My Advice to Catholic Parents: Don’t Let Your Kids Date Non-Catholics

October 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I know, this is hardly revolutionary or unique advice, but I was recently asked about this issue by a young Catholic man who called my “Open Line” radio show (heard every Thursday at 3:00 p.m. ET). He had been dating a devoutly Presbyterian girl, and her father didn’t like it one bit that the guy was Catholic.
I think my response to his “what do I do now?” question may have surprise him. (It apparently surprised and even dismayed a few of my listeners, judging from some of the e-mails that came in after that show.)
My basic premise, which I advert to in this audio segment is that, more often than not, mixed marriages (i.e., when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic) are a recipe for serious problems down the road in that marriage. My advice to Catholic parents is, teach your children well the importance of finding a devoutly Catholic spouse. Eventually, if you haven’t taught them this maxim and they, as a result, do not act on it, you will very likely see problems springing up in your extended family due to your sons and daughters being, in a certain sense, unequally yoked with non-Catholics. Word to the wise.
Take a listen . . . .

Enter the Conversation...

54 Responses to “My Advice to Catholic Parents: Don’t Let Your Kids Date Non-Catholics”
  1. Joe Bigliogo says:

    The author clearly does not understand human psychology. If you tell them who they can’t date, that is exactly who they will date. Who to like or love is a choice people reserve for themselves. Friendly advice is one thing but to forcibly interfere will surely be met with outrage and hostility. It may even jeopardize your own relationship.

  2. Jackie says:

    I told my kids all while growing up, that they should marry Catholics so they can raise their kids in the faith. They didn’t listen to me on that and they don’t listen to me on anything and not a single one is really living his/her faith! I did the best I could and I tried so hard. I don’t know what else I could have done.

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you, Patrick for your radio advice here. My 17 year old son has been dating a 16 year old “Catholic” for six months and says he will continue to do so until he leaves for college in another six months. I am upset because the girl is pro abortion, as are her “Catholic” parents who voted for Obama. I told my son pro abortion people are Catholic in name only.
    I know she is a nice girl and a good girl in her own way (doesn’t go to Mass every Sunday and that is fine with her liberal parents) but I feel he could do so much better if he waits to find a real Catholic.
    He says he is not going to marry her. So why would he continue on for another six months? In my generation we called this “going steady” or “engaged” but now these kids date for a solid twelve months and then expect to just deal with the wounded emotions in the breakup.

    I’m interested to read all the bloggers whose marriages to non Catholics DID work out but I also agree with those who wrote that you should not take the huge risk of entering a mixed marriage and “yoking yourself unequally with a non believer”, as Scripture tells us.

    Patrick’s advice is correct. But I guess in the end God can bring peace out of turmoil.

  4. Bob Johnson says:

    There is only one solution. DONT TELL YOUR KIDS WHO TO DATE! Let them figure it out on their own or else you have a whole lot of resentment coming your way.

