Monday, January 29, 2007

My Answer to city girl




Well, city girl and I have gotten quite a bit of help with this difficult question.

There might not be enough information for me to give a completely accurate response. For instance, did this woman lead her husband to believe she was chaste until her marriage? In other words, was there a deception there previously, and that's what is really bothering her? If so, she would need to receive forgiveness for that from Our Lord, as well as good spiritual advice on how to handle it.

Or did her husband know she had other intimate relationships, just not all the details. In this case, giving him details would be selfish, as she would be seeking to relieve her suffering by increasing his.

Either way, if she is struggling with her past, it is possible that she is having more of a sense of repentance now than she did originally (very typical as one ages and matures, the nature of our past transgressions become more clear to us). Doing a general confession, or a confession where a life review of the past, even forgiven, sins are reviewed, will offer her a chance to heal even more deeply and make some spiritual connections between past and current sins.

The issue of this woman being afraid her husband will leave her is troubling. This could just be hyperbole, similar to when a teen is in trouble and says, "My parents are going to kill me."

Or, there could be a real lack of intimacy and trust in that marriage, partly due to either spouses past relationships. Either way, healing must take place to strengthen the marriage and the partners as individuals. Unfortunately, her husband can not heal her. Only Christ can. What she needs to do use all the tools we have been given for spiritual healing: prayer, fasting, and alms giving.

Prayer can include attending Mass or Liturgy more regularly, receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion as often as possible, going to confession on a regular basis for current transgressions, and keeping on top of the present moment, instead of turning the gaze backward. As with any human, this woman is currently sinning every day, and a distraction regarding the past can obscure that reality, and cause even more spiritual sickness.

Fasting can help with healing from bodily transgressions by putting the material and spiritual realm into the proper priority. A simple fast is Wednesday and Friday refraining from consuming meat, or another favorite food that is regularly enjoyed. The point is not to diminish physical health, but to deny the senses and heighten the spiritual consciousness.

In her case, alms giving could simply be volunteering her time and talents at a homeless shelter, a crisis pregnancy center, or teaching young people their faith. In other words, she could help repair the injury to Our Lord by strengthening His mystical body here on earth.

It would seem as if all should be an open book in marriage, if in fact, the two spouses are one flesh. However, in reality, we are fallen, flawed people, and out of respect and charity to the other spouse, some things are better off left unsaid. By "confessing" to her husband, she could unwittingly open a Pandora's box of suspicion,
insecurity and shame, and the marriage would be further damaged.

So, practically speaking, I would strongly discourage her from telling her husband anything without a long term span of spiritual preparation including the items outlined above: Sacramental grace, prayer, fasting, alms giving and spiritual direction.

Also, I would encourage her to be as loving a wife as she can be, both in her daily duties, and in her physical relationship with her husband. Love does heal, and if she allows herself to shower her family with her loving care, and allows herself to unreservedly love, and be loved by, her husband, she may find that authentic love heals the hurts of past counterfeit experiences.

City girl also mentioned on a personal note she has a boyfriend and has things she doesn't want him to know. To really answer that, I need to know some things like, how long have you dated, is this a potential spouse, are these past things forgiven sins, or simply experiences that are private. In any relationship, there is a degree of privacy that must be respected, and a balance must be reached between privacy and intimacy. By and large, my advice would be the same as above.

So, there you go. I did my best, but am certainly open for further input. City and girl her friend will certainly be in my prayers!

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12 Comments:

Blogger Mimi said...

I agree, it's a Confession thing - sometimes we have issues that come up again, and need to be dealt with through Confession even if we've already Confessed it, because we have a new level of repentance.

I think it's awesome, MPN, that you are looked upon as an advice giver!

January 29, 2007  
Blogger Cris said...

Mary Poppins-thanks for visiting my blog! I enjoy reading yours and will be back to visit!
Have a great day~
June Cleaver

January 29, 2007  
Blogger ukok said...

Renee,

Well considered advice is always a good thing, and that's certainly what you gave in the above post.

January 29, 2007  
Blogger Matt said...

On the whole, agreed. If there has been deception, that's a whole different issue than if it's simply a question of the degree of knowledge the husband has.

I would disagree, however, about the ontological nature of marriage. Marriage is, first and foremost, the union of two people into one flesh. That is true in an eschatological sense that cannot be undone. This is true in the same way that it is true that we are united to Christ in our baptism. It is eschatologically true that we are united with Christ, as in, that is a fact that is etched into the fabric of eternity. Anything else that is true is true to a lesser extent.

Now, that in mind, we can do things that do violence to both our marriages and our baptisms. We can even blaspheme against the Holy Spirit or sin in such great ways as to render our marriages all but null. Our lives should be a continual effort to improve upon our marriage vows and our baptism and come closer to the eschatological truth that they portray.

