Negativity, tones of voice, the end of my rope


I have been involved with a wonderful Catholic man for almost 2 years. We’re both working on our annulments and have plans for the future. We’re in our early 40s and the good Lord knows that we both have our share of faults.

But now, I am experiencing difficulties in handling our relationship. He’s got tons of great qualities, but 2 things are wearing on me. One is that he has a very negative outlook. He sees the worst in everyone and every situation. The ironic part is that I used to be just like that. But, I was diagnosed with clinical depression (related in great part to a blood deficiency) and take an anti-depressant and went through some intensive CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). I learned that how I thought influenced how I felt. Needless to say, my outlook is very different. I now consider myself an optimistic realist.

I find his cynicism very trying. In addition - I worry about slipping into unhealthy thought patterns.

The other issue is that his tone of voice is very strong - if he is irritated or annoyed, he gets a nastiness in his voice. If questioned, his tone gets arrogant. Now, if it were just me reacting this way, then I would think I was being foolish. But, his family reacts to him in the same way, as well as his co-workers. Needless to say, I react … well… I over-react. I usually become quite b____y / rude.

And once again, this is ironic. I used to have the same issue with tones of voice. My own mother used to tell me I was difficult to be around - this when I was an adult, not a teenager.

It took a lot of work to change. What greatly helped, I believe, was becoming a believer after being an atheist for over 2 decades. With God’s grace and a new way of looking at myself and the world, change actually happened.

No - I am in no way perfect. But I do try to become more of a loving person as time goes by. So in a way, I get mad at myself for not handling this situation better. Which of course, causes my fuse to get all the shorter.

Objectively speaking, I believe my SO and I are overall well suited to be together, and will have a good sacramental marriage (the annulment tribunals willing). And I know everyone has problems.

So my question is… how can I handle this? I know I must learn to cope better.

I also know that when one person changes how they act, the dynamics of a relationship changes. Is it reasonable to try to create change in that manner as well?

By the time we’re in our 40’s, it can be very hard to change and none of us are perfect. I’m not saying that if he were to change his tone and outlook that he would be perfect, but that I am able to deal with other quirks more effectively. What can I say that might influence him to want to change? I’ve tried honestly communicating with ‘I’ words, etc. If there was something about me that drives him crazy… LOL…“IF”. I know of a few things, and I do put forth effort into at least softening some of my sharp edges that cut into his peace of mind. It’s not easy.

I welcome all feedback on this. Our relationship, my peace of mind, and his happiness are very important to me, and solid Catholic advice seems to be the most promising avenue.

Thanks to all who reply.


Might be a good idea to put the relationship on hold until you are both sure you are free to have a relationship.

Pray, surround yourself with positive people - pray.

If the tribunal decides you are each unmarried, then, go on a date. Take it from there.


So my question is… how can I handle this? I know I must learn to cope better.

No, you do not need to learn to “cope better.”

Why do women think that *they *are at fault or in need of adjustment when the men they date behave badly?

Why do women get into dating relationships and treat them like marriages?

You are NOT married to this man. The purpose of dating is discernment, and there is no reason YOU need to change or put up with his poor attitude and negativity.

If he *cannot *or *does not *change you should consider that he is not the one for you, not that you need to learn to “cope better.”


My sentiments exactly. Settling for someone is not loving them.



agree with 1ke completely.


You must love someone for who they are, NOT who you think you can change them into. It never works, because it breeds resentment.

If his problems are a concern now, but you think you can deal with it, think again. A person can deal with how ya squeeze the toothpaste and stuff like that, but something that runs true to character is a different matter.

You have to ask yourself if you can live with his outlook on life, and would it bother you. I mean really sit down and think about it. I suggest a hiatus, seperate yourself and even open the possiblity of seeing someone else. And after all that you find you miss him, and his ways, then think about the next step.


Agree with much written above…so the relevant question is…when you bring this up to him as a concern/problem, what is his response? If he’s defensive, denies, blames, refuses to acknowledge any issue or to address your concerns, I’d start heading the other direction… no matter how many other wonderful traits he might possess. If he is receptive and willing to work on this, and shows signs of making improvement, that’s different.


After I posted this, I realized that by not putting that I love him could be a mistake. I intentionally left it out because I didn’t want anyone to over focus on the love aspect. I do love him, and it’s a mature love. If it came across as settling, then my tone in the post was wrong.

I’m not 20, with blinders on. I have yet to meet a perfect person, and I am far from it. I don’t expect bliss in any relationship. To accept someone, flaws and all, is difficult. I’ve always looked for the flaws to see if I could accept a given person, and typically the realistic answer was been no, regardless of the emotions involved.


He certainly doesn’t want to upset me, and I know he loves me. Not just from words - talk is cheap, action dear. I just honestly think he doesn’t get it. He thinks he is a realist, not a pessimist. Ironically, I used to think that way too - I simply couldn’t see it in me either. In general, when I bring up any issues, he addresses them the best he can.



