.

Congratulations!


#5

@Magickman,

Thank you for your congratulations! I do indeed intend to take care, give my love, remain faithful to both her and the child. Her parents disapproval would not stop me from that… as you said, we are two adults. But we all do realise, I certainly can’t force her to marry me :slight_smile: And I would continue to give her all my support and love even unmarried, so this is less of a worry for me.

But I wish for her and me to be happy. Her parents do not disapprove of me as they don’t even know I even exist yet. I feel this will always pressure her and stress her. I want it all! Her, the child and her happiness and the child’s happiness. If I can, I also even want her family’s happiness. I certainly see no reason why we should not all be joyous about the events!

As I said I believe the solution could be for me to simply talking to her parents. But my girl-friend strongly believes it would be worse in the eyes of her parents that I am not catholic than their daughter having a child without father. I am trying to understand either the emotions or the logic that might be associated with that. Could you give me your thoughts on this particular point?

Many thanks!
Ben.


#6

My husband was not religious and may have been agnostic when we got married. We got the dispensation and had our marriage blessed, so we did not have a “Big Catholic” wedding, just the two of us and two witness in front of God. We are now going into our 15th year. He still is not Catholic, but I think is more Catholic than anyone in my family.

God chose the two of you for each other, embrace it. There is no need to go searching for the “right” or an “open minded” priest. Just go and speak to a priest and get married.

Congratulations.


#7

Personally, I think that she is either very confused about what the Church teaches, or her parents are crazy. The Catholic Church would much prefer a child to be raised in a loving home with his mother and father both there to take care of him. Also, however, be aware that the Church will require you to promise to raise your children Catholic (or at least not interfere with their Catholic upbringing, if you can't bring yourself to instruct them, yourself). Perhaps she and/or her parents wouldn't want you forced into this situation?

But, I imagine that she either doesn't understand the Church's position on the situation, or her parents would be furious if she wanted to marry a non-Catholic, and not mentioning you would leave some sort of hope left for them. Or, alternately, and hopefully this isn't the case, she's not as serious about this as you are, and isn't as committed to seeing this through.

At any rate, you should probably sit down and talk to her about this. Maybe even explain to her the Church's position on the matter, and see what she has to say. Best of luck to you both!

Sam, the Neon Orange Knight


#8

Much of what you have written about your situation makes no sense to me either as a woman or as a Catholic. I am afraid she might be manipulating you.

Does her weak heart come up every time you bring up a topic she doesn’t want to deal with?

Could she be keeping you away from her family because there is information about her past that she doesn’t want you to find out (a prior marriage perhaps)?

I suggest that you ask her to take you with her to talk all of this over with a priest ASAP. If she refuses I think you will have the answer you need.

Please pray to God to show you His will and give you the grace to accept it.


#9

I agree with Momor. You girlfriend does not make sense.

Why is she “hiding” you after 1.5 years? If she is not ashamed of you, she must be ashamed of her family OR is afraid her family will spill secrets about her that she does not want you to know. What does she tell you about her family?

Will she deny her child contact with his/her grandparents just because she does not want her parents to know about you?!? How selfish of HER!

Man up, meet her family, marry her (no you do not have to convert, and if your GF is Catholic, only SHE has to promise the raise the child Catholic - you just can’t interfere with that), and have a nice family.


#10

Many thanks to all of you for your tips about inter-faith marriage and also confirming to a large extent the way I feel is not so much about me being closed minded or crazy :-)

I do realize there might be something strange from her statements. I am not that naive but at the same time I need to trust her to a certain extent. She will become the mother of my son fairly soon and while that does not mean I should blindly trust her, I feel I should allow for leeway. Pregnant and sick (weak heart since childhood) I can hardly believe I would be capable of assessing what others might think or think through what my life plan should be. It could be temporary poor judgement?

From the many (painful) talks we had about involving me with her family, I managed to at least arrange for a dinner with her eldest sister. I know we will have plenty more of these talks but the question is when.. I fear a lot for her health at the same time than I try to plan a happy family post-birth.

I think it does make sense for me to find a Priest here and ask for a talk. I would however want to meet the Priest first alone. I hope she will forgive me for that.

May I ask how important it would be to seek a marriage prior to the birth? I do not think it will be possible any more. I did not mention it earlier but in East-Asia they have lots of "chinese cultural concepts" sprinkled on top of the "normal" Catholicism. For example they would only marry on specific "lucky days" for marriages. It might seem childish for the western culture but matters that are important to her need also to be important to me.

