Question about my wife (Marital Relations)

Hello,

I am a Catholic husband. My wife is somewhere between Protestant and Catholic. I converted a few years back and, while it was a sore issue in our family for a couple years, my wife has learned much about the Church and IMO close to converting herself. The issues she has are several still, but the main one being relations in the marriage and the freedom of any ethics involved, i.e. using contraception, or onanism as long as its between husband and a wife, etc. She was on oral contraception for years, even though she knew I did not want her to. A month or two ago she had decided to stop after talking to a couple girlfriends about it who are Catholic and my wife began to wonder if she was being stubborn and resisting God in all of this. So she stopped even though she still doesn’t understand why it is wrong, despite having it explained by me. So now she is off of it, but maybe women may know that her drive tends to be at its peak when she is ovulating. It makes her frustrated because she does not want more kids right now, yet she is ready to go! So it makes her want to resort to MM or Oral. When these happen, she will notice that I don’t take communion if I haven’t made it to confession. She has not realized that the Church treats these occurences as grave matter and that I need to confess these sins. She got upset because to her, as long as it is within a marriage, it should be ok. I know that’s not true. The problem is sometimes I feel I speak a different language than my wife and when I try to explain something to her she resists, but a girlfriend of hers can explain the same thing to her and she will accept it. I love my wife and want to make her happy, but I desperately want her to be Catholic one day and I want to be free from sin myself. I don’t want to be cold to her, and I want to be able to explain to her why this is wrong in language she will understand. Any advice, maybe even wives who totally see where she is coming from?

When you go to confession, in your act of contrition you say something similar to this: “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.” But in your post it sounds like you are actually expecting and intending to continue sinning and not amend your life until your wife changes,.

Can you tell your confessor, “I will see you again about this next month and each month until my wife becomes Catholic”. ? You are responsible for your actions; your wife is responsible for hers, not for yours.

Yes.

Has your wife starting charting yet, does she have a track record of charts that you have been analyzing together, and does she understand the principles of NFP?

Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a much-recommended secular book. There’s a huge mainstream fan club for the book (800+ reviews on Amazon), as so many people have managed to achieve almost instant pregnancies using the advice there. (I personally bought the book when we were trying for our most recent child and was also blown away by an immediate pregnancy at age 36 after quite a few years of doing NFP, so I’m also a fan.) The advice in the book to use condoms during fertile times is of course not applicable, but I think it would give your wife a lot more confidence to see a non-Catholic book talking about fertility awareness.

I didn’t post this to ask whether I am sinning or confessing wrong. So take a hike.

This doesn’t apply because she is trying NOT TO GET pregnant.

You two have missed my query completely. I am asking for words I can use to explain this to my wife.

Nah, it works both ways. If you know reliably how to get pregnant, you can know reliably how not to get pregnant (90% of the time).

Why don’t you get the book and read it with your wife?

It would be a game changer if she understood that you weren’t planning on having her be pregnant every year for the next 20 years.

I will check it out thanks. On another note, is there a book rec. that is simple and explains the Church’s thought behind sexual morality within marriage? She is very simple minded, and if it is too dense she doesn’t get it. Honestly the best authors I have noticed for her are former evangelicals because they still speak their “lingo”

What about Christopher West’s book Good News about Sex and Marriage? The book is written in a question and answer format, and West is well-known for making the Theology of the Body very accessible.

Please know that I am not blaming you, I truly am trying to help, and I hope it comes across that way. You may or may not do some (or all) of the things I mention. So these solutions may or may not apply to you and/or your wife.

Let me begin by saying that generally, as a wife, I do not care how much my husband knows until I know how much he cares. In other words, when I am having trouble understanding a teaching because it’s emotionally difficult to accept, I don’t want a sermon or a lecture. I want to know that my feelings are valid (even if my ideas are wrong), and that my husband accepts and cares about my feelings and tries to understand them, even if he does not agree with my thoughts on the matter.

Let me repeat that part in different words, because it’s important to understand this: I want my husband to hear and respect my feelings, but he does not have to agree with me. I just want to know that he’s on my side, that he understands where I’m coming from, and he accepts that my heart and head may take a little time to “get together” on this. (Usually, it’s my heart first, then my head follows later. For my husband, it’s generally the other way around.)

You probably do “speak a different language” than your wife, in a sense, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if the goal is for her to follow Church teaching… and Catholic friends are getting her to do that and you are not… then perhaps you should respectfully encourage her to discuss it with them. Another option is to change your approach to something closer to what the friends are doing.

