Interfaith couples: how does it work?

Tips, advice, warnings?



  1. Marrying a Catholic is not the end of it.

    My wife and I were textbook Catholics – we prayed together, attended Mass together, did pilgrimmages, ministries. We were high atop the little pyramid at our parish, and even made some waves at the diocesan level. Kids changed everything.

    As a preface, both of us were older at the time we were married. And the children that arrived were by means of adoption. But regardless, they dragged the real catholic out of us.

    So now we take in the late Mass every Sunday, pray in impromptu groups and with each other, and look at “Church” from the outside looking in.

    However, not being tied to ecclesiastical orthodoxy has unleashed the theological beast in both our lives. My wife is taking in sources (especially from the internet) that were inconceivable a few years ago. She’s becoming a truly mind-blowingly catholic Catholic.

    And I kind of like it. Our religion is not the same as it was, but neither is fall from summer. I would never split from her. She’s too crazy. She knows too much.

  2. When me and my husband decided to get married there was a big “storm” in our families because of our different religious and ethnic background. Now, four years after, we are still happily married and all the fuss calmed down. We were not blessed with kids so I have no experience about parenting in an interfaith couple but I can tell you for sure that life brings up daily the differences in our beliefs and upbringing. Moreover, we love each other deeply, but it’s hard to share with my husband everything except my faith and my hope in Jesus. How many times, alone at mass, I wished we could pray God together at least once. For people entering interfaith marriages my advise is: discuss important topics (relationships with family, kids etc.) before getting married, know and respect each other beliefs and identity, be patient and forgiving.

  3. My husband was raised by a Southern Baptist father and a Jewish stepmother. His biological mother was mostly out of the picture, but she was full-blooded Native American, and practiced a traditional religion associated with her tribe, from what I’ve gathered. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools from kindergarten through college, and grew up in a predominantly Catholic area.

    When we met, we found each other’s backgrounds and differences in beliefs fascinating. It was actually probably one of the things that drew us to each other. When we began discussing marriage and kids, he had no problem with agreeing to raise them Catholic, so long as I would agree to let him introduce them to traditions that he’d grown up with. So our cradle-Catholic children will experience Seder meals when they are older. The same kids we take to Mass every Sunday have celebrated Hanukkah with his stepmom since our oldest was a baby.

    I am completely supportive of letting my kids ask questions, explore other faiths, and soul-search. I hope that if I am able to show them Christ through my words and actions, they will stay with the Church. But I also know that they are their own people, and if they eventually choose to follow some other path I will still love them as much as I do today.

    One “tip” I strongly recommend is to discuss how you will raise children BEFORE they are conceived or born. The fact that we are on the same page when it comes to that important part of our lives is one of the things that makes our relationship as strong as it is.

    Fortunately, our families have been extremely accepting of us, and I think that has made our journey easier. We’ve been together for 6.5 years and married for almost 5, and three kids later (ages 4, 3, and 1) we are still deeply in love. And we still love to talk about faith and religion.

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