Dilemna - Separate or Move


I have 3 children ages 21, 19, and 15 and have been married 24 years. About 5 years ago I became aware and took seriously the Church’s teaching on birth control. At that time I stopped practicing it and my wife was not willing to practice NFP and became very unhappy that I would no longer wear protection. So there has been no physical intimacy for the past 5 years or so. At that same time my wife also cut me off emotionally and became totally dominant in our marriage. She was always very headstrong but now she had become very angry about everything and very demanding and critical of me. I know now that I had become a doormat. She orders me around, cuts me off when she doesn’t like what I’m saying, criticizes how I eat, breath, and sneeze, undermines my authority with our children, can’t tolerate me sleeping in bed with her, demands that I not use the downstairs bathroom, goes on trips out of town with my daughter and makes it clear I’m not wanted, makes major decisions without my input, blames me for all her problems and our children’s problems and expects me to solve them all, criticizes me in front of the kids, etc.

My children have also come to believe that I am to blame for her unhappiness. I have worked at the same company for 25 years and have a very good income. I was actively involved with our church and with my kid’s activities when they were growing up. I was manager of their soccer teams, a scoutmaster, and I rarely missed a sporting or extracurricular event that my kids were involved with. My wife was also very involved with our children. She mostly stayed at home with the kids and home schooled them through 8th grade although she did work part time. We did argue a lot but there were periods when things were pretty good.

Gradually over the past 5 to 10 years, my wife has cutoff all of our extended family except for her dad and her grandmother both of whom we see only a couple of times a year. I have continued to stay in contact with my side of the family but it’s always awkward to go to events alone when everyone else is there with their families. She has missed 50th wedding anniversaries and weddings that we easily could have attended because she was too busy. She also allows the kids not to go and if I try to force them to go it gets ugly fast.

Earlier last year, my wife decided she wanted to move out of the area we are living in to somewhere warmer and where people are friendlier. She talked with my daughter about this and they decided this was a good idea before anything was ever said to me about it. I went along with it though as I had been in the habit of going along with everything (a doormat). So while they were looking for areas they would consider moving to my wife learned that her sister was starting a business and she had a job for her. She moved there with my daughter while I have been looking for work nearby there also. It’s about an 11 hour drive from where we have lived for the past 25 years.

Within a few months, the relationship with her sister soured and they could no longer get along and her sister fired her. Now my daughter and wife are living in another city 11 hours away from me with no support of family or friends nearby and neither of us have employment there. I want them to move back but my wife insists on staying there and will not even discuss any other option.

So I’m faced with a dilemma. It looks like I have a job prospect near where my wife and daughter are living now. Do I give up my job here of 25 years and start new in this other location or do I do stay here and become separated because our marriage has become so dysfunctional?

My son has been living with me here and while he is ready to move to where my wife is, I fear how this is going to work out for him. He tends to be a nervous and anxious person and sometimes has a hard time making friends. If I stay where I am and he moves where my wife is and things don’t work out he would at least have the option of coming back and staying with me here while he’s finishing college.

Also, I’m concerned about our relationship continuing the way it had been going. One of my wife’s reasons for wanting to move to begin with was that it would be a fresh start for us. Of course I’m skeptical that being in a different location will make any difference at all.

I also feel an obligation to be there for my daughter although our relationship has not been all that great. We use to be very close but when all this happened I think my wife’s attitude toward me has rubbed off on her.

So I’m trying to decide if I should agree to move to where my wife is or to stay where I am and separate for now to give us some space. I know I made a mistake agreeing to go along with my wife moving but now given the situation I don’t know what I should do next, move there and work on the marriage or stay here and be separated. I want to do what is righteous and will appreciate any insight. Thanks.


It sounds like you have been in effect separated since her move last year anyway. In that time she has burned an employment bridge and become estranged from a family member. Has she found the people to be any friendlier there than where she came from?

This is totally different, but I have a 13 yo dd who is difficult to get along with. Of course it is everyone else’s fault. A couple years ago she was on the outs with the other 2 girls in her class and cried that she wanted to go to public school where there would be lots more girls in her class. In one of my less prouder mom moments I said to her, “right now there are 2 girls who don’t like you. What are you going to do when there are 15 girls who don’t like you” As long as you bring yourself with you, the location really doesn’t matter.

As long as your wife continues to blame you for her problems, it reallly won’t matter if you are living together or apart. Is the job prospect in the new city a good one? Would it be a good move for you, or just a move? I think its time for you to start thinking of you for a change. If the move would be good for you, then go. Otherwise, stay put. Your wife has made her own choices.

As far as salvaging the marriage, there is only so much you can do yourself. She says she is interested in a fresh start. What is she willing to do to make that happen? Is she willing to actually work on the marriage with you, either with a councelor or priest? Is she willing to start making changes in how she treats you? Refusing to come home when she has no income where she is, is not a good sign. Maybe it would be wise to stay put and work on the marriage first. Stealing romantic weekends either at your place or hers might be a good start. Then when you are on the same page with your marriage, decide together where you will live together.


This is a very hard problem to have and solve. My opinion is, if your wife moved out, she should not force you to follow her. Nor should you pay for her apartment/house out there. Its her decision to get up and go, she can support herself if she wants to live away from you.
I would keep my job and keep the house ready for her to come back home. But if she decides to come back, you must make her go to the doctor and see if there are problems that need fixing. You should also tell her that she is welcome back if she goes to the doctor, and know that there have been some changes. The first change is that you are taking back control of the family. If she balks at that, then I would tell her that she needs to prove herself worthy of returning. Let her know that she hurt you, and that you forgive her, but will not put up with her bizarre behavior any longer.
And pray. God is testing you. You need to prove yourself worthy of God. Tell Him that you accept the cross he has given you, and that you cant do it without Him. Give Him the problem, and He will help.

Gpd Bless you.



She is unwilling to go to counseling.

The job I would be taking near her will be a 40% pay cut although it would be with a good company. I’m worried about the pay cut too because I’m concerned about the additional stress this will cause. I think my wife is underestimating what it will be like to not have the same income I have now.


I would not want to tell you to give up on your marriage, I think you should seek counseling from your priest and from a Catholic counselor-- go by yourself if she doesn’t go.

What I *would *do is stop being a doormat.

As the sole provider, I would NOT take a 40% pay cut. If you have a house, this is not a good time to sell-- and if you are near paying it off it would be starting all over with a mortgage too.

I would work on my relationship with my children, try to get them in counseling.

After this many years of being a doormat, it will be neither quick nor easy to change your behvaior. It will also be a serious shock to those used to treating you as a doormat. It will not go down easily for them, either.

You cannot control what she does, you can only control what you do.

The controling, the emotional distance, the cutting off of family all sounds like mental problems to me.


Dont follow her. Stay where you are. She moved not you. She needs to sort out her problem. You can help if she will let you, but dont give in to extortion. If you want to ruin your life, by all means, do what she says. That will make her happy to see you suffer.


I am getting guidance from a Priest and I’m also seeing a Christian therapist. I’m leery of therapists because I think they’re way too quick to give up on the marriage but she is is helping me to understand what has been going on. The Priest is saying that I need to stop being a doormat and I know this now.


:thumbsup: You will have to do your best with the kids that are legal adults. As for the 15 year old- Her mother does not seem all there.

I would get a good lawyer after talking with my priest. I would specifically ask about custody of the 15 year old. In any event, you need the legal protection.


You know that you can be assertive. You did it 5 years ago when you told your wife that you were going to stop using birth control.
Be assertive now, but loving. By all means, so not argue. This enables her. Do nothing that will enable her.


I’m so sorry this is happening in your marriage. At one point, my marriage looked rather hopeless…we separated, for a little while, and then we worked on things–but through our faith and God’s grace were the reasons things worked out. It’s very hard when you and your wife are in ‘different places’ with your faiths. But, with God all things are possible–and I wouldn’t enable her. If she wants to move 11 hours away–then she needs to make her bed, so to speak. I would continue to pray for her, but at some point, if she refuses to work on the marriage, then you’ll have to make a choice. I would probably give her a deadline–it may sound harsh, but I would tell her…that you’ll give her her space, but after x amount of months, you both need to decide if being married makes sense. A marriage takes work, as you know, but you are the only one working on it, according to your story. So, eventually, you’ll have to decide what is best. Living in this way is not healthy for anyone…so, may God grant you the strength to discuss this next step with her. It’s not an ultimatum, it’s simply putting a deadline on getting back together, and being a REAL husband and wife again. It can be done–but it takes two.

