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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I have 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.

I look 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.

My question 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.

I was 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.

Outline of the Answer
• Three Issues
• How the Children are Affected
• Temptation and Perseverance
• Marriage to a Non-Catholic

 
I can recognize three issues here, two of which you ask about; so let’s begin with your questions.

 
How the Children are Affected

Your husband’s general behavior will affect your daughters in the way any “missing” father affects his children’s psychological and spiritual growth. I have described these effects on my web page about The Father, so I won’t repeat that information here.

Moreover, your husband’s 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:

1.

Clearly and honesty explain to the children the truth of the father’s spiritual failure;

2.

Engage the children in praying for the father’s healing from his childhood trauma and for his repentance for the sins he has committed because of his unhealed wounds;

3.

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.

  

 
Temptation and Perseverance

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.

Nevertheless, 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 Non-Catholic

You say that you got married at a time when you were blind and lost, so you needn’t be hard on yourself now for marrying a non-Catholic. You’re 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 that matters.

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: Don’t do it. Don’t 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 the Church.

Now, it’s true that marriage to a Catholic won’t guarantee a peaceful marriage. But there is no point in putting a stumbling block in your own path before you even get started.

 


 
Recommended Reading
 
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.

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