Worried and depressed about my marriage

Avatar for sarahp384
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Registered: 09-30-2013
Worried and depressed about my marriage
22
Mon, 09-30-2013 - 12:05pm

Hi. I'm 29 years old and a first-time mother of an 18 month old son. I've been married to my husband for 3 years and things have mostly been wonderful -- he's a wonderful and loving man, a hard worker, and a good provider -- but since our son was born things have been different. I feel bad coming someplace like this and spilling my problems but I'm very worried and scared and lonely. :(

He seems emotionally distant. We've fought some. Part of the problem is I'm ready to have another baby and he's not. I come from a large Catholic family and wanted to have a large family too, and he seemed ok with that before we were married. But he says now we can't afford it and we shouldn't have any more, "maybe someday." Being Catholic we practice NFP, and one time he even suggested I go on birth control, something he knows I'm against and I thought he was against too. I got VERY upset and he never mentioned it again, but our sex life has definitely suffered. NFP is very workable and not risky if you chart right, but for the past year or so we've only been making love about once a month. He travels a lot more than he used to, sometimes being gone as much as 2 weeks at a time -- and no, I don't think he's having an affair, though I do worry about it sometimes -- and I know he loves me and our son, but he just doesn't seem to be here for us the way he was when we were first married. I've tried to talk to him, asked him not to travel so much, but he says he's just trying to be a good provider. I feel like I don't know him anymore, like this wasn't what I was hoping for and expecting in my marriage. I am pretty devastated right now and it's pulling me down into depression.

I know you'll probably say that feeling this way is normal and I'm just being sensitive, but even that kind of reassurance would be really nice right now.

Avatar for khatru1
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Registered: 06-07-2004
Tue, 10-01-2013 - 4:05pm

I agree you have a lack of communication, each of you sits in their corner not listening to and or talking to the other. It is true it takes resources to have a child, it takes more to have two and so on.

He says you can't afford it, you seem to think you can. So the truth lies in there somewhere. What is the truth? Have you sat down with the calculator and talked about it?  It is irresponsible to actively seek another child when you know you can't afford it. I know people on welfare, had a child while being totally dependent on government handouts. Some some god will provide, so I guess the government in this case is acting as gods agent? I am not at all saying it would put you specifically in the poor house but I'm just making the point responsible people should not have more children if it will put them in financial jeopardy.

However he may say money, and it may not really be money. It may be something else. That he really does not want another child right now. Whatever the true reason, you have to find this out.

Avatar for sarahp384
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Registered: 09-30-2013
Tue, 10-01-2013 - 5:27pm

Thanks, cmjenas. You're right that he hasn't been very involved in the NFP process -- and I really hate that. I've tried to include him with it before, but he hasn't really seemed very interested in it. Maybe you're right and he doesn't trust it. But I will talk to him more about it and see if I can include him. I know before I was married I really believed in this ideal marriage where NFP could actually bring us closer together, making us trust each other and keep in constant communication about when are good times to make love. But it hasn't really worked out that way. :(

Avatar for mahopac
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Registered: 07-24-1997
Tue, 10-01-2013 - 5:33pm

I'd like to take the stress level of this conversation down a little bit.  As a practicing Catholic, I can understand where you are coming from.  For those who are not practicing Catholics and don't really "get" what NFP is all about, I understand why it seems possibly insane, but that's what our Church teaches and what a surprising number of Catholic couples actually do.

Sarahp, you have numerous issues going on here, but the biggest one is that you two are simply not on the same page right now.  Which doesn't mean that you never will be again, but it's going to take some effort. 

Starting with family size.  Back in the good old days, when you were dating and engaged and married sans kids, children were a wonderful, hypothetical thing.  Even if you come from a big family, you hadn't *raised* children yourself before you had your own.  As you know, the reality is far different from the fantasy.  It sounds like this has affected you and your DH differently, but you haven't gotten to a place where you are having real conversations about it.  The only place you're at is that he says he feels pressure to provide, and you want him to stay home *and* have another baby - which may be mutually exclusive, BTW.

I strongly recommend that you get yourselves to a marriage counselor who can be a neutral third party and get you two talking together about meaningful things in a constructive way.  Obviously both spouses have to be open to it.  If one is afraid of what might happen, nothing will change. 

As an aside regarding NFP and family size:  At the ripe age of 51, I look back over my childbearing years and really, REALLY wish I had not gotten sucked up into the prevalent Catholic thinking that the primary purpose of marriage is to bear children and that the most important thing a woman can do is have children.  I did practice NFP for years in obedience, but eventually stopped when I rejected that line of thinking.  I'm the sole provider for my family, the spiritual head of my family, I have multiple college degrees, and I am more than my reproductive organs!  I don't think there's anything wrong with NFP, but if you're not actually open to having another family member, you're really not practicing NFP anyway - you're just using birth control without the devices. 

