Difficult marriage, seeking sound Catholic advice(long post)


#1

So just some background info

I converted to Catholicism when I was 15-16 and was very devout for about 4-5 years. I was considering being a priest up until I was about 20. During my college years I had some struggles with my faith, and I stopped practicing, though I still considered my self a Catholic. I grew up in a single parent home, my mom having gone through two divorces. My dad abandoned us and I had no relationship with him for a number of years. My step father was emotionally and physically abusive. Due to the bad male role models in my life, I was terrified of ever becoming a father myself.

My wife and I got married fairly young, but we were married in the Church. Neither of us were practicing at the time. Shortly after marriage we considered attending mass as a couple, but we never followed through with it. We got married when I was 23 and she 21. Due to the place we were in our lives, we jumped into the physical aspect of our relationship way too soon, before we really got to know each other. We entered the marriage with the understanding that we were not going to have any children, she wanted to devote herself to her career and I was terrified of the prospect of fatherhood. During the time I had a vasectomy, which pretty much sealed the deal. (I have since been to confession and now go regularly as I do genuinely regret the choice)

I had been away from the Church for several years and I never stopped praying, but I was struggling with much of the faith and working through the baggage of my youth. Within the past few years I have become very serious and devout once more. Much of my staying away was due to my wife's growing disillusionment with the Church and her faith coupled with my own struggles. I wanted very much to "keep the peace". She is now a professed atheist, and is extremely militant about it. She is extremely hostile to my faith, and has tried to pressure me into leaving the Church.

I have matured a great deal. I deeply regret many of my past actions, my vasectomy, not discerning my relationship with my wife much more, not being open to life. I do want to have children now and am planning to have my vasectomy reversed. My wife has also expressed an openness to children. However she is completely opposed to raising them Catholic, something which is a requirement for me. I would like to do NFP, but my wife pretty much feels that it is idiotic/complete BS...

I have suffered from anxiety much of my life, though I have made tremendous strides with years of counseling and prayer. I also have ADD, so I am kind of impulsive and not a great listener, though I am intelligent and creative. My wife has suffered from severe depression, but despite many urgings, she will not get any kind of professional help. She is extremely passive aggressive and is quite emotionally abusive. I am actually quite afraid to have children with her - I am deeply concerned about her having postpartum depression, and I am very concerned about her fitness to be emotionally supportive and nurturing of children.

I have been trying to get my wife to go to marriage counseling here and there for the past 2 years, but she always blows me off whenever I bring it up. She has become more emotionally withdrawn, and for the past 3-4 years she feels more like my room-mate than my spouse. I feel like we have nothing in common anymore.

Most of my family and friends are telling me to leave her as is my therapist, some of them are very devout Catholics. I have met with a priest once briefly, and he also suggested that the marriage would be very difficult to save, but it was not a long or detailed meeting, so I don't want to place too much weight on that just yet.

I feel heavily burdened by all of this. I do not want to get a divorce, but I am beginning to feel that it is really the "best" option. The thought is horrible to me and it hurts to even think about it. I am also very concerned about the prospect of getting an annulment. I very much want to have a good, healthy relationship, I very much want to be able to stay in the Church, and I do not know what to do. I feel like I have given all I can to my wife, and due to her insistence that everything is "fine", I just don't think we can reconcile.

I have been praying and fasting over the decision of what to do next for several months now, but things are getting worse, not better.

Thanks for your time and advice.


#2

I would have to say, based on what you said, that your marriage was not sacramental. When applying for an annulment, one of the “slam dunk” cases is when one or both spouses entered the marriage with the intention of NOT having children.

It will be painful, but you should consider divorcing. I would talk to my priest first, however, if I were you.

God bless!


#3

First idea that comes to my mind is that with friends like those, you do not need enemies…Even the priest! I am surprised!

You are in the right direction. You are fighting, fighting, fighting and praying and fasting. What could you do more? You are in the right direction.

But you could save money on the therapist and patience on the priest. How come a priest says that your marriage is difficult to save? Does he know the future? If yes, better play on the lottery…Is he advising divorce? Funny place for a priest.

