Non Catholic Spouse

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How do you approach your spouse who has no strong beliefs either way about religion because they do not feel they are missing anything in their llife?
Difficult situation, I’m sure. My best advice would be pray, pray, pray, and be a good example. Don’t try to debate, just show by example how much your faith means to you – not only going to Mass, but perhaps getting involved in parish ministries, having a set hour of Eucharistic Adoration each week, reading books that teach you about the faith, along with reading Sacred Scripture (if you’re not already doing these things). Invite Catholic friends over for dinner, especially other Catholic married couples, as examples.

St. Francis said “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.” 😉

Example says more than a million arguments or debates ever will. My mother is a convert, and it was largely due to the influence of my Catholic grandmother, who always had a rosary with her and had tremendous faith. No debates on doctrine, just quiet example!
St. Louis:
How do you approach your spouse who has no strong beliefs either way about religion because they do not feel they are missing anything in their llife?
I can’t speak towards your specific situation, but in general, pray constantly. Secondly, live your life as an example of the Christian faith. With heavenly intercession and earthly examples, you’re bound to influence your spouse in one way or another.

Your spouse may not also understand much about Christianity. If they are open to discussion about the faith, start small and be non-judgemental towards their view of the faith. Too much at one time could be overwhelming and turn them away because it takes time to digest and think through topics of faith. Your spouse may progress more slowly (or quicker!) than you’d like, but stay patient and keep loving and supporting them regardless.

You also mentioned " they do not feel they are missing anything in their llife?" That is not necessarily the only reason to seek God and His truth. Maybe you can suggest to your spouse other reasons why seeking God and His truth is valid to their life. For example, seeking God because His will is to allow us to know Him. Likewise, by understanding more about Him, we also begin to understand more about ourselves and those around us.

Most of all, as I’ve already said, PRAY! 😃

St. Louis, I am in the same situation as you, although I was not a Catholic when we married 10 years ago. When we married, I was still a Presbyterian (although a lapsed one) and was totally fine with my husband being “agnostic and or atheist.” It wasn’t his fault really. His parents gave him absolutely no religious instruction. He went to church maybe four times in his entire life before we were married! How difficult that is for me to imagine!

Anyhow, in the last ten years, I went from being Presbyterian, to attending the Unitarian Universalist “church” (trying to be accomodating–they don’t require that you believe in the Divinity of Christ, or God at all really), to being a dabbler in neo-paganism (fell into the wrong crowd of granola lovin’ New Agers) and then full swing back to Christianity albeit in the “non-denominational” megachurch edition, then slowly towards history again and an attempt to be Presbyterian again, then finally a joyous discovery of Tradition, which led me first to the Eastern Orthodox church and then at last into full communion with the Catholic church, from which I will not be budged! 🙂

If you stuck with me this long, you can imagine that my husband was a bit confused as to exactly what I believed. However, now that I have been Catholic for a few years now (officially Confirmed in 2003) and have had our children baptized Catholic (all three at the same time—what a sight!) and am homeschooling them with Catholic materials, he is beginning to get the picture that I am in Rome to stay.

In the ten years we have been married, we have had many conversations about religion and he has gone from being an agnostic/atheist to an upbaptized and unaffiliated Christian, if there is such a thing. He believes in God, believes Jesus was God’s Son but hasn’t really committed to signing on board with the Catholic church. He will eventually, of that I am sure. Where else would he go? He’s resisted or ignored all religion for 35 years I seriously doubt he would ever get a passion for another denomination or faith all of a sudden.

His foot-dragging now is a combination of pride, fear and laziness. I think he is too self-conscious to say “I want to join the Church.” He rarely attends Mass with me (holidays and the odd day he’s feeling sympathetic to me wrestling with the children in the pews only) and seems almost mulish or immature when I suggest to him that he should go just for the sake of family unity.
I have rarely ever told him how much I want him to become Catholic. He knows it already because he knows that I believe Catholic teachings 100%. Strangely, he lives by almost all Catholic teachings as well. He has become pro-life, anti-contraception and we often discuss what Catholic opinion is about certain subjects and he often ends up agreeing with the Church and is incensed that many Catholics reject Church teachings.