@st lucy, thank you very much for sharing your experience on this topic. This is good to know. I guess I had heard to many rumors on Catholic marriages. I am glad it is clearer to me now.
@Ne_OrangeKnight, what you wrote could have been what I would have written with a different mood. All these things did go through my head. As I mention in this post, I chose to hope for the good in each person but yes.. some of those thoughts do cross my head and disturb my sleep
@momor, I do at times worry about that too. As I said, I did not really understand her so far. What Ne_OrangeKnight said about parents being crazy might be correct from our western perspective. My hope is now that as this all is not anchored from the catholic faith itself it might be coming from some cultural difference with east-asian. This would then mean she is not hiding anything. We did have a special session where some very ugly and sad past experiences were explained to me. I am hoping none of us two is hiding anything.
@Catholic, All I am asking for is the right to man up :-) I would not let her deny the child's right to meet anyone from his family. The exception would only be anyone dangerous to the child's health.


#11

As far as seeking marriage prior to the birth most priests would have you wait until after the child was born. Marriage vows must be made of free will and not pressured in anyway. The priest would want to be sure that you would be not be marrying “because of the baby.” Besides that there is a period of preparation for marriage which usually takes about 6 months.


#12

hello… I think it is great that you are supporting this baby and your girlfriend. I think she needs to tell her parents about you. I can’t imagine that they would rather her not have a father for the baby than no one.I am a very religious Catholic and I can’t imagine that I would want my adult daughter to be without a husband if she was going to have his baby, even if you are not religious. Maybe you will start believing, you’ve got a good start to being a Christian. you are supportive and loving to someone else and you seem to love this child already and you seem tolerant of other people’s choices. Give Jesus a chance:)He’s awesome. Anyway, she needs to tell her parents about you. and I hope she is going to a high risk ob gyn b/c of her heart condition.Good luck and congratulations on your baby:)


#13

Here are my :twocents: Congratulations on the new baby :thumbsup: My God Bless you both abundantly for honoring this little person’s life. .

The Core facts:
You are not in any way religious and your GF is a non-practicing catholic.
The two of you are expecting a child together and you are not married.

Others here may take my head off for this advice - but here it is.

Go get married by a Justice of the Peace - forget a religious Church marriage and marry civilly. The important thing to do at this moment in to provide security for the Child and which also provides for some of the legal protections for you and your GF. With marriage [civil] comes legal rights - only some of which can be afforded outside of marriage - if other legal issues and paperwork can adddress - some protections cannot. [social security survivor benefits go to spouses and chidren - your child’s surviving parent - God forbid the need - could need that financial boost if the unthinkable should occur].

A “Church” wedding - as you have noted - means nothing to you really and as a non-practicing catholic nothing to your GF at this 'cross-roads" in her journey … That her family is ‘religious’ is not the issue - the Family is not the ones getting married.

So I would ask that you bring this child into a family where their parents are married - committed and declared to the world - to the best of your abilities and understanding as they are rght now. That does not seem to be a declaration before God [via the witness of the Church] and Man [via the witness of the State] …

Let your future life [together] within the Church work its self out in do time - Right now focus on the new life :smiley:


#14

My opinion, FWIW:

1-you need to meet her family, asap, whether or not they like you. In 4 months, your child and their grandchild will be born, and you will be forever connected to them. They may not be thrilled with her choice of a non-religious person, but that’s neither here nor there. You are the father of their grandchild, and barring illegal or abusive situations, you should know each other.

2-In general, the Church does not jump to marry couples during the pregnancy. It is good that you see marriage in your future with her, but marrying NOW may not be necessary, or even the right thing to do. It might make more sense to wait until the baby is born and you can evaluate your relationship with her a little more objectively. This would be a good conversation to have with her priest - if she has one.

3-If you marry her, it should be within the Church, but you don’t need to convert. She will need to promise to raise the children Catholic. You don’t make that promise, but it only makes sense that you should be willing to let this happen. Disagreement over what faith to teach the children is probably the biggest pitfall of interfaith marriages. The promises you do have to make are to stay with her til death, and to be open to more children.

4-I agree with you - don’t convert unless you really believe the Catholic faith. Anything else would be a useless sham. But hey, maybe you and your girlfriend could go to an RCIA class just to learn about it, without planning on converting. Or learn more about catholicism another way. Chances are, if your girlfriend is non-practicing, she has a lot to learn about the faith as well.

5-There’s a good chance that you will not be able to make everyone happy in this situation. So you may want to drop it as one of your goals before you all become very frustrated. Focus on being right with God, good to your child and your girlfriend, and respectful to her family. Hopefully that will make you and her happy. If her parents become happy with you, then wonderful. But you are not responsible for their happiness, and if they want to stay grumpy about the situation, that can’t be your problem.

6-If she is not able to have a relationship with you because of her parents then either
-she agrees with her parents but is afraid to tell you, or
-she is too dependent on her parents approval, which will likely cause a lot of problems in her marriage to you.