  5. Rose M. says:

    I am a cradle Catholic, and I have been married to my husband for 17 years. We met when I was a nominal, card-carrying, American, teenage Catholic. I was so immersed in our secular culture that it did not ever occur to me that my future husband’s faith would matter. I was obviously clueless about much more than just my faith, but about marriage as well. Looking back, I was an obedient child that attended mass every Sunday because it was expected of me. I went through what used to be called, C.C.D, and is now referred to as R.E., or Religious Education, in the 80′s so that accounts for only part of the reason why my formation was sketchy at best. The greatest contributing factor was that I was too busy being an average adolescent and then teenager that I didn’t grasp the profound beauty and majesty of our faith. I didn’t appreciate how far and how wide the Truth is engrained in the sacred Traditions of the Catholic Church. My husband was baptized Presbyterian, but was not raised in the church. He was raised by a single-mother who blamed God for her terrible divorce to his biological father, so she made no effort to bring my husband or his brother to any church. When I met my husband in college I recall assuming that he was Catholic because he has an Irish last name. I was shocked to find out that he was not, but it did not deter me from pursuing a relationship with him. My parents, who are also cradle Catholics, did not try to dissuade me from dating him either because my husband truly is a good man. He has always been a very good man that loves God, but does not feel that he needs to worship him on Sundays in a building. He claimed then, and still professes that he is spiritual, not religious. Well…as a smitten 19 year-old , and I was taken aback by his conviction. I even thought it was noble. Ask me now that I am 41 and hanging on by a thread to raise our children in the Catholic faith on my own, and my response would not be so positive. Yes, he fully supports my efforts to raise the children Catholic. He even signed an agreement stating that he would raise our kids in the Catholic Church during our Pre-Canna marriage prep classes. We were even counseled by a priest, but I don’t ever recall having second thoughts about marrying my non-Catholic fiance. Yes, I have been praying for his conversion ever since my “reversion” to the church. My metanoia experience happened after our first child was born. I realized that I could not raise my baby on my own , and that I needed God’s assistance. I surrendered everything to Him, and I felt such an overwhelming glow of peace and love overcome every part of my being. I knew from that moment on that he would never leave me nor forsake me. He would be my rock. After that experience it was as though I had been awoken from a 31 year spiritual coma and my soul was starving. I fed any spiritual nourishment that crossed my path. I had a new baby, so my time and resources were limited. I attended our parish Mom’s group meetings, bible studies, I read spiritual books, and began attending mass regularly again. I had stopped going to mass during my first year of college, so I spent a long season away from the Church. I finally learned what it meant to be Catholic. I finally really looked at the Sacraments with clear eyes filled with awe and wonder. I was so excited that I wanted to share this with my husband, but he was not so excited to hear about it. He realized that he did not marry a practicing Catholic, so he was not so eager to change his way of living. Nor did he have any intention of becoming Catholic himself- – ever. He has always known this, but I never really thought about it..until now. I just want to be able to participate in the sacraments together, and to be able to teach the faith to our children together. I have been praying for his conversion, and I know that only the Holy Spirit can change his heart. I love my husband, and I love and trust that God will choose to answer my prayer in His own way and in His own time. Our two children will be 10 and 12 respectively, and we will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary next year. So..that is a long winded response in favor of a Catholic pursuing a non-Catholic future spouse if the non-Catholic is open to conversion prior to receiving the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

  6. Michael says:

    I dated a Evangelical Protestant for about 8 and1/2 months. My previous relationship with a lukewarm Catholic did not go well. So I justified me going out with this new girl because she cared more about her spiritual life and God was more present in our relationship. However it just ended. I did not want to break up with her at and I loved her. She did not want it to end either. It was rough knowing that one wanted the other one to convert eventually. I tried to explain points of the Catholic faith, but she was not very open to the Church. It has been a painful experience. I know it’s probably worth it. These days it’s hard to find a good Catholic girl, there are so many lukewarm Catholics. But knowing what happened now I will search for a Catholic girl or a girl who is open to the Catholic Church.

    • Roxanne says:

      You should try Catholicmatch.com. That’s where I found my new husband of 4 months; we are now expecting our first baby and couldn’t be happier. Neither one of us thought we would find a devout “true” Catholic living the Faith after our divorces and Annullments. But we were wrong. Put yourself in the right places, pray, have Faith, take part in all the Sacraments you can on a regular basis…and you’ll find her if it is the Will of God.

  7. PJ says:

    Two options:
    1. Catholics date Catholics
    2. Catholics date non-Catholics with the requirement that the non-Catholic converts to Catholicism before being married.

    “Mixed Marriages” are non-Catholic; for, pressed to their logical extreme, could a Catholic marry a Satanist? Obviously, the answer is no, and likewise with any others who are non-Catholic.

