Unacceptable behavior in marriage?


#1

To those who are married (and those who aren’t but have a good understanding of the sacrament of matrimony), when a spouse is doing something that you consider unacceptable in a healthy marriage that your spouse will not change or does not see as wrong or a problem, what is your moral obligation with regards to your marriage and what is the best way to love your spouse?

Do you insist that your spouse change or do you voice your concerns but not “force” him/her to change and pray that change will occur?

The reason I ask is that many of the women saints who were married are described as suffering through marriages in which the husbands were well known adulterers amoungst other things. These women are praised for their perserverance in prayer and in an unjust marriage. I struggle with whether staying in such a marriage would be the right thing to do, because it seems like staying is like accepting the behavior and allowing it to continue.

I wanted to not limit this to adultery, even though its the most obvious case, but ask in any situation which you feel that the marriage is being compromised, is it better to stay and pray that God will change things in his own time, or do you think that truly loving your spouse might involve “tough love” in which boundaries are set for the marriage to continue in the current form.

I am of course assuming that “leaving the marriage” does not mean getting a divorce or remarrying, but simply not living together as husband and wife (or possibly emotional separation). i am also assuming there is no abuse or anything else that would compromise the health of a spouse or children.

Also would the presence or abscence of children influence the decision in a moral or practical sense?

I realize that this is a very broad topic and that the answer may differ in different circumstances, I just wanted to get everyone’s general opinion.


#2

This is a great topic to those of us in this situation. Prayer is always the most powerful, but I also believe in being able to “reprove, exort and edify”. Maybe someone else has a lot better handle on this than me. Thanks for bringing it up.


#3

Stay and fight. Fight as long as it takes. When you can not fight anymore, enlist others to help you fight to save the marriage. PRAY…PRAY…PRAY.

One problem I have seen is that couples give up too easly and/or they want the “quick fix.” Some times the issues take time to work out…and it is WORK!

We went though this a couple of years ago. My wife fought with everything she had, and when she had nothing left, she enlisted the Couples for Christ family ministries. The CFC tought us how to grow as a couple and in love with each other.

YES, we still have problems, but now WE are fighting them together and not fighting each others.


#4

These women are praised for their perserverance in prayer and in an unjust marriage.

Praised for what? Staying with a creep and teaching your children it
is okay for a husband to treat his wife like garbage?


#5

if you are in an abuse situation leave immediately, today. a man who will abuse his spouse will eventually abuse his kids. if it is a difference of opinion, belief, or child rearing practices, get joint counselling if you can’t resolve it on your own, so that your children have consistency. If it is abuse of financial affairs, get legal advice to protect yourself, your children and your assets. If it is addiction or abuse of drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling etc,. take steps to protect yourself and your children and insist that he get help or you will not remain with him. None of this ends the marriage or abandons him, but sometimes tough love is needed. All the while pray, live out your Christian vocation so that you may be the means of sanctifying your spouse.


#6

[quote=puzzleannie]if you are in an abuse situation leave immediately, today. a man who will abuse his spouse will eventually abuse his kids. if it is a difference of opinion, belief, or child rearing practices, get joint counselling if you can’t resolve it on your own, so that your children have consistency. If it is abuse of financial affairs, get legal advice to protect yourself, your children and your assets. If it is addiction or abuse of drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling etc,. take steps to protect yourself and your children and insist that he get help or you will not remain with him. None of this ends the marriage or abandons him, but sometimes tough love is needed. All the while pray, live out your Christian vocation so that you may be the means of sanctifying your spouse.
[/quote]

**VERY GOOD ADVICE! **


#7

[quote=dhgray]**VERY GOOD ADVICE! **
[/quote]

Dear friend

I’ll join you in that, Annie always gives straight to the knuckle good advice.

God Bless you and much love and peace to you all

Teresa


#8

[quote=faithhopelove]To those who are married (and those who aren’t but have a good understanding of the sacrament of matrimony), when a spouse is doing something that you consider unacceptable in a healthy marriage that your spouse will not change or does not see as wrong or a problem, what is your moral obligation with regards to your marriage and what is the best way to love your spouse?

