I’m not really sure of where to begin while remaining short and concise, but before I go any further, I will go ahead and mention that my husband and I are meeting up with our priest very soon, to hopefully discuss much of what I’m about to lay out before you. I can tell you, however, that it likely will not get us anywhere. So here it is…
My husband is certain that if we have anymore children, he will be institutionalized. I believe him, because of his history of mental illness, he’s been institutionalized before, and when I was pregnant with my third, he “checked out.” He blamed me for the pregnancy, refused to accept it, and nearly started to hyperventilate at the mere mention of it. But number 3 came (thankfully) very healthily, and it took my husband 8 weeks to actually hold him. He’s “warming up” to our 3rd child these days, after many months.
We are both practicing Catholics who used NFP only to realize that for us, it doesn’t really work. I’m someone who is always showing signs of fertility, so in order for us to practice it to postpone pregnancy effectively, 1-2x a month is about the frequency of our intimacy. We have 3 children, and 2 were conceived at “theres no way i can be fertile” times, but was. This makes my husband very angry and very sexually frustrated a lot. When I married him, he was 100% in agreement with all of the church’s teachings. He has recently changed his stance on contraceptives, and hopes that I will as well. I’m a catholic convert, and my parents taught RCIA. I’m also extremely pro life and love my faith. I know the church’s teachings on this matter, but when I try to explain the “unitive” aspect of sex, he rolls his eyes, gets frustrated, and “hears me” but doesn’t agree. He feels that Catholicism is just a big rule book of “you can’t do this because…” And he envies the outside world using contraceptives without a second thought. So? Our marriage has been on the rocks, I’m afraid I’m falling into depression, and my husband is only more frustrated while trying to convince me it’s ok. He resents me, and our faith.
So…here I am. I’m at the crossroads. Choose to sin to make my husband happy, thus keeping our family happy and comfortable, or stay on this path and watch my husband become more angry, and if we get pregnant again…watch our marriage fail as my husband is admitted to the hospital for severe mental illness? To me, it seems like a lose-lose situation. I dream of the marital relationship in which the husband and wife are so unified spiritually, find other ways to love each other in courtship during times of abstinence, truly challenge each other spiritually, and happily welcome a child together, as a result of their intimacy, accepting it as an extraordinary gift from God. I have been reading Gregory Popcak’s book on helping our marriage, and I’m envious of what my marriage could be, but isn’t, and probably never will be. It’s unhelpful simply because its beautifully rooted in our faith, which my husband seems to live more out of guilt than reverence and joy. He knows the Catholic faith is the true faith which is why he lives it but he hates its teachings on sexuality, thus resenting it, and God, and me.
I’ve prayed about us a lot, and I know that if I choose to enter a sinful life with him, our marriage will suffer greatly. I know that we will lose a lot of the grace we need to hold it together. I know it will sever our relationship with God, and I will be unhappy. All of this would happen anyway though, continuing on our current path of constant abstinence. I fear that I may be soon choosing to enter the sinful life, to “keep the peace”, make my husband happy (while feeling like an object) and sane, and keep our family together. The things I mentioned about what I wish my marriage could be, don’t appeal to my husband. He thinks its weird to desire to be united spiritually with God in the bedroom etc. He also cringes if I say “offer it up” and already resents me greatly and blames me for his unhappiness AND the fact that we have 3 children.
At the end of the day, I love him immensely. I don’t want to see him eternally unhappy and likely Institutionalized with the current way we are living our lives. I have accepted my marriage as my cross here on earth, and I will always aspire to be like other couples, but I accept it as it is too. I love my children immensely and I want them to have their father around for the long term. So, my friends, I have always been a very good catholic girl, and never imagined I’d be asked to commit mortal sin for the sake of my marriage, but I fear I have no other choice. I’m extremely distraught and sick to my stomach about it, but any advice or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated.