Marital problems - does it get better? Need help

My wife and I have been married for five years. We met in college, and she always dreamed of being a stay at home mom.

Fast-forward to our fourth year of marriage.

We had tried getting pregnant since we got married. Doctors say it is “unexplained infertility”. Rather than spending thousands on drugs, we decided to adopt. (But that’s beside the point.)

Somewhere between wedding day and today, it seems the disappointment of infertility has caused my wife to abandon her dream of being a stay at home mom and instead invest her energy into her job of teaching religion at a Catholic school.

Now that we have adopted, she doesn’t want to stay home. She’s perfectly fine sending our baby to day care and private school, and has no interest in homeschooling. She loves her job, but it is at the expense of what I believe to be the well-being of our baby.

I feel like I’ve gotten the “bait and switch”.

Aside from the stay at home issues, my wife absolutely always has to have her way. She always wants to go have fun at the expense of duties at home. She doesn’t apologize when I feel she has wronged me. She pouts when she doesn’t get her way. I talked to my mother in law who gave my wife a copy of “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”, and my wife took offense. The other day she acknowledged she doesn’t think she’s an obedient wife, then justified it.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with a moderate non-life threatening sickness, but before I was diagnosed, I had several spells of nausea, severe fatigue, etc., and my wife just complained to my face about how I was useless when I was sick, and that I needed to tough it out. No compassion.

What do I do? I feel like the love is gone from our marriage. Please help me.

Counseling. A Marriage Encounter Weekend. Meet with your parish Priest (both of you). Pray for her. Continue to be patient.

“Does it get better?” Some times it does… if both people are working TOGETHER to improve on the relationship and both recognize that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Regardless however, you two are one and need to either accept the other’s short-comings or (if both are willing) work to change them.

One might be tempted to say your wife is inclined to be selfish.

Selfish people may appear to love, and may think they do when everything is new and they are getting what they think they want at the time. When things ‘get a bit old’ or their needs are served another way, they go with that.

Actually nothing has really changed except the illusion that they love others or another. You may have let her have her way too much in the past, because to challenge her “costs too much”, as others may have done before you, and it doesn’t sound like that can easily change.

Like many other married people you may be the one who loves and decides to keep giving, even if not appreciated, because if you don’t remain caring, even while being realistic about your wife’s inability or unwillingness to live in an mutually loving relationship…if you lose your own loving tendencies, you are betraying yourself. That doesn’t alter the fact that you are betrayed by false expectations that she probably believed in the beginning.

It wasn’t surprising your wife objected to the book as it would have seemed too much like criticism…so your mother-in-law mightn’t have the best grasp on psychology, but at least she means well.

It’s not easy but I guess you need to become more truly yourself and find your strength within, because as you indicate, when you do challenge her, you gain nothing. If someone doesn’t genuinely love you, the there isn’t a lot one can do about it but if there is hope, St John of the Cross tells us “Where there is no love, put love – and you will find love.” You are confused and hurt, for yourself and the baby…but perhaps St John has something…

I know it’s hurtful, and I will say a prayer for you that what can be achieved will be achieved, wisely and kindly, and that you will be able to cope with whatever is the best way to handle things with your wife, knowing that if things get too tough for her she may choose a path that suits her and may not suit you at all.

It isn’t fair. But I hope you’ll find a way through. God bless you

Jesus,our Lords peace be with You.
Dear friend,first,sorry for my bad english. And to the point. I know haw You must feel. I was marriege for ten long and painfull years. We did get children,I have one step-daughter and two “own” kids,a boy and a girl,all adults now. Our marriage went wrong the day we said “I do”,what I had before that day was a loving woman,after that day I had a wife who even once said that I make her sick. I will not go in to details,I can’t talk bad about someone who are not present,but when we made love she could not even look at me,and that hurts. When I came home from work,there was never any food,not even coffe,but there was a pile of clothes to be washed and another pile of dishes,she went to the neighbours leaving me with all “domestic” work she well could have done during the day. And then one day,she told me she wants a divorce ASAP,and that was that. I moved out a few months later. So I know haw You feel,and I can say that You need a miracle. Women never tells what is wrong,they asume You can read minds,and You cant defend Your self not knowing what You have done wrong. I know this is not the ansver You want to hear,but as I wrote,You need a miracle to save Your marriage,and You also need to consider if You want to salvage what is possible,but,it will never be a good marriage anymoore,I am so sorry to be the one saying this,but I cant lie. There is nothing You can do but to pray for a miracle,and put all Your faith in the hands of God,and I have moore bad news,a good divorce is better then a bad marriage,and You do have a child to think about,and that is the most importen thing in this problem. A child must never suffer from a bad marriage,or divorce. A child needs to be sure that nothing is lost,and that it in fact maybe be better. So that is the most importen thing to focus on. I also know what a divorce means for us catholics,the end of sex-life,and the end of having someone there in the morning when You wake up. I haw been over 16 years on my own,whit a dog as my “family”. I haw been lucky beacuse the children did not suffer from our divorce,and I had the rigth to see them when ever I wanted,and I am blessed with a call to priesthood,so celibacy is no problem for me,without my marriage I would be a priest now,but I am to old. So my friend,pray for a miracle,the time of talking may be long gone,but You could try to set up a meeting with Your wife,a priest and You,but I don’t think nothing will be solved by that either. All I can say as a [bad] advice is: make sure Your kid will not suffer from the divorce that is moore likely then solving Your problems,and try to get a “good” divorce. I wish that someone here will give You a better ansver,and one who might save Your marriage,I realy do my friend,I realy do. I will pray for You,and You keep on praying for a mircale. God bless You all.

