Relationship Advice: What if love isn't enough


#1

Hey there,

So I have been dating my bf for about 9 months now. We are both in our mid-twenties. He was exactly the guy I would never have dated. For a long time I was judgmental and looked for a guy who was very Christian and came from a solid family background. But his gentle, kind personality really took me aback. I finally gave in and started dating him. For so long everything was near perfect. Every problem we had we compromised or came to a solution on. My bf treats me like gold. He listens to me, he is genuinely interested in everything I believe, think and do. He loves my family and they love him. My boyfriend was raised differently then me. His mom and stepfather had a very difficult, tumultuous relationship. His mother was an alcoholic, his stepfather taught him that porn was just good, and normal. He told me that he saw a lot of selfishness in his parents relationship and would never want to be like them.

Well all was great until a month ago I realized he was viewing porn (after he promised me he stopped 6 months earlier). I genuinely just trusted him because it never occurred to me that he was addicted or would lie about it.
(And guys please don’t say that women don’t understand the impulse or pull towards it. We have sex drives too! We do have temptation for the same things. And our sex drives are not that much different)
He has since promised that he has stopped. He says it isn’t even a problem it just never occurred to him that this was a big deal since he has been doing it since he was a teenager. It is hard to believe him sometimes when I read just HOW addictive it is. And he has computer access all day everyday for work. He told me I can put a nanny program or a blocker on his comps if I want, but I opted out. It just seems like this is something he has to decide if he can overcome or if he NEEDS those programs then I will utilize them. (Thankfully, I am much more computer savy)

Anyway I almost gave up on him this time for lying to me. It really hurt me a lot this time because I was starting to think that I could marry him someday. I am getting ready to go to RCIA and get confirmed. We were both baptized Catholic but I have always had faith, he never really was taught much about it. Since we have dated he has come to church with me and shown a bit of interest, he has also told me that he sees how God has been working in his life now. I pray every night that his yearning continues to get stronger.

At first I was so sad about this porn thing, but now I am glad I learned about it now rather then later on when I am married to someone. I know that if he still doing it he will be honest enough to tell me, and if he isn’t then I am sure the truth will emerge somehow. I think our relationship will be much stronger if we can overcome this and have a better understanding of the meaning of marriage and sex. I have faith that God will lead me in the right direction and if that means to break up I will definitely do it.

So anyway right now I am thinking of all the questions and things that I should be trying to learn about him that could arise in the future as well.

I don’t want to be blindsided anymore. Somethings we have discussed and agree upon so far are - raising our children Catholic, homeschooling after a certain age, practicing NFP, me being a stay at home mom, where we might live, our friends and lifestyles, habits (drinking, eating, exercise etc) …

What questions do you wish you had asked your spouses before you decided to get engaged? What things do you wish you had knew and learned first?

Thanks for you input.


#2

I would suggest that the most important thing that you think about is your vision of how you live out the call to holiness in your vocation– be that to marriage and family, religious life, or singleness in the world.

If you believe your vocation is to marriage and family, then how will you live out the call to holiness in that vocation? What I mean by “call to holiness” is the call we are all given by virtue of our baptism to grow in holiness, seeking God in all we do; we are baptized as priest, prophet, and king. How do we minister, how do we evangelize, and how do we grow in personal holiness and sanctification within our vocation? And, in the context of a vocation to marriage and family, how do we live this out individually, as spouses, and as a family? How do we model virtue for each other, and for children, and the world at large?

So, you asked if love is enough, or what if it isn’t enough…

I don’t think it is “enough.” I think that you have to have a shared vision, a shared mission in the Lord. You and your spouse have to be working shoulder to shoulder for the kingdom, and using an image of warfare… you have to have each other’s backs, religiously speaking. You have to also be constantly challenging each other to grow in holiness.

Is this man going to do that for you and with you? Yes he is nice. Yes he is fun. Yes he had good qualities.

But when you are looking for a spouse, you are looking for the person God wants you to live out a mission with, the person who is going to help you get to heaven, who is going to model faith for your children, and who is going to take on the world with you.

Is this that man?

That’s the question you should be focusing on.

I recommend Fr. Groeschel’s book The Virtue Driven Life. Seek a man of virtue to challenge you and to support you. Be a woman of virtue to support and challenge your spouse and children.


