Withholding the marital gift


#1

(First, please forgive any typos as the keyboard I'm using is crummy and the keys stick, and I'm not of a mind to gp back and fix every mis-spelled word!)

Okay, so my husband has been very self-centered lately, and has even been mocking Catholicism and the Sacraments. He's not practicing, and has been falling away despite my prayers and wishes for him. He's been saying things that also hurt me, and when I gently tell him how I feel about the way he's acting, he pretty much dismisses me and tells me to "grow up", or something else along those lines.

For instance, I was a little later than usual getting home yesterday evening and he asked why I was "so late" (it was only about 90 minutes, and a reasonable time as far as supper was concerned. I said that I had gone to Confession, and Adoration afterwards while I performed my penance-- since I was there anyway. That brought about a series of remarks regarding "buying my way to Heaven", crude remarks about priests and young boys in the Confessional (to put it tactfully), etc. I boldly told him to STOP. Well, he had gone ahead and cooked dinner while I was at church... FOR HIMSELF. I made some pasta for my own dinner, but had cooked a bit more than my bowl would hold so there was still a small amount in the pot. I went back for the extra, and he had dumped it without asking me, though I had plainly said that I was going back for "seconds". I reminded him that I was planning to eat the remainder, but he said, "Well, there was so little left in the pot that I just threw it away". First, I had SAID that I was going to eat it. Second, it was wasteful. So then he went up into the freezer and pulled out a dessert that he had bought for himself (one of 3 puddings that he bought for himself, with no intention to share... just like the 3 oranges he bought for himself and plainly stated were HIS and that I wasn't to eat them). This has been typical for him lately. He has also been withholding "general" affection as in hugs, kind words, etc.

Okay, background aside-- last night he crudely asked me for the marital gift. This, after I had laid beside him and tried to chat a bit, only to have him basically lay there in silence even after I asked a question... followed by, "Um, hello? Did you hear what I said?" Then-- he rolled over, only to crudely make his request some minutes later.

I said, "I really don't feel like I'm in a very giving mood right now, especially since you have, for the past few days, basically ignored me and mocked or cut down the very things that I hold dear to my heart. Perhaps if WE can work out THOSE issues first, then perhaps I'll be more inclined to WANT to give you 'the gift'. But if I did so now, it would be 'grudgingly', and that's not the right way to give a gift-- especialy one so precious."

Now he says that he's entitled to it. But am I not entitled to a respectful partnership? I'm not permanently denying him, but this can get serious if not reined in NOW. And NO, he will NOT go for counseling! Period, no way, no how.

Advice?

In Christ,

~Spoken4


#2

[quote="Spoken4, post:1, topic:228858"]
And NO, he will NOT go for counseling! Period, no way, no how.

[/quote]

Then YOU need to go alone. He is bullying and mentally abusing you - that is wrong. Clearly he has some major issues going on, and refuses to deal with them. But for your own mental and spiritual health you need to get yourself into some sort of support system.

Yes - we owe our spouses their marital rights. But you are no one's sex slave either. Sex within marriage is unitive, but only if it is not used selfishly or as punishment. In that context it can be damaging. You need help from a good solid priest with that part - I am not prepared, nor is anyone on this forum, to tell you how to manage that.

God bless - I will pray for your marriage.

~Liza


#3

It sounds as if he is resentful of your faith and your practices. He's punishing you for going to church instead of coming home to him. He's acting very childishly but it sounds as if he feels he has no other recourse.

How long have you been married? Why is he falling away? Have you guys gone to church together up until this point? Is he a convert? He sounds angry at the Church - usually people who are faithful Catholics don't bring up the priest/pedophile issue. He may just be trying to hurt you.

If he will not go to counseling, you can go but be sure you go to a Catholic counselor, or at the very least, a Christian counselor. That way, the counselor will not be telling you "It's time for you to leave him."


#4

I would second getting counsiling for yourself for your marriage. Ideally it’d be something you work on together, but one person being going is better than none.

