being a good wife and mom....

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-05-2003
being a good wife and mom....
Sun, 08-31-2003 - 9:34am

I'm a 37 y/o mom of 4 (ages 13, 10, 2 and 1). I have been experiencing difficulty being a good mom and wife. It seems like at least one of my children are always in some crisis, usually more than one at the same time. My husband is very strict in his standards for things, in his likes and dislikes. He doesn't want me to wear certain clothes (like sweatpants) and I have to keep my hair long for him when I don't want to. He even has told me that when I make a sandwich for him, there has to be a correct amount of mayo on it (not too much nor too little) and the meat and cheese has to extend to the ends of the bread. He's picky about how he likes things to say the least. I feel like I'm constantly being criticized by the kids and my husband. I can't even sleep correctly. I have arthritis and a fair amount of pain in my joints. I like to sleep with a pillow between my legs to help my hips, and one in front of my chest to keep my shoulders in a comfortable position. My husband complains about this EVERY night. He says I put these things "between us" so he can't touch me, which isn't true from my viewpoint.

My children are good kids, never really in big trouble. My husband is a good Catholic man who is very devout. He's generous and loving as well.

I feel like the problem is me. Am I being too sensitive? How can I stop feeling like I do? Why can't I just take my family they way they are without feeling bad? I pray and pray to Mary and Jesus to help me be submissive, loving and patient in the way I am supposed to be. But I feel resentful and angry. I do feel like I've given up everything for my family willingly. I have a Master's Degree and have chosen freely to stay home with my kids. I want to be here to take care of them all. But it doesn't seem like I do a good enough job and it upsets me.

any comments are welcome.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-17-2003
Sun, 08-31-2003 - 11:14am
Hi Linda. First off, I apologize for the length of this post, but there is a lengthy quote from the US Bishops, so it's not all my personal feedback. I post from time-to-time, mostly read to gain insight and perspective from other Catholics, however, I'm going to take the time to write to you because you have more than concerns with faith on the table.

What you have here is abuse (also called domestic violence). Sounds harsh and your initial reaction may be, "Give me a break. He never hurt me." Hear me out. Abuse takes many, many forms. Abuse has legal, social, and religious definitions. It's not always broken bones and bloody noses like we see on tv.

Abuse includes emotional abuse, economic (financial) abuse, physical abuse, and legal abuse. A key element in an abusive relationship includes control. Control is a big ticket item to the abuser. Your husband is a controller. He is, by definition, an emotional abuser. Furthermore, it is his problem. Not yours. Do not own his problem.

Control extends beyond just his likes and dislikes. In a balanced, healthy, respectful relationship you would wear your hair the way he likes it because you know it pleases him, and if you decided to keep it short for whatever reason you want, he would not complain because it is your hair to do with as you please. Instead you wear your hair long because he tells you to. You don't wear comfy sweatpants because he doesn't want you to. Mayonnaise, meats and cheeses must be applied to his standards or you sure as heck hear about it from him, and I bet there is not a "thank you" in his remarks. You sleep incorrectly. You and the children are subjected to criticism after criticism. This, sweetie, is emotional abuse. I know. My husband was the same way and I lived like that for 25 years. It damaged our child. It crippled the marriage. It destroyed my self image, my spirit, my emotional health and, for a time, my faith. It sucked the joy and simple pleasures out of life. I knew I was a failure in every "role": wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, bread winner, etc. I fell short of his standards, and I felt I was a failure as his wife because even though I knew his high standards, likes and dislikes, I never maintained all of his standards all of the time. When I read your post, it was like reading the way I used to think.

Control and criticism after criticism permeates every aspect of your life and you start living in compliance and duty, always thinking you must be a better wife, the children aren't "perfect" and it's a reflection on you and you are responsible, you are not praying enough, you are not a good Catholic and/or Christian, and before you know it, you are doing to yourself what he does to you. I bet the tapes are playing away in your head as you read this. It will not stop until you make it stop.

Do you counter him? When you stand up to him does he belittle you? I bet he does in some fashion. It is not every waking moment of your life together, but it soon dictates how you behave. It starts off very simply. You are not in agreement on how you arrange the pillows in the bed. He changes the dynamics by verbally and emotionally abusing you over the pillows. You position the pillows and he complains every single night because the pillows aren't to his liking, they keep him from you (and believe me, if he wants to touch you and be close to you, there are no pillows that are going to stop him). They are your pillows. You will lose no matter what you do: position the pillows to his liking and suffer the discomfort of your arthritis or position the pillows so you are comfortable and listen to him complain (and how sad it is you end your day with those thoughts). The equality in your relationship subtly disappears and you are the recipient of his constant complaining. You are dismayed and can't figure out the problem. You walk on egg shells to not upset him to live to his "standards" and maintain everyone and everything to his "likes and dislikes". In reality, you are an intelligent, very well educated, capable woman who is a good mother, a devoted wife and Catholic and you are losing your sense of self in the mix. That, my dear, is the crux of an abusive relationship.

