Help! My Non-Catholic husband...(m)

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Help! My Non-Catholic husband...(m)
10
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 11:13am
My non-Catholic husband is now having issues with my faith. He knew when we started to date that I was Catholic and that I intended on rasing our children Catholic. We now have a DD (2.5) and DS (1). Initially, he would go to church with me but that quickly died down. I did not mind. I never expected him to convert. I was not going to force it upon him. Then recently, I was filling out applications for our local Catholic school that I want our children to attend and he became very aggitated. He said, "why do you get to make the decision about our children's religion. What if I don't want them to be Catholic or go to Catholic school?" Then he lashed out and said, "I don't want them going to a church that allows little boys to be assaulted". I was flabbergasted. I know that he was just grasping for a reason to put down the church but I just didn't know what to say. I told him that this was a decided issue before we ever married and I was sorry that he felt that he was not a part of the decision making. I told him that on any other issue with the kids, he certainly would be part of it but that this is not one I'm willing to budge on. I kind of ended it there, not knowing where to go with this discussion. Can anyone offer me some advice?

TIA,

Molli

Avatar for jasbri2
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 11:20am
What faith is your husband, or doesn't he practice? That may have some bearing on things. I also don't think you can dismiss his comment about allowing the abuse of children. Some members of our clergy did abuse children, and it was allowed by the hierarchy. Acknowledge it. Then discuss the steps your local diocese has taken to prevent it. If you don't know, find out.

Let me know what his faith is, I might be able to better understand what his objections are.

Prayers

Beth
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 11:36am
Thank you for your words of wisdom and support, Beth. My husband comes from a christian background. His parents are very active in a non-denominational christian church. He went to church regularly growing up but has not gone to his church in years. He only started going to church again when we started dating. He would go to the Catholic church with me and never really complained. I do remember when we were preparing for marriage, we did a long inventory type test/questionairre. We did stellar in all areas except religion and what religion our family would follow. In that area, we did just mediocre. Our priest told us at the time that we would need to discuss this but my position is that there is nothing to discuss. I can't raise my children 1/2 Catholic and 1/2 something else -- its an all or nothing thing. My husband actually suggested that I take our daughter to the Catholic church and he'll take our son to a different church. That is not acceptable for me. How can I not be ridgid on this topic? You either are Catholic or you're not.

Thanks,

Molli

Community Leader
Registered: 03-17-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 12:21pm
What you say is true: either you are Catholic or you are not. You are Catholic and your husband is not.

What we did was participate in both denominations. Our child began attending a Protestant private school in Kindergarten not because the Protestant parent "won" rather because the Catholic school was in a very messy transition and the public school for our neighborhood wasn't agreeable to us. After 2 years, when we realized the Protestant private school was academically incompatible we transferred our child to the Catholic private school, which was superior. Our child was baptised and confirmed Catholic, because that was the agreement way back in the beginning (1974 when we were married); however, both parents' faiths were honored and in the fullness of time Catholicism prevailed. Our child did not suffer for being exposed to, and raised with, both Catholic and non-Catholic faiths. I like to think it was due to our willingness to work together.

Oh, by the way I was the Protestant parent. I simply could not find a reason to get so divisive over religion, nor could my ex. Because of our willingness to honor both faiths, our child is pretty well versed in the differences and can enter into lively discussions with his best friend, whose father is a Baptist minister.

Were we right or wrong in how we solved our situation? Depends on who you ask I suppose. It worked for us and no priest or minister, not even our close family friend who is a Catholic Monseigneur, ever said we were raising our child the "wrong" way.

Good luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 12:30pm
I think it would be best to find out the specifics of his concerns. Had you decided on Catholic schools before you were married as well -- or just raising the kids Catholic? To me, schooling is a separate issue, since it also may include financial sacrifice, volunteer commitments, etc. Plus some people just feel strongly about supporting the public school system. So committing to Catholic kids and committing to Catholic schools aren't the same thing.

While he may not share their faith, he has every right to be involved in their education. So set up a meeting with the school. Have them give him a tour. And ask them to address how they handle academics, extra-curriculars, and character formation.

Does he know much about Catholicism? Many people were raised with a lot of misinformation about Catholics -- and aren't even aware enough of the misinformation to question its validity. And maybe you haven't talked about things in order not to look like you were pushing him to convert.

If he's strong in his faith, maybe he's concerned that he can't share that with the children. Or maybe he's never had a strong faith, but has a longing for his childhood faith now that he has kids of his own. That certainly happens to a lot of Catholics.

Once you find out the specifics, you can better deal with the problem. Depending on your personalities, that may include meeting with the priest to better understand the Church and get his questions answered, reading books, attending classes or lectures, or just a lot of discussing it together.

Concerning abuse -- it is worthwhile to ask for the school's policy and share it with him. At my last parish, it specified things like no closed doors unless the door had a window, no undocumented counseling sessions, etc. It may put his mind at ease.

