I'm Not Sure What to Do


#1

I was a fallen away Catholic and I’ve recently reconverted back to the Church.

My wife was also a fallen away Catholic, and has been attending Mass with me.

We have 3 beautiful children (triplets).

But the thing is… my wife really doesn’t believe in any of it. She doesn’t particularly believe that Jesus is the Son of God. She doesn’t agree with the Church’s teaching on Abortion or Contraception. I bought her an audio Gospel that she could listen to on her way to and from work (since she couldn’t be bothered to read it, even though she did read the Da Vinci Code), but after a certain point, she just stopped listening to it. I bought her Karl Keating’s book about what Catholics believe, and sure enough, she read it at first, but never finished it.

The thing is, in our discussions of these issues, she really can’t offer a sound defense of her position. When I point to the culture of contraception and the verifiable fact that the West is losing population because of it, she just shrugs and says that contraception is okay. She thinks Abortions aren’t all that great, but still is basically pro-choice, even when arguments are presented that she can’t answer.

The frustrating thing is that she can’t even justify her position on any of these issues. She says to me that the problem is that I am too good at arguing, and that she really can’t formulate her thoughts into a cogent and consistent position. She admit that she’s not a “thinking” person (meaning not that she’s not intelligent, but that she doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking deeply about things), but it seems that the core of her beliefs is her desire to fit in with modern society.

She initially totally freaked out about my reconversion, and for a time, it was as if I was engaging in pornography in my own home. She doesn’t look at our marriage as a partnership, but as some sort of adversarial relationship.

I believe in the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of marriage, and I would never put my kids through a divorce, but I don’t know what to do. I’m miserable. I love her, but she doesn’t really believe in anything. Her whole outlook on life seems to be that she can’t be bothered.

I can accept that this is my cross to bear, but emotionally I’m not sure if I can engage in intercourse with her, because I feel so separate from her in so many ways. And refraining from that seems wrong to, because we are married and I have always understood that the Church does not expect a married relationship to be platonic.

I’m not sure if I could get an annulment after my kids are grown – it’s out of the question for me while they are young.

I’m sorry to be long-winded, but my heart is breaking. I’ve prayed to the Lord to convert my wife, but it’s not happening. The divisions between us are very deep. She is fundamentally a secular person, and I am not. On some level, it even bothers me that she takes the Eucharist and comes to mass, because I know that she doesn’t really believe it.

I don’t know what to do.


#2

I think you’re on the right track, in a way. Definitely don’t leave the marriage over this. You cannot force anyone into a relationship with God, you can only pray and be an example.

Your kids are very fortunate to have a father who really practices and believes his faith – it seems like, more often than not, it’s the other way around, with the wife having the true faith, and the husband kind of going through the motions, so to speak. At least, at my parish, I see many women with kids, and no husband there. You definitely need to stay in your kids’ lives on a daily basis.

My only advice is for you to not give up hope, and keep on praying. Maybe even add some sacrificing to your prayers. Good luck, and God bless you. I will pray for you wife.


#3

I have to agree with susie’s response. Definitley lead by example and keep praying-pray for our Lady’s intercession and perhaps obtain a green scapular & follow it’s instructions to aid in her “conversion/reversion” of sorts.
I had a spiritual awakening in the last year & while my (non Catholic) wife was a little taken a back as to how I have grown religiously (she had only known me as when I had gone away from the Church), she definitley accepts it now.

Definitley keep praying. God has a plan for all of us!:wink:


#4

Thank you for posting your story. I am happy to pray for you and your wife and family.

Perhaps the reason that your “intelligent” reasons are not having much effect on your wife…is that she did not leave the church for intellectual reasons but for emotional ones. Of course, I have never conducted a poll or anything. But most of the ex-catholics I have met have left because they were hurt or they wanted to live a lifestyle that was against the church. Very few actually sat down and read a good book on the faith and intellectually decided to leave.

If this is why your wife left, maybe it would help to appeal to her emotional side? Find a group at church where she can be social, make friends and be a part of a fun and loving group? Maybe she can meet other moms? See if you can find something that fits her personality and that may help you a little. It will take more than that to fully deepen her faith, but it is a good and simple place to make a start.

Lastly, your intimate life is none of my business but please do not withhold physical affection from your wife. You said that she does at least attend Mass with you, that is a great blessing! She needs much love at this time, physical and spiritual. Love is what will bring her back. God Bless you.


#5

Perhaps you should drop the arguments for awhile and focus instead on your marriage. After all, one of the most powerful arguments you can present to your wife that you are on the right path is by being a better husband now than you were before.

So show her that you love her in as many ways as you can without being confrontational. She’ll probably become less defensive, and as your marriage improves, your communication should also improve.

You care about your children, so see this frustrating time as a chance to show them what true love is in a marriage.

You’ll be in my prayers,

kevinsgirl

P.S. Thank her for attending Mass with you.


