Marriage Problems/Advice Request


My husband and I have been married for three years. We engaged in premarital sex, and I believe many of our marital problems stem from this sin. I have not confessed it, though I intend to do so this week. I do not know if my husband, who is a recent convert to Catholicism, has confessed it, but I doubt that he has.

Our basic problems are as follows:

We do not agree on what constitutes a sin. He does not agree that any type of a sin is still a sin (for example, a ‘small’ lie is not a sin, but a ‘big’ lie is). He feels that mitigating circumstances, such as not hurting someone’s feelings or an action that will ‘hurt no one’, can make something ‘not a sin’. We fight about this frequently, especially when he asks me to do something that I know is a sin and he says is not.

We do not have relations very often, because I don’t feel that he treats the marital act with the dignity it deserves, and it makes me uncomfortable. I’m all about serving one another and giving pleasure, but he seems to treat it the way the rest of the world does: like it’s all about pleasure and not about a deeper spiritual connection with each other and with God.

I would like for him to be the head of household, as I believe a husband and father should be, but he often defers to me to make decisions, and he won’t tell me how he feels about a big decision until I tell him how I feel. Nor will he believe that sometimes I don’t have an opinion and am willing to follow wherever he leads.

I would also like to go to counseling for these issues and others that arise from them, but he refuses. He often tells me, when we are arguing, that I am the one with the problem. Later when we have calmed down, he still refuses to acknowledge that WE have a problem and WE need help. He simply believes that I have a problem and that I am depressed and need help for that. I feel like he is burying his head in the sand to our detriment, but I don’t know what to do.

I am posting these problems here in the hopes that someone has some advice. Advice on any or all of the above problems would be helpful. Thank you, and please pray for us.


So he's a recent convert but he obviously did not understand the whole concept of sin...he's trying to argue with what the meaning of sin really is. What was he before he converted, if I might ask? He's not used to submitting to authority about sin, doesn't understand it, and wants to decide what is and isn't sin in his own and your life. Kind of surprised that he went all the way through RCIA and still doesn't buy in....but then, my cradle Catholic hubby who turned away from the church tries to tell me that he doesn't sin either. OK, it's not up to me to tell him HE is not sinning, I just know that I do and I like how I feel after confessing that sin and receiving absolution.

I think it's insecurity when a person blames the other one and doesn't take responsibility for his or her part in problems. Of course we'd all like to think that we are not the ones to blame but in every problem, there are at least 2 people at fault. No one is blameless. Your husband should be willing to go to counseling even if he thinks it's your problem, if he loves you and wants to help the marriage get stronger. Maybe you can talk about it as if it's a type of "tune-up," before you ryn out of gas or whatever (bad analogy).

Whatever the reason for your problems, all you can do is work with what you have now. Trust me, I know that having sexual relations before marriage erodes the respect between husband and wife. Especially from the husband to the wife. I didn't respect myself enough to stay pure, and I know my husband does not respect me in that way and there is nothing I can do now to change that. It is water long under the bridge. If both people regret that past and work together to form a new bond, I think it can be altered. But my husband doesn't even see our premarital cohabitation as a problem, so it's left to me to deal with it. We don't see things like that the same at all. But going back over and over again to ruminate on what I did wrong doesn't help today. I did those things, I made those mistakes, and what can I do now that I know better? I can tell my sons not to make the same mistakes I did.

You've got my prayers hon. Pray the rosary, and the Hail Mary. Mary our Mother will give your heart peace.


You can't change your husband and none of the things you mentioned strike me as deal breakers.

All you can do is learn to understand your husband and appreciate him for who he is. Stop the fault-finding. And for goodness sakes- have sex with the man! He gave up having sex with all the other women to just be with you! It is unloving and unjust to withhold from him.


"We do not agree on what constitutes a sin. He does not agree that any type of a sin is still a sin (for example, a ‘small’ lie is not a sin, but a ‘big’ lie is). He feels that mitigating circumstances, such as not hurting someone’s feelings or an action that will ‘hurt no one’, can make something ‘not a sin’. We fight about this frequently, especially when he asks me to do something that I know is a sin and he says is not."

Get yourself and for him also a examination of conscious booklet, I have one that has the 10 commandments and all the sins listed with it. The church is the best guide as to what constitutes a sin, if he has converted to catholicism it might be best to get something that’s from the church so he can use it as a learning experience - who knows you may pick something up as well.

Usually these books go through venial and mortal sins.


You can still seek out counseling and go solo if that’s what it takes to repair the relationship. Seek out a good spiritual director and also take your problems to adoration and pray.


Try Retrouvaille or another good couples retreat.


Before he converted he was Protestant: raised in a Baptist church, attending a Methodist church when we met, and began attending a Catholic church with me. It also seems to me that his Christian education either lacked much, or he failed to absorb all but the most basic precepts of Christianity. He converted because he says going to Mass felt better and more right than any of the other religious services he has attended. He has some learning challenges (ADHD, dyslexia), and while he doesn’t like to talk about them, I believe that they affected his ability to absorb all the implications of conversion during RCIA, and he may have continued to view conversion to Catholicism in the same way that a Protestant may ‘convert’ from one Protestant religion to another. That is, simply by changing his or her church membership.

I will try to request counseling in the manner you suggest. I may have been too confrotational about it in the past. I only bring it up when we are arguing, and when we are at the point of trying to assign blame. As you said, no one is blameless, so perhaps if I ask him to do it for me, instead of for ‘us’ he would be more willing.

Thank you for praying for me.


I’m not trying to find ‘deal breakers.’ I honestly have no wish to dissolve our marriage or find fault, I just want to make it better. I know we are both at fault, and I’m sure that I’ve caused other problems that I didn’t mention. I’m also not purposely withholding sex as punishment or to try to teach him a lesson. It’s simply that when I am uncomfortable sex is physically painful, and I don’t believe that I’m obligated to have sex when it causes me pain. Also, we practice NFP, and I am most in the mood (and able to overcome my feelings of being disrespected) when I am fertile, which is when we cannot have sex. These are issues that I would like to seek counseling for, but he refuses.


I will look for one. Thank you.


Drink 2 glasses of wine and get a lubricant.


Sounds like that may be the problem. I wondered if he’d been denomination-hopping, and that tends to reduce the seriousness of the conversion. There are a heck of a lot of Catholics that take the tenets of the Church as casually if not more casually, so your husband is not alone! :frowning:

Yeah, arguments are not the time to suggest marriage counseling… Actually it may seem like that would be the best time but no. When you are both communicating or being close, then you can say, “You know, I really would like us to have more of these times, and maybe we could get some coaching on how to communicate better…” or some such. Make sure it’s at least a Christian counselor, though. A Catholic would be even better but it’s not easy to find…there’s one in my area and we are the 4th largest city in the US.

take responsibility for your part of the problem and you may find he is willing to step up and do his part too.


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