  8. Richard Goldman says:

    I was raised in an atheist family. I met a girl in high school who came from a devout Catholic family. We dated for almost a year. A couple of years after graduation, I joined the Navy and ended up marrying someone else. Ultimately that marriage, which had no evidence of God outside the birth of a beautiful baby girl, ended in divorce. Shortly before the divorce, my mother mentioned that the only girl that I had dated that she liked was the Catholic girl I wrote of in the beginning of this message. I ended up calling her. After a bit of a rocky start, we started seeing each other again and, over time, I fell deeply in love with her. We got married outside the Church. I attended mass with her every Sunday and noticed that she would never take communion. AT the same time, she was always service oriented and I always saw a great joy and peace in her. i wanted that for myself. Without her knowledge, I started attending RCIA at our church. The priest who was running the RCIA class told me I needed to get a sponsor. When I asked my wife to sponsor me, she broke down and cried saying that she never thought I would ever become Catholic.
    Twenty years later, my beautiful wife passed away. I remain Catholic today because I know no other truth. It was my wife who led me to Christ through her magnificent example. I have since remarried to another devoutly Catholic woman. God never ceases to amaze me with his incredible love and mercy.
    So, I believe that a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic is not necessarily a bad thing. I agree that the opportunity for problems when different backgrounds are involved is far greater. But sometimes God calls us to ‘step out of the boat’. I cannot help but believe that God called us to marriage. I’m sure that it was a great challenge for my wife. But it was also my salvation.

    • Richard Goldman says:

      As a follow up to my post, I must elaborate. It is extremely important that when two people are considering marriage that they go into it with knowledge and preparation. If the background and belief system of the two parties are in opposition to each other, the chances for success are not very good. If the two parties are open to each other and open to real Truth, then differences can be overcome and a successful marriage is much more likely.
      I was very blessed that God opened my heart and mind to Him. As a result, I was able to have my marriage convalidated and God became an integral part of the marriage.
      Human love without spiritual health does not conquer all. Only God’s love can do that.

  9. Clay says:

    See, this is unpopular advice no matter what it is. You’re different religions; you have radically different political views; one or both of you are in debt or have no money. TV tells us these should not get in the way of love. Indeed, they shouldn’t get in the way of Aquinas’ definition of love- “willing the good of another” – but then again, someone else’s hating you shouldn’t get in the way of that kind of agape either; it doesn’t mean you should marry someone who hates you.

    The average person’s marriage (assuming it’s healthy) is not very romantic, nor is their courtship necessarily all that romantic. Mutual economic, spiritual, and moral support, which has as its main focus, the rearing of virtuous children is not a very sweet sounding theme, but it is healthy.

  10. Both my husband and I (our children are all little right now) will teach our children to date only other Catholics, and that they be Catholics who practice their Faith without compromise. However, I have to say that I’ve seen – not necessarily always in the marriage realm, but in other areas – in which if we had just waited on God a little while, everything turns out all right.

    So if things aren’t the way we want them right away, it seems like years down the road everything works out.

    A friend of my sisters married a Muslim man (she was Catholic). It took about fifteen years, but he converted to the Catholic Faith. Who knew? God is very, very good!

  11. Joe Morris says:

    As I am sure most of you have experienced, there are Catholics who do not conform to the teachings of the Church, and non-Cathoics who do conform. I am pleased to say that I have three in-laws who were not converted to the Catholic Church in a formal sense, but were open to the Church. It was really just a matter of time for them to enter fully into the Church, and they did.

    I would be careful to tell my children to look for Catholics in mind and heart, even if they don’t know it yet; and to avoid Catholics-in-name-only.

  12. Christopher says:

    Patrick’s reply to this young man is spot-on. I am in a mixed marriage, and we have been married for two years. My wife and her family (nondenominational Christians) are by no means anti-Catholic, but if she were Catholic, it would have made (and would continue to make) a number of aspects of our marriage a whole lot easier (i.e. methods of spacing births, child rearing, etc.).

    I love my wife very much, I pray for her conversion, and I try to be the best Catholic I can be and witness to the truths of the Catholic Church to the best of my ability, but it is certainly tough at times. And although my wife is not an unbeliever, I try to keep 1 Cor. 7:12-16 in mind.

    God Bless.

  13. gutsy but very difficult advise to follow

  14. Colleen says:

    Hi, Patrick.
    I prayed for a wonderful husband. I got the best one, an amazing man. He wasn’t Catholic when we met but converted ten years into our marriage. It was his own choice. I didn’t pressure him. He grew up with no religion and was in fact raised very anti-Catholic. Over time, I think he saw my faith and Catholic Church started to make sense to him.
    God moved his heart.
    The key is asking that God’s will be done.

    • John Baysson says:

      I think you are confusing things here Colleen. There are people who marry same sex partners and claim that it was God’s will.