In this case, I don’t believe that you are sinning by denying him. The marital act is a mutual self giving act. I think we women are very sensitive toward feeling used as basically the man’s masturbation tool. I would consider it enabling his sins against you. A lack of generocity outside of the marital bed is going to express itself sexually as well.

You have an obligation to love him, but loving him doesn’t involve enabling his sinful behavior. Its not good for him just as its not good for you. I think though that the counceling may help you to find approaches to dealing with the anger that is building up inside you and toward finding a way to communicate with him that doesn’t add fuel to the fire.

A few ideas if you can figure out a way to talk them out. It does sound like he was expecting you to be home by a certain time. Perhaps he’d be more comfortable if you called him or left him a message about running some errands or going to church. It might be also helpful if you have a specific day of the week or a specific day of the month that you simply regularly go to confession so that he knows “This is the day she’s over there.” He can have his own opinions about its value, but if its a part of the schedule you both know about rather than something that spontaneously happens, the two of you can plan out dinner a bit more effectively. Perhaps he can agree to cook dinner on those days for everyone and not just for yourself. Maybe he was mad about being left out of the blue and thought “Well if she’s not going to tell me where she is and is going to leave me hanging about dinner, I’m not going to cook for her.” Then when you see he hasn’t cooked for you, but has for himself, well then you get resentful and don’t want to give him anything either. I mean a lot of times we hold back because we feel we’re the victims of someone else’s selfishness. Maybe we are. Maybe we aren’t. Even if we are, sometimes coming up with a plan of action can motivate a person to a resolution to make an effort against laziness and selfishness. I mean, its a lot more resourceful to say build prayer into your life if you schedule it than if you just wait for the spontaneous inspiration to pray. The same is true with virtue. You can say “My new year’s resolution is to excercise more” but if you want to be successful at it, you have to put out a specific plan of when, where and how you’re going to exercise."

I mean obviously he needs to become more selfless, but if anything can be done on your end to help fix the situation, its to take a positive proactive approach to encourage virtue out of him, rather than to condemn him for his lack of virtue.


#5

I think you need to seek advice of your confessor in confession.....

One does have an obligation to marital relations ...but there can be reasonable reasons to withhold this (but one should not assume one has them...this is a serious part of marriage..but there can be certainly reasons)...but he can perhaps advise you in your circumstances.

Also note that love and devotion ...even when not returned...in light of the Gospel ...can be very good. This has been lived by Blessed's and Saints in the Church...in relation to husbands who were acting worse...

Here is one:

catholicmoms.com/Elizabeth-Canori-Mora-Her-Life.html
catholicmoms.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=14
taigivision.com/life/elizabeth_canori_mora.html
savior.org/saints/mora.htm

You may need to curtail somewhat your time in Church as well...

Yes counseling from an orthodox Catholic Counselor can be in order...etc...

I saw this ad on a very sound website: catholictherapists.com/ to find one in your area

Take 1 Peter 3 1-12 for* Lectio Divina*

Make sure you read the Navarre Commentary on this...it is important not to misconstrue what Peter is saying here.

Both the spouses are exhorted to live in a Christian way...(with the equal dignity) but in the case of the wife of one who "does not obey the word" ..that the husband can be won over by the* loving behavior* of the Christian wife....


#6

Besides counselling (at least for yourself), I would recommend fasting and daily Rosary for his conversion. We are all in an immortal battle for our eternal souls, and sometimes we fall. We become casualties. And it is up to the rest of us to help the fallen. It is not a disgrace to fall, but it is a disgrace to desert in the face of fire! And that's what we do when we walk away from the faith, as he has. His soul is in jeopardy. Maybe God put you two together so that you could help him through these times. Every soul has a price. Some souls are cheap; some souls are expensive. St. Monica prayed for St. Augustine for 30 years before he straightened out!