Re: her changing her mind about being a SAHM… People can and do change their minds over time, and indeed may be led by the Holy Spirit to do so. Have you discussed with her (calmly, without judgment) why she originally wanted to SAH but now no longer does? I’m also an adoptive mom, and I know I changed my mind – from working PT, to SAH, now to working FT – based on life situations at the time and what I felt God was calling me to do at that instant. Before you blame your wife’s change of heart on the disappointment of infertility, talk to her and find out why she wants to work.

Anyway, as PPs said, marriages can get better, but they’re not likely to get better unless you work at it. Counseling or a Marriage Encounter weekend may help. And prayer, lots of prayer. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

Hi, I can sympathise with you. I have been married now for 13 years and what you have written is similar to my experience. My wife couldn’t fall pregnant easily because she didn’t ovulate so she took some drugs to get her body to ovulate. She fell pregnant and we have a wonderful son (who turns 9 this year). It was tough getting used to raising a child as we weren’t natural parents and we sought the best for our child. We had to relocate a number of times due to my job. I began to notice a lot of changes in my wife over the years. Certain bad traits started to become stronger in her personality and often times I just didn’t know who she was anymore or who I really married. She had never been a person to show affection and I can hardly ever remember a day in our married life when she told me that she loved me. I would tell her and would have to encourage her to tell me that she loved me. I had often times done some deep thinking to see if it was me, but I always concluded that I was a good husband (something I would tell her whenever we had arguments - pointing out all the things I do for her with little appreciation). Sometimes when we had an argument, I would tell myself that if I didn’t have my son, I would have left ages ago. But then I would calm down and deal with the situation.

I can offer this advice. You married your wife for better or worse. You have a responsibility to your child to be the best dad that you can be. God provided a solution to me. It was to practise humility. I got more involved in the faith. Studying, reading, and especially praying. I participate more in church things. Basically, I fill my life up with the faith. I have met some fantastic people in the church and their love for the faith helps me (and has started to help my wife as well).

I know how you are feeling and I believe this is a testing time for you. It helped mature me in certain ways that I had not thought of before. Remember that you are the one who posted the question so you are aware that there is a problem with the situation. Have patience with your wife and little by little she may come to realise the situation as well. It could be that her attitude is a response to feeling incapable of not being able to fall pregnant. Continuing to teach might be something she feels she is capable of doing, unlike the pregnancy. Either way, don’t let the situation ruin the memorable time you can spend with your child. These growing up years go very quickly and you don’t want to miss this by focusing too much on this problem. Something I learned early on and now I can remember those times with my son fondly. God works in mysterious ways and I am sure he will help you get through this.

I hope I have given you some useful advice. All the best.

There is nothing wrong with a mother wanting to work FT IMO. As long as she doesn’t work long hours or weekends.

This is what I think happened:

married - excited, new, can’t wait to have a baby!!!

infertility - self doubt, sadness, depression, anxiety - begins to focus on career

infertility continues - enjoying career, volunteering at church, etc., keeping busy to avoid depression

adoption - waiting, not sure if it will be possible, continue to work on career and outside activities to avoid anxiety and depression, mourning loss of pregnancy and birth (depressed)

adoption complete - spent all those years on career (don’t want to give it up anymore), used to having free time (feel like baby is limiting my ability to be the person I am), has mixed feelings towards child - child represents my infertility and it’s not my birth child. It’s just not the same. I feel like a failure. I don’t know what I want anymore…who am I? Why couldn’t I have my own baby?