      God’s will has already been made known to you through REASON. If you truly care about your Catholic faith, then you wouldn’t marry a non-Catholic person. When you consider compatibility before marriage, that is something you would consider FIRST!

      As for your marriage resulting in the good of conversion of your husband, that can definitely happen. BUT, the ends do not justify the means. The truth in this matter is that you made a unwise choice in marrying your husband. BUT, God brought forth good from it.

      That is not however be a license for anyone to act unwisely or unreasonably. God can bring about good from our wrong choices. BUT it is our responsibility to make the most reasonable choices by using the wisdom that God has given every one of us.

      What you see today are people who do not use their wisdom but simply end up making choices regarding things like marriage. They cause a lot of problems in raising up their children and in turn severely compromise the propagation of the Catholic faith.

      • Overflowing says:

        Please take all I say here in the way that it is meant–not at all in judgement, but rather, out of defense for someone else being judged. You cannot say that you know God’s will for someone else, unless you are claiming to be God–which I am sure you are not trying to do. If God places something on someone’s heart, how can you say it isn’t God’s will? Remember that it is NOT a sin to marry a non-Catholic, and the Catholic Church recognizes mixed marriages.

        Marrying someone who is not Catholic is extremely difficult, there is no question about that. It is a sacrifice, because you will always have to be on your guard. I am sure most Catholic women out there would love to end up with a man that is a powerhouse of faith, and they seek that. Sometimes, though, God has bigger plans for you than you have for yourself. If you close yourself off to God’s will, and decide, “Nope, I am only going to marry a Catholic”, that is actually extremely prideful. Who are you to tell God what you will and will not do? What if HIS plan is for you to marry someone that is not Catholic? Again, if it were a sin to do so, this would be an entirely different conversation. But it is not a sin.

        As long as the person you are marrying honestly and truly respects your faith, and agrees ahead of time not to get in the way of that faith (i.e. agrees to not using contraception, raising the children Catholic, going to Mass, etc.), and if you know that this person and marriage won’t pull you away from God, there is absolutely nothing wrong with marrying a non-Catholic. The Catholic Church allows mixed marriages, so saying that this shouldn’t be allowed is suggesting that you have a better understanding of God than a bevy of popes, and other highly religious people.

        As long as your goal in life is Jesus Christ, and you will not allow anything to pull you away from your faith, than through prayer and the sacraments God will tell you His will. Colleen feels she was drawn to marry her husband, and God used her to bring her husband to Himself. Telling her that it was NOT God’s will, and equating her marriage to a homosexual union is extremely unkind, and ridiculous. (Remember, a homosexual union is a sin, marrying a non-Catholic is not.) Again, I say this not with judgement, but out of respect and defense for a Christian sister.

  15. Mike says:

    It is important to remember that most Catholics in America are not devout- in essence, non-religious people who occasionally participate in some of the sacraments. When two people are different kinds of Christians, it can work out just fine as long as both have sufficiently removed themselves from the “devout” category. Barely religious secular folks have a bit more leeway when they wink at religion to begin with- and let’s be honest, that’s how it is with most Catholics.

  16. Pattymelt says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Just a note to say you gave good advice. My children all went to Catholic schools through high school and did not start dating until college. My son did not date in college, but met a very beautiful woman who loves the Lord in an Evangelical denomination and after dating a short while, they were married. Even though they had our parish priest witness the marriage and she said that she wanted him to be able to practice his faith, when it comes down to it he goes to her church and has not been Catholic since the wedding ceremony. They have two beautiful children (3 & 2 years) and neither of them are baptized. It does hurt a lot because I do not understand how he can give up the Eucharist so easily. I know I am not to blame, but I feel I have failed as a mother.

    • Patti says:

      My daughter did the same thing. She went to Catholic school for grade school and when she got out of college she married a man that wasn’t a real devout christian. But, he talked her into going to the Methodist church and being members there. I was praying after they had there first child they would start going to the Catholic church, but anyway they just baptized their baby at 1 yr. Methodist. Whats weird is that they both agree to send her to the Catholic school. Seems a little strange but what can you do but pray.

