My wife constantly threatens divorce


#1

I am considering divorcing my wife because she is constantly threatening to divorce me. She says, "I'm gonna divorce your a**", every time we get into a major argument. I told her that divorce is off the table, it should never be an option, and that none of our problems are irreconcilable.

The biggest issue by far is church. I am an Eastern Catholic and she is Roman. All throughout our courtship and engagement she went to my church. We got married there. Now that some people in my parish have made remarks to her that she found offensive, she never wants to return--ever. (She gets offended very easily and deeply and is not quick to forgive at all). Not even for Christmas or Easter. Now she's upset that I am continuing to attend. She says, "how can you go and say "hi" to the very people that have offended me?" I tell her, I don't go for the people, I go to worship God according to my heritage. And that I love the liturgical singing according to my rite.

She also says that if we ever have children, they will never be able to step foot in that church. I have been active in my parish for almost 20 years and have many friends there. So what, now, my friends will never get a chance to see my own children, including my pastor, with whom I have a close relationship?

I tried to work out a compromise with her. I told her I would attend my church, and then I would go with her to her roman church at noon, and if we had children, they would go to my parish once a month, and she would not have to go. No deal.

She claims that I put my parish above her. She is cutting me away from my spiritual heritage which is so dear to me. Now she wonders why I'm cold to her. I told her we need to agree to disagree: I'll support her not going to my parish, but she need to support me and understand why I will continue to go.

Anyway, I got tired of her constant threats to divorce. I think if she is so quick to jump to the word divorce we may not be validly married to begin with. And I don't want to give her the satisfaction of divorcing me after all the work I've been putting in my marriage. I offered to go to counseling, Retrouvaille, I bought 4 books on relationships, the Love Dare, all to no avail. She doesn't want to do them.

My shrink suspects that she has "narcissistic/borderline personality disorder." So does my pastor.


#2

Can you give examples of the things that people at your parish have said that are so offensive to her?

If your therapist is telling you that she is npd or bpd, I would take it seriously.

Constantly threatening divorce is not a good thing. It is the tool of someone who is verbally/emotionally abusive.


#3

Listen to your therapist. If she's NPD or BPD you are in big trouble. Continue counseling with your priest.

Also, by canon law, any children you have would be received into YOUR rite unless you specifically agree to them being in the Latin Rite.

Latin Rite Code of Canon Law:

Can. 111 §1. Through the reception of baptism, the child of parents who belong to the Latin Church is enrolled in it, or, if one or the other does not belong to it, both parents have chosen by mutual agreement to have the offspring baptized in the Latin Church. If there is no mutual agreement, however, the child is enrolled in the ritual Church to which the father belongs.

Eastern Rite Code of Canon Law:

Canon 29

  1. By virtue of baptism, a child who has not yet completed his fourteenth year of age is enrolled in the Church sui iuris of the Catholic father; or the Church sui iuris of the mother if only the mother is Catholic or if both parents by agreement freely request it, with due regard for particular law established by the Apostolic See.

#4

[quote="1ke, post:3, topic:188172"]
Listen to your therapist. If she's NPD or BPD you are in big trouble. Continue counseling with your priest.

Also, by canon law, any children you have would be received into YOUR rite unless you specifically agree to them being in the Latin Rite.

[/quote]

Thanks for all your responses.

I am aware of the canons in question. But what good do they do? Quoting a book to an angry spouse whose feelings were hurt doesn't do much good. All she would have to do is not show up for the Baptism, not meet with the priest beforehand, veto all my candidates for godparents, etc. It's a tough spot...

Actually, my priest is advising me to divorce her after all I told you. Surprising, huh?


#5

It’s NOT surprising at all. I would say the same thing. No one, regardless of religion or anything, deserves to be treated the way your being treated.


#6

[quote="dulcissima, post:2, topic:188172"]
Can you give examples of the things that people at your parish have said that are so offensive to her?

If your therapist is telling you that she is npd or bpd, I would take it seriously.

Constantly threatening divorce is not a good thing. It is the tool of someone who is verbally/emotionally abusive.

[/quote]

Well, she is Filipina, and someone made a remark about skin color...but not in a bad way. A woman, who is married to a Chaldean husband, pointed to her own white skin and then to her own baby's and said, "Look, my baby turned out white like me." My wife took that as her insinuating that to be white is superior--which I think is crazy, because she is married to an Arab!!!

And yes, there ARE people in my church that are jerks (very small parish, hard to miss them), but I told my wife, ignore them, forgive them, love your enemies, etc.

Another person apparently made a remark about her "getting pudgy" in front of other and she was very hurt. I only learned about it months later, after my wife stopped attending. I told the woman that what she said hurt my wife. She tried reaching out to my wife by taking her out to a fancy dinner, but my wife blew her off.

