Marriage in trouble...

After going to college at a very liberal school, I fell away from the Catholic faith and ended up meeting and marrying my husband, a fundamental Christian. We were married in the Catholic church at the request of my parents 3 years ago this August.

Shortly before we were married, I realized the my husband-to-be had a drinking problem - not necessarily addiction, but he just really likes to drink excessively. I was afraid to call off the wedding because it was only a month in advance (invites were out, everything was set, etc). I thought we could work it out.

Since then, I’ve had times where I thought it was better, only to find empty beer bottles put back in the fridge (so I’d think there were still some left) and liquor bottles stashed in various places. I’d confront him, he’d say he was unhappy, we’d cry, he’d say he’d be better, and I trusted him… only to have the cycle repeat itself over and over.

About a year and a half ago, I discovered that not only was he drinking heavily, he was also looking at porn on the internet, and talking through various social networking sites with women, telling them how unhappy he was and how sorry he was to be married to me. I confronted him about this, and again was told how unhappy he is and that basically it was my fault that he felt he needed to look at porn. He said he’d stop, we were going to work things out, etc.

In a similar manner to the alcohol (and along with the alcohol issues), we’ve been in a cycle every since - I find it, confront him, he promises he’ll stop, etc. He’s promised he’ll talk with someone about this, but it’s never happened.

The reason I’m posting in the Catholic forums is because lately, I’ve felt such a strong pull back to the Church. He won’t allow me to go, and insists that I’m just doing this to push him away. I found the porn and more empty beer bottles this past week, and I’m not sure I have it in me to give him another chance. He’s begging me to give him another chance, crying, telling me how much he loves me and needs me, but I feel like it’s just the start of another cycle.

Thoughts? Opinions? Advice?

I realize that I am probably throwing myself under the bus, so to speak, posting on this forum with the decisions that I’ve made. But I’m confused, and want any advice I can get.

He won’t *allow *you to exercise the practice of your faith? Honey, he can’t stop you.

You’ve married an alcoholic. You haven’t admitted it yet. I really suggeest you contact Al-Anon, which is a support group for families of alocholics. This will help YOU get clarity.

Insist HE go to AA. He has a problem, and if he won’t get help and make the committment to change the pattern you describe-- promise, break promise, cry, promise again-- will repeat into infinity.

Certainly returning to the Church and the Sacraments will also give you strength. Go to Confession, resume the sacramental life, and seek counseling regarding your marriage situation from your priest.

Pray that he will accept responsibility for his problems, and seek help. Do all you can to change the situation and your marriage.

If he refuses to get help, you have a tough decision to make. It may mean ending your marriage. Get some professional assistance in this-- priest, Al-Anon, Catholic marriage counselor.

But, first and foremost, do not let him come between you and God. Go back to the Sacraments, Jesus is waiting for your there. You will find much strength in the grace of the Sacraments to deal with your marriage situation. God loves you, it sounds to me like you are waiting for a big “I told you so” or for us to say “shame on you” or whatever… but God’s not like that. He’s the Father-- remember the prodigal son. He didn’t make him beg to return home, he ran out to meet him and gave thanks that his child had returned. The Church is the same way (although individual people in the Church may be less than stellar examples of that). GOD wants you to return to him. Don’t delay. Go to Confession as soon as possible.

I’m really sorry to hear what has happened to you and your marriage. I’m sure that there are some others on the forums who have better advice than me, but it really sounds to me like you need a mediator if you wish to fix this marriage or to determine that it is beyond repair. Marriage counseling would certainly be an option.

Also, do not hesitate to ask the advice of a local priest, especially if you feel drawn back to the Church as you have said.

I’m going to say a prayer for you, that the outcome of this situation will reflect God’s will for you and your husband.

EDIT: It definitely sounds to me like your husband has a problem with addiction–both alcohol and pornography. This is going to be something that is extremely difficult to conquer.

At the age of 20, I was your husband. Married in the church at the age of 18, fell away and totally into alcohol. My marriage ended in divorce before I ended up in substance abuse treatment, 12-Step program and new life. It happened as it happened because I am now remarried for 21 years, 4 great children and successful life in the church and too many blessing to count.

The first problem is you. Seek counseling as soon as possible. He doesn’t have to go with you. If you don’t feel you can afford counseling, try Al-Anon or open AA meetings (go to meetings even if you go to counseling). Learn about the disease. The drinking is primary to the porn, it must be addressed first. It is a physical malady that must be overcome through a spiritual experience. You can not do that for your husband, it must come from within him. Telling a drinker that you will leave him only makes him decide between alcohol and you, and the disease will push him to choose the alcohol. Nothing personal, just how that disease works.

