Seeking Advice From Married Catholics


#1

I am seeking advice from married Catholics. My wife and I are both 32, professionals, and have a 19 month old daughter. I see my wife about 26 hours a week, awake. We are both busy and have good jobs to sustain our finances and home. Also, stay at home mom/dad is not an option. Our daughter is with my mother in law and father in law for daycare. The issue is that I feel that we are just coexisting lately and have been for the last 6 months or so. We have relations about 1 time every six weeks or so, and never go to bed at the same time. I have to get up earlier than her to get into the office and I go to bed earlier. We have one day off on the weekend together and that seems that it is the day to get chores done, Mass, and other things. We have no alone time together, but when we do it seems just awkward. I may be rambling, and am sorry, but I am looking for advice on how to sustain a happy/healthy marriage when time is an issue. This has been an issue for a few years, but with a child she is the center of our time. I just hate the feeling of having a roommate instead of a wife. God Bless.


#2

Our situations are always changing. Do what you can when you can. God gives us our lives and presents opportunities and challenges before us. Though you may not feel it, you are relatively young. Thank God for today and pray for the future. Pray to St Joseph for his intercession and inspiration.

Like you, my wife and I were both 30 when our 1st child was born. Today she is in 8th grade and her brother is 10. Our relationship has gone through many peaks and valleys.

Prayers brother!


#3

This is a good question. You and your wife are wise to recognize that your marriage is in the doldrums right now. My husband and I have been married almost 32 years, and we have definitely experienced times when we feel like "roomies" instead of husband and wife. I believe that most married couples go through these times, especially when children are young.

Take heart! I can assure you that these times will pass all too quickly and your marriage will continue to grow stronger and more fulfilling, but you do have to work at it. If you ignore the situation, things could go badly for you and your wife. Consider these next few paragraphs a warning, and be grateful that you have come to awareness and therefore, will hopefully escape from some of these tragic outcomes.

When a husband or wife feels a lack of fulfillment in their marriage, it becomes easy for them to look around elsewhere for fulfillment. For some, the fulfillment comes in an addiction, especially alcohol. But food can also become the "helpmate" when the real helpmate is emotionally absent. Food never disappoints or forgets to call or gives a vacuum cleaner instead of flowers for Valentines Day. Another addiction is gambling--it's amazing how many spouses, especially women, get caught up in the thrills of gambling. And of course, shopping--many spouses, both men and women, use excess shopping as a way of trying to escape from their loneliness and pain. Finally, for some, drugs, both prescription and illegal drugs, become their "husband" or their "wife."

For others, the fulfillment is obtained through "busy-ness," either through a job(s) or through various community, school, church, or family activities. Many women especially get over-involved as they attempt to find the fulfillment that they should be getting from their husband. Then since the woman is too busy to spend time with her husband, the marriage just gets worse. And many husbands put in loooong hours at their job(s), telling themselves that they are sacrificing for their families. Then these husbands become angry when their wives and children berate them for always being gone.

And for others, sadly, the fulfillment comes through an affair, either emotional, sexual, or both. A man is especially vulnerable, and there are many more single women than men who will be happy to provide the lonely husband with the "fulfillment" that he is not getting in his marriage.

So mkipp, like I said, you are a wise wise man to wake up now!

I will post my suggestions in another post so that the posts aren't so long.


#4

Here are my suggestions, and I hope others will give you even more suggestions.

  1. Both you and your wife need to ACT like you are madly in love, even if you don’t FEEL like you are. This piece of advice alone can save a marriage. We have been duped by television, films, and novels, into believing that if we don’t “feel” in love, we aren’t in love. That is such a lie. LOVE is an action, and we make love happen by DOING things, not “feeling” them.

If you can grasp this piece of advice, you and your wife can change your whole marriage and find great fulfillment in married life.

Even if you feel NOTHING, DO the things that loving couples do (you probably did these things back when you first fell in love.)

Go out on dates. Get over the fear of hiring a babysitter and just hire one (find a good teenager in your parish). Bring flowers, candy, or other little gifts home. (If flowers are too expensive, just buy one flower.) Light candles at dinner, even if it’s just Ramen noodles and canned fruit. Give each other those mushy cards from Hallmark, or make your own cards if you don’t want to hand Hallmarkd $5.00. Leave sexy notes for each other in unexpected places. Go for walks (take the child with you). Go for hikes in the woods. Go for drives in the country, or go for bus rides in the city. Have a picnic. Dress up in sexy pjs.

One thing that my husband and I did was feed the kids earlier, and then eat our “grown-up supper” after the kids were finished. It’s totally against what all the “family experts” say–they talk about “family dinners” and “togetherness at the dinner table.” Well, that will work when the children are older, but a 19-month old is not likely to be interested in sharing the events in her day at the dinner table while she eats a lovingly-prepared, well-balanced meal. She just wants to throw things around and try to escape from her high-chair, and when she isn’t allowed to do these things, she screams, throws her food, and spits it up. Right? So feed the child, and then when she is happily running around the house or happily watching Barney on TV, you and your wife eat and enjoy a few minutes of adult conversation and spit-up free eating.

  1. Make love. Don’t just have sex, make love. FIND time to make love at least once every two weeks or so. But even if you don’t have intercourse (maybe her cycle is out-of-whack and if you’re refraining for purposes of delaying the conception of another child for a later time), spend some time every day kissing, cuddling, snuggling, embracing, giggling, and sharing “intimate” talk. Some couples on CAF seem to have trouble with this kind of sexy flirtation, claiming that they get so aroused that they either have to complete the act or masturbate. Well, they need to work on that. For a lot of women, foreplay takes more than 20 minutes–it takes 24-48 hours. I’m not kidding. All those kisses and hugs and cuddles and giggles–these are what make a woman “ready” for sex. And for that matter, these help a man to feel more connected to his wife. A man will not kiss or cuddle a “roommate.” Sex is the one thing that makes you and your wife more than just roommates, so have lots of sex. Recognize its importance and add it to the “list of things to do.”

  2. Don’t obsess over money. I know, this is also contrary to what all the “experts” tell you. But there is nothing like obsessing over a budget and being debt-free to destroy the “romance.” Work on a middle ground here. Aim for responsibility, but recognize that all those “experts” are debt-free because we keep buying their books and paying fees to register for their seminars.

  3. Try to limit television watching, unless you are both “into” a certain show(s). E.g., my husband and I love The Biggest Loser, and we watch this show together and talk about it throughout the week. Some families are into football or another sport. That’s OK. But don’t just sit like lumps every evening and watch any old thing that’s on.

  4. Get together with other couples your age, with or without the children. This is a great way to rev up your marriage. It connects you with a world outside of your own four walls and it’s fun and cheap!

I could list more suggestions, but I’ll stop for now and let someone else have a turn.


#5

Cat, thanks for all the answers/thoughts. I will make an effort to try some of them. The marital relations issue has been one for years. Just never a lot of time, and exhaustion. I am also at fault because I suffer from "early release" if that is the most proper way to say it. And, I just want to be with my wife, but I am embarrassed and cannot find a solution. I think that is why things in the bedroom never happen, because I cannot make it last more than a short time and I think she thinks what is the point. It makes me feel like less of a man for having this issue. Sorry to go off topic. I pray that God will help me with this, but those prayers have gone unanswered. I will try and be more romantic and do little things to let her know how much I love her and how important she is to me. My wife also wants to have another child, but I wonder how we as a couple will survive that if we do.


#6

I think you just described my marriage except my children are 10 and 3.

I would suggest trying to get your child to bed 30min earlier and having that be your time together. Not to be intimate but to spend it holding hands, cuddling, talking, just being together. Once you fix that part, the desire to be together intimately will return.

I know that having little time with you child makes it hard to even think about sending her to a sitter in the evening, but maybe 1x a month or 1x every other month, try and schedule a movie night. Go to dinner or since the weather is getting nicer just take a walk together.

I want to say that as your child gets older it will be easier to find time to spend together but really as they get older you now have to juggle b-day parties and school activities and sports or dance.

You have to make your marriage a priority or you are dooming it to fail.


#7

I"m a little worried for you. Your marriage may now be suffering, but it's quite possible your health is as well.

Even if your circumstances change, if you are no longer healthy, you will not have gained much.

I strongly suggest you find time to slow down...together. Do you really need to work the number of hours you do? If one of you can reduce even 4 hours a week, that can create a pocket of time for family...even if it just means that there is 'prep work' being done at home to ease things up for when you're all at home.

And where is your prayer life (both singly and as a couple)? I don't mean to guilt you at all, but this can bring about huge changes. Do you attend Mass together?


#8

[quote="mkipp, post:5, topic:231083"]
Cat, thanks for all the answers/thoughts. I will make an effort to try some of them. The marital relations issue has been one for years. ** Just never a lot of time, and exhaustion. I am also at fault because I suffer from "early release" if that is the most proper way to say it. And, I just want to be with my wife, but I am embarrassed and cannot find a solution. I think that is why things in the bedroom never happen, because I cannot make it last more than a short time and I think she thinks what is the point. It makes me feel like less of a man for having this issue. **Sorry to go off topic. I pray that God will help me with this, but those prayers have gone unanswered. I will try and be more romantic and do little things to let her know how much I love her and how important she is to me. My wife also wants to have another child, but I wonder how we as a couple will survive that if we do.

[/quote]

I don't think you went off topic. I suspect you are right on the problem now. In your first post you mentioned that when you and your wife do have time alone it feels awkward. That might be why the two of your are so busy and tired out. It gives you an excuse to ignore what is really going on in your marriage. It also sounds like your wife wants another baby and you don't think it's wise right now. That sounds like another "hot" topic that needs to be explored.

I really think you need to see a Catholic marriage counselor and work on what may be hidden issues rather than just the more obvious ones which may only be symptoms.

Good luck and God Bless


#9

We attend Mass together. I converted 2 years ago and I am by far more the religious one, and she is a cradle Catholic. I am worried that we are slowing separating, even though we do love each other very much. We have demanding careers and my wife is a health care administrator and things can happen at a moment’s notice, and that affects her schedule.


#10

I am working opposite schedules with my husband for financial reasons.

My advice is this: hire someone to do the housework.

It worked for us.


#11

Make lifechanges that will give you more time. Coastal Massachusetts? I shudder to think how expensive your mortgage payments are. Downsize your life, and you will have more time.


#12

Cat's advise is practical, as always. I want to touch on the "don't obsess over money" and "Make lifechanges that will give you more time" suggestions. Accomplishing these suggestions might require you and your wife to re-examine your priorities. Is two incomes (and the material things that two incomes can purchase) your top priority? Or is maintaining a healthy marriage and loving home for your children your top priority?

For us, our #1 priority is to raise our children personally and to maintain home where our children can witness a healthy loving marriage. To focus on this priority, we've decided to stay in a very small house that is sufficient for our needs (rather than upgrading to the dream home we had our eye on for many years) specifically so I can be a stay-at-home-mom. (My lost income is significant--in the ballpark of $100k which goes a long way in our region.)

OUR lifestyle choice might not be the right choice for YOUR family, but obviously being two ships in the night isn't the right choice for you either, or you wouldn't be expressing the feelings you're expressing. I strongly encourage you and your wife to evaluate your long term priorities and make lifestyle adjustments to focus on those priorities.

Acting lovingly even when you don't feel love (as Cat suggested) is HUGELY important, but for long-term happiness, you may have to make more significant changes.


#13

[quote="mkipp, post:5, topic:231083"]
The marital relations issue has been one for years. Just never a lot of time, and exhaustion. I am also at fault because I suffer from "early release" if that is the most proper way to say it. And, I just want to be with my wife, but I am embarrassed and cannot find a solution. I think that is why things in the bedroom never happen, because I cannot make it last more than a short time and I think she thinks what is the point. It makes me feel like less of a man for having this issue. Sorry to go off topic. I pray that God will help me with this, but those prayers have gone unanswered. I will try and be more romantic and do little things to let her know how much I love her and how important she is to me. My wife also wants to have another child, but I wonder how we as a couple will survive that if we do.

[/quote]

A few thoughts....

  1. I think Cat had some great suggestions, especially about MAKING time for lovemaking. Here's an interesting article (check out the rest of the blog, it's pretty cool).

  2. Perhaps seeking the advice of a doctor relating to the early release issue would be helpful. Don't let embarrassment hold you back from dealing with this.

  3. If your wife wants another child and you're not sure about the timing, that could be contributing to the "roommate" syndrome. Talk about this -- both of you should be honest about your feelings. If she's wanting another child and you're not, she might be feeling resentful and not in the mood, and thus the distance (physically and emotionally). If you're too stressed thinking about another child and embarrassed about the "early release" issue, that is probably also causing distance.

[quote="mkipp, post:9, topic:231083"]
We attend Mass together. I converted 2 years ago and I am by far more the religious one, and she is a cradle Catholic. I am worried that we are slowing separating, even though we do love each other very much. We have demanding careers and my wife is a health care administrator and things can happen at a moment’s notice, and that affects her schedule.

[/quote]

I think you just both have to be committed to MAKING TIME for each other. I know in the bustle of everyday life it seems like quiet couple time is less important and gets put last, but really, if you don't have your marriage and family, your jobs aren't going to fill those voids.

With 3 young kids, I understand the time crunch issue. Just do the best you can, and make sure you TALK to her about all of this stuff. Communication is vital to a healthy relationship -- if you guys are avoiding talking to each other, of course you're going to feel awkward when you try to be together.

Saying a prayer for your family. :hug1:


#14

Just bit of practical advice...

Any way to perhaps have your in-laws stay with the baby maybe half hour more per day...so you guys can break down the chores into smaller tasks during the week. This way the one day off is actually less stressful.


