Rocky Young Marriage


Here’s the summary of my post: I have a new wife who can’t make the transition from girlfriend to spouse. HELP!

Happy New Year to all. This is my first post, first time I’ve been to the site too. I apologize for writing a book here, and would appreciate only serious replies. I hate to drag anyone in too deeply, but I’m really hurting right now and looking for support.

Anyways, my wife and I were married on Nov 17th 2007, after having met in May of 06. I am 23, she is 21. People told us that we were rushing things, but we didn’t listen. We’re both Catholic, though her commitment to the church isn’t where I wish it was, and we’ve tried praying together before bed at my request, but that usually happens very intermittently. I’ve got a degree, she quit on her education when I proposed in Nov 06 - school was never her thing.

I work full time salaried 8-5, m-f job and am a public office holder, and she works 2 part time jobs, one at a bar, though not nights where its rough.

The situation:
We want to buy a house this next summer and then shortly after start a family. Before we got married she promised that she’d work on the things that bug me, and vice versa. My biggest thing is us having time together, which is why I took a job that isn’t my first choice so that I’d have steady hours, something she also promised to do but hasn’t. Shes working nights / weekends and has become friends with people at work and has been putting them ahead of me.

The Recent Troubles:
I’ve had mild alcohol problems ever since I started college, which have flared up recently. I’ve had off from work from Dec 21 - Jan 2, and in the last week and a half, there were 3 nights where my brothers and a few friends were out drinking (not driving) and I ended up staying at my parents house, while my wife slept here at the apartment, with Saturday night being the most recent.

When I came home Sunday morning I apologized as sincerely as I could and I’m going to try to grow up - I’m 23 and married now, not 18 and single. I proposed that we spend new years eve here together, a quiet night to reconnect.

The New Years Eve Breakdown:
My wife decided that she didn’t like my idea, and though she’s not a regular drinker (3 or 4 times a year maybe?) she said that she wanted to go hang out at the bar she works at, from 9:30 til 10:30. She said it was her first New Years Eve legal at the bars, and that she didn’t want me to hold her back. She also said she wouldn’t drink and would meet me at my brother’s party where I would hang out during that hour’s time, also not drinking.

10:30 comes and goes, and then around 10:45 she tells me she’s had 2 shots and is drinking a Smirnoff. Knowing the cops are out, I told her I was coming to get her. All my family told me that this was the right move. I get to the bar, and the owners (friends of my wife’s who I don’t trust) tell me I can’t come in and that I have to wait for her. She eventually comes out, and I grab her arm so I can hold her up as we walk to my car, and one of the owners misinterprets this and says if I put my hands on her again there’ll be trouble, never come back, etc. I told my wife that she needs to choose between working there and our marriage.

This morning, she gets up and around while I’m still in bed, and takes my car. Texts me telling me she had promised to work at the bar today. Then calls, says shes sorry but that today she would tell the owners that after today until we get our marriage straightened out that she’s not working there anymore.

Last night she said she wants us to go to counseling.

I want a wife, but she’s content in her life right now acting as if she’s my girlfriend. Is counseling our best option? Are there any net resources for struggling Catholic marriages that might help us out?


This isn’t counseling, it’s better. It’s a program that teaches new communication skills so that the two of you will really understand what the other one is thinking and feeling. It is led by other couples who have had problems in their marriages, so they’ve BTDT. It is a one-weekend long program with follow-up sessions, and is very affordable. Please check it out. I know it works, it literally saved my family. Good luck and God bless you both.


I second the notion to work on communication skills.


I don’t get the sense that your wife is acting like a gf necessarily…I get more of a sense that you both might be adjusting to marriage. It can be an adjustment.:o There’s nothing wrong with it being a little ‘rocky’ as you put it, in the beginning. In fact, it can be quite normal. But, what takes that rocky beginning into something that works on a day to day basis? Both of your commitments to making it work. I echo the other posters about communication.

I would try to plan some date sessions, and probably her not working at a bar (in general) would help your marriage. But, don’t worry–this is not abnormal. I think you admitting your mild alcohol problems also will be a great start to making things work.

Now that you are married–you are both one flesh. If you wouldn’t hurt yourself, then you wouldn’t hurt your spouse. It took me a long time to get to that point (I have been married 16 years) and it was very hard in the beginning to adjust. You both are different people, different interests, coming from different backgrounds–so a few bumps along the way, are very normal. Especially in the beginning.