You might try counseling with your husband, but it's up to him to make the changes he needs to make. Both of you need to learn about establishing boundaries and living life with your healthy boundaries. Furthermore, your children also have boundaries that should be learned about, fully recognized and honored. After all, children learn by imitation so this is something parents need to teach children. Without the respect and love and boundaries, you will continue to be run over by him and others in life. We spent years in counseling and to no avail for, you see, his standards, ethics, codes and values were above "pop psychology". However, it did not change the fact that he kept emotionally abusing us and when I saw what it was doing to our child, I had to make the decision to leave him. He couldn't stop so I had to make it stop. Years later I learned that the statistics are 1% of abusers change. By the way, he still hasn't changed and everyone else is just not "up" there as an equal.

It's hard being Catholic and leaving an abuser. Marriage is forever in the Church, but we have a Christian obligation to leave an abusive relationship. The Church recognizes our right to separate.

I left my husband after twenty-five years of marriage. I've struggled with my decision and how I fit in with the Church now. I found some comfort in the November 2002 statement the US Bishops issued on domestic violence, entitled "When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women." Here are a few excerpts...


"Domestic violence is any kind of behavior that a person uses to control an intimate partner through fear and intimidation. (note that it isn't just physical abuse)..."

"The Catholic Church teaches that violence against another person in any form fails to treat that person as someone worthy of love. Instead, it treats the person as an object to be used. When violence occurs within a sacramental marriage, the abused spouse may question, "How do these violent acts relate to my promise to take my spouse for better or for worse?" The person being assaulted needs to know that acting to end the abuse does not violate the marriage promises. ..."

"Alcohol and drugs are often associated with domestic violence, but they do not cause it. An abusive man who drinks or uses drugs has two distinct problems: substance abuse and violence. Both must be treated. ..."

"As bishops, we condemn the use of the Bible to support abusive behavior in any form. A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love. Beginning with Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God's image. Jesus himself always respected the human dignity of women. Pope John Paul II reminds us that "Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women."11"

We ask them to keep in mind that intervention by church ministers has three goals, in the following order:

1. Safety for the victim and children;

2. Accountability for the abuser; and

3. Restoration of the relationship (if possible), or mourning over the loss of the relationship.

We also encourage church ministers to see themselves as "first responders" who

• Listen to and believe the victim's story,

• Help her to assess the danger to herself and her children, and

• Refer her to counseling and other specialized services."

When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women (Tenth Anniversary Edition) is available in print editions in English and Spanish and may be ordered by calling toll-free 800-235-8722. Ask for publication number 5-509 (English), 5-888 (Spanish).


iVillage has some superb links for you to read and gather information. You need to educate yourself and there is nothing to feel guilty about in obtaining solid, factual information.

I hope this is of some comfort to you. Remember you are loved. My prayers are with you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Sun, 08-31-2003 - 2:08pm

I have very little to say by way of advice, but I agree with the previous poster who said you're being abused. Our loving Father never meant for you to be belittled in this way; you are His beautiful, intelligent, strong daughter. And He loves you without limit. You have done nothing wrong; the fault does not lie with you.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Please take good care of yourself.

May God Bless You,


Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Tue, 09-02-2003 - 10:36am
OH Linda, Big Hugs to you. That has to be hard. Your Family is there because of You and Your DH and that is what I would work on first! Does DH have issues (work?) that bother him thus, venting and releasing it on you? I would sit down with Him and share your concerns then move on to those children who are blessed to be brought in to this world by a mom like you. Your Concerns are so warranted. You know, when I am feeling down and in the dumps, I do pray and it helps. I take a time out from my own children (6, 4 and 8 months) and spend 15-30 minutes in meditation and prayer. It does help.

Do you know the Serenity Prayer? ("God, grant me...) If you need it I will send it!

((Hugs)) Again...Post Anytime




iVillage Member
Registered: 05-05-2003
Tue, 09-02-2003 - 2:58pm
Thank you all for your responses.

I do agree that at times my husband is verbally abusive. He can even recognize this about himself, although he doesn't call it "verbal abuse." We call it "being critical" instead. I do confront him at times, too. He can apologize and recognize when he is wrong. Sometimes I over react to him. I am depressive at times, as well. A volitile mix.

I love him, and he loves me. We both want to do what is right, we both love God.

As I said before, he is very loving as well.

I appreciate prayers being said for us.

Thanks again