Divorce or just hang in there?


#1

I've been married a long time. He has always know there is a lot missing in our marriage for me--affection, communication, closeness. But he's always put me off saying, "Just wait until work eases up, the kids get older, my health is better... and then we'll focus on us." I have waited. I have waited a long time. I've raised the kids. I've worked in our parish. I've made a life with good friends and a solid base for us all. But still, he's not 100% comfortable yet. He doesn't always feel good. He wants to change jobs.

I can hang in there. He's a good person overall. But, I feel like giving up on the marriage part. I can give up worrying about a loving marriage and focus on my kids, friends, and the volunteer work I do to make me happy. I have always kept those things in check to be available for him. We would be married, but not in any real sense that I understand or desire. I'm not talking about cheating or having emotional affairs. I'm saying realize he doesn't want to be close to me and work on forming those bonds elsewhere as best as I can.

Everything he does for me now, I can do for myself. The only thing I need him for is a marital relationship and no, I'm not using that as a euphemism for sex. I mean a relationship.

It would hurt our kids. It would shock our acquaintances. My closest friends would understand, but hurt for us.

Is this what you do? Just stay married and live separate lives?


#2

[quote="tuescat, post:1, topic:204425"]
I can hang in there. He's a good person overall. But, I feel like giving up on the marriage part. I can give up worrying about a loving marriage and focus on my kids, friends, and the volunteer work I do to make me happy. I?

[/quote]

the only thing you can change is your own attitude, actions and reactions. No you cannot abandon your marriage. Period. Unless he is abusing you or the children or making homelife unbearable due to some activity you can't even leave him or kick him out. Get the D word out of your vocabulary it is simply not an option.

Key word in your post "what I do to make me happy." It is not about your happiness, contentment, growth, fulfillment, satisfaction or any other word you will find in the ladies' magazines. It is about fidelity to your marriage vows for better or worse, and taking up your cross daily. The thing that will make you happy is doing this with joy and without bitterness and resentment. Acknowledge that he is not capable, for whatever reason, and it may be a genuine psychological disorder, of expressing or even feeling affection in the conventional ways, and give up expecting it. Accept him and love him for who and what he is. Chances are you may have been first attracted to him by what looked like strength and emotional stability, which may have covered up his other less livable attributes. Do not expect what he cannot give, but accept what he is able to give and thank God for it, and thank him.

Express your own love for him daily in an intellectual and active way when you cannot do it on an emotional level--by doing your own job well, preparing food he likes, supporting him in whatever he is going through, listening without criticism and comment, and the like. When you start doing loving actions, out of love--the intellectual wilfull decision to love not the warm fuzzies--and leave off waiting for gratitude, approbation, or even acknowledgment you will be well on your way to the type of happiness described in the beatitudes.

On a cold practical prudential basis, list all that you think would be good or improve if you left him, then on another sheet list all that would change for the bad, financially, your own life--you would have to give up the volunteer stuff and have less time for your kids because you would probably have to work FT for instance--the effect on your children which will be like an atomic bomb in their lives. Purely on that basis, sans abuse or other grave situation, there is usually no justification for divorce in any case.

rent Kramer vs Kramer and see if you don't want to slap Meryl Streep upside the head.


#3

If your children are grown and out of the house I think it could be appropriate to renegotiate your day to day relationship and responsibilities with your husband and still remain married and living together. If affection and a 'marital' relationship is absent, you could still build a life together in which you find fullfillment in your volunteer activities and love your husband from your will rather than from your affections.

If you are saying you want to live separately but remain married, what do you think you would have living apart from him that you cannot have while remaining under the same roof?


#4

Where did I say I was bitter? Where did I say that I don't "prepare the food he likes, support what he is going through"? I did say that I have created a stable home base that has allowed him to flourish in his career and have a safe place to recover his health. We've been married over two decades. He's made promises--our marriage vows to be exact---that he has broken over and over. This isn't about me having to "be me" and warm fuzzies. Where is his responsibility in this? Why doesn't he have to carry any cross or love me just the way I am? Is it because he's getting everything he needs and isn't complaining? The outside activities I do, I do because he wants me to. He knows this takes some of responsibility off of him for participating in a relationship with me.