#7

"Gift" aside, you need to get the heart of why he feels so angry towards you. His behavior is not normal. Put him on the spot. I think he wants to say it, but acts out spitefully instead. In the end, both of you will need counseling if you can't work it out on your own. But you need to know the root cause to get anywhere.


#8

Spoken4,

I want to make sure I understand the situation.

You showed up 90 minutes late for dinner without prior notice and your husband got a little snotty about it?

You are upset that in your absence he had cooked himself dinner, but nevertheless he cleaned up after your cooking of your own dinner?

So he threw away a small amount of pasta even after you told him you were going to eat it? You're saying that he's petty enough that he would clean up your supper dishes just so he could throw your little bit of extra spaghetti out?

I must admit that the part about the pudding is puzzling to me. Puzzling enough to wonder if we're getting the entire story. Does he really buy food that he refuses to share? I ask because my wife has purchased food items with a specific intention (e.g. making a cheeseball to take to a potluck at work) and asked me not to eat them (and been upset when she forgot to tell me there was a specific purpose and I ate them). Could it have been something like that?

I've got to tell you that the bed conversation seems a bit strange too. You're saying you were trying to have a normal conversation and he "crudely" requested sex? Really?

Lastly, if my wife told me:

"I really don't feel like I'm in a very giving mood right now, especially since you have, for the past few days, basically ignored me and mocked or cut down the very things that I hold dear to my heart. Perhaps if WE can work out THOSE issues first, then perhaps I'll be more inclined to WANT to give you 'the gift'. But if I did so now, it would be 'grudgingly', and that's not the right way to give a gift-- especialy one so precious."

I would consider that she was attempting to manipulate me by using sex as a weapon and would be very unhappy.

Oh, and by the way, it isn't a "gift" you owe it to him (as he does to you).

This just doesn't seem right.....


#9

[quote="BillP, post:8, topic:228858"]

Oh, and by the way, it isn't a "gift" you owe it to him (as he does to you).

[/quote]

The "gift" was given at the marriage...it is now a "right".

(though it is still a living out of the self-gift of marriage...and yes there can be just reasons to withhold the marital right... such as the person committed adultery...) (has actually be known as the "debitum" the "maritial debt"...though such can sound a bit odd to our ears)

Another passage for Lectio Divina:

This time from Paul:

1 Cor. 7: 1-6

...make sure my post above is read as well...there is important things there.


#10

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:3, topic:228858"]
It sounds as if he is resentful of your faith and your practices. He's punishing you for going to church instead of coming home to him. He's acting very childishly but it sounds as if he feels he has no other recourse.

How long have you been married? Why is he falling away? Have you guys gone to church together up until this point? Is he a convert? He sounds angry at the Church - usually people who are faithful Catholics don't bring up the priest/pedophile issue. He may just be trying to hurt you.

If he will not go to counseling, you can go but be sure you go to a Catholic counselor, or at the very least, a Christian counselor. That way, the counselor will not be telling you "It's time for you to leave him."

[/quote]

RJ (if I may) I agree that he's resentful, but I wouldn't be certain whether it is of her practices and faith, or if those are just "easy targets". People will repeat things from their childhood to resolve them, and this could be any number of issues using this target.

While I agree that the OP shouldn't blindly give into crude behavior, I also think that HOW she addresses it also matters. In the moment what she said COULD sound like an escalation, especially when both partners are stressed.

I would suggest that she make her husband a nice dinner, and ask for a no TV night, and time to sit and talk.

The conversation should start with why she loves and married her husband. I would suggest that she not ask her husband the same, but if he volunteers it, to listen.

And then she should say "I so want to admire you, to love you, to give you this gift; but we are stressed right now and it makes it very difficult for me. I am certain that when we can't share this gift, it must also make it difficult for you to work on the things I need for us to share a better life together, the talking, the sharing, etc." Ask if he feels that way and listen.

If he does, if you hopefully make it this far, ask if he would be willing for the two of you to get some coaching on being better for awhile, together?

Touch him throughout, on his arm, his leg. Let him know of your love (not overtly sexual but intimate.) Let the conversation be intimate and open.

