punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Regretting your Marriage Doesn’t Mean it was a Mistake

Right now, like millions of other married couples, you may be suffering in what you consider to be a tough marriage.

First, take heart! There is good news about perseverance through these difficult times.  Featured recently on the National Organization for Marriage’s Facebook page is the following, hopeful quote:

"In studies of 700 miserable, ready-to-split spouses, researchers found that 2/3 of those who stayed married were happy five years later. They toughed out some of the most difficult problems a couple could face... What was their strategy? A mix of stubborn commitment, a willingness to work together on issues, and a healthy lowering of expectations." -featured in Prevention Magazine (from Marriage Missions International)

I can personally relate to this quote.  In the past, I have regretted my marriage many times (especially during those moments where the bitter cup tasted down right poisonous).  But, even in those dark moments, I’ve come to realize, it didn’t necessarily mean that my marriage was a mistake.  What am I getting at?

First, let me be clear, that God never intends a bad marriage.  We do that ourselves.  Living a good, fruitful marriage is entirely possible and the Church gives the surest way of achieving this such as abstaining from premarital sex and being open to children (neither of which is easy to do, mind you). 

Sometimes (most of the time) though, life still happens.  Things still happen. Our fallen nature still happens. But human beings are also capable of redemption and that’s what I’m getting at.

During our first years together, I struggled daily against believing that my marriage was some sort of critical error and that God had duped me into undertaking a path too difficult for any human being.

But this was only a temptation and one that is very prevalent today.  Why so?

Just look around.  Missing from the current media frenzied over-glorification marriage is the unending mileage of forgiveness required for its harmony.   Instead it is depicted as a romantic, cozy adventure for the benefit of the spouses alone.  

But, boy, when do people do marry, then what happens? 

They quickly encounter the universal difficulties that have always plagued marriages such as breakdowns in communication, conflict, and difficulty raising children.  No wonder so many people call it quits, thinking it was a mistake!  It looks and feels and tastes like nothing they expected!
But again, take heart if you’ve found yourself in the boat of those who have contemplated ‘ending things.’ Yes you may feel regret over you marriage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was mistake.  In fact you may discover, as I and so many have, that my perseverance through my marital difficulties has added to me.

For instance, I am far less judgmental of people in general.  I get it now.  I’m not perfect – neither is my spouse.  What was I thinking all those years that I felt “we” could do no wrong together? Our particular rough “patch,” lasted almost two years – and to be honest, we’re still trying to get things right. 

Believe it or not, some of the most saintly couples currently walk this earth have been there.  They have endured addiction, adultery, abuse, depression…sometimes all at once.  And many have walked the healing path and come out victorious.

Why mention all of this?  Because I’ve learned that marriage, more than anything else, is a path to sanctification. As a vocation, married life will cleanse your heart and exercise your faith muscles in an almost inhumane regimen of sacrifice and death to self ad-nauseum – and that’s if you’re doing it right!

I used to think of being married as some sort of security blanket.  Now I see it as a journey I travel everyday, arming myself through prayer and the sacraments to face it’s sometimes blistering conditions.  Christ’s own example shows us that the way to Heaven is the cross and marriage is not impervious to this reality. 

 But what about happiness?

Here God surprised me.  When I finally abandoned the notion that I had made a mistake in marrying my husband, and started to focus on doing God’s will alone, things got better. I was suddenly happy. And I finally came to see that the marriage I so often regretted was not necessarily a mistake. In fact, it really is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t immediate marital bliss or anything, I have grown up from that young college girl clutching on to her, high, unrealistic ideals which in the end, only hurt me and my opinion of my husband.

Certainly the world says suffering within marriage is pointless, and that it’s best to discard it if things aren’t working.  Barring abusive circumstances, we Catholics know better. The saints, who suffered far more than any of us, show us the ultimate reward for undertaking our crosses: peace of heart, and heaven.

God has proven time and again, in even the most broken of circumstances, when His mercy is applied, they become light for the world.    He does have a plan for married people who are hurting and we are capable of being the saints we are all called to be. We need only seek it in all confidence and love.

I’m writing to reassure you that searching for God’s will in the midst of your painful marriage is possible; that perseverance is worth it and that you will be the more peaceful person for doing so.  In the end, you cannot fix another person, you can only change yourself.

