Seeking a Catholics advice on some marriage issues

I am a young female Catholic with two small children who is married and stays at home. My husband is from a different culture and “faith”. I put faith in quotations because he truly doesn’t practice anything. We were married in the Catholic Church. That is some background info.

There are many times my husband and I have major communication issues. He says very hurtful things any chance he gets. He criticizes everything I do. From dinner to my hair color. I point out that the comments are hurtful to which he replies, " I’m just being honest" I can not tell you when the last time he complimented me was?
He in the past has had issues with Internet and “chatting” with other women as well as looking at escort sites. I’ve tried everything to get him to notice that his behavior is very hurtful and damaging to our marriage. I’ve offered up the idea if marriage counseling. But he doesn’t want to go and doesn’t think it will help. I’m at the point where I am going to try to force him to go. I just don’t know what to do. I just want to do what is right in Gods eyes. I forgive my husband every day for the things he does that are hurtful but I’m afraid all this forgiveness is just being taken advantage of. Does God really want me to live like this? In a loveless marriage? Divorce isn’t an option for me. So what is?

IMO: A legal separation is always an option, or pray for the virtue of longsuffering.

You can go to counseling by yourself.
Be very careful about the counselor you choose, though. A Catholic counselor will not be quick to encourage you to divorce, while a secular one may be.

Unkindness has consequences. He needs to learn how to be tactful, not just “honest.” How honest is he at work, if his boss asks an opinion on an idea he disagrees with? If he were a teenager, I’d suggest saying, “you hurt my feelings when you said xyz, and it depressed me so I’m not making dinner tonight.”
That is kind of passive aggressive, but it might get the message across.

I’m not sure how honest he is at work. I do not think he would ever be that honest about personal things with coworkers. However, I’ve known him to be brutally honest about work related things and that honesty seems to work for him. I know several people who work with him and he’s very good at his job and highly praised by all.

Just an example of his honesty, last night I went to a salon and got my hair cut ( trimmed, I have long hair) and colored. It took two hours and he was tired and at home with the kids. When I got home, before I even could say Hello, he looked at me and said, " I hate it. It looks fake, I hate it. It doesn’t look good." Now if you ask me, it’s the best salon job I’ve had in my life and I loved it. He never likes anything I wear or do with my hair. He never compliments my appearance. I feel like I’m always changing things to find what he likes and I’m getting now where. I’m not out to impress anyone or myself. I’m out to impress my husband and its exhausting. He makes comments about my cooking as well. I’m a home cook type if person. I’m not going to heat you up a frozen meal or a can of soup. You want chicken noodle soup, I’m going to buy a chicken and cook it all day. There’s a lot of effort that goes into that everyday. Especially with little kids. But he rarely says that my cooking is good. It’s always, just “ok”. I thought it was because of the different cultures and just different tastes but he has family that live near us and I recently started having them over for dinner. They are always raving about my cooking and even asking me in random conversations ( not during a dinner meetup) about when we can do it again or when can I make this specific dish again. I tell my husband their comments to which he responds “they are just being nice.” I know what “being nice” looks like. These are just a couple of examples of things that happen every day.

I did find a counseling clinic near our area that after reading their website I think would be beneficial. In their FAQs it states that they never will mention divorce in their counseling sessions but if both parties state that they are done, they’d assist both with counseling during separation. I’m not sure I found a Catholic marriage counselor that my husband would take them seriously. He would probably shut them out and just say, " that’s a Catholic mentality. I’m not Catholic so it doesn’t apply to me. "

I appreciate your response. I just don’t have anyone to ask advice. I’m young (20+) and more seriously Catholic than others my age. Most of my friends would suggest to just leave. Because that’s what they would do. They don’t understand that that is not an option.

“They don’t understand that that is not an option.”

It is an option, just not the best possible option. The best possible option is that you fix your relationship and have an amazing marriage. He liked you when he married you, right?

There are a lot of non-Catholic books on marriage that would be helpful. I’m hoping somebody will suggest some titles for you to leave around for your husband.

