When one of you loses faith

Assume you married a lifelong catholic, and together practiced the faith for 10+ years of marriage, and raised your kids according to the faith. Over the course of a couple of years your spouse’s faith has eroded to the point where he/she can no longer be counted among the faithful. How does this change your marriage? Do you continue?..do you do anything differently?

Secondly, if the spouse that has fallen away is willing to continue going through the motions…attending church, saying prayers, etc…for the benefit of the children, would you want him/her to pretend like this?

Remember, it is our duty to get our spouses into heaven. If our spouse is having a spiritual dry spell, we must do all we can do to inspire their faith again. It is important not to make demands on our spouse, but to let them know we love them and wish to see them in union with God again. The spouse who is falling away would be very kind to continue encouraging their spouse in their beliefs and accompanying them to Church and in prayer. We must love eachother in sickness and in health, including spiritual sickness (so long as in doing so we are not led to do anything blasphemous).

I agree with the previous poster.

The worst thing to do, is to act self righteous in front of them. Be sure not to flaunt the faith or seem holier than thou.

I’m not in the same situation, since my spouse was never Catholic. However, this is what has worked in our daily lives:

My spouse is very supportive of our family’s faith, but doesn’t believe in God. To support the children and I in our faith, he does not draw attention to his lack of faith. He attends Mass with me, stands and sits, and gets a blessing from the priest (like our children do) when I receive Communion. He is involved with our friends from church, and feels comfortable in our church community (although this took a while).

However, to stay honest to himself, he doesn’t say prayers (except on rare occasions, and then he is very careful about the wording, that it doesn’t imply a faith he doesn’t have). He will remind the children and I to say grace at meals, but will just sit quietly while I lead. He brings our family to a Rosary group to pray with friends sometimes, but then reads a book or watches the young children who wander off to play instead of praying with us. Your spouse can be honest while encouraging the children to pursue their faith, if s/he is willing. Be aware that our children are only 3 years old; this might play out differently with older children, and I would guess you may at least want to discuss your explanation if they ask.

For my part, I pray for my husband to be given faith. Fortunately, he appreciates this for what it is, and encourages me to persevere in prayer for him.

I absolutely encourage you to continue in your marriage, and keep seeking to bring your spouse to Heaven. If you haven’t already, check out the “St. Monica” thread on this forum (sticky thread), which is people praying for the conversions of their families.

Yes, if the spouse is willing to go to Mass, even if “going through the motions,” then you should all go together as a family! Perhaps just being there will allow the Holy Spirit to move the person in an unexpected way. Whether he/she should receive Communion is a separate question, and one that you might gently raise, depending on the extent of the spouse’s belief…

This is kind of tricky. Of course, not receiving communion after 10+ years of doing it with/in front of the kids is going to be noticed by kids. How should that be addressed with them? Is allowing the fallen away spouse to continue to receive for the sake of avoiding this issue with the kids terribly wrong?

Actually - when I was younger I didn’t even realize that we weren’t supposed to take communion unless we had confessed our sin to avoid “eating and drinking judgment upon ourselves” SO it might actually be beneficial for a child to see the parent at least have enough reverence to abstain from the Eucharist, rather than them going up and taking it when they aren’t observing the faith.

The short answer to this is YES, it is wrong.

In specific terms, how would you address this with the kids? I mean, the whole “Mommy/Daddy doesn’t believe anymore” is going to be a problem in faith development of the kids, imo. We could take the whole “I just don’t feel worth enough to recieve right now” could buy time…but that isn’t going to satisfy them for long. And even then, the vagueness could leave room to their imagination to run wild, which probalby isn’t good. I don’t know it seems just “pretending” seems to be the better solution.

While I know it is wrong for the nonbeliever to recieve…how sinful is it not to discourage the fallen spouse from receiving? Yeah…I know that is kind of a loaded question and I am kind of stretching here. But I consider that as the best option to protect the faith formation of the kids.


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