Wife on the edge


#1

Sorry about the title. I joined the Church (crossed the Tiber) in 2008 after many, many years of rebellion and quasi-protestant church hoping (Baptist, Independent Bible types, Methodist, Presbyterian, Four Square, etc). My wife (of 20 years, long story that) was raised quasi-Catholic, i.e., baptized in the RCC, went Catechism as a kid til about 8 or so, but her mom was Methodist and took her to her church (secretly) whenever possible. Her parents divorced ending any church involvement at all until we married in 1991. At the time I did not realize the importance of her RCC baptism until a couple of years ago when I became a Catholic and we had gone through a divorce just prior. We have since “re-married” and yes we both understand (now) the divorce and our relationship meant in the Church’s eyes. That is not my question here, that is behind us.

What has happened since we remarried is we have moved to very small coastal community, the local Catholic church is very small and the priest is … well “preoccupied” with other things. He is very difficult to talk with and is extremely aloof. My wife simply does not like him, not that that is a requirement to attend Mass. So, she does not attend or wish to attend. Her opinion has morphed into not liking “church” at all and choosing what she wants to believe and not believe. It is a very odd place for me to be in.

After much counseling and the initial reaffirmation of our marriage (which I have called our “re-marriage”) all seemed well. However, my two daughters (17 & 15) wanted nothing to do with Christianity, relating our marriage troubles, our divorce, my counseling and remarriage, to “Christian church ****”. We are a very dysfunctional family to say the least. My daughters are good kids, there is a foundation of truth within them, but are in complete denial of that truth and will show that in various ways and acts of rebellion against any authority, boundaries and rules. My wife does more to support them, in that she is a lover of options and flexible boundaries. Now that my wife no longer has an interest in anything Church related (saying it is my thing) and my daughters are in full rebellion, I feel like an island, floating in a sea of uncertainty.

At this point I have little say of what goes on in our family, from my wife controlling all finances (she works full-time, makes the lion share of income vs my SSID) to the day to day functioning of everyday life. I am, what amounts to, the chief cleaner, cook, bottle-washer and dog walker of the family. I have my issues (still have): passive aggressive tendencies, brooding or moping about, and walking away from stressful situations when I know I will lash out. I am not a perfect father or husband, far from it, but I love my family ans want what is best. Because I was away from them for over two years (divorced living separately) my counselor and priest told me to take my re-entry cue’s from my wife. In this I am doing my best, but often feel left out, over-compromised and ignored.

I pray constantly, meditate most every day, say the Rosary often twice or more times a day, read and write constantly. I feel so alone. Few if any resources in my immediate area, I do not drive, no public transportation and a “closed” parish priest.

This is too long, but I do not know how to make it shorter. I need some resources and your prayers.

God bless,
Thom


#2

Sounds like you got the servant part figured out, but the leader part is lacking.
I am just a man being brutally honest out of respect for you.

You got what it takes! youtube.com/watch?v=4ViyNlJaj2s


#3

As easy as your post makes it sound, being a leader in a family with strong-minded and leadership oriented wife, is not so easy. There has to be a willingness on the wife's part to want her husband to be a better father, just as there has to be a willingness on the husband's part to want his wife to be a better mother. True, I am one to avoid confrontations, as I fear my own reactionary tendencies and/or causing alienation and resentment. One of the simplest and hardest thing for a strong wife to do is to respect the authority of her husband.

So, yes, I understand my leadership in the family is deficient and lacking. Problem is, how do I lead a ship whose crew is in full rebellion? (Note: burning at the stake, 12 lashes, marooning, getting another crew and walking the plank are not options.)

Thanks for the response.
God bless,
Thom


#4

Perhaps the best approach with your wife would be to point out that your daughters are very confused about boundaries. Maybe her mothering instincts would trump her control issues for the sake of her daughters. It is a dangerous world for young women with confused ideas about relationships and the roles of men and women. I'll keep you in our prayers.


#5

You should look into the Marriage Encounter program. If your parish does not offer it, call the diocese and ask about it. It is a communication workshop for married couples that is designed to strenghten your relationship through more effective communication, you could start there.


#6

I second the recommendation for “Marriage Encounter” please see wwme.org/ for the one that is closest to you. I can tell you from personal experience that my husband and I went from a marriage where we were fighting and bickering daily, to one where I can count the number of arguments in the last 16 years on one hand.

It is a non-denominational communication enhancer, although you can attend ones sponsored by the Catholic Church where priests will attend.

Go, it will change your marriage, and litterally your life.