What you can do it stop enabling him to be irresponsible. No problem drinkier can live without someone taking the responsibility from their actions. With help, you can learn helpful way to do that and to take care of yourself. It requires a spriitual experience for you as well.

The Catholic part will take care of itself once your co-dependence is addressed. You will both need to grow spiritually and that is program and the spiritual experience, if you are open to that. Prayer is strong and comforting in these times and I will keep both you and your husband on my prayer list as well. You both need prayer to overcome this difficult and challenging life event. There are many good people out there that will come to your assistance if you just ask.

There are many Catholic prayer pages on the internet that can offer you assistance and words during this difficult time. Please make use of them with it feels overwhelming and out of your control. Let God direct this part of your life, just do your best and leave the results in his hands. Let Go and Let God.


I’m an alcoholic sober 16 years. He’ll never quit until drinking costs him more than not drinking, and maybe not even then. Right now drinking only costs a few tears and a confrontation every now and then. Clearly this is a price he’s willing to pay.

I warn you that the price the price he is unwilling to pay may never be known. Many of us are willing to die in the gutter before we quit. Addiction is amazing - it is slavery, abject subjugation, degradation of the will and we will fight to stay that way. It’s nuts, I know, but there it is.

Porn is exactly the same. (and gambling, and…)

He might be willing to take a look at his behavior if it costs him his home life, marriage, job, etc. The best thing you can do right now is to start raising the price. For you, and for him. if he continues to slide into the pit you will be taking the steps you need to free yourself from his addiction, and you may be helping to provide some motivation for him to seek help. Pray, a lot. hopefully he will see this and start to pray for help also. God is what he needs. You need help too - look up Alanon.

The fact he “won’t allow you” to come back to the Church shows that you are in this deeper than you ouight to be. By what authority does he grant or withold permission for you to pursue your relationship with God? His position on the moral high ground is pretty dubious.

He wants me to give him an answer on whether I’ll give him one more chance tonight… unfortunately, at this point, I don’t want to continue with the cycle, I think I just want to to be over. That might be different with time, but if I have to answer today, I’d say I just want to be done.

My advice as a divorced but not anulled Catholic is to NOT get a divorce. I have and still do regret my divorce. However unhappy I was in my marriage - knowing what I know now about my faith - I would gladly have gone through it for life for Christ’s sake.

If you are considering coming back to the Church, I pray that you follow through and do come back. But the absolute best and first thing you can do (and one that won’t cost you any more than a few minutes of your time every day) is to pray to God for your husband’s soul. I still pray for mine even though we haven’t spoken in over a decade.

At the risk of sounding fanatical or just plain crazy, your husband is in the grasp of the evil one. The fact that he was an alcoholic did not necessarily point to that, but now that he’s not only addicted to liquor but also porn and also chats online with other women does point to the fact that he need’s God’s help or he will be totally consumed with immorality.

I know that just walking away from this situation sounds like it’s the best thing for you. But I assume that you still love your husband. Now that you are married and “the two have become one” you also need to focus on him and the state of his soul. Although he seems like he’s pushing you away, he needs you more than he ever has. If you abandon him now, think deeply about what will happen to him in the future. I would suggest #1 that you make some serious time to sit down alone with God and pray and contemplate what would happen if you left. And since you are considering coming back to the Church, #2 I would suggest you discuss everything you’ve said here to a local priest that you feel comfortable with.

God loves you and your husband very much and doesn’t want to see your marriage end up destroyed. You just need to turn to Him to let Him know you don’t either. Somehow, at some point, He will help you. But please don’t expect it to happen overnight in a miraculous way. Just be honest to God and yourself and try your best to be patient. And pray. And seek a priest’s councelling - that will help you not only get things off your chest but also give you a sense that another person is listening to your crisis and really does care, and is trying to help you work it out

God bless you and know that you are both in my prayers,

I’m sorry you’re struggling in your marriage. Before you do anything…your husband and you need to admit that he is an alcoholic. Hiding bottles, drinking excessively frequently, crying and asking for forgiveness only to do it again–are all tell tale signs of this. Until he can admit that, you won’t know if he can get better. You see it as giving him chances to shape up, but you both need to realize he needs help beyond what you can provide. I would highly suggest counseling and getting into AA. Now, if he refuses to do that, then you have a tough decision to make, but I wouldn’t think about leaving until you both admit that he has a problem, and that he tries to get help. Just my two cents. I’ll be praying for you!!

I wonder if you could leave that environment, just temporarily - say a week-end retreat, just long enough for you to get some perspective on things and open yourself up to God’s grace. I have never been in your situation, but I know that when I am faced with overwhelming problems, I sometimes need to be alone, to soak in God’s presence. Just sitting in church, or going for a walk in nature, conversing with the one who loves me and knows me better than I know myself. Once you have soaked up His Love, His Strength, and all the graces He is so wanting to give you, you will be able to face whatever you need to face, and do whatever needs to be done.

