Can my protestant/catholic relationship succeed?

I am protestant and my boyfriend is catholic. When we first started dating I was sure this was going to cause a conflict but he assured me that because we both love and worship the same Jesus despite different sects, things would be ok. We have been dating for a time now and are realizing more and more that each of us is firm in our individual faiths. We are not lackluster Christians by any means however, this very passion that originally attracted us is now causing a rift. I have never been one to quit easy and I am just not ready to give up, I suppose I am just absolutely love sick. Is there any hope for common ground? or am I just striving for the unachievable

Hi Ashleyn,
You are not in an easy position. Do you guys talk about exactly what you believe and why you believe them? I ask because when I was protestant, I thought that Catholics believed a whole bunch of things that they didn’t actually believe.

My friends who have entered into marriages where one is Protestant and one is Catholic love the Lord dearly but struggle when it comes to being together in Church, infant baptism, Confirmation, and artificial contraception. It is not an easy path and causes much heartache especially if these topics were not discussed prior to marriage.

I will pray for you guys.
God bless you!

sometimes you need to look at things coldly - and what I meaan is with cold hard facts, not with the love that is blinding you. can it work? Yes. But I don’t know if it would work for you. Every relationship is different. Are you willing to raise the children in the Catholic faith? If not, he won’t be able to marry you as non-catholic spouses have to be willing to baptize and raise children up in the Catholic religion or the priest will not marry the couple (usually). I mean, you are looking at it with rose colored glasses and even if you were with a man who was the same religion as you, my advice is the same - you need to look at the facts and decide with your brain, not your heart if someone is a good match for you becuase that lust feeling fades over time and problems come up. It makes it harder. I am not saying the love stops, but the lust feeling starts to fade and a marriage does “cool” down. In 10 years, it’s not going to be the same as it was in the first year or two and that’s why you need to make a decision of being with someone based on if you like their morals and if you can accept for life them (for example, raising the kids catholic, not using birth control and going to mass with your family).

I am married to a Catholic and I’m not catholic. It does come up with the road - the test is if you can handle that and are not going to throw him a curve down the line and say well I want the kids to be raised in my religion as well. Look at the facts, not lust. If you love them and you can live with the facts forever, then you’re both a match.

You are to be commended for recognizing that this is something you need to work out. Difference in faith can be a major source of conflict later on, especially if children come along. You guys do need to come to an understanding of how you will navigate things like this in a way that still obeys and honors God from each perspective. This is a good test of the depth and commitment of your relationship.

Snowymom has good advice - explore each other’s faith. Focus on Jesus, what He teaches, and what He’s calling you to as a disciple. You both follow the same Lord, and He’ll guide you if you both are open to leading. That means thinking and praying about what you really believe and why. There is a lot of common ground, but also some important differences that can’t be compromised in good conscience. You must honor each other’s consciences, including whatever differences there are. If he’s really Catholic, though, he will need to get married in the Catholic Church, vow to raise any children Catholic, worship in the Catholic Church weekly, and avoid artificial birth control. You will have to be able to live with those things, so you need to test your own beliefs and convictions.

That may sound inflexible, but the Catholic Church is committed to maintaining the faith taught by Jesus and passed on through the apostles down to the present day. It recognizes and supports “mixed marriages” though, so there must be paths through your situation.

God be with you in your journey.

Forest is right, even though he said the message in a somewhat saddening matter, he is right. The facts must be looked at, and decided upon. The most important thing is respect. If you cannot discuss religion, without turing into a full blown argument, it is a sign of danger

Your faith is at the core of who you are, and his is too. How do you make that work?

Many people on here will tell you it can ‘work.’ But what does that mean? What does it mean to work? It means that one or the other of you will have to compromise your beliefs. How can that ever *really *work?

The tough decisions will happen when children enter the picture. You cannot raise a child “both” as you already know that there are theological differences and this hopelessly confuses children. You will be divided spiritually in your own home.

As a Catholic, he will have to promise to raise the children Catholic in order to receive permission from the bishop to marry you. Are you willing to have your children raised Catholic and to support that in your home?