May I ask…do you both go to mass together? Maybe try to go to confession together, or join something together at your church might help, too? I will keep you in my prayers…But, just know, that as long as you two commit to working at it–these issues will iron themselves out. Good luck to you both–and congrats on you being newlyweds!

Maybe you could share your engagement/wedding story in my thread in this section…that might bring back some fond memories for you both.:slight_smile:


Hey my brother,
Dont hesitate to return to the priest who married yall or seek another priest. Take control as you are the spiritual head of the household. Maintain your responsibility and love your wife and insist yall do things as a married couple. Remove all obstacles that hurt covenental love and the one flesh union. Pray for your marriage as a man of GOD. Ephesians chapter 5


Sounds like you need to attack your problems on several fronts.

First, you need to get in a program and stay there for your alcohol issues-- AA would be a good start for you.

Secondly, you need to focus on the two of you growing up in your marriage. Retrouvaille is an excellent suggestion for learning the basic communication skills foundational to marriage.

Third, she needs to begin contributing to the household in an adult manner, such as finding appropriate work with regular hours.

Fourth, I can recommend Greg Popcak’s book For Better… Forever. Get the book and read it TOGETHER.

It doesn’t sound like she is in the role of girlfriend, it sounds like she is in the role of “single girl”. Working at a bar, making friends and hanging out with them without you, putting her desire to be “legal in a bar” above your welfare. Wow-- she is very immature.

Yes, I agree, you should not have married so quickly. But, your marriage is by no means beyond repair. It totally depends on BOTH of you being willing to give 100% to this marriage and doing what it takes to make it work.


What was their reasoning behind this?


Thanks all so far for the help! Keep the good ideas coming.

I’ve checked into Retrouvaille and there’s a meeting on the 18th about an hour from here. I wish it were sooner, but maybe this will give us a little bit of time to try to help mend fences a little bit between ourselves.

About not being able to come in, the owner told me that if I were to go in there and grab here and force her to leave, it would cause a scene, and that there were “a lot of guys in there” and that it probably would have started a fight. She might be right, and my wife definitely didn’t want to leave when I got there.


A new wife is like a car… how you drive it the first 500 miles will affect how it runs the rest of the time you own it.

Having said that, if she had asked me advice, I’d have given her a cyberslap upside the head and told her to grow up and either get a new job or let the man go so he could get it annulled and marry a grownup.

That job could be the death of your marriage. She needs solid work that doesn’t involve single guys with drinking problems and being a barmaid.

No insults to barmaids everywhere, but she belongs home with her husband, not serving up cold ones to strangers.

Too bad when she turned 21, she couldn’t have a champagne dinner with her own husband in a lovely restaurant and celebrate New Year’s Eve that way.

Get counselling. If her family is any help, talk to her mother or sisters.

Good luck. You’re going to have to be the grownup here. Because if it falls apart, you don’t want her to be able to point to ANYTHING you did as her excuse. If it’s any consolation, her brain is still growing and developing and will until she’s about 23 or 24 years old.

  1. Big issue: people marry because they are happy with who they are and where they are in life. If you married with an illusion that she would change or “make good” on a verbal contract, your expectations need to change really quickly.

  2. Making promises with a spouse can be very tricky, especially when done without experience and/or when done hastily. If she just went along and agreed to shut you up or even just because she didn’t give it deep thought, she may actually disagree with you on a lot of things and have no intention of changing.

  3. Besides retrouvaille and AA, why not take her out on a hot date to one of West’s seminars: or just purchase/rent one of his books. It might pique her interest and give you some special spiritual time with her.

  4. Check out The book “His Needs, Her Needs” might be a very useful tool for your situation. Your post gives a vibe of both of you being clueless about how to love the other. You give the implication of wanting compaionship; she acts independently. Both of you need help in making honest joint agreements. She is probably seeking conversation with other people at her job and talking about your alcoholism.


Excellent comments from the previous posters.