In your post, this jumped out at me:

…she had decided to stop after talking to a couple girlfriends about it who are Catholic and my wife began to wonder if she was being stubborn and resisting God in all of this. So she stopped even though she still doesn’t understand why it is wrong…

Since she doesn’t understand the teaching, I suspect her friends didn’t really use logic to get her to change her behavior, right? So why are you looking for the “right words” to explain the teachings to her? It sounds like you’re appealing to logic… but I don’t think that’s what she needs, necessarily. At least not at first.

Try this: instead of offering information or solutions (you don’t have to dismiss them, just put them on the back burner so you can adapt them as you gain more information about her concerns), first let her talk about it, and you LISTEN. Don’t interrupt with explanations, solutions, reasons, logic, Church teachings, etc.

See, your purpose in doing this is NOT to “fix” her perspective. If she’s resisting your explanations, then it may be sounding to her like that’s exactly what you’re trying to do (and she’s probably trying to subtly get you to acknowledge that she’s not “broken” just because she feels a certain way). Keep reminding yourself that the first goal is not to get her to understand the teaching or change her mind, but rather, to understand how she feels. Try asking her clarifying questions about what she says. Really pay attention to what her concerns are, what her feelings are. If appropriate, share with her your own struggles and let her know you are together in this, especially when it’s not easy. Then, when you have all of this information, you might be able to meet her on common ground and explain things in a way she will more easily comprehend.

Or you might find that she really just wanted her feelings validated, to feel heard and understood and accepted where and as she is, and then she may be ready to make those changes on her own, even if she still doesn’t understand the teaching, like she did with the artificial birth control.

After she knows how much you care (appealing to her heart), if she really wants explanations (for her head), I’d suggest showing her where to find the information in the CCC, and where to find other resources (such as Theology of the Body, Letter to Women, etc.) she can read as the mood strikes her–or that you two can read and discuss together (so that it doesn’t come across like a “professor to student” lecture).

It might also be good to encourage her to take some RCIA classes, even if she doesn’t intend to convert right now.

Will say a prayer for you! :gopray2:

This concerns me. If you aren’t using contraceptives, and you are not using natural family planning, this probably makes it quite stressful to avoid getting pregnant.

My husband and I have this problem occasionally. I’m the Catholic, he is not. We used to argue a lot about it, until one day (in a very heated argument) I asked him if he realized that asking me to commit a mortal sin was asking me to risk my soul for a moment of temporary pleasure. He has never brought it up (seriously) again, although he still thinks about it. I had to convey to him the gravity of mortal sin. That I wasn’t just saying these things to make his life miserable.

I’m pregnant right now, so it’s not an issue :thumbsup: but it was a struggle pretty much learning NFP while trying to avoid while breastfeeding…

This is exactly what I wanted! Thank you for your advice, I wanted to know what a woman needs in this instance. Thank you! :thumbsup:

To be blunt, if I may, they raise an issue directly related to your question.

How can you convince your wife of the grave sinfulness of these actions, when you keep agreeing to commit them?

Having convinced your wife to forego contraception, which you had no personal guilt in, you now commit acts of contraception which you are personally guilty of. You arguably would have been better to let things continue as they were until your wife was prepared to accept Catholic sexual morality on her own terms.

That’s a good point.

It sounds like the OP is getting some good ideas, though.

If I brought this up to talk about my sins, then I would appreciate the talk about moral choices. That being said, I did not. This is not in the Moral Theology Section, but the Family Life section. So because of this, I am not open to suggestions of sin when I spoke of this in my OP already. That is really between me, God, and my confessor. The fact that I divulged any of it is to open up for suggestions on how to have better dialogue with my wife, not welcome the sin police.

I also invite you to check your consciences as well. Were I wavering in my faith, comments like yours would cause me to just up and leave the Catholic faith for the surplus of judgemental and uncharitable words coming from some of you. So in order to spare myself any hurt feelings from the likes of some of you, and because I got good advice elsewhere, I will not revisit this post. I welcome to moderator to close it as well.

Sorry you feel that way. But I feel you did open this up:

Nonetheless, we can put that aside and deal with your question:

The “language she will understand” here is your own example. That’s what I’m trying to point out. Not trying to be the sin police, but providing a direct answer to this question. Your own actions are more powerful than any words you could use, but the words are of course needed to explain the actions.

Yes.

Ok I did come back :wink:

My apologies if I have misunderstood your intentions. Nonetheless, seems I have my answer. Thank 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.