Bishop Sheen- Problems in Marriage
By Martin Hill
February 21, 2014


Bishop Fulton J. Sheen discusses problems in marriage and how to approach them. Here is the transcript.

Bishop Sheen- problems in marriage [Part 2]

It is very often assumed that life should be without trials and difficulties. Our blessed Lord did not predict it so. He said in this world you shall have tribulation. Even when one enters into a realm of love. Such as marriage. There are trials and difficulties. And it is those that we will consider in this particular lesson. This is what might be called a 'what to do kit,' when there are difficulties in marriage. We shall consider two. first when marriage dulls. Second when the other partners becoems what is sometimes said, 'impossible.' First when marriage dulls. Now this it does. Simply because everything in life dulls after a time.

Love does not continue to be one abiding ecstasy. Simply because flesh is the medium of married love, it suffers the penalty of the flesh. It becomes used to affection. As life goes on a greater stimulus is required to produce an equal reaction to sensation. The eye can soon become used to beauty, the fingers used to the touch of a friend. The intimacy which first was so desirable could become at times a burden. 2

There is such a thing as "I want to be alone" feeling. Or "I think that I will go home to mother feeling." These strip the eye of rose-colored glasses. Bills begin to come into the kitchen and love is in danger of walking out of the parlor. The very habit of love becomes boring. Because it is a habit and not an adventure. It is concievable that there might even be a yearning for a new partner. And there comes with children multiplied accidents and diseases, and all of this tends to bring down the vision from the clouds, the very realistic visitations to the nursery, and sooner or later, the effective emotional life is brought face to face with this question. Is love a snare, a delusion? Does it promise what it can not give?

I thought this would be complete happiness. and yet it has settled down to a routine. Now at this point, those who think that love is an evolution from the beast not a gift of God, falsely believe that if they had another partner, that other partner could supply what is presently lacking.

No, that is a fallacy. Because it forgets that the emptiness does not come from the other partner, but from the very nature of life itself. Now here's the reason for that feeling. The heart was made for the infinite. Only the infinite can satisfy it. This first ecstasy of love that was given to a couple was to remind them that love was a gift that came from heaven and that only by working toward heaven will they ever really discover it to be infinite. remember when our Lord gave bread at Capernaum, and later on, he spoke to those who recieved the bread about the Eucharist, the bread of everlasting life, His very self. He was using the bread that He gave to their stomachs as a kind of bait to make them become interested in the bread of life the Eucharist. And so too the human love that God gives us, is a bait. It is kind of a Divine come on, in order that we might seek the flame which is God.

When married life becomes dull, one has not hit the bottom of life. one has only hit the bottom of one's ankle. theres a world of difference between the two. one has not hit the bottom of his soul, but only the bottom of his instinct. Not the bottom of his mind, but only the bottom of his emotional life. The afforementioned trials are merely so many contacts with reality which God sends into every life. If life went on as a dream without any shock of dissilusionment, who would ever attain perfect happiness? Who would ever want God?

The majority of men would rest in mediocrity. If there were not this push on for the perfect love. Acorns are not content to be saplings. Children have to grow up. And our love has to grow up. Therefore God keeps something back. Namely himself in eternity. If He did not, we would never push forward! therefore he makes us every now and then run up against a brick wall. In such a crisis, we begin to feel our non-entity. We've got an overwhelming sense of nothingness. Lonliness. And then if we look at it rightly then we see 'WELL this life is only a bridge to eternity.' The crisis of nothingness is caused by the meeting of a fancied-ideal and reality. Of love as the ego thinks it, and of love as it really is. No, love is not a snare, God is not mocking us. And it must not be thought either that this sense of nothingness that comes over marriage and dullness is peculiar to marriage itself. It happens in the spiritual life too. We were dedicated to God as priests. Others, brothers and nuns and contemplatives, they all reach this crisis. Prayers become dry and formal. There's dangers that we may become used to touching the bread of life. There is not the same emotional thrill in reading Mass when one is ordained forty years as there is at the first Mass. There may not be that same ecstasy in visitng the sick when one is ordained 50 years as there was a thrill on the first sick call. The nun who's teaching children for thirty or forty years has to bring herself with extra prayer to realize that all those youngsters there have been put before her as charges by almightly God. It becomes difficult for all of us to meditate. Thanksgivings are apt to become shorter after Mass. so we have our problem too. It's a problem of love. how can i love better? How can I pray better? How can I establish greater union with God? The answer is by sacrifices. And inasmuch as we are not here concerned with development of the spiritual life, but only with the development of love life in marriage, we return again to marriage.