One day he will just stand up and surprise me and announce that he wants to sign up for RCIA. He doesn’t want to be pushed that’s for certain. It is hard to just wait and pray. I try to discern when he actually wants information and when it is not a good time to tell him how I wish he would pray with me or come to Mass with me. I have found that he is very embarrassed and defensive about his lack of knowledge of things religious. Although he is college-eduacated, I guess he didn’t take the right kind of classes and as I said, his upbringing was lacking. He knew very little of even the most basic Bible stories. So I have had to learn to gently and simply tell the facts from Bible stories, to Church history, to Church teaching, etc. and without a hint of amusement or scorn that he doesn’t know such things. Otherwise the walls go up and he won’t listen.

I have found great inspiration in the story of St. Monica and her son St. Augustine, probably you’ve heard of them. I consider them the patron saints of converts and since St. Augustine’s feast day is also my birthday, I try to remember to enlist their prayers for the conversion of my husband often.

Pray and be patient. Offer your own sufferings for your spouse. It’s hard but the only way. There is a wonderful story of Elizabeth LeSeur (I think that’s the right spelling) that is published by Ignatius Press. Elizabeth was a devout Catholic who married a nominal believer. Her husband after a time turned into a hedonist and mistreated her. Elizabeth kept a diary of her prayers for her husband and always treated him with great love. She died an early death and after her death her husband discovered her diary and was converted by her love for him. He also became a priest!

If that can happen, then we should never lose hope for anyone’s conversion, even if it doesn’t happen in our own lifetime.

The Hidden Wife
Hidden Life,

Thank you for that excellent and touching post! If I weren’t so tired, I’d tell you my own story. Suffice to say, I very much enjoyed reading your conversion story, and it is clear that you really “get it.” I love that.

God bless you and your family, especially your dear husband.
It is such a relief to read these posts and know others are praying for their spouses and for a totally Catholic family & marriage! My husband & I have been married for almost 20 years, he continues to be the self-reliant, independent cowboy guy he’s always been (God is fine, I appreciate Him in the mountains, I’m not a sinner in need of a savior, good people go to heaven etc is his viewpoint). He’s been incredibly patient in my born-again Catholicism beginning 5 years ago and says its helped me, religion is a crutch for people with problems, its good for the kids, etc. but he doesn’t need it or church etc.

I have gone through various stages in my prayer life for him and our marriage…from pestering him to go to Mass with us to praying novenas and fasting to asking for others prayers to beseeching God for our marriage & family…a few months ago, I got completely frustrated, handed it all over to God, and packed up all my prayer lists, novena sheets, books on Catholic marriage/being open to life/having a nonbeliever spouse, and said “He’s all yours God, I release him to you & I’m not praying anymore!” It was actually quite freeing!

I KNOW the Lord is working in my husband’s life, I am just impatient! Others have told me how they’ve seen changes in him. We are actually living in the midst of a miracle in our marriage, I know…after 2 years of prayer, he allowed me to have a reversal of my tubal ligation last fall and we are now open to life in our marriage, although practicing very conservative NFP at his insistence (no more kids, we’re too old, we’re too busy, etc he says). Once I was asking the Lord why my husband was fighting the idea of being open to life and welcoming more children, and He flooded my mind with the knowledge that (1) becoming open to life would be the major factor in my husband’s conversion, (2) that he would become a spiritual leader in our community, (3) he would be an important part of a spiritual revival in our area! Also, at the Easter Saturday vigil a year ago, I had a “vision” of him in a white robe like the new Catholics, standing by the kitchen of our parish hall, his head thrown back in happy laugther! So now I am just “waiting in joyful hope” to watch it all unfold!