One piece of advice I’ve heard is that every criticism needs to be balanced by five pieces of praise. I think you’re experiencing just how crucial that ratio is–you can’t tear somebody down all day and have an amazing relationship with them. That’s presumably something that a counselor (pretty much any counselor) would work on with you. (This 5/1 ratio is true for basically all relationships, not just marriage.)

Depending on how far it’s going, the escort stuff is possibly a deal-breaker. Who knows what kind of crud he could be bringing home to you if he decides to meet these women?

Shouldn’t have to be far at all. Dude shouldn’t be doing that period. And I’ve got experience, sort of, in that area given that I’m in recovery for pornography addiction. Honestly, the OP’s husband sounds like a grade-A jackass and I don’t really have tremendous advice. I can say that my demeanor changed dramatically the farther I got into porn, but that was due to self-hatred. I basically hated myself so much that it came pouring out onto other people.

That said, I can’t remember the last time I criticized my wife’s cooking and I certainly have always told her she’s beautiful. Maybe I said something about the cooking when she made a Mexican pizza like three years ago which she also agreed was not that good. She’s an excellent cook and puts tons of effort into it. I don’t think I really criticized her for much actually, but the tone I took with just about everything made her think she was the worst wife in the world.

When she found out that I was waist-deep into porn, she left. Took the kids, packed up and left me with just a note. Best thing that ever happened to me because it smacked me back into the reality of what I was doing. She came back two weeks later and I honestly think we have a better marriage than ever, though there’s always going to be a seed of distrust. That’s OK. I deserve that and I understand that the seed is not because she doesn’t love me but because she needs to protect herself and our family just in case.

I guess my point is that the guy sounds like a sociopath or a narcissist and I can assure you that pornography addiction makes those conditions exponentially worse. I’m not one, though I certainly have major pride issues, but I lived with a guy like that. He’s my father. He crushed our family with porn, strippers, affairs. Amazingly my mom did not leave him but she’s now emotionally crippled, was on antidepressants for a decade and five of us six children have suffered emotional damage from this situation.

So basically OP, don’t let him run you over like this. Fight for your marriage, yes, but protect yourself and your kids at all cost. Making yourself a victim for the “sake of the family” will result in everyone being hurt. And it surely does your husband no favors either.

Well, I wonder what you saw in him to marry him. Was he a real charmer when you met and before you married him? Or did you think, in your secret heart, that you could somehow fix him or change him? It’s hard to admit that, but so many women do it, I certainly did.

Even if your husband is an amazing father to your children, remember they are being taught how to treat people by being around him. If he disrespects you, then your girls (if you have girls) will learn to expect that from men; your boys (assuming you have at least one) will learn how to treat women. Almost always, when the mother puts up with abuse from her husband (I am talking emotional abuse), teenage boys will also treat their mom with at least disrespect if not join in on the abuse.

This is a serious situation. I believe your husband is probably viewing porn on line and as TheBucket says, this changes a man’s personality for the worse. You have more problems than just an inconsiderate and boorish husband who can shape up with an ultimatum…You’ve got a husband who is calling “escort” sites and treating his wife with disdain.

I will add you to my prayers. Please set some boundaries about your husband’s behavior.

I agree with The Bucket and TheRealJuliane. Please don’t let yourself be treated like this. It’s emotional abuse, and if you speak with a Priest, I think he would tell you the same. Any children you have are learning that it’s “normal” for a husband to disrespect his wife, and it will affect them for the rest of their lives. “Boundaries in Marriage” is an excellent paperback by Cloud and Townsend that I highly recommend (at many libraries or very reasonable at Amazon and bookstores). And if he is viewing porn and everything else that goes along with that, it only makes his negativity and harsh criticism toward you even worse. I saw that same biting criticism in my marriage for many years before I discovered my husband was heavily influenced by porn. There is a support group here at CAF for wives called “Women Suffering Because of Unchastity” which might also be beneficial for you. It deals specifically with the porn issue in a relationship (see top toolbar under “Groups” if interested).
There is hope for peace in your heart for you, and there’s even hope for him, if he is willing to seek it. But the most important first thing is for your emotional well-being and that of your children. Please know that you are in my prayers.