On the practical side-I am well-educated and fully capable of providing for myself and my children. Many mothers work and manage to have time for their children. I do not stay with him--for decades remember--for finances. I married him for love, and I have stayed out of love and a desire to fulfill my marriage vows.

Perhaps what you suggest is authentically Catholic. I've told myself the same things over and over. Be meek and mild. Bear your cross with love and humility. Have no expectations of anyone and seek only to give yourself fully. But, I'm not St Therese. And she isn't the only model for women.

I have not picked up a "ladies magazine" in years and your insinuation that my serious marital problems stem from reading an article is dismissive and cruel.


#5

One idea - one that you may have tried already - Have you spoken with a parish priest, either individually or together, to discuss these marital challenges? Counseling sometimes can help. Other times, things are past the point of no return.


#6

We've had secular counseling. We have spoken with two priests on two occasions. I have spoken with my priest on several occasions. I have gotten what puzzzleannie said, suck it up.

What would be different if we were apart? I could stop giving. I could stop waiting. I could use all the energy I use on him to raise my children, give to my community, and yes, even care for myself a bit. I could give up listening to empty promises.

My children are at home still. I can wait until they leave. But how will that be any better? They see that how he treats me is not loving, despite my constant reassurances that, "Dad loves me in his own way." Kids aren't stupid or blind. They do see. If I do wait until they leave I think they will say it's about time. They see that he's here, but not really.


#7

In this case, it is hard to assess your marriage with only a skim off the top of your relationship. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I always like to suggest the "kill them with love" strategy...but do it for God, not him or just to get what you want out of the relationship. The part that goes hand in hand with that is communication. Are you communicating your feelings to him? Are you telling him exactly what you want/expect? And asking him if/how those things are attainable. Be specific and be very direct. Don't assume he will pick up on things. Let him know that you have been waiting for this or that which never ends.

It is very true that someone is who someone is. None of us get to marry the perfect spouse. Some are closer than others. Remember that marriage is first and foremost about your relationship with God, not your spouse. It is meant to bring you to him. When you do the things you do, especially if you are trying to "kill him with kindness", know that your heavenly father is happy with you. Offer your suffering for the sake of your husband, your kids, and for the world around you. God responds to loving sacrifice... look at his son. ;)

I hope that can help shift your focus from what your husband giving you happiness to God giving you happiness. It is not that you have a second life to live, but rather that you are living the life we are supposed to live. One that is truely centered on God.

It is important to not only love them the way that they are, but love enough to not let them stay as they are. Are you praying for him? Perhaps praying to a saint that had a similar stuggle? Find ways to pull him further into his faith. One of your primary duties as a wife is to bring your spouse closer to God. Don't give up on that. Not for your sake, but for his. And in the process, you'll notice if you both are getting closer to God, than you will both be getting close to each other.

Eventually he will see your love and respond to it. It might be worth checking out the book, "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.

I will pray for your marriage,
May God bless you!

Cymonk


#8

[quote="tuescat, post:6, topic:204425"]

My children are at home still. I can wait until they leave. But how will that be any better? They see that how he treats me is not loving, despite my constant reassurances that, "Dad loves me in his own way." Kids aren't stupid or blind. They do see. If I do wait until they leave I think they will say it's about time. They see that he's here, but not really.

[/quote]

In my family, my brothers and sister were all out of the house when my parents divorced. It still hit everyone hard. Divorce is always a terrible thing.

I admire your strength and courage that has brought you thus far in marriage. It sounds like you may have already been doing the killing him with kindness. It is understandable that you may be exhausted. Read the book I suggested. Better yet, read it together somehow. Tell him that you feel your love tank is low. That you are tired. You are human and have needs too.

Also keep in mind that the loving thing to do is sometimes withdraw your love a little bit so that your absence can be felt and appreciated. But not at the sake of a divorce. Just make sure you are doing it out of love and not doing it with the intent of leaving.