You may also want to go out of your way to involve him in any areas where faith overlaps. It's important that he not feel totally left out. For example, he could read the kids Bible stories.

Good luck.

Polly

Avatar for jasbri2
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 2:00pm
My BIL is a Southern Baptist minister. My other BIL, and MIL and FIL belong to a nondenomicational church. All of them are VERY fundamentalist. If your DH was raised fundamentalist or your ILs have been expressing their concern about Catholicism with DH, that may the root of the problem. Many nondenoms believe that Catholicism is a perversion of Christianity. My ILS believe that the pope is satan's pawn.

My DH was baptized Presbyterian, raised Methodist, but attends mass with DD and I. You need to go out with DH, without the kids, and level with him.

Beth

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Tue, 07-22-2003 - 2:16pm
Thanks to Beth, Polly and all others who have posted with advice. I agree with you Beth -- we need to go out and have a frank discussion about it. I could be wrong, but i don't think his parents are a problem. They have another grandson (my nephew) who attended Catholic school and they were fine with it. They have never made any negative comments and seem to be supportive of the fact that I was getting my DH to attend ANY church.

I think maybe my husband thinks I'm not whole heartedly into being a Catholic b/c I converted. I was raised Presbyterian but converted 6 years ago. I don't think he thinks I am devoted to the faith but I am. The fact that no one else in my family is Catholic doesn't help matters. They are supportive of me being Catholic but I think being the only one isolates me more (as a Catholic) and makes it easier for my husband to not be supportive of raising our children in this faith. Sorry for rambling -- I hope you can follow my thoughts...

Thanks,

Molli

PS -- Money for tuition is not really an issue -- my mom has offered to help with that. Our kids currently go to a Presbyterian Daycare/Pre-school (not the Catholic pre-scool). I don't think the school is really the issue -- its our children being Catholic and their father not being Catholic...

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 7:12am
((Hugs)) Molli. My DH is not Catholic either. He does attend mass with me and I attend the occassional Presby Services he requests as well. Is your oldest just starting School this Fall? Kuddos to you for at least talking it over. I grew up Parochial and DH did not. I was more partial for Private/Parochial education than DH. I am glad I opened my eyes to Public Education thou because we are in the Best School area in our state and after finishing K Year for our oldest, I don't think I would have ever considered otherwise again. Just a Thought. About the Abuse Comment, did he throw that out because he was just mad or did he have serious thoughts about your Local Church? We had our Priest over for dinner when we first moved here. It was also around the time the Boston Area Churches were getting all the attention of abuse. Our Priest gave us peace of mind about it all and said that most of that is so old and isolated. Keep Communication Lines open and suggest that DH ask more Qs to the people who know would be my only advice!

Jeanne

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 11:04am
Thanks, Jeanne. I think he threw the comment out just out of frustration not b/c he suspects anything. We decided we'd have a talk about it when the kids aren't around and we can discuss it without interruption. Our oldest is only turning 3 in September so we have a few more years -- it just came up b/c I was filling out their applications (there is actually a long waitlist to get into our local Catholic school). I've tried to compromise where I can. I told him he doesn't have to go to Mass if it makes him feel uncomfortable. But then he feels like the "outsider" of the family who doesn't go to church so I told him I would alternate churches -- go to the Presbyterian church that I grew up in every other Sunday. I think this really shows that I will compromise where I can. I hope he was just in a bad mood or something when this whole thing blew up. He usually is a very kind and level headed guy...

Thanks again,

Molli

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-24-2003 - 12:17pm
Read your post and was wondering if there is any class he could take through your church that would teach more about the religion and let him make a better educated decision? I know our parish is starting a bible study group that I would like to attend. This may help him with the miss conceptions that are given out by things heard. Our church is more then a few bad priest and asides there are preditors in all clerical positions. Not just Catholic, unfortunately the media seems to want to bring this to everyones attention more then other religions.



My dh isn't Catholic and does not attend church with me, except on holiday's. I take both kids to church with me and my dd attends Catholic schools. I know when we were married we signed an oath saying we would raise our children Catholic. I guess that was an issue because dh isn't Catholic. He has said he isn't sure about the school, but I think it is more about the money then her education. Are your children baptized? If they are and were baptized Catholic then they are Catholic. We believe in only one baptizm right. Now when they are older they can make that decision not to continue when it is time for their Conformation. Hope you and your husband can sit and work this out.

Jan

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2003
Thu, 07-31-2003 - 5:25pm
This sounds more like a communication issue than a faith issue. You will know this WAY better than me, though. You both want to get to a point where you are exchanging information and come to a mutual agreement on what is best for both of your children. I'm hearing a lot of absolutes when it comes to religion and the children, where there is comfortable middle ground for most interfaith marriages.

As far as the sexual abuse issue, your husband needs to hear you say that you, too, do not want anything horrible to happen to the children. Common ground for all parents. That you want all people that your kids come into contact with to be life-giving good for them. The overwhelming majority of people who are RC or are employed by the Catholic Church are these type of people. As a result of the abuse, the Church is EXTRA VIGILANT about people who work with children (at least in my neck of the woods).