OK. so he’s not a bad guy. i believe you. but you’ve worked hard to arrest your depression. you said his negativity (however he views it) is wearing you down. a constant environment of spousal cynicism will be like eating a bowl of poison every day. it will be terrible for you.

why not give yoursel the wonderful gift of some single-with-God time? a year or two will be a wonderful gift to yourself after an annulled marriage and your courageous struggle to be depression-free.


Dear Sheeniac, if your man is negative and doesn’t wish to change or see that he needs to change his thought patterns and negative attitudes, don’t imagine that marriage will improve him.
It could prove an unhappy life for you. Believe me, it’s no joy being married to a negative, critical person. The love you feel can end up empty and dull after years of such an attitude towards life and people. Anyway, love isn’t the feelings, that’s attraction or affection. Books and media have done a great disservice by the projections of love and in-loveness that they have taught us to expect. Love is in the long-term effort.

Do you also find he believes he is usually right even when you don’t think so? That doesn’t change either. What does happen is that you repeatedly ''hurt yourself on him." In the end, you don’t feel any affection even as you do your very best to accommodate him or try to make things cheerful. Marriage is a long time for regret.

You are at this time still free, please allow the Holy Spirit and human wisdom to guide you.

My mother gave one warning about marriage, "Don’t ever imagine that you can change a man. " I believe she was right.

If you do marry this man, I pray that the Holy Spirit will indeed work a miracle in his mind and spirit.

Best wishes for your life. God bless you, and God bless him. Trishie


As a general follow-up post, I mentioned before that I had an issue with my tone of voice even as an adult. I can honestly say that during that time, I had no idea that my voice changed one bit. If it wasn’t my mother who repeated that many time over many years, I wouldn’t have believed it.

All you know is you are talking, and all of the sudden people are reacting to you in a strange way.

The end of my rope comment was perhaps a bit overboard. We had an argument as I was leaving for the airport, and I was quite frustrated. It would be easier to ignore if I hadn’t been there myself.

In any situation that one dislikes, one can: a. Change yourself, b. try to change the other person, c. change the situation, or d. leave the situation.

Well, I know I can’t do B. I don’t want to do D unless all else fails. A is possible, but very difficult. C seems the most reasonable thing to try, and is certainly the easiest.

I’ve purposefully ignored references to the annulment issue, and for several reasons feel it is not germane to the situation on hand. To explain why I think that way would take up several posts.


If you are the age you seem to be, stop being his mother and making excuses for him.




It seems you were looking for a different answer than the one you’ve pretty much unamiously received.

Only ***you ***can choose what to do.

You asked other people what they’ve thought about the matter through a public forum; in essence, you’ve asked for advice. They told you. For what it is worth, I’m telling you the same thing. Living with a depressed man as a husband is not a happy circumstance. Perhaps it’s time for a break. If it is of God, things will eventually turn around. But you can’t force God’s hand.

But only you can choose what to do.

If you don’t like what you’re hearing, perhaps you should think about why you don’t like hearing it. But, to ask for advice and then tear down the advice…?


I’ll chime in with my different thinking. While it’s easy to beat this guy up, his side isn’t even discussed for goodness sake, that isn’t why you’re here. You love him and you’re looking for a way to make life work. You’ve both been divorced, so you know how difficult marriage can be, yet you want to try agin. Who was it who said that a second marriage was the “triumph of hope over experience?” Anyway, best of luck to you.

Now, to your point. I wanted to get my say in before this degenerates into the typical “he’s a control freak”, “watch out he’ll beat you” and “he’s addicted to porn” replies start flying. Hey, all that might be true, who knows, but it wasn’t your question.

You stated that your own mother told you that you were hard to be around before you got control. Did everyone abandon you? Did people cut off relationships because of it? If so, did that help? Yes, he has to be in charge of his own recovery, but he might not get there alone. Did you?

If it comes as any hope, I believe that my years between 40 and 44 were the time of greatest change ever for me. I am, I hope, a much more patient, thoughtful man than I was before. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from trying experiences and come away better for it.

He may not be as good about talking things through as you. Try doing something active, hiking, boating, driving topless (the car, not you), etc together. when you’re enjoying yourself and laughing, ask him questions that are non-threatening. Catch him enjoying himself and tell him how happy that makes you. Revel in his good times with him. Remind him of the fun that can be had together. He might just have forgotten these things.

It’s easy to tell you to ditch the loser; maybe you should, who knows. If you don’t want to, though, you might have to start tyring things you haven’t tried before. Just hoping he’ll follow your example probably isn’t going to work.


I hear a lot of common sense in your post, Sheeniac. I am overjoyed that you have, by the grace of God, leapt some formidable hurdles in your life and are at a healthy point.