#6

Typical of a man’s perspective, you are approaching these issues through logic and reason. And while we gals aren’t illogical and unreasonable, we tend to view issues more with our emotions. I would bet the farm that your wife has some fear behind her “beliefs” or lack of belief. It may be she is afraid she’ll be forced to have more children–of course, the Church doesn’t care how many children couples have but many people think they must have baby after baby as Catholics, which isn’t at all the case. I cite this fear foremost because it seems that is the thing your wife has the greatest issue with. I think you have to respond to her emotions more than to her mind. Don’t use words as much as give her emotional support and let her know you love her no matter what–that’s very important to women. :wink:


#7

What a blessing you are to your wife and children!

Don’t give up. More than anything your wife needs your prayers and your patience. Remember, everything works in God’s time, not yours. Perhaps this time will help you strengthen your own faith.

And, as another poster suggested, do get a Green Scapular. (Catholic stores carry them.) My son and I prayed for my husband’s return to the faith. Interestingly enough, when my husband was making his way back to the Faith, his military chaplain gave him a Green Scapular. He accepted it, not knowing what it was, and he now attends Mass faithfully.

'thann


#8

You need to talk to your pastor and you probably need some marital counselling.

Two things to consider, though:

  1. The doctrine of invincible ignorance. If your wife does not have faith because she does not have the gift of understanding and accepting, rather than because she understands it but doesn’t wanted to be burdened with the call, she is not culpable. She cannot commit a mortal sin without appreciating that what she does is gravely wrong. In the end, you have no way of knowing that…that is why only God can judge, because only God reads hearts. As St. Paul says, if a believer is married to a non-believer who is willing to stay married, the believer should hang in there. Your life may be what converts your spouse. Lives preach louder than any audiotape ever did.

  2. The choice to sin is not an impediment to marriage. It is those marriages contracted with someone who does not have the capacity to fulfill the promises of marriage or who misrepresented their capacity that are not valid. If you marry someone who entered the covenant with full capability and understanding but who just decided not to be faithful to their promise, you are still married. If she chooses to commit mortal sin, fully realizing she is doing so, you are still married.

You know that you are afflicted with spiritual blindness yourself, of course, as we all are. Yet God loves you and rains graces on you, in the hopes that your heart will gradually soften. Conversion is not a one-day thing. It is a day-after-day process of handing over.

My husband is not Catholic and doesn’t believe…not because he doesn’t want to, because his life with me would be easier if he did, but because he is truthful and can’t bring himself to say he sees when he doesn’t. Yet he is open to the graces he receives.

I assume you have a natural affection for your wife, or you would not have married her. Try to be grateful for that, and for her affection for you and the children, which keeps her with you even though you are no longer in her comfort zone, either. Be patient with God, and allow yourself to love her as God loves her, right where she is. Let her know that just as God loves you as you are, God loves her as she is.

Just as you daily encourage your children to grow in maturity for their own good, encourage each other…not so that your spouse might be more pleasing to you, but as an act of love for the person you married. Just as you have to be patient when one of your children does not potty train as easily as you would like or isn’t ready to sleep through the night when you need them to, you have to be patient with each other.

That is right. This is going to be a process where she is patient with you, too. You have one life. Marriage is the sacrament your wife partakes of every day. It is where she comes into the direct experience of God’s grace. You are her minister. Do not withhold that grace from her. Do not refuse the graces that God sends to you through her. It is not for you to be too proud to receive from the vessel God has chosen for you.

It is the Church’s position that every marriage should be treated as valid until proven otherwise. Do not fear that you will be doing wrong by trying to make your marriage work. That is exactly what you should be doing. It is not just your cross. It is your sacrament, a wellspring of grace for you. Drink from it.

Pray every day that God will continue to convert you and your family. One day at a time, that is the way to heaven.


#9

Thanks for all the replies.

A few clarifications though.

1 – Although we do have discussions, I am actually the more emotional person in just about every way. My wife is somewhat utilitarian in her outlook on things. It’s actually very difficult to convince her of anything on an emotional level, because her general outlook toward everything is apathy. Please understand I am not insulting her. This is something that she has even admitted to me; nothing really moves her. She’s indifferent. I don’t mean simply in the case of religion. I’ve only rarely seen her get emotionally charged up about anything.

2 – My wife doesn’t fear me forcing babies on her. A few years ago, before I had my reconversion, we had our children through invetro fertilization, because I am unable to father children through natural means. Under no circumstances would I do invetro again knowing what I now know, and there is no possibility of her conceiving under natural conditions. While I would consider adoption, that’s not something she’s ever been open to. So, as it stands, our family is not going to grow in that sense.


#10

I know that might sound like the case, but to be honest it doesn’t really work that way when it comes to my wife. She actually doesn’t respond well to affection and outward signs of love. As I’ve said before, she’s very utilitarian in her outlook on things. Sex, for her, is something to be done as quickly a possible, and when it’s over she doesn’t linger but gets out of bed to do something else.

