Get thee to a Nunnary

Just a vent, nothing earth shattering.

My wife, who contentious conversion two years ago rocked our marriage to its core, went away this weekend to have a “sleep–over with the nuns,” according to our son with Down syndrome. She actually went to a local convent for a women’s retreat.

This was planned months ago, with my full blessing. I had no problems with her leaving me for two days so she could get a little re-charge and do some serious praying with the nuns. She was going with her friend who also has a son with Down Syndrome, so we arranged for her son to sleep over with us so our boys could play together. Again, that was all good as far as I was concerned.

In addition to the two 13 year old boys, I also had 16 and 15 yr sons at home with me along with our three babies (3, 22 months and 23 months). If was a full-house, but nothing that phased me.

Friday night was a bit of a long one. The 13 year old guest had nightmares and stayed up most of the night trashing out a bedroom with my son. They unpacked all his clothes and hid them. We cleaned up as best as possible, but it was not pretty.

Saturday was a full day. In addition to my three little ones and our guest, I also had a “day pass” with my 15 yr old niece who is in a recovery home for girls hooked on drugs. She was a heroin junkie, sexually abused by her father (my brother). Her mother abandoned her and I am her only support. If I don’t take her out, she is stuck. I did not want to have the home pass that weekend, but it is only authorized on 2nd and 4th weekends, so she would have had a month without a pass. She is doing so well, a year sober, that I did not want to punish her. We came home and she baked cookies with the 3yr old.

So, Saturday, everytime I went out, I took one or more little ones with me, did my errands, got my niece, etc. I was tired by the afternoon, but things were going well. Well, except for the mess that the 13 yr old boys with DS were making. I was out of hands and could not do anything about it.

At 3:00 I had to get the boys ready to go to family mass with the mothers. Our guest had hidden all his clothes – a means of escaping mass, he’s mentally retarded, not stupid. We searched and found clean clothes, just not “church clothes”. He also hid his glasses and decided five minutes before we had to leave that he was starving to death.

I rushed over and got them there in time, got my niece back and headed home. I had made a lovely dinner (Pineapple Sage-butter pork roast with fresh pineapple and rosemary-garlic oven potatoes - all fresh herbs from my garden). All my boys had to do was turn the over on at a set-point.

When I got home it was nearly 7:00, my wife was home and there was frantic activity. People were hauling-%. Not a good sign. There was fear and frustration evident on their faces. I came in and found my dinner had not been started; it would now be two hours before we could eat. My wife was sweeping and cleaning. I asked about her retreat and she gave me curt, one word answers. I left her alone for a while and started dinner. Later, I tried again to ask about her experience only to get a polite brush-off. We cleaned (and cleaned) and eventually I asked her if it was something she’d do again. She looked at me, anger and sadness all over her face and said, “Maybe in twenty years when we don’t have children. It feels like I’m being punished.”

Man that hit me in the gut. I had worked my #$% off trying to do everything that I needed to do – none of it for me. I had no weekend. I had done every stinkin’ dish that afternoon after I had prepared dinner. I had made sure the older boys got the worst of the mess cleaned up. It had only been 36 hours, for goodness sakes. How bad could things have been? I dealt with three babies, two teenagers with DS (one of whom would not listen to a single thing I said and moved furniture around my house all weekend – his little OCD thing).

Ladies, let me tell you, that is one easy way to crush the life out of your husband. My sons, who did help out with the smaller kids, were crushed as well. We had been tried, convicted and sentenced for not being good enough for my wife.

Color me worthless. It’s how I feel.

God bless you for everything you did! It does sound like you had a very busy weekend. And your wife, who’d been “up on the mountain at the transfiguration” had to come back down and face all the normal things of life. It can be hard to come back from retreat ‘high’–especially if you’ve never done anything like that before.

You both need to be gracious and since you are the one who wrote in, I guess you have to start. Tell you wife simply that it was a crazy weekend (and don’t go into all your details) but that you want to share in the glow of hers. Ask her what she learned and don’t be suprised if she can’t be too articulate about it.

Perhaps you can arrnage a bit of child-care for the young ones and your son (reciprocal sleepover at the other family’s house?) and take your wife out for an afternoon. A drive in the country to see the leaves change would be good for both of you.

Hi Chosen,

I’m so sorry that this happened the way it did. :frowning: You obviously worked really hard and did a great job with such a full house. It seems like your wife doesn’t realize how much you did to take care of everything while she was gone.

From her perspective, maybe she had a wonderful, peaceful, serene time of prayer with the nuns and then walked back into the house and the choas seemed magnified. I know that many times when I have gone to a really good retreat, I leave feeling a new sense of peace and calm. Sometimes it truly can be hard to adjust back to the “real world”. I know that I have felt a little down a few days after a retreat before, because it was hard to get back to the real world after such a spiritual experience. It usually just lasts a couple of days until I adjust. It’s kind of like the feeling some people get after Christmas and the holidays are over, sort of a let down after all the excitement.