(And please, get real marriage help!  Retrouvaille ministries is one such resource. We recommend them.  Also Marriage Ministries.  See link above.)


  1. Thank you for your honesty. My husband and I have been married nearly 20 years and yes, there are seasons of drought, moments of doubt. I think we see too many Hollywood movies, read too many fairy tales, and believe that "they lived happily ever after." Good strong marriages take work! But the rewards, as you say, are tremendous.

  2. It's so hard to find honest articles such as this because Christians (myself included) never want to admit to having these feelings. For about the 10th time in the past couple of years I typed in "regretting my marraige" in my search bar- expecting nothing more than divorce forums as stuff as usual. It was a total God send to read this tonight- the tears just flooded as I read this. I married in college and I too had unrealistic expectations and its hard. What's even harder is that no matter how many times I try to tell my husband every thing feels wrong- he never sees anything wrong. I know it's not just about me. In fact it shouldn't be about me at all- I find myself in tears time and time again letting the devil get to me. This article, obviously doesn't fix my problems or make things easier to accept- but it's just the reminder and encouagement that this struggling heart needed to read. Thank you.

    1. I feel these things right now and it's only been a few months! I can't imagine feeling this way for the rest of my life. For many years, the thought of a perfect marriage was my utopia so I can't even describe the level of disappointment. I just keep wondering if I came here by myself or if God led me here. Maybe if I knew there was a higher purpose to it then I'll feel better. I keep thinking of the past and possible times that I could have 'escaped'. My husband does his very best for me, he wants me to be happy.. I don't know what to do. Are you saying you have felt this way for a couple of years?

    2. Anonymous. Marriage I have learned is a battle, and I don't mean with your spouse. It's with the forces of evil that threaten to tear everything sacred apart. My advice is to find a good priestly spiritual director and to stay close to the Eucharist. I also fought counseling and got help. If I am begin very honest, I probably blame my spouse for our problems, and therein lies the problem with me. I need to look more at my own habits and get right with God. I need to accept that I can't change another person. But I can live the fullest life possible that God had in store for me from the beginning of time, even in very painful and unideal circumstances. My prayer for you is simply peace this Advent. I pray also you find help. God bless you.

    3. Thank you for your blog. It is refreshing and honest.

  3. thank you for this article. it makes me feel less alone. i love my husband but I feel it was a mistake to marry him - we rushed in too quickly, hadn't know each other but a couple months, because i really didn't know him I later discovered many red flags that, if I hadn't been all ga-ga, I would have thought twice. Hind sight, like a negative outlook on life, depression, hypersensitivity etc. we have had our ups and downs, and we have made a peaceful life in the end - but i would definitely advice any person to really take your time, specify the things that are important to you and try to stick to that. I know I have grown tremendously from this, but would I do it again? No.

    1. I feel you took the words out of my mouth, except I don't love my husband and I really regret it.

  4. For the first time I searched "regretting my marriage" and found this with tears in my eye. It's refreshing and encouraging but I don't know if we can fix things. I do love my husband but not sure he still does. It's painful cause I was a teen mom and I just thought this would be different since I married him before we had our daughter. Now I am living my night mare over again and it feels ten times worse. Not sure if it's just my high expectations or it is just worse. All in all, I pray to God for his guardians. Thsnks

  5. One good thing about my parents' rocky and bitter marriage was that despite a couple of separations, they stayed together. This was due to my Dad's perseverance, because I now know that my mother ("who could start a quarrel in an empty room") had Borderline Personality Disorder and they actually could have had an anullment had they known what that was . They were two decent people who should never have married each other.
    As a child I resolved never to marry as I knew the Hollywood romance films weren't real, and I preferred being lonely to being hellishly married and fighting all the time.
    So I got an education and a career and when i was 42 met a wonderful Catholic widower and we got married. I had low expectations of "bliss" in marriage, and didn't look for a perfect man, just one who had faults I could live with. Nor did I look for romance, just respect and friendship; but got romance as an unlooked for bonus. So Marriage can turn out well for children of stormy and disfunctional marriages if their parents stay together. My parents "divorce-proofed" me.

