My husband disengaged from our marriage

I need help, I don’t know what to do. My Husband and have been married for 8 years, have 3 beautiful children but honestly, our marriage has been rocky since beginning. He is not catholic, says he is a baptist but doesn’t practices his faith and mostly lives his life far from God.
When we got married, he was a different person. He was loving, supportive, we had a great time. But eventually, he isolated himself and me with him from friends and our both families a in different states. He has anger issues, once he threatened to kill himself, if something is not his way, he throws tantrums. he focuses his life on himself, on his needs and doesn’t see that we are a family.
He buys toys for himself, e.g. star wars figures, legos,… I know he is a breadwinner and I’m just a stay at home Mom and he can spend his money the way he wants.
Our marital life is a disaster in all ways, I have tried councelling but he thinks is pointless.
He doesn’t engage in a family or social life.
At this point, I feel like our marriage is dead and he even doesn’t care? He takes me for granted and I’m not sure he loves me. If I try talking to him about our issues, he throws his arms up in the air and yells that everything is his fault.
What do i do? How can I make our life and our kids life better? Please, help!

Can you get him to go with you to a Retrouvaille weekend? If yes, I would recommend that.

Also, I would point out that there should be no such thing as “his money” (your words). There should be no “my money” or “your money” in a marriage, but only “our money.”

Beyond that, I would say that you can’t force him to change. Pray for him, be patient, be loving towards him (as much as you can, though it may not be easy), and gently try to get him to go to Retrouvaille or to counseling. You could even go to a good Catholic therapist/counselor by yourself if he won’t go. I have heard that even one spouse going to marriage counseling can be beneficial, if the other spouse refuses to go.

As far as I know, one spouse can never change the attitude or behavior of another spouse. As far as I know, in the whole history of humanity, this has never happened, not even once.

A spouse can change, if they decide to, or, if God sends them some great big pain or panic or vision. But for reasons known only to Him, God doesn’t seem to do that too often.

So, what do you do?

I would focus on your children. They are a gift from God. And God wants you to take care of them, protect them, discipline them, love them, and generally raise them up to be happy and productive adults.

What about you marriage life? As you said, your husband had “disengaged.” In effect, he has left you without moving out of the house. What can you do about that? Nothing. You could threaten to divorce him. But I think you know that it would not bother him if you divorced him or left him. He’s just play with his Star War toys. Maybe he’s even trying to force you into being the one who files for the divorce. But don’t do that. First, it you aren’t living with him, getting him to pay child support might be tough. Second, if he’s not physically abusive towards you or the kids, why not live with him?

But, given his behavior, you should start preparing for the possibility that this marriage will end. That means you must start thinking about where’d you live, and how you’d earn money if he leaves. His child support might not be enough to cover everything.

Yes, it is unfair that this man has chosen to be unfaithful to his marital vows by disengaging and withdrawing as he has. It is sad that he has turned out to be so self-centered, childish and immature. Of course, he was always that way. He just put on a false face in order to get you. Men do that all the time when they are pursuing a woman. But then after they get her, they go back to their normal selves. Not all men do this “false face” thing. But quite a few do.

Not everybody is blessed with a husband. Not everybody is blessed with kids.

You have the kids.

In a reality sense, you don’t have a husband anymore.

Don’t antagonize him. Don’t berate him. Don’t plead with him. He seems like the type of man who just won’t care.

So, if I were you, I’d just accept that I don’t have a spouse anymore, and would sort of disengage and withdraw from him.

But, if as long as he is financially supportive of you and the kids, and isn’t physically abusive, and isn’t fiercely emotionally abusive, I wouldn’t leave him or divorce him.

Everyone needs emotionally supportive people in their lives. Since he isn’t giving that from him, I hope you can get that from female friends, or sisters, or your mom, or someone like that. Don’t be alone. Don’t go it alone. Too bad this man is how he is. But, as I said, I do not believe that any spouse can change another spouse. You can only set limits, and, if those are transgressed, then leave.

But do pray to God for help, and trust that God will give the help He decides is best for everyone concerned.

God bless you.

P.S. I hope my advice didn’t seem cruel. I don’t diminish what you are going through. Something very bad has happened to you, like a bad car accident, or a death in the family. I just don’t see any way to fix it. So, instead, I see your path to a better situation is to give up hoping or expecting this man to go back like he was when he was courting you. But I am not recommending that you give up in life or anything like that. A good life is yet ahead for you. Life is like a poker game. At each point in the game, you have to play the cards that are dealt to you.

How I would see it…
you are willing to accept all the challenges and responsibilities of mature adult life as wife and mother. He finds all too overwhelming, the oppression of being a breadwinner, the endless task of years, along with the decades of challenges of family life, of children who have needs and who will sometimes cry and fight, sometimes want things they can’t have, are sometimes unreasonable if also sometimes sweet. It isn’t all love and fun, it’s lots of hard work and routine as well, as you are profoundly aware but are mature enough to accept.

Sadly, it sounds as if he finds all the responsibilities and stresses of married life and children to be overwhelming, and finds it too difficult that these will go on day after day, year after year. He’s retreating to boyish pursuits, a reclaiming of a simpler single life, but he also feels guilty about his inability to bear the endless routine of life, guilty enough to avoid even extended family who might judge him and before whom he knows he has failed. (He judges himself but doesn’t feel he can do anything about it, because responsible life is hard work…it simply is.)It’s natural that he would have anger explosions when he knows he doesn’t come up to scratch as a father and husband, and so when you challenge him he angrily admits to his failure.

Marriage begun in hope sometimes founders on practical reality. If a person feels guilty about the fact that they can’t face endless years of the practical realities of responsibilities and roles, they do tend to become despondent, self-judging, and aggressive at times. He is still there, which is possibly another pressure he feels. And he doesn’t feel counseling will help because words don’t change a lot, and he knows how he feels and doesn’t feel hope.

That’s how I see it so I don’t know answers. It’s something of how my husband felt, continuing after we also had three children, and he ended up having a major stress breakdown. It’s difficult to live with and through, and I can only pray for you, your husband and your three precious children.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

I would suggest counseling.

Married couples often go through major problems after being married 7-10 years (from my observations). Children make it all that more difficult. Counseling can help people snap out of the funk they are in and refocusing the spouses on each other and their children.

A radical change in behavior, like this one, can indicate health problems, physical and/or psychological. How long has it been since your husband has seen a doctor? Does he get regular checkups?

On further thought, I think your husband could change. Time and the events of life change everyone. Be patient and understanding and sympathetic with him. Be supportive of him. Just because he’s sort of pulling out from his duties as husband doesn’t mean that you can stop being his wife. But don’t let him cross certain lines. You know where to draw the lines. I saw this on a church sign: “With faith anything is possible, but not necessarily easy.” God bless you.

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.