Maybe you could write her a letter and express your feelings and explain everything that you did this weekend, the way you have in this post. Tell her you are happy for her that she got to go to the retreat, but that you felt unappreciated when she got home.

Hugs and prayers for you and your family


Honestly? You set yourself up for failure by trying to take on WAY too much. You should have taken the child who was having nightmares home to his own family. You should not have tried to cook such an elaborate meal with so much on your plate already. You should not have trusted teenagers to remember to turn on the oven when timing was so critical. If ever there was a night that called for Kraft Mac n Cheese, this was it! You should have explained to your niece that you could not have her over that weekend. She wouldn’t have died.

Your wife probably felt desolate that she couldn’t have one day for herself without paying mightily for it at the end! I know that I have felt that way, and I have no children with special needs.

You should have done the bare minimum and done it well. You tried to do much more than was needed, more than you could possibly succeed at, and ended up causing your wife stress and heartache.

Why did you try to do so much, when it was just you all alone with a special needs child and lots of really little ones?

Schedule this again for her. Soon.

Next time, plan it around the home visits from the addicted daughter.

No slumber parties with other kids.

Hire a housecleaning service to come in and make the house sparkle for her.

Food - make it delivery Pizza and a nice bottle of wine or delivery/carry out from her favorite restaurant.

I had not realized this was all my fault. Thanks for pointing that out.

Why did I take on so much? Because it is my normal life. If the child with special needs had not stayed at our house, his mother - my wife’s friend - would have been unable to go. He has no other family, so taking him somewhere when he acted up was out of the question.

I cook for my own pleasure; I gain enjoyment from the art of cooking and the enjoyment it brings to those who enjoy it. That’s a normal meal in our home. Asking a 16 year old to turn on an oven is not a major imposition.

My niece is a sexual abused girl who has been on the street, sold her body for drugs and has no hope. In the past year she has made much progress and I need to be there for her. Her life is all about not being important enough for anyone to care. I’m not adding to that.

So, it was unreasonable that she should have relaxed her standards and lived with floors with crumbs and furniture moved? That’s what we’re talking about here, not floods and broken windows.

Frankly, I feel completely disrespected, something your post helped cement. I see the same attitude you display that my wife also displays. There was no attempt to look at the efforts people went to in order for my wife and her friend to attend, just a brutal comment at the end. If she had just complained about the mess, I could have dealt with that, but she immediately went to motives - i.e. we were punishing her, not that we were overwhelmed. It is that lack of charity toward my motives that hurt the most. We could have just been busy, or even lazy, no we had to purposely set out to punish her.

I did nothing but what I usually do; she has a plate at least as full. It takes both of us to make it all happen. Should she not expect a fall-off in her abscence?

What my wife seemed to feel, as perhaps you might as well, is a need to have her standards met while she was away. It was her way or the highway.

I think it might be a little harsh to say that Chosen is to blame for taking on too much - true, he took on a lot for the weekend, but it wasn’t trivial things.

“She was going with her friend who also has a son with Down Syndrome, so we arranged for her son to sleep over with us so our boys could play together. Again, that was all good as far as I was concerned.”

This makes a lot of sense to me, and it’s really nice that Chosen agreed to it and that both moms were confident in Chosen’s ability to handle both boys.

“Her mother abandoned her and I am her only support. If I don’t take her out, she is stuck. I did not want to have the home pass that weekend, but it is only authorized on 2nd and 4th weekends, so she would have had a month without a pass.”

That’s a big deal. I think getting his niece this weekend during such a hectic time was a real act of charity.

I don’t think Chosen should be blamed for “taking on too much”. Like he stated at the beginning of the post, he just needed to vent. He felt a unappreciated, which wives complain about all the time. I think he and his wife were just seeing the situation from two different perspectives. Hopefully they can communicate and see things from each others’ point of view.

Prayers for Chosen and his family

And you were unwilling to give that up for even one day. Whose way or the highway?

Again, it’s about your feelings, your need to be seen a certain way. I don’t doubt that your niece has had a terrible, hard life. But she needs to learn that no matter how damaged she is, the world does not revolve around her. Your job, as a husband and father, was to put the needs of your family first. Those needs dictated that this weekend was not a good time to have her over. She would have been disappointed, but she could have waited.

So it was unreasonable that you could have relaxed your standards, made a simple dinner, admitted your limitations with how many kids you could handle, and made her homecoming peaceful?

Watch your assumptions, bud. If you asked my husband, he would tell you that he is a happy, respected, supported, and well-cared-for husband. Just because I told you that you tried to do too much and set yourself up for failure does not mean you can cast aspersions on how well I take care of my man.

