Marriage advice


#1

Hi to everyone,

I am having some major problems in my marriage, and I was wondering what different takes people had on the situation.

My husband has given me practically no companionship or conversation for several days now, and has also been avoiding our four kids. Almost all his time is spent working, or in a downstairs office. The situation was precipitated by an argument over discipline; I felt he was being extremely overbearing and unfair with our 8-year old son (who suffers from autism), so I intervened on behalf of the boy. We got into an argument. I later let him know that we had to work out a plan for discipline that was mutually agreeable, but he reacted badly to this so we got into another fight. He is withdrawing massively from the whole situation, and I can’t get a straight answer regarding how long he will keep it up, or what’s on his mind. I can say he is offended by the fact that I interevened with his discipline, but the problem is that he won’t respect my limits and beliefs with this issue. He wants me to sit back and let him do as he wants, and I think his habits are bad for the kids, not to mention that being passive would be degrading to me.

My husband is actually a very active Catholic in the religious sense and has a regular confessor. So I have at least that hope, that I can contact his confessor or some other individual he respects, and see if that third pary will make a difference. I tried counseling, but he would not go and I believe I am already trying to apply in this situation the best advice I could get from the counselor. But how much longer should I give him? This would be a serious move, and I would rather not jump the gun and maybe embarrass him without need. Still, stonewalling, neglect of family and bad temper has been a problem for years.

I would also appreciate prayers.


#2

ezilon.com/articles/articles/5668/1/Common-Marriage-Problems--Avoiding-common-marriage-problems-in-your-conflicts

Put this on his pillow, desk, or whatever...... with a card simply saying you'd like to talk now.

Just an idea.........


#3

What he feels is that you just told him he is a bad father. You didn't say it, but that is what he heard. Convince him otherwise. Point out some of the good things he does. He may be doubting himself as a dad, not just with your one special needs child but with all of them. He is in a provider mode because he doesn't think he can, or can't to SUIT YOU, interact with the kids. So he's just going to work, provide the roof, the cash etc., and the rest is up to you since he can't do it to your satisfaction. Now, you probably didn't mean to send that message, but I am pretty sure that is what he's gotten out of it. Talk it out and try to find some language that doesn't make him feel like he's a failure.


#4

From what you are saying, it sounds like this isn’t about one case of inappropriate anger-based discipline, but something that has been brewing for years. Once he gets over his case of sulking and the silent treatment, what are your long term plans for improving communication and coming up with a discipline plan that is consistent? It seems like that is important, especially in light of having a child with autism.

If he isn’t willing to go to counseling, it seems like it might be a good idea for you to go on your own. This will give you probably a better perspective on what problems you are encountering in your relationship and how to approach it better from your end. That way if there is anything that you can do, you will at least know that you have done it. I am not sure how much you can achieve if your husband seems satisfied with blowing up and then giving everyone the silent treatment.

Praying for you though. I know that this is not easy, and that even when he gets over this episode there are still long term issues that need to be worked out.


#5

www.drray.com for parenting resources.

The Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly for getting your marriage back on the rails.


#6

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.

I do honestly believe I have made the effort when it comes to trying to stick to the issues and avoid insulting him. Lutheranteach, I know what you are saying and you do have a point. However, I think he is not hearing me correctly; I am really trying to avoid that “bad father” message (though when emotions run high, I do tend towards judgementalism and I may say harder things than I mean to). It’s not easy when I feel the family being threatend, or feel my kids are being mistreated. He is not abusing them, but on a few occasions he has really gotten into the face of my daughter and my son, and I’m afraid they may be overwhelmed. Every effort I make to get him talking about the marriage, discipline, his needs, my needs, etc. is either stonewalled or treated with joking.

Dulcissima, I did get in contact with a counselor for about five months or so. I guess I need to confess that one problem I have is that I have not been confronting our problems strongly enough, and the counselor told me this. I did stop the counseling for financial reasons, wanting to continue to work according to what I had learned, but his resistence is very strong, and our hours together are scanty at best. The conselor could not confront my husband personally, so that was why I was thinking of contacting a third party that he does respect. In the meantime, I thought I would hash it out online with some Christian listeners.

