Love & Marriage

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By Rebecca Teti


Thursday: Marriage

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Struggling in your marriage? Have some relationship advice to share? Have a marriage success story to share? Have a man/woman question? This weekly thread is the place to do it.

Come on in and join the conversation!

Rebecca Teti

Comments

  • So, how many years are you supposed to accept stress as an excuse for how crappy your husband treats you? I take care of the kids, bills, mail, errands, groceries, meals, dishes, laundry, and beds. I'm nearing the end of a pregnancy and admittedly the house is dirty. I just can't keep up. He works too long to help and refuses to pay for any help, so it's dusty and dirty. This morning I didn't set him a place for breakfast because he said, "I don't have time for breakfast." For that I got a bowl-slamming tirade about how he gets no respect. Then he rattled on about me resenting having to take care of the kids (I don't), being a feminist, and said he wants me to get a job and put all the kids in daycare. I've just had it. He walked out the door in clothes I cleaned for him and a lunch I packed for him and all I get is grief. I told my son, who was quietly eating his breakfast that I hope he never talks to his wife the way his dad talks to me. It's a disgrace.

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 7:12 AM by Tired of It

  • ^^^ Geez, that's rough. My husband and I aren't to that point yet. But he certainly does work long hours (almost as long as I do in the home!). He goes to sleep before I do, and I'm up before him making his and the kids' breakfasts and lunches. I do his laundry, pick his dirty clothes off the floor, wash his dirty dishes. I bathe the kids, run them around to their various games and practices, get them in bed, do the grocery shopping, pay the bills, clean the house, help the kids with their homework, take out the trash, etc. My husband comes home with beer almost every night and drinks and plays video games until he passes out (not before trying to have sex with me). I'm just too tired for it, I don't enjoy having sex with him when he's drunk and lascivious, and I usually still have some unfinished chore to do before I go to sleep anyway. He supports my decision to stay home with the kids, but how much is too much to put up with? I don't feel loved by him, and he does nothing to contribute besides bring home a paycheck. He's not even a decent disciplinarian with the kids. This morning he laughed when my son hit my daughter. I guess I just feel like he's a fourth kid, basically. . . . and he wants me to have more!

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 9:03 AM by MC

  • Oh, wow, ladies!!! This is really rough stuff & you both are amazing for what you're doing! @ Tired of it ~ A few things in your story stood out to me. First of all, there is no reason for him to get a reply from you when he is yelling at you and "bowl slamming." As I tell my toddler, "I am available to talk with you when you can find a courteous voice." 'Course you don't have to say it *exactly* like that... but I would very affirmatively (and courteously, of course!) make a similar statement. Then be done with communicating with him (including ALL non-verbal cues of annoyance and coldness - b/c that's not courteous, either) until he approaches in a gentle and polite way. I have set this standard for my husband (and consequently, I have to live up to it everytime, too!), and I think it earned his respect. When he saw I was going to lead the way with courteous-ONLY conversation (on my side), he quickly found his own courteous voice & respectful exchanges began. :) So I recommend that as a starting point. Back with more after I calm the baby.......

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 10:51 AM by Oh gosh! :s

  • Okay, I'm aback. And I would just continue by adding that I recommend apologizing for ANY part you played in keeping the disrespect going in convo/argument (even if "he started it") and then NEVER give into un-courteous conversation again. The conversation is OVER (in your book) when he dips into disrespect. Okay 2nd thing ~ (for MC), I would just flat-out say, "I don't find drunk men attractive." or "Drunkeness just doesn't turn me on" or somesuch. Not accusingly to HIM - just state the fact. Do you think he might stop with the beers??? And 3rd and last thing that came to mind when reading ya'll's dilemas: while I don't love *everything* on the FLYlady website, I do recommend googling "FLYlady" and checking out her tips on housecleaning. She breaks it down to 15 minutes per day & you work on one section of the house per day. It has helped me get a grip on the mess & make a big enough dent in it that hubs can see I'm *really trying*! I also asked hubs to tell me the top three areas he'd like to see neat and clean when he walks in the door (ie, sink clear of dishes, laundry put away instead of in a pile on the couch, dinner already started, floor nearly-free of toys, kids already bathed, etc. <--- pick your fav. three & I will aim for this). When he saw the LONG LIST he realized how much there is to DO in a day & how unrealistic it was to expect it ALL. He chose his top three and I work my tail off to do THOSE each afternoon. I know he would love MORE, but he is content - afterall, he got to pick! :)

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 11:08 AM by Oh gosh! :s

  • First, my question really seems almost frivolous compared to the hurt and anguish I feel in Tired of it and MC's posts above. Ladies, at 3pm today when I say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy it is for you, your husbands, and your marriages. Okay,I'm hoping this falls under the Love part of today's category. I've been waiting to ask this question but don't know which day to put it under and it has to do with Lent so I don't want to wait much longer. My understanding of sacrifice is quite simplistic. It is meant to help me say no to my will and yes to God's will. So, take this example of no candy when exchanging Valentine's because it is during Lent and some children are fasting from candy. When a child's sacrifice for Lent is candy shouldn't they be giving the opportunity to practice saying no to the candy? And, therefore, if it is decided that no candy is to be giving with the valentines then aren't we taking away an opportunity for that child to practice strengthening his yes to God? I really am asking this in all seriousness and would love to hear others' views points. I don't want a discussion of giving or not giving candy at this particular valentine's celebration or when or even if to celebrate valentine's because it's during Lent. I'm interested in just what is a sacrifice, what should it mean to a child, and how do we as parents help our children understand and practice a sacrifice in such a way that it brings them closer to God versus it just being something they do because it's Lent and we're Catholic. I wouldn't ask this of you ladies if it wasn't something that I was really struggling to understand and to help my own children understand. I value your judgment and hope we can have a fruitful discussion.

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 1:07 PM by Jenny

  • Jenny, I think a lot has to do with the age and temperament of your child. Mine are 3 and 6 and, while I will have them "do Lent" a bit (since I won't be making lots of desserts or anything during Lent), they aren't really old enough to do much or understand. Also, even the Friday abstinence isn't expected by the Church until kids are 14, so while we can have our younger kids eat what the family is eating, I don't think we need to put temptation in our kids' way, kwim? I think there will be enough incidental ways to practice their Lenten sacrifices like just not having candy on Valentine's Day; if I had given up candy, I wouldn't purposely make it harder on myself by buying some and setting it on the kitchen counter - so I wouldn't do that to my kids either. Just my two cents. :-) No real advice for the earlier posters (though Oh gosh! sounded pretty on target to me), except to say that counseling (together if possible or alone if he won't go) sounds like a necessity even just to have some tools for setting healthy boundaries.

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 1:49 PM by Anna

  • MC - I'll keep your marriage in my prayers. My husband, thankfully, never drinks to excess. He's short-tempered, says things he doesn't mean, and handles stress VERY poorly - but he does it sober. Oh Gosh! - Thanks for your suggestions. I have gotten better (but not perfect) over the years at meeting his tirades with calm. I don't yell or fall into a heap of tears anymore; it's more exasperation. I don't know that it's changed his behavior, but at least I feel better. Jenny - Only one of mine has been old enough to really make meaningful sacrifices, although I'm thinking my daughter, who just turned 5, should now be able to begin making some small sacrifices. If for example my son gives up pretzels, I wouldn't pack them in his lunch or try to tempt him, but I wouldn't stop buying them for the rest of the household that might enjoy a few. I see where you're coming from - it has to be an act of will for the child in order for it to be sacrificial. If I give up TV and my FIOS line goes down for the duration of Lent, it wasn't really my choice, was it? That said, God often supplies plenty of opportunities for sacrifice (like illness, etc.) that I wouldn't necessarily choose that can obviously be offered up in the spirit of sacrifice. I think it's important for kids to see that sacrifice is a decision on their part - sometimes it'll be a sacrifice of their own design and sometimes it will be something they wouldn't choose on their own.