Confession is an excellent place to start in responding to God’s call. He is calling your heart, right now, that is the pull that you feel: His love, wanting to embrace you, help you. Let Him into your heart. He will be there, with everything you need to carry on, including the guidance that you seek.

I place you and your husband right now in the open, broken and Merciful Heart of our loving Lord Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

His Peace be with you,

Terrysa is right. Although I don’t think divorce is something to be considered, separation may be a temporary solution for you to clear your head and use the time to your advantage.

Have you ever thought of going on a retreat? Pious Catholics are not the only ones who go on retreats. Many people both Catholic and non-Catholic have found it of great benefit to go on a weekend retreat - or sometimes longer - to clear their heads, find God, and find answers to their current problems.

It may be something to think about…

God Bless,

I would love to go on a retreat, or at least have some time alone to think and pray. Of course I have been praying all the way through this, but time alone is really what I need. My husband is unable to give me this time. He’s been frantic, and threatens to commit suicide if I leave. He barely let me have 24 hours to think it over, and that was after begging for 4 hours. He refused to go to work this morning, and has cancelled his new semester of classes because he says he can’t deal with the work until I tell him I’ll give him another chance.

Then I suggest you find a priest, make an appointment to see him, and tell hubby you have a councelling appointment to sort this all out. You don’t have to tell him you’re seeing a priest, just say a councellor. The priest would probably give you better advice than most of us here.

I pray for you,

Kensington, honey, if all that you say here is true, then he is blackmailing you, and you are allowing it. You need time to think and sort things out. Your husband is not “unable” to give you the time you need; he is unwilling to. Tell him you are leaving for a weekend (or however long you need), and then GO! If he threatens suicide call 911. Immediately. He is holding you hostage to his alcoholism, and neither one of you will get better until that bondage is broken. He is using you and your willingness to enable him as excuses not to get better. If you keep caving in to emotional blackmail, the cycle WILL continue. You cannot count on him to keep his promises, so you have to be the one to stop the cycle.

Now he’s emotionally blackmailing you by putting responsibility for the whole situation on you. Threats of suicide, demanding you make a decision “now,” blaming you for stress that has caused him to change his class schedule, etc. These too are tactics of alcoholics and others with addictions/dependencies-- manipulating, lieing, blaming… it’s all in the package.

First, the suicide prevention hotline is 800-273-8255 and the website is You can take the threat of suicide seriously without allowing these threats to emotionally blackmail you into a decision you are not ready to make.

Your husband sounds very troubled, and you need professional assistance/guidance in dealing with this. It will certainly be a long haul no matter whether you decide to stay or go.

I am sorry you are going through this. If you are not ready to decide, and need physical space from him, then tell him this and move forward. You cannot be responsible for his decisions and his threats of self-harm. You cannot allow him to hold you hostage. But, you can give him all the tools to help himself-- AA number, suicide prevention number, etc.

He is trying to control you, your life and the marriage. Please do not exchange this situation for your return to the Church. Your actions cannot “make” him do anything. It’s his choice.

He’s holding you hostage, and you’re letting him. You need a few days off - call 911 and they’ll send someone over to put him in psych watch for 72 hours. While he is gone find an Al-Anon meeting. Introduce yourself as new and look for the most serene woman there. She will be what they call a black belt. Ask for, and take her advice. If you do this it will be both the worst and best day of your husband’s life. When he gets back have a bag packed for him. Tell him it’s time to start growing up NOW. Inform him that he’s being a baby and the babies don’t get to make the rules, so he will follow yours for a while. The bag will remain packed so that he can be invited to leave at a moment’s notice. If he doesn’t like it, maybe one the women on the internet will treat him better. If he grows up he cain regain partner status.

Then remind him that bumping himself off will solve at least one of your problems.

Only if you make it perfectly clear that EVERYTHING has permanently changed in your life regarding your relationship, can this get better. From this point forward you must never accept alcohol, drugs or porn in his life. These things are unacceptable. This is very difficult to do but it’s the only way that you might help this situation. In the end only he and God can get sober, but you have to get out of the way.

Know that you are not being mean or bad if you take the hard line. You are allowing him to take posession of the natural consequences of his behavior. These consequences are his, and you cannot take them from him, or you will be stealing from him. You will take away his chance to learn from his consequences. That’s how he can start growing up.

Right now he’s on his way down, and you want him to hit bottom hard and fast. When he hits bottom, he will either cry out to God or he will dispair. You can’t make that decision for him. You can only hasten his descent to the “jumping-off place.” You can’t prevent his going down - make no mistake - he is headed there.

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