Catholic-Protestant Marriages

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Any opinions on the current state of mixed marriages? I have been in a mixed marriage for 10 years and my experience is between two extremes: traditionalists who frown upon the fact that I attend worship at my wife’s church on a monthly basis and assist with VBS etc. after I go to Mass each week and progressives who think it would be okay for me to miss Mass if I worshipped at my wife’s church and would be okay for me to commune there which I do not do.

Is there a way to be truly observant of the rules and still be ecumenical? It seems hard to find clear guidelines as to what we are allowed to do. The canon law was changed in 1983 regarding mixed marriages but few seem to be aware of this. Likewise while it was changed it was not changed as much as some think. For example the 1993 Ecumenical Directory allows for a Protestant minister to offer a reading at a baptism for pastoral reasons with the ordinary’s permission. How can we celebrate the Christian realities in a mixed marriage while not diluting the Catholicism.
 
Sounds to me like you are chugging along just the way you should be. (As long as you don’t receive communion at her church)

I think its very good for the children to see you work through your differences in a mature, loving and respectful way.

Speaking of children, I think everyone would agree that its also important that your wife supports them and you as they prepare for and receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Stephanie
 
I think that it’s fine that you attend services in you wife’s church, though make sure that you or your children (I didn’t see whether or not you have children) do not recieve “communion” at her church. For you it would be the sin of Idolity which is very bad. Like wise and I am sure that you know this your wife should not recieve communion at you Catholic Church. You could always just convert her and be done with the whole issue. 😃 But untill then keep doing what you are doing, I agree what was said about the children, the should be raised Catholic. Peace
 
Kevin Cassidy:
Any opinions on the current state of mixed marriages?..
Well, there are two approaches that I am familiar with.

My Catholic sister-in-law attends Mass every week and periodically attends Lutheran services with her husband (while still meeting her Sunday Mass commitment). They properly observe the communion rules. She is still a faithful Catholic, and I respect the way they handle it within their family.

My Catholic brother married a Methodist wife in a Methodist service. It has been a big source of disagreement over the years. He hasn’t been a practicing Catholic for over 20 years and she doesn’t practice Methodism either. Because they can’t agree on which faith to raise their 4 children, none of them have been baptized. Basically, their inability to work out their faith differences has led them both out of their faiths.

Seems pretty clear which approach is preferable.

BTW, as others mentioned children, I do agree that you are expected to raise them as Catholics.
 
Thanks for your thoughts. We do have 3 children and we have celebrated their baptisms at the Jesuit University(as neutral a ground as we can find) where we met and married. I go to Mass each week and now that my son is in first grade he comes too each week and holy day since August 2003. He will make his first confession and Communion next spring through the CCD program.

Our daughters are not school age but the same plan is in place for them(and others if the Lord sees fit to bless us) when they start kindergarten for CCD.

We do go to Mass as a family basically one Saturday Vigil Mass a month and then Protestant worship the next day as a family. We agree that our son should not have to go twice on a Sunday if we are not doing it as well.

I try to find ways to be ecumenical and involve myself in her congregation by taking the photos at VBS and helping with the Habitat for Humanity projects. We have done the a few couples studies together.

She is not very involved in her church but will accompany me to parish social events and has donated s****books with the photos I have taken at both church’s VBS’ the last two years.
 
Hi:

I too am married to a Protestant wife. She was raised as a Baptist. Before we got married 12 years ago, we agreed that our children would be raised in the Catholic Church, and I made it very clear that our children nor I would attend any Protestant church. I did not say that she could not attent the Baptist church herself, and in the beginning, before having the children, she attended her church, and then sometimes accompanied me to Mass.

Since having the children almost 6 years ago, she stopped going to her church, and has been attending Mass with the kids and I almost every single Sunday. She still has not converted, and I try not to “push” anything on her. She still has a hard time with Marian symbols (medals, etc.), but not nearly as in the beginning.

I think the key is to have continuity and consistency on the part of the catholic in the family as far as going to Mass on Sundays, Days of Obligation, and the Sacraments. Please do not force anyone to do anything they are not convinced of. This will happen gradually, with prayer and lovingly example, but always remain sternly in the Truth.

I pray the rosary every day for her conversion to the Catholic Church, and offer weekly fasting for this. She is a wonderful wife and mother. I pray that some day she can receive the rest of the Sacraments.

In Christ,

Jorge.
 
I wish I could bang it into young people’s heads (and old people’s, too): If you really believe your faith, don’t marry outside it; you’re only asking for trouble!!!

When I married my Catholic wife (1970), I was a practicing sinner (and very good at it, too). I had undergone a childhood “conversion” experience and had been baptized in a manner recognized by the Catholic Church, so there was nothing to impede the marriage, and we were married by the Syracuse University Catholic chaplain with a full nuptial mass (an experience for my old-time Pentecostal mother).

