I found this site by searching for some answers to my huge dilemma. I have read many thoughtful and knowledgeable answers to other questions here and hope that some of you can help me with this seemingly insurmountable issue I'm having.
I am 27 years old and have been engaged to a wonderful man (he is 28) for three months. We dated for over three years prior to our engagement, and our courtship has been a Christian one. No premarital sex and no living together (I live with a girlfriend and he has his own apartment.) I am crazy about my fiance and think he is going to make the most loving, responsible husband and father ever. We share the same values, goals and desires for our future family life.
So this all seems great, right? Wrong. I was raised in a Catholic home. I wouldn't say we were super strict Catholics, but we were fairly devout. When I was in college I felt called to explore other faiths. There was so much about the Catholic church that did not make any sense to me and just seemed plain wrong. I loved a lot about my upbringing but as I grew older things just weren't adding up and I found it more and more difficult to call myself a practicing Catholic. I just couldn't get on board.
I went to a few different churches and fell in love with the Methodist one in my area. There, I felt so close to God and renewed my passion for Christ and doing His work. I found a fellowship of people that really invigorated my love for Jesus and supported me in seeking Him in all I did. I made lots of friends there. They welcomed me! Within a month I was being greeted by my first name - something I never had at my Catholic parish (not that being greeted is the be all end all - but it was really nice!) I started in earnest working on my prayer life and found myself joyfully attending church on Sundays, prayer group, women's retreats and volunteering events.
Of course, my parents rolled their eyes and told me I'd "get over it" and come back to The Church. Over the years their devotion has increased. They thought I was going through a phase, and even when I respectfully tried to explain myself, they said that the Methodist church I was attending was fake and that I'd eventually see the light and return to Mass. They said they were praying for me to do so and I happily accepted their prayers that if it was God's will for me to return that I would be led to. But I wasn't.
That was 8 years ago. I am still attending the same Methodist church. I have NEVER wavered in my conversion away from Catholicism. I have no ill will toward the Church at all, but I feel at home with the Methodists. My fiance attends there as well and we really support each other in our spiritual lives. Of course we plan to be married in our church by our long-time pastor who is also a dear friend and a true spiritual guide to us.
My parents are incredulous. They have been trying to convince me to have a Catholic wedding for my entire engagement. They have used every argument in the book and I do realize that this is important to them. They say I am denying God's grace, and that I will NEVER be truly married unless I marry in the Church. I know they believe this, but I just don't. I do not think that I am obligated to marry in the Church if I don't believe in it! How can I promise to raise a Catholic family and live by Catholic doctrine if I no longer call myself a Catholic? I do not want or need the Church to make my marriage a sacrament because I am having the sacrament in my own church of many years, where I worship with my fiance.
My parents have said they will not put a dime towards a non-Catholic wedding. I said that I understand their perspective and that it's fine. My future-in-laws (Methodists) are happy to pitch in and we'll have a small wedding. Since that didn't work, they are now threatening not to come and my father has said he could NEVER walk me down the aisle in a Methodist church because it would all be a "ruse" since I will not really be getting married. The latest thing is that it would be "giving scandal" to my siblings if they attended and will avoid my wedding to protect the younger kids.
They have also said that they will consider us to be "shacking up" after our wedding and fornicating when we have marital relations since our marriage will be technically invalid. Nice, huh?
This is killing me. I am so sad and this supposedly happy time is becoming miserable and a huge family feud.
I have said that just because they don't think my Methodist wedding is real - is is, actually real and is very real and sacramental to us. I do not see how they could feel I was bound to marry in a Church that I don't attend or consider myself a part of. What am I to do? Not marry at all? That is silly. Every former Catholic who leaves the Church HAS to be married there or never marry?
Of course I adore my family and this is breaking my heart. I want them all there. I want my daddy to walk me down the aisle. I want them to be happy for me and I want this time to be joyous. I have offered for them to invite their priest to our wedding and let him say the blessing at the reception dinner. I have tried so hard to explain things to them in a way that is non-offensive and respectful of their faith. They just don't respect mine. They are constantly telling me that the Methodist church isn't "true" and that my minister has zero authority and is just "some guy" who thinks he knows about Jesus.
I am not sure what I should do... I am sick about this and losing weight and sleep. I have never fought with my family like this. If I were your child, what would you do? What can I do to fix this?? I'd appreciate some honest feedback because I think my parents are being really unfair. I have found my home in my new church and it's NOT a phase. But I love my family and want them to be happy and support us. So sad.