  17. Fernanda says:

    I realize my view is going against the grain here. I’m a practicing Catholic woman who is happily married for ten years to a wonderful practicing evangelical Christian man. We were married in the Catholic Church and have three children who have been baptized in the Catholic Church and our oldest has received First Eucharist already. I will be honest with my daughters about the difficulties inherent in an Interconfessional marriage (I so prefer that term to “mixed marriage”). It is not an easy road and I think as a general principle, it is wise for Catholic single people to plan on seeking out and marrying a Catholic partner. However, I don’t think it is always wrong to marry a nonCatholic. I think there may be cases in which people may actually be called by God into an interconfessional marriage–I believe that is the case for me and my husband.

    Because my husband and I are both super dedicated to our respective faiths, we attend Mass and evangelical church service as a family each week. I have actually been the most deeply challenged into being a better Catholic by my evangelical friends. Just as an example, on one occasion, the pastor (who very often asks me Catholic questions–we’ve talked about justification, the Eucharist, the Rosary and the Brown Scapular among other things) and I were having a discussion in which I brought up the fact that the Sacraments were channels of God’s grace that we could always count on. He wasn’t convinced, but I went home and asked myself: “If the sacraments are so great, then why am I not making greater use of them?” Ever since then I’ve been faithfully going to confession at least once a month and it has made a profound difference in my spiritual life.

    Another fun story that happened to me once is that I happened to go to the evangelical church alone one Sunday. As I walked in the door, one of the ladies came up to me and loudly asked me how to say the Hail Mary. I was a little puzzled, but very reverently recited the prayer for her. When I was done, she said: “OK, tell me about the Rosary.” Since the service was about to start, we arranged to get together and I told her all about the Rosary at that time. So when I came home from church that day, I told my husband: “I walked into your evangelical church this morning and prayed a Hail Mary.” Then I told him the story. We both got a kick out of it.

    The way I see it is that God longs for all those evangelical Christians to come home to His True Church. If I were married to a Catholic man, it would be very easy for me to forget they exist, and I would not be as likely to get close to any of them, and as such not be as likely to also deeply long (to the point of suffering) for their homecoming. There are things that bother me about the way evangelicals “do church” but I feel that it is something I can offer up to Jesus each time (after all, it bothers Him too). In one sense, my closeness with evangelicals has given me opportunities to suffer, and I actually do see that as a blessing. I should also say this closeness has given me great joy as well. Not to mention, I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities to share my Catholic faith, and I have to wonder how else would these dear evangelical brothers and sisters get to hear about it if I wasn’t there with them? I recently invited a friend from that church to our Easter Vigil and she told me the next day that had been her second exposure to the Catholic Church (the first one being a Catholic wedding). We have plans to get together and chat so she can ask me all her questions about what she experienced during the Vigil.

    My husband landed a job teaching math and science at a nearby Catholic school. As a devoted Catholic wife I couldn’t ask for a better situation for my Protestant husband, and if he had people praying for his conversion before, he certainly does have many more now–as he is well loved as a teacher. The way he sees it, he is called to serve in my church and I am called to serve in his (though I do a fair amount at my own church as well).

    I don’t want any single people out there to read this post and get this romanticized view of how great it will be married to a Protestant. I get the feeling our situation is somewhat rare. But if you’re a Catholic parent and one of your children does fall in love with a terrific Protestant person, don’t despair. Pray, pray, pray, and just keep in mind that this very well could be part of God’s plan, so it really would be OK to be supportive (after you have issued your warnings). It really could work out well, especially where both are devoted to God as best they know how. Remember that the same Holy Spirit which has guided and protected our Church all this time also works in power in the intimate details of our lives.

    • Travis says:

      hey, I am going threw a similar situation. I am a Protestant, my girlfriend is Catholic. Can you help me in any way with my girlfriend and her family to put them at ease?? We are in love, I do feel God is calling us. We are pure, we are happy. Her family is worried about her being with me, they really crush her constantly about dating a non-catholic and get her to the point of tears, but she is so strong. She is still and has been sticking with me. I want to get on board with her family before I want to get on one knee. What should I do? any response or advise would be great! thank you!

