been married to a Baptist for 10 years. I began the marriage very blind and
lost, but have come to know and love the Catholic faith over the course of
those years. My husband was severely physically abused by his father as a
child. He is critical, quick-tempered and seems to always be looking for
a reason to be angry and frustrated. We have 5 daughters and I worry about
what this will do to them emotionally. He is not present, but is addicted
to hunting and working outdoors when he is not at work.
at this situation as my cross in life. I modeled the lives of St. Monica
& St. Rita, trying to be a good example to him, to love him and serve
him, doing anything he asks of me, besides sinning. We are like single people,
he lives his life and my girls and I live our lives. He has much resentment
for the Catholic Church and is not open to anything it has to offer. He refuses
natural family planning, and so we do not have a sexual relationship, which
has been a blessing to me because he does not understand anything about that
area of life, so it is a relief not to be an object for his affection so
to speak. He has been more open to children in the past few years. However,
I think by agreeing to live like brother and sister he is trying to punish
me for not using ABC or supporting him when he talked about sterilizing himself.
is, I do not believe that I am helping him at all. He has not changed in the
slightest and sometimes I just believe that I am feeding the fear-monster inside
of him by catering to him and living a facade that he is perfect. He is a
narcissist, so it is like he has so many psychological problems that he doesn't
think he has any. Whenever I have gently tried to talk to him about his behavior,
he immediately starts talking about his rights and how he works so hard for
his family and he is SO good to us that I should not complain. Then if he
does admit to any fault whatsoever, it somehow came about by something that
I do wrong.
depressed for 7 years of our marriage and just felt so torn about leaving
or staying. 3 years ago, I went to a priest for the anointing of the sick
before a c-section. My eyes were gradually opened to God, his Providence,
Love and goodness of how every life is a gift. I was so blind before this,
I realize that every breath I take is an opportunity to thank my Lord. I
know that God deserves so much. I guess I am confused as to what you do in
a situation so hopeless. I love my husband and want him to obtain heaven
but I just want to make sure that just praying for him is enough.
can recognize three issues here,
two of which you ask about; so lets begin with your
How the Children
Your husbands general behavior
will affect your daughters in the way any missing father affects
his childrens psychological and spiritual growth. I have described
these effects on my web page about The
Father, so I wont repeat that information here.
Moreover, your husbands
specific resentment for the Catholic Church will also affect your
daughters spiritual growth. In order to develop a living,
heartfelt faith, rather than a dry intellectual
and legalistic faith, children need to
witness both the mother and the father living
that faith from the heart. When the father rejects the faith of the mother,
the children suffer a profound loss of guidance and protection and are cheated
of a necessary spiritual example.
Nevertheless, all is not lost
if the mother can carry the weight of the father by being a spiritual example
to the children, and if she can also make it clear to the children that she
is taking on the role of a father deliberately but reluctantly; hence,
it will be critical that the mother do three things:
Clearly and honesty
explain to the children the truth of the fathers spiritual
Engage the children
in praying for the fathers healing from his
childhood trauma and for his
repentance for the sins he has committed
because of his unhealed wounds;
Demonstrate by teaching
and by personal example that she relies totally on her faith to carry her
burden in the family.
A related, but
different, circumstance often results in spiritual tragedy for the children.
When the father is not openly hostile to the Catholic faith but is either
a lukewarm Catholic or
hypocritical in his behavior, the children
will be compliant to the mother in their early years, but, once leaving home
(e.g., going to college), their unconscious anger
at their father can often erupt as anger at God, and they will
abandon the faith.
Now, you say that you do not believe
that you are helping your husband, and you wonder if ďjust praying for him is
enough.Ē I agree that your marriage is your cross in life. Your first task, just
as you well know, is to pray for your husbandís enlightenment and
repentance. Moreover, besides prayer, it will
also be important for you to be an unfaltering example
of Catholic faith to him. Demonstrate to him that no matter
what happens and that no matter what he does, you will not commit sin and will not
relinquish your trust in Godís providence and protection.
So pray constantly and live in
humilityóthat is, in quiet confidenceólike a star in
the midst of a twisted and depraved generation (see Philippians 2:14Ė15). The pain
of being surrounded by sin will break your heart, and that
soreness in your heartóthose spiritual tearsówill be the water that keeps your
prayer green and fruitful. This sadness is not
the personal sadness of depression; itís the spiritual
sadness of the Cross itself.
Satan will tempt you to believe that your prayers
are useless and that you have failed in your faith. Resist this
temptation, though, and persevere to the
end, even to the end of his lifeóor your life. Itís
possible that your husband might repent, if he repents at all, only at his last
breath, even if he outlives you. And even if he doesnít repent, your prayers will
not be wasted, because they will be applied to someone who can benefit from them.
You simply wonít know. So persevere to the end.
Marriage to a
You say that you got married
at a time when you were blind and lost,
so you neednt be hard on yourself now for marrying a non-Catholic.
Youre paying the price, and you seem to understand why you are paying
the price, and you seem to be doing it willingly, in good faith. That is all
Still, the lessons of your experience
have great importance for Catholics in general. Your marriage to a non-Catholic
has made your life a living tragedy, so I can say this to any Catholic tempted
to marry a non-Catholic: Dont do it. Dont marry a Protestant, and donít
marry anyone of a non-Christian religion or philosophy. For you and for your children,
donít do itóbecause if you do, it will be like pushing your children right out of
Now, its true that marriage
to a Catholic wont guarantee a peaceful marriage. But there
is no point in putting a stumbling block in your own path before you even
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information
gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips
in book form.
Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do
our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for
God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle
with the evil of the world? More often than not our children donít see living
faith. They donít see protection from evil. They donít see genuine, fruitful
devotion. They donít see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external
acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that
contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibilityóand when parents lose credibility,
children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for
identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval
than for loving God. They are fallen children. Letís bring them back.