Unequally yoked in a marriage--in multiple ways


#1

I married a non-Catholic in a Catholic ceremony. I realize that marrying a non-Catholic was a huge error in judgement. He agreed to be married in the Church and to raise the children Catholic. While I was only half practicing, since we've had 2 children, I am fully practicing. We attend Mass every week (OK...well not this past week because we are buried in snow), we are active in the Parish and the girls attend the regional Catholic school

My husband has since been baptized Baptist and attends a non-denominational church. While I would like him to convert, I don't pressure him. In fact, we pretty much don't discuss religion at all because we end up in a fight. However, he knows I will not back down on the girls being raised Catholic and going to the Catholic school.

We have had many problems in our marriage. It was 10 years before we had our first child and the second came 14 months after the first. They are now 6 and 5.

My subject is unequally yoked in multiple ways...religion and others. He is the stay-at-home parent with our 2 children. He has back problems which resulted in surgery a while ago and he hasn't worked since. Financially, it does not make sense to put the girls in daycare.

Unequally yoked...he does not clean the house, he does not do laundry, he does not maintain the cars, he does not help the kids with homework (very rarely), he does not cook (unless he has to). I work fulltime outside the home and make good money. I have made choices in what I buy (like the type of house) because I insist the children go to Catholic school. I come home and make dinner, do homework, pick up with house, do laundry on the weekends, etc. He takes the kids back and forth to school and goes to a few meetings week (12-step).

This is not what marriage is suppose to be. I can get passed the fact that he does not want to convert but the kids will be raised Catholic. I can't get passed our relationship. If I ask him to do something for me, it's as if I'm inconveniencing him. Yet, I'm suppose to ensure I spend time with him. We have no common interests...he hates to go to the mall (like to window shop or walk around for something to do) or out to eat. I'm not very athletic and don't particularly like to watch sports. If I try to strike up a conversation (which is rare), he provides one word answers or none at all.

Other than my not spending time (that I don't have) with him, he thinks our marriage is not that bad. I mentioned he goes to 12-step meetings. He has just over a year. He's active in his meetings and ready and willing to help in that area of his life. However, his family is last in my opinion. I admit, I put him last because I feel the children are more important. I am so tired of doing for others, that when I have time for myself all I want to do is sleep or watch some mindless TV.

I don't know how to talk to him and most of the time don't want to. I've shut down emotionally with him. He thinks I'm the one in the wrong and that even if he did help more around the house it wouldn't matter. Maybe it won't, but right now, I can't get passed the growing resentment.

Any prayers or suggestions would be much appreciated.


#2

Please seriously consider attending Retrouvaille with your husband. retrouvaille.org/ It is a Catholic program in a sense but open to all denominations. My best friend and her husband attended a couple years ago (at my strong recommendation) and they are both protestant. They agreed it is a fantastic program. Its hard to explain the program without experiencing it but I will tell the issues you have mention would be addressed in a way that makes both parties more receptive and less defensive. Please consider it.


#3

First a warning…you may not like my reply.

I don’t know your husband. I don’t know what kind of a guy he is. I don’t know if this back injury really keeps him from work or if he is just using the injury as a crutch to get out of working…

But I know how guys think because, well, I am one!

Men want to be seen as the head of the household. The need to feel important and respected. Staying home all day while you bring home the bacon probably has some effect on his self esteem. His motivation is not about “lightening your load” its about being a husband who needs the affection of his bride and a father who has the admiration of his children.

You said you put him last…yet you expect him to jump through hoops to make your life easier!

My suggestion, cook him a special dinner. Buy flowers, candles, the works…make his favorite meal. Tell him how much he means to you. Be affectionate. Keep this approach then watch over time as your concerns diminish one at a time.

Remember the saying that goes, Happy wife, Happy life…? Well for you its Happy Husband, Happy Wife!

If after reading this you say, “Why should I have to go to all that trouble after all I do”???
You will be unhappy for a long time…Like so many things in life, what we get out of something is directly proportional to what we put in.

Now stop complaining and start showing that man some love…


#4

I hate to say it too…but I agree totally with this poster. And the one above him. You guys need to seek help from a professional to learn to communicate.

I am unemployed myself, and I can tell you that even for me as a woman with no kids, it hits hard. Some days it’s a chore to pull myself out of bed because I feel so useless. I can only imagine what it’d be like for a man who, by God’s design, feels drived to provide for his family and now he can’t.

