(Closed) I'm Catholic and SO is Athiest…

posted 5 years ago in Catholic
Post # 16
7977 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

MrsTywinLannister:  I am a non-Catholic, married to a Catholic. We did the counselling together, and got married in a Catholic church. All completely above board. However, Darling Husband did require a dispensation from the local bishop to marry a non-Catholic. This is pretty standard… you just fill out a form and send it off.

Misswhowedding:  “The not Catholic person will have to articulate why they are agreeing to get married in the Catholic church when they are not Catholic.  They also have to agree to raise the children Catholic”

Not since the 1970s. The Catholic partner must sign a document saying that they will do “everything in their power” to remain a Catholic and to raise their future children Catholic. However, the non-Catholic partner does not have to promise anything. I certainly didn’t promise to raise my children Catholic. The issue was mentioned in counselling, and I said that I would like to expose my children to a variety of traditions, because I had faith that they would find their own way of communing with the almighty. The priest seemed to accept this; he gave the impression that it wasn’t a problem, as long as I was not actively opposed to my future children being exposed to Catholicism. Which I am not.

We did, however, have to sign a document stating that we were “open to the idea” of children, and that we had no prenuptual agreement in place, amongst other things… there are some things which the church is less likely to compromise on.

Post # 17
9367 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

Fiance is athiest and while I’m not a devout-anything, I grew up episcopal and still carry around alot of Christian beliefs. The only point at which it’s been problematic for us was when I faced deaths in the family. I believe in heaven/the afterlife (and so believing helps me better cope with loss). Fiance struggled because he didn’t want to “kick me when I was down” by saying what HE really thought of all that, but he also is not the type to be able to just smile and nod about something he doesn’t believe in. So that was rough.

When we have kids, it won’t be too problematic for us, since I’m not devout enough to want them to go to church and whatnot, but based on what I said above, I know it’ll be an issue when we teach our children about death. But we’re not planning on kids for awhile, so I can think about later!

Post # 18
471 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I am a pretty serious Episcopalian and my husband is a staunch atheist (three months into our relationship he took me to D.C. for an atheist rally!). We make it work through intense, real, mutual respect. We had some rocky moments at the beginning of  our relationship (mostly on his part, as he was quite militant). Now we have no problems at all, and I don’t anticipate problems. Both of our viewpoints are based upon our own well-thought-out beliefs, so even if I don’t agree with him, I respect that he has come to where he is with some real thought.

What probably helps is that despite our differing religious beliefs, we share many other beliefs (e.g. political/social/economic). Our worldviews are really not that different.

And I firmly hold to the belief that marrying another Christian would not make my life easier. Even if it were someone who belonged to my church, odds are we would disagree on theological issues anyway. In any relationship, there will be disagreements on life’s beliefs. I think it’s more about how you still make it work.

Post # 19
349 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2016 - White Oak Plantation

I’m not Catholic (I’m Baptist) so I’m not sure if this matters much BUT open up the Bible and read about what God wants for us. Marriage is a committment between 3 things – man, woman & God. I do think you can still be legally married and have a nice life.

Post # 20
824 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

Why would you be with an atheist? They typically are extremely intolerant of anything related to religion. 

Post # 21
16 posts

You HAVE to find someone to talk to about this if you think it will be long term.  Like serious sit down counseling.  Not necessarily through the church…find a neutral counselor and discuss it.  I can’t imagine not having the same religion as my spouse…I was not raised Catholic (I was raised Lutheran so similar in some ways) but converted because I think it is essential to our future family that we present a united front regarding religion.  You may not feel the same way, that is fine.  But you HAVE to sit down and talk about the ways religion will impact your future.  Especially if you intend to have children (baptisms, confirmation, prayer in the home?, etc. etc. the list could go on).  And even if you DON’T have children, it will still come up.  What happens when one of you or a parent has a major medical illness…and you pray about it…is he going to scoff at that saying it is a bunch of baloney?

Post # 22
83 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I am Catholic, but Darling Husband who was raised Catholic was actually atheist when we started dating. For myself, I am pretty devot, I read at mass every month and like to attend weekly when I can. When Darling Husband and I started dating I did talk about my feelings and we discussed our opinions. We’ve been together 4 years now (married only 6 months) and it hasn’t been an issue.

When it first came up, I told him the main thing is that I would want to raise our children to know God and to be exposed to religion. We’re both science minded people, but I have a strong belief that faith is an important part of humanity and I have found my faith in Catholicism. He has actually been wonderful. He will go to mass with me whenver I go, he doesn’t go up for communion, but he does knee/stand when the congregation does.

I think if he had been more stand-off-ish and refused to go to church with me (ps. I didn’t force him, I still don’t, he just likes to go with me) then it would be a much bigger issue.

Also, when you go through the marriage rite, your priest will want to discuss this issue with both of you.

Best of luck and wishing you many blessings!

Post # 23
811 posts
Busy bee

If you’re a practicing catholic and want to raise your kids that way, you need to talk about it. If you’re like my boyfriend and were raised catholic but are pretty much agnostic now a days, I don’t think it would be a huge deal. But you should still talk about it, and if you don’t know where you stand personally, you should figure that out.