Subsequently, I had a genuine conversion experience 28 years ago and am currently a Southern Baptist; however, I am seriously looking into conversion to the Catholic Church by next Easter. My wife, on the other hand, came out of the Catholic Church about 15 years after we were married, and now she is hostile to all things Catholic.

Bottom line–being unequally yoked, whether that means Christian with non-Christian or Catholic with Protestant, usually, I believe, means more trouble than good times. I’m sure someone will come up with anecdotal evidence about mixed marriages that were happy and peaceful, but I believe those will be the exceptions to the rule.

DaveBj.
 
I’ve been married for 11 years, I’m Catholic and my husband is Lutheran (LCMS) we are raising our four kids Catholic(we agreed upon this before we married, very important) My husband attends Saturday night Mass with the kids and I at least two times a month and he is involved in any and all activities that concern our children. On the other hand, we send our children to the Lutheran day school at my husbands church, its a great school, way less expensive than the Catholic school and they absolutely do not push the Lutheran faith onto school children as they are open to any and all children of any christian faith. This has worked fairly well for us, of course there are and probably will always be times I will wish my husband were Catholic and hey, one never knows but I do know that I can’t be anything but Catholic, I’ve tried and it was just not for me and I just am so happy and content with the Catholic faith. It takes work to make our mixed marriage work but then again, what marriage doesn’t! 🙂
 
I have great respect for those in mixed marriages who practice their Catholic faith. I believe it must be very difficult. On some level, I must have known how difficult it would be because I never seriously dated anyone who was not Catholic. It means a lot to me that my husband is a practicing Catholic and that we attend Mass every week as a family. When I was very ill and angry at God, I sometimes did not want to go to Mass. But my husband went regularly even on the occasions that I didn’t. I got through that difficult period and grew stronger in my faith. My sister’s husband is Catholic but does not attend Mass with her and her children, and my husband’s brother is a very devout Catholic married to an atheist. My heart breaks for them that they are not united in faith with their spouses. Sharing my faith with my spouse means so much to me and I know that is a struggle for them.
 
My husband and I were one of those mixed marriages. We were married 7yrs ago, I was presbyterian and he Catholic(kind of practicing). We agreed the children would be raised in my faith, because I was raised the children are raised in the mothers faith. Anyway that’s what we did. The first couple years were tough, but then it got easier. He came to church with me and the kids and the kids were in Sunday school. We didn’t want to make them go to church twice a week for fear it would turn them off of religion, thats what kind of happened to my hubby. So we only went to my church. I would not recommend it to anyone if, you don’t have to be mixed don’t. My marriage was always good, but now that I have come home it is GREAT. Although every protestant deserves the right to have good Catholics rub off on them. As strange at it seems I would say just to make sure the kids are brought up solidly Catholic and pray for the spouse. If done right the kids excitement about their faith will rub off on the noncatholic. Also our priest said if my husband went to mass on Sat evening it would be ok to come as a family with us, so the kids could see us worship together. The one thing I always worried about with us being mixed if we didn’t worship together is the kids would start to wonder who’s religion is right. And if one of there parents aren’t going to heaven. I glad I don’t have to worry about that now. Now all I have to do is field the questions about why is Grandmas church different. lol
 
Shari–How is it that you decided to become Catholic? It sounds like you were raising your children as Presbyterians. Having the same faith as a family, in my mind, is just one more thing that unites you, rather than divides the family. That’s what I heard in your story. Thanks for sharing your experience.
 
La Chiara:
Shari–How is it that you decided to become Catholic? It sounds like you were raising your children as Presbyterians. Having the same faith as a family, in my mind, is just one more thing that unites you, rather than divides the family. That’s what I heard in your story. Thanks for sharing your experience.
It is a very long story, with the Holy Spirit pretty much hitting me over the head. I had everything I thought I wanted. My children being raised in my faith and my husband comming to church with us. And I was anti-catholic for a while. Don’t worry that part is behind me. Even though I had everything I thought I wanted it wasn’t what God knew I needed. 😃 Just goes to show that we don’t know whats best for us all the time. And yes it is very important to have the same faith as a family.
 
I personally wouldn’t recommend a mixed marriage, especially if the Catholic is lukewarm in the Catholic faith.

I, a cradle Catholic, married my Baptist wife some 36 years ago in the Church rectory. While the marriage was a valid Catholic marriage, my wife and I did not have a common faith which we both could relate to. Hence it was not possible for us to grow together in the Lord. When our son was born we both agreed to have him baptised Catholic. However, my faith was lukewarm and we didn’t raise him in the faith. And now 36 years later my son has left the Church to marry a Presbyterian woman.