I understand that you feel like you do all the work. It’s indeed aggrivating, but sometimes showing him as much love as you can will make him realize that he needs to be helping you more. It calls for a lot of sacrifice on your part, but it pays off. Go to marriage encounter, learn to communicate, and love generously on that man. It’s hard, but marriage is no walk in the park.


#5

You are in my prayers! i commend you for insisting on raising your children Catholic. Do not compromise on that, but he may feel some resentment over that lack of control.

As far as his conversion, the best thing you can do is be a loving example of Jesus, which it sounds like you are doing. **The real key is to be joyful & not resentful!
**
**It sounds like you are doing more than is fair. If you are working & he is not, then he should do the housework & should surely help with the kids homework!
**
I’m sure he knows that & it sounds like he is feeling guilty, inadequate & is shutting down rather than contributing. Does he have positive, encouraging & helpful or negative male friends?

We men are incredibly uncomplicated. We need to feel important & respected & we hate to be criticized, even though it is often deserved!

We respond much more positively to encouragement & compliments, kind of like a puppy. Find something positive he is doing & build off of that. Find something you like to do together to share.

**While your children are a top priority, you should also work on your relationship with your husband & find time to care for yourself!
**
If he complains of lack of attention, explain that you have no time because you work, cook, clean & care for the kids.

Most of us men do not express our feelings because we are taught to be “tough.”

Maybe tell him you miss the good times you used to share together & ask for his ideas on how you could rekindle those enjoyable times. It will work better if he thinks it’s his idea or at least if its not something you are forcing him to do.

A weekly “date night” is often difficult, but is a great way to give yourselves a few hours without the kids & it gives you both something to look forward to during your busy week. Go out to eat or for a walk or to a jazz club for drinks or to a concert or whatever you both enjoy.

Good Luck!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

mark


#6

Just out of curiosity..what were your reasons for marrying this particular man? And how is it that if you were attending a Catholic church and he was not baptized that he ended up as a Baptist?


#7

You have my prayers. It sounds like he also has a very difficult life. Not being able to work, being in pain ( I presume) and having an addiction. I am relaly glad to hear he is attending 12 step often. I have a brother who is doing the same, and for the sake of his family, we just want his #1 goal in life to be, attending those meetings. If it weren't for them, everything else good about him would crumble.

I don't think it is fair that you have to do all the cleaning and work full time, and you don't get a meaningful relationship with your husband. You are doing a phenomenal job.

It sounds like you need some counselling though to get each other on the same page.


#8

He chose Baptist when he turned to God for help with his addiction. We bounced from church to church before we had kids, but he did not stick with any of them. In my opinion, he prefers a church with little leadership and authority. Once he began going to non-denominational or Baptist churches, he was never open to Catholicism.

Let me clarify him not working. He would not be able to do what he used to do...but he is certainly capable of working. He's outside shoveling snow right now. He's not under a doctor's care for his back. It was his choice to stay home before we had kids and try to day trade which a disaster. He started to take some college courses and yes....I encouraged him...but he wanted to make it a joint effort...he goes to class and I do all the homework. Eventually he started drinking again and dropped out.

When we had kids, I had no problem with him being the stay-at-home parent. But with that comes the responsibility of taking care of the house along with the kids.

Marriage is suppose to be a partnership. This one is not.


#9

[quote="cargau, post:3, topic:186425"]
First a warning...you may not like my reply.

I don't know your husband. I don't know what kind of a guy he is. I don't know if this back injury really keeps him from work or if he is just using the injury as a crutch to get out of working...

But I know how guys think because, well, I am one!

Men want to be seen as the head of the household. The need to feel important and respected. Staying home all day while you bring home the bacon probably has some effect on his self esteem. His motivation is not about "lightening your load" its about being a husband who needs the affection of his bride and a father who has the admiration of his children.

You said you put him last..yet you expect him to jump through hoops to make your life easier!

My suggestion, cook him a special dinner. Buy flowers, candles, the works...make his favorite meal. Tell him how much he means to you. Be affectionate. Keep this approach then watch over time as your concerns diminish one at a time.

Remember the saying that goes, Happy wife, Happy life...? Well for you its Happy Husband, Happy Wife!

If after reading this you say, "Why should I have to go to all that trouble after all I do"???
You will be unhappy for a long time...Like so many things in life, what we get out of something is directly proportional to what we put in.

Now stop complaining and start showing that man some love...