But to give you hope in all of this. . . my DH is agnostic and has been highly supportive of my raising a Catholic family, even to the point of agreeing to a third child when he thought his baby-rearing days were over and he might go back to work.  He has been a SAH parent since the mid-90s.  If both of you are committed to your marriage and your family, you can get through a tremendous amount together, even if you need counseling to get yourselves walking on the path together.

Avatar for sarahp384
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Registered: 09-30-2013
Tue, 10-01-2013 - 5:36pm

Thanks, remdamma. These are some good insights into what he's thinking and you are helping me understand I think. I think we are going to have to have a serious discussion about these things.

Avatar for sarahp384
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Registered: 09-30-2013
Tue, 10-01-2013 - 6:08pm

musiclover12 wrote:
I remember going to the pre-marriage classes and one of them discussed NFP and I asked the question why is it ok to use NFP if we are always supposed to be open to conception as a gift from God?  There really was no answer to that one.

The answer is that artificial birth control completely closes the sexual act to new life. It's a declaration that you're having sex with no intention or consideration of creating new life at all. It changes the nature of sex and marriage from something inherently procreative to something recreative. NFP at least leaves the sexual act directed toward new life. And no, it's not just birth control for Catholics. A Catholic couple should only practice NFP to prevent pregnancy for good and thoughtful reasons, to space out children and not to prevent them. And yes, financial reasons can be good reasons, but if finances become the whole center of your marriage and family, you're doing something wrong.

Avatar for sarahp384
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Registered: 09-30-2013
Tue, 10-01-2013 - 6:19pm

Thanks for your kind words and support, mahopac. I'm really very surprised and disappointed at how nasty these other people are being. :( I've been lurking around these forums and reading for years and don't usually see people respond this way.

I don't think I am just a collection of reproductive organs, and there is a lot more to my life than having babies! But that is very important to me. Many people say the Church's teachings on women and the family are backward and repressive and anti-woman, etc., but they are actually very deep and thoughtful and many women are very affirmed by them. I know I've found a lot of fulfillment through having a child, and even though I want to accomplish other things in my life, I know it's my first responsiblility to direct my life and my love to my family -- just as it is my husband's.

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Registered: 12-18-2009
Wed, 10-02-2013 - 9:00am

And yes, financial reasons can be good reasons, but if finances become the whole center of your marriage and family, you're doing something wrong./

Agree 100% but if you ignore the right reasons , even then you are doing something very wrong.

Avatar for mahopac
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Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 10-02-2013 - 11:20am

I think, based on your response to cmjenas, you have run up against the reality of NFP.  NFP *in theory* is an awesome thing if both spouses view the reasons for sex and marriage the same way.  Stray just a little from the pure reasons of NFP, and what you are left with is a process that can feel more burdensome and artificial than any other form of birth control.  This may be what your husband is feeling.

My DH was willing to go along with NFP, but I didn't make the decision to try it until we'd been together for 15 years.  That was 15 years of non-NFP sex, by which time we were in our mid-30s and had two kids and were not by any means newlyweds or young parents.  We were in a very different place from yours, and DH might have felt quite differently if we'd only been together for five years and had a toddler and he was feeling pressured to be a good provider for the family *and* trust in a process that he doesn't really believe.

In the end, I was the one who decided to quit NFP.  It may be hard for you to see now, but asking yourself "are we open to new life" EVERY time you want to have sex can be a killer on a couple's sex life over time.  Every morning I woke up thinking of my fertility, every day I thought of my fertility as I monitored signs. . . and for what?  The answer to the question "are we open to new life" was ALWAYS no, because DH was deep into baby-rearing, we never had enough money, as the breadwinner of the family I couldn't afford to be half-on at work for another year of pregnancy and maternity leave, we always felt like our hair was on fire, and I was 40, looking at 12 more years of monitoring my fertility and saying no to sex while having no interest in more babies. 

More importantly, I came to the conclusion that there is nothing "natural" about not having sex when your body says it's ready (your fertile times) and having it when you're not interested in it (your infertile times).  It is as artificial to refuse intimacy in a marriage as to use a barrier method of birth control.  When my kids learned in confirmation class about why casual sex ruins the ability to bond intimately with a spouse later in life, I "got" that - but intimacy doesn't necessarily equate to "making babies."  Why *shouldn't* sex be recreational with a spouse?  God made sex enjoyable, therefore we should enjoy it!  There is nothing natural about saying no to your spouse (and yourself) when that intimacy is what glues a couple like nothing else.