There are different degrees of NPD/BPD. She is not a violent, seething crazy bi*ch, but definitely really easy to offend, cuts people off when she's mad at them, always demands to be be put first, unwilling to forgive and forget, lacks the ability to compromise. She's a moderate case. Mind you, my shrink never met her, so his diagnosis is from a distance. But he is a good, pro-marriage, Catholic therapist. I just told him the whole story trying to be as objective as I could--I tried to tell if from her side of the story too and I mentioned my many shortcomings.


#7

[quote="TheAdvocate, post:6, topic:188172"]
Well, she is Filipina, and someone made a remark about skin color...but not in a bad way. A woman, who is married to a Chaldean husband, pointed to her own white skin and then to her own baby's and said, "Look, my baby turned out white like me." My wife took that as her insinuating that to be white is superior--which I think is crazy, because she is married to an Arab!!!

And yes, there ARE people in my church that are jerks (very small parish, hard to miss them), but I told my wife, ignore them, forgive them, love your enemies, etc.

Another person apparently made a remark about her "getting pudgy" in front of other and she was very hurt. I only learned about it months later, after my wife stopped attending. I told the woman that what she said hurt my wife. She tried reaching out to my wife by taking her out to a fancy dinner, but my wife blew her off.

There are different degrees of NPD/BPD. She is not a violent, seething crazy bi*ch, but definitely really easy to offend, cuts people off when she's mad at them, always demands to be be put first, unwilling to forgive and forget, lacks the ability to compromise. She's a moderate case. Mind you, my shrink never met her, so his diagnosis is from a distance. But he is a good, pro-marriage, Catholic therapist. I just told him the whole story trying to be as objective as I could--I tried to tell if from her side of the story too and I mentioned my many shortcomings.

[/quote]

Frankly, I think it's not wise to make a diagnosis from a distance, even for a therapist. I would say that the things mentioned in your last paragraph (quoted above) are stuff that many of us on these forums would do: "cuts people off when she's mad at them, always demands to be be put first, unwilling to forgive and forget, lacks the ability to compromise." Although those behaviors are not Christian behaviors, I don't know if they qualify for a DSM-IV label!

Tell her you are sorry about how your fellow parishioners have hurt her. Sympathize with her and tell her that you love her very much. Tell jokes, and try to find a little something of what led you two together. Perhaps you could go to her Latin-rite church for a couple of months. The folks at your church won't forget you -- hey, maybe you were out of town for work for a long time.

Couldn't that at least defuse some of the angst about your parish for a while? Then you can focus on the other core issues that seem to be causing her anger.


#8

While I do think your therapist hit the nail on the head (<-----please scratch this…now that I have read Surritter’s post, I see a point there), I would just like to mention that offering a fancy dinner to someone whose weight you have called attention to isn’t (to me anyway) a very reasonable attempt at apologizing.

I think you are certainly trying your best, here. I am so sorry for your troubles. :frowning:


#9

I wonder if you wife would give the same account as yourself.

It is very difficult on an internet forum with anonymous people to delve into
your marriage and what is happening.We are only hearing your version of
what is happening.Im not saying that you are being dishonest and frankly it is none
of my business.I simply feel reading between the lines your wife feels you are not
being loyal to her where people have offended her.Mentioning colour among other things is dangerous territory and could be construed very badly.

Also it is of concern to me that you mention

  • why on earth would you jump to this conclusion?

. [And I don't want to give her the satisfaction of divorcing me after all the work I've been putting in my marriage] all the work YOU have been putting in 'MY' marriage

It seems there could be more issues than what you have mentioned, that it is purely your wife who is being unreasonable?

My advice would be to talk politely and lovingly to your wife.Tell her how much you love her and
that maybe you have been not so understanding of her hurt feelings.That you would like to resolve this situation correctly.Would it be possible to invite your priest to your home for a chat.

Maybe your wife does have health issues.Whether she does or not does not really matter she needs to feel her husband is listening to her if she feels offended by others and that you would stand by her.There are many ways to go about doing these things.Soflty softly is my advice.
Im sorry if you don't feel im being supportive of you but at this moment in time we do not know if indeed your wife does have mental health issues or in fact if this would be her account of events

I don't wish to make light of things either.Im sorry for your distress which you clearly do suffer.
I thought i should point out many people threaten divorce when they are upset and hurt or angry
my own mother was always threatening to divorce my father when they had rows.They were very happily married until my father died in 1996.
I wish you well just trying to give a different perspective.God bless*


#10

i fully agree with this post… also, resentments build up over a long period of time… and if you have not been listening to her for other things, then she might be using this to get your attention. think back and try to understand what it is that is bothering her so much… have you been suppportive towards her during this marriage? maybe she feels ganged up on when she goes to your church and feels out of place…

also, i think the main thing here is your marriage and no matter what your shrink says, if it keeps your marriage together, then start going to her church on sundays and you can attend your own on an alternate day. going to church together goes a long way to holding the marriage together… ultimately, the Lord is not going to be questioning your devotion because you went to a diffrent rite church but will definitely have a problem if you get divorced over this small issue…

please reconsider and get your priorities right!


