Ditching the Marital Biases

I recently posted a video under the title “Male Buffoonery from the Christian Media.”  The comedic vignette portrayed in the video humorously critiques men’s lack of appreciation for their wives in terms of the amount of work involved in running a household.  As humor operates by way of exaggeration, the husband in the video comes off as a consummate jerk.

I facetiously commented that such things never happen.  What set me off is that the video is just another example of media stereotype against men, and in this case it comes from a Christian source.  I know there are two sides to this.  I was just trying to make a point.

The reason I am posting about it again is that the video generated an interesting discussion in the comments that I think needs to be addressed.  I don’t mean to single anyone out, but to address erroneous ideas that are very commonly held.

Holy Baloney

The first is that somehow the exercise of legitimate authority is contingent on the personal holiness of the one who presumes to wield authority.  So it often happens that one who is subject to authority thinks they are only obliged to obey if their superior is, in their estimation, worthy of exercising authority.  Another way of putting this notion is “only the one who shows himself to be above the average man is worthy of being superior,” or “the one who is worthy to lead is only that one who morally, intellectually, or by way of popular acclaim, rises above the rest.”

The teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter of authority is that anyone who possesses an office of authority, as long as they act within their competence, and not beyond it, and do not command something contrary to the law of God, exercises authority legitimately regardless of their personal merit, talent, intelligence, holiness, etc.  It is not true, for instance, that a superior must be in the state of grace to legitimately command.  Our Lord Himself, while publically correcting the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, defends their right to command.  He tells the apostles: All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not (Mt 23:3).

All of this applies with respect to the obligation of a wife to obey her husband.  So says the Catechism of the Council of Trent:

[L]et wives never forget that next to God they are to love their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to them in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and ready obedience (“Holy Matrimony”).

Later on, I will explain the phrase “yielding to them in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety,” but first I want to deal with an issue, about which my silence on the matter has been criticized.

Seeing Scarlet

I have dealt with at length the question of women as the weaker sex and their need to be protected, and have emphasized the singular responsibility of men to perform this task, that is, to make sure that women are treated according to their proper dignity.  My blog is about Marian Chivalry, so my emphasis should be understandable.  Yet, as we all know, it takes two to tango. Unquestionably, those who hold authority have a special obligation to avoid its abuse.  However, each of the sexes within marriage is prone to its own particular vices.  Pride and selfishness have their own specifically masculine and feminine dimensions.  If men must not abuse their authority, women, in a particular way, must not use their weakness as an excuse to cultivate the habit of emotional and sexual blackmail.

One of the problems with feminism and the emasculization of men is that the abuse of authority, especially within the family, has given credence to the idea that only those who are holy can exercise authority legitimately.  In fact, men have been emasculated precisely because they have bought into this lie.  They have willingly abdicated their authority because others, most notably their wives, have convinced them that they are not worthy to command.

Without underestimating the problem of the abuse of authority, one cannot neglect to condemn in the most strident terms this pernicious notion that a man must prove himself to be free of his faults (so obvious to his family) before he can be taken seriously.  This notion, quite frankly, is so bogus and destructive that it defies sufficient condemnation.  It is an excuse for willfulness.  It is the ruin of the unity of the family.

A man’s wife is his most brutal critic.  This almost universally true and not altogether a bad thing.  The principle contribution of women to the tradition of Christian chivalry has been the high standard to which women were expected to hold men.  The ever-present cultural and moral influence of Mary on the development of Christian civilization was in fact Her humanizing influence on the male sex.  But the ladies should not forget that most men who love a woman desire to be her hero, even if they know that, more often than not, they fall short.  Traditional women talk all the time about how much they want to have their husbands lead, but then they subject his every choice to microscopic scrutiny, and nag and complain about all his shortcomings.  Emotional and sexual blackmail become tools of the weaker sex to maintain a safe independence, that is, a way of maintaining control, while indulging all her feminine weaknesses.

Mutual Submission

It seems to me that the comment section of the post to which I referred above tended to be one-sided, either asserting that authority is only legitimate where the husband shows himself worthy, or on the other hand, is virtually always exercised legitimately, regardless of what he commands, or at least that the woman should just shut her mouth and do what she is told without question.  And this is the second error that I must address.  Indeed, the Catechism of the Council of Trent affirms that wives are obliged to

love their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to them in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and ready obedience.

That phrase is specific, and does not suggest that a woman, who is the “helpmate,” and not slave, of her husband must yield in a mindless and servile obedience to her husband.  Ancient cultures, and some of them Christian, though not thoroughly Christianized, have regarded women as virtually the property of their husbands to be disposed of in an arbitrary way.  However, the famous passage of St. Paul, invoked by traditionalists to put women in their place does not affirm the wife-as-chattel mentality.  In Ephesians 5, St. Paul does indeed mandate the obedience of a wife to her husband, but he also states that husbands and wives are to be subject one to another, in the fear of Christ (22).  St. Paul goes on to explain this mutual subjection in terms of a wife’s obedience to her husband and the husband’s sacrificial love for his wife.  The next chapter (6) goes on in parallel manner to reaffirm the obligation of children to obey their parents, while at the same time, commanding fathers not to provoke their children to anger (1-4).  This makes it pretty clear that an arbitrary or abusive execution of authority within the family finds no mandate in sacred scripture.  No man may presume that his wife and children must swallow the consequences of his capricious will without question.

In fact, Ephesians 5 compares marriage to the love of Christ and His Bride, the Church, and the paradigm for husbandly love is Christ on the Cross.  The abuse of authority within the family is not going to be solved by feminism.  Emasculated men are a plague upon society and the family.  But neither is the problem of feminism and effeminacy going to be solved by ignoring abuses of authority or by absolutizing the rights of husbands.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church and John Paul II placed a great emphasis on the dignity of the human person and the obligations of those in authority to respect that dignity and to command according to the demands of the common good.  The Church regards as particularly pernicious the abuse of authority, because human authority is never absolute but entrusted to individuals specifically for the care of the persons, created in the image and likeness of God.  For this reason John Paul II placed a particular emphasis on the obligation of men toward women, while not at all dispensing from the obligation of obedience of wives to their husbands.  One would think that the need to address the problem of the abuse of authority, as well as the unwillingness to exercise it with legitimate forcefulness for the common good, would be obvious in the light of various modern forms of totalitarianism, fascism and fanaticism.

The Unspoken Issue

Worthy of particular note is a matter that goes largely unuttered when the topic of authority within marriage is discussed but which certainly underlies much of what is said, namely, the marriage debt.  It is a matter of grave obligation for men and women to yield to the reasonable request of their spouse and offer their bodies freely for the conjugal act.  This request is made legitimately where there is no serious reason to refuse (For particulars ask your confessor, and when in doubt, by all means seek counsel.)  In a particular way, this responsibility lies heavily on the shoulders of the woman for obvious reasons.

Again, it takes two to tango:  the man has the power to physically or emotional intimidate the woman into an unreasonable use of marriage, but the woman has the feminine power of turning her sexuality into a tool or into a weapon.  And we all know exactly what I am talking about.  There can be no one-sidedness here.

All this being said, the position of authority of the man and his superior strength and power places a special obligation on the man to respect and protect his wife from his own lusts.   Only women get pregnant and men generally do not have to worry about being abandoned with a child.  One of the greatest fears of women around the world is abandonment by the father of her children.   Women are vulnerable in this matter in way in which there is no comparison in men.  They are also expected to satisfy their husband, and unfortunately, culture has left many men under the delusion that their masculinity is defined by their libido and specifically by their need to have their sexual desires satisfied whenever they want, on demand.  This is to a large extent what many men mean by their expectation of the unquestioning obedience of their wives.

Here is a special notice to men (if the shoe fits, wear it):  Wake up!  Do you wonder why you wife has lost interest in intimacy with you and why you are less and less satisfied with your relationship with her?  It is because you act like a pig, and you keep justifying it because in reality you are insecure in your own masculinity.  Grow up and stop acting like a teenager.

I am particularly irritated by Christopher West’s ambiguity on the question of imperfect sodomy, precisely because it has certainly become an excuse on the part of “demanding” husbands to subject their wives to behavior that is demeaning and sinful.  One of West’s followers in Poland, a priest, asserts that

Attempts to set limits to the expression of love as well as arbitrary exclusion of some ways of experiencing pleasure inhibit spouses and introduce doubt, fear and moral anxiety into their sexual life. This attitude may result in frigidity and lead to serious marital problems.

In spite of the fact that the writer of these words qualifies his statement by the assertion that mutual consent must be part of the decision making, he is foisting a bill of goods on women, who generally are more passive and are expected to consent without argument.  Needless to say, many men will take words like this as justification for subjecting their wives to sins against nature and other demeaning behavior.

I have always considered the Westian interpretation of Theology of the Body to be the lustful man’s boon, notwithstanding all the exalted views of sexuality and the dignity of women.  If men truly wish to find satisfaction within their intimate relations with their wives and to maintain their moral authority, then they had better learn to behave themselves.  That means not only do they need to have a more exalted view of women and sexuality, it also means that they need to be a good deal less attached to eroticism and more willing to love selflessly, by being satisfied with less.  (A lack of sacrifice and generosity on the part of both men and women in this regard can lead to dire consequences within a marriage.)

While it is true that legitimate authority has nothing to do with whether one is holy or not, it is also true that it is better and more effective to lead by example. Such is the example of Christ, who died for his Bride.

Saving Marriage

It takes two to tango.  One-sided answers will get us nowhere.  I have favored the position of women here, because they belong to the weaker sex, but that is no excuse for the ladies to invoke what I say like a club to wield against their husbands.  I know there are really situations in which men are grossly abusive, but there are also many situations in which women can be little manipulative monsters.  Everyone clean your own house.

Christian marriage is about self-donation and self-forgetfulness.  Husbands and wives must bear each other’s burdens.  There is no way around this.  There are no pat answers.  Finger pointing is useless unless we are willing to point the finger at ourselves first.  My purpose here is not to provide the solutions to individual problems, but to point out that if we do not get the theoretical side of the argument right, then our efforts at providing practical solutions are hopelessly wrecked.

We have the whole two millennia of Christian history as our moral experience and if we find ourselves unable to learn from our mistakes the institution of marriage will continue to erode until it becomes something unrecognizable. Effeminate and homosexual men are a plague upon a structured society.  Self-centered and crabby women only exacerbate the problem.  But neither does the restoration of masculine authority involve the institutionalization of the arbitrary exercise of authority by men or the legitimization of husbands treating their wives like prostitutes.

20 thoughts on “Ditching the Marital Biases

  1. Father Angelo,

    Thanks for this much awaited response. It’s great. I wonder if you could still address some of the comments made on the Buffoon blog.

    1. Feminism includes women who wear pants and unveiled heads to Church and chant the psalms.
    2. Women not correcting other men … esp their husbands? It was always my belief that we were placed here to lead one another to holiness … not just those of our own sex! This ESPECIALLY includes our spouses. I cannot imagine what arrogant SOB’s most men would become if they didn’t, as you say, have their wives as their worst critics at time. And, vice versa, of course … women, without serious criticism, could become unbearable!

  2. Jen,

    1. The operating principle of feminism is the assertion that the equality of the sexes consists in virtually no difference other than the biological, and that every effort to draw distinctions and construct social mores and civil laws on the basis of those distinctions is inherently unjust.

    The individual who posited the position that you question denies that there is any validity to the idea of equality at all and identifies every dispensation from traditional customs of distinction as an attempt of women to be like men. The interesting thing here is that this individual implicitly undermines the principle of obedience that he wishes to defend. He suggests that men should rule because they are better, when in reality men should rule because it is their office to do so. He lays the groundwork for women to assess how worthy particular men are to rule, because the idea that every man is better than every woman, any honest person knows is false.

    There certainly are women who are quite pleased to attend church unveiled and in slacks because they are feminists, but, again, anyone who is observant knows this is not always or even usually the case among woman who chose to dress in that way.

    Some time ago, I wrote a post on the question of the veil in church. I think the question of pants is similar. One might argue that these customs are more Christian by way of the symbols of tradition and better safeguard the identity and dignity of the sexes, but these things can also become sectarian banners to wave around and browbeat the unwilling into groupthink. The externals of religion are essential, but they are ordered to the internal. When people make assumptions about a woman’s spiritual life because she does not wear a veil and does wear pants, they need to look more to their own spiritual life and mind their own business.

    I am an advocate for the restoration of Christian culture and have in the past willingly promoted such customs, but my experience has been that there is far too much “orthodox” and traditionalist zealotry that tends toward sectarianism, and unfortunately facilitates the formation of cults.

    I am also somewhat jaded by the lack of charity I have experienced in more traditional communities, especially when things like the veil and the wearing of pants become the focus of attention and hence facilitate the formation of cliques, the dissemination of gossip, the withholding of hospitality, and attempts to proselytize like a Johavah’s Witness.

    I would much rather see a humble and kind woman who wears no veil in church and dresses in pants, than one that looks the traditionalist part and who makes stupid assumptions about other people. I judge no one in this regard. But I do not promote or advice women to veil or always wear dresses. My aim is to help those I give pastoral care to live a deeper spiritual life and be more responsive to the graces God gives them as individuals.

    2. In both the Church of the West and East (Catholic and Orthodox) there has been the well established tradition of the correction of the prelate by subject, beginning with St. Paul to St Peter (Galatians). No serious theologian would dispute this. The real question is when is this appropriate and how ought it be done. For example, far too many armchair theologians presume they stand in the position of a St. Paul in respect to the pope. That is presumptuous and laughable. It goes almost without saying that a subject should consider well their intention and the gravity of the situation before they offer a correction to the prelate, and they should do it as much as possible privately and in a humble manner.

    As I say, this custom is well established. Considering that, therefore, are we to presume that if it is permissible in well defined circumstances to correct a prelate that it is never permissible for a wife to correct her husband? I don’t think so. This matter is governed by prudence, and a woman should consider whether she is acting on behalf of her husband’s and the marriage’s welfare, or whether she is merely indulging a feminine vice. Needless to say (or at least it should be) she should never correct her husband in front of the children, or in any way undermine her husband’s authority in front of them, by correction, contradiction, humiliation or revilement. (The same also goes for the husband in respect to his wife. He is her superior, but she is the mother of his children. He should, as much a possible, correct her privately).

    Some men are not prepared to accept this, because they have learned to govern by way of intimidation and maintain control over their family principally by means of fear. A father should be feared, but he should not govern principally by means of it.

  3. Charity, we all need to learn more charity… to others and especially within the confines of our homes. Charity to our spouses and children.
    You really touched on it all Fr. … Kudos!
    Ave Maria

  4. Fr Angelo, I agree with virtually everything you have written in your post and in the comments, but take exception to your interpreting my words in the most unfavorable way possible, such as saying that I believe that men should rule because they are better than women, rather than that because it is their office—that’s a Roman way of saying, “because they were created first, and scripture says so.” This is just one point on which you are misunderstanding me, hearing me in the most unsympathetic way possible. As I wrote in one of my last comments on the post in question, if something seems untenable to you, it probably seems untenable to me, at least regarding the issues under discussion, and so it does. I shouldn’t wonder that you would be unsympathetic, as I have at points in the discussion as well as in my blog Man Over Woman said some very critical things about Roman Catholicism as a system.

    Aside from the doctrinal and ecclesiological differences between Roman Catholicism and Romanity, which I am not competent, nor is it my place or even my intention, to discuss, I think that you and the women that I have dialogued with do hold to the same principles on these issues as I do, in fact probably the very same principles. The contrast is provided by the different vocabulary and our divergent, essential mindsets, and the style in which I am expressing these ideas. I am always on the offensive, and I intend to provoke action. Your predisposition to what you call Marian Chivalry is to me a fantasy template that you overlay on some very real truths, and which prevents you from doing anything except talking. This is like fighting a duel with an armed adversary while all you have is a water pistol.

    I was at one point in my life, when I was in my 30’s, kind of where you are now. (Forgive me, I am not saying that I have outdistanced you.) I was much molded by and devoted to the ideals and lifestyle of Francesco di Bernardone, Bernardo da Quintavalle, Ginepro and Egidio (I can’t remember their surnames). In spite of the fact that saint Francis and his original companions are definitely in the Roman Catholic world, I did then and still to this day consider them worthy examples of Christian life, and my personal lifestyle is still essentially simple and evangelical like theirs was. I know that kingdoms won’t change until men do, and my daily life is governed by that principle. I am first an evangelist and missionary, second a revolutionary, but both parts are there, the first regulating the second. Why? Because only Jesus really matters, and to know Him, accept His call, and follow Him. That’s what I do, and am happy. This other thing, defying feminism, is something that I am being prepared for, or maybe not. Even in my day to day life, I know what I know, but I do not put it ahead of what Jesus tells me, and that is, “Follow Me, and do what you see Me doing.” On that basis alone, as I commented on the other post, I have little time left to be an agitator for the correction of what I see as catastrophic abuses in our culture. Yet I do see them, and understand them, and I do counsel young men who come to me for guidance. Beyond that, little can I do. And even that is nothing compared to what Christ does. So I willingly follow Him.

    Grace and peace, brethren, at this blessed time of Theophany!

  5. Romanós,

    I am not sure how exactly to answer you. I think we would both admit that our styles and thought patterns lend themselves to misunderstanding by each other. I concede to having misunderstood you.

    I would only say further that my point of departure for the idea and practice of Marian Chivalry is not the literature of chivalry but the practice of it by St. Francis, St. Louis of France and others such as St. Maximilian Kolbe. The basis for it is the strong, but courteous masculinity of Christ, who is Son of Mary, and who made Her his Queen.

    Your statement that I do no more than talk is gratuitous and ungracious, since you really know nothing about me or what I do and do not do. I will leave it at that.

  6. Father Angelo,

    Thank you for the Article.

    A friend told me a while back that the Angelic Doctor writes about the concept of Women being the weaker sex and their passive nature. I was wondering if you could give me leads on where to find it. I am asking this because you seem to agree with St. Thomas on this point and that you are possibly using him as a reference. If not I would be glad to know other sources who develop this thought for my own study.

  7. Mickey,

    Here is an article with references to the places in St. Thomas’ writings where he speaks of woman as the weaker sex. I have not had time to read it thoroughly, so I cannot assess the value of the article. However, in it you will find documentation to the primary sources you are looking for.

  8. Fr. Angelo,

    I agree with everything you have written in this post and in the comments except for one thing. I do think you are too quick to explain away what the late Pope John Paul II wrote in Mulieris Dignitatem about “mutual submission,” for example:

    However, whereas in the relationship between Christ and the Church the subjection is only on the part of the Church, in the relationship between husband and wife the “subjection” is not one-sided but mutual….

    All the reasons in favour of the “subjection” of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a “mutual subjection” of both “out of reverence for Christ”. The measure of true spousal love finds its deepest source in Christ, who is the Bridegroom of the Church, his Bride.

    Here he implies too things: (1) by putting the word “subjection” in quotes (which are also in the Latin text – they were not added by the translator), he implies that it is not really subjection at all, and (2) that while the wife is “subject” to her husband, this “subjection” is actually mutual: the husband is “subject” to his wife.

    I really must confess that I do not see how this can be so easily dismissed or explained away.

  9. I have always considered the Westian interpretation of Theology of the Body to be the lustful man’s boon

    It is interesting that you should say this, Fr. – I once had an online conversation with one of West’s fans (sorry, I don’t know of a better word – “acolyte” sounds demeaning and “disciple” sounds pretentious) in which she essentially denied the existence of the marriage debt, and based that denial on West’s interpretation of something that the late Pope John Paul II had written (I don’t recall if the writing in question came before or after his election as Pope). In other words, marital relations were something to be engaged in only when BOTH spouses desired it – the marriage debt was viewed as something “sexist,” as if occasions did not exist when the wife requests the debt and the husband must fulfill it. Oddly – and this thought occurs to me just now – this is one area in which the spouses are truly mutually subject: the husband has no right to refuse the debt.

  10. Thank you Father for this thorough posting. I think it is the best you have written.

    I would like to comment that it is possible for the Buffoon of the commercial to exist and for him to have a very large family of children. It is also possible for the wife to go through the motions and offer it all up in silence. I know so, because I live it. I have found for years, the inherit pridefulness of too many devout Catholics or Evangelicals, who refuse to believe that one of themselves could act as such. It does happen however. And far too many of the women I know will jump up and down,saying that the wife should just be holier and more obedient and everything will get better, because it did for them. Great! I am super happy, that it worked for them. But you shouldn’t be obedient to your husbands just because it will make them nicer and just because you become more obedient and submissive doesn’t always mean the husband will be kinder, gentler, and more selfless. This is simply not the case for every family. All women make mistakes in marriage, and I do as well because we have been immersed in feminism. But oversimplification of the problem, as I hear over and over again, doesn’t help matters.

    Are many of the problems in marriage today, cause by feminism and women who take control of the marriage?-absolutely. Can many of the problems of marriage today be solved by the woman becoming more submissive? Absolutely. Are some men inherently, abusive even though they attend the sacraments regularly, go to churches with super orthodox priests, and remain open to life? Yes. To deny that simple fact is absurd. But I have had numerous women, who are devout tell me that all the problems in marriage can be resolved if one just shuts up and submits in marriage. Obviously, via the act of offering up the suffering, good will happen, but not every marriage is going to be perfected just because the woman changes herself? The wife might become quietly holy, but there is never a guarentee that the husband will get it and change.

    What does happen in an abusive marriage, where the couple is still open to life is that the woman has more dumped upon her and more and more: all the child rearing, all the disciplining, all the housework-because children who watch mom being routinely ripped apart by dad for the tiniest of imperfections have no desire to help, all the everything-but zero authority. And it is virtually impossible for mom, to control a large family with no authority and no one backing her up. So mom gets a larger and larger burden of work but Dad gets more recognition because he is being Open to Life.
    The response is that dad’s ego becomes even larger and his willingness to serve becomes less and less-after all he is serving by being open to life, isn’t he? So please don’t assume that the man just needs 10 more kids to make him holy. It doesn’t always work.

    Too often in human affairs, there is an overreaction. Our society blames everything on the stupid husband and teaches all young woman to grow up assuming thier husbands will be stupid and need to be controlled. Unfortunately, I have personally found that devout Catholic and Protestants of the homeschooling kind do the opposite. They automatically assume that the wife is always the nagger, and the husband always needs to be out from under the wife’s tongue. Generalizations are never helpful. Sometimes the husband is just abusive, not because his wife nags him to death or is rebellious. And in a truelly abusive marriage, it is not possible for the wife to be completely obedient anyway because the husbands rules and desires stem from his petty, self-centered desires and not from any moral sense or virtue, justice, or experience. Therefore, the rules he defines vary wildly depending on his desires for the day or the moment. Notice that I am not saying that they shouldn’t be obeyed, I am saying that it isn’t possible sometimes.

    This post I will cherish. Thank you. It leaves food for thought that is genuinely helpful and not an oversimplification of a problem.

  11. dcs,

    I make no reference, implicit or otherwise, to the quote you reference from MD. I provided a link to that document in support of JP II’s defense of human dignity, especially as it pertains to women. My discussion of “mutual submission,” if you notice, makes reference solely to the Letter to the Ephesians.

    Even so, whatever the merits of various textual interpretations of that second paragraph you quote from MD, the only contextual way of interpreting the document is the hermeneutic of continuity. I don’t need to explain anything away. I just need to do my best to remain faithful to the ordinary magisterium.

    Since JP II makes reference to “all the reasons” in favor of “subjection,” the word “subjection” could mean a number of different things, of which some he holds in suspicion. However that may be, I don’t see why I may not interpret his insistence that the woman’s subjection only be viewed in light of “mutual” subjection, in terms of her obedience being understood within the context of her inherent dignity, and therefore, of the obligation of the man to exercise authority according to his wife’s true good.

    Whatever the ambiguity of the document on this matter, am I to presume that the pope is denying that there is a principle of authority in the family and denying that St. Paul is saying that the husband is the head of the family? I honestly see no reason to conclude this, though I know this is the way many will interpret the passage because of the ambiguity.

    What am I to make of the ambiguity? I don’t make anything of it. I just stick to the ordinary magisterium.

  12. If we would all just simply keep our eyes on God and what we must do to gain heaven then this discussion wouldn’t even be taken place. To many times we look at what our spouses are doing wrong and not on what we are doing wrong. I fall short of this everyday of my life and I know that this is a huge problem in our marriage. I continue to work on my human short comings and I hope that you may all do the same. Someone once told me that we all die alone. Our spouses are not buried with us in the same coffin. Yes, husbands are held accountable for their families but wives are also held accountable too. To many times we point fingers at each other. Well, if he would only help more. Well, if she would only do her duties as a wife. Lets STOP passing the buck and get to work on what we must do. TO KNOW, TO LOVE, AND TO SERVE GOD no matter what the cost. No matter how many dishes we wash, no matter how many dirty diapers we clean, no matter how many long nights we work, no matter how many broken pipes we fix. We are all held accountable. Lets get to work! Lets keep our eyes on God and not on man.

  13. Dear Mary,

    My heart bleeds for you and I think you bring up a VERY important point that often gets shoved under the rug of many well-meaning Christians. I am no counselor or spiritual director but I personally think there’s a HUGE difference between a couple who each have their issues and struggles and a couple in which one of the spouses is clearly abusive. I tell you this from having seen it way too many times (lived it in a mild form as a kid) … it’s usually the woman that is on the receiving end of the abuse, but not always. The woman obediently continues to try and do her duty, though she gets clearly resentful and begins to swallow a lot of her emotions, which btw, come out in other unhealthy ways. Meanwhile, the children are not witnessing a healthy, loving marriage and can start to lack respect for both parents … the father for the abuse and the mother for having no self-respect and not protecting the kids. It’s a no-win situation. Personally, and I am sure there will be many cyber tomatoes headed my way, that when a woman is in a truly abusive situation (and you need some CATHOLIC counseling to determine this), to continue the saga of being the ‘obedient’ wife at the expense of everyone’s soul, becomes a very selfish and unholy thing. Nine times out of ten, the woman does not become closer to Our Lord, her children do not receive what they really need, the marriage does not get repaired and the husband does not grow in holiness either. There are exceptions to this, but frankly I see too many cases of just an unhealthy situation. In fact, I believe the Catholic Church provides NFP for just this!!! This is a grave situation … your energy and resources need to be put to counseling and trying to properly nurture the children that you already have. This is just when the submissive wife becomes the enabling wife and the destructive wife perhaps. From what I usually see, the man needs other MEN to tell him what a jerk he’s being before he even begins to recognize things. I rarely see where the man listens to the wife on this.

    I will pray for you!

  14. Pingback: War in Paradise: Tonight’s Discussion Group Topic « Mary Victrix

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