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You Asked: Can Two People From Different Religions Make It Work?

Dear Sugar,

My fiancé and I have different religious beliefs. In the past, this has never been an issue since I do not seriously practice Catholicism and he does not practice any sort of religion. But now that we are getting married, it's become a serious problem for me. I want to honor my Catholic religion by being married in a Catholic church. I feel that since he does not believe in God or have any sort of religious background that this should not be an issue. As a former Catholic, he feels that the religion is corrupt but he said he would honor my wishes of having a Catholic ceremony anyway. I appreciate his flexibility, but it does bring up some concern for the future. What is going to happen when we have children? Will they be raised Catholic? What do we do on holidays? I just need to know how two people with different religious beliefs comprise.
— Difference of Opinion Olivia

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Difference of Opinion Olivia,

Figuring out how to incorporate religion into your relationship is a serious discussion that must happen before saying I do. Just because he's not religious, it doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be OK with honoring your religion. With that said, couples from different beliefs make it work all the time. It sounds like you're going to want Catholicism to play a role in your children's lives, so have you told your fiancé this yet? If he's opposed to the idea, you're going to have to come up with a middle ground. Since he thinks the Catholic religion is corrupt, perhaps you can suggest letting your child choose the religion he believes in — tour a few different kinds of churches or temples until something clicks.

