National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Unequally Yoked

Tom and Caroline McDonald offers husbands and wives advice on living the married life, Catholic style.

BY Tom and Caroline McDonald

April 1-7, 2007 Issue | Posted 3/27/07 at 10:00 AM


I am a new convert to the Catholic faith. My husband does not believe in Christ at all. Is there anything I can do?

The discovery and experience of the love of Christ is a beautiful thing for a new believer, yet it can be bittersweet when her beloved spouse does not share it. To love means to desire what is best for the beloved — and a Christian knows that the best thing for anyone is to experience new life in Christ. Given the intensity of the love and commitment to one’s spouse in marriage, how much more does a wife desire her husband to experience Christ and his Church? The word gospel means “good news,” and what better news to have and share than the love of the Holy Trinity?

First, here is what not to do. Do not bombard your husband with requests to hear you out about your new faith, lest you be accused of (gasp) nagging him. No matter what the subject, trivial or serious, men simply do not respond to being told pointedly about how to improve their deficiencies. Whether the subject is weight, laziness or any of a multitude of sins, a man’s pride will simply cause him to dig in his heels and put up defenses against what he is hearing. It makes no difference whether you are right or wrong. The reason we mention this first is that it very well may be your inclination, out of new-convert zeal, to do exactly this.

Still, you can reach out to him in subtler, non-threatening ways. Direct your newfound zeal toward your own conduct. Learn all you can about your Catholic faith and use that knowledge to be the best wife and mother you can. As you grow in selfless love for your family, your good example may, over time, serve as an inspiration for your husband to grow in curiosity about this faith that has so clearly brought you peace and joy.

Next, give him positive encouragement whenever he is acting in a virtuous manner, or when he is supportive of you and your children in your faith development. Even though he may not realize it, that goodness comes from God, and the more it grows the closer your husband will grow to him.

Finally, the hardest step: Be willing to acknowledge that your husband’s soul is in God’s hands, not yours. All you can do is truly all you can do; the rest is up to God.

So, most important of all, pray fervently for his conversion. Specifically, pray for his heart not to be hardened, and to be open to whatever graces God grants him. Ask for the intercession of St. Monica, who prayed incessantly for the conversion of her husband and son. That worked out fairly well — by now you’ve learned her son is the great St. Augustine.

The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the

Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.