She has that covered. She has scheduled counselling for herself. I think if she talks this over with a trained person she can really trust and look in the eye, she’ll do better than text-messaging strangers like us.
Most of what we say here is for people who are in a situation similar to hers but who were not as brave as she was about asking the questions she’s asked. She’ll see her therapist and get her best and most useful answers there.
While she is seeing a therapist, she has not clarified whether the therapist is Catholic or not. The views of the therapist towards marriage matter and we can’t simply be happy that she is seeing any therapist. As Catholics, we seek to preserve marriages whenever possible. There are various circumstances in which it is not possible or safe, but nothing the OP has said indicates that such circumstances apply.
Meeting with a therapist is an important step in the process, but by no means the definitive one. Canon law requires any marriage separation, or intended separation, to be investigated and all reasonable efforts made to preserve the marriage.
This is too true! Lots of folks are perusing these forums looking for help, myself included.
I can relate to the OP, and I know my wife can as well. But for the sake of our daughter (and now another child that’s on the way, thanks Mr. Priest who recommended that maintaining our conjugal relationship would help solve our relationship issues… sarcasm intended…) we made the decision to stay together. We’ve been battling depression and general resentment and incompatibility since we met. We separated (not legally, but living accommodations) back in April after which point we made the decision to make it work and moved back in together. Things got really bad with her threatening to leave last November.
Her actually considering leaving me sent me into a downward spiral. Up until that point I’d always considered our marriage solid, despite how often or serious our disagreements and arguments became. I never believed we’d separate or even consider divorce… I sunk into a pretty serious depression… That was when I began my conversion journey into the Catholic Church. I was baptized at Easter vigil just days before my spouse actually did move out.
Both of us have been completely anti-religion our entire relationship, so me converting was a huge change for me and for her to adjust to my new beliefs. Meh, not really that much change for her, as I’ve sacrificed much of the structure provided by the Church that really helped me so as to avoid discomfiting her… Her moving back in has negatively influenced my practicing of the faith, to my chagrin but I can’t blame her. Shoot, I’m even afraid to pray in front of her. That is all on me.
I agreed to continuing to work on the relationship though on the premise that, as you pointed out, we actually can make it work. Who knows, we still might do it; however, to this point we made the commitment but there’s really been no movement on either of our parts. If anything, we’re both more resigned than hopeful than we were before. Still not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. (Yes, therapy’s been done.)
The big thing that’s got me still wanting to try is an attempt to remain obedient to the faith. My conscience was telling me not to look back and simply remain as I was when I came into the church (btw this is also scripturally based from 1 Corinthians, “remain as you are” by St. Paul", which I was married but emotionally then physically separated at the time of my conversion), but the priest was telling me something different, so I took his advice and executed. Now the stakes only got even higher since we now have a second child on the way but the circumstances still remain just as grim.
Morally, Church teaching is supposed to be right and my conscience would only be out of alignment with that teaching because it wasn’t fully developed, thus I must practice obedience to the faith to bridge the gap until my conscience can catch up and understand. With your statement about being realistic in recognizing that remaining together with children may not be moral in some circumstances, you’re telling me that you actually disagree with me or that I may have misinterpreted something. Care to expand on that statement? What could actually cause separation with children to be the morally correct route?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand where you’re coming from with that but my understanding was that objectivity is what determines morality and objectively the Church claims that breaking up a marriage with separation is never morally correct based on objective values and thus requires both parties remain obedient to the faith.
For every child with divorced parents who turns out “just fine,” there are many, many more who are wounded and broken in ways that are not apparent to others. My parents divorced almost seven decades ago, and there are ways in which I shall never be whole.
I look at friends and the children of friends who are divorced and seldom see a family that functions well. Every major decision re health, education, vacations, and a million other everyday things is a negotiation and/or a source of conflict. Holidays? How will you feel when you are alone on Christmas or Thanksgiving when your children leave to celebrate with your in-laws? Every major life event is another opportunity for strife. Who gets how many tickets for graduation? Who sits where at the wedding? Rather than being joyous celebrations for your children they become another mine field to navigate. Is this the life you want for your beloved children?
I’ve been married 48 years and there were occasions when I entertained the thought of killing my DH, but never seriously considered divorce. I suffered too much from my parents’ divorce to ever think of doing that to my DD.
Your husband is not Catholic and so would probably be open to the idea of remarriage. It’s really hard to imagine someone would be willing to stay married with all the legal and financial responsibilities but live apart. Obviously, I do not know your DH or the particulars of your situation, but it seems likely that he would divorce you and possibly remarry. And then there would be the added complications of a step family.
It has been my experience that love waxes and wanes during a marriage, and that love is a choice. There have been times when even being in the same room with my DH was an annoyance, and then others (fortunately many more) when I have loved him infinitely more than when we married. If your DH has any interest in rebuilding your marriage (and the financial reality of supporting five children and two households suggests he might), you two can find the path to do that.
Look, I am in your situation in a way. I just suck it up and exist. I guess it is very lonely but with kids you have no way out. Do it for your kids, people have been doing that forever and ever. The idea that life has to be good is a farce. It can be a real kick in the balls.
I am so very sorry. Clearly you are in pain, the natural reaction to pain whether it is emotional or physical is to want to escape. You are sad and you want out, these feelings are normal and natural, it is normal to want to escape pain.
I would urge you to try and find a Retrouvaille marriage weekend close to you. It is not therapy and not group sharing but perhaps a way to spend just 48 hours as an effort to see if there is even the tiniest scrap of hope left to help your family survive.
I can’t promise you flowers and romance, but what I can tell you honestly is that couples that have attended this weekend have found a tiny sliver of hope that their life together perhaps didn’t need to be completely miserable. Please be assured of my prayers.
Can. 1151 Spouses have the duty and right to preserve conjugal living unless a legitimate cause excuses them.
Can. 1153 §1. If either of the spouses causes grave mental or physical danger to the other spouse or to the offspring or otherwise renders common life too difficult, that spouse gives the other a legitimate cause for leaving, either by decree of the local ordinary or even on his or her own authority if there is danger in delay.*
There are cases where a living situation can be emotionally crippling and becomes a case for pastoral guidance. It is not true that separation is never morally correct when a marriage is valid. It may not be done for light reasons and the separation should cease when the reasons have been rectified, but we should not tell the world that the Church puts a burden on people that is beyond what can be carried without ruining their psyches.
That’s not to say everyone ought to let themselves off the hook, but that not all suffering is good. Sometimes emotional suffering damages everyone, cannot be rectified by mere willpower, and ought to be mitigated for everyone’s good.