Since you've decided to get married in a Catholic church, chances are you'll have to take some sort of marriage preparation classes prior to your wedding day. As much as people loath the idea, these classes cover all sorts of important issues that affect your future such as money, how you plan on raising your children, and religion — just to name a few. These are all very serious topics that must be discussed so be sure to get everything squared away before becoming husband and wife. You want to make sure there are no surprises later on down the road. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
Jims_Bella Jims_Bella 9 years
My husband is Greek Orthodox and I am Presbyterian. But as we live in Greece, I follow all the Orthodox views. This is not an issue to me. Even if we were back in my home country, I believe we would still follow Greek Orthodox because I am and have never been a practicing Presbyterian however, my husband has been a practicing Orthodox all his life therefore, I respect that. Our children will be Baptised Orthodox and raised Orthodox however - my husband agrees with me that we will also teach them about mommy's celebrations. For example: Easter in Greece this year is in late April, Santa Claus doesn't come to the Greek children's homes on December 24th, what is Thanksgiving, Halloween - all those things our children will be aware of. I keep saying it - relationships are 50/50 and based on respect. Hope that helps.
JessNess JessNess 9 years
I am not religious and think about what would happen if I was in this situation specially because I do not really like organized religion and feel that kids should not be forced into it through their parents beliefs That being said have you ever considered doing a non-religious wedding specially since your guests are probably from a wide religious background. Put the focus back on you two making a commitment to each other and not so much the religious aspect
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
I'm Catholic : yes, i have morals . . .most of the time . . .ok, ok, i have a guilty conscious. my point; i'm not saying you can't marry someone of a different faith. but this is why He said that. you run into issues. (not always, but it's mainly a precaution). i think it depends on the actual people. personally, if a guy doesn't believe in God (Atheist, Agnostic) i can't bump witcha. i have enough whorish ways and a mouth dirtier than a sailor with oral herpes that will get me sent to hell just fine . . .possibly first class. but all crap aside; i think that maybe you need to know YOURSELF better first before marrying anybody. you should know what you will and won't go for. you should know how much you want God in your future children's lives, or rather or not you're gonna allow them to eat peanut butter. you can't be asking this kind of crap NOW. have you guys even went to a pre-marital counselor ???
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord. 'And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,' Says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Vsugar Vsugar 9 years
It's a tough one, but I think the fact that you don't seem to think it should be a big deal, since he's not religious, is a BIG RED FLAG. I don't know how HE feels, but let me tell you my side of the story, because it would be a HUGE deal to me: I am an Atheist. Not an "I-don't-really-think-about-it" atheist, or an "I'm-not-into-church" atheist; I actively resist the idea that there is a deity who is involved in our daily mundane lives, and I agree with Christopher Hitchens, author of "God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" in that basic premise. I intend to openly expose my children to religions of all types, educate them in science and culture, and let them draw their own conclusions, but I could NEVER marry someone who wanted to raise them in the church, or who didn't want to marry me unless our union was "blessed" by some god that I don't believe exists, ultimately showing me that they think I am wrong and in fact, DON'T respect the distance I prefer to maintain from religion. Now maybe he doesn't feel that way - perhaps his feelings fall more under the "i'm-not-crazy-about-organized-religion-and-I-am-cool-with-whatever-YOU-feel" category. If that's the case, that's fine, and I know people who are in "mixed marriages" who do just fine, but you really REALLY need to talk in stark specifics about it before it goes any further. If he really DOESN'T care, and thinks it would be just fine for you to bring kids to church (as long as he doesn't have to go), and YOU agree to not mission-ize him during your marriage, then I'm sure it will be fine, but you really need to NOT avoid the issue, and not be afraid of what you are going to hear. Tell him TRUTHFULLY how you feel, what elements of religion are important to you, what elements you could leave behind, and ask him how much of God and religion he is comfortable having in his life and in the lives of his children. If you can't come to a mutually respectful and happy accepting and understanding of each other's beliefs, it is going to cause MAJOR problems in your lives together. Good Luck.
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
the most important thing is to talk about ALL arrangements before marriage. before me and my husband decided to get engaged we both had to compromise alot. i am religious and my husband isnt a believer. however he was raised with the same religious values as me and went through a religious phase during his adolescence, until he got to the point where there were too many unanswered questions and black spots with religion in general. we also decided that down the road, when we choose to have kids, they will be taught as we both were taught, but will have the freedom to make their own decisions. our differences in religious beliefs dont come up in our life at all now because of our prior agreements.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Well, everyone else has given you great advice about how to approach this with your fiance, and what you can to do compromise and work things out for your wedding and your children, so I will just play devil's advocate and ask a question. Why do you feel the need to become religious now that you are going to be married? Perhaps you want to "give your kids a religion," but if you aren't a practicing Catholic, why do you think your children will need to be? This may not be the case for you, but I had a cousin who was not a practicing Catholic, and never went to church. When she got engaged, she decided that she wanted to be married in a Catholic church because it was so "awe-inspiring" and would make the ceremony "way cooler." Perhaps you are having a spiritual awakening, but I find it kind of curious that you mention it in relation to your wedding and "wanting to be married in a Catholic church", not your relationship with God. I am sure these are questions your priest will have for you, just putting it out there!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
I feel that since he does not believe in God or have any sort of religious background that this should not be an issue.
Consider that you're on a site asking what'll happen when you have kids, the above comment doesn't surprise me. Athiest might not believe in your god, i doesn't mean that they're devoid of them in the first place.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
My mother is Native American and a traditionalist - i.e. no monotheistic God figure. My dad is Muslim. We were raised with both options and sort of chose as we were older... it never was a problem, besides dealing with racism a lot, but it was so much better for us as kids because we were able to view a much bigger world of theology than a lot of people get to see.
LittleLady12 LittleLady12 9 years
Oh, and just to clarify, since he was baptized Catholic, you won't have a problem finding a priest to marry you. Now, I had a friend who was marrying a Jew and she had trouble finding a priest who would marry them. But you're fine. Also, you don't HAVE to raise your kids any way you don't want to. Not sure who heard that idea. And you don't have to be "practicing" to get married in a Catholic church, either. I don't think you guys will have any of those issues.
LittleLady12 LittleLady12 9 years
The bottom line is agree to disagree. It sounds like he was easily flexible to have a wedding in a Catholic church because it's important to you, so he can't be THAT much against the Catholic church in general. Therefore, talk to him about how you both want your kids raised. Since you don't seriously practice Catholicism yourself, I doubt you plan on having it be a primary part of your children's lives. So, maybe your kids will be baptized, and let the rest be up to them. I doubt you even plan on going to mass with them every Sunday, right? And does your fiance not celebrate Christmas AT ALL? What I'm trying to say that in the end, religion is not something that either of you feel strongly about, and THAT'S the most important thing. I think if one or both of you were devout in your religious convictions, it may be a bigger issue. But it doesn't sound like either of you are, so work out the few things you need to work out about your future, and move on. Sorry for simplifying it, but it sounds like religion doesn't play a big role in your life, so why would it play a big role in your future or in your children's lives?