  18. Dennis Mckenzie says:

    Mr. Madrid

    Your 100% right. My Mother told/warned me not to marry a non Catholic.
    I didn’t take her advice or that of a priest who refused to marry us.
    We ended up getting married in a United Church. Each time I brought up the subject of getting the boys baptized, a mayor war would start and last for days. As the years passed, my guilt of not going to mass on Sundays and not having our two boy baptized grew. Needless to say, with my ex-wife’s lack of any faith and the boys not baptized, our marriage ended up in divorce. Still to this day my boys one 32 and the other 28 don’t know God or Jesus.
    One of the main reasons I haven’t seen my boys in 18 years is because I’m a Catholic religion freak who attends mass every Sunday.
    I’m Loving it.
    Praise and Thank God, Our Lord and Holy Spirit
    I couldn’t have done it on my own.

    • Evan says:

      What you did, dennis, is not impressive. It is disgusting and embarrassing and you should not be thanking God for it. God said to love him and to love one another and in loving one another we love god. If u dont talk to your children, you sure as shit dont love them. Go give em a call next sunday. Have lunch. Give em a hug. God will appreciate that more than your attendance at mass. Anyone can show up there. It takes a real man to love his children.

      • Lee says:

        Evan, where to start? Your reply to Dennis was so angry and vile that I had to say something to you. Dennis is obviously hurting and missing his boys. Perhaps you have anger about some issue of your own but to lash out at Dennis that way seems very uncalled for. I pray that you will show the next person some of the love you wrote about in your reply. Just remember, talk is cheap.

        Dennis, I am adding you to my prayer list, along woth all the pthers who have commented here. I pray that your family will heal and be reconciled to each other and to God. I am so glad that you are attending Mass. God will bless you for your faithfulness. Peace be with you, Dennis.

        • Lee says:

          Hi, Patrick. If you were to correct my typos in the first line of my reply to Dennis, I would be so grateful! “Woth” should be “with” and “pthers” should be “others”. And if you are entirely too busy to do that, I would understand. I make many typos typing on my iPad but it’s just so comfortable to hold in my lap while reading. Peace be with you, Patrick, and God bless. :)

    • larryd says:

      If I understand your comments, the reason you dont see your sons is because of your former wifes influence. I certainly understand your suffering! I appreciate your perserverance. I pray that your boys have an awakening, you are an inspirational example of loving God first.

  19. Whimsy says:

    Our kids are young, pre-dating age. We have them pray, “Lord, help my future spouse find you before s/he finds me.” Of course, we remind them their spouse may be Our Lord or His Church!

    Regardless, in a pluralistic society I’d rather not create forbidden fruit; rather, emphasize the blessing of loving someone who loves Him.

    • JP says:

      That is beautiful! My kids are young as well and we always pray that they will be open and willing to follow God’s calling for them whether it be getting married or the priesthood/church. But I love how simple and beautifully you put it….

  20. Jim says:

    I agree on this, Patrick. Two sides to the coin…A man that I know, got married to his high school sweetheart, right out of school. She was Catholic, and he was not. It took him 16 or 17 years to come into the Church, and it was the Holy Spirit that did this.

    On the other side of the coin, I know a Catholic woman, whose late father was
    VERY adamant that his daughters marry a Catholic man. Well, she got it right
    on the third try.

    I think the key here is also how strongly rooted in the faith are these couples? Another reason for Catholics to LEARN THEIR CATHOLIC FAITH!!!!!
    No excuses!

  21. Kellee says:

    I think a big problem is that people fall away from the church. As I was entering the church 2 years ago, my husband was falling away from the church. Even before I entered the church, I encouraged and led our family in prayer, I attended mass on Sundays with him and our children and was in RCIA for 2 years before I entered the church.

  22. Suzanne says:

    LET???? PSH! It’s completely absurd to think of keeping my mid-20s sons from dating whoever they want! Get real!

    • Lee says:

      I would hope, Suzanne, that you had already raised your sons to know the right way to live. Patrick was probably talking about younger children in their earlier dating years rather than twenty-somethings. The time to teach children is when they are children. When they are grown, it may be too late. But surely a parent would still have (and want to have) some influence in her child’s life, even if that “child” was grown, even if that “child” were in his sixties or seventies. And why not? Are you certain that your sons would not honor your wishes? Do they not honor you in general?

