When Your Christ Falls Off His Cross
In my three previous blogs, “Learning from the Giraffes (Part 1)”, “Learning from the Giraffes (Part 2)”, and “Keeping the 2-Headed Dragon Out of Your Marriage” , I progressively discuss the proper order needed in our marriages. God created marriage and He has a design that makes it work properly. It goes back to Ephesians when it says, “Wives, submit to your husbands…husbands, love your wives the way Christ loved the Church”.
So what’s a wife to do when, let’s face it, her husband is a selfish, egocentric, hostile to her and the faith? This would apply to any other version of the husband who has “fallen off his cross” so to speak, the passive-aggressive Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the control-freak, the man laying the groundwork for future domestic violence, the deadbeat depressive type who won’t get a job.
Are you saying we are supposed to “submit” to someone like that? Or does that mean we are completely justified in trouncing down to the divorce lawyer to rid ourselves of the jerk?
“No,” and “no”.
But, this is what I suggest you do:
1) Make sure your spiritual side of the street is clean. Go to regular confession, pray daily for you, your spouse and your marriage. Get feedback from true friends on what you might need to do to make the marriage better.
2) In the spirit of submission, I recommend you submit to whatever he asks that is within reason and does not create a moral or ethical conflict for you. If he wants the table set a certain way, do it. If he doesn’t like it when you are talking on the phone when he walks in from work, then don’t talk on the phone at that time. But it he forbids you to go to mass on Sunday or demands that you take artificial birth control when you have explained to him why you and the Church are in opposition to it, those are entirely different matters.
3) Seek professional help immediately from a marriage-friendly, preferably Catholic therapist. When it comes to issues that might naturally lead to the dissolution of the marriage, a grounded, Orthodox Catholic therapist is critical. Even Christian therapists have a much different view of marriage than what the Catholic Church teaches. If your spouse won’t go with you, go by yourself for single-person marriage therapy. Again make sure your therapist is trained to do single-person marital therapy; many are not trained in this and could do more harm than good. Talk to your potential therapist first on the phone and ask two to three questions about his or her approach to get a feel if that person would be helpful for you.
4) Settle in for the long run. Oftentimes, there are serious underlying issues, such as addictions or porn use, intense selfishness and attachment to comfort. In concert with your therapist you will be able to gradually expose and address these issues. These can be sins if your husband persists in them that could result in your spouse not getting to heaven. As his wife, you are in a unique position to bring these to light and chart a course to spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational health. The marriage doesn’t always work out, but many of them do. You will have been obedient to the one who really matters, God, with the assistance and accountability of your counselor making sure every stone has been turned. Sometimes all it takes is a little tough love delicately and consistently delivered over time to get your man back up on his cross.
Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: If you are married to a man who is seriously not living up to the role God has prescribed for him in marriage, get professional help right away, as it is not too late to turn things around with sound counsel.