#7

There are probably many men and women out there who know first hand my situation. Know that my wife is extremely intelligent and talented, but she is also compassionate and sensitive (not that they are necessarily opposites or mutually exclusive) . God has given her some wondrous gifts and she is "aware" of this on many levels, just not completely convinced that God is their source or that it is He that nourishes and completes those gifts.

My wife is just as aware of my daughters situation as I am, if not more so, problem is she would rather work through their issues in a humanist and social relevant way, rather than spiritual ... almost as though "it is too late for that". My wife does not see a separation between her need for control in the family and her mothering instincts, to her they are one in the same and I think I concur. However, I agree it is a dangerous world out there, she knows that and I know that, it has been dangerous since the fall of Lucifer to earth, that roaring lion waiting to devour any unsuspecting soul. Both of my daughters have felt the sting of his breath on their shoulders and the pain of his teeth on their necks.

There is simply too much history to go into more detail here.

The Marriage Encounter program does sound encouraging and thank you for the link. She might be receptive to this since her mindset is one that is trying to find something that "helps and works for me" ... and in the process she might get some help out of it as well :wink: (playing with smilies)

I do not believe "Game" is the answer either, as one responder said in private. I've looked at that and weep. Using subtle (and not so subtle) manipulation is not Christ-like and pitting "beta's" against "alpha's" is a typical male ego trip out of control. However, I am well aware that many men have lost their way in this contemporary world, I count myself as one of them. I don't have all (or even some of) the answers, but I know the difference between subjective reality and objective truth.

Thank you for the responses.
God Bless,
Thom


#8

I think strengthening your marriage is important. It seems to me that in the area of religion you and your wife have given your children all kinds of mixed messages. I do not see consistency in raising them in the Catholic faith and expecting devotion. You've talked about conversion on your part, your wife's mixed feelings, and the fact that your marriage has had trouble and you later realized that you were not comfortable being married outside the Church, so you re-married.

I think it's great that you found the Church but given this history I think it's being hard on your children to require them to believe and act like good Catholics. It seems to me that they might genuinely be confused as to why that's important. I think marriage encounter might be a good idea, especially if you feel that your wife is not viewing marriage as a partnership between you. However if you and she can't agree on religion, and it sounds like you are still disagreeing, it is natural that your children are going to question why they have to follow it, especially since conversion was involved.

I suggest talking to a priest. Maybe the best thing you can do is set a good example and show your love of the Church and faith and encourage, rather than demand, them to participate in it. Instead of saying, here's the rules, you could do things like pray the Rosary at a certain time, maybe after dinner or at night, and seeing if they will join you as a family, even for a decade of it, or - since the holidays are coming up - use an advent wreath and say the prayers every night, or give presents to your kids that explain the beautiful art and music that the Church has commissioned and/or has been inspired by devotion to the Virgin and to Catholic faith. This is not about making life easy but showing them the beauty in these traditions. To me that might work better than getting angry that they won't show religious devotion. From what I have heard, this is a problem common to a lot of mixed marriages, or marriages in which the parents do not agree on faith. Another possibility is to buy books/CDs or whatever about issues of theology, Church history, and etc. and display them prominently in your home so that your kids can pick them up if they are curious. That's where I would start.


#9

BTW, my old forum login name was "oldethom" and I had forgotten that. So if you are curious and would like more background on me and my situation over the years, you can check out my posts from yesteryear (as it has been some time since). I will keep this thread alive on this ID but it will also be my last under "thomcrandall". Look for more oldethom posts in the future.

God Bless,
Thom


#10

oh my, SilentStar! Sorry I was busy elsewhere and missed your post. You touch on some very important issues and glad that you have. You have given me pause to look at things with a broader scope.

First, you are quite right in stating that my wife and I are (and have been) sending mixed messages to our daughters for quite some time. However, our first 7 years of our marriage our message was more parallel and consistent, even if Protestant in nature. Today, definitely not so.

Second, I am not requiring my daughters to follow (in the slightest) any Catholic tradition or notion. I am not even sure what that means, as you pointed out given my history. With them I am simply trying to communicate at a very basic level, that they are both spirit and animal, made by God in a unique and powerful way. We’ve had great discussions regarding those topics. The Truth is in them, just trying to get them to see the possibilities, not making unrealistic demands or high expectations.

Third, I have spoken with priests, albeit some time ago, and a wonderful deacon in the church where I took the RCIA classes, and they gave great and powerful advice, which to date I have, at the very least, inconsistently incorporated into my family. The priest in my local parish is not an option.

