I have a dear friend whose husband has been more and more difficult in recent months. (And yes, this is really a story about a friend, not me! I’m single!) I thought I would post here, first of all to ask for prayers, but also to get some perspective from fellow faithful Catholics.
My friend “Anna” has a deep faith that has been sustaining her through all this, but she doesn’t really know what to do. Her husband “Will” seems to show more and more signs of narcissistic personality disorder: selfishness, arrogance, lack of empathy, unwillingness (inability?) to see someone else’s viewpoint, resistance to change, strong defensiveness, and behavior that amounts to bullying. He has refused to seek counseling, with or without Anna. He has a son he favors above his daughters, and can’t see how hurtful this is. He blows hot and cold and no one knows what to expect from him, except that it won’t be consideration for them or their feelings. He goes his own way, doing as he pleases, joining the family for dinner if he feels like it, complaining that he “can’t eat this” and going out to get other food if the whim takes him. He spends hours and hours on the Internet, apparently unaware of anything going on around him. Though Catholic, he never attends Mass with his family and in fact rarely attends at all anymore.
He has always had a few of these traits but in recent years his behavior has gotten worse, and especially in the last several months as Anna has put her foot down and stood up to Will, his behavior has escalated. The latest incidents involve Will invading Anna’s privacy, searching her handbag and destroying her credit card. I suggested strongly that she think about getting her own bank account, checkbook, and credit card, and keep everything with her at all times.
But I don’t know what Will might be capable of next. And it really does seem that only a miracle from God would be able to turn him around. I honor Anna more than I can say for her rock-solid determination to keep to her wedding vows and not consider divorce - but where does this leave her? “In sickness and in health,” for sure - I really believe God seems to be asking her to live a slow martyrdom with this man. And I keep praying for a miracle of healing and conversion for Will, and patience, love, and wisdom for Anna and their children as they deal with him.
Does anyone have any experience that might speak to this? What can Anna do to make things easier for herself and the kids? I should mention, she has repeatedly confronted Will in love - both by talking and by writing letters - and it has only apparently made things worse. He does not and will not listen or understand. She is the farthest from a nagging wife you could imagine; in fact, her strongly adaptive, easygoing nature is what seems to have allowed their marriage to work for so many years - until Will took a turn for the worse, for no apparent reason. I could almost believe it’s Satan at work here, it’s all so inexplicable and bewildering. Anna has been to counseling on her own, but of course that can only take her so far without some kind of response from her husband. Things have reached the point where they basically don’t speak to each other anymore except for the most mundane things - Anna has learned to separate herself from Will in as many ways as possible, just to preserve her own sanity.
Many thanks if you’re still reading! I didn’t mean to go on so long, but I really wanted to make the situation clear. Anna is the first to admit there are two sides to any story in a marriage, but at least on her part, she has tried over and over to get Will to engage with her, to work things out - and she is stonewalled every time. What can she do, other than pray and wait?