So, I’m sure you can ‘make it work’ but at what cost to you, him, and future children?

It can work, but it will be difficult. How will you raise your children? Which church will you attend together? There is an old saying, “A couple that prays together, stays together.” You need to find common ground before marriage, or it will ruin you spiritually and confuse your children. There are some strict rules that Catholics must follow to receive the sacraments, things must be done in and approved by the Catholic Church.

You might not be compatible, but maybe you will be able to work things out. It’s something to talk about, and of course pray about. Maybe you two can also talk to a pre-marital counselor. Someone who has seen this issue before and knows how to help the couple figure out if it can work out or not. You are not alone and there are many people who are or have been in the situation you’re in right now.

Another suggestion is to try to find a common ground, a common faith so you can figure out how to raise your future children, should you decide to stay together. Start from the beginning. Study Church history, read documents from the Church Fathers, etc. Reading the history and discussing it together may help you come to a common Bible interpretation, a common faith you will raise your children in. And even if you don’t agree, at least both of you will be stronger in your own faiths for whomever you do end up marrying.

“I have never been one to quit easy and I am just not ready to give up”
This is a major flaw in today’s dating scene. People for some reason think that dating is permanent and will always lead to marriage. This is not the case! People often stay together for too long and then end up getting married when they should have broken up just because they’re afraid to leave, because they are being pressured to get married, their parents want grandkids, etc. Then they end up getting divorced. There is nothing wrong with dating someone for a while, realizing it’s not meant to be, and then moving on. Dating is not marriage; it’s not “giving up” or “quitting” to leave a dating relationship. Dating is used to discern a vocation of marriage with a person. Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out. If it does, great; if not, it’s not the end of the world.

Ashleyn, my husband and I are both Roman Catholic. As in love as we were when we got married, many times we know that our marriage would not have lasted through the ups and downs had it not been for the similarities of our religious convictions. It was this similarity and our faith in God that has brought our marriage through the most unexpected upheavels in our lives. Several people we know who have married outside of their faith, and thought it would work out have found out differently ---- all ended in divorce. As I trust you know, marriage is a most serious union ----- not to be taken lightly. Please seriously consider what you are going to do before you get married. Someone here suggested that you find out more about the Catholic faith, and I think that is a good start. I’ve met many people over the years who have converted to Catholicism, and have grown to love being Catholic. I’m talking about Jewish people, people of other Christian faiths, Sikhs, etc. I’m not saying that you should be come Catholic, but you may want to find out more about it. God bless you!

Heavenly Father, thank You for helping Ashleyn and her beloved in this situation. Help them come to a decision in the most peaceful and loving of ways ----- in a reflection of Your love for them and for all of us. Amen.


It would be a good idea to attend RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes. Contrary to common belief, this does NOT mean you intend to become Catholic, but it teaches the Catholic faith. You will then learn what Catholics believe and why they believe it. Much of the tension comes from different usage of language between Protestants and Catholics and misunderstandings about what Catholics actually believe.

I am a convert to Catholicism and began RCIA merely to learn about the Catholic faith. I had no premeditated intention to become Catholic. There was no pressure for me to do so. It is more important for you to learn what Catholics really believe than to convert.

In fact, the two of you should attend together. Hard questions are encouraged in the classes. So you can and should voice your issues and differences with Catholicism. This would be a very good thing since the disagreements would not be personally directed at your potential future spouse and would rather be directed elsewhere.

I think a good thing would be to ask yourself - if you were to marry, what would you like your marriage to look like? How would you see it working if you both maintained your commitment to your own church?

Some people in mixed marriages really struggle. Not always mind you - I know one of the best marriages I have ever seen was a mixed Anglican-Catholic marriage. But that is perhaps closer than some Protestant groups. As a basic point, I think you need to really agree on how you would deal with children.

To be honest, I think the odds are against it.

In addition to all the really good points already made, it is highly likely that your families will also meddle in your marriage - especially when the children come.