I also felt that the definition of "life" was being too narrowly defined as "babies."  There is a lot of "life" out there that we need to honor, including other people's lives.  If I am totally wrapped up in raising my own babies, I don't have the time to concern myself in a direct and tangible way with the babies of homeless women, women in maternity group homes, single mothers who have to work two jobs, etc.  I might say nice words about supporting them and I might do it with my money, but I'm not going to take away my time with my family to concern myself with theirs.  That felt wrong to me.  And that is only the "dependent" form of life - babies - what about the lives of homeless adults, death row convicts, unemployed people, and so on?  I felt that practicing my faith in this way led me exactly to where Pope Francis recently criticized our Church's focus:  on issues of sexuality rather than on preaching the Gospel to all in an all-encompassing way.

Obviously it took a long time for me to get to the place where I felt this, and I did it with discernment and not out of frustration with my sex life - though frustration with the whole thing is what led me to make time for discernment.  I share this story with you only to demonstrate that while NFP can be what it's praised for in pre-Cana classes and Engaged Encounter, the reality of it, lived out over years, may vary drastically from the theory.  And personally I believe marriage is much more important than embracing any single teaching of the Church on morality. 

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Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 10-02-2013 - 3:31pm

I don't want to get into a whole theological debate here but of course since I'm a lawyer I'm very logical about things too.  I don't want you to think that I disrespect your religious beliefs even though I don't totally agree with them.  I have a good friend who's a very religious Christian and I respect her faith although we agree to disagree about some things.

So if you have a good reason to use NFP to space out your kids, then I don't necessarily see why it would be any different if you decide to use some other method of b.c. if you have a "good reason."  You say that NFP is open to the possibility of having kids, but you're still using it to try not to have a baby at the present time--otherwise, you'd just have sex at whatever random times you felt like it.  You're still trying not to have a baby, you're just using a different method.

I think that the financial stuff is tricky--I don't think people should be greedy & selfish.  If parents say that they don't want more kids because they really "need" to have a Mercedes, frequent trips to Europe, etc. I don't think that' s a good thing.  But how about parents who decide they don't want more kids because they are worried that they won't be able to buy food, maybe one of their kids has health problems that need a lot of attention and costs a lot of money, maybe one of them lost their job or they can't afford a bigger apartment--I think it's just being responsible not to have more kids if you can't support them and provide for their basic needs.  You might have seen the Duggar family with their 19 kids on TV--I'm sure the parents love all their children very much & they are very religious--I could go on & on about them.  The kids certainly seem happy enough on the show but of course most families aren't able to get TV shows to support their family--not to mention that the only way they can take care of all those kids is to make sure the older girls are basically stuck at home with no education and no prospects for jobs in order to be taking care of all the younger kids.  

Avatar for mahopac
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Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 10-02-2013 - 4:34pm

Musiclover makes good points with respect to money.  I know money is not the be-all and end-all, but with only one child who is 18 months old, you really do not know what is coming!  No one can be prepared for everything (though life insurance, disability insurance and health insurance do help), but I guarantee there is a lot more coming than you can ever imagine. 

When my kids were little, I thought, "Oh once we're out of diapers/baby food/daycare/outgrowing clothes every other month, everything will be less expensive."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If all you want is to feed, clothe and shelter your kids - maybe.  If you want those kids to grow up to develop their talents, it will cost you - A LOT - in uniforms, instruments, lessons, trips, etc.  If your child has disabilities (developmental, learning, physical) of any kind, you will spend a lot of time fighting for them and a lot of money on the things they need that your school district/government/health insurance says they're not obligated to pay for and your Tea Party neighbors think is entirely your problem to deal with.  Without your own resources, well beyond the basics of life, you will be stuck with what *other* people think your child needs.

When each of my kids were 18 mos old, I had no idea that as they grew, I would deal with anxiety issues, transgender identity, Aspergers, neurological disorders and learning disabilities.  At 18 mos, they were adorable and perfect!  Now that they are 21, 18 and 13yo, they are all happy and healthy in every way, but I sure am glad that I chose to pursue a financial & career path that allowed me to meet their needs with my own private funds, because I guarantee that they would not be where they are today without them.

Anyway. . . this is all just by way of saying that life is going to throw a bunch of things at you but if you and your hubby are always on the same side, you can deal with all of the decisions you need to make.  The good news is that the decisions you make are in many cases less important than being on the same side.  If you end up with fewer kids, a different house, a different lifestyle than you planned, you'll be like everyone else.  If you get through that because you & your DH communicated honestly and lovingly and undefensively with each other, then you'll be far ahead of almost everyone else.