Do you insist that your spouse change or do you voice your concerns but not “force” him/her to change and pray that change will occur?

The reason I ask is that many of the women saints who were married are described as suffering through marriages in which the husbands were well known adulterers amoungst other things. These women are praised for their perserverance in prayer and in an unjust marriage. I struggle with whether staying in such a marriage would be the right thing to do, because it seems like staying is like accepting the behavior and allowing it to continue.

I wanted to not limit this to adultery, even though its the most obvious case, but ask in any situation which you feel that the marriage is being compromised, is it better to stay and pray that God will change things in his own time, or do you think that truly loving your spouse might involve “tough love” in which boundaries are set for the marriage to continue in the current form.

I am of course assuming that “leaving the marriage” does not mean getting a divorce or remarrying, but simply not living together as husband and wife (or possibly emotional separation). i am also assuming there is no abuse or anything else that would compromise the health of a spouse or children.

Also would the presence or abscence of children influence the decision in a moral or practical sense?

I realize that this is a very broad topic and that the answer may differ in different circumstances, I just wanted to get everyone’s general opinion.
[/quote]

It depends on what the act is. I will assume that you are refering to acts on the level of adultery. I would say that you have to show some tough love. You can’t just stay there and allow it to continue. If this person is so obstinate in what they are doing that they will not quit it no matter what for the marriage, then I would say get out. If there is a chance to change it then I would say stay and pray and try to change it. We have an obligation to try to make it work in a marriage, but if the person is unwilling to change then you are better off leaving.

If there are kids involved it may enforce the idea of leaving. If it is something that the kids see, then it only enforces that you should leave.


#9

[quote=chrisg93]This is a great topic to those of us in this situation. Prayer is always the most powerful, but I also believe in being able to “reprove, exort and edify”. Maybe someone else has a lot better handle on this than me. Thanks for bringing it up.
[/quote]

I’m curious what do you mean by “reprove, exort, and edify”?

To answer the last poster’s question, I am talking about differences on the order of adultery. I was also thinking of situations such as when one spouse is indifferent regarding the marriage (such as refusing to “work on the marriage” or maintaining emotional separation) or serious differences in raising children (not resolvable by counseling or talking), a situation in which one spouse is harming him/herself with drugs/alcohol/ or any addiction (including workaholism,etc any addiction which compromises the marriage) and refuses to admit a problem or get help or change.

Any other opinions?


#10

There are no simple answers. There are some simple guidlines, though.

Safety is always paramount. Safety may be an issue of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or psychological abuse. The only viable option is physical separation. Abuse generally follows a pattern of abuse, remorse, frogiveness, a period of peace, and then repeats itself. It is somewhere between very difficult and impossible to change as both spouses are involved. Whether the victim was predisposed to victimhood or whether that occurs because the abuse started after the marriage and has occured for a period of time, one of the biggest problems is getting past the mindset that they somehow either deserve it or are the cause of it. That attitude is just about guaranteed to put the victim back into the abuse cycle.

Adultery is an open invitation to serious to deadly sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are more numerous (there are more types) and more prevalent than most people understand, and while the disease you catch from the philanderer may not kill you, it may open you up to other deadly consequences. And this is by no means limited to AIDS/HIV. They can cause sterilization, among other results. Some, such as HIV/Aids and herpes have no cure.

Children are problematic; most are traumitized to some extent by divorce and research is now showing that trauma still causing problems as they are well into adulthood. Weighing the damage caused by staying together against divorcing is not something that the wronged party seems capable of fairly deciding, as they are ususally so emotionally wrapped up in the fray that they cannot make an adequate judgement; in addition, many people seem oblivious as to the harm to children. Again, safety is the bottom, non-negotiable rule.

Some states have provisions (I would assume most do) for a permanent separation, but the courts generally do not favor them, and with the prvalence of no-fault divorce, the other spouse simply has to petition to convert separation to divorce.