  23. Kim says:

    I am a recent (August, 2010) convert to the Catholic faith. My husband and three children are protestant. I pray for their conversion, but it might not happen in my lifetime. Remember that St. Monica was not married to a Catholic, nor was her beloved Augustine for many years, but her prayers led to their conversion. I also hope that my daughters meet and marry faithful Catholic men, because they would be more likely to convert to the true faith. I hope these young men will not disregard my daughters because they do not yet understand Catholicism.

  24. Mary says:

    I definitely agree and am dealing now with the problems that arose because my husband is not Catholic. I am a convert and met him when I was going through some issues and was not as active in my faith. My son sees my struggles and I have told him that he should marry someone Catholic to avoid those struggles.
    I do know of many stories where one spouse converts later and I pray daily for my husband, but the difficulties can be many when you are unequally yolked. I read an article about interfaith marriage that indicated many young people fear seeming intolerant so they find it hard to decline to date someone who is of a different faith. We need to teach the problems. If, like Craig, you meet someone Catholic in belief, and you are clear that you will be married in the Catholic church and expect to worship together at mass and live according to church teaching- maybe, but what is to say the person won’t change.

  25. Blake Helgoth says:

    Why would you marry someone with whom you did not agree about the most important things? The church permits but does not encourage mixed marriages.

  26. Gesualdo Schneider says:

    I have mixed feelings on this. In theory I agree but in my case my wife was married to a heathen for 25 years before I started my journey into the Catholic Church. I am an ordained deacon now!

    I think the most important thing is an understanding of the permanency of marriage and the need to always put each other first (and that is ahead of the children). I was anti-Catholic but I was also (mostly) responsive to her needs and desires. Interestingly, she left the church for 20 years due to poor priestly actions and I was more than willing to help her leave.

    Enough rambling. All I know is I am happier than ever as a Cathoplic and she led me here.

    • B. Zanyor says:

      With all due respect I think the notion of putting yourselves first before the children is a serious misconception of the state of matrimony and dangerous. The primary reason for marriage is the procreation of children and NOT for the couple to indulge each other ahead of that responsibility. Do I agree that the couple needs time to be with each other? Absolutely! But never at the expense of the children! I hope and pray this is not what you mean. I am glad you found your faith but be careful for narrow is the path.

      • R Guerrero says:

        The familial relationship is designed to mirror that of the relationship between the members of the Trinity. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and out of this love springs forth a third entity….the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the husband loves the wife, and the wife loves the husband, and out of this love springs forth a third entity…a child. The relationship between the husband and wife cannot be diminished simply because there now exists a dependent child. Their conjugal love for each other is what created the child, and this love must continue to be the foundation of the family; for without this love, the child would not exist. The child does not surpass the first two beings in importance simply because it exists. In fact, it is quite the opposite….the existence of the child is designed to expand and reinforce the love which the parents already share. We, as parents, must teach our children the importance of the married relationship and their place as children in the family fold. The children are not less important; however, the marriage relationship must always take precedence. Simply look at our modern culture for a glimpse of the kind of damage that child-centered parenting can cause. Many young people today grow up believing the world revolves around them rather than that they are a physical manifestation of the love between their parents. What a blessing and joy for the children whose parents often remind them of their role in the mirroring of the Holy Trinity!

      • Mary says:

        The first person in any sacramental marriage is God Himself. After that, yes, our spouse does come second, children third. This does not mean that we don’t follow through with His command to be fruitful and multiply. This also doesn’t mean that we need to stay in a relationship that is abusive to anyone in the family. However, it does mean that our spouse comes first in our relationship in the family. Too many people, especially mothers, put their children first and damage the relationship with their spouse. The best thing we can give our children is a good, strong, healthy marriage and both spouses being involved with teaching our children the faith, including being an example to them in our marriages.

    • Lee says:

      I think what Gesualdo is referring to is the Biblical notion of a man and woman leaving their parents’ homes and cleaving to each other. I’m not sure that is what he meant. The Bible certainly does not expect the husband and wife to put themselves before the children, nor does the Church. The husband is expected to put his wife before himself, and she is expected to put her husband before herself, but both husband and wife would put their children first, if they want to be a good mother and father, that is. For the parents to put themselves first would be what is called “selfish”, would it not?

