Women: marriage and motherhood are not the pinnacle of your lives

Today I recorded an interview with Mary Ashley Burton of the Fishers of Men Podcast. The podcast explores Christian dating, relationships and singlehood in a post-Christian context.

She called me from LA – 8pm Thursday her time, 1pm Friday my time – and we chatted through my lunch break. I really enjoyed the conversation, as Mary Ashley is in a very similar boat to me. She’s Christian, single and wants to get married.

Honestly, it felt more like a chat with a kindred spirit at a party or over coffee than an interview, but I guess that’s essentially what it was.

Of the many things we discussed, one was the tendency of many Christians to idolise marriage and the family, as a reaction against the feministic postmodern culture of our time. One of my readers brought this up in a comment a couple of weeks ago:

I think that there is also a sort of idolisation of marriage and family occurring right now. This is no doubt in response to the destructive forces that have attacked the family unit over the last 100 years. But I think that as a Catholic community, we’ve possibly over-corrected a little. I have heard Catholics make some borderline heretical statements about marriage and those who aren’t married. 

I don’t think we need more singles events. I think we need more interpersonal connections across groups within the church. I’ve seen singles groups, married groups, even “dating couples” groups. It’s highly categorised. I think it would be good for couples, families and singles to mix more.

I think this is spot-on, and something Mary Ashley and I agreed on wholeheartedly. This may sound like a strange thing for me to say, given I’ve publicly stated my own great desire for marriage.

I want to get married because my heart yearns for it. Plain and simple.

But I’ve long since divested myself of the illusion that marriage will fulfil me or solve my problems. After watching my sister and several of my dearest friends get married and start families, I’ve come to realise that it’s no picnic. As my friend and fellow writer Philippa Martyr has said, marriage is two sets of people’s problems.

I’m not trying to strip marriage of all its romance, because I believe romance is an important ingredient in an ideal marriage; but it’s not sweet nothings and rose petals all the time, and I think it’s important for young Christian singles to realise this.

American chastity speaker Emily Wilson recently posted this on her Instagram:

I want to make a loud and clear declaration here. Marriage and motherhood are not the pinnacle of a Christian woman’s life. My heart just aches at the amount of women I speak with who are burdened and discouraged by the false notion that marriage and motherhood are the be-all and end-all of Christian femininity. I watch too often as this leaves single women and married women without children feeling inferior or behind. This is just what the devil wants, women believing the ugly lie that if they don’t have those things, they have nothing. This is, truly, a lie from the pit of hell disguised to make radiant, wonderful women feel purposeless and lost. Each woman’s life has a different purpose and timeline and each of our vocations is a facet of our lives – it is not who we are. I’m not firstly any of the titles I hold. I’m firstly just me. Emily. And what a colorful tapestry are the life and gifts and unique purpose of each and every woman – single, married, or religious – that light the Kingdom of God ablaze in our world here and now. Marriage and motherhood are beautiful things, but surely not the summit of it all. A life lived as a woman surrendered in the hands, heart, and will of God the Father? Now that is the heart, the pinnacle, the be-all and end-all of femininity.

Amen, sister.

But this doesn’t just go for women, it’s important for men to recognise too. The preoccupation with marriage and family so many Christians have today is truly unnerving and sometimes a little unhealthy. There exists an attitude that your life is not really worth living, or that it hasn’t even begun, until there’s a ring on your finger.

I’ve laboured under the influence of this attitude most of my adult life and it’s caused me, and no doubt others, a great deal of suffering. I don’t think those who perpetuate this stereotype realise just how damaging it can be.

When you have a deep desire for an intimate connection with the opposite sex but you’re sacrificing that desire every day to remain faithful to God’s will and teaching, that’s hard enough; when that is compounded by external pressure to transform your life in a way you have no real control over, that is enough to push anyone over the edge. We seem to treat getting married like it’s some sort of achievement when it’s really just one possible path your life can take.

The real achievement is remaining true to your beliefs and values and following God’s call when He makes it – especially when this involves acting against your personal desires and wishes! That is a hundred thousand times harder than saying “I do”.

We need to stop telling women that getting married and starting a family is the summit of their existence. Obviously good marriages and families are beautiful and crucial for the flourishing of our world, and I want to get married as much as the next girl. But I’m not. Does that make my life any less meaningful than that of my sister, who is a wife and mother?

When women buy into the lie that their lives aren’t valuable or fulfilled if they’re unmarried or childless, it only creates misery, frustration and desperation – the sort of desperation that is driving women to abandon their values for the sake of a man.

God calls us all to serve Him in different ways. Some He calls through marriage, some He doesn’t. We should be encouraging our fellow Christians to pursue His will, not guilting each other for failing to live up to an imagined ideal.

36 thoughts on “Women: marriage and motherhood are not the pinnacle of your lives

  1. Miss Hitchings-

    Okay, yes. Granted. Do not make an idol of marriage and married life and it is certainly wise to purge oneself of any and all of the storybook notions of unending connubial bliss.

    Yet I would submit that it is still a realistic assumption to make that for most of us, our vocation is to marriage and family.

    We should be careful then, lest we over-correct in response to the over-correction.

    Social, cultural and moral life in the West (writ large) is fundamentally disordered. Unless you have been cloistered since birth you have hardly escaped from this chaos, however devout. If you have watched the TV shows, and the movies, or listened to the “popular” (corporate) music then you have– as I have–imbibed the poison of expressive individualism in great draughts.

    I see it all around me. In my basic peer group of middle-class, college educated and fairly sociologically typical people there is no shortage of examples, i.e., rampant fornication, pornography, multiple children born out of wedlock, divorce, childlessness. I have long since heard these same people say, “marriage is just a piece of paper” or, “I don’t really *need* anybody”. The list of our basic dysfunction goes on and on.

    I once even confessed to a priest that I thought I was overly concerned with my single status, haunted by all my past mistakes and was perhaps idolizing marriage. That I was suffering because of this. His response: then suffer. Me: even for the rest of my life? Priest: Yes!

    We should not attempt to escape either horn of this dilemma. Perhaps God is calling on us to suffer, perhaps even in an excruciating way, for the moral inversion of our (anti)civilization. (Note: excruciating = from the cross). He may be calling us, in small ways like this blog, to confront this problem in all its many facets i.e., economics, culture, morality, etc. The Hitchingsian Connundrum connects to everything in our lives.

    Maybe few or none of us will ever solve it by being married and having a family ourselves. Still, there are not many cultural issues more important than this one. This is worth suffering greatly for. I see no other way for the Annatarian Counter-Revolution to prevail.

    In short, the future is won by those who show up for it.

    Our Lady of Victory, Pray for us!

    Sincerely,
    Underground Thomist.

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  2. To comment on just one aspect of this: the notion that marriage will solve all of one’s problems. The reason marriage IS a high calling is because it does the opposite of that. It’s a maximally intimate (for this world) means of bearing the burdens of another. From a male perspective, if a man’s role in a marriage is to be to his wife what Christ is to the Church, then C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly in the Four Loves: the mystery of Christian marriage is most wholly fulfilled by that man whose marriage is most like a crucifixion.

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    1. Man…marriage as a crucifixion? That’s pretty harsh. I know of some guys who’ve been crucified by marriage. They seem broken. Maybe I prefer the purgatory of being single? It’s not bad; it’s not great. But it’s not crucifixion.

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  3. Also, for those who haven’t done so already, I would humbly suggest looking into Catholic Social Teaching (CST). It is nearly impossible to make a course correction if we don’t really know where we are supposed to be headed.

    There are some notable shorter books on the subject such as:

    Society and Sanity: Understanding How to Live Well Together by Frank Sheed.
    Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching by Anthony Esolen.
    The Framework of a Christian State: An Introduction to Social Science by S. Cahill, S.J.

    Ultimately, these don’t really take the place of reading the Papal Encyclicals themselves. I have begun to do so using this edition:

    https://www.amazon.com/Reader-Catholic-Social-Teaching-Syllabus/dp/194441858X/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1U9NS3070NWKX&keywords=peter+kwasniewski&qid=1560519352&s=gateway&sprefix=peter+kwas%2Caps%2C199&sr=8-3

    It’s a bit expensive but well worth it. Of course, you can read them all for free online.

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  4. For those who might idolize any particular state of life, stand-up comedian and Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard put it this way:

    “Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

    On that note, I hope you all are having a beautiful day!

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  5. Not only is the idea that marriage is a pinnacle, the greatest thing one can do in this life, wrong: it’s heretical. That idea was condemned at Trent. Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom is better, and everyone who is able to take it ought to be counseled to take it willingly. This attitude contributes to fewer numbers of religious. We could all do with some more of St. Paul’s counsel to seek not a wife.

    I want to get married because my heart yearns for it. Plain and simple.

    And until this desire for marriage coalesces into the concrete desire for being married to a specific man, it will necessarily be a desire for something that isn’t real, that’s just a figment of your imagination. It being so has two dangers: the first being to romanticize it, the second being to treat it as a desire for something real.

    And when the desire for something imaginary is treated as a desire for something real it gets in the way of real possibilities. We’ll go on behaving as if the desire for marriage in the abstract is enough to tell us we are called to marriage (or at the very least that we should spend most of our energies looking to get married), and we won’t make any good faith visits to religious orders, seminaries, or bishops looking for consecrated virgins (yep, the consecrated virginity is still around folks). And when that figment of our imagination is romanticized (which is the tendency of our imagination) then this danger in treating it as real is all the more potent.

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    1. I think there’s a good point to be made about the kind of woman who confuses wanting to be married with wanting to have a nice wedding.

      That said, I don’t think it’s in any way heretical to want to find a life companion, even if it doesn’t yet manifest as a desire for a particular person. I’ll readily criticize women for their unrealistic expectations in what they want in a life partner and what they expect in a marriage, but simply wanting a life partner and a family of one’s own is good and natural.

      Being alone is hard. I’ve known a bishop who always knew he was called to the priesthood and he was quite certain this was God’s plan for him. But he was upfront with me that, despite the joy his calling brought him, the celibate life could be incredibly lonely at times.

      As for St Paul, well… I’m going to make the bold assumption that none of us have yet been knocked off our horse on the road to Damascus. While I don’t want to put our Lord to the test, if I actually heard the voice of God in my ear telling me that he wanted me to remain single because there was some special work he needed me to do, it would be quite a different matter. For most of us, we aren’t going to experience such dramatic interventions. And while it may be a trick of the devil, I sympathize with those who have the feeling that they’re failing at life or being punished because they haven’t managed to do something previous generations seemingly had no problem doing.

      Believe it or not, there are still plenty of people who don’t actually want children. We should draw the consecrated virgins from such groups of people. The same bishop I mentioned above has given me numerous accounts of people who had a particular talent or skill or desire, but gave it up or denied it because they thought it would make the Lord happy. Instead, they ended up making themselves bitter and miserable.

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      1. The heretical proposition is that marriage is the best. You can want a spouse and that’s perfectly fine, but you can and should do so with the recognition that objectively virginity for the sake of the kingdom is better.
        Sure being alone is hard; the celibate life is a sacrifice and that’s how it ought to be. But it is not an extaordinary calling. If you don t like St Paul’s counsel then listen to the Lord:

        …and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.

        He doesn’t say “he that wants to take, let him take it” or “he that doesn’t like the idea of having a spouse and kids, let him take it” or “he who has heard the voice of God come from heaven to tell him to take it, let him take it,” it’s he who can let him take it.
        Saying that the pool of those who give up marriage for the kingdom should be taken from those who unnaturally don’t have the natural desire for a spouse and kids does two things: first, it makes celibacy something unnatural rather than supernatural, and second, it makes celibacy a backup option, something only for people who don’t want to be married, can’t get married, or who have been struck by lightning from above and told to do so.
        Celibacy is the better option, and put in the context of the other counsels it becomes the surest way to salvation. As St. Bernard says of the religious life:

        Is not that a holy state in which a man lives more purely, falls more rarely, rises more speedily, walks more cautiously, is bedewed wit the waters of grace more frequently, rests more securely, dies more confidently, is cleansed more quickly, and rewarded more abundantly?

        Virginity, especially in the context of religious life, if done for the sake of the kingdom, makes it easier to be saved; that is the teaching of our Lord, of St. Paul, and of the Catholic Church.

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  6. As a man, I find such meaning in the fact that the woman most attractive to me – ironically- is free from bondage to marriage and child-rearing as an ideal. I have observed her for a long time and she has impacted so many lives with compassion, fun and – above all – a giving heart. It takes a tremendous determination and willingness to bear one’s cross -discipleship- to live in this blessed state. One cannot live this life without the power of the Holy Spirit. It has been my unspeakable privilege to see her example and witness to the truth of it in my spirit, along with other older single women who live a crucified life. They are not bound by forms and customs, but are under Christ’s leadership and the order He has given in His church, which has set them free to be uniquely themselves. All other so-called “freedom” pales by comparison.

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  7. Many women want what other women have. I’m sure that seeing photos of families and kids on social media drives a lot of this. But I imagine that it’s far worse to be stuck in a bad marriage than to be a sometimes-unhappy single.

    People have high expectations of marriage and pretty much everything else. Maybe from having watched too many movies? People want adventure and romance. Consider how many online dating profiles list traveling as a passion. Many want a jet-setting lifestyle. N’Djamena one weekend and Guayaquil the next. Selfies in front of Angkor Wat. When reality proves a lot less exciting, people are left disappointed and depressed.

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  8. I’ll confess here to being a bit morally sloppy, and only a comparatively recent convert Christianity. While not a complete degenerate, I’ve ‘been around’ so to speak. I wouldn’t say it was that great (if I had been offered the opportunity to marry young with one girl I loved and start a family, I would’ve infinitely preferred it). Worldly things are still a great temptation, however, and my future response to such temptations concerns me a lot.

    The following observations are a bit particular and personal to me, but perhaps helpful to others.

    To some extent, I’d say this preoccupation (finding love and marriage) stems from a lack of faith, and an inability to imagine there really is something better out there. It’s like how C S Lewis talked about those who are drawn to fornication suffer from a lack of imagination at the infinitely greater joy that awaits us in God’s new creation. When you feel like this life is all this is, you scramble to accumulate as many pleasant experiences and avoid as much pain as possible. Solzhenitsyn also makes a similar point in ‘Gulag Archipelago’ in noting that those who believe that “human beings are created for happiness” tend to crumble at the first real hurdle or difficulty.

    (I believe this is connected to the modern secular world’s short-term thinking and tendency to squander the accumulated social, physical and spiritual capital of previous, more godly generations).

    I would also have to confess that most of the time, I can infer God’s love for me – but I don’t feel it. One is inevitably going to look for substitutes, sometimes ones of a short-term or worldly nature.

    As hard as it may be to accept, the task for some of us may be to plant the tree so that future generations can enjoy the shade. It is often hard for me to handle the thought that I will never get the kind of lifestyle my parents enjoyed, but we can’t choose the age into which we’re born and have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt. This is particularly true if this life is just the start of the journey.

    At the same time, I don’t believe we should give up. I’m incredibly disturbed at how the modern secular world goes out of its way to disrupt the means through which Christians (and Westerners in general) can form stable families, and yet actively encourages groups (particular non-Christians such as Muslims) to come to our countries and have large families. It’s truly sinister and yet another tactic of the Devil.

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  9. “Fishers of men” has been dormant for the last couple of years. I know I posted comments to it, but all the comments are gone now. I never thought much of them… it was largely women interviewing other women and reinforcing their biases and wrong-headed ideas about life and men and etc

    I urge you not to fall in with the crowd that thinks of marriage as a “vocation” that one is “called to”. Normal people – i.e. the kind of guys that I assume you are looking for – will turn and run from church-nerd-y talk like that.

    It’s completely fair to say that until recently, stable marriages leading to families were the naturally expected norm. Normal propagation of the species, go forth and multiply, basic stuff like that. Everyone in the species used to play a role in making that happen, by participating in the social life of a functioning community. In the last generation or two, the Catholic Church has simply stopped doing that, and those of us who would have benefited from a helpful nudge toward other eligible singles (to whom we might at least consider marriage) are the victims of that benign neglect.

    If you want to listen to those (women) who tell you being unable to find a suitable Catholic man – when we’re telling you over and over that plenty of us exist, and have exactly the same problems are you women do – well, go ahead. If that’s what eases your mind, I suppose that’s your right. But you are ignoring the fundamental problem in Catholic society today – that singles can’t find each other. Isn’t that why you started this blog? Well, no – initially it was to bash men… but I thought you were coming around to realize what the real problem is.

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    1. I listened to some episodes of the podcast and it’s all over the map of wanting feminism and then traditional men and back to complaining about men not being feminists. You can’t give men mixed messages for years and then act confused why things don’t work.

      The “Male Feminist” episode is a good example, of course. The hosts can’t agree whether they HATE or LONG FOR the idea of man ordering for them at restaurants, but it’s men’s fault either way. In other episodes I heard complaining about men not initiating, but also harmful traditional gender roles. When does your interview air?

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    2. What a shame that you missed the point of starting this blog!

      I suspect you are blaming the Catholic Church for not finding you a spouse, when really that is your own quest to undertake, regardless of the helpful nudges or not. Plenty of un-nudged men have done so, even in the current crisis.

      Singles can and do find each other, all the time. I dated plenty when I was in the mood. I could start again if I wanted (which I don’t).

      But I didn’t marry anyone because none of them were what I was really looking for. I’m really glad I didn’t marry any of them – I don’t have a single regret or think that perhaps one of them might have been ‘the one’, because I know for a fact they weren’t. They weren’t a good fit for me, or for what God wanted me to be doing.

      The Catholic Church is not a dating agency, and there hasn’t been any benign neglect. I’d suggest that unfathered men lack confidence, they fear divorce, and they mostly prefer internet porn to real live women.

      The solutions to this are: mentoring with good older men, really good marriage preparation, and sexual abstinence and possibly therapy for porn addiction. You can do all these things by yourself without the Church helping you, although it’s easier if you can talk to a good priest regularly.

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      1. Ms. Martyr, you haven’t been paying attention to the comments I’ve written on this site. Please go find them. And please stop offering your man-bashing “solutions” to people that you don’t know anything about. We men deal with enough of that as it is.
        No, the Church is not a dating agency. I never expected it to “find me a spouse”. But I’ll say again that I’m well into my middle years, and I’ve never ever met an unmarried mass-attending Catholic woman. Never met one myself, never had any suggested to me. Looking back in time to find possible reasons, I have concluded that the obvious reason is that the parishes I’ve attended have never had any social fabric. The ONLY option to meet Catholic women has been to ogle them at mass and follow them into the parking lot afterward, and I am not exaggerating on that point.

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      2. I think you’ve nailed the problem Philippa, the crux of the matter really boils down to trust. We now have a society addicted to all sorts of vice, whether it be pornography, abortion or even the pill ,and as a consequence we have vacated the middle ground (the heart). My mother had some sage advice on marriage “never marry someone you have the slightest doubt in regards to trust”,in other words trust and follow your heart, because at the end of the day you have to be able to live with yourself!

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  10. I’m a simple man.

    The good book says, “it is not good for man to be alone.”

    Marriage, like children, is the best of things and the worst of them.

    You can rationalise singleness all you like but it really does suck.
    Loneliness is a terrible burden and it’s nice to have someone to love and love you back.

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  11. Marriage and motherhood are the pinnacle for some women, but not for all. Sure, everybody got married back in the 50s and 60s. But was that the way things always have been? My great-grandmother had 10 siblings (born between 1877 and 1898). Her sister didn’t get married. At least two of her brothers didn’t get married. At least two of the siblings who got married didn’t have kids. Was her family an outlier or typical of its time?

    Also, was the influence of pop culture behind the glorification/romanticisation of marriage in the 20th century? And later the demonization of marriage?

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  12. “We need to stop telling women that getting married and starting a family is the summit of their existence.”

    WE don’t need to stop telling women anything of the sort, because western culture has – on the contrary – told women the exact opposite for the past 50+ years. Surely you’re not denying this? This article reads like you’re trying to convince us, but let’s face it you’re trying to convince yourself. YOU need stop telling yourself that getting married and starting a family will be the summit of your existence.

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  13. 40-something never married, childless woman here. It’s true that you can make an idol of anything, marriage included. But it’s not something I’ve seen as a problem. If feeling a little desperate pushes people to try harder to meet someone, then that’s a good thing. If you’re waiting for the “right time,” or for someone to introduce you, or for a community to spring up with possible mates, you’ll be waiting forever.

    As you reach 30 (or sooner for many of us), there will only be a tiny pool of prospects left who you’ll struggle to meet. Speaking for myself, the call to marriage has never gone away – instead it’s intensified in my 40s. You think it’s hard seeing your friends marry and start families? It gets harder. At work, you’ll hear about weekend plans and kids’ events all the time. You’ll probably be the only one “of a certain age” without kids. Your co-workers have a larger purpose – supporting their families. Without a family of your own, you will struggle to find meaning and support.

    Volunteering won’t fill that emptiness you’re feeling. Most of us are made to serve and die to ourselves in the context of family life. It’s hard to understand that when you’re young and you still have hope and a family of origin, but parents die and siblings, if you have any, have their own lives.

    If you’ve reached my age and are largely content in your single life, great. But from my perspective, getting married and starting a family is pretty darn important. Take it seriously, do your best, and if it still doesn’t work out, carry your cross. It’s a heavy one.

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    1. April,

      Wise words, wise words …
      especially,

      “Volunteering won’t fill that emptiness you’re feeling ..” – True, I’ve tried it does not work. I’ve tried.

      “. If you’re waiting for the “right time,” or for someone to introduce you, or for a community to spring up with possible mates, you’ll be waiting forever.” – Larry???!!???

      ” instead it’s intensified in my 40s.” – even though I’m not looking to have kids or probably even get married and have never had any relationships whatsoever with any women and no I’m not a monk or was in seminary when I was younger (I’m 45 now), I feel the need in the last 6 months of really needing a companion, etc. WAYYYYY MORE than I ever had.

      You don’t live in Phoenix, AZ do you?

      (Yea, I thought not)

      -Sean

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      1. Sean, I can see how my comments might be interpreted as whining over waiting for introductions, or waiting for communities to spring up. But that’s not my point. I’m just writing observations in response to the claims of Ms. Hitchings and others that “there are no men”. You’ve been following my comments on various sites for a while, so you know that my message is consistent. Yes, good single Catholic men exist. Men which meet all the qualifications that the women claim to want. Men who would gladly be part of parish activities, which (up until a generation or two ago) helped singles to meet and date. But none of that exists any more. This cannot be disputed.

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    2. One cannot know they are called to marriage without the concrete circumstances for entering marriage. In fact, a persistent lack of such circumstances is a significant though maybe not definitive sign that one is not called to marriage.

      Those who experience such a persistent lack might well seriously consider entering religion before it’s too late; to at least make a few visits with a generous and open heart to orders one might be interested in.

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  14. I just want to thank Anna and everyone who has commented for the wonderful discussions on such important issues.
    I agree that there is no longer a church community to facilitate single people getting together and that has made it much harder for people to find their spouse .

    I went out of my way to find my
    Spouse . I did all the things people told me not to do. People said just keep going to work and church and you will find your spouse in your daily life . This wasn’t the case for me. I was active in many parish and diocese events, I volunteered for church events .
    A priest said if at the end of the year I hadn’t found a spouse maybe I was called to single life. This filled me with great sadness.
    So I quit my job, went on pilgrimage overseas and prayed to st Joseph to find me a husband. At the end of this pilgrimage I had not found a spouse but my desire to find a spouse and avoid single life kept growing stronger . . I met someone on the catholic match website and moved countries and married him. We now have 3 beautiful children.

    Whether it was my will or Gods I don’t know .. I love my husband very much but it has been a hard road and although we are both practising Catholics our marriage is not at all what I had expected … one example being we haven’t slept in the same bed for close to 3 years … not at all what I would have liked … given I waited for so long to share a bed with my husband…
    I am very lonely in my marriage and do a lot activities with just me and my 3 small children without my husband …my husband rarely eats dinner with us… even though we both know our faith etc… sometimes the reality falls short .

    So marriage hasn’t been that companionship and unity of persons I had hoped for … I guess I’m just saying … even if you marry someone you love and are attracted to and who is a practising catholic … it can still be deeply disappointing….

    Just wanted to share a dose of reality as I think if I’d known what it was going to be like I might have been more sober and slow in my decision making and not rushed into what I thought was going to make me happy

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    1. Being the breadwinner does not entitle him to leave the rest of the parental heavy lifting to you. If you feel you can’t broach the subject of how you are feeling with him for any reason, that is worrying. Do you have a support network of trusted friends? Being in another country with none of your extended family around can be very isolating. Veronica, the behaviours you describe are warning signs that your husband may be emotionally withholding from you and your children and ‘checking out’.. It happened to me. My marriage went south when my husband emotionally ‘checked out’ after 10 years and five children. He changed his mind about abortion and artificial birth control and never forgave me for refusing to agree. Instead of a beautiful gift he viewed my fertility and me as a curse.
      He became increasingly controlling and abusive, gave up his faith and tried to make me do the same. The deterioration happened over a long period, 15 years. We are divorced now, after being married for 25 years. So i am not at all where i expected to be 28 years after my wedding day. I don’t regret getting married but there are no guarantees.

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      1. It’s just impossible to build something long term on the fragile edifice of the physical(beauty). We Men are intoxicated by beauty,me included .Guys physical beauty is something lovely to behold but it is not love.I wonder if this might have been what Anna was referring to in one of her articles,specifically,”Words have meanings”,one that comes specifically to mind was one Anna used in the fishes of men podcast with Mary and that word is eagerness(is our capacity for understanding virtue tested by fire?).Could the secret to lasting love be hidden in understanding the nature of virtue,if you like marrying or the pairing of virtues DNA,which places both parties on the same level of understanding. So on the ALPHA side of the equation (Helix)we have hope, love and charity which are translated and expressed in our desire to be loved,and manifest themselves in our character and can be recognised by the heart as charity,joy,peace,patience,kindness,goodness,generosity,gentleness,faithfulness,modesty,self control and chastity.When this is understood Jesus’ last words are in deed prophetic”Father it is done”. So what did the humble Son of the Father will for us?-The secret to love is virtue as virtue kindles love and just keeps giving,taking nothing for itself, because what do you have that will not be given In return eternally !

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    2. Veronica, thank you for your beautiful honesty. I listen to married Catholic women, and your story is sadly not unusual. Disappointment is a normal part of life, but it’s very hard to be lonely in a marriage. I hope you have some good female friends you can lean on sometimes. I will pray for your marriage as well.

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    3. Gee wiz Veronica, it really pains me to hear your story. Bare with me and I will recount a story that may help.My Mum n Dad had seven kids ,all had a private education and every opportunity made available to us ,including belief. Now Dad was right up there in his field and would work 60-80hrs a week. Quite often at the end of the day there was nothing left in the tank for those he cared for including himself.Call it chronically fatigued and that’s not good.Dont get me wrong like you ,mum work’s hard too. However,when men feel like this there is an increase for the propensity for withdrawal and alienation from those that they really do love. Men cut themselves off just so there is some respite from the daily demands of Life, I guess so they can function again tomorrow.So how did my mother cope with this you say. Well she would get him to snap out of it by centreing his focus. She would do this in the kitchen while he was standing by the stove or such like. Simply she would clasp his face with both hands and look at him in the face square on and very gently tell him,”Your a good Man” to which he would usually smile with embarrassment (this shifted his mood because it enabled him by giving him a sense of self worth( prisoners of war often felt their lives weren’t living).This was usually followed by a regimental kiss ,to which without fail one of my sisters would say “oh yuk”.The innocence of kids is a great joy for men in comparison to the ravages of the secular world outside,besides that children are a great circuit breaker-because like mums they melt the hardened heart.

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  15. Anna’s correct that marriage won’t solve all her problems. She’s right — and prescient — to point this out.

    Neverthelessss, marriage DOES provide some rather tangible benefits:
    * Researchers at THE Ohio State University (OSU) found that married couples tend to engage in less risky behavior, such as drug use or dangerous driving.
    * OSU research also discovered that after a decade of marriage, couples’ average net worth was approximately $43,000, compared with $11,000 for singles.
    * Two studies in the journal _Cancer_ found that among 800,000 adults diagnosed with cancer, the death rate among unmarried women was 19 percent higher than for married women; for unmarried men the rate was 27 percent higher.

    And — yes — the studies all controlled for health insurance status, race, etc. Of course, we cannot say with 100% certainty that marriage CAUSED these beneficial effects (it’s possible that there’s some sort of self-selection occurring), but it’s not difficult to deduce when one observes happily-married people that marriage DOES change the husband and wife.

    In the US at least, many statutes favor married couples. The federal tax code provides greater deductions for married couples filing jointly (thanks to the TCJA of 2017, most marriage penalties were eliminated). Married couples can shield about twice as many assets from the federal inheritance tax. In many states, married couples can DOUBLE the property that’s exempt from bankruptcy proceedings.

    Again, Anna is right to say that marriage is not a panacea. However, it DOES appear to have dramatic benefits for both the couple AND society as a whole.

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  16. Girls I wouldn’t be to hard on yourselves the driver for marriage/children is built into your DNA.Essentially this has occurred by design-this is if you like,the default position, a physiological condition. Eckhart Tolle’s prescription for the psychological malaise is to quieten the mind. I believe this is reinterating the will of God by shifting our focus away from the head to the heart, it is here that we trust and consequentially peaceably find rest.(calmer waters/greener pasture).Anna I sort of agree with the title of this post to a point, but I think you will find that marriage and children really are the pinnacle of Love because the act of being a wife or mother is just so selfless I think this can be attested to by the caring position”s of both Mary’s heart in relation to Martha’s ,is this what Jesus was driving at all the way to Calvary ?Keep up the good work .

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