Who can live with a cheating husband? This woman did, and now she’s a saint


#1

You think you have it rough?
Years ago, a woman of noble birth put up with a husband who loved to hunt, to take part in social life, but who also cheated on her. And yet this woman made the best of it, even raising a child born of his philandering ways.
visitationspirit.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/st-jane-horses-175.jpg
Click image to see video of Jane’s life.
The woman was Jane de Chantal, and after her husband died, she founded a religious community of women with the help of St. Francis de Sales.
A new video that has been seen nearly two thousand times in its first week describes her life. See the video on the website of the Second Federation of the Visitation.


#2

Yeah, I'm sure she did have it rough. It couldn't have been easy for her by any means.

But just so people know, the Church does not require that people stay with unfaithful spouses. This is what canon law says about infidelity in a marriage for the wronged spouse:

Canon 1152.1 It is earnestly recommended that a spouse, motivated by christian charity and solicitous for the good of the family, should not refuse to pardon an adulterous partner and should not sunder the conjugal life. Nevertheless, if that spouse has not either expressly or tacitly condoned the other's fault, he or she has the right to sever the common conjugal life, provided he or she has not consented to the adultery, nor been the cause of it, nor also committed adultery.

Canon 1152.2 Tacit condonation occurs if the innocent spouse, after becoming aware of the adultery, has willingly engaged in a marital relationship with the other spouse; it is presumed, however, if the innocent spouse has maintained the common conjugal life for six months, and has not had recourse to ecclesiastical or to civil authority.


#3

I think her staying and raising an illegitimate child have more to do with the time period. She made the best of it, but I bet if she had lived today where women can be on their own, own property, be gainfully employed…she might not have made the choice to stay with him.


#4

I was gonna say, during those times I'm not sure woman had the freedom to just up and leave. I mean, I guess they could, but they'd probably end up very poor - without a job, a home, etc etc....

It's all about the times.


#5

[quote="Alix1912, post:3, topic:254353"]
I think her staying and raising an illegitimate child have more to do with the time period. She made the best of it, but I bet if she had lived today where women can be on their own, own property, be gainfully employed....she might not have made the choice to stay with him.

[/quote]

Are you saying that only women with no other option would stay with a cheating husband? That it was only because of her time period, and that a modern woman would leave?


#6

[quote="Sillara, post:5, topic:254353"]
Are you saying that only women with no other option would stay with a cheating husband? That it was only because of her time period, and that a modern woman would leave?

[/quote]

You can't deny the fact that it's definitely a factor for the majority of the cases. At one point in time, women didn't necessarily have the option to just up and leave their husbands. Even if he was being abusive. Now a days, it's quite a different story.


#7

I'm saying that she did not have a choice on leaving or not. She was essentially property in those days. It's much easier to leave an abusive or unfaithful marriage when you have the means to support yourself. It doesn't mean you have to, but it is an option in extreme cases.


#8

These are all points well taken, in response to my initial story of St. Jane. Thanks for the healthy debate.


#9

[quote="Sillara, post:5, topic:254353"]
Are you saying that only women with no other option would stay with a cheating husband? That it was only because of her time period, and that a modern woman would leave?

[/quote]

In those days, no, women had no other option unless they were 1) very wealthy and 2) their families were willing to take them in, which was not always the case.. What options did she have in those days? She couldn't just go to the women and children's services and applied for WIC, food stamps, etc. for her kids. She couldn't go the the local businesses and gotten a job that would have supported her. Housing wasn't available to women, their husbands owned the property. She may have been able to get a job as a governess or maid in another weathy person's home, and may have been able to get board that way. But that would have caused scandal among her family. Nope, she had no options, should couldn't just up and leave him, taking the kids with her.

We don't know why this particular woman stayed with her husband unless she shared it with others, she may have loved him despite his cheating. She may have stayed to offer up her sufferings. Who knows. But it wouldn't have been like modern times where she could have gotten one or two jobs, and moved out. Modern women have more options. They can stay, or they can leave. Some still can't leave, even in modern days, due to threats of violence or lack of means to support themselves.

The point of my first post was, though this woman can be commended for enduring hardships...the Church does not require it. The Church calls us to forgive and move on. But we are not required to remain with unfaithful spouses...though, let's be clear, if annullment isn't part of that breakup, both spouses are commanded by the Church to live as if they were still married to each other. Which means, neither can date other people.


#10

[quote="KevinBanet, post:1, topic:254353"]
You think you have it rough?
Years ago, a woman of noble birth put up with a husband who loved to hunt, to take part in social life, but who also cheated on her. And yet this woman made the best of it, even raising a child born of his philandering ways.
visitationspirit.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/st-jane-horses-175.jpg
Click image to see video of Jane's life.
The woman was Jane de Chantal, and after her husband died, she founded a religious community of women with the help of St. Francis de Sales.
A new video that has been seen nearly two thousand times in its first week describes her life. See the video on the website of the Second Federation of the Visitation.

[/quote]

The poor women likely had no choice. The laws of most countries European countries included the women was the property of her husband to do with pretty but as he liked. If she left he could have the law enforcement (whoever that might be) bring her back. A women had little if any legal rights unless maybe she was a widow even then it was iffy and for reasons of economics many married again for security and protection. A good example would be the Duchess of Devonshire who's husband the duke made her best friend Lady Elizabeth Foster his mistress and kept his mistress in the same house as his wife. The Duchess had no choice but to accept this even though she of course didn't like it. When she cheated with Charles Grey he made her give up her child by Charles Grey even though the Duchess brought up the Dukes own illegitimate children with Elizabeth Foster and other women. This took place around the 17th century. In the 1800s Anne Bronte wrote a book called the Tenant of Wildfell Hall which tells the story of a woman who leaves her abusive and cheating husband to support herself and her child. It was considered shocking for its time because women were legally still the chatel of their husband even then. It wasn't till the 20th century that women really had any rights. So while this lady may be a saint don't think she had any choice about staying with or leaving her husband. In the 1920s Rose Kennedy tried to leave her cheating husband and went to her father who himself was a philanderer and he told her to go back. :(


#11

She may have also stayed with him out of hope he would change or could change... that he would grow to love her by seeing how devoted she was. I stayed with my cheating husband up until the point he said he was divorcing me and this was my line of thinking. She didn't have a choice either, that's true. But it could have also been for this sort of devotion and love.


#12

I didn’t know that St. Jane Frances’ husband Christophe de Chantal cheated on her. I have a biography of her at home, so I should go back and read it over again.

I thought they were very compatible, and loved each other.

Guess one learns something new every day about the Saints…:o


#13

I think a woman needs to be careful not to enable a cheating husband.

In these modern times, by staying with him as a “martyr,” a woman could give her husband the freedom to continue his sinful ways. He will lose his respect for her and use this as an excuse to find stronger, more lively women (at least, in his distorted perception).

It would be better for a woman to leave a philandering husband, taking the children and demanding (through a lawyer) all the child support monies and alimony that she and their children are entitled to. This would make it a lot harder for many men to continue their philandering. It might make a man think twice about all he is giving up just for gratuitous sex.

A wise woman in modern times will make life very, very miserable for a man who wants to have affairs. Resigning herself to her fate and trying to be like a woman who lived several centuries ago will only make it easier for a man to reject her and the children and live life on his terms instead of being a good husband and father. A woman should never allow this without a fight.

Many women make a bad mistake to leave a philandering husband and demand nothing from him. So many women have bought into the flawed feminist mindset that says “I don’t need a man! I don’t need his filthy money. I’ll be a strong single mother and raise these children without his help. I don’t want to feel obligated to him.”

Well, that’s fine if the woman has the income to raise her children well. But most women don’t. The largest group of poor people in the U.S. is single mothers. (The second-largest group is children of single mothers.) We need to reject feminist silly talk, and force a father to BE a father, at least when it comes to giving money to support his children decently. We shouldn’t allow false pride to get in the way of raising our children with adequate funding that they are entitled to. And we shouldn’t allow a man to spend money on a woman that rightfully belongs to his CHILDREN.


#14

I agree with almost all of the posts here. While it is commendable that this woman endured these hardships, based on what we know of history of the times, she more than likely did not have much of a choice even if she had wanted to leave him. I'm not saying that she did as she apparently loved her husband and he probably treated her well despite his adultery. And it was common for the time that women would expect their husbands would philander, especially amongst the upper classes and royalty.

I also think there may have been a different mindset as to what was considered being a "good husband" or a "good wife" and these people were raised to think that way, so unless they were truly miserable and really treated horribly (beaten, verbally abused, etc. ) they may not have really allowed themselves to think about it. Although, I remember reading a comment made by a contemporary of the time during the 1500s who was upset as to how times were changing based on a recent law. His quote, which I can't quite remember completely was basically lamenting the day when laws will be made that a man wouldn't be allowed to beat his wife. He and others were upset about the prospect of that. I'm not sure how the subjects of the beatings felt about it. Did they accept as part of life and felt that they deserved it if their husbands decided to beat them or were they truly miserable?

When we look at their lives from a modern view we sometimes can't imagine how any woman could have stayed in some of the marriages that have been recorded in history... many of which were marriages from the upper classes, royalty and aristocracy. So, even that would have a different view of marriage than what more "common" families would have. There have been many times when couples from various periods would still be married, but just live in separate households, rarely seeing each other.