Have you thought that maybe your wife is depressed b/c she feels like a failure b/c SHE didn’t give you this baby?

Just a thought. She may not be as selfish as you think. Counselling will help get to the root of it.

Infertility is a big cause of divorce btw. You guys can get though this. I bet your wife is still mourning the loss of not being pregnant, going into labor, holding her birth baby for the first time; knowing what it smells like, feels like to have your own baby from your own womb.

For some women, this is a HUGE failure and it takes a long time to accept and mourn for the loss. Be patient with her. Get to the root of the problem. Demand counselling.

I just want to add something from a mother’s perspective. We get overwhelmed with the responsibility of children. It’s a lot for us and while our husbands try to help, they just don’t do their share and we end up doing 80% and we usually have a job too.

We deep down resent our husbands b/c they don’t take the initiative to help us as we would like them to. When our children are acting up, husband might get in a bad mood and then we have to deal with a grumpy husband AND acting up children. We then get very tired and bitchy and we snap at everyone.

When we have PMS, we feel tired, irritable, bitchy and this gets thrown into the mix.

Our husbands criticize us and we just think, “Oh shut up…you don’t have all the responsibility that I have. What do you have to be so critical about!!!”

We then think that our husbands are not very helpful and we ask for help less and less b/c what’s the point. Then we get more busy, tired and resentful.

It’s a vicious cycle for both parties. This is why a woman changes after having children.

1st - Divorce is not an option. “a good divorce is better then a bad marriage” is a lie. It is the mantra of a society which seeks severance of unhappiness and discomfort rather than fixing the problem. A good divorce is no family at all with almost no chance of reconciling. A bad marriage is still a marriage and the husband and wife have not yet given up.

2nd - Serap, your explanation makes sense.

3rd - Taylor2, I came to the same conclusion this morning before reading your post. I need to practice more humility.

4th - Trishie, “Where there is no love, put love – and you will find love.” It makes me smile.

Thank you all for your advice. I’m going to put more love.

Lots of good advice given here that I won’t duplicate- just wanted to add that I think involving your MIL in your marital problems, however well-intentioned both of you may be, is a bad, bad, bad idea. No wonder your wife reacted defensively, spurning any suggestions that came out of what might appear to be collusion between the two of you to change her or talk about her behind her back.

Hello and welcome FramerJoe!

I am an (ahem older) woman, married almost 15 years, with one daughter who is 11. I know a little about fertility issues, so I will say that it can be massively upsetting to a woman who wants a baby. I suffered a number of miscarriages before having my daughter, and emotionally, it did terrible things to me. Anything that is emotionally damaging can manifest itself in many different ways, so this may be a contributing factor (as some PP’s have mentioned).

Bless you for trying to find a solution instead of throwing in the towel. I suggest looking into a Retrouvaille weekend. It was a truly life-changing experience for my DH and me! I will pray for you and your wife. Good luck and God bless.


I think the infertility explanation could be the root cause of much of the depression. Think about it if I cannot succeed here but I am succeeding at my job well why would I want to leave my job.

I personally think the best thing could do is ask her, “Hon, I want to help you around the house but I know you have your own way of doing things - so what can I do to help you that be of most help and not get in your way.”

I say this because sometimes when husbands come home and try to help they mean well but they end up throwing off a well-oiled machine. Asking her may get you a lot further as she can get help where she needs it wthout causing morework.

Considering the fact that I am experiencing some health problems related to infertility, has your wife ever explored the possibility that she may have fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, or the like? As a side note, in a different thread I had many women mention to me that they were told they had “unexplained infertility” and turns out they had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. And I don’t think getting the facts will cost thousands on drugs. Forgive me if I seem snarky, but doesn’t adoption cost even more? It’s something to look into, in all seriousness.

I’m so sorry to hear that you are experiencing a bout of infertility. That is quite a cross to carry.

I never experienced infertility, but I can say without a doubt, that I would have been a completely depressed basket case had I been infertile. I can only imagine how this has damaged your wife mentally.

I think you have minimized the monumental changes that have happened for you both. Her dream of having her own child and being home with the baby has died. Perhaps she would have wanted to spend the money, and didn’t express this wish to you. Maybe it wasn’t practical but she could have felt you didn’t care enough to try everything.