What did I see in him? Well am I the only one who heard that “Love is blind”? Just kidding. Honestly… when I first met him he was a real charmer. He treated me like a princess. Yes, a lot has changed since then. Including with myself. I am not the same person I was when we were first dating. Some of this “boorish” treatment did start prior to marriage. We did live together before we got married and we had been together for 5 years before we were married ( we’ve been married 5 years) So I was very young when we met. Call it first love, puppy love, or whatever. But yes, when I did marry him I did think in my secret little heart that he would maybe change or that we could get through this and I still believe that. I don’t think thats all that bad to think that others are capable of changing their negative behaviors. And I am willing to invest in as much time and work as it takes to make that happen, if it is going to happen. If it doesn’t, I’m ok with that too. I can sleep easily at night knowing that I did everything I possibly could.

I am not sure that the online/escort thing is an issue at the moment. It was an issue 3 years ago. But since that came to the surface there is no evidence of him continuing that behavior. He is not on the computer ( which is out in a public room) when he is at home. He comes home immediately after work. He does not go anywhere alone or without me so I am not sure when he would have the time to do any of those things.

Currently leaving is not an issue. We have a commitment to something until June that requires both of us here and together. I do however believe, if I pulled something like “thebuckets” wife… that would be a big eye opener for my husband. I dont know… we will try the marriage counseling and if it doesnt work than when June comes around… that might be something that I will have to think about doing.
I do understand about the children and the effect the behavior has on them. I have warned my husband many times that our children would be greatly affected by his behavior towards their mother. I even reminded him this morning. He usually leaves for work before we get up. He came back in while I was feeding our littlest one to get something he had forgotten. He looked at me and asked me “whats wrong?” I’m telling you, he really doesn’t get how his behavior has an affect on me. Even when I am spelling it out for him. I reminded him of our conversation last night at the comments he made about my hair and that they were hurtful ( I should add that after that conversation he fell right to sleep because he didn’t sleep well the night before) He listened… and then apologized. But he apologizes every time I mention his behavior to him and then continues with the behavior. This I think is the real issue. The fact that he can apologize I think is promising. Its just not understanding if the apology is sincere ( even though most of the time it does sound like it) and then of course the fact that we keep going around in circles over the same issues.

I have to say, I am a little surprised by the overall feeling in the responses that I should leave or file for a legal seperation. I mean, I witnessed my mother spend 25 agonizing years annulling her first marriage in the Catholic Church. I don’t know why it took so long. It might have been the fact that the ex husband needed to respond to which I’m sure he was uncooperative or what not. I just do not want to go through something like that unless I know for a FACT that it is not salvageable. So until that day comes. I have to believe, pray, and hope that there is possibility of change.

Again, Thank you for all the responses and advice and sharing of personal stories. It was very comforting.

I also want to add because I am posting and then seeing previous responses later, that I am seeing the urgency in your guys responses. I don’t want you to think I’m dismissing it. I’m just still digesting it all. Because I have for the last five or so years, really did believe that I had to endure all of this… so thats going to take some time to change that mind set.

If your husband will actually cooperate with counseling, of course that is the first approach you should try. There are also marriage programs like Retrouvaille, that is directed toward improving communication, if your non-Catholic husband will attend. The problem with people who are more narcissistic, is that they never see any responsibility on their own part. The problem is always the fault of the other person, so making any changes to themselves is out of the question. I don’t know your husband at all so I would have no idea if he has those traits or not, but one of the hallmarks of a narcissist is the ability to be charming and romantic BEFORE the marriage, and an arrogant and almost sociopathic abuser AFTER the wedding. It can be almost a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation.

Please don’t continue to delude yourself about changing your husband. A person has to WANT to change from the inside out, and even when one wants it very badly, it’s not easy to change lifelong patterns. But if it’s just YOU wanting him to change…not likely to happen. :shrug: Just giving you the benefit of my long years of experience…

The book suggested by a previous poster is a great one, here is the original book which is also helpful within other relationships:


It is written from a Christian perspective, and is the standard when it comes to setting healthy boundaries.

