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Marriage Prep Classes Don\’t Teach You How to Fight

May 18, AD2013 13 Comments

\"Leticia

My husband and I have been fighting all week. We finally talked things out and made up last night, but the week has been pretty crappy for the most part. Also I’m extremely tired. I’m not saying any of this as a complaint, just as an intro into what this crappy week has taught me. Papa said not to complain. I’m trying Papa, I’m trying.

There are just some things that they don’t teach you in RCIA or in Marriage Prep Classes. I’ve learned a lot of them in the last 4 years. I\’ve learned even more in the last week.

First, living a faithful Catholic life in this fallen world is hard. Being a Christian today is not for wimps. It is a constant process of self-examination for me. I am constantly realizing that I have somehow gotten off the path and started going in the wrong direction. I have to humble myself and turn back around. It feels like I might not ever make it Home, but then I remember that Jesus is not a liar and He promised to always be there to help when things get hard as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, He will guide me Home.

Second, I learned that fighting as a Catholic couple is also hard. I have been programmed all my life on how to fight with people in all the wrong ways, and it has always ended up very bad. I don’t really know at what point I began to act out in rages, but I remember being very little and screeching at my mother that I hated her. I’ve pulled phone cords out of walls and broken all kinds of things when I get angry. I have ruined relationships with people I care about because of how out of control I can be when I get angry.

My kids have suffered a lot as well by having to be around a lot of screaming and yelling in their life. It was at its worse when I drank uncontrollably. Grey Goose was not a good mix when I was mad. I have no real clue on how to respectfully discuss issues with someone in a calm and rational way. Since my conversion it has gotten much better, but this past week proved to me that I still need a lot more work.

I also need help. In a world that says that when your spouse is no longer making you “happy” you can just divorce him and find someone else, it is difficult to be a faithful Catholic spouse. For me it is hard to be a faithful Catholic period, because our faith isn’t based on how we “feel”. My first instinct is always to pack my stuff and move out. It is always my goal to move, and that makes my husband feel terrible. Then he gets angry and says things that make me feel terrible and before you know it we are having WWIII and hate each other’s guts. The one thing that is different with Stacey is that I actually love him.

I don’t just love the idea of him and the fantasy of having a perfect married life, but I love who he is. I love how he laughs, how he smiles, how he calls me “darlin’” with his Texas accent, how he loves to talk about bugs, and many other things. I love him, even when he gets on my nerves. All it takes is a one second thought of life without him and I am reminded how grateful I am to have him as my husband. I quickly start trying to figure out what is wrong and praying for God to step in so that I never live a day in the rest of my life without the love of my life. I start looking at myself to see what exactly can I do to fix things about myself that have contributed to whatever we are fighting about. That is not easy for me because I am a blamer. I blame everything for my actions naturally. It takes intentional action to try and figure out my faults.

Marriage is hard. Disagreements with your spouse are hard. They do not really teach you how to fight in Marriage Prep. And who would listen? In marriage prep there is a lot of giggling about how you are never, ever, ever, going to fight. I think that is why Catholic couples still end up divorced and that is part of the issue with the breakdown of marriage and the family. We are called to be the witnesses of what Marriage is, and so the Evil One works hard to break up our marriages so that we can’t do that. We need marriage prep that is solid about the issue of divorce. We need marriage prep that shows couples how to fight. The fact is that every couple fights, but how do they fight and how do they forgive and resolve those fights is the question. What is the right way to resolve conflict as Christians? The idea of being a door mat isn’t Christian, and neither is shouting insults at your spouse. So what is the answer? Hell if I know. Any good advice is very welcome.

God did give me an attitude adjustment by reminding me what I vowed when I stood on that altar and just how I have been failing to keep those vows by putting things on my priority list where they do not belong. But I still could use some advice on how to not allow myself to take everything my husband says wrong and how not to let my past hurts rule my life and relationship with a man that I love more than words.

Two steps forward, ten steps back. That is how my life with Jesus feels this week. Thank God that He stays by my side with every step.

St. Michael the Archangel Pray for Us!

© 2013. Leticia Adams. All Rights Reserved.

Filed in: Family, Marriage • Tags:

About the Author:

Leticia is a convert who came into the Catholic Church at Easter 2010. She is the mother of 4 kids. She is homeschooling her youngest child, has two in Jr High and her oldest is grown up and about to have a child of his own this summer. Leticia is on her Pastoral Council, blogs at Catholic Sistas as well as her personal blog, is a full-time student, a wife, and helps with her parish's Jesus is Lord adult faith formation class and RCIA. In her spare time she sleeps.

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  • sophie73

    As a single woman, I have been “spared” with couple’s fight :). I have friends I know who are striving to be good Catholics too and admitted that in the early part of their marriage, they would throw each other’s plates when they fight. But now no more. Indeed, faithful Catholics have it worst bec the devil works overtime with them :). However, remembering perhaps that when you fight, your personal guardian angels are there listening, shaking their heads, and trying to reason out if only both of you will listen, or knowing that our Blessed MOther is listening as well as our Lord too, maybe just maybe we would change our tone, be more calm and talk and iron things out. Just try to have always the presence of God maybe it will make things better next time. Praying for all Catholic couples and families. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • Credo111

    Finding a solid, orthodox Catholic counselor can help greatly, particularly where there are long-term, buried issues that are keeping you from authentic healing.

  • J D

    The Annulment Crisis in America, the notion of some European National Bishop’s Conferences to admit “re-married” Catholics to the Sacramental Life of The Church, and the dysfunctional Family Court system are the BIG reasons why Catholics, particularly women, get divorced.

    80% of American divorces are filed by women. Women polled cite “economic” reasons as the overwhelming cause.