#11

I guess I have to wonder, if your therapist and your priest are saying you should divorce her, why are you on here asking us? Does their advice seem off base to you? Are you thinking they aren't understanding your situation? Is it not what you want to do?


#12

and this pastor of yours is perfectly fine with your reasoning for divorcing your wife - namely, that you do not want to give her the satisfaction of divorcing you!!!

PRIDE my friend! that is what this whole situation reeks of… sorry to say!

also your therapist has no right to be putting ideas into your head without talking to her first… he is only hearing your version of supposedly her side of the story…


#13

I have been through similar to what you are going through. If she is cutting you off from your church, will it escalate? Will your family be next? If she is not willing to go to counceling then it is an obvious sign she does not want things to get better. Please consider how this will effect your future children. Also consider what it will do to you. What will years of torcherous stress do to you?


#14

Oh my, oh my. I am so empathizing with your situation. I have experienced similar problems in my own marriage. Here's what I would say:

God First Above All
Don't let your wife get between you and your Faith. Allow your Faith to heal that which has gotten in between you and your wife.

Your Marriage Next Above All
It seems to me that parish members are getting inbetween you and your wife. If your wife is uncomfortable with members of this parish, offer to her that the two of you go together to find a different parish for you to worship in peace without harm to either you or your wife. Your current pastor would understand this. Your wife is hurting and she needs you now to show your love to her.

Also...Time has a way of healing wounds. How long has this been a problem?

May the Peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones now and always,
Elizabeth


#15

Would your wife go to counseling with you? Not necessarily your current counselor, but someone together?

The issue of a married person's going to counseling on their own has been a problem for me because it is very difficult for a counselor to judge what is going on. Their "loyalty" is to their patient who in this case is you. The counselor is not hearing the other side of the story, which may well be similar to your story, but the counselor cannot *help *the other spouse come to grips with the situation and so has no real option to suggesting separation or divorce.

And to be perfectly honest, if you are seeing a counselor and your wife knows it, then that could be a problem for her, esp if she comes from a culture which doesn't really have counseling. It might look to her like you get to go off and complain about her and get support in that, and where does that leave her?

I think that contacting the priest that she considers her pastor and asking him for a recommendation from the Western side of things (he may suggest that the two of you go see him if he has that type of training, or he might suggest the diocese's counseling, usually through Catholic charities) and asking her for both of you to go together to resolve these issues. Be really careful about the orthodoxy of wherever you end up, tho; ask around if you can, before you discuss with your wife.


#16

[quote="TheAdvocate, post:6, topic:188172"]
Well, she is Filipina, and someone made a remark about skin color...but not in a bad way. A woman, who is married to a Chaldean husband, pointed to her own white skin and then to her own baby's and said, "Look, my baby turned out white like me." My wife took that as her insinuating that to be white is superior--which I think is crazy, because she is married to an Arab!!!

And yes, there ARE people in my church that are jerks (very small parish, hard to miss them), but I told my wife, ignore them, forgive them, love your enemies, etc.

Another person apparently made a remark about her "getting pudgy" in front of other and she was very hurt. I only learned about it months later, after my wife stopped attending. I told the woman that what she said hurt my wife. She tried reaching out to my wife by taking her out to a fancy dinner, but my wife blew her off.

There are different degrees of NPD/BPD. She is not a violent, seething crazy bi*ch, but definitely really easy to offend, cuts people off when she's mad at them, always demands to be be put first, unwilling to forgive and forget, lacks the ability to compromise. She's a moderate case. Mind you, my shrink never met her, so his diagnosis is from a distance. But he is a good, pro-marriage, Catholic therapist. I just told him the whole story trying to be as objective as I could--I tried to tell if from her side of the story too and I mentioned my many shortcomings.

[/quote]

Did you stand up for your wife after these things happened? Saying she's getting fat can be insulting to a woman. Also, non white people in America probably struggle with discrimination, so may be very sensitive to a comment like that.

Are these things a part of a larger pattern that make your wife feel like you don't stand up for her, don't take her side in situations?


#17

[quote="flyingfish, post:16, topic:188172"]
Did you stand up for your wife after these things happened? Saying she's getting fat can be insulting to a woman. Also, non white people in America probably struggle with discrimination, so may be very sensitive to a comment like that.

Are these things a part of a larger pattern that make your wife feel like you don't stand up for her, don't take her side in situations?

[/quote]

Well, my wife only told me about these remarks months after they happened. She wanted me to -- months later -- get into these people's faces and say "don't ever say things like that to my wife again."