Oddly, the only time she does show me affection is when she thinks I’m upset and pull away from her emotionally. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s the way it operates. She doesn’t like being kissed all that much, because by her logic if we can’t have sex right away, there’s no point in kissing.

I am actually a tremendously affectionate person by nature, but she is not.


#11

Some people are experts at masking their feelings–and your wife seems to have come up with a great way to do it–just pretend she doesn’t have feelings, but trust me, she does have them. If she had no feelings she wouldn’t care at all about anything, and really, if that were the case she’d have no more problems with Catholic beliefs than with her own ideas. She has an ego, all right, everyone does. I second the poster who advised counseling–I think you two need it if you are going to come to grips with what is really going on here.

2 – My wife doesn’t fear me forcing babies on her. A few years ago, before I had my reconversion, we had our children through invetro fertilization, because I am unable to father children through natural means. Under no circumstances would I do invetro again knowing what I now know, and there is no possibility of her conceiving under natural conditions. While I would consider adoption, that’s not something she’s ever been open to. So, as it stands, our family is not going to grow in that sense.

Ah, I see. You two had children through a means in opposition to the Church’s teaching–she feels threatened by that, no doubt. She doesn’t want to admit that your children shouldn’t have been conceived, as they were, because that would mean, she feels, that they shouldn’t have been born. That’s a logical conclusion, but it’s not based in Catholic teaching, as she must think, but in trying to force the future instead of trusting in God, and in not using means that are the result of the nuptial embrace. Getting her to see that might be an insurmountable task, which is why prayer is the only answer for that. For only the Holy Spirit can convert anyone to the truths of the faith, so pray that her heart will be opened to his call on her life.


#12

I think your wife has deeper issues than Catholic teachings. I think she needs counseling for her coldness–her aloof attitude. I’m not a trained counselor, and even if I were, I wouldn’t counsel anyone online or without meeting with him/her. But, I truly believe she needs counseling for this problem. Sex ought to be something that brings a couple together in their love, not a mechanical operation. I will remember her, you, and your difficulties in my prayers.


#13

While I agree that affection is a truly important part of marriage, there will always be individuals that are just less affectionate by nature. If that is the case in your marriage, I strongly suggest reading “The Five Love Languages.” It is an insightful book into how different individuals feel loved through different ways.

You mentioned that you are affectionate by nature–physical affection is probably your love language and it seems that your wife senses this by showing affection when you’re upset.

Perhaps if you could find your wife’s “love language,” she would find it easier to express love to you…

Just a thought…

kevinsgirl


#14

you are married in order to sanctify each other and your family, to bring each other to heaven, to exemplify God’s love on earth in the setting of the family. Nothing can absolve you from that duty and vocation. You are in this for life. If the situation had changed because of illness, injury, or any other reason, this would still be true. You are called to fidelity to your marriage vows, and to love your wife and children and to express you love in concrete ways every day. Take up your cross and follow Christ. Live your faith fully and completely. Your example is how your wife will eventually be led to see the truth, and to be open to God who is speaking to her, but whom she ignores.

Don’t yak at her and nag her–nag God, put the ball in his court. You pray and be faithful, let him work on your wife.


#15

What great advice! I think you are on the button, too, about why so many of us left the Church - and I also believe that it is often these same emotions (feeling lonely and wanting to be closer to our Higher Power) that brings many of us back.
Please keep praying for your wife. In God’s time, she will be called and we will all pray that she accepts His invitation to return.


#16

Thanks to all for the comments. I had a long discussion with my wife last night, and she agrees that her apathy is something that needs to be explored. She knows it’s a problem, and not just in relation to me. She feels that in some way she’s shut down her emotions but isn’t sure why. She’s going to contact a Catholic therapist to that end. Our conversation was hopeful.

I’m going to see about a green scapular as well.

Again, thanks for the kind words and thoughts.


#17

My prayers are with your family.


#18

Feel that? That’s some prayers sent up for you.

I’d suggest reading up on St. Monica. Poor thing suffered for many years praying for her wayward, worldy, self-centered son. Btw, we know her son as a fella named St. Augustine.

My point is that the best thing you could ever do for your wife is to grow as close to Jesus as you possibly can. He’s a real chick magnet! No way she can resist you if you resemble Him and you pray for her always.

I’ve read a few of your posts and am mighty impressed. Or maybe you just think like me (poor sap). If so, consider whether you might need to do more in your life to show Christ’s compassion for others. I tend towards thinking and learning, but some folks just don’t get the gospel until they see how it transforms the world around the believers. It’s tricky because there are an awful lot of folks in the church that SUBSTITUTE charitable work for the poor or downtrodden for faith instead of doing it as an expression of faith. Avoid them and find folks who live both faith AND charity. Your wife will be watching and learning about the faith whether she likes it or not.


#19

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.