Need advice regarding my marriage

My husband and I have been married for 10 years. As with most couples, we have had our share of good times and bad times. However, over the years there are many serious issues that have come up that have not been dealt with. Unfortunately, my husband seems completely oblivious to the problems and the effect they have been having on me and the family.

To begin, there is zero communication going on between us (unless you’re talking about things that are important to him only - his job, hobbies, family, etc…). Imagine the last time you fought with your spouse and they gave you the “silent treatment”, well it’s like this 24/7 in our house. I’ve tried opening up to him so many times but he doesn’t seem to acknowledge my feelings. It hurts so much that I don’t want to talk to him anymore. Our issues aren’t resolved, just pushed under the rug. I don’t know how to get his attention anymore…

When I became a wife, I promised to put my husband first in my life. It seems my husband forgot his end of the bargain. For example, if we’re having a conversation about what to do on a specific day, my husband and I will begin to exchange ideas, and no doubt one of the children will interrupt the conversation. “Daddy, let’s do this…” Then, I have to remind them not to interrupt us. But the fact is that 9 times out of 10, he’ll go with whatever the children want to do, even if that means that I can’t/won’t want to come along. Our date nights are few and far between, but his outings with family/friends are far more frequent. We’ve spent ONE weekend away from the kids EVER, but he’s once again going to see a concert out of town with his brother.

I’m not getting the sense that he respects my need to have interests either. He keeps telling me that I need hobbies, but then he spends his time telling me that they’re pointless… If I’m on CAF, he’ll tell me that I need to do other stuff with my time. I don’t tell him that his hobbies are pointless… He spent at least 10 hours doing guitar tabs this weekend while I just sat next to him. He’s a past alcoholic and seems to spend ridiculous amounts of time on unimportant things like this, it just makes me feel like I don’t exist to him. Why would he spend so much time doing these things when we could be talking? But I don’t know how to tell him without him getting angry at me. So it’s not OK for me to spend 30 minutes on CAF, but it’s OK for you to spend 5+ hours NONSTOP doing guitar tabs???

As for our sex life, it’s okay. Unfortunately, it’s the only thing that differentiates us from other unmarried folks. The monthly talk about being open to children is something I dread to say the least. He basically almost ridicules me for even bringing it up. His idea is that we are done having kids… I’m open to having more someday, maybe now is not the best time, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we had an “oopsie” baby.

I’ve tried bringing up these issues with my husband several times. Many times these conversations end up as shouting matches. When he does take them seriously, he does so for a few days and then it’s back to normal. I’d really like to go for couples counselling, but our insurance will only cover two more visits this year (I’m in counselling for my own mental health issues). And the whole idea of spending money on counselling, to him that would be the greatest waste of money. The hundreds of dollars could go toward the trip with his brother, or a new musical instrument, after all…

I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel like a ghost, invisible to him. If I weren’t Catholic, the solution would be easy: just pick up my bags and go. There is so much tension, the kids are really picking up on it, but he isn’t!! I don’t want my children to think that this is what marriage is, but at the same time, I don’t know that separation is the best approach. I want to heal our marriage and rid myself of my feelings of hurt and resentment.

Please pray for the reparation of our marriage.

call the family life office of your diocese and ask about a Retrouville retreat for married couples, it is literally a life saver for marriages.

Book your weekend at Retrouvaille.

Start praying together.

Until you can get there, pick up a copy of

Kelly’s “The Seven Levels of Intimacy”

Popcack’s “For Better, For Ever”

Sheen’s “Three To Get Married”.

Thanks for the replies. I’ve looked into Retrouvaille, but I don’t think it’s likely that he’ll want to go. The nearest one is in Boston, a 9-hour drive from here, without mentioning that I need to get a passport… I’m going to talk to him about it though. I wish they could organize a weekend somewhere closer, like Halifax. We are in touch with a family who does Marriage Encounter, and are planning to do a weekend soon. Although it’s not really designed for troubled marriages, I can’t see how it could do any harm.

For now, I’m going to call my therapist and see if she thinks if it would help for us to spend the rest of our visits doing marriage therapy instead (even if I must go alone). She’ll know whether we can do any kind of progress or not in the next two visits…

Thanks for the book recommendations. I’ve always wanted to read “Three to Get Married”…

You mention that he is a former alcoholic. How long ago was that? Did he go to AA or just stop drinking? His behavior still does sound very alcoholic.

My husband stopped drinking heavily a few months ago. He still has an occasional drink, though. He wouldn’t go to AA, claimed he could do it on his own… I think you really nailed it though - his behavior isn’t very different than when he was alcoholic. I really love him unconditionally, but I really miss my “real” husband - the man I knew before he was a drunk. He was so easy to love:(.