#9

[quote="tuescat, post:4, topic:204425"]
Where did I say I was bitter? Where did I say that I don't "prepare the food he likes, support what he is going through"? I did say that I have created a stable home base that has allowed him to flourish in his career and have a safe place to recover his health. We've been married over two decades. He's made promises--our marriage vows to be exact---that he has broken over and over. This isn't about me having to "be me" and warm fuzzies. Where is his responsibility in this? Why doesn't he have to carry any cross or love me just the way I am? Is it because he's getting everything he needs and isn't complaining? The outside activities I do, I do because he wants me to. He knows this takes some of responsibility off of him for participating in a relationship with me.

On the practical side-I am well-educated and fully capable of providing for myself and my children. Many mothers work and manage to have time for their children. I do not stay with him--for decades remember--for finances. I married him for love, and I have stayed out of love and a desire to fulfill my marriage vows.

Perhaps what you suggest is authentically Catholic. I've told myself the same things over and over. Be meek and mild. Bear your cross with love and humility. Have no expectations of anyone and seek only to give yourself fully. But, I'm not St Therese. And she isn't the only model for women.

I have not picked up a "ladies magazine" in years and your insinuation that my serious marital problems stem from reading an article is dismissive and cruel.

[/quote]

Forgive me for being blunt... :blush:

But your words give the impression that you ARE bitter. I'm supposing that the marriage vows he has broken are to "love and cherish"? I'm not sure what else he might have broken. Maybe you've said this in other threads with which I am not familiar? :o Being warm and affectionate, doing things together, sharing household tasks... Those are the things of ladies magazines. (And yes, we women all want such things, whether we read those magazines or not.) But that is not the way all men love and cherish. If there are other vows your husband has broken then I'm not sure what they would be.

It seems to me that the biggest thing your husband has done is to tell you to wait and things will change. Well, all things change over time but relationships change because of people. And as you've realized, you can't change another person; you can only change how *you *behave and how *you *feel. I don't think you husband wants things to change. (Well, except maybe for the part about you asking him to change things.)

It seems like you think your only alternatives are to stay and be miserable or to leave. Those of us reading can't quite figure out why you can't stay, revamp your ideas about marriage, and be happy. We aren't clear what would change with leaving other than your expectations. :confused:


#10

Marriage is a sacrament of service.

Real service, real sacrafice, really hurts. Your situation sounds difficult but divorce is not the answer. You are unhappy with the situation not in grave danger therefore divorce is off the table. Your job as his spouse is to try and get him to heaven. If you are suffereing offer it up for his salvation. You do not abandon ship.

Sure it would be easier to but this life isn't about ease. All of these difficulties, if handled correctly, work towards your sanctification.

If you did make a mistake in your marriage it is impoortant that your kids see that you handle it the right way. Marriage is only for the rest of your life, which is very short in comparison to eternity. If your husband shows himself to be a bad example of a spouse show them a good example. Let them see the vow they take is important and binding. It may help them to be more careful about who they marry.

This isn't about doing what you want or what would feel good. It is about doing what is right and what Christ would want. Take up your cross, offer up your sufferings for others, and sanctify yourself in the process.

God bless


#11

[quote="tuescat, post:6, topic:204425"]
We've had secular counseling. We have spoken with two priests on two occasions. I have spoken with my priest on several occasions. I have gotten what puzzzleannie said, suck it up.

What would be different if we were apart? I could stop giving. I could stop waiting. I could use all the energy I use on him to raise my children, give to my community, and yes, even care for myself a bit. I could give up listening to empty promises.

My children are at home still. I can wait until they leave. But how will that be any better? They see that how he treats me is not loving, despite my constant reassurances that, "Dad loves me in his own way." Kids aren't stupid or blind. They do see. If I do wait until they leave I think they will say it's about time. They see that he's here, but not really.

[/quote]

You made vows for better or for worse, in sickness and in health until death do you part-in the Catholic church I presume. These are not empty words meant to sound nice on your wedding day. Nothing you've listed are legitimate grounds for divorce (such as abuse) and you certainly can not remarry.