Post # 24
2347 posts
Buzzing bee

anonkitty:  You guys need to talk about it. Talk about your beliefs. Talk about how you would raise kids (if you have them). Talk about family planning. Talk about all the different major issues. 

I know some people who are “catholic” because they sit in church once a week (or even less) but otherwise aren’t actually all that devout in their beliefs. They sort of believe in god, but that’s about it. For them it’s more like a social/community identity and I don’t think being with an atheist would be that hard. 

If you’re a pretty devout catholic who geniunely believes being gay is a sin, who is pro-life, against premarital sex, believes in original sin, believes in a literal god and devil/heaven and hell, believes in sin and evil, virgin birth, literally believes the entire death and resurrection story, literally believes in the “body and blood”…then I think it’s going to be pretty hard. 

I’m not trying to be offensive I’m just being totally honest. 

I think it would be very hard for me to be with a catholic (and vice versa) because literally everything they would consider “sacred” and “holy” I think didn’t even happen. To me the bible is no different than any other historical fiction, and I have a feeling most christians would find that pretty intrinsically offensive. 

Post # 25
297 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2017

It depends on you and your SO. My SO is Catholic and I was agnostic. When we first started dating I was hesistant to learn about his religion. Initially, I was uncomfortable praying and going to church with him. My SO didn’t push me to do anything of this, but I wanted to because I knew that it was a big part of his life and it would make him happy. I have been going to church with him for almost a year and now I’m considering going through the process of becoming Catholic.

For your relationship to work, there has to be some sort of compromise. Either you have to be willing to respect his beliefs or he has to be willing to learn about yours. If you don’t talk to him about the situation now, there will be problems later on. If you find that your beliefs are too conflicting to find a compromise, then you’ll know that it’s not meant to be. 

Post # 26
581 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: Rocky Mountains-May 2017

anonkitty:  I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but I’d still have a conversation about it. Like how do you want your future kids (if you have any) to be brought up or if you want to incorporate anything from either sides into the wedding. My SO is Baptist (I think, we don’t talk about it all that much since he doesn’t practice it) and I’m Wiccan (newly practiced) and we don’t have any issues, but we’re both super open to other ways of life and stuff so religion has never been an issue for us. 

Post # 27
178 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2016


As others have mentioned, you need to speak with your SO. The point of dating is marriage, and marriage is a total, exclusive gift of yourself to the other. If you can’t share all your beliefs and thoughts, then you’re already evading the ‘totality’ of the (possible) future sacrament.

Also, the purpose of marriage is children. And it will be a great kindness to your children to provide them with a solid, Catholic father. To be married in the Church, your SO would have to agree to raise his children in the Church (so he can’t interfere with their sacraments or attending Mass). But your children have the risk of growing up greatly confused. The father is the spiritual head of the family. So a father who shuns that role will give his children the implicit understanding that religion is irrelevant and unimportant. Interestingly, this negatively impacts the children far more than if the mother does not attend church.

See: http://www.battlefortruth.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=174<br />The study reported:

“If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all.

If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church!” (emphasis added)

Furthermore, it will put added pressure on you to persevere in the faith. God created man and woman as helpmates to each other. Marriage is a vocation, which means, if you chose it, it would be your path to heaven if you were faithful in it. A husband who does not believe in eternity or follow the teachings of the Church will not be on guard for your soul. You will not be helping each other get to heaven. At best, you will be trying to help him with the real possibility that he will persist in error.

Which brings me to the final point: Would it distress you at the possibility your husband might lose his soul? “139 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: “For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband.”140 It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this “consecration” should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith.141 Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.” http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c3a7.htm 

We are called to follow Christ and abandon mother, father, brother. His presence might even constitute a temption for you to lapse in the practice of your faith (thereby endangering both your souls.) If he resisted you and died unbaptized, you might not see him in eternity. It would be very noble for you to spend your life trying to convert him and to save his soul. But it would be very hard. You would need a constant, solid support group.

For my part, I dated my Fiance because he was a solid Catholic. He grew up non-religious and converted a few years ago. If your SO is intellectually-minded, he might like Edward Feser’s “The Last Superstition” (the book that converted my FI). It lays out the Catholic worldview so rationally. I fear that you might have trouble because the liberal, atheistic worldview is so radically different from an authentically Catholic worldview. And don’t forget to pray about it!! Blessings 🙂

Post # 28
948 posts
Busy bee

I think it depends on how Catholic you are? Loads of us are raised in a religion but only loosly practice it. If you are a devout Catholic I think it will be a bigger source of contention – but then again if you were a devoute Catholic it’s unlikely you would have gotten engaged to an athiest. 

My family is devout, I am not. Fiance comes from an Indian family. They used to be Hindu, but now they’re all scientests and athiests. He is actually more agnostic than athiest. But we talk about religion ALL the time. Usually this is an academic conversation (which is what he’s most comfortbale with) it’s not usually personal, and we base it on the need to respect a faith regardless of if we agree with it. Sometimes it *is* personal and he’ll ask me what I actually beleive in – that’s a harder question. And the answer that “yes, I pray” is hard for him to understand. 

We don’t have children yet, but we agreed if we have any they will be baptized Catholic, but he also made it very clear he never wants to convert. I hope we always talk about religion as OFTEN as we talk about it now. 

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