#15

[quote="mkipp, post:5, topic:231083"]
Cat, thanks for all the answers/thoughts. I will make an effort to try some of them. The marital relations issue has been one for years. Just never a lot of time, and exhaustion. I am also at fault because I suffer from "early release" if that is the most proper way to say it. And, I just want to be with my wife, but I am embarrassed and cannot find a solution. I think that is why things in the bedroom never happen, because I cannot make it last more than a short time and I think she thinks what is the point. It makes me feel like less of a man for having this issue. Sorry to go off topic. I pray that God will help me with this, but those prayers have gone unanswered. I will try and be more romantic and do little things to let her know how much I love her and how important she is to me. My wife also wants to have another child, but I wonder how we as a couple will survive that if we do.

[/quote]

Again, I commend you for your wisdom. It is good that you are zeroing in on the problem areas and being honest with yourself, instead of looking for excuses. You are quite a great guy!

And I'm guessing that you are your own worse critic. I'm guessing that your wife loves being "with you," and she isn't thinking, "What's the point?" If she is like all the rest of us women, she's read women's magazines and knows that many men, in fact, the majority of men, have the same "problem" that you have. I'm sure she doesn't think less of you because of this. She just wants you to get some help so that you can feel good about yourself during intimate times.

The problem that you are describing is a physical problem can be corrected through various techniques. Prayer is always a great option and should be our first step, but please do not stop with prayer. Take action! Chances are good that if you had any other physical illness or problem, you would do more than just pray. You would go to the doctor or chiropractor or physical therapist and seek help, wouldn't you?

Well, do this with the premature ejaculation. There are practical things that you as a man can DO, and also things that your wife can DO to help stop this from happening. Really. (She probably already knows this from reading those magazine articles!)

I wish that we were free on CAF to offer practical sexual advice, because I would get my husband on board to describe to you exactly how he dealt with this when he was a younger man, and how he deals with it now.

But since we can't do this, I would suggest that you start by going to your doctor and being honest with him/her about the situation. He/she will either educate your about the various techniques that you can start doing, or he/she will refer you to a therapist who can train you how to improve your technique.

Yes, it probably feels embarrassing to you to talk about these problems out loud, but please don't let that stop you. I know you have the courage to get moving, take this thing on, and learn the correct techniques that will make both you and your wife happier. You've come here to CAF looking for advice, which proves that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make your marriage strong! So go to the doctor. Don't be afraid.

I think your wife is very blessed to have a man like you for a husband!


#16

There's an old saying that's been helpful for me in my marriage: if you don't *make *time to be together, you won't *have *time to be together. When you're busy, it's very easy to just get into a routine of work, baby, eat, sleep. You have to make an effort to schedule time to spend together. And I'm not talking about scheduling dates to go out places. You have to schedule time to talk together. Even if it's just a couple of hours a week, it will be helpful. Find a time when you both agree that you can sit and have a conversation together. If you need to put the baby to bed half an hour earlier, then do that. If your in laws can watch the baby longer one day a week, use that time. You say that your alone time is somewhat awkward right now, and it's probably because the two of you have forgotten how to really communicate with each other.

The other suggestion is to act like you love your wife. Do things that make your wife feel special. For a while, I really struggled with this. I felt almost like I was lying. I was going out of my way to "pretend" that I was madly in love with my husband when I really didn't feel it. But love is what we do, not what we feel. Once both of you start doing things to make the other feel special, the feeling of being in love will start to grow again.


#17

My wife does want another child, but I am not sure yet. I spend the majority of time with our daughter, and I love it. But, I feel like I am doing the majority of the child raising and I am exhausted.


#18

Don’t answer here but, it would be well worth your time to consider what changes would have to be made to make this a viable option. Don’t just look at income. Look at take home pay, job related expenses, having one car instead of two, eating more meals at home, etc.

Just a suggestion. But this could change your whole life for the better.


#19

I am new to the the forums here, so I hope it’s ok for me to ‘advertise’.

My husband and I are both 32, we have a 3 year old and 20 month old. One thing that has helped us is a World Wide Marriage Encounter weekend. If you can find one near you, make it a point to get a sitter for the weekend and go. The weekend will help kick start your relationship and it will give you tools to help for the future.


#20

I'm probably not one ot give advice; my wife and I have only been married about 1.5 years, and we just had our first son who is 4 months old. To me, a strong marriage is WAY more important than any kind of career. I know its a struggle and probably impossible for some folks, but I'd try to find a less demanding job. Cut back on your standard of living and make family the primary focus of your life. Having a nice house and fine things is not going to make you happy if your marriage fails.

I don't know your situation, so I'm sorry if you are already doing such things and are still struggling.


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