I strongly recommend is Retrouvaille.retrouvaille.org

And get the idea of divorce out of your mind. You have bought into the secular idea that marriage is about fulfillment and personal needs. And if your husband isn't making you happy you can leave. Not that I don't have sympathy because you do. But if you realize this is a permanent marriage -that divorce is not an option, then you work with whatever you have to make the best of what you have.

Seriously try retrouvaille -you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


#12

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.


#13

When did I say anything about remarriage? I have honored my vows. Repeatedly and without ceasing. He has not.

I'm not a kid. I've been at this awhile.

I'm also not a martyr.

Bitter? No. Disillusioned and broken? Most assuredly.


#14

[quote="tuescat, post:13, topic:204425"]
When did I say anything about remarriage? I have honored my vows. Repeatedly and without ceasing. He has not.

I'm not a kid. I've been at this awhile.

I'm also not a martyr.

Bitter? No. Disillusioned and broken? Most assuredly.

[/quote]

Ma'am-

I'm not trying to add anything, but sometimes when we ask for advice, they tell us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.

I'm sure everyone here has your best interests at heart-they are all wonderful people.

I don't speak for anyone but me, but I'm SURE we will all pray for you


#15

Thanks for all the prayers and responses


#16

[quote="tuescat, post:13, topic:204425"]
When did I say anything about remarriage? I have honored my vows. Repeatedly and without ceasing. He has not.

I'm not a kid. I've been at this awhile.

I'm also not a martyr.

Bitter? No. Disillusioned and broken? Most assuredly.

[/quote]

Posting the question of divorce indicates to me atleast that you've lost/losing site of God in all of this (atleast to some extent). The indicators of your heart to us would be different if you had posted a question like, "Is there anything else that I can do to help my marriage?"

Where is your heart focused on now? Is it focused on God and the grace that you have received through your struggles with your husband? Know that we can't say for sure what is in your heart. But we do know that God does not want divorce. He said so in many places within the church as well as directly in scriptures. So we must all work from that basis. God knew that there would be struggles when he said it. There is no new situation that God did not know when he said it. There is something more to be found inisde the marriage than what you have found so far. It took me 5 years of prayer to find it after my parent's divorce. I urge you to turn to God and look to be full filled through him.

I am truelly sorry for the situation that you are in. I also apologize for the lack of consoling that we are posting here. Hope that you are still receiving some of the advice.

Cymonk


#17

Also know that you are a beautiful person because you have been giving all the way through your marriage. God sees that. And he is shaping you into an even more beautiful person. He is making you right for the harvest into his kingdom. A divorce is the devil's way of pulling you way off course. Not only you, but your whole family. He always makes it appear good, when it is not. Don't be blinded. The apple is not as good as it appears. Do not think in earthly terms, but with relation to God. It is not bad to be martyred if God wills it.

You will bring hope to your children. They will see your love, even if they see through his. Which do you think they will want their own marriage to be like?

Praying for you,

Cymonk


#18

[quote="tuescat, post:4, topic:204425"]
Where did I say I was bitter? Where did I say that I don't "prepare the food he likes, support what he is going through"? I did say that I have created a stable home base that has allowed him to flourish in his career and have a safe place to recover his health. We've been married over two decades. He's made promises--our marriage vows to be exact---that he has broken over and over. This isn't about me having to "be me" and warm fuzzies. Where is his responsibility in this? Why doesn't he have to carry any cross or love me just the way I am? Is it because he's getting everything he needs and isn't complaining? The outside activities I do, I do because he wants me to. He knows this takes some of responsibility off of him for participating in a relationship with me.

On the practical side-I am well-educated and fully capable of providing for myself and my children. Many mothers work and manage to have time for their children. I do not stay with him--for decades remember--for finances. I married him for love, and I have stayed out of love and a desire to fulfill my marriage vows.

