Dealing with Spousal Discord

Listener Michael wrote in to The Patrick Madrid Show to ask Patrick for advice on how to deal with a serious issue he is having with his wife of thirty years:

I’m rather heartsick as I write to ask you for your advice. I’ve been married for over 30 years and I love my wife. She is a good person, a mother and wife. I am a cradle Catholic married in the Church and came back to my faith, in real terms, late in life.

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I’ve never been confused about abortion, and I’ve contributed to and done the Walk for Life more than once in San Francisco. This evening, in a conversation about the gun control issue, it led to the subject of what else my wife disagrees with me on. To my shock and heartbreak, I learned that she believes that life does not begin at conception; it’s not viable.

This is my fault for not asking this decades ago, but I am still shocked and heartsick. We have three grown children, and I cannot fathom how any woman, much less my wife, could have children and hold these views.

My question is how to move forward: I love her and would always be there with her in marriage. I’ve been praying for her conversion and my children for a long time. I know Christ hears my prayers and will answer them in His own way and time, possibly after my own death. This revelation has gutted me, though. I will pray, of course, but can you advise any ways to come at this when you’re in disagreement with your spouse on this moral question?

Patrick began by saying he can imagine how awful that must be to have discovered this heartbreaking thing about his wife after so many years of marriage. It’s clear Michael is deeply in love with her, and she has many positive qualities that make her the great wife and mother she is.

“I’m shocked that it hasn’t come up already,” said Patrick. “I mean, after 30 years of marriage, I would think that this issue – a hot-button issue for so many people would have come up before.”

Regardless, Patrick offered helpful advice.

Patrick posited that it might be possible that she is dealing with an abortion from some point in her past; not a probability or an assumption, but a possibility. “And it’s not for me to know. But that might be a conversation to have with her, just so you can gently plumb the depths of this issue and find out if there is something more to it,” said Patrick.

Patrick recounted the story of St. Monica and her husband Patricius Aurelius, the parents of St. Augustine. St. Monica was a devout Catholic, but Patricius and Augustine were not. As told in St. Augustine’s Confessions, he describes his sinful youth and alludes to the friction between his Christian mother and a pagan father. For the entirety of their marriage, St. Monica prayed for her husband and son, trusting that God would eventually bring them to the light.

“And in the end, in the very end, when he was dying, [Patricius] converted! He was baptized and by all accounts, died a holy death and went to heaven,” explained Patrick. “I do believe it was because of his wife’s constancy, her long-suffering indefatigable love for her husband that led her to just minister to him, even though he disappointed her in many ways.”

And in many ways, that story is similar to Michael’s. There are two tethers connecting this married couple: one is a lifeline that is built on love, trust, selflessness, and unity. It is that relationship that has been growing and thriving for thirty years, that validation of those vows they made on their wedding day. The second tether is this new point of contention born of disagreement on a serious moral issue.

Patrick urged Michael on, encouraging him to follow through on the path it seems he has already embarked upon, a lifetime of prayer for his family members. Just as St. Monica refused to give up on her husband’s and son’s conversions, Michael should see this as an opportunity to pursue the goal of Christian marriage: to get one’s spouse to heaven. In other words, as Patrick said, Michael now has a clear and present mission. It will undoubtedly be a difficult one, but he already has the blueprints for success.

“So, accept this challenge. Accept this reality. And ask the Lord to give you the graces that you’ll need, the opportunities that will arise, to say the right thing, to offer encouragement, information, whatever it may be. And then just make that the rest of your life’s project.”

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays 8am – 11am CT

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.