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 1:53 PM by Tired of It

  • Jenny, I'm not sure how old your kids are or where they school (home? not?) If they go to a school, they are going to have lots of candy around them, at least at lunch time when their friends are eating candy for snack, etc. In that case, I would probably stop bringing it into the home - they are getting enough chances to say "no" to it in school. If you have many kids and only a few are giving up sweets, though, I might *not* stop making them... it really would depend, I guess! I think I'd seek to not take away *all* chances for the candy-sacrificers to say "no" on their own... but I'd also not want to make it toooooooooo hard. Afterall, whether you quick buying candy b/c they said they were giving it up, or you have some around for them to keep saying "no" to, the bottom line is that they still go 40 days w/o candy because they decided to do so. You just have to decide if you want them to make the choice once-for-all or to have to KEEP making it! Either way is a sacrifice!! (And whatever you decide, it could be a great teaching moment to talk about how some choices you make ONCE and have to live with the consequences for a long time... other choices you get lots of chances to keep making the right choice or change your mind and make a bad decision.) Anyways, the only time I don't think its a "real" sacrifice is when the parents do what my mom always did: ransack the house and rid it of all sugary treats, then announce that there will be no sweets until Easter. We had ZERO choice in the matter. If you wanted to give up something else in addition to sweets, that was optional - but the sweets were gone. I always hated that & felt mom didn't think I was mature enough to choose my own Lenten pennance OR stick to it without her "forcing it." Looking back, I think she did it because my Dad wasn't very religious and she wanted him to give up something - so she just forced him to, by throwing out the candy (he LOVED candy). I still think it was a bad approach, though. Everyone just saw her as being bossy & controlling.) So, as long as your kids pick their own pennances, I don't think it matters one way or the other if you "help" them by throwing out the sweets or not. But maybe ask them what their preferences are??? Again, I don't know how old they are...

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 3:44 PM by unknown

  • I think my husband is bored with our marriage. I don't think he feels challenged enough. I tend to be a more laid-back go-with-the-flow kind of person; he is very "type A" and a high achiever. He works his rear off at work & his boss is very pleased/proud of him. I think he secretly wishes the bar were higher at home. My mentality is, "Hey, you worked hard all day. Come home and kick off your shoes. I'll make dinner, you work on house-repair stuff, we'll both play with the kids, and then we'll go to bed." I think he's finding it dull. How can I spice things up? Make him feel like a million bucks / a key player at home?? Do I need to get all gushy in thanking him for every little thing he does??? Run into his arms when he comes home??? I find him drawing away... like he is wanting something from me, but I am not delivering. I don't know what to do... [As an aside: nothing is "wrong" in our marriage... he just reminds me of a highly-skilled athlete, let's say a cyclist, who feel like his job is = to biking up a good hill, but home is like being on a flat b-o-r-i-n-g stretch of land. *yawn.* I want to add some "hill" to our home, but don't know how.] Does that even make sense?!?!

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 3:57 PM by Mountain biking in marriage

  • My fault, the valentine candy incident happened to someone else and the retelling of it just got me thinking about the questions I posed. My boys are older so the candy thing doesn't really apply to them. We've always done Lenten sacrifices but the boys have never really made the connection to growing closer to God. Mostly, I think that is our fault as parents. I was looking for suggestions on how to really get the idea of sacrifice is meant to bring one closer to God and that it isn't really a sacrifice if it's "easy". I'm thinking perhaps we should give up something as a family so that we can help each other and they can see us (my husband and I) struggling (read failing) but plodding along nonetheless and replacing the sacrifice with an activity like a daily family chaplet or Friday stations of the cross. Has anyone else tried this? Any other thoughts?

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 4:23 PM by Jenny

  • Jenny, what seems to have worked best for our family is for each to disclose to others one "public" sacrifice they are going to make for Lent--like you said, for the purpose of supporting each other. My children have amazed me at some of the things they have been willing to sacrifice. So far, we have not really come up with one thing that we all do--mainly because we are all so different. For example, some of my children might give up chocolate--but I could go 6 months without chocolate and it wouldn't bother me. We used to joke that you can't give up peas for Lent--it's too easy. That's why we've let each choose their own sacrifice. If you can find one thing for all--I think that would be great. In addition, we do encourage individual private sacrifices and additional prayers during Lent. I like your idea of a daily family chaplet or Stations--we also try to do Stations, but usually don't as a family due to schedules. And shoot, even if you don't think they're connecting it to growing closer to God right now, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm not sure I got that part of it until more recently in my life (and I'm over 50!) Just the fact that you DO promote sacrifice and prayer as a family will speak volumes to them, I think.