Especially given the weekend it is, you may have to make a choice? Do you REALLY extend yourself, and give him the gift, asking him to be very loving and gentle? And then continue the discussion (and perhaps the gift giving) through the weekend to help him get to a point where he can work on things?

And consider getting to a counselor to coach you guys.

I know as my wife and I have worked back from a difficult place, that I told her at one point that I understood that better communication she needed, the less time with work, the more time with her, etc. - and frankly I wanted those things too. But the change in attitude was still difficult if I was trying to do all the changing and she was with-holding the gift. I dislike the fact that on some level it seems transactional, tit for tat, but the fact is as I get older I notice that my "maleness" is more of an underlying drive. I may WANT to extend myself for my wife, but if that is too one-sided it becomes increasingly difficult to do so! Its sorta a trap. So, while I may not "like" it, I need to come to grips with the fact that it "IS ME" (and I suspect many/most men.)

Let him know that you do and that you want to love and admire him. Let him know that you want to try but need his help. I think these will help you, but in my experience, this won't be easy Even when I WANT to be good, I can go wrong and hurt her, she can go wrong and hurt me, and its hard to pull back sometimes.

What helps, is that we are BOTH seeing that we are making a conscious effort at talking, a real effort at changing. And even though we mess it up, knowing that we both want to be on the same team, and make our team better, has helped us a lot.

I hope and pray that it will help you also.


#11

[quote="Gem, post:7, topic:228858"]
"Gift" aside, you need to get the heart of why he feels so angry towards you. His behavior is not normal. Put him on the spot. I think he wants to say it, but acts out spitefully instead. In the end, both of you will need counseling if you can't work it out on your own. But you need to know the root cause to get anywhere.

[/quote]

I'm not sure that "Putting him on the spot" is best if he is angry. Seems to just create more anger...


#12

I would recommend The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Laura Schlessinger. Sometimes we women don't realize how our own attitudes that learned as children in a society dominated by feminists have polluted our marriages. This book was a true eye-opener to me, and my husband became a changed man when I started putting the books ideas into practice. At one time, I had a silent, brooding husband with a bad attitude as well. As it turned out, it was my attitude causing it.

In a nutshell, the book says that guys are simple. They need respect (no nagging!), marital relations (it is like food to them-- anytime you say "no," you are starving your dh and making him feel the ultimate rejection), and food (she says that we have an obligation to make their dinner-- too many wives completely ignore this obligation in today's culture). It makes my husband really happy to have me cooking for him-- it's just in their nature, I believe. (Unless you're married to Emeril or Wolfgang Puck (lol)). If you are failing to give a husband respect, marital relations, or food, your husband may start acting in ways that make YOU very unhappy. They start behaving like bratty little kids, really. However, if you give your husband these things, you will probably see a HUGE turn around in one to two weeks. I started getting expensive jewelry that I never asked for after about a month of following these suggestions. It's like a magic formula really!

I realize, however, that your husband just really just may be a jerk-- but hey, the book might be worth a try...


#13

I have this book and in times past, it has been quite useful. I was able to let go of past slights and just be practical, someone has to change things for things to change, etc. But after a while I started feeling as if I were always doing the giving and he was always taking, and I got angry and resentful about it. Now we have a backlog of bad feelings on both sides - him because he thinks I am just not interested in sex and that I am rejecting him; me because it seems like no matter what I do or say, he is not going to alter his behavior in the slightest to accommodate my needs.

We are at cross-purposes and drifting further apart all the time. I want to thank everyone who responds to these threads - I read them for help in my own marriage. I do not want my husband to feel rejected but I don’t want to feel used, either.


#14

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:13, topic:228858"]
I have this book and in times past, it has been quite useful. I was able to let go of past slights and just be practical, someone has to change things for things to change, etc. But after a while I started feeling as if I were always doing the giving and he was always taking, and I got angry and resentful about it. Now we have a backlog of bad feelings on both sides - him because he thinks I am just not interested in sex and that I am rejecting him; me because it seems like no matter what I do or say, he is not going to alter his behavior in the slightest to accommodate my needs.

