Dating a Non-Catholic

I was a little boy-crazy back in high school. I had an endless series of crushes. I dated. I flirted. I broke some hearts and I had my heart broken. I had those puppy-love relationships that felt real and serious and this is it. All of these boys were Catholic—either practicing or, at least, culturally Catholic. I actually met most of these boys through church. I figured, I’d meet some Catholic boy eventually, have the Catholic wedding, and have the Catholic babies and that’d be it. Well, that’s not exactly how it happened.

At eighteen, I moved away for college and planned on focusing on school, having some fun, and getting into dental school. I would think about serious dating eventually and get married eventually. Eventually. During my first semester of college at a local club, I met him. He was handsome, friendly, athletic, smart, loyal, funny, caring, interesting, and not Catholic. And I was a goner. At first, I ignored it. He was non-denominational Christian and had a faith-filled upbringing. That was something right?

But at some point I had to really decide if dating a non-Catholic was something I could do. Would we just end up hurt in the end? Would I end up compromising too much? I fell head-over-heels in love with this man. He was it for me. I had to ask myself some tough questions.

What is his dating philosophy?

When I first realized I loved my (now) husband, I knew that I wanted to pursue a real relationship with him. It was important to me that dating was considered a pre-cursor to marriage and not just a way to “rack ‘em up”. I was not willing to date casually and constantly wonder whether he was faithful to me and our relationship. We spent about three months going on dates, spending time together, meeting each other’s friends, and getting to know one another. We had a conversation about exclusivity and when we both discussed that our dating relationship would be exclusive and serious, I knew that was a big step in the right direction. Labels were important to me. I wanted to be able to state this is my boyfriend. He did not shy away from that label and he proudly called me his girlfriend. Dating each other was a commitment to be honored and respected.

How does he talk about his family and how does he treat them? 

My husband gushed about his parents. He loves them deeply. He looks up to his father and has a loving and devoted relationship to his mother. He loves his siblings and even while away at college, remained involved in their lives. He called his grandmother. He reminisced about summer get-a-ways with his grandfather. He visited aunts and uncles and played with his little cousins. He was a family man.

That was important to me. I could already see the value he placed in family. He did not talk disrespectfully to his mother and he sought advice from his father. I come from a big, loud, and incredibly loving family. I wanted my boyfriend to be able to come to my family gatherings and not be scared away. I wanted to be able to meet his family and get to know them. I wanted us to become part of each other’s families.

How does he handle conflict resolution? 

I am a passionate, type-A, control freak. He is a stubborn, equally passionate, and resolute person. We had some conflicts in those dating days. We bickered and fought (still do) but he never took cheap shots. He never walked out. He never shut me out. He never used the silent treatment. He was never violent. He never betrayed my trust. Even when we were upset or mad or hurt, we took the time to hear one another out. He apologized for any wrong-doing. I apologized for my bad attitude. We remained committed to one another and that meant always and every time coming to the table and resolving our conflicts.

Does he show curiosity and interest in my faith?

Early on, he would come to Mass with me and I would go to church with him. He was respectful of my faith. He asked questions and never tried to change me. He never pressed me to abandon my beliefs. I went through a crisis of faith in college, but he would encourage me to pray about it. He never expressed interest in converting while we were dating and his mom was a bit wary, but he always respected that I was and always will be Catholic. If I were not able to talk about my faith or if I never was able to share it with him, I do not think we would have stayed in a relationship. (He has also has not said he won’t ever convert, so fingers crossed and prayers his way.)

What are his beliefs about marriage and the roles of spouses?

While I was applying to dental school, I had my first serious thoughts of marriage. We had been dating over two years when I started my application process. I applied to all the California dental schools, but some across the country. I did not want to have to date long-distance so our first serious conversations about marriage went along with my application cycle. We also did not want to live together prior to marriage so it was clear that if we were to move away to dental school together, it would be as husband and wife. It was also important to me that my future spouse had the same beliefs about marriage and the roles of spouses.

To me, marriage was for life and not to be taken lightly. He believes the same. He wanted his wife to be his partner in life, through everything, good and bad. He believed that any money we made would be our money and any debt would be our debt. He wanted to have children and raise them to love the Lord. And one month after I was accepted into dental school, he proposed to me.