#3

I am a woman and I will tell you that mens and womens sex drives are different. Be prepared. Hormones have a lot to do with a woman’s sex drive. When a woman has a baby her focus turns to that baby, and goodby sex drive. And she gets older and her hormones shift, goodby sex drive. Men are different. And maybe men and women can never quite understand one another completely, nor maybe they weren’t meant to, but you must try to appreciate that your spouse will have many different perspectives than you. You must try to bridge some of your differences. If he grew up in a very different environment you will likely have areas of misunderstanding. That doesn’t mean don’t marry him. That means don’t be closed minded. People have all different experiences in their youth that mold who they are. Consequently we all have different struggles too. And if you ever (at some point in your relationship) wonder why did I marry him, you may be surprised to notice that you each have strengths that compliment one another, that you each have areas of growth that this particular person helps you with. He may have a weakness that you can help him with and vice versa. We are here to grow, not to live happily ever after. Maybe you need to learn patience from him, maybe he needs to learn stability from you. Or insert your own traits and characteristics. I can’t help you with the porn thing because it is a man thing. Women ***are ***different than men. Women are into love and the idea of being in love. They are not into visual sexual stimuli. You want to get a woman in the mood, you have to be romantic, or thoughtful, caring, considerate. Men are physically wired for it.


#4

Most young men today look at porn, even the ones who are Catholics. They grew up with the internet, and it was accessible to them from an early age. Not to mention that the softcore versions are in many movies. Older Catholic men come from a different culture, not to mention that their sex drives aren’t as strong.

It will be very hard for you to find a young man who will not have an ongoing struggle with porn.

This guy sounds wonderful in every other way, and he is trying to stop looking at porn. Chances are he’ll fail more than once in the future, but as long as he’s trying that’s what counts.


#5

As long as he is addicted to porn, there will be three in your relationship. Marriage is hard enough without having to compete with strangers for your husband’s attention. I would put the relationship on hold, until he can overcome this problem, or you decide to move on.


#6

Thanks. This gives me a ton to think about. Maybe I am thinking too much about what I want and not enough about what God may want for me. Sometimes it is hard to discern what God wants for me. I will look into that book.


#7

Big, HUGE, GIGANTIC RED FLAG!!!–“His mother was an alcoholic.”

Go to Al-Anon and talk to them about children of alcoholics.

Children of alcoholics (COA) have many difficult issues, and it is not easy to be married to them.

Here is just one website about COA: nacoa.net/impfacts.htm

You can Google “Children of alcoholics” and find much information.

You MUST face this part of his past and make sure you understand all the issues thoroughly before you marry him! Otherwise, you could be in a for a heartbreaking life. Al-Anon can help you and him. Go to them and ask. Hopefully your boyfriend will go with you. If he’s not willing to go, then I would seriously consider breaking off with him.


#8

I definitely thought that was a shame that his mom was this way, but he doesn’t drink much and is adamant that he will never be an alcoholic. I think he is more of those people who learned from his parents what NOT to do. Atleast that is what it seems now.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I just don’t know what to think right now.


#9

Romantic, thoughtful, caring and considerate is also what men look for. At least as long as they’re reasonably healthy on that side of things. We don’t look for harpies with great bodies, nor do we look for a woman who looks great but doesn’t care much about you.

At the same time, on the other side of the table, women can be quite receptive to and quite picky about outward appearance. Not only men are capable of, “no strings attached,” “one night stands,” etc.


#10

I think Cat’s concern was less about him being an alcoholic too and more about the notorious co-dependency and insecurity that tends to plague adult children of alcoholics. It can be very difficult to love someone who’s codependent. It’s not impossible by any means, but it can be challenging.


#11

You quoted my comments and your response is off in some other boat! She had stated that men’s and women’s sex drives were not that different. I think that they are very much so (different). (We are talking about sex drives within a relationship.) Women are not driven by visual cues. If a husband wants to get his wife in the mood he might want to do something thoughtful or romantic. Walking around in his underwear may not flip the switch. Now if the wife walks around in her underwear that will flip the switch for him because men are wired for this visual stimuli. There are things that will lessen a woman’s sex drive, like having a baby. And hormones jumping all over the place will also have an affect. Men don’t have babies, or times of the month, or go through menopause and these things do affect a woman’s sex drive.