While I may have forgotten the Lord at the start of my marriage, that’s not to say that the Lord forgot me however. The one thing my wife and I did have from the start of our marriage was love. The Lord was able to use that love and capture my wife and bring her into the Church some 25 years later with me as a Catholic revert. We to this day are blessed to be moving together in our faith with our Lord in his Church. And we pray for my son, his wife, and their children that they will find their way to the Church too. All things are possible through the Lord my wife keeps reminding me.

TonyG
 
My dh was Lutheran when we met and married. We decided that our children would be raised Catholic as I was active in my faith and he really wasn’t. He would go to mass with me for holidays and special events, nothing more. After dd was born, I had to have surgery and couldn’t lift anything or drive. DH offered to take me to mass every week at that point. He never stopped going:D. He converted 8 years ago. I feel very blessed!
 
I pray the rosary every day for her conversion to the Catholic Church, and offer weekly fasting for this. She is a wonderful wife and mother. I pray that some day she can receive the rest of the Sacraments.

In Christ,

Jorge.
I was doing this for my husband’s conversion for almost a year, but I have gotten busy lately with work. I am glad to be reminded of such a wonderful contemplative prayer and redemptive sacrifice. Thank you. I know how you feel. Keep the faith my brother in Christ.
 
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DaveBj:
I wish I could bang it into young people’s heads (and old people’s, too): If you really believe your faith, don’t marry outside it; you’re only asking for trouble!!!
What if you were married in the same faith, but one of you converts? To Catholicism? The problem is some people (like me) believe their faith, as far as it goes, and it is the same as their spouse’s. Then they begin to hunger for more of the truth and find it, but the other person doesn’t/can’t see it. That’s where I am.

I was convinced that the Catholic church is the one, true church several years ago, but to avoid trouble in my marriage, I did nothing. My wife knew how I felt, but she did nothing. The end result was, for a couple of years, we did nothing: we didn’t even attend our church, which we had at one point been very involved in.

Last year I entered RCIA. It was some of the most gut-wrenching times I have faced, and it isn’t over. But I since then I have been to mass every week, sometimes more than once. My children see me going to church. My wife is beginning to go back to church, although not every week. It has forced us to talk more, and recognize our faults and improve our marriage. Things that were just deteriorating slowly have been pulled up into the light of day and we are dealing with them.

The short point is, sometimes a mixed marriage is inevitable; when a member of a protestant marriage converts, you have a “mixed” marriage. And yeah, its a lot of trouble. But the alternative would have been for me to continue to ignore the truth, and willfully reject our Lord, which is a grave sin. And ultimately that would have been the most trouble of all…

God bless,

Ken
 
I have been married 21 years to a Protestant. We agreed before we were married that I would raise the children Catholic. I look at all the blessings God has given me in this marriage. I concentrate soley on the good and try hard not to dwell on how nice other couples of the same faith seem to have it. I think they have their own difficulties.

I have seen my brothers and sisters married to Catholics and do not know their faith as well because they are not challenged and do not have to. I might not be constantly looking to learn my faith and teach it so well to my children were it not for my Protestant husband.

It is not my job to convert my husband. That is God’s job. I only can pray for him and live my faith to the fullest. Who would be praying for him if I were not married to him? Who would be a Catholic example to him? St. Monica prayed 30 years for her son to convert. I think how much longer I may have to pray for I am not a great saint. He is such a wonderful person - but where would he be without my faith as a guidance in how he lives his life?

What a wonderful blessing it is to be married to a Protestant. What a great challenge God gives to me on a day to day basis. I am thankful that God walks with me and he is the third person in my marriage.
 
What a wonderful blessing it is to be married to a Protestant. What a great challenge God gives to me on a day to day basis. I am thankful that God walks with me and he is the third person in my marriage
.

God Bless You!!
 
I love my Lutheran husband very much and I don’t believe in divorce so I just pray every day that God will lead him to the one true church. But, I hope and pray my own children won’t marry outside their faith as it is very hard, its possible but it is hard.

When I met my husband 12 years ago we had both fallen away from our churches and were living sinful lives so when we married I did not even think about the future or how I would feel. After we had our first child a year later my life changed so much, the pregnancy, giving birth, it just made me see what life was all about and I just went and confessed my sins and retook marriage classes and remarried in a private ceremony in the Catholic church, my husband was willing to do that for me but not ready himself to join the Catholic church. He just is on a different level with his relationship with God, its almost like a childs relationship with God, he has a long way to go. Again, these things meant nothing to me when we first married but when I realized my sins and could no longer live a lie my whole life changed. So I always tell people its best to marry someone with your faith if you know these things before hand, if you are already in a marriage, then you just pray and give it over to God each day. I have always felt in my heart that my husband is going to come home to the one true church someday and maybe he will. 🙂
 
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