Frankly, your posts have a martyrdom tone about them. “Look at ALL I tried to do for her, and she doesn’t appreciate it!” Is it possible that you purposely took on way way way too much, so that you would fail and then you could go into your “poor me, my wife doesn’t appreciate all my effort” mode? It seems this dynamic is well-established in your marriage, from your second post.



Nothing else to day. You obviously pegged me. I cancel that visit with Dr. Freud.

Perhaps your husband and I have more in common than you think.

You wish, because then you could write me off.

Usually, people and animals only snarl when you hit them in a tender spot.

I’m with the OP. Why couldn’t his wife express her appreciation for what he did? Just because he couldn’t live up to her standards she has to lay a guilt trip on him? I can tell you that, if that were me, this would be the absolute LAST time I ever agreed to such an arrangment.

I am a woman who came home from a retreat this weekend to a house that was a DISASTER!

Going back, once 10 years ago I went to Europe for 10 days. When I came home, the house was spotless, dinner was ready, there were flowers waiting and a big sign on the wall said “Welcome Home Mommy”.

Guess which time the joy and peace from the time way followed me for days?

Well according to the OP, you should have been grateful to have been allowed to go away. And happy to be back into the fray.

You read my mind.

Chosen, maybe you should find yourself a little weekend retreat under the same circumstances.

But the circumstances were created by him. He did not have to spend time preparing dinner, he could have made something simple. And spent that time cleaning up the crumbs. He did not have to have his niece over, she could come over another weekend, when he didn’t also have a special needs child spending the weekend.

He piled on the circumstances, then got upset with his wife that she didn’t just love coming home to a torn apart house.

(Hint: if it took that long to clean up, it was more than just a few crumbs.)

I think if this post had been written by a woman and the roles were reversed, the responses here would have been different. It seems the OP did the very best he knew how to make the weekend go smoothly. Maybe next time one of them goes out of town, they can talk beforehand about what they would like the other to take care of at home before they return.

I disagree - the circumstances were created by HER going away.

I agree!
He did what was necessary at home while his wife was away - things at home just fell apart at the very end. Hey, it happens.
Is he supposed to sacrifice his weekend (for her spiritual benefit) AND sacrifice by making sure everything was pristine when she returned home (again for her benefit) - I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem fair! :shrug: What about him?

UNLESS this entire retreat for her to get away was **his **idea in the first place - as a gift to her to get away and refresh - then yes, I agree he should have probably maintained better order.

BUT - from his original post - he was doing her a favor in the first place - so did that require double the sacrifice on his part?

I don’t know - I’ve seen with some converts that sometimes they’re ALWAYS looking for that “spiritual high” - which isn’t realistic. Eventually it ebbs and flows over time. Sometimes finding that balance can be difficult.

OP mentioned that her conversion was “contentious” and “rocked their marriage to the core”. OP isn’t Catholic is he? Is this really the right message about spirituality that we should be giving him? That Catholics need to go off to retreats for our “spiritual high” and abandon the rest of the family and then critique how they did? :o Seriously? Sounds like that could push him AWAY from our faith! Maybe they should find retreats that BOND them in marriage - that bring each other CLOSER together. :shrug:

Personally, I just couldn’t have done that to my husband! I couldn’t imagine going away for MY benefit for an entire weekend and then complaining about how he did his job! :frowning:

one woman claimed that her trip away from home was only acceptable in her mind because she had a lovely dinner waiting, flowers and a welcome home sign.

I had flowers and a lovely dinner, no sign.

Others say that making dinner was selfish and I should have spent the time sweeping crumbs - yes that is what they were, crumbs. Anything bigger and the babies would have choked to death.

And as for my neice, as I said it was this weekend or a month between getting out of the institution she is in. Perhaps that was selfish - I hate to disappoint her, I have a lot of guilt over her father (my brother) - but I felt it was what she needed.

Which is funny, I couldn’t imagine my husband acting like this to me.
I haven’t been on a retreat for awhile, but the last time I did, my family went out to eat the meal before I came home. They spent some time playing around and some time cleaning up. But the house was in better shape than when I left.

When I went, it wasn’t a gift to me or a favor. It was just part of my life and what I wanted to do. Just like when my husband needs to get away.

Either way, we try to make the specialness last. Same thing when we all go away on vacation. We try to keep the vacation calm going after we return for as long as we can. That is what a vacation or a retreat is all about, recharging your life.

If every time I went away, I knew I had to pay the piper by having the house torn up, I wouldn’t want to go away very often. Which is what she meant by saying she didn’t want to do it again if she was going to be punished.

And by the way, my husband isn’t Catholic either.

OMG. So the mother of a special needs child, who also has two teenagers and three teeny-tinies, has no right at all to have **one day **(not a whole weekend - it was Friday night to Saturday night) to herself for a spiritual respite?! It’s not like she ran off to Vegas with her friend!

My turn to say WOW.

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