Some marriages can be saved, but it takes two parties. Ultimately it is up to the individual to determine if there is any hope in continuing to try to put the marriage back on track.

Divorce may be required in order to protect oneself and ones children. It should be a last resort. The vows are permanent and need to be lived out as permanent, until safety overrides them. If it is not a safety issue, then divorce is not a response. However, if adultery is the issue, then safety is an issue, and continuing to have sexual relations is beyond stupid.


#11

If the issue is abuse and you have children, then you need to leave now. Not tomorrow, not next week, but now.

If it’s adultery of some type, and the spouse isn’t willing to end the sinful relationship, then it’d be foolish to stay.

If it’s something else, then it depends on what that something else is.


#12

I think as parents, your first job is to model a healthy marriage to your children and to provide them with a peaceful and productive environment, within the context of the faith. If you can do that, even as you and your husband have “issues” then it is wise to stay together and work them out. No one’s life is perfect, and I daresay most of us, even in great marriages, have had some ugly moments. I am assuming that yours has been an ongoing situation for a long time.
I think some behaviors are so destructive that it is necessary to leave. Continuing adultery, or variants like pornography or frequenting strip clubs would fall into that category, as would physical addictions like drugs or alcohol. I would insist that he get help, and if not, I would separate until he did. It would be best to consult with your pastor, but there is no requirement to endure misery.
Most of the saints who suffered these indignities had few options, and you are certainly encouraged to pray for your husband’s conversion.


#13

I could have written a similiar post. And not to highjack your thread, but I am dealing with this issue currently. My husband has an obsession with masturbation. I do not know what else to call it but that. Even ignoring the fact I feel it is a sin, it is affecting our own sexual life. He will admit that it has an effect on our marriage…but he sees it as MY fault. He does it as a recourse to not having enough sex. (I hope I am not out of line here by being so blunt). And furthermore he does not see anything wrong with it. He states he is not doing it in an adulturous way (meaning he is not doing it to take the place of marital relations with me) but that it is simply a necessary outlet for “biological release of built up semen” (his words). I have prayed, and still am praying. I have confessed it as my own sin (feeling that it is a failure on my part to keep him satisfied). I have asked him to confess it, or discuss it with our priest (but as the other males here will probably agree, he is not comfortable with that). In nearly every other aspect, our marriage is wonderful. THis is obviously not as “bad” as adultry or abuse, but it is still an impediment to our married life, and I am not sure what else to do.


#14

[quote=RCMom]I could have written a similiar post. And not to highjack your thread, but I am dealing with this issue currently. My husband has an obsession with masturbation. I do not know what else to call it but that. Even ignoring the fact I feel it is a sin, it is affecting our own sexual life. He will admit that it has an effect on our marriage…but he sees it as MY fault. He does it as a recourse to not having enough sex. (I hope I am not out of line here by being so blunt). And furthermore he does not see anything wrong with it. He states he is not doing it in an adulturous way (meaning he is not doing it to take the place of marital relations with me) but that it is simply a necessary outlet for “biological release of built up semen” (his words). I have prayed, and still am praying. I have confessed it as my own sin (feeling that it is a failure on my part to keep him satisfied). I have asked him to confess it, or discuss it with our priest (but as the other males here will probably agree, he is not comfortable with that). In nearly every other aspect, our marriage is wonderful. THis is obviously not as “bad” as adultry or abuse, but it is still an impediment to our married life, and I am not sure what else to do.
[/quote]

He needs to respect your feelings about this. His health will not be effected if he doesn’t not please himself. Sex is the expression of marriage vows, not a “biological release of semen.” This is very serious. If, in his mind, all sex is is a pursuit of his own pleasure, then your marriage will never be all it should be. I don’t know if he is a believer, or if you are the only praying one, but if he is, and you both are Catholic, then he needs to understand that this is a serious sin. And if he loves you as he should, he should respect your feelings.


#15

chicagolandmarriage.org/troubledmarriages.htm This might be worth looking into. Pray, Pray, Pray


#16

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