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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Hi Please answer online not chat. Thank you I have been

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Hi Please answer online not chat. Thank you

I have been in a relationship for 28 years. I ma divorced and C is legally separated. He is catholic (i am not)and will not get a divorce. At this point is is Ok. I am self supporting. we started living together 15 years ago and I bought a house and he pays part of bills.

Recently he had heart sugery and wanted to go to confession before hand. Ok, but that means living a celibate life, ok with that as we are older. Now he is becoming obsessed with the church, he is in charge of a prayer list that takes maybe 4 to 5 houres a day to work on on-line. He stays up until 3 am and gets up at 1 or 2PM. He also is a Eucaristic Minister an is in charge of his Prayer group.

He does not help much around the house(big) and I am getting to feel very sad about the whole relationship. What can I do to make us a happy couple again?

Dr. Norman Brown :

I suggest that you ask for Dr. Mark. He is a rabbi, so he might have a good perspective for your question. I will think more about it and respond if I feel I have something good to offer.


Please do not reply in the chat room, thank you.


Hi I am still waiting for an answer. Sould I ask again?



Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I can't rate your answer becasue I have not seen one except to ask someone else:)


Please try again to answer with text not chat room, thanks Sue

Dear Sue, I sent you a suggestion last night, but the system obviously didn't print it. I appreciate your patience. I suggested that since your partner places all of his faith in the dogma and practices of the Catholic Church, you could suggest that the two of you go to a counselor or priest of the Church itself and discuss your issues with that person. The Church exerts power over him, and you don't want to engage in a power struggle between your relationship needs and values and those he subscribes to that he considers to be dictated by the Church. So why not bring your values and desires in the relationship to a representative of that authority, and bet on the possibility that that that person would want your partner to grant more equality to your responses, values and needs than he is currently giving?


I imagine you would not go on your own to a Catholic counselor/priest without prior permission from him, because you are very concerned with showing respect for the hierarchical values he espouses--even though you run the risk of storing up resentment inside because of your choice to always play by his rules. So that is also an issue for you to consider: Would you consider going to a Catholic counselor who is endorsed by the Church on your own, without your partner, to seek counsel on your issues with him? Or would you do that if he would give his permission first? If you take the path of deferring to his permission first and he does not give it (because he would have to know that ultimately the issues you would bring up MUST be discussed as a couple under that person's facilitation) then you would face a blockade resulting from him using his Church as a Higher Power and higher priority than his love and loyalty to you--but not allowing his Church representative to mediate the tensions between you.


It is not unusual for me to defer to another therapist when I don't feel my experience qualifies me to give advice at the level I require of myself; and then to sleep on it and realize that my intuition does know of at least one path forward that may be of use to you. I would add also, that the writings thru email Q & A are not more protected from view by outsiders than the chat room. So actually private, outside-of-JA email is the best way to go. And that is possible only if you give me your address but not in standard format that is automatically exxed out by the computer system. The at sign is the trigger for that, so separating the screenname and the site name leaving out the com and writing insteadofsigningat works for youbutnotme. But if you're ok discussing this way I'll continue, tho right now I have a skype session in private practice waiting for me.

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