Hi. I apologize for dropping in here with heavy questions straight away, but I really need some advice and truly don’t know where else to turn.
My situation is this: My husband and I have been married for 12 years and have 6 kids. One of those kids has a serious medical condition that requires a lot of us – emotionally, physically, and financially. My husband is a Catholic convert and a great dad. He loves every one of our kids more than life itself.
The difficulty is that, when our daughter’s medical condition was diagnosed about 3 years ago, it was a real shaking of faith for my husband. He wonders why God does these things to little children and families who are trying to be faithful. I gave him all the typical answers I know (I’ve been Catholic all my life and know what people say – God doesn’t give us more than we can handle; God gives us the grace we need for every challenge; He allows evil for our own good in the long run, etc.). But he doesn’t buy it and has grown increasingly bitter and cynical. He still goes to Mass weekly and confession too sometimes, but I don’t think he has much of a spiritual life beyond that.
The real problem began when my husband decided we should not have more children (bc of the medical problems). I was okay with that and was willing to use NFP. But he doesn’t trust NFP (we got pg 4 times “by accident” while using it) and insisted upon using condoms. He knows all of the Church’s teaching on contraception inside and out, but believes it doesn’t apply to us for some reason that he has twisted around in his brain but I am unable to articulate myself. I fought him and we argued all the time for months. It was a devastating time in my marriage. I thought that maybe I would have to stop having sex with him altogether because of his insistence on contraception.
Finally, under the advice of a priest whom I trust (I think), I made clear to my husband that I was not agreeing with his use of condoms but that I would not refuse him sex either. It was his choice. And then, like magic, my marriage was 1000x improved it seemed. But not really, of course. I was reminded of the distance between us every time we were intimate. And I am now afraid that my “consent” to his first sin has led to other skewed ideas about sex.
Lately, my husband has been saying that we need to “spice up” things in the bedroom. He deliberately seeks out movies (not pornography, but R-rated) that he thinks will be “fun” and “sexy” for us to watch. I am not comfortable with this. He also has been asking me and (almost) pressuring me for anal sex. I have no desire for this and can’t understand his. I don’t even know the moral implications of such an act, but I feel sad and confused in our sexual relationship at the very suggestion.
I wish I had a pastor I could talk to about these things, but it’s all horribly embarrassing. On the outside, we look like a beautiful Catholic family. But on the inside, I feel like sin has creeped in, has claimed my husband, and now wants me too. What’s more, my husband has done some work for the diocese and knows many priests (esp the “good” ones) quite well. He would be seriously angry with me if I shared intimate details about our marriage or his behavior with these priests. And I can understand that.
I am at a loss, though, for how to handle what has become an increasingly difficult situation. How culpable am I for going along with any of my husband’s behaviors? Is any of this a mortal sin for me? What should I say in confession? How can I be a good wife and maintain harmony in my marriage but also challenge my husband’s disordered behavior?
Thank you for any advice you can offer.