[/quote]

Ew. Seriously? Marriage is not always going to be 50/50 but it shouldn't ever be 100/0. There's no excuse (NONE) for a lazy man, and that's exactly what we're dealing with here. A lazy, shiftless, sit on your butt all day man. And she's supposed to show him some love? I'd show him a swift kick if it were me.

To the OP - I think you are being severely taken advantage of, and you don't deserve it. I would have a serious, calm discussion about what you need to be getting from the marriage. Don't hit him with it all at once, but be firm that he needs to do SOMETHING to help you out...anything. Let him pick one thing (make dinner twice a week, help the kids with their homework three nights a week, whatever) and then make sure he knows that that is HIS job, and his way of contributing to the household. If he can't make that small commitment...honestly? I'd then suggest that he take some time away - go stay with his family or rent a room somewhere until he is ready to contribute.


#10

*If I might chime in just on some of the marriage issues (not the religious part)…I think that you’d be surprised if you make some minor sacrifices…watching a sports game with him, make some fun appetizers, and sit with your husband…holding his hand…etc…that might go a long way. It’s in the little things, that some of the larger problems of marriage can be ‘‘undone.’’ I have learned this in my own marriage…

Get into the groove of enjoying to see your husband happy. It will in turn bring you joy…and he just might return the favor…without you asking. (like helping to clean, etc)

But, these things can be worked on…trust in God, and make that extra effort. I hope that it gets better for you both. *


#11

[quote="lada, post:9, topic:186425"]
Ew. Seriously? Marriage is not always going to be 50/50 but it shouldn't ever be 100/0. There's no excuse (NONE) for a lazy man, and that's exactly what we're dealing with here. A lazy, shiftless, sit on your butt all day man. And she's supposed to show him some love? I'd show him a swift kick if it were me.

To the OP - I think you are being severely taken advantage of, and you don't deserve it. I would have a serious, calm discussion about what you need to be getting from the marriage. Don't hit him with it all at once, but be firm that he needs to do SOMETHING to help you out...anything. Let him pick one thing (make dinner twice a week, help the kids with their homework three nights a week, whatever) and then make sure he knows that that is HIS job, and his way of contributing to the household. If he can't make that small commitment...honestly? I'd then suggest that he take some time away - go stay with his family or rent a room somewhere until he is ready to contribute.

[/quote]

Perhaps you are right, Lada. Maybe the husband is a lazy, shiftless person. Maybe there is no hope of saving the marriage because he won't rise to the expectations of the OP.

Let's remember, first, that we are only getting one side of the story. While it it may be complete there may be some important points that have not been brought out.

The point is, I believe that the OP, while frustrated, would like to save her marriage. The question that begs an answer is, what is the best way to restore happiness and joy to a sad relationship?

Sometimes marriage is 100/0. Sometimes one of the spouses has to make a great sacrifice in order to preserve what God has joined. St Paul tells us that we must love our spouse as Christ loves His Church. Christ gave his life for His bride. Believe me, that marriage was 100/0.

The laziness, the drinking, even the search for God all may be symptoms of a miserable soul searching for a little joy in his life. The OP saw something she treasured in this person when they exchanged vows. Work to get that back. Whatever it is...

And if it means making a meal, spending time or holding hands, just do it. Hey what have you got to lose?

And, if we choose to pursue the more militant approach and he leaves...I guess the OP will be doing all the work...


#12

In many ways you are right… and I don’t mean to be argumentative, but you are wrong as well.

Let me suggest this to help you. We really do want to help you, you know.:slight_smile: I listen often to Fr. Riccardo’s pod casts. One I think that you would benefit from is “The Four Goods of Marriage. Do You Know What You Got Yourself Into?” You can listen to this on your computer via Quicktime, or if you need it converted to MP3, PM me.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I want you to realize that many of us have been there and are trying to turn this thing around.

I can assure you that your situation exists NOT because he’s non-Catholic or that he’s unemployed or self-centered. Others here have the same situation. Communications is a big deal here. Retrouivaille sounds like a good option. But really, YOU need to see your priest about this, first. He can help you beyond what you can believe and it won’t cost you a dime.

Now, about him being Non-Catholic. Here’s a thread filled with people in situations just like you. Go there, post your intentions and pray. IT WILL GET BETTER! If you want things to get better, they will bet better! I promise!


#13

Marriage is not a 50/50 partnership.