We are at cross-purposes and drifting further apart all the time. I want to thank everyone who responds to these threads - I read them for help in my own marriage. I do not want my husband to feel rejected but I don't want to feel used, either.

[/quote]

I'm sorry that you're in this situation. IF you don't mind me asking, what is it that you wish your husband would do?


#15

Hum. I'm not married let me tell you that right up front but if I was and my husband attempted to treat or speak with me in that way he not be sleeping in the same room as me to begin with. I'd actually be tempted to leave. Prayers to you and your family. You have a lot more patience then I would. :cool:


#16

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:13, topic:228858"]
I have this book and in times past, it has been quite useful. I was able to let go of past slights and just be practical, someone has to change things for things to change, etc. But after a while I started feeling as if I were always doing the giving and he was always taking, and I got angry and resentful about it. Now we have a backlog of bad feelings on both sides - him because he thinks I am just not interested in sex and that I am rejecting him; me because it seems like no matter what I do or say, he is not going to alter his behavior in the slightest to accommodate my needs.

We are at cross-purposes and drifting further apart all the time. I want to thank everyone who responds to these threads - I read them for help in my own marriage. I do not want my husband to feel rejected but I don't want to feel used, either.

[/quote]

If you are both to be happy in your marriage, you both must always, always come as a servant to one another. I think you would be surprised at the change in him if you came as a servant to him, in a real sense. You are there to serve him. And he is there to serve you. Someone as to start the ball rolling. Why not you? Humility is a tremendous weapon against Satan and his minions, whose only goal is your misery.


#17

[quote="lovemyboys, post:12, topic:228858"]
I would recommend The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Laura Schlessinger. Sometimes we women don't realize how our own attitudes that learned as children in a society dominated by feminists have polluted our marriages. This book was a true eye-opener to me, and my husband became a changed man when I started putting the books ideas into practice. At one time, I had a silent, brooding husband with a bad attitude as well. As it turned out, it was my attitude causing it.

In a nutshell, the book says that guys are simple. They need respect (no nagging!), marital relations (it is like food to them-- anytime you say "no," you are starving your dh and making him feel the ultimate rejection), and food (she says that we have an obligation to make their dinner-- too many wives completely ignore this obligation in today's culture). It makes my husband really happy to have me cooking for him-- it's just in their nature, I believe. (Unless you're married to Emeril or Wolfgang Puck (lol)). If you are failing to give a husband respect, marital relations, or food, your husband may start acting in ways that make YOU very unhappy. They start behaving like bratty little kids, really. However, if you give your husband these things, you will probably see a HUGE turn around in one to two weeks. I started getting expensive jewelry that I never asked for after about a month of following these suggestions. It's like a magic formula really!

[/quote]

Eek! I'd freak out if my husband started wasting our money on expensive jewelry. The other day, my husband and I had a little tiff. I had to go into work (I telecommute from home) and all of a sudden I heard him turn on the vacuum. I've never felt SO loved. He got the place so clean and when I was done working the overtime he said "I wanted to make up for some of the things I said to you. My first thought was flowers, but then I thought about what you'd really want and decided to clean." A clean apartment was SO much better than a bouquet of roses. I mean for crying out loud there is so little effort in making a purchase anyway. Unless he's got a stash of personal money for say purchasing his lunch and decides to go lunchless for weeks to save up for something, he's spending OUR money to buy something that isn't on our budget.

I mean doing something like that works if you have separate bank accounts or if he truly is the primary bread winner and manages the family budget completely where the woman gets an allowance to spend on any purchases she needs to make, but a lot of families aren't like that.

