My husband and I have been together a long time, married for just a few years though. We have no children and he converted to the faith a few years ago right before we got married (was a catechumen during the wedding and baptised at Easter).
He feels a very strong pull toward the monastic way of life and has expressed regret in not learning about it earlier back before we got married.
We have a lot of differences in our relationship and things have always been rough. I felt a few months before the wedding that I should have cancelled but held on thinking everything would be ok. Of course it’s not ok and it seems to have only gotten worse. He is in counseling but we still argue and I’m pretty much done trying to make things better. On top of that, he might have a mental illness which the doctor is still trying to figure out.
This is a unique situation because we are married but he says if something happened to me he would enter a monastery in a heartbeat. I am ok with getting divorced at this point and he feels wrong entertaining the idea since we are married.
My question is, is it ok for a married man to get divorced to become a priest or monk?
Edited to add: He would like to become an oblate but ideally he wants to be a monk.
He might want to enter a monastery, but as Cloisters already said, they may not accept him.
What concerns me about all of this is that no one seems to know what is going on in his mind. I would say that him wanting to join a monastery even though he’s married is not a unique problem for someone with a mental condition.
It’s very possible that he’s attracted to the quiet, still life or maybe is under the impression he’ll get more merit with a higher calling.
At the very least you both need to know what is going on with him, because this entire scenario could be in his head.
From what I can tell, he could stand to lose everything here—you, the monastery, everything.
I think he needs to find a spiritual director to settle this, and he needs to let the director know that as of now he has a un-diagnosed mental illness.
I would urge you in the meantime to be the patient, caring, understanding wife, because I think** a lot of this may be in his head** like a type of phase and once the doctor diagnoses him, it may allow you to work on other martial problems.
Let me put it to you like this: you’ve been together a long time. If he really was meant to be a monk, why didn’t leave you before you got married? Those men and women who are TRULY called can and do leave their old lives behind and they do make those sacrifices. I just don’t think he’s been constantly rebelling against God instilling a calling because I think that would require quite a bit of effort for a serious Catholic.
Ultimately, I don’t think anyone on here can tell you for sure what is going on, but he needs to see a spiritual director about this and my guess is that he/she will tell him that’s not called and he needs to focus on overcoming his illness and the problems in the marriage.
He constantly talks about not going back to the counselor due to finances. He tells me that it would be wonderful for his full time job to be a life of prayer. He struggles a lot with work and outside issues. I often think it would be better for him to go to a place where he is dedicated to a life of prayer where everyday life won’t bother him.
He won’t even address this with his confessor or a spiritual director because he believes he is supposed to be married even though he feels pulled toward the monastic life. When I bring it up he tells me not to talk about it because it’s wrong for a married man to entertain those thoughts.
I feel guilty for encouraging it so perhaps I need to stop.
I wanted to be a monk before I married. I even spent four months as a postulant in a monastery. Looking back at that time I had a lot of unrealistic expectations of monastic life. Living in community can be a lot tougher than marriage.
I have been married for seventeen years. For the last fifteen my wife has been disabled and I am her full time caretaker. That is the vocation that God gave to me. Don’t think that I’m some kind of saint. I’m not. There are plenty of days I wish I could get out of this but it is not God’s will. So, I accept what he gives me with thanks, knowing that this is for my spiritual growth and health.
Your husband my be thinking that entering a monastery will solve his problems. I can guarantee you that it won’t. In twelve step programs this is called the “geographical cure.” If you go somewhere else everything will get better. It doesn’t. You just carry your baggage and hang-ups with you.
All communities require that applicants go through a battery of psychological tests before entering. If he has emotional problems he won’t be accepted.
As others have written, there are programs for oblates and third orders. And you don’t have to be a monk to live a life of prayer. Just shut of the television, computer and go into your room and pray.
Thanks so much for your input. I can totally relate to the geographical cure you mentioned, as it’s something he talks about all the time. I told him that it will be the same old him no matter where we go, but that message doesn’t seem to get through.
This is just so much for me to bear sometimes. I have almost lost my faith because of it.
Thanks everyone for helping me to see this for what it is and continue on in my marriage with a different perspective. Obviously I need to pray about this and hard.
The passage of the Bible that finally helped me through this same regret was Mark 5:18, where the man who Jesus cast Legion out of had begged Jesus to let him go with him, but Jesus refused and said “go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” and that man did so and all men marveled. See! This man was sent away from Jesus in body, but not in spirit, because he did God’s will rather than his own.
Similarly, I think the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux felt they had the same calling and refused to have sex. But eventually, at the insistence of their priest, they did, and they had very holy children, one of them is already a saint, and I heard the others are in the process of being researched for canonization too.
The St. Francis de Sales’ book Introduction to the Devout Life, he talks about how it is not only useless but actually bad for your soul to yearn for situations that are far off or will never happen. I think he even uses this one as an example.
Your husband may be very interested in the book Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean Pierre de Caussade. It explains how you can turn every moment into an opportunity to grow in holiness, and offer each moment as a sacrifice to God, without seeking to create these sacrifices on your own. It explains that every moment already is designed to be an opportunity to make a sacrifice that’s holy and pleasing to God.
I am no expert but I think a monk has to be either single, widower or annulled. I do not
believe they accept divorced men. However, I could be wrong.
A mental illness could be grounds for an annulment. However, it would be very difficult if
not impossible to be accepted into religious life with a mental illness.
I am afraid the other posters may be right. It sounds like he is trying to escape the pressures of everyday work life for what he perceives to be a calm, easier oasis. Religious
life is no escape. As the previous poster said, it can be tougher than married life.
He needs to work on getting treatment for his illness and work on his marriage. That seems to be God’s immediate will for him.
I feel bad for you. You have tried so hard to make this work. I will pray for you both. God bless you.
BTGirl, Do you have a spiritual director? If not, it might help you in dealing with all of this. Or maybe your parish priest would be willing to talk to you both as a couple, either marraige counseling or spiritual direction?
He should not conceal this desire from his spiritual director/confessor. I’ve heard that a good monk/priest would make a good husband and vice versa. I can say that I too am drawn to prayer and quiet and struggle with sharing my enthusiasm for the faith with my wife (she doesn’t get it). She is a good woman, just not on fire for the Lord. I too can see that the grass is pretty green on the other side of the monastic wall but, I’m committed to loving my wife. I feel that God brought us together and I need to honor that and my commitment first.
A priest friend of mine once said, “The grass is greener on the other side because there is more fertilizer.”
Hang on to your marriage. The closer you both get to Jesus & Mary the closer you wil be to each other.