Lost and don't know what to do


#1

I am a woman married for 36 years. We’re both Catholic. From the beginning of my marriage I felt I’d made a mistake and my intuition quickly proved correct. My husband went from sweet and charming to controlling, verbally and occasionally physically abusive. I tried to leave him after five years but returned because I felt it was the right thing to do. But he never really changed., Nor was he ever open to children – he wanted me on birth control and when I refused our sex life deteriorated. After ten years of marriage he no longer wanted to sleep with me and we have been celibate for the past 25. In 2003 my H was dx with MS, but at the same time, due to family issues, he escalated his abuse of me and I had to call 911, fearing for my physical safety. I left him again for six months in 2005.

I had no intentions of returning, but my H went to anger management classes and begged me to give him another chance. I also felt guily because of his MS, which has limited his mobility, altough he still walks with a cane, can work and takes care of his own personal needs. I was so depressed and fearful of a divorce and possibly being alone the rest of my life that against my better judgement, I returned.

Now two years later, I realize the toll my marriage has taken on my life. No children, no happy memories and no sex, which I always enjoyed. I am his roommate, plain and simple and feel no great love, only compassion because of his MS.

I would like to leave and start over, even at my advanced age of 56, but feel guilty because my H has a progressive disease. Do I have the right to leave and seek some happiness? I have only ever felt sadness being married to my H, even though he has changed his ways and stopped the abuse, my feelings for him have been destroyed. And if it things could be fixed, which I doubt, he refuses marriage counselling.

I’ve had some priests tell me my marriage isn’t valid and could be annulled, but still I feel agony about leaving him. It will truly devastate him to be alone at his age with MS. But I can not tolerate the depression and lonliness any longer without becoming ill myself.

Please help me.


#2

What would he do if you were the one with MS?

The priests are right… him refusing to have children is reason enough that you have been in an invalid union. You have a very high sense of responsibility to others and loyalty, and too bad you didn’t even get 1/4 the same in return.

I would not blame you if you decided to find someone else at this stage in life and be a step-grandma to someone else’s grandkids. I will say, however, that the field out there isn’t overbrimming with single responsible kindly men who are available for marriage.

But even being alone is better than being with someone who is sucking the life out of you. Been there, done that.

He’s reaping what he sowed. He didn’t want kids and he abused the wife that took care of him. So whose fault is it that now he is going to be alone? If he had wanted children, he might have someone to help him out now.

What is your circle of friends? Can you get a job and expand your ability to care for yourself and broaden your world to include positive people? That alone might help you to feel better about your life.

I feel for you. After treating you like dirt for all these years, now YOU become the “bad guy” if you walk.


#3

Thank you for your reply.

I do have a very supportive family that has wanted me to leave H ever since they found out about the past abuse. I even have asecond home to go to in my hometown (my Mom lives there too).

And I see an IC who also feels I should leave.

But then I get stuck in my "what if"mode - mostly thoughts of how H will cope - on the other side everyone tells me he’ll be fine because he always puts himself first.

I just can’t live this lonely life anymore with him – and the thought of caregiving eventually someone who has been so cruel in the past fills me with dread. I’m just not a saint.

I’m scared. depressed and wondering how I’l ever find any peace of mind before I die.

Also I wonder how the Good Lord feels about me wanting to leave. Woundn’t he say I should take the narrow road and give love and charity to my H in his time of need? Afterall, he stopped the abuse and is trying to live a better life. Trouble is, I can’t change my feelings about him. Yes, I can love him as one human being loves another – but I want the real love, intimate touching and someone who looks at me as a woman not a secretary or cook, cleaning lady, etc.

Will I be condemned?


#4

Why does him having MS give him the right to abuse you and deny you your right and **responsibility **to live a full Christ-centered life?

If it was your daughter, would you want her to be in that kind of relationship?

Do you think God our Father wants that for you?

If he is alone with a degenerative disease, that is his own fault that he pushed away the only person that loved him and had his best interests at heart.

How long are YOU going to pay the consequences for HIS decisions? He made his bed, get out of it and let him lie on it. Maybe after you stop enabling him in his buttheadedness, God will have some room to move.:slight_smile:

Put him in God’s hands.

God bless.


#5

Peace comes with being in God’s Will.:slight_smile:

Also I wonder how the Good Lord feels about me wanting to leave. Woundn’t he say I should take the narrow road and give love and charity to my H in his time of need?

He says to love others as you love your SELF, not in spite of or in exclusion of your self.

God loves you. Are you loving yourself, by staying with him. because if you are not, you are in no position to love him except with an unhealthy self serving love. You can’t givwe what you don’t have.

