I have some survey results to share with you today, and I would love to hear your feedback on all of this, but first, a little background.
A few weeks back I asked CATHOLIC MARRIED WOMEN to respond to a quick survey. The survey asked what they struggled with THE MOST in their marriage. You can see the choices below. As with all things I launch out into the world, I had high hopes that lots of women would respond…and this time not only did that happen, but my expectations were blown clear out of the water.
In the end, over 2,000 CATHOLIC MARRIED WOMEN took a second to respond.
So, that’s a lot of responses–and that’s a lot of women just like you and me. Women that are Catholic, married and determined to live out their marriage as a true sacrament. And, women that have real hurts and struggles and joy in their marriage.
Women just like me. Women just like you.
So, that’s awesome thing #1.
Awesome thing #2 is this.
I (obsessively) watched the results come in with this survey. And, the percentages you see below (including all 2K+ responses) are nearly identical to the percentages I saw after 100 women responded, and 500 women and 1,000 women… The percentages were basically unchanged.
Now, what does that mean? Well I think that means that the results of this survey can be seen as universal. Yes, there are way more than 2K Catholic married women in this world, but chances are that even if we got in contact with EVERY married Catholic women and had her sit down and take this survey, these results would be pretty close to what you see below.
So, what were the results? Check it out.
Just to make this a bit more readable, here is a breakdown of common struggles in marriage, from most popular to least:
- ( 30.3%) Communicating Needs Clearly/Understanding What the Other Needs
- (17.7%) Sexual Relationship
- (13.4%) Maintaining a House
- (11.4%) Enjoying Time Together
- (9.5%) Disciplining/Raising Children
- (5.9%) Showing and Feeling Respected
- (4.8%) Practicing and Teaching the Faith
- (4.2%) Deciding on Money Issues
- (2.9%) Other
It’s interesting, right? Are you surprised, in any way, with the results? In a way I was surprised to see SEX in the #2 place, but then again, not really. SEX is SO important in a marriage.
And, I totally get why Communication is #1. That is the one I checked, although I feel like if I had to redo this survey I might omit that option all together…just because in order to have difficulty communicating, you have to be communicating ABOUT something, and that SOMETHING is usually were the conflict is.
Okay, let’s dig deeper.
I also gave people the option of commenting on the survey, and 200+ people took time to do this. It was a joy to read through the comments (although I felt badly that I had no way to respond to some of these things).
A couple of important themes emerged from the comments.
#1 When your husband isn’t Catholic/Faithful
This was the MOST common type of comment on the survey. One woman put it this way:
Although every marriage is hard, it seems harder when one isn’t Catholic. My husband isn’t Catholic and seems to create other problems. He lets me raise my children Catholic but doesn’t help me become a better Catholic wife. If anything, I struggle even more without having his support.
Many other women wrote about the struggles of being married to men that didn’t share the faith, or lacked enthusiasm. Others wrote about frustration over the fact that their husbands weren’t faith leaders in their homes and that in order to teach their children the faith, they were forced to take on this leadership role, which they struggled with.
Many also wrote about struggles in praying with their spouses, like this women,
I struggle with praying together, or I should say, we don’t pray together and I don’t know how to start.
#2 Complicated sexual issues
Many women also wrote about sexual issues in their marriage. The comments about issues with sex lives fell into two major categories: Lack of sex drive and NFP lament. One of the most powerful comments, that falls into the first category, is this one:
I had a hormonal issue and my libido is dead 🙁 I do love sex! Sex is beautiful (I have read Theology of the body) and it made me so sad that I can’t enjoy it.
Many also wrote about their struggles with NFP. I thought this one hit the nail right on the head:
NFP is not as glamorous as they tell you it is!
#3 The struggle to find a community of faithful Catholic couples to support your marriage
I was surprised by the frequency of this comment but LOTS of women wrote about how they need to find other faithful Catholic couples, or how finding other faithful Catholic couples was a GAME-CHANGER in their marriage. One woman wrote:
Relationships other than your marriage that affects your marriage-ie finding a good catholic couple to be friends with
#4 How hard it can be to forgive
In marriage we have the opportunity to hurt another person in very deep ways. Many of the women that took this survey have been hurt in very real ways and are struggling to find a way to fully forgive. Women wrote about loving husbands with on-going addictions like alcoholism and gambling. Others wrote betrayal and affairs.
Several women also wrote about struggles with in-laws and how hard it can be to forgive and find peace in the extended family.
#5 A thankfulness for an opportunity to talk about the real struggles of Catholic Marriage.
This one also surprised me. Several women took a minute to write about the pressure they feel to present their marriage to the world in a certain way–and that admitting that marriage is hard and a struggle would undermining the fact that Catholic marriage is a sacrament. One women summed it up saying,
It’s hard. But sometimes I feel like there is this outward pressure to act like everything is ok, because we have to be a faithful witness to the world on what marriage is all about.
Many other women echoed this sentiment, mentioning the wonders of Theology of the Body and a tiny bit of sadness that they couldn’t ever seem to live up to the ideal it describes.
#5 A call to NOT exclude working wives.
Well, this was humbling! 10 different women commented begging me to include WORKING wives in my Catholic Wife Academy. One woman wrote this:
Pretty please take those of us who work outside the home (with spouses at home, or not) under your wing as well!
Please know that I HAVE HEARD YOU and that I have every intention of making The Catholic Wife’s Academy for EVERY Catholic Wife, no matter the age, family situation, geographic location, job or race. This will be for everyone and I really believe that the more diversity we can pull together the richer our pool of knowledge will be.
Okay, I am going to get back to work on this course RIGHT NOW! After really digging into these survey responses I am not only even more inspired, but I feel like I know better how to serve Catholic Wives. And I can’t wait to do just that.
Thank you so so much for taking the survey,
Your sister in Christ,