How do I weather a bad marriage with grace?


I am unsure of the details I should include so I will just say that I am in a marriage with a man who not only chooses to make immoral, selfish choices but who resents me for not supporting him in the current poor choices and not forgetting about the past poor choices. He does not have any desire change or even to “make up” for any consequence these choices brought on our family AND he see me 'nagging" and complaining to him about them to be WORSE than the actual offenses themselves; which is, in a way, is true - nagging and complaining isn’t doing anything but allowing me to vent BUT he has actually said to me that when I DON’T say anything - he feels good - like he’s gotten away with “it”…(i’ve tried the “ignore the bad, praise the positive” …) He doesn’t learn from his past I feel like I’m stuck on a 6 month cycle of the same problems over and over. Its been going for 10 yrs…

I am working on keeping myself in peace and deal with the things thrown a me with grace but most of the time I fail miserably at this. The worse things get the more I nag and complain…

So basically how do I peacefully, gracefully make it “through” life with this man (without losing my marbles in the meantime)?! :wink: Any advice?

Thanks in advance AND for letting me vent


As a man, a divorced catholic and a single dad I can only offer you my humble opinion. The only person whos going to change him is himself. You need to demand that he make the changes.
And get outside help right away, mainly for yourself. Find as much support as you can.
some sort of action on your part for help is needed for your own sanity.


My best advice, stop nagging :slight_smile:

God forgives and does not nag. We should be like Jesus to our husbands.

The book that helped ME stop nagging was Matthew Kelly “Seven Levels of Intimacy” (Catholic book) and a book I wish was around decades ago “Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” (not a Catholic book).


I see my xh has found a new wife! Was he married to you all along too? :wink:

Since you seem determined to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear there (more power to you. I couldn’t do it!) you need to vent to God. Keep a journal. Write it all down. Hide the journal from the husband.

Perfect these phrases: Yes, dear. Whatever, dear. That’s not up for discussion, dear.

Say it in the same tone every time.

He will get the message that you know all and see all and have stopped taking the bait and just choose not to talk about it.

Good luck. Apparently you are used to living without any of your needs being met. I predict, though, that you saying nothing negative about his bad behavior won’t be enough. Eventually, he will insist you praise him. Because he’s an attention-seeking narcissist. And he wants mommy to think he’s a wonderful little boy. (How’s THAT relationship, by the way??? :wink: )

Yeah, I was married to your husband.

Develop a really strong prayer life. You’ll need it. And spend as little time with him as possible. When he dies, he’ll find out he didn’t really get away with anything at all.

Sorry to be glum. Your letter brought back lots of bad memories of being yelled at because I didn’t buttress my xh’s wonderful self image by praising him morning, noon, and night. And he’s got you believing you fail miserably. (I’ll bet that’s his voice in your head telling you that.)

I committed the egregious sin of not “supporting him.” Which translated to not telling him how great he was when he was lying, cheating and stealing from his wife and kids in every way, shape and form possible.

The care and feeding of husbands shouldn’t be used on narcissists. It just makes them feel more entitled to unearned glory. It’s like shovelling coal into a bottomless chute. It’s never enough to feed the fire. You’ll kill yourself trying.

With a normal man, you don’t have to nag and complain. When you indicate to a normal man that, say, him leaving his coffee cup where the baby can spill it is upsetting, he doesn’t make a point every morning after that of doing exactly what bothers you just so he doesn’t feel like anyone is giving him orders. A normal man says, “Oh, sorry. You’re right. Don’t want baby to get burned.” And it never happens again.

Show me a nagging, complaining wife, and I"ll show you a passive aggressive husband who would poke his eye out with a fork before he’d ever concede to any of her requests because to him marriage is a power struggle and a zero sum game and if she “wins” that means he “loses.”

