catholic marriage trouble

When a Catholic Marriage Is in Trouble

Catholics hold marriage in high esteem, seeing it as a way to honor God and help one another grow into a better person. But sometimes a catholic marriage runs into trouble. Rather than being a blessing, things can go terribly wrong. Many Catholics in this situation wonder what to do. So, what should you do when a catholic marriage is in trouble?

Signs of Trouble in a Catholic Marriage

It’s easy to miss the early signs of Catholic marriage trouble because of the busyness of life and the responsibilities of work or children. Early symptoms look different for some couples, but there are several common signs.

  • Distance between the couple separate activities and interests, not wanting to do things together as a couple.
  • Tension in decisions like money or parenting
  • Lack of communication; not sharing things in anger or bitterness

catholic marriage trouble

The 4 Stages of a Troubled Relationship

Marriage researcher, John Gottman (, says that there are four stages a relationship goes through when it’s in trouble:

1. Criticism Stage

This is the first stage of Catholic marriage trouble. The couple’s communication goes beyond normal complaints to a constant habit of pointing out the other person’s shortcomings. The couple is hypercritical and unable to work out their differences without always seeing the negative.

2. Contempt Stage

When criticism becomes the predominant way of communicating in a marriage, contempt isn’t far behind. Feelings of scorn or disrespect are forms of contempt. Irritation, mocking, name-calling, sneering or smirking have become the norm. This is a dangerous point in the marriage, intervention is needed. Professional counseling, spiritual or otherwise, is needed to repair the damaging effects of contempt.

3. Defensive Stage

Defensiveness results when a person feels they need to protect themselves.  If a married couple’s communication has spiraled down to a critical level, it’s no surprise they react defensively towards one another. The relationship is full of hurt and hostility. Without professional counseling, this marriage won’t survive.

4. Stonewalling Stage

This is the last stage of troubled marriage. The couple escape being together, have separate bedrooms and have little communication.  A spouse may begin to drink heavily or waste money. Anxiety, stress and substance abuse are common at this stage. The couple needs marriage counseling and possibly individual counseling to help this marriage. It’s possible to save it, but the couple must want help and must take responsibility for their own contributions for their Catholic marriage trouble.


The Catholic Church allows for divorce in some situations. But a couple must decide if this is the best way to solve their marriage problems. Each spouse must do some soul searching.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Am I critical, angry and impatient with my spouse?
  • If I stopped responding like this to my spouse, would it make a difference in our relationship?
  • Am I willing to change?
  • Do I want to work hard to save my marriage?

Self-evaluation is hard work, it’s easier to see how the other person needs to change. But with prayer and honesty, change is possible.

Catholic Marriage Counseling

If you make the first step to heal your marriage, your spouse will respond. Either your desire to change will inspire them or they will become angrier and more belligerent. This could indicate whether there’s hope for reconciliation.

Before you decide though, always seek professional counseling so you can make the best decision. If your spouse is willing, seek catholic marriage counseling. You may also seek your pastor/ priest for counseling. After counseling and self-evaluation, you’ll have peace knowing that you did everything you could to save your marriage.

It Isn’t Over Until It’s Over

Studies show that many couples who consider divorce, but stay in their marriage for five years, end up saying their marriage is better than ever. Sometimes you just need to run the race, determined to not give up on your marriage. If you and your partner, continue to turn to your faith for help and see a marriage or couples counselor, your marriage can change. Your marriage may be in trouble, but there is always a way for positive change to happen.

Contact Journey LLC

We can help you and your partner are experiencing Catholic marriage troubles. Our Catholic based counseling will help your marriage to better understand each other, find meaning, strength, and grow in your love for one another, and God. Contact us today to start leading a happier life.