  27. Jon White says:

    Your advice is wise. The many serious issues that a married couple will confront over a lifetime, if not approached from the same firm set of principles, present numerous opportunities for marital discord and dissolution. It’s not easy even when the spouses share the same faith, because of their differences as individuals. After total trust in God, humility and the constant desire to serve one’s spouse more than one’s self are, in my humble opinion, paramount to a successful Catholic marriage.

  28. Theo says:

    I have earnstly taught my five children that Truth is singular not plural. One Truth, One God, One Faith (Catholic). Given the realities and priorities to our Lord Jesus Christ, all things must fall beneath Him, including marriage. If the children are required to place Jesus Christ first in all things, this request in marriage will naturally be the norm.

  29. Craig says:

    Starting from this attitude is absolutely, 100% important. My wife is entering the Church this Easter, but she was very much the Catholic in word, deed, and creed before that. I ensured she understood what I practiced while I dated her, and if she did not already agree on much, and was open to the rest, I would not have married her.

    The Holy Father recently noted that people no longer consider marriage indissoluble. They do not understand Catholicism at all. My wife was Catholic in mind (spiritual assent) before she was Catholic in practice, which I believe was a gift from God, a time for me to learn more about my faith (I too am a convert.)

    Ask ALL the questions. Every single one. If the person you are considering as a spouse is not 1. already a strong faithful Catholic (ideal) or 2. At least open and not opposed to the Church, in fact supportive of the Church, it is a bad idea. More often than not, if they are not Catholic (and by this I include many who are Catholic by baptism, but not by choice, even) it is a bad idea

  30. Tonya says:

    My Protestant husband supported my children attending parochial school, occassionally attended Mass, ALWAYS participated in their sacraments & later scoffed the children in the teachings of the church as he was becoming very anti-Catholic. It was very painful and he actually left our home for the matter…..

  31. Linus says:

    You are correct but good luck stopping them. And if you think your answer raised a lot of questions just start taling about modesty in dress and comportment. That would be a real bomb shell. I’ll be waiting to see what happens.

  32. JoeMcCarthy says:

    Patrick what a revelation, if my father were still around he would say, “What did I tell you?” There are inherent problems men and women are unaware because of the passion of the moment, I suppose I should say chaste, that will date me. The devout in your missive may mean different, it is an attitude, Catholicism, which pervades the very essence of all we do. It is very much a thought process. Thank you for bringing up a very old position, there are times in a marriage that the inquiry of “why?” should be already a given.

  33. Steve says:

    amen to this. I married a protest-ant (she really doesn’t practice even that) and after a yr & half she’s become more anti-catholic. Friends of hers have influenced her b/c of my stance on gay marriage, abortion, & not a fan of liberals at all. I have asked for an army of people for rosaries for her (while I have her drink holy water & make her coffee in it ha figured couldn’t hurt). I’ve been threatened with divorce twice now b/c of this (once b/c I went to daily mass while the old dog w/ cancer had a vet appointment and she wanted prayers so I went to get them. plus, it wasn’t an emergency to be at a set time). So yes listen to Mr Madrid these are wise words he speaks on this topic.

  34. Steve says:

    I agree 100% Patrick. I thought it didn’t matter for a long time. Just so long as they believe in God I told myself. Even went to Protestant churches with old girlfriends. Then they started suggesting I get baptized again. That led me to realize I really did need to marry a Catholic. Thanks be to God I found a wonderful devoutly Catholic woman who fills my life. Our marriage is rock solid and we work with the Engaged Encounter ministry Here in Orange County. I couldn’t imagine being married to a non-Catholic. She inspires me to be a better Catholic and I’m forever grateful to her and to God for leading me to her.

  35. christine says:

    You are so very right in sharing your advice. My oldest who is 28 now, went into the Navy when she was 18. While she was there she met a man, they dated for a bit and then did the unthinkable , they moved in together and married at the courthouse. All her life I have told her to stay in the faith. Do not marry outside of it, you will have problems. They married while stationed across the country, so my rants and raves did absolutely no good . Now 9 years later they have more arguments and differences of opinion than ever. Wish she would have listened.

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