Thanks for the links!


#7

Joan, I had the same problem in my marriage. I was not strong in confronting him because of worrying about the backlash. No counselor will or should be confronting your husband, and no third party including your husband’s spiritual advisor, should be doing that. You really are going to need to find this in you, because otherwise you are just maintaining a status quo that is not acceptable for anyone. I finally started to not accept what was going on, and eventually left and we are divorced now which in our case is what was needed. I’m not recommending that course of action to you, but being passive regularly does not tend to yield good results.


#8

Hi Dulcissima,

Just to clarify, it’s really not as though I have not said anything about these issues, but I have not been able to find a way around his avoidance, and being sufficiently strong-willed to break it would be hard to achieve. It’s a tough problem. I can’t help but to feel a third party could be helpful in this particular case, because he does have spiritual leaders he respects, and these people will (I should expect) encourage him to work with me better.


#9

i'm filling in some blanks but here's what i'm hearing:

if husband can't overpower, he punishes by detachment. if you won't let him do things his way, he won't do anything any way.

I have not been able to find a way around his avoidance, and being sufficiently strong-willed to break it would be hard to achieve.

so you think that by then overpowering him i.e., **sufficiently strong-willed ** you could force him into doing things your way-- at least force him to communicate.

now i don't know if your husband is too rough with the kid or if you're too sensitive about your boy. but i'm betting this: so long as your husband get mileage out his ice age antics (mileage being you're upset, you try and finagle some response, you're busting moves to get something from him) he'll keep it up.

cold shoulder? wear a coat and move on with your day, your week, your month if you have to.

and pray for him. every moment you avoid the temptation to bring him around (i.e., manipulate a desired response) offer it up for his deepening conversion.

and don't tell on him to his confessor. unless you're in danger, their relationship is their business unless you're invited in.


#10

[quote="Joan1969, post:6, topic:180177"]
Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.

I do honestly believe I have made the effort when it comes to trying to stick to the issues and avoid insulting him. Lutheranteach, I know what you are saying and you do have a point. However, I think he is not hearing me correctly; I am really trying to avoid that "bad father" message (though when emotions run high, I do tend towards judgementalism and I may say harder things than I mean to). It's not easy when I feel the family being threatend, or feel my kids are being mistreated. He is not abusing them, but on a few occasions he has really gotten into the face of my daughter and my son, and I'm afraid they may be overwhelmed. Every effort I make to get him talking about the marriage, discipline, his needs, my needs, etc. is either stonewalled or treated with joking.

Dulcissima, I did get in contact with a counselor for about five months or so. I guess I need to confess that one problem I have is that I have not been confronting our problems strongly enough, and the counselor told me this. I did stop the counseling for financial reasons, wanting to continue to work according to what I had learned, but his resistence is very strong, and our hours together are scanty at best. The conselor could not confront my husband personally, so that was why I was thinking of contacting a third party that he does respect. In the meantime, I thought I would hash it out online with some Christian listeners.

Thanks for the links!

[/quote]

You're doing the right thing in protecting your children, never make compromises that can affect their well being.

I grew up with a father who got in my face a lot, it had a pretty negative effect on my mental health. It is much, much better if he withdraws and hides in his office than mistreats the little ones.


#11

When parents don’t agree on discipline, and they make their disagreement public; in other words, the children know about the disagreement–this is setting up the children for complete disaster as they get older. They will know that they can “play” Mom and Dad against each other, and they WILL do it and the result will be tragedy. Your family will be destroyed.

Your children might be playing the two of you against each other right now,
but you aren’t recognizing it because you are convinced that your husband is in the wrong.

I don’t know that I want to discuss all the implications of this conflict between parents in regards to discipline because I don’t know the situation thoroughly, other than from your post and I’m afraid that I will offend or frighten you.

