Hello Bellator Society! My name is Kristin Maher and I am honored to be a guest blogger this week with you. I am here to share my experience in being a two denominational marriage.
Some of you may know my husband, Matt Maher. He is Catholic worship leader/CCM artist.
If you have not heard of him, may I suggest pulling him up on your Spotify/Pandora/Apple Music/Amazon Playlist and listening while you read my blog? Not that I am biased or anything, but he is pretty talented. And while Matt is Catholic, I am protestant. In my youth I went to a Methodist Church, but now I attend a non-non-denominational church called Church Of the City.
Now to our family this is simply fact, not really an issue, but I have found that for many others this is not always the case.
Throughout our marriage I have been surprised at times by the distrust and disrespect I have seen between the denominations. I have had many people reach out to me to ask how we make it work because in their own relationship dating someone who is not Catholic or not Protestant has caused rifts in families, disownment from friends and arguments in the marriage.
When they ask, “How do you do it?” I don’t think I always have the answer they are looking for.
Really the only way you can make it work is if you both agree to respect and honor the other’s faith. While I think we have WAY more that we agree about than what we disagree about, you have to CHOOSE to focus on the agreements and not the disagreements. It is the age old adage- “Agree to disagree.” What they don’t mention is that in order to do that you can not secretly have it in the back of your head that eventually you will get the other person to agree.
I also think you need to have the hard conversations early.
How will you do your church schedule? Will you go to each other’s services or each go to your own and meet up for brunch after? If you have kids what will the plan be? Will you want to take the kids to only one service? Alternate Sundays? Talk about it BEFORE the kids get older and hear the fights over which service and why.
For our marriage we agreed from the beginning to raise our kids Catholic, but that they would experience other denominations as well.
That means we go to Church of the City in the morning and attend a 5 pm Mass at St. Joseph Church. I was the one that broached the topic of raising our kids Catholic (which was a good things since you have to agree to it in order to marry a Catholic in a Catholic ceremony— which I was not aware of when I mentioned it). I wanted this because while I was not Catholic, many of my friends were and I knew that there were several things (First Communion, Confirmation) they needed to do while growing up in order to be Catholic. I didn’t want my kids to miss these learning opportunities or feel cheated as an adult that they were not allowed to grow through the Catholic process naturally.
While our kids go to Catholic School, and our eldest is getting ready for his First Communion this year, they still go to Sunday school as well. They are being raised exposed to many facets of Christianity so that they are well informed. They also respect both Churches. Not only that, but they complain just as much about going to Mass as Sunday School, so I know we are on the right track. To our kids, this is normal. Is it a lot of church? Sometimes, but I personally enjoy going to both and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday.
My last bit of “advice” would really just be a plea.
Whether or not you choose to date or marry some one from another denomination at the very least we should all strive to respect each others religious denomination. Much like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12- “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
We are different parts of the same body, and when we work together we can accomplish great and amazing things.
We are so delighted to have Kristin share the beautiful way in which she and her husband have lived Ecumenism in their family.
Her generous contribution to this series is one that we think the Holy Spirit started revealing to us at least 2 years ago! At that time, we listened to a Lighthouse Catholic Media talk by Matt Maher called, “That They May All Be One: Evangelization in a Culture of Encounter.” In it, he gave his personal witness to Ecumenical Evangelization and mentioned how passionate he is about it, in part, because of his own experience in his marriage. Good messages have a sticking quality.
So, when we were planning this Ecumenism Series and praying about who we knew would have a heart for this topic, we immediately put Kristin at the top of our list! And she could not have been more gracious in her response! Isn’t the Holy Spirit the most creative?
If you need more Kristin in your life, you can find her here. She also has a children’s book coming out at the end of August, The Awfulizer Learning to Overcome the Shame Game. It is a children’s book that teaches kids (and their parents) about shame and some ways to defeat it. Look for it, y’all. Absorb some more Kristin Maher goodness.
Love, Fran and Tracy