Marriage is a SACRAMENT in which each person surrenders 100% to the other person, and both surrender completely to God.

If you are not in a Sacramental marriage, you do not have the gift of grace from that Sacrament.


#14

Tough stuff for us mere mortals. Problem being that being told this, it is far different from trying to live it. It’s so difficult to love those that don’t love back. But love them anyway is our duty. As I understood it, however, we ARE given the gift of grace within any marriage. It’s just up to us to use it.

And I agree. It’s NEVER 50/50… but if one needs help with his/her side, it’s up to one to let ones needs known to the other. Demanding it isn’t likely the best method for lasting success.


#15

if your husband is unbaptized, then you have a marriage situation that’s called ‘disparity of cult.’ it’s not sacramental. as Kage wrote, marriages need grace.

additionally, as a sober member of AA, it’s very common for wives to feel their newly sober husbands are shiftless and only focus their energy on AA. there are parts of the Big Book that warn the newly sober person against that, but there’s a whole chapter “To Wives” that deals, in part, with wives’ unrealistic expectations of their newly sober husbands.

i’m assuming he’s been sober? if so, one or two years IS newly sober.

i’d say maybe you should also try al-anon (but another meeting probably doesnt thrill you…) but retrovaille sounds like a good bet here.

one question: does your husband avoid personal hygiene in an obvious and consistent way? if so, he should be checked for depression, which is a fairly common result of sobriety (because lots of depressives drink as a way to self medicate, end up in AA for alcholism, but are still untreated depressives.)

and i don’t know what it is about AAs loving evangelical churches, but they do. i guess it’s because evangelical churhes mirror AAs day to day lack of authority. the Catholic Church, with its univeral and objective Truth and heirarchy et al, does not mirror AA in the day to day workings. (most AAs are fairly horrified to learn that AA was an outcropping of the Oxfor Movement which was the Roman Catholic revivial movement in the Anglican Church. AA, in its purest sense, has deep and obvious Catholic underpinnings.)

anyway, jmn, you’re exhausted and the devil is working on your resentments. take that as a sign that there’s MORE hope here than you had imagined. if the devil’s tweaking your nerve endings with all your husband’s faults (even though your husbnad is in a slow progression of improvement) then you better guess good things can happen.

talk to someone. keep talking and praying. try not to argue. don’t belittle him. keep praying. try some of the suggestions offered. something good can happen here.


#16

As someone who has BTDT (except for the AA recovery - DH didn't have that to cope with), I have to say that the advice for you to work harder and take fixing things entirely on yourself is way off base. Tried it, and it didn't work. Made things worse, DH became much more unhappy. Turns out DH felt that the reason I wasn't complaining was because he just really didn't matter. If his work was important, after all, wouldn't I complain that he wasn't doing it? Ergo, his work didn't matter. Ergo, why bother?

I do think your DH might be dealing with depression or "the blues", lower self-confidence, and so forth. Unemployment, especially when not voluntary, is always hard. Every man is different, but what worked for my DH was to combine messages of unconditional love with honest assessments of his performance and the message "I know you are as capable as me, or even more so - so what is making this so hard for you?" (Then LISTEN!!!) Also, my husband found the many messages in our culture that say that men aren't capable in the home very hard to endure, but also found that they gave him an excuse to continue his behavior.

You will need to keep sending the message that he IS capable and do what you can to surround yourselves with people who believe that and won't undermine your efforts to support him and build him up. This can be difficult. We have a culture now that says, "Women can handle men's work, but men can't handle women's work." You need to confront this and recognize it for the falsehood it is (except insofar as a self-enforcing prophecy is true - and, of course, SAHDs can't breastfeed or be pregnant, so that's still women's work only). Of course, also realize that men have their own way of doing things - he'll be able to handle things, but it may not be the same as the way YOU handle them. Fathering and mothering do have some differences. But I wasn't hearing that issue in your post.

Do take this seriously. Consider getting marriage counseling. Watch YOUR health closely, as well as your job performance, as the stress of "doing it all" can mask health problems and distract from your paid work. Remember, you need that job to buy food and shelter. Also remember that when a lot depends on you, a lot will go wrong if something happens to you. While you want your husband to get better at his work, you don't want it to be because you lost your job due to the stress of "doing it all", and now he feels guilty and realizes that he added to that problem (this is what got things to finally improve as much as they needed to for us . . . but I am confident that you won't need to go through that, and we were making progress before I lost my job - it just shocked him into taking a big leap forward instead of baby steps).