Pray hard. For strength for yourself. :frowning:


Going through it now - more like a six week cycle. However, the good news is he is in counseling. The tough part is it took us seperating for a week and me getting a restraining order in order to get him to realize how serious I was. Actions speak louder than words. Now some of the things he does are not great but he does not raise a hand to me anymore and he is working through issues of childhood abuse. I know things will get worse before they get better as he faces his demons but I know that God will have grace on us for doing the right thing. That is the faith I choose to keep. I also am planning on going back to school which will create some distance during the week which will let him sort out his demons without everything being my fault. In the end I have to be able to live with myself to be able to live with anyone else and I must not let his actions detract from my own self-worth as I am still one of God’s precious gifts - and so are you. :smiley: Counseling has helped me remember this as well.


Joan, it’s nice to hear something positive. It’s so rare that they go to counselling and really deal with things. Glad to hear you are working on YOU and building yourself up. Keep us posted on that! :thumbsup:


WOW! I am sorry to hear about that…I too had a husband like that…I couldn’t take it after almost a decade and 3 children later…It was the most degrading form of living I could have ever imagined and even worst when children were being dragged in by my exhusband, hopefully he’s not doing that to you! I just hope that GOD gives you the strength you need to continue with this darling because you are going to need it… I gave up…I couldn’t keep letting myself get manipulated…Grew up with father beating mother through alcoholism, and I just kept seeing that happen to myself and I couldn’t live with myself…at all…not to make a point of this but he didnt’ even marry me through the church so I saw that as the best way of him showing me that he didn’t love me enough to get our marriage blessed and you know what that was perfectly fine, I didn’t care anymore and I just left…I took my kids and that was it…

But you seem to want to fight for your marriage and you go girl! Keep praying and seek help, as soon as possible. Seek counseling, have someone you can trust and a priest is the next best thing to GOD, for an earthly guide, lol… SO don’t hesitate the sooner you go for it the better…

Good luck, GOD bless and please keep your head up! Seek counseling and keep praying a lot!!! God will guide you properly! Every marriage needs work, I understand that, and if you are unwilling to lose it then continue praying and the Lord will continue guiding you!


How’s this for passive aggressive - the dr recently told me i had to “cool it” with the caffeine - it was affecting my heart. i told my husband and he came home that day with an “energy drink” for me - loaded with caffeine (said he knows how much i like them - which is true). I said “oh, thank you” and nothing else but later that night he me asked why he should even bother do nice things when i don’t appreciate them. :eek:

liberanosamalo - you hit the nail on the head!!! at the very least, its nice to know that i’m not the only one who’s been through this BUT you should have tattooed the man so i would have known what i was getting myself into - jk :wink:


You have to find happiness somewhere - hobby, church, children or whatever way you can. You need hope and hope will not come from your marriage. Cultivate a rich cadre of friends, a support system. Do not ask permission for these things, simply do them. If you have children, it may be harder, but take them with you if he will not parent them alone.

A life of pure misery is not one we can easily bear, but it is often one we choose ourselves. If you don’t find alternative sources of joy and contentment, you’ll only wallow in the hollowness of your marriage.

Promise yourself you’re allowed to be happy, then persue it. Don’t be defined by a hopeless marriage, succeed in spite of it. You have the ability to make that choice.


lolmom, I had to laugh at that. He’s a pro! :thumbsup: He has reduced insulting you to a fine art, where in one fell swoop he can be “generous”, “thoughtful” and show contempt for you, while making himself the victim and you the unappreciative b— if you don’t thank him for his gift. (I’ll bet he NEVER came home with any drink for you before that.)

Your reaction then validates in his head how right he is to continue to treat you with contempt because you are just unappreciative of everything he does for you.

Now you have learned a critical lesson: with him, information is power and it can be used against you. So don’t tell him anything important about you.

(You do realize, that having to survive with that kind of man is not a marriage in any true sense of the word. There is no trust, intimacy or mutual help going on.)