If it was a lifelong dream of hers to be home with her children, and then that dream was shattered, she had to rebuild her inner landscape, so to speak. She may have walled off parts of herself that were too painful and sore to deal with, so she could go on with her life and adjust to the idea of adoption. Some people have a very hard time with the idea of adoption. I know, for example, that my husband and his family do not accept the idea of it, although they would probably adjust to it and be welcoming to the child (at least I hope they would).

Does your wife work in a male-dominated field? It almost sounds as though she is around the male attitude a lot and has taken on certain characteristics of it. Of course being at work is much more satisfying than being at home with children, in worldly ways! You get a paycheck, you get positive feedback instead of backtalk, you get to do grownup things that increase your self-esteem.

I would definitely suggest marriage counseling because you started out with one dream of what your life was going to look like and here you are in a completely different reality. She may never become interested in staying at home with your children, but at least she can process her disappointment, anger, and sadness at the loss of her dream(s). You both need to acknowledge your grief and cling to each other to heal.

This is so true. Now that she’s had a real taste of it, she doesn’t want to go back. I personally don’t see anything wrong with a woman wanting a career as long as she is home by 5 and doesn’t work over-time or weekends. There must be a balance while the children are growing up.

I am personally giving up on a management position right now so that I can continue to come home early and work no over-time. I have a comfortable career that I really enjoy and I’m going back to work in January (after a year of being at home). I have hired a live-in nanny for my kids.

I personally find being at home too isolating and depressing. I love my kids to no end, but I know that I can’t keep going like this. I get moody and take it out on the kids. I found that when I was working, I would come home and be in a good mood for my DD. I would play with her and spend all my time with her. Now that I’m at home, I just want to get away. I love being with them, but I want “me” back. I want to feel like a person again. I want to miss my kids and look forward to coming home to them.

I know this may sound selfish to some, but things are different now. A mother being at home is completely alone. All the other women are working. There’s very little of a support group in the community for SAHM’s. It is extremely isolating and depressing. It can take a toll on the mother and the children end up having an unhappy mother and the father has an unhappy wife.

I’m not advocating that women should work and have a career, but I can definitely see why some women need a job to make themselves feel more human again.

We have had all the tests and she does not have fibroids, endometriosis, etc… My wife even went through exploratory surgery to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong.

Yes, adoption often costs more, but we had an attorney friend who offered to take our case pro-bono. The doctors said with our "unexplained infertility, we had a 5% chance of conceiving. The fertility drugs would only increase that to a 20% chance. We decided the chance of successful adoption was greater than conceiving with fertility drugs, so that’s where we put our money.

I agree with you … some women find SAH to be very isolating and they struggle quite a lot. I did SAH for a while, when my children needed it, but I’ll admit that I did struggle because I felt so isolated (and, like you, I was frequently moody). I felt so much better when I went back to work part-time, and I feel like I am a better mother now that I am working. Other women, of course, love being SAHMs. It really is an individual thing.

I don’t know the OP’s wife – she may or may not feel the same way I do. That’s why I suggested in my original response that the OP talk to her about why she wants to continue working.

OP, you seem to be making some assumptions, as do other posters, that her change of heart is related to their struggles with infertility… but it might not be. Have you asked her, without being accusatory, why she changed her mind on being a SAHM? She might have realized that although she had always dreamed of staying at home, it would be more isolating than she once dreamed (such as what serap and I were discussing). Or she might just like her job and feel called by God at this time to have at least a part-time ministry out of the home.

Or – and this is one that no poster has yet mentioned – she may be keenly aware of the tensions in your marriage and be unwilling to take the risk of becoming a SAHM while things are still rocky. Because, let’s face it, being a SAHM is a risk professionally and financially. It requires the SAHM to trust that her husband will indeed provide for the family, that he will not leave her, etc. I have been a SAHM before, and although I mentioned above that it wasn’t my cup of tea, I would be willing to go back to being a SAHM if I felt my family needed me to at that particular moment. I would be incredibly reluctant to become a SAHM, however, if my husband and I were fighting regularly and our marriage was tense. I doubt I’m alone in that.

So, OP, talk to your wife. Find out what she thinks and feels. If she’s willing to go to counseling or a retreat weekend, do that. If she isn’t, keep praying that she will becoming willing. Pray for her, pray for yourself, and pray for your marriage. In the meantime, be sure to help out around the house and be an active parent – please do not try to coerce her into being a SAHM by being uninvolved in housework and child care so that she becomes overwhelmed by balancing work and home duties. (I am not accusing you of doing this, OP, but I have seen it done on occasion by passive-aggressive husbands… and it never turns out well.)

Have BOTH of you been checked out for this?

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