Perhaps what you suggest is authentically Catholic. I've told myself the same things over and over. Be meek and mild. Bear your cross with love and humility. Have no expectations of anyone and seek only to give yourself fully. But, I'm not St Therese. And she isn't the only model for women.

I have not picked up a "ladies magazine" in years and your insinuation that my serious marital problems stem from reading an article is dismissive and cruel.

[/quote]

Tuescat: I'm sorry you're going through this. It's hard to feel like you're in a marriage all by yourself. I know; my own marriage feels that way at times.

You mention that your husband has broken his vows but you don't elaborate. I'm not trying to be nosy, but is it actual marital infidelity with another person? Or, are you saying he hasn't been faithful to his vows through his neglect of you?

You sound very disappointed. I also get the impression, however, that you love your husband very much. If that is correct, divorcing him will not bring you any peace.

Tuescat, I again am really sorry for your situation. I know it's hard. I wish I had helpful advice for you. In lieu of that, I will keep you and your family in my prayers. God Bless.


#19

[quote="Irish_Girl_68, post:18, topic:204425"]
Tuescat: I'm sorry you're going through this. It's hard to feel like you're in a marriage all by yourself.

[/quote]

Ditto.^^^

I'll keep you in prayer, Tuescat...


#20

You could stop giving without giving up on waiting. One thing seems fairly certain, though: there is no reason to believe he’s going to change if you just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep doing the same thing, you’re going to keep getting the same result.

There is a third way between accepting “Suck it up” and proceeding directly to a divorce. Maybe that way is to expect him to be a husband and to stick to your guns. I don’t know of a guy who ever learned to become a really good husband to a really good wife who ever regretted it. The truth is, they all wonder why they wasted so many years avoiding it.

He says, “Just wait until work eases up, the kids get older, my health is better… and then we’ll focus on us…” OK, so in theory he agrees that you ought to have what you are missing. It is time to insist that the time to wait is over. It is time to stop taking “no” for an answer. This isn’t just for your sake. It is for his.

I’m guessing that he is either a work-a-holic or else he is urgency-based…that is, his life is a constant running from one thing to the next to put a fire out. Up until now, you have been someone he depends on to never, ever be a “fire”. That is wonderful, when it is necessary. Otherwise, he sees only the effort you’re asking for, but not the pay-off. IN any case, he has come to take your sacrifices for granted. He takes and takes and does not give back. It is time for him to realize that you are not an endless well of giving, and that his account is overdrawn. A marriage takes two, and not just one saint and one lucky schmuck who takes advantage of her good nature. The truth is, that “lucky schmuck” is not lucky. He’s missing out, and missing out big time.

Sacrifice is essential in marriage, but there gets to be a point where continuing to sacrifice when there is no necessity for it is not love, but enabling sin. If your patience is enabling him to continually shirk his marriage vows, then it is not a sacrifice in support of virtue. It is a sacrifice in support of vice. Whether that vice is self-centerness, sloth, pride, or whatever really doesn’t matter. It is time to find out if he is capable of better, or if you really did marry someone who was incapable of honoring his vows from the start.

Even if he is not addicted to anything, consider reading up on co-dependency. You may find some clues to how to insist that your spouse hold up his end of the relationship without making yourself into a martyr, which you obviously have no taste to be. You may find that changing your expectations and sticking to your guns may save your marriage. If he has a vocation to be married, if he is capable of it, it will change his life for the better, too. In any case, he’s spent too long already not being the husband God made him to be. It may take awhile for him to learn it, but we should all want that joy for him.

If you haven’t tried Marriage Encounter or Retrouvaille, try one of those. I’ve seen wonders come from one weekend of Marriage Encounter, and in guys who would have begged, borrowed, bribed, or stolen from their own mothers to get out of it. Your husband sounds like he may be one of those guys who does finally wake up. You just never know, but ending the status quo without ending the marriage may be the best thing you ever did…and you wouldn’t be the first wife in this position who lived to hear her husband say it.

Don’t consider divorce unless you’ve forced him to prove he’s incapable of better than he’s given to your marriage. Make him prove he can’t do it.

Good luck!


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