Myself I fight to the end when my friends want to split and it is sad to see a priest, a man of giving up, sooner than you.

Is it difficult to save your marriage? Of course, I will tell you, every marriage. Even the Apostles said to Jesus, is is this so, better not to get married. And Jesus said, what you cannot do, The Father can.

And you can count on The Father.

Now, You say that you have nothing is common with your wife. For me, you have everything is common. Maybe not wild sex, champagne and roses and romantic verses, but you have the essential, for marriage is not this.

Marriage is the will to be with the other. You both have the will, then you’ve got everything.

I like music very much and the lyrics give us nice ideas of what it is to me a Human Person: “When the going gets tough, The tough get going” though I paid no attention to the rest of the lyrics, it struck me the title. Today, when Spring comes, love is in the air. But when the storms of wind, snow and cold come, then people start talking on divorce as if Winter was not a Season of the Year like the others.

So, imagine that your life would be till death like the one that you have now. For me it would be a marriage. But there are miracles, and God may change you both radically through fire and storm and once, you will wake up felling that the old marriage based on sex was gone and a new marriage was discovered by both of you.

But if you give up, like your ancestors (and mine) did, you will never know whether on the other side of the ocean, there was a Paradise Island.


#4

I am sorry for your deep pain. I will remember you in my prayers.


#5

[quote="Scoobyshme, post:2, topic:253216"]
I would have to say, based on what you said, that your marriage was not sacramental. When applying for an annulment, one of the "slam dunk" cases is when one or both spouses entered the marriage with the intention of NOT having children.

It will be painful, but you should consider divorcing. I would talk to my priest first, however, if I were you.

God bless!

[/quote]

you don't talk about annulment to a couple who is still together so let's get that off the table completely for now. The only correct part of this post is advice for OP to visit his priest, soonest.

there is absolutely no way, none, nada, anyone here can say with assurance that this marriage is sacramental or valid, or either. As of now it is a marriage blessed by the Church and the pastoral concern is to bring both parties in harmony with the Church and with each other. All counsel and efforts should be directed to that end. The issues here are not the wife's view of the faith, but her view of her husband, and his view of her. Their issues in communicating and relating should be the topic of their counselling and efforts.


#6

What a challenge you have had, and still have.

You married your wife under one set of circumstances, and now through the grace of God, you have come to another set of circumstances. I am sorry that you are going through this, but perhaps all is not lost.

Your wife suffers from depression and is not being treated. So she is not herself, her brain is deprived of chemicals that would help her to live a better life. You also have anxiety and ADD. You both have conditions that are going to make for problems within a marriage.

I would not expect anyone else to advise you to stay and fight it out. Your friends, even your Catholic friends, have been affected by the culture of divorce that says it’s better to be apart and happy than united and not happy. But God united you two when you married. Maybe the pairing wasn’t ideal or maybe it needs to grow. Maybe it won’t be able to survive, but please continue to try. What you both need is marital counseling, and probably she needs personal counseling as well as medication.

I will tell you that from where I stand, a marriage based on using contraception is like a 1 legged stool or a house built on sand. It will never survive unless the couple realizes that what they have done is put a barrier between them. You seem to be saying you two had pre-marital sex - did you? Because that too, means that you did not base your relationship upon respect for each other’s body and soul - and it’s hard to go back and re-create that. I know, because my husband and I had cohabitated (i.e. shacked up) before we got married. And our marriage started from a different point than a couple who have kept their chastity until they are married.

Pray for your wife. Pray unceasingly. Pray for her soul. She needs it so much, it is painful to close your heart to the living God. Continue to ask her for counseling. Talk to your priest (not the one who advised divorce). Pray some more. Talk to your wife about your regrets from being away from the Church. What is it that turned her so against it, while you were returning?


#7

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:6, topic:253216"]
You seem to be saying you two had pre-marital sex - did you? Because that too, means that you did not base your relationship upon respect for each other's body and soul - and it's hard to go back and re-create that. I know, because my husband and I had cohabitated (i.e. shacked up) before we got married. And our marriage started from a different point than a couple who have kept their chastity until they are married.

