Wife Stopped Practicing the Catholic Faith

Hello! My wife and I have been faithfully married for over 12 years and have 3 children. She was raised Catholic, earned a degree in Catholic Studies, and has been involved in various prayer groups and women’s ministries. We have always practiced our faith together until recently she mentioned that she no longer wants to attend Mass with me and the children. I’m try to be patient, not force things, and pray. But I am at a loss. I specifically wanted to marry a practicing Catholic in order to avoid this dilemma and now I’m being it with it full force. It’s hard to not be resentful when she goes to workout classes on Sunday mornings instead of Mass with me and the children. I can’t understand why she won’t even commit this one hour, even just to support me trying to raise our kids Catholic. (even non-Catholic spouses attend Mass just for support) I feel that I need to reach out and find some people in a similar situation. Any resources or direction would be appreciated.

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Marriage tends to throw those curve balls! I’ll pray for your wife and family. I don’t have any answers, though. I just know it can get very tough.

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You need answers. Ask her why.

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Have you asked her what changed? Is this something that’s come on gradually or was there some event or experience that brought it about? I wonder if something happened that is making her feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.

Prayers for your family.

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Don’t dwell long on your expectations, your disappointment, your grievance, your resentment. Such feelings are quite understandable. I’m glad you brought it up. Here at the forum, feel free to vent (for a little while). At home, on the other hand, it will surely work better to focus your attention on her needs and her well-being rather than your own. Each day, ask yourself (or ask her) what can you do for her?

Also and similarly, don’t make it about the kids. Don’t lay that guilt trip on her. Of course I understand the importance of bringing up your children in the faith. In regard to your children, your attention should be fixed primarily on what you can do for your children, not what you expect your wife to do. I am sure she wants the best for them, just as you do, and she is doing all she can at the moment and under the circumstances.

We have much reason to be hopeful. Your wife was brought up in the Catholic faith, and it has been a major part of her life. Right now there may be a specific problem, or she may be experiencing a broader sort of slump. You may be able to help in a direct way, or maybe not. Whatever the case may be, it seems that she is not far from God and his grace. For God, all things are possible. Be patient, kind, loving, and hopeful.

Let us pray: May the Holy Spirit assist and guide you and your wife, and abundantly bless your marriage and your children. Amen!

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Love her, do not nag her. Pray for her. Listen if she wants to talk, don’t debate with her.

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Thanks for your understanding!

Did she say Why this change came about?

Continue to quietly lead by example for her and for your children.
She may just be struggling with something and come back at a later date. It happens.

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Thanks so much! This is been some of the most helpful advise I’ve received so far. This is one of those curve balls I wasn’t ready for. Her depression is a factor for sure. I thought seeking treatment and counseling would lead her to run closer to God for help, not run further away. It’s a tough balance trying not to force her but at the same time try to find out what she is willing and unwilling to do. I really try to bend over backwards by allowing her to attended exercise classes any evening she wants to during the weekday, go out with her friends, and have a few days at home totally alone while kids are in school, etc. Some of my Catholic friends unfortunately give me recommendations that would only push her further away. They mean well but it’s trying to find the balance. God Bless!.

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Please do not throw this allowing comment at her. she is a grown woman.

You cannot force an adult to go to mass. Why would you? They would not be there for the right reason.

Also, this is the first mention of her depression. That is probably affecting her decision.

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Thanks! Definitely good advice.

Absolutely agree. I know that I cannot force her to go to Mass with the family and in real life I would never use the sentence “I’m allowing you” to her…I know that I can’t guilt her. (I’m probably not giving the best explanation but your point is well taken).
I cannot deny that I experience deep sadness and mourning that I cannot just ignore either and I’m trying to deal with this and totally respect my wife’s autonomy. It’s almost like being in mourning but not really being able to talk about it for fear it’s a veiled attempt to “guilt her”. Seems there are so many resources for wives whose husbands leave the faith but not the opposite. Thanks again!

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Sometimes that happens - if you are interested in getting some perspective on the issue, you might take a look at some ex-mormon discussion websites where people who have left or are in the process of leaving Mormonism discuss how their spouse and family reacted as they disengaged from that faith.

If nothing else, you’ll get a big set of examples of what not to do…

You might find this book helpful, it is written about converts but there are some similarities:

https://www.amazon.com/When-Only-Converts-Lynn-Nordhagen/dp/0879733152/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539010897&sr=8-1&keywords=when+only+one+converts

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You mention that your wife has depression. She is ill. Her illness may be affecting her judgment.

I would suggest that you have a talk with her more in-depth about why she does not want to attend the Mass with you and the children.
It’s not clear from your posts whether your wife is having an issue with religious belief, or an issue with the logistics of getting the whole family together and going off to Mass on Sunday morning.

Does she need a break from the “family” time in order to feel better herself?
Are the exercise classes she likes only scheduled on the Sunday morning? Could this be solved by attending Mass together on the Saturday evening or even later on Sunday if available?
Is it you she is having the problem with? Have you been controlling towards her, such as “allowing” her to do this and that? Does she associate that sort of man-controlling-the-woman with Catholicism?

If she knows you specifically wanted to marry a practicing Catholic and she is now all of a sudden not practicing, to me that sounds like it may be an issue with how she feels in the marriage, not just how she feels about God.

You need to talk to her about this in depth. If she won’t or can’t discuss it with you, it may be an issue for couples therapy.

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Wait–isn’t missing Mass a mortal sin? So you shouldn’t make your wife go, even though if she dies before repenting of her non-attendance she might go to Hell? Honestly, that doesn’t seem very loving. “I’d like you to attend Mass with me” does not seem like an unreasonable thing to say, unless she’s explicitly renounced her faith.

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How would he “make” her go? Drag her by the arm?

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Missing mass without just reason is a serious sin. It could be grave if the other conditions for grave sin are met.

Guessing you are not married, because, spouses don’t “make” each other do things.

Staying home from Mass is a long way from renouncing one’s faith.

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He could try telling her to go. “This is important, and I want you to come with me.” If she ignores him, then he can’t force her, but if the sin in question were something like viewing pornography I think you’d agree that the spouse has an obligation to try to get the erring one not to fall into habitual sin.

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Yes, but again, one cannot force another adult to do something. Can my husband force me to NOT go to mass? No, it is my choice and my choice alone.

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