Although this is a serious, real problem - don't let yourself become angry or resentful. That's the other big risk I see from families in this situation. Pray frequently, and seek to act in love. Accept that your husband has some negative behaviors and help him change them, but continue to love him for all the things that are good. Don't let yourself become contemptuous. View this as a temporary period of weakness that he is going through, but remember that he is strong enough to get to where he needs to be. If you ever doubt that, pray and recall why you married him. Those traits are still there, and you will do better if you trust that they will win out in the end. When he does soemthing well, praise it - and make sure you are keeping your eyes open for excuses to praise, but without ignoring real problems.

Ask him to communicate as often as you can without irritating him, and listen. While we can give you advice, your DH and you know your situation better than we do and you need to trust your own opinions more than ours. Try to maintain a positive atmosphere while you also ask him to change, so that communication can happen comfortably.

One thing you didn't mention: How is he with the kids? I know that I complained about housework, but was too scared to admit that my DH was also being a tragically poor parent and it was hurting the kids. Make sure you are honest with yourself. If he's great with the kids, realize that is a real blessing. Housework will be hard on you, but you won't be pressured to compensate for poor parenting as well, and the kids will be okay even if the house is a mess. If he's a bad parent or neglectful of the kids, get to marriage counseling ASAP (and talk to your priest!). You can afford to be patient with housework and try to work it out between the two of you first because the mess will still be there. Parenting can't wait.

Keep praying. The sacramental grace of marriage is just one avenue for God to give you what you need (and if your DH is baptised now, then that grace also is now available to you, if I understood my marriage prep correctly). If that is not available to Him, don't despair - God has many ways of giving you what you need to get through this. With God, all things are possible. Trust me - my DH isn't baptised in any church, and God has been very active in our marriage, especially during our worst troubles. I would love to have sacramental marriage graces as well, but I am grateful for those graces we do have.

I know I said a lot. Keep what works and throw out what doesn't, but I hope something that I said does help you.


#17

I am not perfect in the marriage…there are things that I need to work on in myself. I’m trying. And I realize you are only getting my “side” of the story. However, I will tell you that his sponsor agrees that he is not carrying his wait.

I realize marriage is not always 50/50…but I think in the end it should be fairly balanced.

I realize he may be somewhat depressed but he’ll never go on medication. He was on meds once before from a quack. He was messed up for a while…he’ll never trust anti-depressants even though the doctor was at fault.

I don’t belittle him or put him down. I am not a confrontational person…until I’ve let things build and build and then I lose it. I know that’s not good either.


#18

LongforLight,

You asked how he is with the kids. He’s patient and although he does not do homework with them, they do learn things with him. I know that he loves them. However, we have different parenting styles/beliefs. I am very routine-oriented and he very much go-with-the-flow. Although I am routine-oriented, I can be spontaneous. He refuses to plan anything ahead…to go see my dad, a playdate.

I will never forget the time he was cleared to get te provision removed from his driver’s license and spontaneously when to the MVA. He was there for 3 or 4 hours with the 2 kids (18 months and 4/5 months) with no diaper bag (hence, no diapers, formula or snacks). Now, the kids were fine (probably just extremely cranky) but since I worked, I always made sure the diaper bag was packed and sitting by the door and bottles were made and in the fridge.

In my opinion, while the kids have each other to play with, it is extremely important for them to have playdates with the kids in their class. He doesn’t think it’s important.

He says he has “faith” that things will work out. I say God expects us to use the brain he gave us and do some of the work.

Also, I think it’s very important to teach the kids responsibility…they are 5 and 6…old enough to have simple chores like picking up their toys, putting their plates in the sink, etc. About once a month he gets them to clean up; the rest of the time it’s me telling them to clean up.

Bottomline…in my opinion, he’s permissive, not in ways that they would be hurt, but in ways that don’t foster accountability and responsibility.


#19

I’m so very sorry to be reading of your hardships in marriage. No, you shouldn’t have to be doing so much while it sounds like he does so little. Anyone can understand how that would be so irritating. Will keep your family in my prayers. Divorce is so hard!!!

You’ve been given a lot of good advice, the only thing I could recommend would be to ask God to remove the bitterness from your heart so you can better decide how to work through this with your husband.

Oh, and the only other thing is to beware the temptation of noticing how much “better” other men are than your husband.


#20

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