ElizabethK asked a question about her husband’s objections to her conversi0n to the Catholic Church on our old discussion forum and received some insightful answers from the Coming Home Network community. We’ve curated the topic for you here. Feel free to continue discussion in the Disqus comment box below.
My husband is a worship leader at his church. He is also one of the youth workers. He is very committed to church. For him, church is about relationships with people, and I totally get that. He has always been gracious in letting me explore what I believe; his opposition has been subtle and based around the severing of our communion together. Which again, I totally understand.
We visited an Orthodox church together once, and he hated it because it was so inaccessible, but he went to Mass with me one time and said how surprised he was that it was similar to a traditional Anglican service, and that he could follow along. He believes in the communion of the saints, he believes in Mary’s perpetual virginity. He thinks the pope is a cool guy. He just doesn’t believe in the real presence. Not even close.
Now, I don’t badger him about beliefs, because I think that would be supremely counter-productive. But I am honest about mine, and yesterday we talked. He said he was happy that I was happy at Mass, and was pleased that I had gone along to 5 p.m. Mass, because he knew it was a good, positive thing for me. But the whole thing made him sad, because we are not on the same page. I told him I wasn’t trying to convert him, and he said that was one of the problems! He doesn’t believe it, doesn’t want me to push, but also doesn’t want to be left behind while I go ahead to something new without him.
I am trying to focus on how much Catholics and non-Catholics have in common. Is this the best approach?
David W. Emery
Elizabeth, my impression is that your husband is not nearly so concerned about doctrine and affiliation as he is about companionship and togetherness. One way or another, he needs you by his side. The simplest solution would be for you to continue to accompany him to his church’s service (as a guest, of course, rather than as a participating member) and go separately to your Catholic Mass. Many Catholic converts do this as a commitment to their non-converting spouse.
Elizabeth, my story was very much the same as yours, except my husband ended up leaving his church because of the gossip surrounding my choice to revert back to Catholicism. (He played in the worship band there, too) I will tell you that my husband wasn’t supportive at first, he didn’t take it well. I gave him his space, and continued walking the path that I know God called me to. I started praying for my marriage, and for there to be peace between us. He started softening his heart when he started seeing peace and how my faith had changed me for the better.
Although our doctrinal belief is not the same, we have found a common ground in our belief in Jesus. I empathize with your struggles. It’s hard, sometimes, to go to Mass alone, but sometimes I go and just spend time praying for him. I know other Catholics who were in the same situation, and they never gave up praying for their spouse. The spouses came around many years later. I agree with what David said, that you should go to his services as a guest but still go to Mass.
You’re in my prayers.
I converted seven years ago and I am still going to Evangelical services and Bible studies with my wife, in addition to Mass and my involvement with my parish. She generally does not come to Mass with me. Every once in a great while she’ll attend a Christmas Eve Mass with me.
I do occasionally get to plant seeds with some of the people at her church, sometimes among former Catholics who are curious what I have found in the Catholic Church, since I obviously come from a strong Evangelical Bible background.
And yes, we do share what we have in common. But on the other hand, it means that we have to interact mainly on an Evangelical basis. Occasionally, I get to share some Catholic stuff. After I get back from Mass, she always asks me how the homily was (the Bible teaching focus of the Evangelicals) and what it was about.
When we pray together, it is usually extemporaneous.
She studies the Bible a lot and occasionally the Lord gives her some very Catholic insights into passages. But I mainly pray and live the faith, because pushing doesn’t work at all with her.
Thanks everyone for your replies. I admit, the thought of going back to that church fills me with no small amount of dread, but I guess I could cope with the small group setting. It is so hard to know what to do for the best, but I will ask him if he wants me to come to church with him, on the strict understanding that it doesn’t mean I have changed my beliefs at all.
Elizabeth, praying a daily Rosary, making little sacrifices here and there for his conversion, and asking for the intercession of the saints may be the best you can do. Trust in God and the help of Our Lady
God Bless you!
Having a really tough time with people from the church. I have been going to the small group setting, and praying like a Catholic, making the sign of the cross at the beginning and end of my prayers. I was told I was being superstitious. One person expressed concern that I was being oppressed by a demonic spirit. There is a prayer event coming this week and everyone, friends and husband are encouraging me to go, but I feel really, really uncomfortable in this setting. What should I do with all this?
David W. Emery
This is to be expected, Elizabeth. Reformed Baptists are among the most anti-Catholic of denominations. They envision the Church as the work of Satan. So of course, making the sign of the cross would be superstitious, and leaning toward the Catholic view of things would be understood as oppression by an evil spirit.
For the sake of peace in the group, you don’t need to act like a Catholic in their presence. The other alternative is to absent yourself from this small group, assuming you are already being tagged as an outcast. The bottom line is that they are not going to allow displays of “papism” in their midst.
Trust your gut on this one, Elizabeth. If you are feeling very wary of going to this and other events, then do not go. It is as simple as that. If they ask you honestly why, then tell them simply that you are not interested in this or that event. You don’t owe them an explanation, especially if they are completely antagonistic to your new understanding or are trying to trap you or bait you into answering so that they can come down hard on you for learning about the Church. Jesus himself didn’t answer his accusers at all at times.
Hi Elizabeth! I don’t have any new insight into your situation, but I wanted to reply because I am new here, and I am in almost the exact same situation as you. I haven’t met anyone in my particular situation, so it was a huge relief to read this thread.
My husband and I both come from strong Evangelical traditions. Only within the past year have I been led to Catholicism, and I have just begun attending weekly Mass in the last month. I have been studying it for a year, though, and very intensely the past few months. I am now convinced of the truth of the main Catholic tenets and intend to enter RCIA in the fall.