One possibility that I will mention–and I hope to God I’m wrong about your family–is that this will set any boys in your family up for involvement with homosexuality–the classic formula is “strong mother and weak father.” Even though your husband appears to be the “strong” one, in actuality his cowardly behavior (withdrawing to the basement) makes him the “weak” parent.

It is vital that you find someone who can correctly assess the situation in your family. I’m not sure how much of your post is correct. It could be that your husband is appropriate, but you are over-protective. A lot of moms undermine the manly authority and natural masculine “toughness” of their husbands, and the result is very bad for the children.

Or you could very well be right and your husband is immature to the point of abusiveness. The withdrawal behavior is certainly not mature. OTOH, he may not know how to get through to you, and he withdraws out of despair.

I fear greatly for your family. I advise you to immediately get into counselling with a CHRISTIAN counselor if possible, and learn how to try to resolve this very serious situation in your home. Go by yourself if your husband won’t come. And if the counselor isn’t helping, find another counselor. Do whatever you have to to do pay for it–perhaps your parents will loan you money. It doesn’t sound like a permanent counselling situation–you just need some guidance.

Is there an Office of Family Life in your diocese? It’s possible that there are people there who can help you correctly assess your situation, and who will work with you to help bring peace to your home, and it’s possible that they will not charge you for this service. Ask, please.


#12

I wanted to say thanks again to everyone who shared input, and prayers. My husband and I have managed to resolve the quarrel, and I am hopeful that we are both getting our needs filled. I still can't say I'm comfortable with the fact that the argument got so intense, since I was interested from day one in helping him to fill his need for respect from the kids. But we have come up with a couple of simple ways to do this reasonably- being very proactive and strict about the issue (something I need to work on), and having a way for me to let him know of my discomfort or disagreement "in the discipline trenches", without looking like I am opposing him or his authority directly. I am hopeful it will work long-term.

My family is more important to me than anything, except being at peace with God. I pray He will protect us!

Joan


#13

If your husband isn’t abusive, why are you defending the feelings of your children? Either he’s abusive and wrongly disciplining or you feel bad when he’s punishing them in a way you don’t like and you’re undermining his authority.

Even with the autistic 8yo. Kids are VERY smart. They do silly things out of inexperience. One thing they are very good at is manipulation. I work with autistic adults 18-22 as part of their life skills program. One girl kept calling me by my co-workers name. I told her not to. Even her parent and other teachers were upset because I finally said that she could no longer work for me unless she called me by my name and my name only. I could tell she was manipulating me. Long story short as soon as she heard she could no longer work for me she changed her tune, explained my name was hard to say and wanted to make me upset. We settled on an nick-name.

Now, many months later the teachers and her mother are “harder” on her but her growth has been exponential. She is far more independent, she’s more likable and she is happier.

Sometimes it takes another set of eyes to point out something wrong. Sometimes a kid needs a “cut THAT OUT!” It may overwhelm them, but better from a parent as a child than from a police officer as an adult.

I do NOT agree that its good that he hides away. Better to have an active and loving father with a bit of a temper than an absent father with a temper.

Insted of telling him he’s too harsh, ask him what he expects out of the kids. Let there be some give and take. For instance he wants quiet time after dinner then do that…even if it seems like “too much” or dosn’t make sence to you. Ask him what you do that he dosn’t like.

I don’t know all your circumstances, nor am I a parent. But I do know that the strongest parental figures never apologize for a spouses behavior. Never undermine a spouse. Again, unless he’s being abusive, (which you claim he’s not) this seems like a probably between your parenting styles.


#14

[quote="purplesunshine, post:13, topic:180177"]
If your husband isn't abusive, why are you defending the feelings of your children? Either he's abusive and wrongly disciplining or you feel bad when he's punishing them in a way you don't like and you're undermining his authority.

[/quote]

It's very hard for a woman to classify her husband as abusive, generally women will go out of their way to make excuses for them to avoid that categorization.

She said he gets in their faces and overwhelms them, does it mean yells at them like a maniac? That is abuse, and nothing that a father should be doing, especially not to young children with developmental disabilities.


#15

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.