In modern times, fortunately and unfortunately, more people could care less about what society thinks of them and will do what they want, but in the past that wasn't the case most of the time. With few exceptions, people wanted and needed the approval of their community and the society they frequented. Divorce or separation was also a huge stigma for many centuries. If a woman had no place to run to and no money to support herself, she certainly would not leave and if she did, she faced being ostracised by her family and community. A man could similarly be ostracised for leaving his wife and children because he shirked his duties as a good husband and left them to fend for themselves which was harder for a woman to do.

Then we also have to think about how women were viewed. For a long time, they were viewed as property. The women belonged to their fathers who could choose how they wanted her to live and marry. She would then be passed over to a husband who also owned her. In good and ideal situations, a father and a husband would treat the woman lovingly and respectfully and various histories do show that there were families like this. Sometimes, a woman would be given a lot freedom for a woman of the time by her husband to run the finances and housesholds of her husband's estate(s). Other times, especially in more upper class situations, a knowledgeable woman or a caring father could stipulate in marriage contracts that she keep money in her name or that she have control of the money after her husband's death, especially if the husband was widowed and had children from that previous wife. It was a woman's way of protecting her interests and the interests of her children, as they could become impoverished if the son from the previous wife decided he did not want to be kind to his stepmother and half siblings.


#15

Oh… we also have to aware of what would happen to the children many times if a woman did decide to leave her husband. Sometimes husbands would not allow their wives to keep their children and would not allow them to see their mothers, especially if it was the woman who left her husband and could not prove that she was wronged by him. He could easily slander her and her reputation and then that was it. A “fallen” woman could never be allowed to have access to her children once it was believed even if it wasn’t true. So, I can imagine that women would think twice about leaving even if the situation was deplorable.


#16

Apparently everyone has missed the point of this thread. Doing a little research, their marriage was a generally happy one and they were both devoted to each other, and she made everyone around her holier


#17

It wasn't uncommon for noblemen engaged in courtly life to have a paramour or two and fairly often a servant girl's chores would also include some rather unpleasant and intimate work. Putting up with her husband's extramarital affairs doesn't make Jene de Chantal stand out from any of her contemporaries and I doubt it is the reason she was canonized


#18

[quote="ChiRho, post:16, topic:254353"]
Apparently everyone has missed the point of this thread. Doing a little research, their marriage was a generally happy one and they were both devoted to each other, and she made everyone around her holier

[/quote]

Actually, I think people on the thread are aware that she did have a happy marriage, but I don't think she was canonized because she stayed with a husband who cheated, which the title of the thread appears to imply. If that was the case, then many holy women from the past would have been canonized as saints. From my reading of the thread that's what most people were trying to point out... showing that for the times, women really didn't have a choice, or they didn't even realize that there was a problem with a philandering husband as it was socially acceptable in different circles for a man to go about his way.


#19

[quote="Sarabande, post:18, topic:254353"]
Actually, I think people on the thread are aware that she did have a happy marriage, but I don't think she was canonized because she stayed with a husband who cheated, which the title of the thread appears to imply. If that was the case, then many holy women from the past would have been canonized as saints. From my reading of the thread that's what most people were trying to point out... showing that for the times, women really didn't have a choice, or they didn't even realize that there was a problem with a philandering husband as it was socially acceptable in different circles for a man to go about his way.

[/quote]

the real crux of it comes in the body of the OP: she made the best of it. That advice applies for anyone in any situation.


#20

[quote="ChiRho, post:19, topic:254353"]
the real crux of it comes in the body of the OP: she made the best of it. That advice applies for anyone in any situation.

[/quote]

See, I still disagree that was the main point, although I do agree that it was a subpoint within the OPs main point - at least in how the OP worded his post. And that's ok. ;) de Chantal more than likely looked at all the good things within her life and weighed it out. I also believe that it is human nature to make the best out of a bad situation if one has no other options... not that it was a horrible situation for her as we can't really know for sure. Her life with her husband and family might have been perfect other than his philandering ways.

That all said, I would like to read an in-depth biography on her to find out more about the inner workings of her life. I'm very much interested in women's history throughout the centuries and their influences in the world of their time and thus try to read as many historical biographies and books on the periods they lived in. Felice della Rovere's life, for instance, was incredibly fascinating due to her power and influence and how she manipulated her life and the lives of her loved ones with her intellect and social standing. She was certainly not saintly, though.

So, it would be nice to read about a more saintly figure Jane de Chantal. Does anyone know of any decent biographies written about her?

On another note, I just got a book on Lucie de la Tour du Pin and am very excited to read about her life and experiences during such an interesting time in European history.


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