You don’t look for harpies, one night stands? We are talking about the sex drive within the relationship! We are not talking about the hunt. The relationship is already established here. I would like this young lady to know that she may be in for some surprises down the road with her sex drive.

And as for the comments on the alcoholic mother. Yes, he may very well be strongly affected by this even if he himself does not drink. You may be in for some surprises there as well. Again that does not mean don’t marry him but you must have an awareness of these things.


#12

I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that. I will agree that many men and boys nowadays have easy access to porn, and that many do view it. But I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that it is very hard to find a young man who doesn’t struggle with it. I think that there are plenty of good young men out there who don’t struggle with this. Perhaps they just don’t frequent this forum…


#13

Suzy, sex drive doesn’t know if you’re in a relationship or not and it works pretty much the same way whether it’s picking (this target or that one) or being “in the mood” (whether or not to with the particular target). The mind takes a different attitude, but I doubt anything’s different with the reproductive system.

And even in a relationship, I tell you, seeing a display of cruelty by a woman can make a guy very much a cold fish. It surely would do that with me. In fact, I can imagine few better ways. If I were married and I saw my wife kick a dog or be rude to a waiter without reason, I surely would prefer to read a book that night. And a couple of following ones.


#14

JesusLives - I would suggest getting your boyfriend a copy of Christopher West’s take on Theology of the Body.
While I do think his viewing of these unsavory things is a call for alarm, I don’t know if it means you should end everything. It’s a very tough call. Many men struggle with this and if he acknowledges it is wrong and is willing to change, there is hope yet. Sometimes it just takes a breakthrough with perspective, especially if he grew up in an environment where the value of a person was not explored. I would just make sure that this is squared away before you moved forward towards marriage.
Rather than taking an approach to nag or condemn him (not saying you are, just looking at it from this angle), be an example to him in your faith and really get down to the bones of why what he is doing is offending God, and ruining him for the experience of uniting with his future spouse - whether that spouse is you or another woman in the future. You say that he is turned off by the selfishness he witnessed growing up, show him how what he is doing is a selfish act because he is removing God and the unitive and procreative aspect of love out of the equation. He is having these women be a means to his own selfish ends.
If you are serious about him, you need to make God paramount in your relationship right now. Start going to mass together, adoration, and get involved with other Catholics your age who share the same values. Most of all, ask him to be honest with you. If he feels that he cannot break this habit, he needs to do the right thing and let you find a man who is willing to live out God’s plan for man and woman.


#15

Maybe I just don’t understand what co-dependency is or what the signs are. I am not sure why this would be a problem or make it hard to love him. I love him now. Anyway maybe someone can elaborate on what you guys mean by co-dependency & insecurities that would stem from his background and maybe give some examples? I just cannot seem to connect it with him but I want to be open minded about any advice I am given.

If you could atleast maybe explain the psychology behind it that may help.


#16

I actually did order that book last week. I have done all those things with him. At first I may have been a little bit condemning and he was defensive at first but after he realized how much it hurt me and how serious it was to me he became more receptive. We have discussed in depth why it is wrong/selfish/sinful. We have discussed the importance of him being honest about whether or not it is a problem so that I can make the best decisions for myself. So far he has told me he has still not looked at it and that he has no desire to look anymore because he doesn’t want to hurt me or drive a wedge in our relationship. We have discussed why it is important for God to be paramount in our relationship, we go to mass together on occasion, we have gone to adoration together. But we have no other Catholic couples to hang out with. Sadly there are not many young Catholics couples at my Church. There aren’t even very man Christian couples anymore atleast not in this town.

He is still very unsure on what he believes faith wise. He told me that he has not prayed since his grandma (who essentially raised him) died. But he says and acts as though he sees the logic and good behind it. We have discussed the importance of raising our children Catholic, and practicing NFP.

He is much more passive than me, and he actually seeks out people to be influenced by who he believes are good. I don’t know if that is always a good thing (I guess it depends on individual judgment because some of his friends are questionable in my opinion but he seems to be distancing from them), but so far it has been really good for our relationship. I am strong in my faith and he knew that upfront so I think he kind of knew what he was getting into. :o


#17

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