What I wonder is, is your SO at the same point? Is he going to be running alongside you in the race, or will he be trailing behind? Being quick to anger, along with the other traits you mentioned, is, I believe, a sign of spiritual immaturity. What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. Scripture says we shall “know them by their fruit.” My question to you is, does your SO bear good fruit overall, or not so good? How does he measure up, not in terms of relating to you, but against Scripture’s idea of a husband and a Christian? Would he love you and sacrifice himself for you as Christ did the Church (Eph. 5)?

Another thought: Some psychologists have determined that the number one indicator of the longevity of a marriage is how the couple resolves conflict. Most couples go wide-eyed when they learn that healthy conflict is vital to a healthy marraige. I remember when our pre-marital counselor told us, “You’ve got to learn how to fight!” Never occurred to me that we would be fighting, but I soon saw what he meant. So my concern for you as a couple is that he is obstructing the conflict process with anger, arrogance, and rudeness, which will lead to unresolved conflict and anger on both of your parts. It is absolutely critical that you be able to sit down and talk about your problems as a couple, because fallen beings that we are, we are all guaranteed to have lots of them! I would consider it a major red flag that he seems incapable of doing that, and as you pointed out, in his 40s he is much less likely to come around than he might have been in his 20s.

Finally, I am concerned that you have battled the same behaviors he exhibits in the past. Because of this, you are no doubt tested to fall back into those patterns each time he lashes out. This could make the two of you an explosive combination. I’m not saying it’s insurmountable, but it may be a lot harder for you to deal with long term than it is even now, when you’re already having trouble keeping your temper with him. Also, since you suffered clinical depression in the past (as have I, so I know what hell it is), you remain susceptible to it in the future. I fear the strain that his behavior will create on you, by refusing to resolve conflict and by being nasty when he feels the least bit irritated, will wear on you greatly over time and could lead you back into depression. Honestly, that sort of childish behavior could drive anybody up a wall! But most especially the person who is going to spend years of her life putting up with it.

You are mature enough and wise enough to make a decision based on the facts you’ve already given. If you choose to go ahead, at least you’ll know what you’re getting into from the start. If not, you’ll know the reasons why. I only urge you to be safe if you do go ahead: assume he will not change. Get therapy before marriage, especially in conflict resolution. Pray that God will give him the grace to recognize and overcome his weaknesses. Guard your heart, so that you do not become beaten down or weary.

Blessings to you, sister.



While I agree women shouldn’t sweep their true feelings under the carpet over situations like this, and I agree with what 1ke was saying…I also wonder if God puts into our paths, someone who needs help, and knows that we are the people to do it. My husband helped me get past my childhood angst of losing my parents…losses that affected the way I viewed life, as an adult. I didn’t see it as help at first, and was rather upset that he seemed to want to change me, but over time, my husband was able to help me become the person God wants me to be. (and I’d like to think I have done the same for him–through God’s graces, of course)

So, that being said…you say throughout this thread, that he reminds you of how you used to be. Perhaps, reflecting on what transformed you into a more positive person, will also work for him? I will keep you both in my prayers.

Just a snack for thought.:slight_smile:


Ghost Man,

I know you think many of us on here live to bash men. This just isn’t true. If it were a man posting the exact same thing, I would give him the exact same advice.

Dating is a time of discernment. If a person discerns behaviors, attitudes, values, and beliefs that are incompatible with their own and subsequently decide the person is not for them-- then dating has WORKED. Conversely, if a persond discerns no behaviors, attitudes, values, or beliefs that are incompatible with their own and subsequently move forward towards marriage-- again, dating has WORKED.

IMHO, when you discover behaviors, attitudes, values, and beliefs that are incompatible but don’t act on that knowledge, that is when dating has stopped working and fear of being alone has taken over.

I don’t know why so many people think that once you are dating you must learn to “put up with” all sorts of behaviors in the name of the “relationship”.

And, if the OP doesn’t find this to be a dealbreaker that is her perogative. But then, why is she posting?


Indeed, shortly after we were married my husband helped me (because he had little choice) to overcome long-established patterns of suspicion, jealousy, accusation, and even violence. Of course, he went through hell in doing it, and nearly walked out at one point, for which I would not have blamed him. But God was with us, and we came through the fire. I don’t know if I ever would have done that without this man.

The question for Sheeniac is, does she want to/is she equipped to help her significant other overcome these patterns of behavior? Given her past, she might be just the one, or she might be the wrong one entirely. But I could never attempt to determine that. And it may be that only time and testing will tell.


Back out of this relationship. Do it honestly if you can - but get away from him. You have no position of authority in his life. You can’t make him change nor even make him want to change. That you would even consider him as a suitable “future partner” while you are both in fact still married to others should be a huge red flag for you. That he has personality issues that are very alarming should tell you to get out while you can. Sometimes alone is much better than poorly matched. The notion that you can “fix him” or “help fix him” is absurd.

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