But it is never right to justify the disparity between the two by saying that nobody's perfect or that we don't have the ideal marriage/Christian life. Of course you don't! Now get out there and work you tail off with all the grace available to you to change that! Christ didn't die to make the world new so we could be complacent.

January 29, 2007  
Blogger Mary Poppins NOT said...

Matt,

I agree with you in principle, especially if a marriage has begun with an understanding of such a thing between the two people. But honestly, many, many marriages do not have that understanding and after 15 years, you can't just cram the foot in a shoe that doesn't fit. It takes time, patience, healing and slow, constant pressure to achieve the goal. If you force it, it may break. It may have needed fixing anyway, but breaking it isn't the answer. You haven't been married long enough to understand the kind of hurt involved in long relationships, and the kind of healing that is a constant, on-going component of marriage. I think that is why most the folks who have been married longer have a different opinion. Ideally, you have absolutely the right idea. Realistically, I would tell our lady in question to wait 15 more years before telling much of this to her husband.

January 29, 2007  
Anonymous city girl said...

Dear MPN,
Never did I realize the power of the internet until now. So yes, we can find out the latest trends, and yes, we can google how to pick out the right paint color, but never did I see the beauty until now. I am so glad to hear that what I told my friend was correct. What I had told her was much more elaborate from what I said previously- I spared you the details, but I see now that it would only hurt her spouse, and no, he didn't think she was pure as the driven snow going into the marriage, but he doesn't know the details, or the number of partners she has had before they met. She sees it as another life, before Christ if you will, before she knew the importance of doing good for God, not for her own pleasures. She doesn't have any diseases, or never has, as one comment said, but she does deal with this secret, this past disease she calls sin, and tries to put it behind her, and struggles (thus why she talked to me about it). So, thank you all for who gave comments, and due to the wonderful response, I will tell her to come over to my house, or the local library to read all these comments, because ulitmately, it is her choice. I knew I could count on you MPN!
For me, well, I think that I won't let my boyfriend know all the details of any sins I did, because it's none of his business; besides; I don't know if he's the one anyhow. Thanks for the concern though.
Well: mayb I'll catch ya' around some other time- for now - keep up the good work MPN, you help more than you know, and so do your blog friends.
God bless you all.

January 30, 2007  
Blogger Lisa said...

You answered the question beautifully, Renee. *Smile*

January 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, REnee, I'd left a comment on this post earlier today and I don't know what happened to it! I thought it went through, but I guess it didn't.
It was much more eloquent than I'm in the mood to write right now, but I wanted to let you know that I thought your answer was so well written and so right on.
God bless.
Alexa

January 31, 2007  
Blogger The Kitchen Madonna said...

Yes, MPN, you are a blessing in this situation.

What do you think of dating and courtship advice (Tommy Nelson and Dave Sloan at godofdesire.com) that says two people should expose their secrets, take a break for prayer, and then decide if a courtship should go forward? And of course, in this instance, the man should go first?

Pax,
KM

February 02, 2007  
Blogger The Kitchen Madonna said...

Yes, MPN, you are a blessing in this situation.

What do you think of dating and courtship advice (Tommy Nelson and Dave Sloan at godofdesire.com) that says two people should expose their secrets, take a break for prayer, and then decide if a courtship should go forward? And of course, in this instance, the man should go first?

Pax,
KM

February 02, 2007  
Blogger Philothea Rose said...

Regarding past sins: if this friend has gone to confession, and Jesus Christ Himself has bestowed the love and mercy to forgive her, then who is she to continue to hold herself bound?

That is a question that was asked of me when I had to confront something someone did to me and was unforgiving, but it can apply to not forgiving ourselves as well.

When I asked myself the question, it seemed ludicrous for me to honestly think I had authority to hold someone's sin over them when God had let it go through the Sacrament (and the Confession was true with deep contrition, and penance was done).

I would encourage this friend to develop a devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and begin to trust in the mercy of God. Maybe she isn't strong enough or at a place to forgive herself and let her sins go, but Jesus can help her with that.

February 02, 2007  
Blogger Philothea Rose said...

Regarding past sins: if this friend has gone to confession, and Jesus Christ Himself has bestowed the love and mercy to forgive her, then who is she to continue to hold herself bound?

That is a question that was asked of me when I had to confront something someone did to me and was unforgiving, but it can apply to not forgiving ourselves as well.

When I asked myself the question, it seemed ludicrous for me to honestly think I had authority to hold someone's sin over them when God had let it go through the Sacrament (and the Confession was true with deep contrition, and penance was done).

I would encourage this friend to develop a devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and begin to trust in the mercy of God. Maybe she isn't strong enough or at a place to forgive herself and let her sins go, but Jesus can help her with that.

February 02, 2007  

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