That being said...your husband will also need to be aware that sexual abuse is not a function of being Catholic. Sadly, it happens in other organizations and religions that have child and family involvement. It even occurs among family members. Your husband may just be saying that he doesn't want to hang with the crowd that has had so much bad press, some of which is, unfortunately, very accurate for certain people, though it is a gross over-exaggeration to say that it is accurate for the entire Church.

As far as finding common ground for Catholic and Non-Catholic Christians to converse, Catholicism traces its roots to Peter, the first Pope. (Though I'm wobbly enough on faith and history to know how we Catholics came to call him that "pope") Sure, there have been splits, schisms and splinter groups, reformers, protesters, the Orthodox, etc. but deep down our faith in Jesus should connect us much more than it drives us apart. The Catholic Church has carried the Christian faith through persecution, 2000 years of history, in good times and bad, and as a faith it has certainly revealed its humanity. Not too many other faiths can claim this direct connection to experiencing the actual life of Christ, maybe Messianic Jews.

I have an interfaith stepdaughter. Her mother is Episcopal. I tell her that being Roman Catholic or being Episcopal is not a matter of competition, it's a matter of personal choice and belief. She's in high school. I tell her that the governance of the Churches often get along better than the people they serve. She was impressed that the Roman Catholic Church has ongoing dialogues with other faiths (Episcopal in particular for her, though my parish is active in Jewish-Christian dialogue). I don't feel the need to harp on Henry VIII. People mature in faith know that God is present in all people, and can be appropriately respectful and reasonably educated about other faiths. Jesus was a Jew while he walked the earth. Interfaith respect should be the norm. It doesn't mean that everyone has to agree. The Anglican (Espicopal) Church came from the Roman Catholic Church and had SO many of its traditions, so it's a bit like respecting your elders. The newer faiths may not see eye to eye with the Roman Catholics in all things, but the more sincere they are in finding out why Catholics do what they do, they may get a few insights into stuff that has filtered into their own faiths.

Your husband seems to be guided by fear, more than having a solid understanding of the religion that is part of his family. He may benefit by attending your parish's RCIA classes, just so he can appreciate what it means to be Roman Catholic. It may also smooth the way (and be fair) for you to attend his church to see where his religious experience comes from. Not as a "traitor" to being Catholic, but to give the both of you some talking points and common ground. Besides, nothing challenges anti-Catholic sentiments than a real, live good Catholic person. You can recommend RCIA to the Catholic-questioners and remind them that you want to know about THEM.

Lastly, there is the whole education soup pot. I'm a parent. My son has attended public school up to eighth grade, for a few reasons. Great school (not all public schools are created equal, nor are Catholic ones). Better music, art and enrichment programs. My son is gifted and (mildly) learning disabled, so better services in that department, most of the private and faith-based schools in our area would send the kids to the local public school for part of the day if they need special ed services, or they may not have the resources to accomodate them. The waiting lists for our local private schools were long, with non-refundable deposits. DS went to Sunday school and CCD for faith education. We also live and practice our faith. He will be attending a Catholic high school, but the fact that it is Catholic was not primary (though it helps!) it was based on it being a smaller school, single sex, better opportunity for character development, academics are equal to the local public high school, it's close to where I work, so transportation is simpler than other private school options. My husband and I looked at ALL factors before committing $7K a year of our money in this direction. It's a HUGE investment. The down side is they don't have German, which DS studied in 8th grade, or a music program for any string instrument (DS plays the violin), so DS will have to redirect his musical energies. If I change jobs, it's less convenient.

Have you had an objective discussion with your husband reviewing all of your kids educational options? Public and private (Catholic and non-Catholic). Then look at your kids - if you have the option of private school, you may be able to select one that is a best fit for each child. You will know this better in a few years. If your daughter is 5 and reading and the kindergarten curriculum centers on LEARNING to read, you will need to see how the schools can (or if they will) work with that. Something else may drive the choice on what school they attend. (What if you move?) If you go through all this, and BOTH come to the conclude on schools that are the best fit for your kids and family situation, you will be SO much stronger as a couple.

DH and I will be spending over $30,000 on DS's education (enough to buy a -small- house), we are both on board for this direction. It sounds like you and your DH need to talk at a better level than where you're at. I hope you can get out of your corners and give this discussion and decision process the time and effort it deserves. He sounds like he's reacting to being powerless (having no choice) in a matter that involves him deeply - his children, and his family finances. How would you react if he said, "Mollianne, I think I can do better for you and kids if I invest $50K in the stock market, you can have plenty of participation in any of the remaining decisions on finances."

Oh, ick, I forgot one last possible issue - your DH's educational experience (or yours). He may have done just fine with 12 years of public school, or mercilessly snubbed by private girls in the neighborhood (kinda kidding, kinda not on this one, one bad experience can create a defense that take a looong time to overcome).

Way too much from me. Hope this helps,

WA