Treat yourself with love. God wants you to be fruitful. Are you fruitful?:slight_smile:


#6

If your husband married you being open to children and then did a complete about face after your vows then your marriage is very likely invalid and you should pursue the path of divorce and annulment. If your husband has refused to have relations with you for 25 years, you have an invalid marriage and should pursue an annulment as well.

Please do not feel his illness is reason to stay. You should have been out of this “marriage” a good 25 years ago…

God bless!


#7

My dear lady, you are in my prayers. Let’s continue to pray for understanding and direction. (I guessed you already have been praying). You sound so torn and confused. Remember that God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Please feel no guilt for leaving.


#8

Dear Dermot,

You are certainly in a very difficult situation. Your husband has been very unkind and unfair to you, abusing you for decades, refusing to give you the children you dearly wanted, refusing you the love-making and out-of-the-bedroom loving that any wife deserves. And you have stayed for 36 years. Wow! What endurance and faithfulness! If I can picture anyone being carried by the Lord when there’s “only one set of footsteps in the sand” behind you, it’s you.

I know nothing about the annulment process, I am not a marriage counselor, I have no professional qualifications whatsoever. What is an “IC” that you have been seeing who advises you to leave? If your husband were still abusing you, you would certainly be well within your rights to leave; you have no obligation to endure anyone’s abuse. However, didn’t you say your husband has changed his ways, the abuse has stopped, he is trying to live a better life?

I am going to ask you some hard questions. Please forgive me for the pain this must cause you. Did you not make your marriage vows “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad?” I know when people are young and happily in love, they don’t think of bad times coming, but isn’t that the promise we make at the altar? What if everyone left their spouses when times become hard? At some point, mature and authentic love must become more than a feeling, but a choice, a decision to act for the good of the other person. Does that not apply when the other person fails to reciprocate? “I’ll only act with love toward you if you act with love toward me?” Yes, your husband has treated you badly. Will you now stoop to his level and do the same by leaving him, now when he’s trying to do better by you? Can you forgive him, for your own sake as well as his, not just “seven times, but seventy times seven times?” If your husband is ill, perhaps he will die before you. Will you be able to sit by his deathbed with a clear conscience? That you loved him (acted for his good) to the best of your ability? That you did everything you could to be “Christ’s eyes, hands, and feet on earth” to him? That you earned a “Well done, my good and faithful servant” on your judgment day? God doesn’t promise anyone happiness here on earth, only happiness with Him in Heaven, when every tear will be wiped away.

I am NOT suggesting you just suffer and live in misery. Do what you can to improve the marriage relationship, alone, if necessary. Although, if your husband has been engaging in any kind of introspection with his anger management in order to keep you and with his disease diagnosis, this may be a time in his life when he’s open to working to improve things. Would he oblige you if you asked him for very concrete things like words of thanks, compliments, a hug, flowers occasionally? If you led the way in that area by example? Do talk with a Catholic/Christian counselor who values the sanctity of marriage and hence won’t advise you to give up too soon. Call Focus on the Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY for advice, encouragement, support, and to connect you with a local Christian counselor? On a related issue, if your husband stopped marital relations to prevent children, might he be open to resuming relations when menopause is reached and that no longer worries him? This will take some courtship and healing and getting out of old habits, I’m sure.

In other areas, can you find work outside the home – for pay or unpaid volunteer work – that can be a source of satisfaction? Maybe work with kids to at least partially satisfy that yearning? Tutoring? Big Sisters? Mentoring troubled kids? You’ll be able to understand their feelings of rejection and lack of love better than many, so maybe you can be more patient with them than others could. Take classes on a subject that interests you? Take up nutritious cooking and exercise to maintain your own good health, both physical and mental? Adopt a pet to nurture? Pursue (chaste) outside friendships? Could these outlets perhaps fill some part of what’s missing in your marriage, I hope? And of course, there’s prayer and the Sacraments, asking God to fill your needs, which I’m assuming have been sustaining you this long while. Otherwise, how you’ve done it, I can’t imagine.

I know staying in this relationship would be hard, hard, hard. I’m sorry to cause you pain by suggesting that leaving may not be the right thing, the Christian thing, to do in this situation. I hope I’m giving you the right advice, but I don’t know and can’t know that. I’ve been praying for you and will continue to do so in the days ahead.

Best wishes,
Christine


#9

Christine’s advice is very good in that the OP seems to have a very high degree of conscientiousness about her decision and what Christine is suggesting is the way the OP can look herself in the mirror when all is said and done.