Pray for your wife. Pray unceasingly. Pray for her soul. She needs it so much, it is painful to close your heart to the living God. Continue to ask her for counseling. Talk to your priest (not the one who advised divorce). Pray some more. Talk to your wife about your regrets from being away from the Church. What is it that turned her so against it, while you were returning?

[/quote]

Yes this is the case. We began our physical relationship after only about 5 weeks of dating. We were away from the Church, and because of that we didn't have the reservations or the convictions to remain chaste. If things were to start now, I would do everything differently, but unfortunately it happened the way it happened. We became sexually active very early on. We had never had any previous romantic experience, and sex took over the relationship for years, and so we never got to see each other's "problems" or get to know each other very deeply.

She has determined that the Church is "evil". She feels that the Church oppresses women by making them have lots of babies and denying them meaningful say in theological circles since they cannot become priests, basically she feels it fights against their professional, cultural, and reproductive rights... she feels that it oppresses homosexuals and fights against their rights. She feels that the Church stands against scientific and cultural progress. She is mostly an atheist on scientific and cultural grounds. She feels no intelligent or rational person can believe in God.

My belief stems largely from my own explorations and personal experiences of God. God has been calling me back and I have explored the spiritual life deeply and had many personal encounters with the divine. She would write these off as an over-active imagination or some other such "nonsense"...

She was raised in a very strict Catholic home, she was forced to be involved in church, and she deeply resents it, so I think there is a huge part of rebellion in her thoughts and opinions.

And also, I specifically went to this priest because he is, in my mind, a very good priest. He is a very holy man. He is very reverent of the Church, the Eucharist, the Mass, he is very kind. He did not tell me "go out and get a divorce", he said give your wife a certain amount of time, 3-4 months. Pray for her and encourage her to participate in counseling during this time, but if she does not, you have to move on, because you will lose the opportunity to have a family and raise them with love, and raise them in the Church if you stubbornly sit by and wait for her to change. He understood that I am trying very hard, that I am praying, but that I am also suffering greatly and that my wife remains hostile and closed after years even.


#8

I have to chime in! You are right it trusting in this priest because he is very right. Take it from someone who took the stubborn route. What you described sounds exactly like the red flags I had early on in my marriage. I overlooked the conversion to atheism, the abusive language and the lack of interest in preserving the marriage. This led to us having children and the fighting real started. It did escalate to physical and sexual abuse and an extremely messy divorce. I had to leave once the abuse became visible to the children, for the childrens' sake.

When it comes to marriage you have to take the children into account, born and unborn. If she is unwilling to work at the marriage then you should think long and hard on that. The best advise I was given and can give is to take a look at who they are. Not who they were or who you hope they will be some day but who they really are. Prey and get counseling because as I have come to learn the reason I got into that relationship was because of my own emotional needs. You have to come to realize that the last thing you would ever want to do is go through a divorce and then hop right back into the same bed with the same person just a different face.

Talk with your priest! Get counseling and don't bring children into such an unstable environment. I hope she comes around and finds her faith but I also know the likelihood of that from my own experience. I wish you the best and may God bless you!


#9

While I do love her, I do not like who she is at all. She is cold. She is very unaffectionate. She is manipulative and emotionally abusive. I see how she treats me, and I cannot imagine subjecting a child to that kind of behavior. It is hard enough for me to struggle through it, and I am an adult, I have a strong support network of friends and family. Any children we have will only have me to depend upon. And what happens if God decides my time is up in this world while they are still young? They will have her and will have to suffer the abuse at her hands with no human person to protect them.

The woman I married was once loving, but now she is cold, cruel, resentful, arrogant, and aloof. I really don’t know what I can do. Unless I just commit myself to suffer in silence at her hands indefinitely and hoping that she will change, I do not see anything changing unless there is a radical transformation in her.

I’m really at a loss about what to do. I do not want to end our marriage, but she has decided she does not need to change in anyway. She has decided we do not have a problem and we do not need any outside help.


closed #10

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