Here is Boundaries in Marriage.

Just so you know, my wife was not pulling a stunt. She packed several suitcases, drove 800 miles away and left her wedding and engagement ring along with that note. She was GONE. She planned to stay with family for a little while and then go somewhere else for maybe a few more months. She still loved me but she was scared and she was done with it. I think the only reason she came back within two weeks was because she actually made this discovery a week or two before leaving and my behavior and demeanor IMMEDIATELY changed despite being kicked out of the bedroom. I got in touch with an S-group, I put together a plan and I started executing on it.

That said, it hasn’t been all roses for the last number of months even though I’m still “sober” and a far better man than I think I’ve ever been. It still can suck pretty badly from time to time.

I’m telling you, he really doesn’t get how his behavior has an affect on me. Even when I am spelling it out for him. I reminded him of our conversation last night at the comments he made about my hair and that they were hurtful ( I should add that after that conversation he fell right to sleep because he didn’t sleep well the night before) He listened… and then apologized. But he apologizes every time I mention his behavior to him and then continues with the behavior. This I think is the real issue. The fact that he can apologize I think is promising. Its just not understanding if the apology is sincere ( even though most of the time it does sound like it) and then of course the fact that we keep going around in circles over the same issues.

Yeah I know how that is because that sounds a lot like me. I’m bad at empathy to begin with but the addiction killed it entirely. At least temporarily. It’s coming back slowly. Outside of my addiction it’s not that I’m super self-centered (just pretty self-centered) it’s that I’m bad at picking up on cues. I’m bad at understanding how other people feel. I’m trying to be more conscious of it but it’s a weakness. It’s not a sinful weakness, but it’s a flaw. It’s a blind spot.

In my addiction though, other people didn’t matter. They only mattered in their utility to me. It’s sickening to write that out but it’s true. I loved my wife and kids but the chief reason I cared about them was the feelings I got from them. The happiness they gave me. So it was important that I show them some affection and make some effort so I could get a reward. And other people? People outside my family? They just got in the way. People in traffic? Meaningless. Strangers? Pointless. Folks who might need some help? The only reason I’d help is to get some plaudits. Self-sacrifice was an alien concept. Sure, I helped people but that’s so I’d feel good about myself, not because I wanted other people’s lives to improve. If I didn’t benefit, I didn’t do it. Everyone else’s life was completely and utterly without merit unless it somehow could benefit me.

Is this disturbing? Oh hell yes it is. I don’t know if your husband is in a similar boat. I can’t make that judgment. All I’m saying is what happened with me. It’s important that I own up to these things and repeat my story over and over again for the benefit of other people. It’s important that I understand that my life is supposed to be modeled after Christ, who was in service for all. My sharpest skills are chiefly in writing and talking, so that’s what I do.

“I have to say, I am a little surprised by the overall feeling in the responses that I should leave or file for a legal seperation.”

I’m not saying that. I just don’t want to hear you saying, “Divorce is not an option.” It is an option. And not just for you, either. If you become miserable and embittered by your relationship with your husband, you won’t be the only one who is unhappy. He’ll be unhappy, too, and he’ll eventually leave you.

I don’t want you to divorce your husband, but I do want you to stand up and fight for your marriage. Be respectful and loving to your husband and demand respect and love from him.

By the way, I have a book suggestion for both you and your husband. It’s called “Don’t Shoot the Dog” and it’s a book about using positive reinforcement on people and animals. I think you should read the book and then read it again with your husband.

The author is a dolphin trainer and the book is about getting the best out people and animals through positive reinforcement. If you can get your husband to understand the concepts in the book, he’ll have a better conceptual framework for why he needs to stop being critical and he’ll learn to be a better husband and father. And you should use the same ideas on him, of course.


Clicker training a dog to sit is not the same as making a selfish and possibly narcissistic spouse recognize their part in the problems. What, she’s going to use a clicker and give her husband a cookie whenever he compliments her? Or at least doesn’t criticize her? I don’t know, I’m very skeptical of using behavior mod in any setting that involves human beings. Dogs, maybe. Dolphins, sure. But people? Uh-uh.