My MIL went through much the same thing with her husband. Unfortunately, the happiest year of her marriage was the one just before he died (he was too sick with cancer to cause her any trouble). He had stopped drinking YEARS before but the behavior was still there. I hope I don’t have to wait until I’m a widow to be happy again.

I’m sorry if anyone read my post thinking that I’m saying that only my husband is contributing to the problems. That is NOT true. I know that it takes two to tango and I made my own share of mistakes, and I have hurt him as well. My husband is a good man, I am convinced of that.

Dearest OP. I will be praying for you and for your marriage. This must be so painful for you for sure. Have you had a " date" lately? If not you need to have one alone, and talk, and relate. I wish you all happiness. Jesus can restore, the years the locusts have eaten. Sure wish he would in our marriage too.

Who am I to talk? I am separated, because of my h’s affair, and my heart is shattered too.

If I were you though, do everything to make it work. Have a quiet talk with you hubby, and really pour out your hearts to each other, you first.

God Bless.

Your family is worth trying to stick with it******

I’d second a Retrouvaille weekend, though I’ve never participated in one. When things have gotten that bad in our marriage, we’ve both resorted to counseling (couples). I’m sorry for the pain both of you are experiencing. I don’t see any other solution outside of divorce (which fortunately you haven’t mentioned) other than finding a way to pay for counseling (whether you participate in the Retrouvaille weekend or not).

Our insurance also covers limited visits, but many insurances don’t cover couples counseling…just individual counseling. What I’ve found to be the case when seeking our own marriage counselor is that most work off a sliding scale depending upon your income, or they’ll charge you a much lower non-insurance rate.

If your marriage is worth it to you, you’ll find a way to make it work. You need to put the marriage first - no excuses on not dating, etc. I do know from experience that it takes “two to tango” when it comes to marriage problems. Be open to some sacrifices in your lifestyle that will allow you to go to counseling sooner than later. And if one counselor doesn’t work for you, try another! I know there are Catholic counselors available - even found Dr. Popcak in Faith & Family magazine who works over the phone. All the best to you, and remember that the most you can do is work on changing yourself…you can’t force another person to come to your perspective.

You might also want to consider keeping a diary, just kind of recording some of the things that he says to you, the things he gets mad about, and the way that he behaves when he is angry. It is a good way of getting a better perspective because when you are in the situation that you are in it is often very difficult to see the forest through the trees.

Keep going to your counseling. That is really important. I would also recommend talking to your priest. He might have some additional information on the resources available to you as a couple, your husband as an alcoholic, and your family whose lives are affected by the alcoholic.

I am definitely keeping you in my prayers.

Speak to your local priest for possible resources of who to talk with.

You’re a victim of emotional abuse - even if unintended.

He’s a “victim” of alcohol abuse. I know a few people who have gone through AA to dry out. I can tell you what they tell me - they’ve never seen someone do it successfully alone. Other than the act of ending the drinking, there’s other counseling that takes place to help reconstruct lives that have been impacted. This is a fundamental missing element by him going at it alone.

Seek couples counseling in the very least.

The last Faith & Family magazine featured a story of a couple on the brink who benefitted from a Marriage Encounter weekend. They’d never heard of Retrouvaille. It’s worth a shot. I’m a bit worried for you, honestly, and please don’t take this in a negative way. From reading your posts at first glance it feels as if there are more excuses to not try and follow through with the suggestions that you originally asked for. Expedited passports can be gotten in 2-3 weeks’ time. I’m doing the same thing now. Money matters can be worked out…if you’re husband’s not on board with a Marriage Encounter weekend that’s one thing. It sounds as if you haven’t asked him bc you’re too afraid. That makes me question why you haven’t asked him yet if your problems bother you to the point that you want to change them?

(After reading your follow-up posts:) My DH’s a recovering alcoholic, too. An alarm goes off in my head if not, when I see (only later) that you mention he’s still drinking and never went to AA. Do you think this is the best environment to keep children in - living with an active alcoholic? That latter comment’s almost a game-changer if he’s actively dealing with alcoholism. If that’s the case, you or the children don’t matter most in his life. My DH had to be abandoned by his family until he came around (eventually) himself. It was a very painful experience for them (I met him years after he quit drinking).

You also mention checking w/your counselor for doing marriage counseling alone, I think? Most counselors won’t counsel and individual and then their spouses, and the fact that you mention maybe going it alone for marriage counseling confuses me, and makes me wonder what’s going on with yourself? Who goes to marriage counseling alone? I am saying this in a loving way, and NOT meaning to sound harsh at all. But I do know from my own experience it is easier to see the faults of our spouse while ignoring those of our own, which might be contributing a great deal to the overall problem. That being said, I think what is more relevant than the above is the drinking you didn’t mention in your first post. Perhaps you should check out Al-Anon? I don’t know that Retrouvaille and Marriage Encounter will be the best bet if your DH hasn’t dealt w/his addiction yet.