Here's how I handled it: I went to the woman who made the "pudgy" remark (she's a friend of mine and she even co-sponsored my wife's parish wedding shower) and explained to her that "the reason why my wife is no longer returning is because she was, among other things, hurt by a remark you made. Apparently, you said she was pudgy in front of others, and that your husband might stray if you don't do anything about it."

The woman explained to me that it must have been a misunderstanding, and that she was talking about herself, that she used the word "you" in the general sense, not directly toward my wife. For example, when you say, "when you lose your keys, you feel like a fool." "You" is generic.

The woman offered to apologize to her. But I told her that my wife would be angry if she knew I was talking to her about it. So rather than a formal apology, she tried to show her good will by taking her out to dinner. She called my wife and my wife turned her down. She tried again later, but my wife wouldn't even pick up the phone.

So, no, I didn't get angry and get into this woman's face about the remark. I handled it by trying to find out what happened and I tried to arrange for a reconciliation.


#18

[quote="TheAdvocate, post:17, topic:188172"]
Well, my wife only told me about these remarks months after they happened. She wanted me to -- months later -- get into these people's faces and say "don't ever say things like that to my wife again."

Here's how I handled it: I went to the woman who made the "pudgy" remark (she's a friend of mine and she even co-sponsored my wife's parish wedding shower) and explained to her that "the reason why my wife is no longer returning is because she was, among other things, hurt by a remark you made. Apparently, you said she was pudgy in front of others, and that your husband might stray if you don't do anything about it."

The woman explained to me that it must have been a misunderstanding, and that she was talking about herself, that she used the word "you" in the general sense, not directly toward my wife. For example, when you say, "when you lose your keys, you feel like a fool." "You" is generic.

The woman offered to apologize to her. But I told her that my wife would be angry if she knew I was talking to her about it. So rather than a formal apology, she tried to show her good will by taking her out to dinner. She called my wife and my wife turned her down. She tried again later, but my wife wouldn't even pick up the phone.

So, no, I didn't get angry and get into this woman's face about the remark. I handled it by trying to find out what happened and I tried to arrange for a reconciliation.

[/quote]

How important is this other woman to you? Maybe your wife just wants you to stop talking to people who offended her. It's pretty emotional, but it's not outside the scope of what's normal for people.

In your wife's mind, those people made offensive remarks about her. She remembers the woman calling her pudgy. You went to the woman, she told you a different story, and you believed the other woman rather than your wife. You assume your wife misinterpreted it, but it's also possible that this woman lied to you to save face. Your wife probably wanted you to accept her interpretation of the event rather than the other woman's.

Now from your wife's perspective you are unwilling to cut contact with people who were mean to her. This reflects badly on you, because as her man you're supposed to protect her and you're supposed to be really angry at people who hurt her. But you're not angry at them, and you're taking their side. Your wife probably feels like she shouldn't have to ask you to be angry at them, she probably feels that you should naturally have a protective/angry response at anyone who messes with her. And as her man, you should.


#19

I was in a somewhat similar situation a while back with an ex-boyfriend. He though I was totally unreasonable for not wanting to have anything to do with his friends and family and I am proud that I stuck to my guns.

For example, he would promise to stand up for me in front of them and he wouldn't. When I would ask him later in private why he didn't stand up for me he would say things like 'I meant I would stand up if it was important. I don't see the big deal' Well, if he had a habit of breaking his promise, I wasn't going to be so stupid as to trust him again. Not to mention, before the event when I gave an example, it was worthe taking seriously and once I got there all of a sudden, it was no big deal. (did I say that right?)

I also knew darn well, that if I spoke up for myself, my boyfriend would have shamed me in front of others so there would be no support from him.

And lastly when I would say things like 'When Joe Blow said xyz, it hurt. Next time you see him could you please ask him to stop' My ex would say 'I didn't hear him say it so I won't be asking him to stop'

When, there is no trust and support from the man, the woman does get fed up.

I seriously doubt your wife developped these sensitive feelings after you married her. When you were dating was it an issue? What has changed all of a sudden?

Another pet peave of mine was when one of his friends would make a rude remark and later in private I would bring it up, he would get mad at the guy for saying. Totally shaking off his responsibility for standing up for me. When someone hurts your wife, as her husband you need to take her side. If she is 51% wrong, you still need to take her side. If she is 55% wrong, then you can start to politely point out someone elses point of view. Until she is 60% wrong, you can't get mad at her

CM


#20

It doesn't sound like his wife is constantly being put down at his church. It sounds like she is easily offended and will not even consider forgiving the people she imagines have offended her. AND she wants him to leave this church which is a part of his cultural heritage and which is a place and a people that he has practiced his faith for decades. AND she will not consider marriage counseling or any relationship books AND she is constantly threatening him with divorce.

He would have to believe the whole world was off if he were to believe his wife. That's not a healthy way to have to live.


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.