A little over a week ago a Catholic woman by the handle Be Courageous was disturbed that her husband wasn’t properly submitting to her headship, and decided to break out the detonator with a forum post Is There Hope for My Marriage?
In her post we learn how truly awful her layabout husband is, and how his laziness, boringness, video game “addiction”, smoking, and stock investing are destroying the family:
I am typing this a very tired and extremely frustrated mom of two little boys at 2:30 a.m. because I cannot sleep due to my husband and his video game addiction. I am starting to wonder if there is hope for my marriage? We have been married for 5 years and the video gaming has been a major problem. It even caused problems for me and breastfeeding both of my boys as infants because I was so exhausted and not getting any help from my husband while he hid away upstairs in our office playing this video game he has played for over 15 years of his life. He refuses to go anywhere with me and the kids as a family and prefers to stay at home if he is not working…
He also smokes heavily and plays the stock market as if he is gambling with our money. He is in charge of all of our finances, and when I ask him about things he always has an answer, but things just don’t add up. He also doesn’t warm up to me emotionally unless he wants to me to be intimate with him and then it seems like he rewards me for it. I get extremely depressed at times because I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster and I wish he was a better role model for our little ones and present for them more instead of glued to the computer with his game or stocks or outside smoking constantly. I feel like a single mother much of the time. Any advice? He doesn’t think he has a problem and refuses counseling, I have already tried that.
Not surprisingly she wasn’t reminded of Saint Peter’s instruction to wives in 1 Pet 3*, but instead was very quickly advised to give her husband a wakeup-call by commenter Christy Beth:
Personally, I think it’s time to play hardball with him. Tell him you want a separation (and mean it) if his game playing continues. Check to see if you can stay with someone in your family at least temporarily. This will give you a break and maybe show him where he would be without you…
Commenter Cat agreed with the need to “play hardball”:
I agree with this.
I would actually check with an organization that deals with addictive behaviors, like Al-Anon, and ask them how to best deal with your husband.
At the moment, you’re enabling him to continue his destructive behavior. I’m NOT saying that his behavior is your fault. Heavens no! It’s HIS decision to play games. But you are making it easy for him to keep playing.
So I think that Christy Beth’s advice is very good.
Do you have a family that you can go home to and live with for a while? Or a really good female friend who will take you in?
Commenter bmaj advises Be Courageous that she has a moral duty to not submit to her husband, and that God wants her to be happy:
Our Lord wants us to love our husbands, but He also doesn’t expect us to be doormats – and He truly wants us to be happy.
Others offered less overt ways to bring her husband back into submission, including insisting that he take classes she chooses for him, or go to marriage counseling. This reaction continued for a few days until her husband spoiled the fun of sowing discord by showing up and sharing his own side of the story. He also pleaded with this online community to stop spreading toxic anti marriage advice (emphasis mine):
Just thought I’d share a little. I’m the husband in this scenario, I happened to look at the internet history when I came home from work and nothing had been done (laundry piled up, dishes over flowing in the sink, house is a disaster) and I see my 2.5 year old unaccompanied in the pantry where we have things that he should not be in to, some even dangerous. My wife is on the computer not paying attention to anything when I come in, I figured she’s on Facebook again as so much of the day I catch her staring in to.
I wanted to see how much of the day she had spent on it so I could confront her about her time on the computer during the day when she (in my humble opinion) should be contributing to the household. Is it wrong to think that a family has one person that stays home and watches the children should also try to keep the house in order if time permits?
That’s when I see “Is there hope for my marriage”, which comes as a HUGE surprise to me. Reading the posts, I’ve got a few things to say.
First, she failed to mention that 75% of my time is spent either at work were I have spent a lot of trying “climbing the ladder” to try to secure a better future for my family, on work, or studying. I just completed a Master’s Degree, full time school, while trying to stay on top of everything at work, I DO MY SHARE OF TAKING CARE OF THE CHILDREN after work when I’m home (which she seems to have failed to mention), as well as study for the EXTREMELY tough CPA exam, again to further my families financial security. In a self assessment, I personally think I manage a fairly busy schedule quite well, and although it didn’t seem that way in previous posts, balance time with my family as well as career (or at least make every effort). The SATURDAY night that she refers to, I just finished a week of studying for the CPA exam, on top of a very stressful work week, and completed a three hour exam; yes I do enjoy video games but not as an addiction. It is a pass time for me, a way to cool down and let me mind relax a little bit before I have to hit the ground running again. I don’t drink or do any drugs, I think video gaming is a fairly responsible thing to do to unwind, personally. (Please note, this was 2:30am, when the children are sleeping…)
Just wanted to make a quick note, and maybe ask that everyone do some self reflecting. The person that mentioned that she “should play hard ball”, you about (and still might) cost us a family. The thing is, if anyone has to put up with unfair things in this marriage, it’s me. But I generally don’t complain, I don’t bother trying to change things. So long as everyone ELSE is content, comfortable, and safe, I don’t really mind. My place is to provide, and yet I constantly get stepped on. With this thread, I about had enough. The dangers of these “helpful” threads are that you don’t know all the circumstances, but still you give advice that might be taken seriously. Would you trust a doctor to diagnose you with something over an email? Everyone wants to swoop in and “help” or “save” a needy stranger, but without knowing any of the details other than what was given.
Context is important, and in the current day that seems to be forgotten.
Thanks for making me last 24 hours hell, and probably ruining my family.
Predictably this lead to him being accused of being an abusive husband by FrenzyJen. More striking is that while the thread was eventually closed (after an endorsement of Mom’s Night Out by
FrenzyJen Xanthippe), the moderators never stepped in and reminded the participants that as a Catholic forum intended to “Explain and Defend the Faith”, the focus should not be on sowing feminist rebellion and discord, but on reaffirming Catholic teaching on submission and divorce.
With this in mind, I echo the husband’s plea to the moderators of Catholic Answers Forum. Shut down these poisonous threads which whisper destruction and rebellion into the ears of wives and remind those participating what Catholic teaching actually says*. While it may be enjoyable for those participating, there are real living breathing people (including children) who are being terribly harmed by this.
*I understand that Catholics do not rely solely on the Bible, but also on RCC teaching. As a non Catholic I’m not aware that RCC teaching has overturned Saint Peter’s instruction to wives in 1 Pet 3, but if this is the case I humbly ask my Catholic readers to correct my error.
Update: Shortly after I posted this Catholic Answers Forum made the shameful thread I wrote about hidden, although for now at least you can still see it in cached form. Based on this reaction I can only assume they are aware of the plea to stop enabling the destruction of families and felt enough shame to hide the evidence. What isn’t clear is if they will make an appropriate policy change at the moderator’s level. I invite the moderators at Catholic Answer’s Forum to explain what steps are being taken to stop this from happening in the future.