Here are some additional resources you might find useful:
*] — What have you done for your marriage today? This site from the USCCB has resources for caring for your marriage and living happily ever after.
*]PREP - Marriage communication
*]Help for Hurting Marriages – especially for marriages hurt by alcoholism, which you mention as a particular issue in your own marriage.
*] — St.Joseph’s Covenant Keepers’ online resource promoting Christian fatherhood. The founder, Steve Wood, also brings you EWTN’s “The Carpenter’s Workshop” series. Episodes are available in RealAudio format from the EWTN library: 1999 episodes, 2003 episodes, 2005 episodes.
*]Family Life Center International — Resources geared toward deepening a family’s love & knowledge of their faith and toward promoting traditional family life.
*]e5 (Ephesians 5) Men — Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her (Ephesians 5:25). This group of men fasts on the first Wednesday of each month for the spiritual benefit of their wives. They won’t know that you’re doing it, but many husbands will attest that it has improved their marriages, both directly (in that the husbands are more committed to their wives) and indirectly (in the spiritual benefit conferred to their wives).[/LIST]Marital retreats, like Retrouvaille, are terrific resources.

You mentioned that you are trying to **pray **together. This is helpful. If she doesn’t do it, you should pray anyway. Don’t be discouraged.

You didn’t mention about going to **Mass **together. Be sure to make this your priority on Sunday. Go a little early to say prayers, or stay late to recite the Rosary. Dress up for Mass, as it gets you mentally ready that “this is something important.” After Mass, take her out for brunch somewhere, or plan events like trips to museums or parks or movies. Make Sunday a day to rest and be with one another. Work on communication during this time. Gradually, this will strengthen your marital bond.

With regard to other sacraments, be sure to make frequent use of the sacrament of **Reconciliation **(confession), and encourage that she do the same.

Talking with a spiritual advisor is a great thing. You might choose to do this as a couple, or individually. One important note – you mentioned that she wanted to go to counseling. I would encourage you to talk with an orthodox Catholic priest first. Counselors often subscribe to heretical modernist/secularist philosophy. If you decide you want a specialized counselor in addition to a priest, choose a Catholic one. The Family Life Center gives very good references for Catholic therapists and marriage counselors.

Finally, Steve Wood says that the “#1 way to divorce-proof your marriage” is to use natural family planning. This is strongly recommended. The spiritual benefits are immense.
Read more here, here, here or here.

May 2008 bring your marriage much needed strengthening, and may God bless and protect that bond.

Best of luck to you.


My heart and prayers go out to you. I am 27 been married for 5 1/2 years. My wife and I have had “colorful” childhoods and even into out marriage. We are NOT saints. We struggle every day to keep the devil out of our marriage. The posts above are very good. My recommendation is 1. find a priest you both trust and see him once or twice a week until you both feel progress. After you speak with him go to confession. 2. Pray together - even if it is a meal time prayer it will bring grace. 3. Check into posted above. After a time go to Marriage Encounter or Retrouvaille they will help. For the right now this week fix find a Priest you both can speak with. If need be email me privately and I will help more. I have had A LOT of help in my faith and growth and know what it is like to start out and feel alone as a Catholic. God Bless


Thought I had something wise to add, but she said it all. Good advice…follow it and good luck!


I don’t think the problem is that your wife has a problem switching from girlfriend to wife…I think you’re both making bad decisions and are having to adjust to married commitment the hard way.

First off, I’d put the plans for a house further off. Your wife does not need to be working in a bar in order to realize that dream. If she only brings in the income for her other job, then fine, you buy a house a little later than originally planned. But you both need to sit down over your finances and come up with a realistic plan involving realistic jobs.

Second, you’ve been married for 3 months and you went out drinking with friends and slept at your parents’ house afterwards. Your solution to this decision is to propose that you spend a quiet New Year’s together which is, admittedly, your thing. Now while I have no problem with a quiet time with my husband on New Year’s, if he had just acted as you had and then his solution was to do what makes him happy, I’d get a little mad. You should have apologized and then tried to propose you spend the holiday with your wife in a way to make her day. Why didn’t you say something along the lines of “honey, if you’d like to go out and celebrate your first New Year’s legal, let’s go together!”?

I agree with your wife…you probably need counseling…and I’d also rethink what you BOTH have been doing in the last few weeks.


I am probably wasting my breath, but having a masters degree in family alcohol problems from the U of Life, I can only observe if you were my relative asking for advice, that you both have unresolved unacknowledged alcohol problems, which you had better deal with fast, professionally, separately, or you are facing a lifetime of misery. I know of no organization as successful and realistic in approach as AA and Al-Anon. that’s it, take it or leave it. the minute you start talking about “my spouse has to change in order to deal with my alcohol problem” you’ve got trouble with a capital T right here in River City. deal with it and be honest about it, or else pay the price, and it is steep.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit