Monday, March 7, 2016

Are you in a troubled marriage? Another woman who saved her marriage in five minutes.






I have written almost 700 posts on the Bubble, and I honestly can't remember the vast majority of them. But a handful stand out to me as truly important, truly life-changing, worthy of recommending again and again.

One of those posts is Women: Save your marriage. In five minutes. It prompted a follow-up post of testimonies from Bubble readers, was reposted by the Diocese of Omaha (that was such an honor!), and continues to generate interest, discussion, and page hits to this day. 

Recently, I received the following email from a young wife and mother who has graciously given me permission to publish it here (names and some identifying details have been changed). 

It is a powerful letter, and yet typical of the dramatic outcomes I have seen: Again and again, women discover how much power they have to change their marriages in one day -- even five minutes -- with one decision. I encourage any woman who is married to a generally decent man, but who is dissatisfied with her marriage, to read this letter from "Maria" and the original post



Dear Leila,

I just wanted to share how a post you wrote has drastically improved my marriage...and literally within 5 minutes just like you said!

John and I have three young children, including twin babies. :) We live 1.5 hours away from John's work. He's up at 5am, out the door at 6am, and home between 6:30pm-8pm. He doesn't get to see the kiddos much except for the weekends. I have a few friends here but certainly nothing like I had in our previous city, before our move. My community and friendships were so strong there, and here it's just in the beginning of growing. So I'm home alone a lot.

I love my children beyond words. I know the responsibility God has entrusted to us and oftentimes it's overwhelming. But in my alone time, I started to build a lot of resentment towards my husband. I was envious of his alone time in the car ride to and from work. No kids crying or whining or screaming. He can have a lunch break, bathroom break all to himself all day long! He can have adult conversations.

And so I really began to lash out in a passive aggressive way and get very, very upset when he came home late and I had to do bedtime by myself...which is the norm these days. I do the night feedings since he has such an early drive, and so I'm just plain tired. I know this hasn't helped anything.

So John would come home and tell me about his desires to go to the gym on the weekends since he hasn't gone since before we married. He shared how he misses riding his bike on the mountains and how he really needs to get the garage cleaned up. And I got so angry. Doesn't he want to spend every free second he has with me and the kids? Doesn't he think I might want to go to the gym? Or anywhere just by myself?

And we got into many many arguments. Ugly, angry, full of resentment and misunderstanding. He felt like was walking on eggshells around me because any free moment he had I expected him to be helping me with the kids or just being by my side.

But I nagged at how he took care of the kids and got frustrated when he didn't follow the exact way I did things. As I type this I am so embarrassed. I also put a lot of pressure on him to find time for us to have a prayer life and he felt so forced. Not that he didn't want to have it, but it was the way I was going about it. He kept telling me, and has for years, that he feels unfulfilled. That killed me and made me angry. Am I not enough? Are our kids not enough? And I would really lay on the guilt.

Well this weekend all these feelings that have been building up in both of us culminated into an epic fight. He told me he feels like he isn't a man...that's he's stifled and controlled. All he wants is a little freedom to exercise and do manly stuff around the house, and I give him guilt trips every time, so he ends up not doing those things, and resentment builds, and now he just can't do it anymore. And then I laid into him how ungrateful he is for all my hard work, yadda, yadda.

And I came downstairs and cried and prayed to Mary for guidance. And then I googled "how to be a supportive wife Catholic"....and your blog was the first link that popped up. I read it and immediately gulped. A real gut punch was dealt to me. And man, did I need it. I am not a controlling, bitter, nagging woman but that's exactly what I had become. John has patiently given into my guilt trips and demands over and over, but he had had enough and was putting his foot down. My mentality was backwards and I was afraid. I was afraid that if I supported him in late nights, gym, weekend bike rides that I would never see him and I would be all alone on the weekends now, too. So I tried to control him. I have ordered the book [note: It also can be checked out at the library] and cannot wait to read it.

After your blog, I ran upstairs and grabbed his face and looked him deeply in the eyes and apologized for turning into a woman he did not recognize and for not being supportive or appreciative. I was so self-centered and focused on my own insecurities that I had neglected to see how exhausted he is, how he hates his drive, hates his job, but is not given any other option than to stay for the time being because of our lifestyle and his pension, how he misses the kids terribly and feels guilt for not seeing them more, how he feels misunderstood by his own wife and how he is craving to get in shape and be healthy and I refuse to let him because it's time away from us.

I got it...my mentality was backwards and in a moment I understood that if I support him, give him space to work out, ride his bike, work on the garage or yard, etc., he will come back to me fulfilled, and all my desires of meeting my needs will be met, and he will be running at the chance to shower me with attention because he will be fulfilled.

So yesterday, he went for a swim and worked on the garage all day. I didn't complain once. I was joyful and focused on the babes and taking care of our home. He would come in and love on the kids and bring Gemma outside with him for a bit and then get back to work. When he finished at the end of day, he grabbed my hand and led me to our couch and said "let's pray baby". He asked! Instead of me asking him to lead! He led on his own. And we had such a beautiful prayer time. After dinner he cleaned up all the dishes! That never happened before without me nagging. He was so loving and complimentary of me and he snuggled with me and told me how grateful he was for today. We both went to bed with peaceful hearts and I am so grateful.

I'm going to do whatever it takes to stay in this mentality because it works! He truly was a different man after I changed my mentality and actions! It was incredible.

Please pray for me to have strength. If you have any advice for finding more joy in my role as a stay at home mommy please please share. You have a plethora of experience and I am only just beginning. God bless you, your family and the work you are doing for Jesus and our Catholic faith.

Maria


Very few things bring tears to my eyes, but this hopeful letter did! When I asked Maria if I could use her story, she was very happy to agree, and as some time had elapsed since her first note, she added this:


Things are still going really, really well. It almost feels like when we were first dating and married, but with 3 little ones all around! He is SO stinking happy and this just makes me want to shout for joy. And you know what? He has only stayed at work late ONCE since last week...that seriously never, ever, ever happened. So it truly goes to show he was trying to avoid coming home to a nagging unhappy wife :( And now that I'm supportive and joy filled he wants to be here more. Man...it's just that simple.

Yes, I promise that I will absolutely share this truth with any woman that crosses my path with these issues. I have already shared it with one dear friend. Hopefully she will find as much help as I have.

Thank you again...truly. I'm sending you a big hug :)

Only blessings,
Maria


And as if to confirm that I needed to print this letter today, a commenter named Michelle wrote the following just this morning on my reversion story, as an aside to her main comment:

"...I want to thank you profusely for the recommendation to read Dr. Laura's book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. I love it. I'm just trying to contain my excitement in trying to get every other woman in the world to read it!"

You and me both, sister!!

Let us pray for marriage, the fount of life and the foundation of society, which is in such crisis and yet needn't be. 



















30 comments:

  1. So amazing! Our attitude and disposition as women has so much power in our homes. JP2 writes about our power to heal or destroy in his letter to women. For a good and holy marriage we also need to be working on our own spiritual life too, frequent confession and Mass has been so helpful for me. I am not the perfect wife and I know there are things I need to work on but it is much more doable with sacramental grace. Thank you for sharing this story and for your reader willing to share her story :)

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  2. This is all well and good, but are you getting any time for yourself? Do you get a chance to exercise or work on a task without the children around? I know we are supposed to be obedient to our husbands, but we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. Just keep this in mind because you work just as hard and just as long as he does each day.

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  3. Catholic mom, I have to admit I am confused? This woman is full of interior joy at the change in her marriage simply because she respected her husband (not sure "obedient" is the word I'd use), stopped being bitter and nagging, and didn't emasculate him or run him down. In return, he is showering her with love, respect, gratitude and time. How is that only "well and good, but..."?

    Honestly, in response to the OP, I don't really understand your comment. Maybe it's because I just woke up and I'm not good in the morning, ha ha.

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  4. Let’s build up our men, ladies! They respond to whatever tone we set and they really do aim to provide and please. They’re usually pulling their weight, too, just not in the same ways we do. If they start to lose morale because of our attitude, it’s up to us to change the message so they can respond positively. They are usually more than happy to provide for our emotional needs and our social outlets, and they want to see us happy all around.

    Per this lady’s email, her husband didn’t feel like a man because she ran the show to the point where he couldn’t express himself honestly. We need to give them freedom to be who they are and thank them often for the little things, and not resent them for who they are not. Let’s not look for a man to blame, that’s what the so called ‘empowered feminists do’. Truly strong women don’t look for a man to blame, we step up and be the game-changer ourselves. We can be the catalyst for the changes we want to see.

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  5. I too read this book (The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriages) and it was an eye opener. I really enjoyed it and can see a positive shift in our relationship. I've recommended it to a few friends who have had the same positive change! Thanks Leila!

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  6. This made me cry too! Thank you Maria and Leila. One of the things that I have finally learned about my husband is that he feels most loved and adored in the bedroom (or with 7 children still home ~ wherever). I fought this issue for so long and I thought I had some really good excuses.

    I'd do all of these wonderful things for him and couldn't figure out why he was still miserable and unappreciative. Except they weren't what he needed most. Well, I've changed my ways and boy oh boy has he! And do you know what? I was not only depriving him by myself as well.

    Also, I cringe when I think of how many times that I've corrected him in front of his children. Even once feels like too many.

    God is so good. Thank you again.

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  7. Nubby, I could not have said it better! Yes, yes!!

    Rochelle, thank you! I have to clarify that I have never read The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriages, but only The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands (and Woman Power). I know that the Marriages one came later, and I assume it's very similar to the Husbands one! I should probably read that one so that I'm up to speed!

    Michelle, yes! I remember many long years ago, I heard Dr. Laura on the radio saying to a withholding woman, "Your husband didn't get married to be celibate!" The point was made and it was like a lightbulb. How it crushes our men when we withhold the thing that makes them feel loved (yes, men are DIFFERENT from women!!).

    When I think of the crap that feminism has put out there, pitting us against our men, pitting us against our children. Fuming....

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  8. When I think of the crap that feminism has put out there, pitting us against our men, pitting us against our children.

    Hey, but, Leila, the world wants you to know it's International Women's Day today celebrating all of our female "achievements". You should be sporting a purple ribbon for this, per wiki's page.

    Just so we're clear, we're supposed to celebrate women - and only women- today, based on our sex alone, even though it's supposed to be a day of anti-sexism. Standard logic. ;)

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  9. Oh, thanks for the reminder, Nubby! I'm off to dig up my purple ribbons!!! Or not.

    And while researching my book just now, I found this gem, from Planned Parenthood for our young people. Can I barf now?????

    https://www.plannedparenthood.org/educators/resources/digital-tools

    Seriously, don't watch if you don't want to be ill.

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    1. And yes, that's a total non-sequitur, but I am sick.

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  10. Leila, I think what Catholic Mom may have been trying to say (and please correct me if I misunderstood you, CM!) is this: It's awesome that Maria stopped nagging! It sounds like that had a very positive impact on their family However, she's in a very busy season of life because her children are all still very young and need a great deal from her, and she is understandably exhausted. While it's great that she's allowing him to go the gym and their home life is less stressful, I hope he understands that she needs some time to relax too and is providing her with opportunity to do so.

    (I think the "obedient" bit refers to one of St. Paul's letters, danged if I can remember which one...)

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  11. sthenryii, I agree, but I think the focus of her letter (at least as I see it) is not to jump directly on what he can do for her now, but to rejoice that this couple is very happy again. He is (from what she said) not staying late at work anymore, but coming home to his family. I guess since she in no way is complaining that she now needs to get to the gym, why would we (who are outsiders) bring it up? That is what I think I didn't understand about the comment. We mustn't go looking for trouble in a marriage, especially one that is not our own.

    Yes, I think that the word St. Paul used was "submissive" ("wives, be submissive to your husbands"), and I absolutely love that the word means, literally, to "be under the mission of". Gives it a whole new perspective that our modern ears can hear! :)

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  12. From a wonderful woman who gave me permission to post her reaction:

    "That made me cry.
    I wish I had known years ago how to be a more loving wife. I try to live with my regrets and what I have gained by changing my life after divorce. Boy, all the awful things I said and did, and really only needed to be talking to a mirror. God has given me much, forgiven me often, and guided me to the mountain to pray until I am done."

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  13. Leila, my sister gave me this book a few years ago and I never read it because the title sounded lame. Seriously, I thought the title made husbands sound like dogs so I tossed it aside! And she TOLD me it was really good! Now I have to go search for it because I read your links and realized that I shouldn't have tossed it aside so easily. Thanks for the heads-up! Marriages can always improve - even good ones!

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  14. Checked out the PP resources too - sick, sick, sick. Unbelievable!

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  15. Sounds like some of the ideas in the book (offering support, respect) are good advice for improving other kinds of relationships as well. Friends, siblings, children, parents could all use a little more support and respect.

    @Dellentie: huh?

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  16. Johanne, I don't understand Dellentie, either. I am pretty sure we have asked him not to comment anymore. He is usually rambling and insulting to us here, and I am not sure why he is commenting. Sigh. I'm going to go ahead and delete his comment.

    Also, support and respect, yes, but the books are pretty specific as to the differences between men and women, husbands and wives. We women are very much relational, and we have the support of our girlfriends, moms, sisters, etc. Men generally do not have those types of relationships, and they mostly lean on or have those friendships with their wives. And so when their wives disrespect or spurn them, it's more crushing than we women can imagine, especially since men's worth is really connected to their sense of "am I good enough, providing well, man enough?" Men are hardwired to be heroes, esp. to their women. If wives nag and degrade them, they have nowhere to turn. There is much more to it, but that's a huge part of it.

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  17. Haha I think time spent in the bedroom is really healthy for men...and women. God made both the husband and wife sexual creatures ;)

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  18. I asked "Maria" (of the OP) for her comments for those who are concerned for her well-being (and it is very kind of them to be concerned). This is what she said:

    As for my response to the people concerned if my needs are being met....Yes!! We have amazing babysitters that allow me a chance to workout myself. John's idea. He encouraged me to start a women's group with the few friends I have here...started and it's going great. His idea. On the weekends, he does the night feedings and let's me sleep until whenever! His idea. He is incredibly generous and supportive and constantly desiring that my needs be met. I am beyond grateful and blessed. He had always been this encouraging and supportive even when I was at my worst. So the point isn't whether my needs are being met (because they are!), it's that for the first time I looked past myself to be under his mission.

    (For Catholic mom and sthenryii)


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  19. My heart beems that this couple from the OP is getting along so well! The lines of communication have been open between them and it sounds like they are both getting their needs met :)

    Jack and I were on a Theology of the Body couples retreat last weekend given by a very faithful amazing priest. One of the stats he quoted said there was an estimated 40 million sexless marriages in the U.S. That shocked me, especially as so many people claim contraception give them "freedom" to be with their spouse whenever they want. The marital embrace is so important to the marital bond. We as women sometimes forget that because we are pregnant, post partum or PMSing. We need to remember that for men (because they are different you know) that is one of the main ways they feel bonded to and loved by their wife.

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  20. The "crap" feminism put out there? "Pitting us against our husbands and our children." Huh? Where does feminism pit us against our husbands and children? Many, many feminists like me love our husbands and children, and I do not see how I have been pitted against them by the feminist movement.
    While nothing in the original post or the comments focuses on this, Dr. Laura is not a favorite of mine. I have not read the books referenced here and based on what you are all saying about them, they seem fine. But Dr. Laura is very much a traditionalist. I am not. And there is nothing in Catholic teaching that requires me to be a traditionalist in my family life. Dr. Laura is very much an advocate for women leaving the workplace and staying home with children, and indeed she is very clear that this is what children deserve and what women must do. When asked when, in her opinion, would be an appropriate time to return to the workforce (i.e., what age of the children), she responded, "Never." It is a reality in the world today (and we can all thank God for that) that women, including mothers, work outside the home, either because they choose to or because they need to. I just think it is so odd that Dr. Laura's dream world would have all women working in the home and caring for children and family. How would that work? Do we really want NO women engineers, NO women doctors, NO women astronauts, NO women soldiers, NO women scientists, NO women lawyers or judges, NO women legislators at the local, state or federal level, NO women mayors or governors or presidents. Really? Or, rather, maybe she would say we could have women doing those things, but when they become mothers they must leave those positions. And I suppose she also believes that it is okay for women to be nurses, teachers, social workers and administrative assistants, but again, to leave those positions when they become mothers. Can you imagine that? Do we really only want women who are not parents in the workforce? I can only imagine the workplace then. Not good. This original post about how women should treat their husbands in their marriage should not be dragged down into an anti-feminism tirade. Nothing about feminism teaches women to treat their husbands badly. Leila, I sense that you see feminism as one thing - pro-abortion - and that women advocating for abortion rights and forcing this view on men makes men "un-manly." There are many women in the Feminists for Life group that advocate strongly for lots of things for women that you and Nubby denigrate regularly here (equal pay, holding employers' accountable for family leave, etc.). Feminism is not defined by the pro-abortion movement. This blog makes feminism the scapegoat for all of society's ills. Just wrong.

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  21. Pro-ACA, i'll tell you what is "just wrong". It's misrepresenting other people's views.

    I am a huge fan of Feminists for Life. if you think that they in anyway the spells the same feminism as Cecile Richards, Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, the Democratic Party, you are woefully misinformed. Totally different animals.

    The book I recommended has nothing in it about women staying home and foregoing careers. So there is another assumption you made about me -- another misrepresentation. The reason I recommended the book had nothing to do with career versus staying home.

    Plenty of my friends are professional women, so I'm not sure where your long string of certainties and accusations came from?

    I think your comment might be correctly labeled as one big straw man. You can build a straw man and knock it down but none of that has anything to do with my views. So I'm not sure how productive that is.

    And by the way, right on its face, the linchpin of the modern feminist movement is "reproductive rights" which is an unsubtle codeword for abortion on demand. Am I to believe that you don't see that as pitting a mother against her own children? And certainly we can dive into the modern feminist view of marriage and men if you'd like.

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  22. There are many women in the Feminists for Life group that advocate strongly for lots of things for women that you and Nubby denigrate regularly here (equal pay, holding employers' accountable for family leave, etc.).

    What are you talking about? Again with the misrepresenting of my thoughts. Must you?

    I never ever said I don't want equal pay for women.

    I pointed out that the wage-gap idea is a myth. Neither have I ever said anything about holding any employers accountable for family leave. So, what exactly are you referring to?

    I've suggested before to you that it's a natural courtesy to quote me accurately if you're going to engage me. Can you do that much so we can be on the right foot?

    And if you don't believe that modern feminism attacks families at their root, then you're not familiar with the likes of Simone de Beauvoir and Ellen Hermann and the lot. Family is the enemy. Kids are "parasites", housewives are parasites, and family is an "oppressor" according to these lovely ladies. A woman's value is only found in what she can generate in industry or in the workplace. She should free herself from the shackles of family life and fulfill her mission in being usable for the working world.

    Despite your wrong assumption, I'm not anti-working woman, anti-educated woman or anti-woman period, ProACA, even if you wanna tuck me neatly in your box of 'traditionalist'. Did you need to see a resume of mine or maybe a paystub? Your opinion of me is low and based on horrible assumptions.

    Again, for future reference, quote me accurately or don't refer to me at all, thank you.

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  23. "if you think that they in anyway ESPOUSE the same feminism as Cecile Richards, Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, the Democratic Party..."

    Ugh, I hate my phone. And if there are any other typos, please blame Apple or Siri.

    By the way, not a word of joy and happiness for the woman who wrote the bulk of this post? Isn't happy, joyful marriage what the world needs so desperately?

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  24. Pro-ACA, I am just trying to figure out why you enter the comments, drop some accusation bombs that are full of emotion and short on quotes (from us) and facts, and then when we correct your misrepresentations of us and our beliefs time and again, you disappear. I don't remember you apologizing for the misrepresentations and straw men set up in our names, but if you would occasionally remember that we are people, too, and in justice, we have a right to have our views reflected correctly. When you find out that you have grossly misrepresented us, it would be nice if you didn't just disappear until the next time you blast us for something else, but rather simply say, "Gosh, I'm sorry that I completely misrepresented you." That would go a long way and would show forth some good will. Thanks!

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    1. Meaning, it seems to be a pattern of yours here on the blog. Let's break that pattern and really talk, instead of emote. Thank you.

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  25. Back to that comment made about the mom making sure she gets time for herself. ..I don't disagree in theory with the comment, but maybe I don't get the tone. In my marriage I know I do much better when I take a break at times. I do a study group at church. I also have traded child care time with friends so we each get a break occasionally. We home school, so it's not like I get a ton of "me time" but I try to take a bit of time each day, we call it quiet time because not everyone naps, and I take 15 minutes to pray. A few times a year, I ask my husband for a free afternoon on a Saturday and then we all meet up for dinner out or he makes something like pasta. It is important to recharge so we have something to give, but I do think we also have to, both husband and wife, build each other up first, to practice that idea of servant leadership meaning we lead in our own roles by service to others. When I do get in a funk, I can see that I need to go to confession, need to maybe take an hour for myself, and then jump in with a fresh smile and the choice to be loving and accept that I am not always the one whose needs get met first (I'm not saying anyone else has said that! I just get that way in my head! ).

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  26. Elizabeth, this VERY day, I spent the entire day ALONE, out and about doing my own thing, from right after mass until about 7:30pm. It was SO renewing! I needed some time alone after two or three weeks with a full house (spring break for kids, also out of town kids and visitors). As an introvert, I just needed my "own" time and space. And with SIX males still in the house this weekend, I needed to get away, so I did! BEST THING EVER!! One hour of that getaway was to the Blessed Sacrament. So amazing!! I highly recommend it every now and then! :)

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  27. I would like to advice any one out there who is experiencing love trauma , Financial difficulty, Child bearing , Miscarriages and so many more. All thanks to Dr. Madu for the good works he has been doing for my family and Friends, For I will always be grateful to Him for the his good works. He helped me with a spell that brought back my broken relationship and also i was able to have a baby after so many miscarriages. You could contact Dr. Madu to on his email: ( maduutemple @ gmail . com )or his Whatsapp : +234 8107 547 068 for his nice spell work.

    ReplyDelete

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