Fourth, being a relatively new Catholic and not at all familiar with the traditions and celebrations in the Church, I have been bringing in some very subtle and simple “things” into the house. However, they have been met with disdain and/or rebellion. For example, I have a small stone carving of a quote from St Augustine, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” My oldest daughter routinely turns it, quote against the wall (but I know she reads it!). She hides my cross, turns over a picture of Mary and Christ … My wife is supportive of these little things I bring in, but only in that they are no different than my daughter hanging up Beatles posters or stringing Buddhist prayer flags across her room. But I do not get angry (there was a time when I would have) I just put them right again or try to find what she has hidden. I do challenge her on this, in fact our last little incident I said, “maybe I should start turning your posters around or hiding some of your favorite little bobbles that offend me - would that be fair?” The next day, the little cross she hid, which I could never find, was back where it belonged.

Lastly, I pray constantly. I meditate daily and pray the Rosary as often as I can. But you are right, they need to see and hear what I believe, even if it is in subtle ways, on a daily basis. I do tend to hide away and worse of all, I have not attended Mass on a regular basis. How can I expect my family to be “good Catholics”, much less “Catholic”, when I am not? Hence, my dilemma.

I thank you for your post and your prayers.

God Bless,
Thom


#11

That provides more background. I was thinking you were asking them to be strictly observant Catholics even though your wife isn't. It does sound like they are treating your faith with disrespect which is not good. But I think other posters have said, your wife isn't treating you with respect either. Maybe Marriage Encounter will help. Your kids should treat your faith with respect b/c it is important to you, even if they do not agree with it. And it would be better if they were open to sharing it with you.


#12

Sweet Jesus is a modern concept.

Do a study of how Jesus interacted with women. Rarely, if ever, did he accept their framing of an issue. He went straight to the heart. He was masculine but NOT "nice". Loving, but NOT "nice". Jesus was in contol but never controling and never let Himself be controled.

Why did women respond to His NOT "niceness"?

Any response to my question should include the woman who touched the fringes of his garment, the woman at the well, and the non-jewish woman with the sick child. Did these women go away unhappy?


#13

[quote="ThomCrandall, post:10, topic:215989"]

First, you are quite right in stating that my wife and I are (and have been) sending mixed messages to our daughters for quite some time. However, our first 7 years of our marriage our message was more parallel and consistent, even if Protestant in nature. Today, definitely not so.

Second, I am not requiring my daughters to follow (in the slightest) any Catholic tradition or notion. I am not even sure what that means, as you pointed out given my history. With them I am simply trying to communicate at a very basic level, that they are both spirit and animal, made by God in a unique and powerful way. We've had great discussions regarding those topics. The Truth is in them, just trying to get them to see the possibilities, not making unrealistic demands or high expectations.

Third, I have spoken with priests, albeit some time ago, and a wonderful deacon in the church where I took the RCIA classes, and they gave great and powerful advice, which to date I have, at the very least, inconsistently incorporated into my family. The priest in my local parish is not an option.

Fourth, being a relatively new Catholic and not at all familiar with the traditions and celebrations in the Church, I have been bringing in some very subtle and simple "things" into the house. However, they have been met with disdain and/or rebellion. For example, I have a small stone carving of a quote from St Augustine, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” My oldest daughter routinely turns it, quote against the wall (but I know she reads it!). She hides my cross, turns over a picture of Mary and Christ ... My wife is supportive of these little things I bring in, but only in that they are no different than my daughter hanging up Beatles posters or stringing Buddhist prayer flags across her room. But I do not get angry (there was a time when I would have) I just put them right again or try to find what she has hidden. I do challenge her on this, in fact our last little incident I said, "maybe I should start turning your posters around or hiding some of your favorite little bobbles that offend me - would that be fair?" The next day, the little cross she hid, which I could never find, was back where it belonged.

Lastly, I pray constantly. I meditate daily and pray the Rosary as often as I can. But you are right, they need to see and hear what I believe, even if it is in subtle ways, on a daily basis. I do tend to hide away and worse of all, I have not attended Mass on a regular basis. How can I expect my family to be "good Catholics", much less "Catholic", when I am not? Hence, my dilemma.

I thank you for your post and your prayers.

God Bless,
Thom

[/quote]

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. There is a book I have that is not Catholic but has been helpful for me. amazon.com/Surviving-Spiritual-Mismatch-Marriage-Strobel/dp/0310220149/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287185787&sr=8-1 It was written by Lee Strobel, who wrote The Case for Christ, because he was an unbeliever when his wife became a Christian.

My situation is different from yours, but similar. My husband and I are both cradle Catholics, but both of us were lapsed when we met. I considered myself a spiritual person but not interested in returning to church. We married civilly. Then we had our first son. Going through the pregnancy and having him showed me that God had never left my side although I had turned away from Him, and I felt a powerful pull back to the Church of my childhood. (Of course things have changed a lot in the meantime!)