I guess I also see it that (from my own experience) surely these issues (at least some) were apparent in the dating process, and you still signed on to marry him for better or for worse. The way you write about your situation is truly heart-wrenching, though I do sense that there might be some areas where you’re not being fully honest with yourself regarding your own stake in the relationship. I’d address this w/my counselor ASAP…what has your counselor said about this (rhetorical question)? I’ll pray for you that you’ll find the opportunity soon to both go in and begin working on yourselves in earnest so that your children are not further robbed of parents w/a healthy relationship. I feel for you and thank you for sharing this personal part of your life!

Again, I can’t edit my last post, and I said some things I otherwise wouldn’t had I read your response about your DH’s drinking sooner. But I think I was clear enough that perhaps the drinking trumps all other issues you’ve mentioned. I meant to say that when my DH’s family cut him off, it was a blessing although the most painful thing they could imagine doing. He probably would not have come around on his own, sobered up, and faced the issues that drove him to drink on his own had they not had the courage to cut him off.

I don’t care for victim talk, honestly, because we have free will and make our own decisions. Everyone has bad stuff going on in their lives, and not everyone chooses to drink (do drugs, kill people, etc.) to deal with them. I would try not to fall in the victim category…it will lesson your ability to help yourself and - most importantly - your children. You are responsible to bring up your children in a healthy household and marriage (when possible), and honestly it does not sound like that’s the case.

Be honest with yourself, get help making the tough decisions from family and counselors if needed, commit to a healthy solution, pray, and God’s graces will follow. You do NOT want to play any part in helping your own children to choose the bottle (from the behaviors that they’re surely absorbing at home) or any other unhealthy coping mechanism as a way to deal w/their own problems when they get older. My DH starting to drink excessively at the ripe old age of 12. All based on his dad’s poor modeling of dealing w/diffuclty, as well as how his mom acted - or more accurately stated how she did NOT act/enabled him in response.

I just read through all your posts and I wanted to address what has been said up to date.

Our last date was a month ago. It’s not unusual for us to go 4-6 weeks between dates. This was okay back when we had little babies, but it’s not enough anymore. Especially in the light of our marriage difficulties. We need to find a reliable sitter in addition to our parents.

I liked your idea about writing a diary about my feelings. Since I have mental issues, there are many days that I kind of “forget” about our family’s problems. I don’t know how to explain it, but sometimes I truly believe that we have no issues. This ain’t denial I’m talking about, but rather my OCD, which causes me to doubt everything. If I could read in a diary to look back at past events, it would bring me back to the “real world”.

Astro girl,
Thanks for noticing that I seem to make excuses for not following through. This has always been a problem with me. I’m a real wimp when it comes to standing my ground and finishing what I start, so to speak. There is still a fear that my husband isn’t going to be willing to do much, as he doesn’t understand my hurt. He is oblivious to it all.
As for going to marriage therapy alone, I know that’s not ideal. If I have no other choice, so be it. At the very least my therapist can give me tips about how to be more assertive and how to deal with opposition.
Also, I totally agree that I haven’t been honest with myself about the part I play in the problem. Sure, my husband is the one with this “disease”, but I really should have put my foot down a long time ago. As I mentioned to Dulcissima, my OCD causes me to have doubts about whether this is all true or if I made this all up. Hard to explain… But my MIL knows us well enough, she sees what we’re going through - I’m NOT making this up!
And a question - what exactly do you mean by cut him off? Do you mean stopping contact with him altogether?


A lot of times forgetting is a coping mechanism. If you remembered everything, you would be in a lot of pain. The problem is that forgetting does nothing to improve the situation for yourself or for your children and only gets you in deeper. You can already see first hand what growing up in such an environment did for your husband. So, I am suggesting the diary because it really helps to see it there in black and white, so that you don’t forget and so that you can understand what really is happening.

I did a lot of forgetting myself when I was married. Now that I am on the other side (divorced) it is absolutely shocking to me what I allowed to go on. I suspect that you will begin to look at what is going on a lot differently once you start writing it out, and you will eventually stop accepting it.

Hi Taye,

I just read through your other posts. You are in an abusive relationship. You have identified this in the past. He is an alcoholic, but it doesn’t sound like he has fully taken ownership of that and sought help. He is angry. He forces sex on you. I am sure I could ask you all sorts of questions that you would answer yes to.