sass317 sass317 9 years
My mother in law is very religious, my father in law is not. She goes to church and he doesnt. They dont let it interfer with their relationship and they exposed their kids to the church and let them make the decision themselves whether they wanted to continue at a church as adults.
SusanTeufel SusanTeufel 9 years
Just remember - Usually if you are married in a catholic ceremony, you must raise your babies catholic. 6 months prior to wanting to be married, you need to give a priest notice, take family planning classes and pre cana classes. I am marrying a man who is catholic, and i am not. We have decided to have a catholic wedding, and it's working out. Also, usually most priests don't like to marry you in the church if he hasn't seen you in church, keep this in mind!
letsgetloud21 letsgetloud21 9 years
I kinda don't understand her wanting to be married so badly in a Catholic Church if she does not even practice it.
bastille_75 bastille_75 9 years
Well, to be honest I was in similar situation with an ex-boyfriend. I'm Catholic and he's atheist and we were together for about fours years, but when it got to the point of talking marriage it made me seriously reconsider our relationship. I actually agree with most all of the above Poster and do believe mix marriages can work, but I definitely know where carak is talking about - and that is the main reason I could not get engaged to or consider marrying my ex. I was fine with him being atheist, but he would make subtle comments about religion in general and Catholicism and while I would listen to him and even agree that he made some valid points he refused to listen to me or respect where I was coming from - so I did what I had to do and break things off b/c I knew at that point there was no future. So, as carak suggest you really need to talk to him and see if you two can agree to disagree and still respect one another or in a few years from now are going to be wondering who and what you married. . . Also, meumitsuki is correct you will just need to take the Pre Cana classes (which will go over all of the discussion mentioned above and more!) through the Church prior to being married in it - also, just so you know it's actually expected that both of you get married in the Catholic Church if one or both of you has been confirmed.
carak carak 9 years
"I feel that since he does not believe in God or have any sort of religious background that this should not be an issue." are you serious? that is ridiculous. you're basically just throwing his beliefs out the window. just because he doesn't believe in god doesn't mean that he shouldn't have a problem with getting married in a Catholic ceremony. many atheists/agnostics are very strong in there beliefs. YES they are beliefs even though it doesn't include god. i can't believe that you haven't had this discussion before talking about marriage. though i don't think it should be a deciding factor. you really need to talk to him about this. it seems like you could care less about what he thinks since he doesn't believe in god.
letsgetloud21 letsgetloud21 9 years
Everyone is a sinner. I am baptist,but I don't go as much as I should and my husband is questioning if their is a God.. I don't preach at him and just let him decide on his own. and we are very much in love.
lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 9 years
imLissy: I'm going to a Catholic school, so just FYI, getting baptized doesn't send you straight to heaven. Getting baptized technically just means that you're starting with a clean slate and that you have the choice of going through life without sin. All humans make mistakes, though, which is why, in Catholicism, you ask God for forgiveness. I'm not sure if that's what you meant, but just thought I'd let you know.
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
exactly ella!
ella1978 ella1978 9 years
My BF and I are in the exact situation as well, just not as close to marrige, but we've talked about it. One day laying in bed I brought it up, what about future kids, what religion would they be. I'm Catholic, he's... confused. He believes in God and that's about all he's sure of. He doesn't have a problem with raising them in the church, so long as when they are at an appropriate age, they are able to make the deicsion of what religion they want to practice. He went to mass with my at Christmas, but felt very awkward there, so I don't think he'd be participating in taking kids to mass, but I like the idea presented that there was "dad time" immediately after mass. I esp. like it because it leaves mom a little "alone time"!
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
I am in your exact same spot....My fiance and I were born into Catholicism, but we are having a non-denominational wedding because we feel that if we aren't *catholic enough* why bother? As far as our kids, this is what I told my fiance: I know we're not hard-core catholics, but I feel a sense of responsibility to raise our kids with a religion, so I'm gonna raise them that cool with you? You can go or not go to church with us, I dont care (it's only what? an hour on sunday and maybe class once a week?). Then when they're old enough (high school, middle school), as long as they understand why, they can convert to whatever other religion they want. And that's it! we're done.... And he's TOTALLY fine with that. He even said he'd go and what-not. of course, this is all a cultural thing and how your family does this sort of thing, but that's how we see it. We dont let it control our lives though, thank goodness! DONT LET IT CONTROL YOURS!
julieulie julieulie 9 years
Mixed faith marriages can definitely work, if you want them to. The issue is that you have to give and take, and be willing to compromise. My parents are coming up on their 35th anniversary, and my mother is Jewish and my father is Catholic. I was raised Jewish (after all, Judaism passes from the mother), but it was never an issue because my father didn't mind. Lots of people told them it wouldn't work, and each of their parents were against the marriage, but hey, most marriages these days don't make it to 35 years, and my parents are still going strong, despite religious differences.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
"What is going to happen when we have children? Will they be raised Catholic? What do we do on holidays?" You are asking the wrong people these questions! You need to be asking your fiance. This sudden obstacle is something that should of been caught on to by at least the 5th or 6th date not after an engagement! People with different religious backgrounds can still have a wonderful relationship but it sounds like you haven't been asking the most important questions before you make such a serious commitment as marriage.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
The fact that you haven't even discussed how you'll handle religion and your children - when it appears to be something important to you - worries me a little. You guys really need to sit down and talk about these things. Having different religions just adds another layer of potential issues on a relationship. It can certainly be done! But not without lots of communication and respect. I have friends who are married and one of them is Jewish and one of them is Catholic. They said they were going to raise their children in both religions, but since the Catholic is more noncommital about his religion than his wife is, it has essentially ended up that the children are Jewish in every way but also celebrate Christmas - their one nod to Catholocism. But, he's ok with that. You need to figure out if you and your husband can work out a compromise AND whether or not you'll be ok with the likely ways that compromise will actually come to life.
meumitsuki meumitsuki 9 years
My sister and I are catholic and she married an non-believer and they do great. They always talk openly with their 2 kids. When it came time for baptisms, communions, etc. my brother-in-law said that he wouldn't want to take away his children's chances to be married in the church, so he helped with the CCD classes. You will have to do extra pre-cana classes, and your ceremony will be slightly different. Although you said he was baptized catholic, so maybe you won't have to do these extra steps.
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