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I have been praying for guidance about this.

Im catholic (26yr) and my girlfriend(24yr) of close to a year is a Presbyterian.

She still lives at home, extremely influenced by her parents, sisters, and brother in-laws. Some times I fear she will never be able to make a decision of her own; which is way I told her I would like her to move out before we go any further. I ask this of her so she can grow independently so I can see her grow independently and how her independence affect our relationship. I realize she will never not be influenced by them but this will give her a voice and thought of her own instead of the definite decisions that are already made for her.

I feel this stigma against Catholics by them and seems speaking with the brother in-law he went through the same but he ended up conforming to what they want and he is okay with it, but in return he is trying very hard to convince me to do the same. Being around them even though they don't say it I feel they think I'm not Christian or spiritual enough because the way I practice and relate to God is completely different than how they do.

Recently we have attended my Catholic Church and I have gone to hers. Her church's Pastor ended up leaving breaking up the church which got her thinking we should find a church of our own. As much as I agree we need to, I'm just not quite ready to leave the Catholic Church. I agreed we should find a church however still visiting my church as well (she was hesitant at first but starting to come around - as she doesn't feel welcomed, which I guess I will never understand because as a Catholic I view it as accepting everyone and she can even still get blessed during the Eucharist).

Just recently has this topic come to light because of this and is starting to become serious. A few weeks ago, she came to me in tears about it and to say/ask: How do I plan on raising my children? What church do I plan on attending to? How are we going to practice and grow spiritually together?

I almost feel she is being pressured by her family as well as being conflicted religiously at first it felt she was asking me to leave my Catholic Church. She realized she is being stubborn and too set in her ways and trying to be more open minded and accepting but I see her struggle with it and I physically hear her family and brother in-law tell her how it should be and what she needs to do. I want us to grow together and it wont happen overnight as she expects.
I always viewed it as we're both Christians we should accept each other for who we are.

I suggested premarital counsel which she agreed to, but I would like to start working on this before we go as that is still ways away from us attending to.  

What can I/we do?

Thank you so much for your advise.

First of all, pray. It sounds like she is seeking, and not as influenced by her family as you might think.  Second, you should make it clear to her that you aren't going to leave the Church.  If she wants to join another denomination, that's her choice.  You should point out that the Catholic Church asks that the non Catholic spouse agree not to oppose the raising of the children in the Catholic faith.  You should ask her (and maybe you yourself) to spend some time in an RCIA program so that she has a clear idea of what the Catholic Church teaches.  Sounds like she might be ignorant in this regard, and unfortunately, a lot of life-long Catholics don't really know what the Church teaches.  There isn't that much difference between Catholic teaching and most protestant teaching; the big issues being our seven sacraments, our heirarchy, and our understanding of the relationship between the scriptures and the Church.  If you can get her to listen to good sound Catholic doctrine some of her resistance might go away.  You should give her a copy of a wnoderful book, "Rome sweet Home" by Scott and Kimberly Hahn.  Scott was an active presbyterian minister and Kimberly had gone to seminary as well.  The book relates how they both gradually came to become Catholic, and Scott and Kimberly teach at the University of Steubenville.  
But all in all, I would look upon this as a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your faith and have hear learn as well.  Finally, if she can't see herself ever becoming Roman Catholic, one option is to join an Eastern rite church.  You wouldn't be doing anything wrong and she might feel that this is "neutral" ground.  I've known a few people who have moved from the Roman rite to the Maronite rite for just this reason.  Please keep me posted.  I think there is a wonderful future for the two of you and you will be in my prayers.  (Also, get to know some couples who have mixed marriages.  Your pastor could probably tell you the names of some.)


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Donald Higby


Most any question about Catholic teachings, the structure of the Church, issues related to Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage; I also know a lot about biblical foundations for Catholic teaching, and apologetics. As a scientist and a deacon, I am conversant with the dialogue between science and religion.


Deacon, 13 years; Religion minor, Catholic University of America. Self study.

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Diaconal Formation, four years (college level courses) Catholic University of America, religion minor, philosophy minor. (AB)

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