Yet you keep accepting little morsels of promised change from him and continue to live in this cycle. It is really hurting you. You need to stop blaming yourself for the problems and you need to find a way out of this situation. This problem clearly reaches all the way back to his childhood. His mother is the one who identified the problem for you. It sounds like it is bigger than something you are going to have any power to do anything about.

You need to get your kids OUT of this cycle. This needs to not be their daily life. You need to stop forgetting, because honestly you are not forgetting. You are just getting yourself further and further in.

Separation should definitely be on the table as should divorce and eventually a petition for a declaration of nullity. Do not let this guy wreak this kind of havoc on innocent lives and stop feeling sorry for him and guilty.

Do you realize that in your first post on this thread you mention the possibility of wanting to have another child with him? Stop kidding yourself. I am sorry, but bluntness is called for here. You seem like an amazingly sweet and caring woman, don’t let that be used as a weapon against you.

We have more in common than originally thought. I’m also getting some help for some problems that I originally thought were OCD, and while they were not diagnosed as OCD they’re related in some ways.

I know my previous messages sounded a bit harsh especially not knowing you personally and more details of you/your situation. When I stated “cutting him off”, I was referring to when my DH’s family had to cut him off because of his refusal to deal with his own problems (namely the alcoholism), which were affecting everyone else around him. Short answer…yes, moving out and into a healthy situation until the alcoholic proves he’s sober for a significant period of time. What motivation does an alcoholic have to get help if the things that (should) matter most to him aren’t threatened? In your situation, the definition of “cutting him off” really needs to be clearly defined once you speak to a licensed addictions counselor/interventionist. That’s not my territory…and again, I’m only going off limited posts that I’m reading here.

I’m not an alcoholic, but I have learned a few things. Something in his pathology (past alcoholism and all) attracted me to him - I like to try and deny it, but I’ve been told in the past that unhealthy parts of ourselves are attracted to similar unhealthy parts in our spouses, for instance…when choosing them in the dating process. You may have difficulty w/OCD, but remember - you ARE NOT OCD. You are “taye”, and you will overcome your problems with the proper assistance - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, etc.

I do not question that your husband’s behavior is unhealthy (add any other negative adjverbs here) and has caused a fair share of hurt in the marriage, but you can only change that which is on your end. And you have more than yourself to worry about now…the kids are sort of a top priority, right? Any semblance of blaming your DH (however justified) is just taking away valuable time on your end from figuring out the best solution for your children and yourself. If I understand what you’re telling us correctly, he bears a significant personal responsibility to change some of his seriously unhealthy ways. There is no way you can do that for him…and you should not let yourself and your kids stay in the situation ad infinitum watching him not addressing such issues. I think it would be wise to share w/a licensed counselor familiar w/addiction issues these anecdotes, seek help from an organization such as Al Anon (is it really your OCD that causes you to deny the alcoholism, or is it something else too?), then make a quick but informed decision on what you and your children are going to do for the time being. I’m not sure a Catholic priest is going to be the best resource for THESE type of decisions…the spiritual ones, yes! But it sounds as if you’re bearing a huge load of problems that need to be dealt w/by an earthly expert as well. :slight_smile:

Last, if your husband is an alcoholic like you say, of course he’s oblivious to the hurt he’s putting you AND THE KIDS through. He only cares for himself and the bottle. That’s what happens in alcoholism…until it gets dealt with. You really need to be strong, if not for yourself, become an angry mother bear for your kids. I really worry that not only is your spirit eroded, but your kids are being subjected to damage that - if issues aren’t dealt with - may be irreparable. Unless you’re OK with this happening, your kids can’t afford to live w/a weak mom. The bad situation your DH grew up in is not your children’s birthright.

I will continue to pray for you and your family, and please feel free to share any outcomes you’re comfortable sharing.

It sounds like you need to be stronger. Don’t let him get away with putting you doing and saying that your hobbies are pointless. I don’t know how to make your husband into a different man, but you can definitely make changes in your individual life that will improve it. Maybe go out with your friends more often if that’s your thing, read more, write, join a dance class or a martial arts class or whatever you enjoy. Create a rich life for yourself full of fulfilling activities that don’t involve your husband, and then you won’t feel bad when he spends 10 hours doing guitar tabs instead of taking you out on a date.

Don’t wait for your husband to do things to make you happy, see what you can do to be happy even if he doesn’t change one bit.

PS: When I first met my DH and dated him, one of his favorite quotes was, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result” Certainly your situation should not be trivialized to this, but remember - this is not all about you. You have to find the strength to make a healthy move for you and the kids if the situation is as I understand you to describe it.

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