Catholic Guilt

Old 08-10-2012, 11:16 AM
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Catholic Guilt

I know the separation and the eventual divorce are the logical things to do. I am working on my codependency issues and trying to emotionally detach. However, having been raised Catholic, even if I am not practicing I do feel that I made a vow to God in the presence of family and friends. I planned on keeping those vows. My intention was there. There's that part about "in sickness and in health" and I do feel my AH is sick emotionally, spiritually and maybe even mentally. I just need to hear from a Catholic perspective as to when breaking those vows is the right thing to do. Not that I think I will burn on hell for getting a divorce or anything, just does not sit right with me.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:22 AM
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I'm Right There As Well

Raised Catholic, switched denominations years ago, but take the Sacrament of Marriage seriously. That's something I struggle with as well. But I know that God would want me to take care of my son
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:37 AM
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Hi Jamaicamecrazy (just really read your name and love it!) I am not a catholic, but was raised in a very conservative church so I know what you are talking about. I suffer from the same questions as you. What I have learned from the crazy train is that God is a loving God. He never intended for life to be like this or for a union that He has blessed to be unhealthy. I believe that He gives us a choice. It says in the Bible that He hates Divorce and I believed for a long time this meant come Hell or high water we are not to divorce or we would almost be commiting the unpardonable sin. But I have also been doing alot of studying and believe that once our partner becomes a person that God never intended them to be, we become unequally yoked with that person. Just as the Bible is against divorce, it has a lot to say about a person that becomes an alcoholic. Read Proverbs 23:30-35. I hope this helps and my appologies if this isnt what you were looking for.

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:37 PM
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I guess it helps to have Catholic Priests in the family.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition:

2386. It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.


It can be argued that the alcoholic has abandoned the marriage, in which case there may be a case for an annulment. Such decisions are made on a case to case basis by a Church tribunal. It also depends on which of the 27 or so Catholic rites you belong to. Some are more flexible while others are stricter.
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:47 PM
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My mother divorced my father pre-Vatican II when things were a lot stricter. It was tough on the kids from the standpoint of "what the neighbors thought" back in the Brady Bunch era, but from the standpoint of living a good life, she did God's work by doing the courageous thing and giving us a stable, happy, home without having to be exposed to the chaos.

From what I understand, the church totally allows separation and divorce when there is alcoholism/abuse. From a dogmatic standpoint, I think the issue is only if you go to remarry. But I'm truly not an authority on that.

i believe that if you divorce for selfish motives, like "I hate the way he leaves his clothes on the floor" the Church is not going to be too understanding. But you have to look at the health of the home.

For a long time, I let the "spiritually" of "in sickness and health" be an excuse--so I think it's important to continue to dig deep into your own motivations and discern honestly what's best for you and your family
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:02 PM
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I am also a former Catholic and I believe that the covenants you make are those that make sense at the time and that we all grow and evolve . . .maybe look into your heart for your true answers, not outside of yourself at a doctrine that is manmade . . .

On the other hand, I took a vow one time to save my grandson as a baby and it has been the hardest thing to let go of . . .so I know how deep those vows can be.

Pray about it?
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:21 PM
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I just posted this in the SA for family members forum. How funny. some one said to come here and look. that there is a threat about what i posted. well here it is,

To stay or go in the eyes of my HP, in the eyes of me?

I got a simple question with a not so simple answer. I am catholic. I am struggling with the fact that my qualifier had cheated on me multiple times when she was active. A little back ground. Married for over 10 years, two beautiful children also. Both in our 40ís. Good jobs. Own our home. I am struggling with this fact to the point of physical internal pain. Sleepless nights. A mental weight on my shoulders, feels like I am carrying a city bus on my shoulders. My guilt. And a whole lot of metal pictures in my head. Just total betrayal and destruction. Now as a catholic. What do I do? What can she do to restore ďHERĒ vows? Or repent? Or make amends to me? Vows that I took very very very seriously. I have talk to others, but I canít understand their reasoning. One said ďOh, itís OK, she was active, so you have to forgive herĒ. Mind you, the person I was talking to was an addict. There is a tremendous amount of other stuff that I am dealing with, the collateral damage is unbelievable. Itís like she went outside the house with a flame thrower and burned the entire house down with my children and myself in it. Then turned around and said ďwhatĒ, thatís nothing. Look what else I can do and did!!!! So, I am at a crossroad in my life right now. I donít know what to do. For the first F_N time in my life, I donít know what the [email protected] to do!! I am praying to my HP. Yes I am attending meeting, yes I am going to therapy. I want my life back. I want to be at peace. I don't want to feel like i am going 100 MPH when i get up and when i try to sleep.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:29 PM
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I'm not a Catholic but a Christian, and Hypathia's quote supports the way I've thought about this (maybe I'm a Catholic and I don't know it? ):