    95% of the Annulments the Church grants each year happen in America. America has become the land of 6 1/2 Sacraments, where $300-$600 buys you a marriage that “never existed”.

    Motivated by financial interests, Europe has Cardinals who would like to admit second, third, or fourth “married” families to the Sacramental Life of The Church.

    Imagine we allow polygamy for any woman in America. Pick, not ONE, but TWO men you would most like to marry. They can be as good-looking or wealthy as you can imagine, BUT there’s a catch. If any of the men divorce you, you’re future income will be cut in half, and the ability to see the children of such a union, completely controlled by your former spouse, who will retain all de-facto power in raising them.

    Throw out the polygamy angle, and change the sex from female to male, and that’s exactly what each man is threatened with from anti-family, arch-feminist forces in Family Court. Maybe one day the co-habitation crisis could be viewed from these lenses.

    The point is that any vocation, especially the preeminent married one, who provide all and every righteous pillar society needs, shouldn’t be so easy to destroy. Struggling with the demands of one’s vocation is to be expected, but abandoning it, or pretending it never was, should never be a feasible option.

    It is a VOCATION, not a VACATION! Monastic orders that work have a strong sense of hierarchy, prayer, work, and sacrifice. All successful vocations share the same traits.

    St. Joseph, Head of The Holy Family, Pray for Us..

    Holy Mary, Wife of St. Joseph, Pray for Us..

    Divine Infant Jesus, Have Mercy on Us!

    • enness

      I don’t quite understand what you mean about financial interests. How is being admitted to the sacraments a guarantee of money in the bank? Is it not true that one person may give generously, and a hundred give stingily?

    • J D

      The post v-2 Church is a lot like the few people left in it’s pews: It fails to understand and practice penance. The American Patriotic Church doesn’t need a “fortnight for failure (freedom)”. Rather, there is a crying, penitential need for an annual “Appeal for Atonement!” Where the USBCC begs for forgiveness and seeks to repair for the many glaring sins of omission, and furtively, commission.

      What Cardinals think is if, they could just find away around the unreasonable demands of the 6th Commandment, Churches would be full! Coffers replenished! With enough pre and post liturgy Church noise to allow them to ignore this era’s rancid fruits and tyrannical demands of Dogma and Discipline.

      Or so, these cowards, think.

      VIVA CHRISTO REY!

  • Mary Ann

    A couple of suggestions for civilized arguing:
    1) Force yourself to remember that you LOVE this person.
    2) Consider the possibility that it’s constructive criticism, not your spouse just picking on you.
    3) Realize that your response is being watched and learned by your children.
    4) Before things escalate, tell your spouse that you need some time to really think over what he’s saying to you before you respond. That will prevent a dramatic outburst that you may regret later.

    I think the more passionate of a personality you have, the more likely you are to have intense arguments. Passion is a wonderful quality to have most of the time, but it often leads to impulsiveness, which isn’t a good thing when you lose your temper. You hit the nail on the head when you said that you tell yourself how much you love your husband, and imagine how empty life would be without him. Love is the guiding force that keeps everything balanced in our lives. Love is also the pinnacle we strive for as Christians, because God IS love. Often it’s love that convinces us to swallow our pride and realize we don’t have to win every argument after all!

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  • Jared Tomanek

    Great topic Leticia! I highly recommend http://www.retrouvaille.org/. It is a weekend of learning how to communicate between spouses. It is tough work, so don’t plan on relaxing. It would be a great idea if there were some sort of marriage prep existed similar to Retrouvaille.

    • Charles Martel

      I will second that. Retrouvaille is about learning to communicate how one feels, extremely important to living in community (as in a marriage) but not anywhere near as simple as it would seem. It is in fact extremely hard to do. But the techniques they teach are extremely effective.

      Also, I strongly recommend Deacon Dr Bob McDonald’s 1-hour “Anger and Forgiveness” CD, available here: http://www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org/store/title/anger-and-forgiveness

  • angela holmes

    Oh I so wish you could have attended a Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat http://www.engagedencounter.org/ ! We do cover this topic! Some of the rules for fighting fairly that we discuss are: No name calling, no third parties, no past history, stick to the subject, no cheap shots, don’t go to bed angry, maintain a sense of humor, and hold hands. (Have to say from experience that it is pretty darn hard to fight while you are holding hands). And I can’t say I have always followed these rules, but it is helpful to have some guidelines that you can resort to/think about/humble yourself with when you are in a fight. It’s all a part of being open in communication.

  • Marie

    What they don’t teach you in marriage prep or anywhere else today is how to save your soul and how easy it is to lose eternal life.

    Before Vatican II, people got along better and divorce was rare because Confession lines were long. I remember standing in that line on Saturdays examining my conscience along with everyone else.

    And then we went home, resolving to be kinder, until the next flare up. But we always had a place to go to “wash up” until Vatican II happened, salvation was assured, and all hell broke loose.

    • enness

      Or they were afraid to leave…maybe some of that is true, but I can’t help thinking it’s equal parts rosy-tinted fantasy.

  • Ruth

    I believe praying the Rosary will help. You can start by just praying one mystery. I know my faith has grown. I recommend reading books by Fulton Sheen. He was a priest known for his great advice and converting atheists! He is being considered for sainthood. I’m reading THREE TO GET MARRIED and LIFE OF CHRIST. We have to put time and effort in our faith to become better people. We can’t always control our tempers. We all have bad days and things are going to be said (we’re sinners, after all), but I find myself regretting hurtful words and working on mending the relationship almost as soon as the words are spoken, almost as if God were right there beside me, guiding me. The other person may not come around at first, but it will soothe your own spirit, and with time, they will learn from your lead. Good Luck and God Bless!