So my encouragement would be to PRAY, WAIT, remember it’s all in God’s timing, live out your faith joyfully in front of him, try not to bug him about “church stuff”, ask for others’ prayers on his behalf, and my best advice to another wife in the same situation: whenever you come home from some “church” activity, make sure to jump his bones & be one lovin’ wife! Ask the Holy Spirit to pour forth God’s love on your spouse while you’re making love - what a way to evangelize!
CK, you are hysterical! (I mean funny, not crazy.) Jump his bones whenever you come back from a church activity!? My husband would likely reply, “Hey will you make me lunch first?” Some days it’s as if he’s lost all use of his hands or forgotten that he ever cooked for himself or me! Glad to hear though that I am not the only one with a husband who is oblivious to religion and God. My husband always comes up with a big chore list on Sundays and yet he will sit around with me and listen to Catholic Answers tapes or Sacred Heart radio quite intently. Why is that? What a mystery! Keep praying, wives! The unbelieving husband is sanctified through the believing wife!
St. Louis:
How do you approach your spouse who has no strong beliefs either way about religion because they do not feel they are missing anything in their llife?
If they “see” how it is positively impacting your life, your spouse might take interest and start thinking there might be something to your faith that is worth looking into.
I have a bit of a different take. My husband did decide to enter the Catholic Church after our first daughter was born about three years ago. Not long after his baptisim, he quit attending church with us and that was it. He will occasionally go but it is just not important to him.

He is a very smart man. He is more of the prove it to me before I believe it kind of a person. He says that one of his problems is how do you reconcile what the church teaches and what science has proved. I really don’t know how to answer this because I am in 100% agreement with what the Church teaches and have never had a reason to doubt them.

How do I deal with this? I pray every day for him, but I feel like my prayers are falling on deaf ears. I know this is not the case, and I am praying about that also, but I am not dealing with that very well either. I will pray for all of you.

God Bless!

Dear Jamie,

I read your post with interest, as my spirituality was much like your husband’s until a few years ago. The posts in this thread are very eloquent about praying and being patient for your husband’s conversion, no need to add anything there.

What I have learned from my reading is that conversion experiences come from God and God alone, in the fullness of time. God might use your faith, hope and love as (name removed by moderator)ut in the conversion, but He “pulls the trigger” at the right time and place. It’s not a matter of “if” it will occur but “when”!

If you would like to read more on this topic, you might consider picking up The Spiritual Journey by Nemeck and Coombs. Here is a link for info on their books:

10 years after I joined the church, God gave me a profound conversion experience. This radically changed my behavior; I dove into scripture and prayer with both feet, and am now embroiled in a variety of church ministries. As I look back, I really appreciate and admire my wife’s patience over the years when I was so obstinate, and I love her all the more for it! I believe God used her patient love as a sort of framework and witness for my conversion.

So, I would again echo the suggestions of the other good posts herein, and personally suggest you do your best to live in faith, hope and love (especially hope) that God will give your husband a conversion experience soon. Peace and blessings to you, your husband and family.
Sounds like many of these posts are regarding a Catholic wife praying for her husband’s conversion. For me it is my wife that I hope finds that desire for something more in her life.

I am a cradle Catholic who married my wife at a time when I was much less devout than I am today. When it comes to church functions, I feel like a single father. My wife is fairly anti-social to begin with which makes it even more difficult to get her to come to church with me even once in awhile or participate in church activities.

Along with the good advice in previous posts about praying and being a good example, including being unashamed in living your faith, be sure to educate yourself in Catholic teachings. My wife would occasionally ask me questions, and unfortunately, I was not well prepared. She is a blessing though. Her questions helped me to realize that I still only had a childhood education in the faith. It has also made me more determined to be a good father and do all I can to educate our son in the Catholic faith.

I have a feeling that there also may be a fear of being pressured to convert (a relative once told her “maybe some day you’ll come around to the Catholic way of thinking”). What may have seemed subtle, wasn’t.
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