CSBP makes a really good point about RCIA. If nothing else, you would learn about the faith of the man you love. Should you decide to join him in that faith, it would remove an important obstacle for you both and it would remove family interference as the issue is settled.

I am very familiar with this, both in my marriage and in that of my closest brother.

This is for you to figure out, but I will say this: If either one of you harbors disdain for the faith of the other, and then you have kids, it will be very very difficult. Righteous disdain is rarely overcome in a relationship, and the wounds tend to be deep. Examine this aspect honestly.

And good luck.

Yes, I think this is really important. A marriage cannot withstand disdain in any area IMO. You have to really respect the other person, which means respecting his religious life and beliefs. Some people will tell you that it is impossible to do that without compromising your own beliefs. I think that is false, but it does happen frequently.

I agree totally with this. But how can a relationship not work because of Christ. Imagine us standing before God and saying the reason that “we” can’t be together is because we believe different things about you? Won’t He just laugh at us for being divided and accepting our division over faith that God can and will unite us?


Everyone is different. Whether different religions work depends on the people involved and how much each person respects the beliefs of the other vs. trying to change the other.

My wife and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary this year. I am Catholic and she is Protestant.

Personally, although I don’t miss Mass, I often try to go to a Protestant service as well because I enjoy them. Protestant multi-media is more extensive for people who like to listen to a CD on a trip.

I remember one story on a Catholic CD about a couple where the wife was a devout Catholic, and the husband was a radical atheist. Somehow, they respected each other’s beliefs enough for the marriage to last until the wife died. She prayed for the conversion of her husband throughout her life. On her death bed, she had a revelation that her husband would be converted and would eventually become a priest.

Her prediction came true.

As a Protestant married to a Catholic in a ‘Catholic marriage’ I have to say it can work but mike any marriage I guess it requires compromise. And my own view is that it’s easier if the Catholic is the husband as that puts the more demanding, dogmatic faith with the dominant partner !


I think it’s likely that she meant the spiritual leader of the home.

My mother is Protestant and my father is Catholic. They have been married over 35 years. The issue there is that my father let go of his Catholic faith for a great number of years and even stopped attending Mass. We were not raised Catholic. I am a convert. It was not until I started attending and one day had a very frank talk with my father and asked him why he had made the decision to forgo Catholic teaching and it came out that he did not know the Catholic teaching. A month later my grandfather died. I made one phone call to make sure that my father knew that he should go to confession before receiveing Eucharist at the funeral since he had not been attending Mass which he did. My father has been attending Mass ever since. No child should ever have to be in the position of ministering to one’s parent. But sadly this is the age we are in. I am happy my dad has come home. I am happy for the times my dad and I have shared Eucharist. My mother may even be starting RCIA in the fall but it has taken this long. I tell you this so you know.

I’m a non-Catholic Christian married to a former Catholic. During early stages of dating, my wife was still a Catholic and we spent hours upon hours talking about our faith in God and our love for Jesus Christ. I attended a few Catholic services, and she visited my church. Before we married, my wife decided to join my church. We are united in our faith have never looked back since and now have a 2 year old daughter and another on the way. God has blessed us.

However, there have been challenges and hurtful times, specifically with my in-laws who are strong Catholics. Don’t misunderstand me, I love them and respect them as they are my elders. But they did threaten not to attend our wedding if it wasn’t held in a Catholic Church. They also said they would encourage friends and relatives not to attend - this hurt my wife deeply. So we married in the Church. They also refused to attend our baby daugher’s dedication (where we dedicate and commit our daughter to God) at our church, despite our attendance to niece/nephews infant baptisms. We love our family and might have our own personal convictions on these things, but will still support them. Then there was the battle with the priest who originally didn’t want to marry us. And more recently, insistence on Catholic education for our daughter, by my in-laws. Like I said, I love them and we generally have a good time together, but these choices are between me and my wife.

The most important thing in all of this is that my wife and I are united. And we do lots of praying!

Assuming you’re both still dating, I would suggest that you both pray to God about your relationship, together and separately and see where God directs you. He’ll open doors that need opening and close one’s that don’t.