I pray for your well being throughout this, and that things work out, according to God’s will.


Thanks for all the input.

I have no ill will towards my wife. I love her and will love her to the end, that’s the vow I took. I’m only interested in doing what is right and best for the family.

I am concerned about my daughter’s mental health but my wife is so close with her that I can’t imagine fighting for custody for her. I think my daughter will only resent and hate me for it.

Yes, I can be assertive. I was misguided in letting things get to the point they did. It’s much easier to see now that I have been away from her for the past 4 months.


Your wife sounds as if she has some serious mental problems…and I doubt they had anything to do with your request to switch from ABC to NFP.

I’m very sorry you find yourself in this situation. But the last thing I would do is join with her in her irrationality. While things may feel turned upside down, you do have the stability of a 25 year history in a job, community, home, etc. I would not leave all that to accompany her on this flighty misadventure. I would also not be funding her continued absence/residence 11 hours away. She will be home quickly once she runs out of funds.

You have a long road ahead of you. I commend you for getting support from your priest and a counselor as well as being the one constant (and only real adult) in your son’s life. Stay the course and to get out of the rut of being a doormat, evaluate each decision one a time. You won’t turn all of this around overnight, but you can start making steps in the right direction and let your wife know you have taken charge of the household she has effectively abandoned.


Thanks to everyone for your replies.

To be honest, I’m scared to death about what lies ahead. I’m on medications now to be able to handle the stress and still function. I feel completely out of control of my life and everything causes me anxiety. My wife is coming to stay for the week and I don’t think I will be able to stay in the house while she is here. I’m too upset. This will only reinforce her stance that I’m unfit to make any decisions.

Please pray for me and for my family.



Is your wife abusive to you in any way? Does she call you names or make you feel really terrible about yourself? Your reaction to her coming back makes me wonder about that…


She’s always critical of one thing or another about me for some things that are legit and others that aren’t and it does make me feel bad. I think this is largely my issue because I take it so personnel.

I think I’m most upset about her leaving here and her unwillingness to move back even though things with her sister didn’t work out.


Why are you astonished that your wife is angry with you for cutting her off sexually? You know that this is against the teachings of scripture, yet you unilaterally chose to break the marriage bond.
Stop complaining about the consequences of your own sinfulness and make reparation. Be reconciled with your wife. You made need to do a great deal of groveling, but when you screw up, that’s what happens.



You are very wrong!!! There are always two sides to a story and I’m sure there are things that the OP could have done differently along the way; however, there is no reason on earth for any spouse – husband or wife – to treat the other as the OP has described. I agree there might be some underlying mental issues that are contributing to that, but it also sounds like there is some downright nastiness to her choices as well. Probably the worst being she’s trying (and maybe succeeding) in turning his kids against him.

OP, I would urge you to continue your counseling and working toward saving the marriage; however, it does take two. If she’s not willing to participate, you have to do what’s best for the family as a whole – including your children even though they may not appreciate it at this time.



If I am not mistaken…I believe the OP said that he decided not to use birth control anymore, and that the wife was not willing to switch to NFP. I was under the impression that, had she been willing to use NFP, the intimacy would have not changed. She chose not to take that route, so the “breaking of the marriage bond” as you put it, was HER choice.

Read closely before issuing harsh words.


I have never been married so I don’t think I am in a good place to give advice, but I will be praying for you!!!


I did feel bad about my new stance on birth control because we had used it for so many years. I talked to a priest about this and it wasn’t an option for me to continue according to the Church. At one point I did offer to use it again but she declined and I think it was because she felt that I really didn’t want. I don’t know if this is really the main or only issue we are having in our marriage. I think she has anger issues and I have esteem issues and the two don’t mix very well.


I think you should consider talking again with your priest. It IS your house…I’m praying for you and your family.

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