Why is it so common for Catholic women to marry non-Catholic men?

I’ve always wondered, as a convert not attuned to the modus vivendi of cradle catholicism, why it’s so common that Catholic women marry non-Catholic men. I even once heard Peter Kreeft make a joke about this when telling his conversion story. He said he went to see a priest about becoming Catholic, and the priest responded “It’s a girlfriend, isn’t it?”

I would have thought that religion would be something very important to a Catholic when choosing a spouse. Here’s why. When you enter into marriage you’re potentially taking part in the creation of souls destined for eternal bliss in heaven, but also threatened with eternal damnation in hell. Marrying a non-Catholic spouse I think we can all say objectively threatens any children born in this marriage and moves them away from God. Statistically speaking, if the father is not going to mass every Sunday, the children will not do so. As the Catholic church stands in the west, it is a rapidly dying joke among young people, and every marriage with a father not taking the children to mass pretty much ensures that these children will join the horde of lemmings running off the cliff. Finally, if you’re at all devout, I would imagine it would cause some distress to be “unequally yoked” (2 Cor 6:14).

So what reasons do these many Catholic women have for marrying non-Catholic spouses? Do the women think that they’ll change the men? Good luck with that. Do they think there’s not any Catholic men for them? I know that there’s not a lack of Catholic men out there, so I think the excuse of “I can’t find any Catholic men” is a little hollow.

The only reasons I can come up with are 1. pure attraction 2. lack of concern for their faith, preferring trying to find fulfillment in a spouse.

And that’s pretty much what it is right? Please correct me if you disagree. But in the face of all the down-sides I listed above to being unequally yoked, these Catholic women have their feelings, and maybe they throw in a blind hope that he’ll come around to the faith.



another poorly influenced and poorly catechized catholic raised by a mother who chose a non-catholic husband

I am a Catholic woman and I would never have considered marrying outside the faith.

I am also the result of a devout Catholic mother and atheist father.

You are neglecting a third reason. Sure there are a lot of Catholic men out there but from the point of view of a Catholic woman, if none of them show any interest in her than it is a no go. It’s not like all Catholic women have their pick of a Catholic suitor and a non-Catholic one. Some have none and some only have non- Catholic choices.

Personally speaking I’d rather stay single than be unequally yoked.

Can’t speak for all women but religion and spirituality compatibility was one thing on a long list that included other things.

Turn the question around: Why do non-Catholic men marry Catholic women? Perhaps it’s because we’re all that and a bag of chips.

Lol I like that!

My own theory is that marrying a protestant spouse helps avoid the more rigorous aspects of practicing the Catholic religion. If you have to take this religion stuff seriously it can be a major drag on your social life.

It’s a decision that I sympathize with because It can be really really tough being married to a saint.

Love? A mutual understanding and respect, as well as a willingness to work through issues? I wanted to marry someone who shared my beliefs and values, but I would have married outside of that if the right person came along and we could work it out. But there are a lot of devout women here (EasterJoy and Maryjk come to mind), who married non Catholics. To start with the assumption that they married out of pure attraction or a disregard for their faith is uncharitable and insulting. It’s one thing to politely ask their perspective and experience, it’s another to ask them to defend their marriages to you.

To answer your question, I know that there are lots of devout men out there. But honestly, many of them seem to be more interested in women like me. More than half of the men who approach me are very conservative Christians, catholics included. My mom has always joked since I was a teen about how I’m a magnet for them, and my husband has noticed too and has gotten in on the joke. Maybe Catholic women aren’t interested in Catholic men who chase liberal atheists ;):D:p:shrug:

Perhaps the non-Catholic men pursue women more assertively?
Maybe many of Catholic men in their early twenties are “discerning” and considering the priesthood, so are less apt to be dating…and that’s when the non-Catholic guys swoop in.


I think that “otherness” and the exotic can be very attractive short-term, whereas long-term, it may create irritation and serious obstacles to marital happiness. I think this taste for “otherness” has some practical utility (otherwise we’d all wind up married to our first cousins), but it can be taken too far (for instance, if you are a nice person, a narcissistic jerk may be irresistible).

I suspect that when there is too great a similarity in background, it may trigger subconscious taboos about marriage to a too-close relative. That would be one possible interpretation of the “friendzone” problem and the problem I have seen mentioned here of people doing very badly attempting to ask out fellow parishioners.

As practical advice, I suggest that this might mean that one ought to make one’s move before that kind of familiarity and ease builds up. Almost nobody wants to date their “brother.”

YES!!! Best dating advice EVER. I never dated my friends, and I never had an interest in someone that I was friends with first. I always found it much easier to let the friendship develop alongside the relationship, not first.

I wasn’t Catholic until I was nearly married, but as a college student and single young adult woman, I had practically no male attention at all. I think I barely need two hands to count up all the guys who ever showed any interest in me (and that’s the counting even the most fleeting interest from strangers, like the guy who walked up to me and made an indecent proposal, apropos of absolutely nothing or a short guy who followed me around downtown LA–he was just small enough that it wasn’t scary). I’ve only been out with four guys, ever, one of them being my husband (in order of seriousness: coffee, dated for a month, dated for six months, married).

I realize that strikingly beautiful women get bored with getting hit on, but more average single women don’t have that “problem”.