Is he willing to make the Sacrament of marriage? 

Yay! We’re engaged! Let’s tell our families! Oh wait, just a little thing, was he willing to make the sacrament of marriage with me? Good news, he was. Although he had NO idea what that would entail, he was willing to do it all. He took the NFP class with me. We went on the engaged encounter weekend. We met multiple times with the deacon who was marrying us. We put down the deposit on the church. We did it all. He wanted to do it all. That meant the most to me. And speaking of sacraments, he was willing to baptize in the Catholic Church any children we were blessed with.

At the end of the day, there are many factors that go into dating and choosing who to date—personalities, beliefs, values, life styles, etc. But when it comes to deciding to date a non-Catholic, maybe take some time to answer these questions. They helped me decide and now here we are almost six years later with two beautiful children and completely devoted to one another. He’s even doing the Sign of the Cross and attempting to follow along during Mass so . . . progress!

Written by Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm. Find out more about her here.

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  • Reply
    April 27, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Yours is doing better than mine. I could pretty much check off all your same boxes. My DH stopped coming to mass with us about 2 years ago. BUT he finally agreed to opening our lives to another baby. So now we have 2 boys and a newborn girl. St Joseph, Philamina and Maria Goreti came through. Now I’m continuing to pray for his conversion or at least a reversion to tag along like he used to. I’ll pray for yours if you pray for mine. 😉

  • Reply
    April 28, 2017 at 4:52 am

    Thank you for spelling out the characteristic, I was mentally checking a person as I read along.
    He’s not doing too badly for very early days actually. We shall see.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing. You laid out your thoughts and values out clearly and it was helpful for me to relive my own steps and considerations in marrying my non-Catholic husband. It’s been a rough go lately in juggling our church commitments and supporting one another, and I have thought “it would be so much easier to be married to a Catholic!” So thanks again for reminding me of the best of our shared values rather than our differences.

  • Reply
    May 1, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Thank you for posting this! I’m recently engaged (4 weeks ago) to a non-Catholic. But he’s been very supportive of my faith. He says he wants nothing more than to support me in being the best Catholic woman I can be because he knows that is who I am and who God is calling me to be. He attends mass with me and he also started going back to his Christian church which I attend with him too (it feels like a great praise and worship service and helps me walk into mass later in the day with a very thankful heart). Even though he has accepted getting married in the Catholic Church (yes, he did not having any idea what all that includes, but we did have our first meeting with the marriage coordinator last week), he is being very careful to say yes to converting. When we first started dating, I shared with him that I have been hurt by guys in my past who claimed to be more Catholic than they really were (one was Catholic by culture and two were raised Catholic but actually atheist). They did this knowing I wanted to be with a good Catholic man. So they would act the part in order to get to my heart. ANYWAYS, thank you so much for posting this. Please keep us in your prayers and hopefully he will feel God’s call to convert. And if not convert, continue to support me and our future children in our commitment to the Catholic church.

  • Reply
    May 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Nossa, muito obrigada! Chorei enquanto lia :’) <3
    Esssa Comunidade Blessed Is She tem sido voz do Senhor em minha vida, e "por acaso" enquanto lia a Devoção Diária, vi esse artigo.
    Há quase 3 anos namoro um rapaz não-católico (batizado, vai todos os Domingos à Missa comigo, e me incentiva a ser o que sou, católica. No entanto, diz não conseguir crer). Há muitas semelhanças com sua história (foi no início da faculdade, e ele também está disposto a fazer tudo da forma correta…). Bendito seja Deus porr tua vida, do teu marido, de tua família! REZAREI pela conversão de seu marido, e pela conversão do meu namoarado. Rezemos juntas! Afinal, somos irmãs <3

    E é incrível como sempre queremos o que é mais fácil né. Ter um namorado e marido não-católico é uma missão, entende? Uma cruz, por assim dizer. O Senhor vem agindo na vida do meu namorado, as pessoas me dizem isso e eu vejo (cada novo comportamento durante a Santa Missa, como elevar às mãos em direção ao altar, à Jesus Eucarístico, é uma "vitória"!)

    Muito obrigada! Grande abraço. O Senhor nos abençoe, a Virgem Maria sempre interceda por nós. (Santa Gianna Beretta Molla, rogai por nós!)

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