The point is that an act of love requires personal sacrifice and a good marriage involves both partners looking for ways to give of themselves and their time more and more. Unforunately when one spouse has a "taking" attitude rather than a "giving" attitude, it leads to a love that isn't reciprocal. The one person takes and receives and the other person ends up completely empty and resentful. Now the temptation is always when you're being used to stop giving and possibly to be very hostile to having anything taken from you. Its important to still love, but its also important not to be a doormat. What is needed are both continual expressions of love that aren't enabling and communication. The key is to do all things in charity, but to not demean yourself as if giving yourself constantly were a way for you to earn his love.


#18

Spoken4,

I'd find it very painful if my husband mocked Catholicism. He may be trying to express his religious struggles to you, seeking help, or it may be something else. If you are too hurt to hear him now, ask him to stop talking about it for awhile.

Is there any chance you are running away to the church more often to escape home and problems?

I totally understand the annoyance of telling your spouse what you want, and then having him completely disregard that you said you'd want the pasta remains. I can offer the insight that he has probably told himself that no one in their right mind could want 35 calories of pasta, and so he tossed it. He shouldn't substitute his ideas for your actual requests, though. I'm just pointing out how large, calorie-consuming spouses might think. He should respect your person. It is really hard to live with someone who tosses your stuff because *he *thinks you don't need it anymore.

I don't think you have to comply with a request for marital relations that is given in a foul way. I think a quick decision to cut off relations for awhile, even if he very kindly requests them next time, might be a mistake.

Prayers for you! :gopray:


#19

Dear OP,

I am very sorry to you are going through this and if I was in your shoes, I would feel the same way. However, I want to speak the truth in love.

As others have mentioned, showing up 90 minutes late without a call is a BIG no no. I can't help but think if HE showed up 90 minutes late without a call you would be posting it as yet another inconsiderat thing he has done lately. You need to remember your primary obligations in life and God would TOTALLY understand you missing adoration because you forgot to tell your husband and needed to be home on time for him.

From where your husband is sitting, you are using religion as an excuse to be inconsiderate towards his time

Also, I am like you and very direct when I am communicating. It hurst to admit this but it makes people uncomfortable around me. I use to think 'what is so wrong with people that they can't hear honesty'. The reality is, they wanted to hear it in a softer approach.

For example, saying to your husband 'um hello did you hear me' is the equivalent of calling him stupid. Perhaps wording it in another way 'are you too tired to talk? Perhaps we can discuss this tomorrow' would make him feel like he has more say in the matter. And if he says 'Yes I am too tired' respect him. When a man is falling asleep is not the time to get into a heavy discussion.

I know when you are feeling cheated, the last thing you want is to be told you are the one who needs to change. 18 months ago at work, I was feeling REALLY cheated. And to this day, I still see my point of view. Well, they gave me a stern warning and if I did not shape up, I was out the door. In this economy, I was so scared of loosing my job, I became a people pleaser and did as they said. They saw my efforts and things got better. And do you know what..... it got to be easier for me. I would pray in the morning 'Dear God, help me be the worker you want me to be'. In your case, you could pray 'Dear Lord, help me be the wife You want me to be'

Do I like having to do it other people's way ? NO definetely not. Is it worth it? After the bonus my boss gave me today 'Yes definetely'. It takes time to change and I am still stumbling but I know it will become a habit I get better at.

Even if your husband does not change, you can be content you are doing God's will.

One last thing I want to praise you on. You said not to suggest counscelling because your husband won't go. I think it is totally awesom that you are respecting his boundary. Nothing will anger him more if you nag him to go

God Bless

CM


#20

[quote="Scoobyshme, post:16, topic:228858"]
If you are both to be happy in your marriage, you both must always, always come as a servant to one another. I think you would be surprised at the change in him if you came as a servant to him, in a real sense. You are there to serve him. And he is there to serve you. Someone as to start the ball rolling. Why not you? Humility is a tremendous weapon against Satan and his minions, whose only goal is your misery.

[/quote]

Thanks for this reminder--especially the last line. This is why I come on here-- we get wisdom that is completely opposite what we hear from the rest of the world. It's a good thing.


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