My husband never had that renewal. He has attended church with us throughout the years and has supported me in giving our 2 sons a Christian and Catholic education. But as far as being the spiritual leader of our home, no. We are coming from completely different viewpoints on a lot of issues. I asked him if he even considers himself a believer, and he could not answer me.

I am quite involved in the local pro-life effort and he does not understand this, nor does he really approve or support me in it. So there are areas like that where we just don't talk about it at all, which has led to a feeling of distance between us. He says there are "walls" on my part, but I can't really talk to him about my deep convictions since he won't understand. I try hard to go about my ministry without feeling envy at couples who do these things together. At church, we are a couple, but we do nothing for ministry together. He obviously refuses to participate in any kind of church activity.

The Protestants use the term "unequally yoked" to describe marriages like yours and mine. But I really feel a great deal of empathy for my husband, since I was the one who changed the terms of our marriage. I would love for him to recognize Christ's place in his life but I have to let go of any timeline for that to happen. I don't believe we should get a divorce under these circumstances. There is no abuse at all and he is as good a father as he can be to our sons (he did not have the blessing of a good father himself, which is part of the issue). And it is not his fault that God woke me up through having a child (I know there is Scripture that says a woman shall be awakened through childbirth but I forget where it is! :blush:

The surface appearance of my husband's life might be Catholic (going to Mass every Sunday) but there is no meaning behind it for him. That is hard for me to deal with. Coming to this forum is part of my search for help and support.

Just wanted to give you a virtual hug and let you know you are not alone, my brother in Christ.


#14

I am going to put this to rest now. CSPB, you and the Game assume that men have to be misogynistic. That somehow women are the enemy or at the very least, inferior. They are not. I am sure you are referring to “Let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands” (Eph. 5:24)? Taken out of context, both as Paul wrote it and out of context with the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus, I can see where you’d get that impression. I love Pope John Paul II’s answer to this as it relates to marriage after we fell from grace:

The matrimonial union requires respect for and perfection of the true personal subjectivity of both of them. The woman cannot be made the object of dominion and male possession (Mulieris Diginitatem 10).

And then as it related to the new Adam:

The author [in Eph 5:24] knows that this way of speaking [about women], so profoundly rooted in the customs and religious traditions of the time, is to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a “mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ” (Mulieris Dignitatem 24).

As husband and wife we are to be subject to one another and is reinforced by the next passage: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). “Leadership” as the “Game” is played out, is nothing more than sacrificial service warped into a male ego role playing game.

I believe that the husband and the wife need to be mutually subject to each other and Paul felt men needed a more blatant reminder. In this, CSPB, you are way off base. I think silentstar has pin pointed the issue and that is respect. But that respect must start with me, not with my wife or my daughters. When my relationship with God is called into question, the problem lies with me, not them.

God is working behind the scenes, I know this, but I am impatient. Instead of putting up roadblocks or diversions or distractions when it come to my wife and daughters, I need to step aside and let God do His work in them … allow them the freedom to listen to God as He is working with them and calling them without my interference. That is called faith, not conniving manipulation which leads to that sought after holy grail of alpha male dominance.

I love my wife’s strength, intelligence, passions and compassion. She is a devoted mother and in many ways, more patient than I. Nor should anyone misunderstand: I no longer blame myself as to where they are spiritually or have long pity-parties into the night. The blame game is dead and the pity-parties have run out of food. I am now looking for solutions. As it is now painfully clear to me, my walk with God is broken and I need to get my own house in order first.

God Bless,
Thom


#15

TheRealJuliane, thank you for your post. You and your family will be in my prayers as well. Here is a virtual hug out to you as well. (They really need a "hug" smiley)

God Bless,
Thom


#16

We can be the Gospel to others by our actions but it the Holy Spirit who will call your family to Christ. Keep up your strong prayer life, stay close to God, and go to Eucharistic Adoration when you can. Prayer, and living your faith by example, is the best gift you can give your family.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#17

I believe in complementarity but not misandry.


#18

[quote="Maria1212, post:16, topic:215989"]
We can be the Gospel to others by our actions but it the Holy Spirit who will call your family to Christ. Keep up your strong prayer life, stay close to God, and go to Eucharistic Adoration when you can. Prayer, and living your faith by example, is the best gift you can give your family.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Sincerely,

Maria1212

[/quote]

You are most correct in this Maria. Thank you for your post and your prayers.

God Bless,
Thom


#19

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