The question is… how does the OP get to that point from here. She already sounds burned out and tired out from too many years. And let’s face it, because of the choices her husband unilaterally made, OP has no one to take care of her in her old age now.

So that adds financial insult to psychological injury.

Her husband is her cross right now. And he may be her ticket to heaven. Having been the victim of abuse and neglect and all that fun stuff, I can’t advise the OP to continue in a situation that is making her depressed without knowing more about her support system, her finances, and other issues.

She is keeping her vows to Christ admirably. He sees that. Maybe her grace and charity will kick her husband over the threshold to heaven eventually and someday she may have a powerful intercessor for herself there.

I will say… in sticking with her husband and helping him through his medical issues, she will encounter some very loving, good people in the medical profession. And that may open up her world in areas she had never known.

When we follow God, He always sends us the help we need to do His will. He puts people in our path to help us when we need it most.

To the OP… please keep coming back and telling us how you are doing. We really do care. PM me if you want.


#10

You stay with someone because you love them…not out of a sense of obligation. That’s not a marriage.

Kathy


#11

Dermot2, I will offer prayers for you too. This is truly heart breaking and interesting at the same time. How does God and the Church call us to be in this situation.

We have someone of Good Will who seems to have been tricked by someone of Ill Will. Does God and the Church want us to live a life of misery and regret? Not to bring Christian Life in the World is that God’s plan?

If people of Good Will are lied to are they trapped by the bonds of good, so the person of Ill Will can abuse them and torment them at their discretion. If Satan were to have 1000 of his followers trick 1000 children of God into marriage would those 1000 be trapped with no recourse to defend themselves. Or do you allow Satan to stop 1000 people of Good Will from creating new life and the other Fruits of Marriage be used against you because of a lie?


#12

Christine wrote:

"I am going to ask you some hard questions. Please forgive me for the pain this must cause you. Did you not make your marriage vows “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad?” I know when people are young and happily in love, they don’t think of bad times coming, but isn’t that the promise we make at the altar? What if everyone left their spouses when times become hard? At some point, mature and authentic love must become more than a feeling, but a choice, a decision to act for the good of the other person. Does that not apply when the other person fails to reciprocate? “I’ll only act with love toward you if you act with love toward me?” Yes, your husband has treated you badly. Will you now stoop to his level and do the same by leaving him, now when he’s trying to do better by you? Can you forgive him, for your own sake as well as his, not just “seven times, but seventy times seven times?” If your husband is ill, perhaps he will die before you. Will you be able to sit by his deathbed with a clear conscience? That you loved him (acted for his good) to the best of your ability? That you did everything you could to be “Christ’s eyes, hands, and feet on earth” to him? That you earned a “Well done, my good and faithful servant” on your judgment day? God doesn’t promise anyone happiness here on earth, only happiness with Him in Heaven, when every tear will be wiped away. "

My response:

Ten years ago, when my H first started having MS symptoms, I had decided to stay with him despite my unhappiness as I felt that surely this is what God would want – for me to take the narrow road. I made this decision, knowing I would probably never have an intimate physical life with him or children. And I really thought taking this path would bring me peace. But it didn’t.

Now forgive me because here is where my story gets long.

In 2003, my H and I decided to buy a second home in my hometown . It was a dream I’d held since I was a child – to have a place there where I could relive cherished memories and where my mother could also spend time. We’d lost my father a few years earlier and I knew she was beginning to despair of ever being able to return there. When we purchased the house, our intention was to let members of my family and my Mom stay there for vacations etc, but my Mom then asked if she and my unmarried brother could live there fulltime and help look after things for us. My H agreed, with no pressure from me.

My Mom and brother moved in four years ago, and as soon as they did, my H did a complete about-face. He wanted my Mom out of the house and did everything in his power to make that happen. He abused my Mom verbally, made her cry and harassed me continually. My husband had always been diffcult and controlling but suddenly I was seeing a mean and evil side to him that I’d never known. He tried to control everything -even telling my Mom where she could and could not hang pictures in her room!!

I tried to explain to him that he was killing the marriage and hurting the people in his life who’d been kind to him, but he told me didn’t care. He wanted that house to himself and accused me of betrayal because I wouldn’t kick my Mom out. How could I? My Mom was 80 years old at the time – and we’d laways had a wonderful. loving relationship. Mom offered to move out but I wouldn’t hear of it – I didn’t feel I owed that to my abusive husband - maybe if we’d had a different kind of marriage, but even so I doubt I would have asked Mom to leave. Finally, he stopped talking to my Mom but still badgered me constantly . One night, he raised his fists to my face and I called 911. When the police arrived, I said I’d called the number accidentally. Otherwise they would have arrested my husband. I was shaking and scared, but instead of apologizing my husband called me one of the most horrendous profanities in the english language. A few months later, I left him.