“Clicker training a dog to sit is not the same as making a selfish and possibly narcissistic spouse recognize their part in the problems. What, she’s going to use a clicker and give her husband a cookie whenever he compliments her? Or at least doesn’t criticize her? I don’t know, I’m very skeptical of using behavior mod in any setting that involves human beings. Dogs, maybe. Dolphins, sure. But people? Uh-uh.”

Don’t forget that I suggested the book for her husband to read as well. He has been using negative reinforcement on his wife (probably without intending to), and it’s been very harmful to their relationship. They probably both need to learn to use positive reinforcement on each other. In a sense, when you use positive reinforcement on people, you are retraining yourself just as much as you are training them.

I have a mildly autistic daughter, and Pryor’s book was very helpful during some tough times (I also like Howard Glasser’s Transforming the Difficult Child). Don’t Shoot the Dog is not so much a nuts and bolts book, but there are a lot of charming stories and it’s a very optimistic, hopeful book.

I will read any book titles that are thrown my way. As it stands today I can honestly say my husband won’t read anything unless its sports.

I managed to get an appt tonight. I will update and let you all know how it goes.
I feel like I posted here trying to get a certain answer like what I should be praying about or something like that. And instead my eyes are hugely wide open.

Hey All,

Well we made it in to our first counseling appt. It actually went FANTASTIC! I’m very excited and very hopeful that this will help tremendously. My husband wasn’t too thrilled with the idea at first. In fact, I got the silent treatment majority of the night leading up to our appt. When I asked him why he was behaving that way, he replied that since we have to pay for someone to help us communicate then I can wait until the appt to find out. Talking about feelings and emotions is not something that comes easy for him and in fact he has major avoidant behaviors around that kind of topic. The counselor was very good and got him to really open up… Not a lot. but enough for me to see that there is something there.

While I do think he has narcissistic traits ( I do not believe he is a sociopath. After looking up both of those behaviors I actually have a lot of experience with a sociopath in my family and I can honestly say that my husband is not anything like that.) I think we all have a little narcissism in us. Maybe my husband is just a little more severe. But, I do not think that he is so far into himself only that he can not be reached emotionally. So I continue to be hopeful at this point. Until I stop seeing progress anyways. And last night… I saw progress… even if it only lasts 24-48 hours… I saw progress.

I think that God made this appt happen last night for us. Its not normal to call and get an appt in right away. If I had made the appt for a week from now… it more than likely would have been discussed and then canceled. So I am thankful to God for opening that up for us and getting us started. Because now we are both committed to it.

Thanks again for the support!

Love to hear this! Hope things keep progressing well for both of you. Prayers for St. Monica’s, Our Lady’s, and St. Michael’s intercession can also help tremendously! Keeping Our Lord as the third person in your marriage helps so much, too. God bless.

Although that quip was pretty childish, I found it rather funny…Did he say, “So THERE!” after it??? LOL :smiley:

If your dear husband is committed to continuing after just the one appointment…I think you’re going to be all right. That is a VERY good sign indeed.

But bear in mind, that things could get tough when the sore places in both of you get poked, as therapy is wont to do. Support each other through that, place yourself on the same side of the problem as him, and you’ll make progress.

And yes, you’re right, God opened the door for you - I have NEVER gotten an appointment for marriage counseling that quickly. Usually it’s at least a week, sometimes 2 weeks.


My husband was a real charmer when I married him. I was treated like a queen. He became addicted and the self hatred spewed out to us all. He treated everyone outside the family wonderfully but at home was mean and cruel. I see this trait now in my children and it is breaking my heart. Addiction is hereditatry. a year and a half ago when he was discovered he had gone back to the man he was when I married him. He needs to stop and be accountable to you and others. Trust has disapeared on my side but I am being treated better. We are seeing a MFT. I had to try several because they all thought I needed to leave or that masterbation was okay. Look carefully for the right person.

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