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 4:34 PM by Mary Therese

  • Jenny - We do one family sacrifice for Lent which we vote on. Usually it's sweets. We are all in it together so it's family bonding as as well as sacrificial. Plus it makes it a whole lot easier to enforce since I simply to make or buy treats (or if it's TV it just doesn't go on for anyone, etc.) Much simpler for everyone.

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 6:36 PM by Monica (momof2)

  • Mountain biking - I don't mean to sound flip, but have you asked your husband what he would like you to do?

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 7:36 PM by Carolyn A

  • For Jenny: I think you could be right on target with choosing a family sacrifice. It would be helpful for your kids to see you and your husband struggle, and more importantly it could provide ongoing chances for conversation about why you are making the sacrifice. Last year, our family (three kids aged 3,6,7) gave up eating out (or getting take-out) for Lent. We normally eat out (or in) once every week or two. Our point was that we wanted to make a big connection between our sacrifice and what we were putting in our rice bowl. We don't spend tons of money on groceries, so putting the savings from our meatless meal was worthless and we wanted to really make that connection concrete. Already this year (before Lent has even started) we've been able to talk about how hard it was last year, but how it can be a good reminder that God is the thing we really need, not take-out. Perhaps your family could give up TV or Internet (even if only for certain days in the week) or sacrifice time by going to Mass more often or something like that. For Mountain Biking: What do you think it is that your husband feels he isn't getting at home? Does he need more structure and plans? Does he need the affirmation that he gets from his boss? Does he need to feel needed, that his contribution at home is meaningful? Does he need a project?

    Posted on Feb 7th, 2013 at 8:35 PM by Andrea

  • Carolyn A. - that would not go over well. :

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 6:17 AM by Mountain biking in marriage

  • ~Andrea: I think its all of what you said. He loves verbal cues of approval (I never got them growing up, and learned not to need them, so I'm sure I rarely give them. It feels childish to me.) He also loves knowing his "role" and feeling "needed." He loves projects. He thrives with structure. Yes, to it all! I just don't know where to start in giving it to him. We have two toddlers. Life is pretty chaotic.

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 6:22 AM by Mountain biking in marriage

  • Mountain Biking: Could you start by handing over some specific jobs? For example, he gives the baths every night, or he does the dishes. Maybe you already do something like that, or maybe he feels like that is your job. My husband and I *try* to plan out our weeks on Sunday or Monday. It seems pointless many weeks, but it can be helpful for both of us if we know Tuesday we will watch a movie together, Wednesday we will work around the house, Thursday I will go out by myself, etc. Is there some activity your husband could do with the kids? An evening story time or something?

    Posted on Feb 8th, 2013 at 8:22 AM by Andrea

  • I am going to be straight up with this. We need to make sure we are marrying men who act like grownups and not overgrown children. If he is bored and wanders, there are plenty of men out there who would appreciate a sweet loving wife as the poster here is. My husband and I when our kids were little had no time for the nonsense that I see here with the husbands. We were too busy trying to survive.

    Posted on Feb 9th, 2013 at 9:54 AM by Sue

  • Sometimes "trying to survive" causes these huge crosses, too. There is no telling when you are dating how a particular man will handle particular stresses in life.

    Posted on Feb 10th, 2013 at 3:13 AM by unknown

  • I just wanted to respond to the comments by "tired of it". I can completely relate to what your going through and the feelings of frustration and hopelessness. After exhausting every possible option, we finally tried "Retrouivaille". It is a really good program. It has been almost a year since we took the program and although things are not perfect, marriage is better. Retrouivaille was literally my last option, my marriage was absoluetly unbearable and I just literally "take" the pain and suffering in my marriage anymore. Hope this helps.

    Posted on Feb 10th, 2013 at 11:28 PM by Dana