That’s when I knew our marriage would never be the same. And to this day, even though my husband knows it hurts me, he has refused to make peace with my Mom. And he will let her die never having spoken a word to her. How can I love someone like that? How can I? I am so weary of it all. And time is running out for me. I want simply, to be rid of the constant feeling of being in the wrong marraige with the wrong person. I want to love someone who lets me be myself and with whom I can express the deepest parts of me.

Is God really asking me for more suffering? Isn’t 36 years enough?
I could leave without abandoning him totally - would be willing to help him when needed. It would be my H who would refuse that, in his pride.

I know if I leave I’ll be condemned by many who don’t know what’s really happened. And there are so many more hurtful things that I haven’t even begun to detail here.

I’m just so tired of being unhappy.


#13

I disagree. Regardless of the motivation to marry, I think a marriage is defined by a promise made before the Church and God that does present an obligation which should be followed. After 20 years of marriage my wife and I wouldn’t be together if we left each other when things didn’t feel right. In the case of this thread, we have very serious issues which might make the marriage invalid and for almost the first time it is helping me see the difference between divorce and annulment. I think the OP has received much good advice on both sides, but I am so unfamiliar with abuse issues that I don’t think I’ll try to tell her which way to go at this point.

Alan


#14

Dermot2, just from what you’ve said here, if this particular snapshot is representative of your “husband” and marriage, I say get out. I say that not lightly, and with great respect for a vow on the altar of God. I’ve been in your shoes with a man who chose one of his routes of abuse by attacking my mother and ranting about her every chance he could get. The kind of man who would kick an 80-year-old woman out on the street is a man without a conscience. My xh just kicked his mother out on the street. Thank God she had somewhere else to go. (I can’t take her in for many reasons, not least of which his rage at the two of us living together would push him over the edge.)

The problem in this situation is that you don’t know how he will react if you leave. Please call your local SafePlace and have a talk with a counselor there. You need to know how to protect yourself legally and financially. You need to get copies of your important documents together. Some men like to hide their wive’s birth certificates and other things. Sometimes the most dangerous time is when you’re about to leave. How many women do we see on tv who are killed when they ask for a divorce…

Forget what people may think of you. Where were those people all these years to help you?

Some may say serious illness causes people to grow closer to God. But I’ve also seen personality types like your husband become meaner and nastier. I’d even hesitate to help him, because you might be in danger when you see him. Only you know the level of his hostility toward you.

I really feel for you. I know personally how someone like that can completely corrode your personality, your sense of self respect, your confidence in the very love of God even.

I know the feeling of having to throw every part of your personality, sense of humor, conversation topics and reactions overboard that are not in keeping with what “he” allows. Eventually you tiptoe around numbly in your own skin. It’s a living death. Unless you’ve lived it, you can’t understand. People in healthy relationships do not get it.

Marriage is supposed to be a sacrament - an outward sign of God’s grace through which the couple provides mutual help and support, the procreation and education of children, and mutual sanctification of the spouses. It doesn’t sound like you ever had any of those.

Nowhere in here do you speak of your husband being close to God or a man of prayer or a churchgoer. That would have provided a tool to work with. Without it, you will have someone who will go downhill physically and continue to take all his anger and frustration in life out on you.

Your mother is lucky he won’t talk to her anymore. That’s his final gift to her. Look at it that way.

Maybe you thought he’d have a change of heart. I hear in your tone that you are getting NO change from him whatsoever, your last hopes are dashed and that’s why after all this time, you are ready to cut the rope.

Abusers are notorious for using substitute targets before you become their main target. Often it’s the wife’s mother. He directs all his anger and hatred toward her, knowing it hurts his wife. Eventually, even if he were to get rid of the mother’s influence (they have a way of backing off and disappearing from the picture so their daughters don’t get abused further) then they turn that rage on the real target.

Quite frankly, he’s pulling you down. You will probably eventually be of no help to him anyway at the rate things are going. And you will be of no help to yourself either.

Leave, and pray for him from a safe distance is my advice now. You do not know what effect sickness is going to have on his already shaky mental processes. He is a control freak who is losing all control of everything. They don’t respond to that very well. This has chilling implications. Very chilling.
Continued…


#15

I want simply, to be rid of the constant feeling of being in the wrong marraige with the wrong person.