My husband is mostly supportive, but when I told him of my intention to convert he said it made him feel sick. However, he is not anti-Catholic, but hates the idea of the two of us not being on the same page spiritually. And so do I! He also does not want our young children to attend Catholic Mass, so as of now I am planning to continue attending Protestant services with them, as well as Mass on my own. Obviously I am praying for him, and I always invite him to Mass and talk about the things I am learning with him. He believes a lot of Catholic things and understands my reasoning, but he has a deep mistrust for authority, especially large organizations. He is just not ready to pursue conversion.
Thanks for reading — I’d love to connect further with anyone who can relate!
Hi kapachino, nice to connect with someone else in the same boat. 🙂
I am having an interesting time of it. The Anglican church is where my husband is currently attending, and he has been expressing in the last couple of days how unhappy he is with the direction the Church of England is taking. He said he wanted to be in a church where he could nail his colours to the mast with confidence. I told him that was why I wanted to become Catholic. He said, “In that case, I am fine with you going back to RCIA, with my blessing.” Please do continue to pray for him and me as we both navigate some choppy waters.
Oh my goodness, I was praying that God had answers for me about this, and here you all are!
I was baptized Catholic as a baby (Mom was a convert), but Dad was not comfortable with Catholicism, so I was raised in a Baptist church. Over the last five years or so, I had been leaning further and further toward Catholicism, when the small church plant I had been a part of abruptly closed — on Corpus Christi Sunday, 2015. I had attended my first Sunday Mass early that morning. I figured that was my sign!
I started RCIA, and my husband joined me for a while, but a few months ago he told me that he’s just not drawn to the Church. We have a four-year-old son, and I want him to grow up knowing Jesus, so we are going to the church where my husband found the Lord a few years before we were married. I still pray my Rosary, listen to EWTN, read Catholic books, and try to attend Mass whenever I can. My mom has even attended Adoration with me, when my church had all-night Eucharistic exposition the first Friday of the month.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be TRULY Catholic and participate in Communion. I need to get my first marriage (formalized at a justice of the peace, we had no children) annulled. I don’t want my son to get confused, but I think right now he is sort of okay with the fact that Mom does things a little differently than Dad when it comes to faith. I’d love to get him baptized, but my Mom is freaked out by that, because she wants my son to accept Christ as I did, as a child, and not just be graduated through the ranks of First Communion and Confirmation without any true faith on his part, like many of my friends were growing up.
Please pray for me, as I will pray for all of you!
David W. Emery
Melissa, you probably already know this, but your previous marriage should be a straightforward Defect of Form (basically, a Catholic married outside the Church). Easy peasy.
I’d love to get him baptized but my Mom is freaked out by that because she wants my son to accept Christ as I did, as a child, and not just be graduated through the ranks of First Communion and Confirmation without any true faith on his part, like many of my friends were growing up.
I am of her generation, so I know what your mom means. (I was a young convert, so I didn’t partake directly, but I had friends who did, and their catechetical experience was awful!) However, times have changed. If people are leaving the Church today, it is in spite of the catechetical instruction they have received — not because of it. The usual culprit is the wider culture in which we live. It is openly anti-religious, and atheism is all the rage. But you can’t blame that on the Catholic Church.
It’s true, I was listening to Patrick Madrid the other morning and he was saying how reports are coming in that countries such as Russia, where atheism was enforced in the past, are now seeing a revival of faith, while to be American is to look down on God and religion.
My mom is divorced, and I offended her deeply the other night, when I said that she could come back to the Church and take Communion as long as she didn’t remarry. She and my dad were married in the Church by a priest, and she was a baptized Catholic convert at the time. She couldn’t understand how she could be deemed unworthy to receive when she’s confessed her sins to God and had a relationship with God after her divorce. (She was in a long-term relationship after the divorce and didn’t attend any church for many years.) I tried to explain that it’s all about the True Presence, but we eventually agreed to disagree. She believes that’s what’s “backwards” about the Church, that it’s “exclusionary.” She said, “You’re not making me want to come to church with you!” I thought maybe I could get her on my side and at least coming to church. She attended the same church as I did, the one that closed, and hasn’t been back to any service since.
David W. Emery
Indeed, Melissa, it seems that the West is about a century behind the times in its move toward atheism. Seriously, there is a vast difference between having atheism forced on you by a totalitarian state and being surrounded by people who are embracing atheism because it’s the easy way to justify low morals.
Your mom has rejected Catholic Christianity because, in her mind, she doesn’t measure up. That’s the “exclusionary” part — in her estimation, the bar is set too high. Besides, she would feel humiliated to confess her sins to a priest. Protestantism provides an easy answer, of course, just as atheism does.
If you provide a good example, showing her that it can be done, and the happiness that can be achieved in doing so, maybe your mom will change her tune. And if not, at least you are where you need to be, and you can pray for her more effectively.
Well, you could knock me down with a feather! My husband said this morning that he’s going to organise coming to Mass with me when he can arrange it. I was a bit of a rabbit in the headlights!
David W. Emery
That’s quite a turnabout, Elizabeth. Let’s hope it is for real.
Wow! Just wow! Praying that God uses this to touch his heart.
As Dory said in Finding Nemo (but with a bit of a Catholic twist), “Just keep praying. Just keep praying. Just keep praying, praying, praying. What do we do? We pray, pray!” I knew a man who became Catholic, and his wife and three teenage/college-aged daughters were hugely oppposed and even angry at his “betrayal” of the faith. He prayed. He changed and became the best father and husband he could and never nagged them, always attending their service as well as Mass every weekend. Four years later, his wife and daughters were all received into the Church, and he is on his way to becoming a deacon.
It took Thomas Howard’s wife ten years to follow him into the Catholic Church. (Dr. Thomas Howard is a famous convert of the 1980s.)