7-Perhaps, your girlfriend needs to do some soul searching of her own to figure out
-the difference between her happiness and her parents’ approval
-where she stands with her Catholic faith (since she’ll be bringing a child into it)
-how she feels about being with a non-Catholic.

God bless you for your strong principles and seeking the right thing to do.


#15

[quote="YADA, post:13, topic:186712"]

Go get married by a Justice of the Peace - forget a religious Church marriage and marry civilly. The important thing to do at this moment in to provide security for the Child and which also provides for some of the legal protections for you and your GF. With marriage [civil] comes legal rights - only some of which can be afforded outside of marriage -

[/quote]

I'm not sure I agree that marriage is necessary for legal protection of your child (talking US law here). I am assuming your name will be on the birth certificate so you will automatically have custody if something were to happen to the mother. You can provide financially for your child in a will if something were to happen to you. Your child can be the beneficiary of any insurance or retirement money. As your surviving child, he/she would also get SS benefits in your name. If you were to marry before clearing up some of the nagging questions you have mentioned you might find yourself facing a divorce later which would be worse in my opinion.

The Church advises people to wait until after the baby is born for very good reasons.


#16

I am very thankful to all of you for your help. Also thank you very much for the wishes towards us.

It seems my girl-friend and me should share declarations to each other that we accept I am the father in case anything happens to either of us. Courts here will then update the birth registry from such declarations. Of course I still can picture us simply going together to the Court and making a declaration together but you raised fair points concerning worst case scenarios.

For the marriage, I am thankful to all of you for bringing me clarity on this. Of course it does sound like common sense but I did not want to make too many assumptions in combination with me having wrong preconceptions of the Catholic faith. I am glad we brought light to many important topics to me on this.

@YADA and ThyKingdomCome, she was brought up in the Catholic faith and certainly has had her dreams at the least as a little girl on how her marriage ceremony would go. A church marriage means to me that she is allowed to take her vows in the way she feels it would be most appropriate. Also when I said she is not practicing that is not entirely fair. She does goes to Church every other Sunday but my understanding is that when she does go there she is pushed by her family to join them going there. I must admit I do not know her relationship with the church that well as she did not talk about so much.

@dashso40, yes she sees special doctors for her heart case. It even seems she sees 3 doctors at least once a month (and sometimes once a week). One for her heart, one for the baby and one time some sort of combination of a specialist for both. On the positive side we know both the mother and the child are well monitored. Sadly merely going to so many doctors already stresses her and I do hope the extremely frequent ultrasounds do not harm the mom and my son.


#17

First off, congratulations on the upcoming birth of your son! May I ask, what is your fiancee’s cultural background? If she is Chinese for instance, it is understandable that she has a very different relationship with her parents than most western girls would. Respect for elders, for tradition, and honoring the family is generally a very important aspect of life. This might explain perhaps why she is so hesitant about introducing you to her family. They may have certain expectations of a husband for their daughter that you could not possibly live up to (i.e. the same cultural background, being brought up in the same religion).
As far as her parents go… I have two little girls and I honestly hope they will never get pregnant out of wedlock, but if they do, I would rather the man in question be a good, upstanding, morally strong person from another faith than a ship that passed in the night and left them to raise their baby alone. I don’t see how it is possible that her parents would rather think she got pregnant from a one night stand and was left to deal with it on her own. That to me, as a mother, makes no sense whatsoever.


#18

I have no advice to give you, but I’ll keep you in my prayers. You seem like a wonderful guy.

We all make mistakes, bro. Don’t beat yourself up for this one. I’m not saying you would, just trying to remind you! :cool:


#19

[quote="Ben1980, post:16, topic:186712"]
I am very thankful to all of you for your help. Also thank you very much for the wishes towards us.

[/quote]

If she is non practicing then I wouldn't expect her to know all of the ins and outs of the religion. Many active catholics do not understand many of the details.

If you have no religion, then I don't see how you would have any trouble "playing along". Obviously we wouldn't want you to lie any more about your beliefs any more than you would.

You may want to innitiate contact with a local priest or deacon and begin attending mass on a regular basis. After that consider attending RCIA (Rights of Catholic Innitiantion as Adult) Basically Sunday school for adults. Not believing is not a reason that you could not become knowledgeable about the faith.

If you got their daughter back active in the Church I am sure that would ease some of their issues.


#20

Ah. See, you didn’t mention that East Asian culture was involved, and that sheds some light on things. Knowing what I do of the culture (which is certainly not exhaustive), more of this could probably be cultural factors. Although, her ignorance of Church teaching is still probably a factor.

Also, YADA, it is very important that these two not forgo a marriage in the Church. The girl is a baptized Catholic, and is therefore obliged to follow Catholic requirements for marriage.

Sam, the Neon Orange Knight


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