As an average-looking woman, one doesn’t have unlimited options. When I was a single gal, I couldn’t just say, “I’d like a tall, smart, well-read, brunet and curly-haired, blue-eyed Evangelical Protestant with a classical profile” and expect one to materialize on my doorstep with flowers and dinner reservations.

I can only speak for myself. The Catholic men that showed an interest in me were either so lukewarm they did not even take their Sunday obligation seriously or else, to be blunt, serious about their faith to the point of being controlling. I knew some very good Catholic men, they are out there, but we did happen to hit it off.

I was very concerned about marrying my husband, and almost broke up with him after we were engaged. Still, while he was baptized, he had not been catechized in any particular denomination. His parents believed in God, but didn’t go to church. He was very willing to go to church with me, to pray with me, and to raise our children Catholic, and in fact wanted our children to have the religious upbringing that he did not have himself. He is very generous to the poor, honest, humble, kind, and respectful of my faith. We go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, even on vacation, but if he were lukewarm, it would be easier to explain why my boys’ non-Catholic dad doesn’t practice his faith than to explain why his Catholic dad does not do so. When I have missed Sunday Mass myself, he’s encouraged me not to miss in the future–“you don’t do well when you miss Mass”. He is undeniably one of the reasons our children are as devout as they are, and they are devout.

My husband has a relative, also non-Catholic, who attends Mass with his Catholic wife and their four children so faithfully and is so active in their parish that he was asked to serve on the parish council. No one had noticed that he never received Holy Communion!

IOW, a non-Catholic husband does not necessarily pose a temptation to defect from the faith. Sometimes, they even pose less of a threat to a woman’s faith than the Catholic men who were available. As far as the other direction goes, a Protestant woman I know who swore she would have AT MOST two children while we were in college met a serious Catholic man, married him, converted to the faith, and now they have six children, some of whom she home-schools. As hard as it is to convert a non-Catholic spouse to the faith, sometimes it is a more realistic proposition than converting one of the lukewarm Catholics who are available! A Catholic has the standing to argue about “what it means to be Catholic” that a non-Catholic does not have.

Why do I think Catholics in general marry non-Catholics? In my experience, it is for the same reason that Catholics so often leave the Church: that is, they suffer from relativism with regards to the value of remaining Catholic rather than joining some other denomination.

Naturally, it is because all Catholic Males enter the Priesthood. Everyone knows that surely.

EasterJoy said:

“It would be easier to explain why my boys’ non-Catholic dad doesn’t practice his faith than to explain why his Catholic dad does not do so.”

Very good point!

Hmm, unique advice. All the advice I’ve gotten says to be friends with her first, I’ve even heard how “many women say they dream about falling in love with a friend”, but then I see that this never happens for some strange reason. That’s why I like this board, people are honest here.

Also that’s interesting how men would ask you out BlueEyedLady, don’t married people wear wedding rings on the left hand ring finger? I guess people don’t really care about that anymore:confused:

Sad, but true. There needs to be better ways for faithful Catholic singles to network with each other. Sometimes the Catholics you went to grade school with do not cut it; they are too much like siblings. Some Catholics hesitate to date someone else in their choir, lector group, or other parish group, because of the social difficulties that arise when there is a break-up.

Maybe “vicariate” singles gatherings would be a good idea, where you can meet Catholic singles from nearby parishes. That way, you can date, and if you break up you can avoid each other more gracefully. This would make “jumping in” to date a fellow serious Catholic a bit less daunting.

It’s a thought.

As a Catholic man, how about this: too few Catholic men live out their Catholic faith in a way that is attractive to God and to Catholic women? Perhaps Catholic women are finding non Catholic men interesting by their sincere non Catholic belief or non belief.

Perhaps if we Catholic men were on-fire, enthusiastic Christians, Catholics, more Catholic women might find that attractive. It doesn’t make sense that Catholic women would make it a priority to marry a Catholic man if his life were no different than the lifestyle of the culture, or if a non Catholic man live a more faith-filled , devout life as a Christian. I know from at least anecdotal evidence that devout women who are serious about their Catholic faith do want a faithful devout Catholic man. However, I see that its not always easy for them to find one!

I don’t think there is any question that many Catholic men need
to step it up and commit their life to Christ instead of just going through the motions or just ignoring their faith altogether. The people I see at my parish are committed, thankfully. But those that seldom, if ever, attend Mass, the C&E Catholics, the nominal Catholics are not only hurting themselves, they are hampering the ability of the Body of Christ to accomplish Her mission. Why would a woman care about the label “Catholic” it its only that - a label without any other meaning to ones life?

Catholic women need to start expecting more out their Catholic men, and instead of just ignoring the issue, they need to Evangelize us lazy Catholic men!
There may be plenty of reasons why there is so much intermarrying, but there is no excuse to let it continue. Its definitely a challenge for the New Evangelization.

Estevao said:

“All the advice I’ve gotten says to be friends with her first, I’ve even heard how “many women say they dream about falling in love with a friend”, but then I see that this never happens for some strange reason.”

It can work either way (you’ll hear success stories for both), but if whatever you’re doing isn’t working, I’d try the other method.

Here’s a short summary of problems with the “be friends with her first” method.


There are a lot of interesting ideas there, but very briefly, it’s not super nice or honest to be attempting to advance romance while hiding inside the Trojan horse of friendship and it can cause a lot of hard feelings.

My DH and I were friends for a while before we became romantic. We weren’t close buddies but were friendly enough to hang out in the same group.

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