Adultery is a valid reason for divorce, according to the Bible. My AXH cheated on me with a bottle. For 20 years, he prioritized his drinking over me and over his children. I didn't leave him -- he left me, years ago.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:35 PM
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Funnily enough, some of my best memories from my 20s are sitting around, drinking wine (of course!) and arguing theology, philosophy and doctrine at a university pub with a couple of Priests and theology students. Nowadays when I have any questions, I just go and have a chat with an expert. Wine optional.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:20 PM
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True story. About a week ago, the bf and I went on a family vacation with my mom and some of her (and my) family members. My mom tried to make me and the boyfriend sleep in separate ROOMS (not just beds) because we're not married and it "wouldn't look good". I don't have a problem with each of us having our own single bed in the same room while on a week-long vacation. But initially, my mom wanted me to share a bed with her! Of course I hollered and protested and won, so he and I got the room with the two single beds. But yeah, apparently you can't just BE in a relationship, you have to tie the knot in order to validate anything. SMH.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:27 PM
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The way I see it, I did not leave my AH because of his sickness. I left him because of his verbal and emotional abuse, and his failure to uphold his vows (why do we always cite "sickness and health," but forget about "love, honor, and cherish?")

Anyway, I've said it before. Having a disease does not excuse the behavior. If your spouse had cancer and used it as an excuse to lie, abuse, and cheat, would you feel the need to stay with him "in sickness and health?"

Disclaimer: *not Catholic*

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Old 08-10-2012, 03:32 PM
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Has your husband kept every word of HIS vows? Relationships shouldn't be one-sided.
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:20 PM
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I am Catholic and I struggled with this one too. I've read a lot, and that helped me through this. For example, following are two excerpts from a Catholic author and psychotherapist Gregory Popcak, in his book God help me! These people are driving me nuts. (I still chuckle at the title, since I related to it so much at the time (due to AH):

"Scripture says, "You are my friends, if you keep my commandments" (John 15 14, italics mine). In a sense, this is the scriptural basis for the limits on tolerance. Jesus was saying, "I love you more than you could ever know but if you want to be in a relationship with me, then you need to act in a certain way toward me. If you do not, I will withdraw from you, and if you continue to act offensively toward me, you may lose my friendship entirely." Mr. Popcak continues to elaborate on how he made these conclusions referencing more of scripture.

...on being co-dependent:...
"While Jesus offers himself completely to those who will respond to him, to those that will offer themselves in exchange for all he has to offer them, he does not spend himself unwisely on those who cannot or will not reciprocate. To put it in scriptural terms, he does not cast pearls before swine. Jesus endured indignity, suffering, and humiliation only when doing so was absolutely necessary to fulfilling his mission, and then he did it with grace and fortitude. By contrast, the true co-dependent is unable to distinguish between necessary suffering which results from efforts to become or help someone become the person God intended and unnecessary suffering which perpetuates a persons pathology or sin and destroys the person who is trying to help." Once again, the author elaborates more to make his point more clear and lists examples of when Jesus avoided suffering, etc.

I personally came to conclude that my relationship had gotten to the point that I was perpetuating my AH's pathology or sin by remaining in the relationship. I had a priest/friend tell me that perpetuating someone else's pathology can amount to sin on my part...and that made sense, really helped me to see things differently now that I was seeing a bigger picture.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:25 PM
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My Catholic upbringing was interspersed with a lot of the family disease of alcoholism. As a result I can't always separate out what is the disease and what is Catholic.

I say that because I have come to learn that my experience with this is not unique.

I often at this time can't quite get exactly how I am feeling, but can admit that is feels "Catholic." Usually when I am feeling guilty, dependent or feeling like I can't sort out what is mine and what is someone else's this feeling will arise.

So I don't have any answers for you but wonder if it might be more intertwined than you realize.