There is a long thread you can find if you search “narcissism” on CAF. It’s about living with a non-Catholic with narcissistic personality disorder. You might want to read it. :thumbsup:


Here. :wink:


thank you


*I echo Liberano…and to add…it would depend on what it is your husband is doing. I know you don’t wish to share the details (and that’s fine lol) but, I think if we’re talking about staying out all hours of the night, porn viewing, cheating, etc…these types of things, I don’t feel are negotiable, and they HAVE to change for a marriage to have any hope of being more than just ‘getting through.’ I read that sentence of yours, that made me sad for you. I know what you are trying to say, but marriage isn’t about ‘getting through’ or suffering until one of the spouses dies. I think that while we are to take up our crosses daily and follow Christ…I am not of the belief that marriage is supposed to be an endless road of suffering. I’m not. I don’t see why many Catholics I know, believe this. :shrug::frowning:

That said, if there are things that he is trying to overcome, then nagging CAN make it worse…but, if you’re dealing with someone unwilling to change bad/immoral behaviors…I don’t imagine that Christ expects us to sit back, and take it. You can however, not lose your peace in the process. Again, depending on what it is…counseling, etc could be a good place to start.

I find myself after reading threads on here lately, why do so many people take their loved ones for granted? Why aren’t we trying our best to love those whom we married? It can be hard sometimes, to be at our best…but, again, I don’t believe marriage is about one spouse tolerating any and all behaviors, for a lifetime. Just my sentiments. Praying things get better in your marriage, lol. :console:*


*bolded for emphasis, mine.

Yes, you put this well, Liberano. I would really be in a bad state, if my marriage was about ‘survival’ of the fittest, or about a constant battle of the wits, or about trying to make it through each day, without losing my mind. I’d rather be alone. I know myself, I am forgiving, but I wouldn’t want someone to think of me as a doormat. :frowning: *


You can be assured that you, your family and your husband are in my prayers this day. There is some good advice here and I will echo two things. You need to demand that he change but ultimately it he has to do the changing, you cannot change him. The second thing is to take care of yourself and kids if there are any. Pray for the conversion of his heart. Ask St Monica to pray for you and especially your husband.


*So, you should have drank the energy drink to please him? :mad:
Let me ask you …what kind of relationship, if any, does he have with his mom? A man’s relationship with, and the respect he feels FOR his mom, are definite precursors to how he might be as a husband. *


I tend to lean towards that belief so let me explain. I’ve never heard anything that says that marriage is for life unless it turns into a living hell. I’m also pretty certain that Jesus knew that marriage wasn’t a bed of roses when he spoke on divorce. I also don’t see any merit to the whole dead marriage vs living marriage distinction that I have seen some try to make to allow divorce. Assuming a marriage exists to begin with, I really do believe it is for better or worse no matter how hellish it gets. :shrug:


Is a truce at all possible? I have friends who are in terrible marriages and they seem to simply ignore each other. They don’t fight or kick and scream or even speak to one another: he just does his thing and she does hers. Can he just spend more time at work or find a hobby that can pour himself into? It isn’t ideal but maybe a little breathing room would be good thing.


*Yes, I believe in seeing things through too. Not to the detriment of my health, or my safety though. If my husband were to seriously compromise those two things, I’m out. I’d have to think if I married such a type, that **I made **a mistake in judgement, not so much that God would want me to stay in a toxic situation. In ‘good times and in bad,’ I don’t see those vows meaning…"you’re welcome to treat me in any horrible way you choose, I’ll still be here for you.’’

Good times will happen. Bad times will happen. But, I personally don’t believe the bad times equate to any and all behavior that a person wants to dump on another, the other should accept it. I’m not speaking of when the going gets tough, you walk out. Marriage has its tough moments, it is not a bowl of cherries, absolutely. But, that doesn’t equate to living in a toxic relationship. Just my thoughts.*


To the OP…I am just speaking in generalities, not knowing your situation, I can only offer you my prayers that things will improve. You sound like a caring and loving wife, I hope your husband soon gets help for the problems he is causing you and the marriage. :hug1: Because I think he needs some help, beyond what you as a wife, can provide. You can’t change him, he has to want to change his behaviors towards you.

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