That “constant feeling” could be your instincts telling you to get out. You’ve been overriding your basic instincts for so many years you don’t even trust them anymore, I’ll bet. Start trusting your instincts again. You’ve spent too many years explaining away his behavior and ignoring your gut. He’s got you believing the lie that this is all you deserve. (I’ll bet it’s even your fault he’s not nicer to you. If you had only done what he wanted, things would have turned out so much better. You made your bed… you sleep in it now! Shame on you! :wink: Do you “need to be on medication” too? :wink: ) Well, listen to that little voice of self-preservation that he has not drowned out yet.

And you need to deal with the legalities also of protecting your own financial future. Is this the kind of man who would let you nurse him for years and treat you horribly and then he dies and you find out he left everything to someone or something else in his will?

The fact that you don’t say he has ever voiced any sorrow for his behavior worries me. That he won’t go to counseling is another red flag. You say you are afraid of being alone. I know that feeling. But you are already alone. He’s in the same room with you and he may as well be on the moon for all the good it does you. THAT is lonely!

If he still presents any kind of threat to your health, safety or sanity, then you have a right to protect yourself by leaving.


#16

As Father Corapi says… The highest desire a husband or wife should have for their spouse is for them to get into heaven.

If indeed your marriage is invalid and it sounds to me that you would have a very good chance at an annulment… maybe there is a better chance that your husband will come to know God if you leave. He will have to eventually come to terms with everything he has done and he will miss you terribly. He may come to experience that emptiness that can only be filled by God.

I hope that you find the time to go to Adoration. When I go, even if I don’t come away with a clear answer in my heart to whatever my problem was, I at least get a little bit closer to true inner peace and have more strength to try my best to do God’s Will.

I pray that God give you strength to find your way in all of this,

Kateri


#17

I would say, if this is the case then she has a RESPONSIBILITY to leave.:slight_smile:

To many people ASSUME it is God’s will for one spouse to endure abuse from another. The false sense of sacrifice only leads to the abusers continuing the abuse WITHOUT consequence. To even suggest to someone that they should stay in a marriage that is emotionally (and/or physically abusive) in my opinion is a grave evil disquised by self rightousness.

You have a MORAL RESPONSIBILITY to protect yourself. IMO, it is sinful if you stay. The Bible is clear about siding with the innocent. You need to side with yourself in this case. You putting him first for so long is what has allowed his evil to continue. Do you want to bear that responsibility, partnering with and allowing evil to continue such a way? Love him too much to allow him to treat you this way. Love yourself enough to not allow him to treat you this way. You staying there is allowing it.

Poeple are telling you to read books. I’m going to venture a guess, that you have read a thousand marriage self help books already. How is one more going to help you. How many has he read. You can leave him without divorcing him. But you will not be able to have the distance needed or clarity of mind to make wise and prudent decisions while in the midst of abuse.

ABUSE TRUMPS EVERYTHING ELSE.

It is NEVER under any circumstances God’s Will for someone to be abused!! Stand up for righteousness, by standing up for yourself!!!

www.drirene.com is an abuse site with a VERY active forum. You will find MUCH support there. I am Shining Waters there, I hope to see you. They are very supportive whether you decide to leave or stay, but it helps to talk to people that have been or are in the same situation. The support I have received there has been INVALUABLE. Please come.:slight_smile: (even if it’s just to lurk.)


#18

drirene.com/codepend1.htm

This is a helpful page to start there, Dermot2. :slight_smile:


#19

The other thing that really jumps out at me is the OP is even thinking that having the approval of strangers over her decision is worth living with someone who has obviously never shown her any approval. It’s a poor substitute. Just sayin…


#20

Thank you all so much for your responses and concern and most of all your prayers.

I don’t wish to let you think my husband is still being verbally and physically abusive to me. He is no longer doing that and has been very careful to watch himself and control his temper. He also started going to Mass again after years away from the Church. All of this I appreciate very much because at least I no longer fear constantly about his temper.

But improvements haven’t helped me feel better about the marriage because I grieve so much for what could have been. And the loss of intimacy is important to me, although not to my husband.

I see leaving as my only option if I want to have the things I yearn for – the chance to be a step grandma, to be held and touched, to not have to reflect on a lifetime of regrets.

I think that my husband’s MS is what is holding me back. I do care about him, despite his mistreatment of me and my family. He is not an evil person, but a troubled one who grew up in an abusive home himself.

Perhaps my heart has been wounded too much. I’m tired of faking feeling happy. I don’t want to go on anti-depressants in order to tolerate my life and marriage.

I’ve tried so long and now I’m so exhausted.


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