And we say that just as there is such a thing in the spiritual life as the dark night of the soul. So too in marriage there is such a thing as the dark night of the body. And just as the dark night of the soul in the spiritual life needs considerable purification through self denial, in order to reach deeper insights of love, so too in marriage. 10 Whenever there's discontent, God is stirring the waters of the soul. Really He's reminding us that the perfect love for which we crave is not here. We're on the road to it. Just as for example a mother eagle will throw its young out of the nest in order that they may learn to fly, and so too God in these moments of trial gives wings to our clay feet. And this dryness either in the spiritual life or married life, can be either for salvation or damnation. Depending upon how it is used.

There are two kinds of dryness. This dryness in either the spiritual or married life can be used either for salvation or damnation. It all depends upon how it is used. There are two kinds of dryness. There is the one which rots. Which is the dryness of love without God. And there is the dryness which ripens. And that is one, when one goes through the fire and the heat of sacrifice. in therefore these moments of dullness in this crisis of nothingness, the idea of eternity has to be reintroduced. But there's this difference. in the days of romance, the eternal emphasis was on the ego's durability in love. And the ego's durability in love. in the crisis of nothingness and dullness, the eternal element is god. not the ego. Love now says I will love you always. For you are lovable through eternity for God's sake. You see that love which began with pleasure and self satisfaction changes into love for God's sake. The other person becomes less the necessary condition of passion, more the partner of the soul. Our blessed Lord said that unless the seed fall to the ground and die, it will not spring forth into life. Nothing is reborn to a higher life without a death to a lower one. The heart has its cycles as well as the planets. and the movement of the heart is an upward spiral and not a circle which turns in upon itself. The crisis of nothingness which follows a dream come true, needs it's purification and it's cross. And its cross is not a roadblock on the way to happiness. it is a ladder of which one climbs to the very heaven of love itself. 1325

Therefore there's no need of running off to someone to analyze your mental state simply because you find life dull. Intensify your love of God. begin to look upon the other partner as a gift of God. And then love will not be dull. Then we will see every human creature bathed in that beauty of God's love.

That brings us to this other problem of marriage trial namely when marriage becomes a cross. And when the some say it is impossible. Well in marriage there is for better or for worse. Sometimes it turns out worse. And that is the problem that we are discussing now. 1427 Suppose the husband or the wife becomes a chronic invalid or develops anti-social characteristics, becomes a drunkard, cruel, unfaithful, tyrant, bossy. What are we to do? Well we said we have to regard always the other person as a gift of God. Now sometimes God's gifts are sweet and sometimes God's gifts are bitter. And whether the other person be sweet or bitter, sick or well, young or old, that other person is still a gift of God. If we are selfish, we have to get rid of the other partner. Why? Because the other partner is a burden. If we are Christian, then we take on the burden as something coming from the hand of God himself. St. Paul said "bear the burden of one anothers failings then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ." Now if you object and say "Well God never intended that anyone should live under such difficulties," the answer is flatly , oh yes He does! Did not our blessed Lord say "if any man has a mind to come My way, let him renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. The man who tries to save his life shall lose it. It is the man who loses his life for My sake that will secure it."

We would all like to have tailor made crosses. In other words we are very willing to take on some mortification and self denial if we can choose it. But when God chooses it, like a bad husband or a bad wife, then we say oh no, I can not take that cross. Why can not we realize that what sickness is to an individual, an unhappy marriage may be to a couple. A trial sent by God in order to perfect them spiritually. After all, without certain bitter gifts of God, many of our spiritual capacities would be undeveloped. Now such a marriage may indeed be a martyrdom. But at any rate, He's not robbing his own life of honor. Nor robbing his soul of peace. The acceptance of such trials of marriage is not a sentence to death as some believe. The soldier is not sentenced to death because he takes the oath to his country. But he admits that he's ready to face death rather than lose honor. An unhapy marriage is not a condemnation to unhappiness. It is a noble tragedy in which one bears the slings and arrows of outraegous fortunes, rather than deny a vow that was made to the living God. If it be noble to be wounded for the country we love, than is it not nobler still to be wounded for God?

Then here is this verse of scripture which very few people think about and which is so important. It is in St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians.

"The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife. and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband."

In other words, the merits, the prayers, the suffering, the patience, the meekness of one passes into the other. If for example the other partner who is an alcoholic, if that partner was sick. Would you not take care of him? Suppose he had tuberculosis or a heart attack. would you leave him?

Now if he has a moral heart attack, is he to be abandoned? and by a moral heart attack I mean, guilty of any one of the sins that make marriage so very difficult. If there is such a thing as the transfusion of blood from a healthy member of society to a weak member of society, why can there not be and why is there not the transfer of sanctification? A wife can redeem her husband and a husband can redeem the wife. There is a spritual communication that does not have indeed much romantic satisfaction in it. But its' returns are eternal, and many a husband and wife after infidelities and excesses will find themselves saved on judgment day as the faithful partner never ceased to pour out prayers for his or her salvation. Let me tell you this story. To indicate how the mertis of one will pass into the merits of another.

At the turn of this century there was married in Paris, just an ordinarily good Catholic girl, and an unbelieving medical doctor. By the name of Lucer. He promised to respect the faith of his marriage but immediately after marriage tried to break it down. In addition to practicing medicine he became the editor of an anticlerical atheistic newspaper in paris. His wife reacted and decided she would study her faith. so she built a library of apologetics and he built up an atheistic library in the same house. In May, 1905 as she was dying, she said to her husband Felix when I am dead, you will become a Catholic and a Dominican priest. he said elizabeth you know my sentiments. I have sworn hatred of the church and I have sworn hatred of God. And I shall live in that hatred and I shall die in it. She repeated her words and passed away. Fumbling amidst her papers he discovered her will. And the will stated that in 1905 she asked almightly God to send her sufficient sufferings to purchase his soul. And she added on the day that I die I shall have paid the price. You will have been bought and paid for. greater love than this no woman hath, that she should lay down her life for her husband. He dismissed this as the fancies of a pious woman. Though he loved his wife, in order to forget his grief, he took a trip in the southern part of France.

He stopped in front of a church into which his wife during their honeymoon had gone for a visit. She seemed to be speaking to him saying go to the Lourdes. He went to Lourdes. But he went there as a rank unbeliever. He had written a book against Lourdes. Proving that miracles were a fraud and a superstition. But as he was standing before the grotto of Our Lady, he received the gift of faith. So complete, so total, that he never had to go through that process of juxtaposition and say 'well now that I believe how will I answer this difficulty or how will I answer that difficulty'. He saw all that he had believed in its' utter error and stupidity. Well the conversion of Dr. Lucer was about as exciting as the news of the bombardment of [?] And time passed. 1924 I made my retreat in a Dominican monastery in Belgium. and there four times a day in forty-five minutes each, a day, I made my retreat under and received the spiritual direction of Fr. Lucer, the Dominican Catholic priest, who told me this story. I tell you is not often that you can make a retreat under a priest who every now and then will say "as my dear wife Elizabeth said..."

The moral of the story is love is not here completely and totally. It is in God. and by loving God here, we save the other partner whether it be a bad wife or a bad husband. For once married, they are two in one. For eternity. God love you.

Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise,,,,, Economic Policy Journal, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association,,, WorldNetDaily,,,, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show,, Pasadena Weekly,, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640,, Redlands Daily Facts, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report,,, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze,,, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer,, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at and DontWakeMeUp.Org.

"The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. the choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin." [Catechism of the Catholic Church 1733.]

"Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. the right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order." [CCC 1738.]

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A 'Mission' lecture series on The Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell: - By Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea

This is an absolute must-hear from my favorite website, I highly recommend this five part series of free audio lectures by this traditional Catholic priest on the most important things which we all will face. (Of course we will experience only three of the four last things, since a person can not go to both Heaven and hell.)

Prelude to the Mission
On Death
On Judgement
On Hell
On Heaven

Here is Fr. Relyea's website which has several more talks on various subjects:

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