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  7. I got married 2 years after I met my husband , but I did not find out a lot about him because he was in the military and I only saw him face to face about 2 months out of a year. He expressed to me that he had an abused childhood under a stepfather. He seemed to talk with a lot intelligence and he seemed to know where he wanted to go in life. He asked to marry me just before he went overseas and we got intimate. Two months after he left I found out I was pregnant. I notified him and he came home and we got married before the baby was born.He went back overseas and was gone for 18 months before he returned and we started living together. He turned out to be an alcoholic, a womanizer, a liar, and a cheat. He always worked but did not want to take on the responsibility of being a provider. I found him to be a manipulator, self centered, selfish and greedy. After my second child was born I went to work six weeks after he was born. We started out putting our checks together paying the bills and dividing what was left. As soon as he started going to school on the military allotment, he decided that since I had not been in service that was his money to spend as he pleased. Right then and there I got a bank account of my own.He only wanted to pay half of the bills even though he made more.Years later I found out he was only jiving around when he asked to marry me. I figured he only wanted to have sex with me before going overseas and he concocted a lie.It all backfired on him when I got pregnant. As I look back on all of his bad treatment of me I realize he resented me because he was not ready to get married.He took the coward's way out instead of telling me he did not want to get married and that he would take care of his baby. For thirty years I thought this man really loved me.Everytime I would leave with the children he would talk me into coming back. Reason being I think because he was smart enough to know that child support would be expensive for three children.Well, we have now been married for 49 years and he is still self-centered, greedy, and selfish. He has a lawn service for 25 years and insist I should not share in it because he is the one on the lawn mower in the hot sun. I guess he forgets that I wash his dirty clothes, prepare his meals,clean up the house after his workers come in with grassy, muddy, dirty, shoes and clothes. I have no back yard for barbecuing because every inch is filled with equipment and storage houses. We operate on 2 different socio-economic levels in our household. He lives like a king while he wants me to live like a pauper. I do the bills on a percentage basis but cannot include the lawn service money. I wish 1000 times I had not married this man!

    1. What you just described sounds so so difficult to live with. And to think that it never got better. How did you survive 49years?? Thats almost half a century! Where do you find the hope to keep going? I pray you find strength..

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  9. Anyone planning to get married these days need to use their Brains first.

  10. It is well. Terrible regrets fill my heart but thanks for the encouragement. God bless you.

  11. Hey, In August me an my partner broke up, we had been together for nearly 8 years and we had grown apart , we was arguing a lot an I felt we was together for convenience, we split he moved out an I thought it was what I wanyed, I met a new friend an we was just friends baring in mind I worked hard to keep me an my ex going cause if I didn't make an effort there was none he took on to much an we hardly seen each other, anyway my ex found out about my new friend an he says I broke his heart an how he loved me this annoyed me Cause I needed this when we was together or the 1st couple of months we broke up, I was hurt an he appeared to be okay so I always thought we did rite breaking up, then the tears an the broken man appeared an this got me angry, he called me names looked for stuff to make me an my friend more than we was so I stuck the knife an put in a relationship on Facebook day after I realized it was a very low dig an wanted to sort things with my ex, he was having none of it, he hated me, in assured him.I've never had sex with this person, an I've said I wanna work things out an hopefully slowly become a family again, bit he says I broke his heart he nearly had a break down Cause of me and he moving in with his life but now I really want him back, what do do anyone any advice I'm really struggling, how can he go for me being the only lobe of his life an 2 weeks after not wanting anything to with me, lots went on whenwas together, I've always said we was both to blame for the break up but he says it was all me, I'm so confused. until i finally contacted Dr. Ikhine spell for help through email: agbadado@gmail.com and you can also call his number +2348056932230

  12. Thank you for this genuine post. I have been so humbled in my marriage . It has not even been a year and I have felt strong regret. I love my husband but believe that there are many things I overlooked because I was blinded by love, things that may have caused me to give it more time or set better boundaries . I think it would have been different if the subtle things had been addressed. I was raised to be independent and strong but slowly molded myself into an overly meek woman, totally checking myself at the door - more than I realized. I am now in a situation where I have so many regrets and fear that my husband- who seems like a completely different person - will not change and I will continue to live in constant pain.
    I believe in prayer and know that God is with us. Your piece gives me so much hope. I have been humbled and will never judge a divorcee again. But I want to weather the storm and have faith that God will protect us.

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