Please let us know what you work out.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
why do we always cite "sickness and health," but forget about "love, honor, and cherish?"
YES, YES, YES. I cannot recall how many times my AH has thrown my marriage vows at me - this from the man who hasn't been inside a church except for funerals and other weddings since the day we got married. Every time I get the line about "in sickness and in health", I ask him when was the last time he loved and cherished me? He never, ever, has an answer.

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Old 08-11-2012, 07:32 AM
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Raised in the Catholic Church, 8 years in school, no longer involved in organized religion.

IMO, religion, and the belief system is a guidepost...not a hitching post.

The doctrines were written in a totally different era and people did not live for 80 years,
everything has changed and practical application for todays world might be the answer.

Just my thoughts.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:52 AM
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The church has failed to address a scripturally sound approach to the extremely difficult issues in a marriage failing due to an alcoholic partner and the typical knee jerk response is "pray harder" by many is one made in ignorance.

I have studied this subject out and while not a theologian it is only common sense that take all scripture in it's entirety and especially the words of Christ and it becomes pretty plain "what Jesus would do".

When our spouse (usually the husband who is theoretically responsible for the spiritual condition of his family) is tearing a marriage apart through their destructive behaviors (sin) there SHOULD be consequences for that behavior.

Think about this... Throughout scripture Israel relationship with God was always patterned as a marriage covenant and a shadow of what was to come... the Bridegroom Christ. The Old and New Testament are "covenants" or contracts if you will where one party agrees to "covenant" with the other. In a Christian wedding convenant there are three parties ... husband, wife and God and each is supposed to live a certain way in relationship and submission to eachother.

What did God do when Israel broke her covenant with God and went after idols (think alcohol being an idol here)? Did he chase after her and beg her to please reconsider? Did Jesus chase after the rich young ruler?

Did God divorce Israel? Did Jesus withdraw all hope of redemption for the rich young ruler?

No... Israel time and again would betray their God and God would withdraw his hand of protection (God is NOT codependent!) and off Israel would go into captivity...again... again and again.

Sort of like a "boundary" isn't it? The ten commandments were not the "10 suggestions". Jesus wept as he looked over Jerusalem but scripture is clear that we are all expected to live out our faith as followers not hearers only.

So... scripture is clear what a husband is supposed to his wife as his Christ loved the church and gave his life for her! Scripture says there will be no drunkards in heaven and obviously insanity and abuse are not something that Jesus or God would have expected his children to tolerate.

Therefore ... we are to follow God and he clearly showed us how to deal with sin... with boundaries and to allow those in sin an opportunity to TRULY repent and receive an opportunity to demonstrate that and recieve redemption.

There is a GREAT book that explores this called "Redemptive Divorce" (google is your friend here as we cannot link) and the suggestion is that the spouse file a divorce clearly listing the issues (abuse, alcoholism, infidelity) and map out exactly what actions would be required of the spouse to effect an eventual reconciliation and for the divorce action to be dropped.

For an alcoholic in denial this is the ultimate intervention... in black and white and filed at the courthouse!

This may be a bit too radical for some but the book is GOOD even if you are not a believer... it is common sense and it is theologically sound in my opinion!
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:13 AM
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Catholic upbringing

aah gee, i dont even want to go there...i have seen alot of As in recovery deal with sin, and shame and guilt, and that is only half of why they did drink....
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:25 AM
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Alcoholics will use ANY excuse for drinking.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
The way I see it, I did not leave my AH because of his sickness. I left him because of his verbal and emotional abuse, and his failure to uphold his vows (why do we always cite "sickness and health," but forget about "love, honor, and cherish?")

Anyway, I've said it before. Having a disease does not excuse the behavior. If your spouse had cancer and used it as an excuse to lie, abuse, and cheat, would you feel the need to stay with him "in sickness and health?"

Disclaimer: *not Catholic*

Just want to butt in on your post here. I have a friend whose husband was a diabetic. She is a Christian(not Catholic) but chose to separate from him for a time because he was not taking his medication or insulin and wasn't taking care of himself and his disease and it was causing major problems in their home. They eventually tried a reconciliation. Then, 2 summers ago he crashed his car and died because of a diabetic episode. Turns out he wasn't taking care of his disease at that point and he nearly took the life of a 17 year old boy, too. So, I guess I see that these things can apply to other diseases, not just addicts/alcoholics.

As to the original post: I too, struggle with the divorce and religion issue even though I'm not Catholic. I take my vows seriously and always have.
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