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  #1  
Old Sep 29, '11, 11:15 am
Lily85 Lily85 is offline
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Default What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Hi everyone. I stumbled across this site and I'm really hoping I can find some answers. I hope it's okay for me to post this here.

Some background.

I'm 26, my husband is 30. We've been married 2 years. We have a 16 month old son and we're having another little boy in a couple months. I've been a Traditional Catholic my entire life. My husband was a fallen away novus ordo Catholic who came back to the Church as a traditionalist after we met. Currently my husband and I are members of an FSSP parish.

I was sexually abused in my teens. It's something that really affected me for about 3 or 4 years and then I feel like I just moved on. I didn't think about it anymore and was just a genuinely happy person again. I went to college, stayed close to God, met my husband and everything was great.

We dated for almost 2 years, got engaged, and married 6 months later. I really never gave sex much though at all. I knew it was something you could do once you were married, but I didn't think about it as something you HAD to do. I had no concept of a "marriage debt" or anything like that. I never even heard of such a thing.

We did have 4 marriage sessions with our priest. The topic of sex mostly revolved around being open to creation and lifetime fidelity. I suppose this was quite naive, but to me marriage was getting to live with this man I was madly in love with, getting to make a home with him, have kids, get old, etc etc. Sex was obviously never ever a requirement prior to marriage, I didn't anticipate this being something that would change drastically after our vows. I thought of sex in marriage was something we could do now and then if we wanted to, but not something that would be a big deal.

Fast forward two years. We have the most wonderful little boy who was born 9.5 months after our wedding. We're expecting another one in a few months. I absolutely adore being a mother, its the best thing that ever happened to me. I love my husband dearly and everything about being married. Except one thing, intimacy.

I've talked to priests about it in confession. I'm much too embarrassed to make an appointment to talk face to face although I realize a problem like this takes more than a few minutes in confession. Advice I have been given range from offering it up, remembering it's God's will, our marriage is still young and I probably just need more time to get used to it, and being told I owe my body to him to make sure he doesn't fall into mortal sin. I don't have any sexual/physical feelings at all. I do think he's really cute and attractive, but it doesn't make me want to have sex with him. I just want held and loved and to be with him! We cuddle, hold hands, and I love all those things. I just don't like anything beyond that.

It had become an enormous source of stress, grief, and sadness for me. I hate when he touches me I don't feel loved when he wants me in that way. I understand that this is God's plan for marriage and that He designed it and said it's acceptable, but KNOWING these things doesn't make me feel it. I loved my 6 weeks post partum when he wasn't allowed to ask. It's at the point now where I cry though the whole thing, he just does his business and its done. It's awful. I want so badly to be able to tell him to stop and that I don't want to, yet he tells me and priests tell me that I owe this to him and I'm not allowed to say no without committing a mortal sin. I don't even know how he can do it when I'm crying and he knows I don't like it. Sometimes I want to ask him "if you love me, then why are you doing this to me??." But I know saying that would hurt him tremendously which isn't my intention. I just don't understand.

I'm not bitter, angry or resentful towards him. But I'm scared I may get that way. I feel more afraid than anything. I dread weekends because I know that's when it going to happen. I've read sooooooooo many books trying to change my feelings, trying to make myself like it, and its just not working. I know logically that the way I feel is wrong, but I can't make the feelings stop. I'm starting to think this is just the way I am. I've also been either pregnant, nursing, or both the entire time we've been married. I wonder if maybe I'm just being emotional and my hormones are out of whack. I've been praying, and I'm at the point where I can pray and get through it knowing God wants me to, but it hurts tremendously. Before I was saying no, or avoiding him, or passively resisting. Now I'm just letting him, so I have the guilt lifted of feeling like I'm sinning by refusing, but its absolutely awful letting someone do that to you when you desperately want them to stop.

I guess my question is... does any of this ever qualify as a "just reason" to refuse? I'm not sick, I'm not damaging my health, etc etc. Those are the only reasons I have ever heard of as being just causes.

I don't want to make my husband sound like a bad guy at all. He is kind and sweet, and he's a really good father. I would marry him again in a second! I know he is tremendously frustrated, yet patient, with the situation. I know he wishes I could be like other wives. He's told me he feels like he's forcing himself on me and he feels terrible about it. Honestly that's how it feels to me too, but I know God's plan is for him to be able to have it regularly. I am trying to cooperate, but can I ever say no? I really think it would help me out emotionally.

I would really appreciate any advice. I am at the point where I would like to go and maybe talk to a priest face to face with my husband. Our parish is in a bit of upheaval at the moment with trying to get a permanent priest. There has been a different priest almost weekly. Our pastor was pulled out by the diocese after some bizarre allegation that he gave alcohol to a minor. I'm really hoping he comes back because I think I would be more comfortable talking to him than the visiting priests.

Thanks.
God Bless.
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  #2  
Old Sep 29, '11, 11:28 am
robert7685 robert7685 is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily85 View Post
Hi everyone. I stumbled across this site and I'm really hoping I can find some answers. I hope it's okay for me to post this here.


I guess my question is... does any of this ever qualify as a "just reason" to refuse? I'm not sick, I'm not damaging my health, etc etc. Those are the only reasons I have ever heard of as being just causes.

I don't want to make my husband sound like a bad guy at all. He is kind and sweet, and he's a really good father. I would marry him again in a second! I know he is tremendously frustrated, yet patient, with the situation. I know he wishes I could be like other wives. He's told me he feels like he's forcing himself on me and he feels terrible about it. Honestly that's how it feels to me too, but I know God's plan is for him to be able to have it regularly. I am trying to cooperate, but can I ever say no? I really think it would help me out emotionally.

I would really appreciate any advice. I am at the point where I would like to go and maybe talk to a priest face to face with my husband. Our parish is in a bit of upheaval at the moment with trying to get a permanent priest. There has been a different priest almost weekly. Our pastor was pulled out by the diocese after some bizarre allegation that he gave alcohol to a minor. I'm really hoping he comes back because I think I would be more comfortable talking to him than the visiting priests.

Thanks.
God Bless.
I would really recommend talking to a priest about this. There are issues in play that are far above the pay grade of most people here to address. I know it seems weird, but go ahead and seek advice from one of those visiting priests. They are there to help you. Plus, they are bound, legally as well as canonically, to secrecy concerning what you tell them. On another note, they have received the same training your previous pastor has. I'll keep you in my prayers
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  #3  
Old Sep 29, '11, 12:23 pm
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Pacbox Pacbox is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Actually, it sounds like you haven't dealt with the sexual abuse at all but rather swept it under the rug and ignored it hoping it would go away. You can't just get over abuse especially sexual abuse. You need to get help for that because it is affecting your marriage. Have you told your husband about the abuse? The only reason I ask is because if he knew he would probably be more understanding and a lot less demanding.

Talk to a priest and get a recommendation for a therapist from him (he may know several who could help and that could be of benefit to you). If your husband feels like he's using you and you feel the same, then it's a problem. To me, it seems that you are repressing everything and saying that it's God's will when it seems to me that it's your interpretation. You get a say in you sex life. Your husband is not going to die if he doesn't have sex all the time. Anyone who tells you that are committing mortal sin by not giving in all the time is wrong. You would be committing sin if you kept on the path you are on now. You need to take care of you and if that means saying no to sex, then so be it.
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  #4  
Old Sep 29, '11, 12:37 pm
manualman manualman is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

My suggestion is to ask a priest for a recommendation for a distinctively catholic couples therapist. Past trauma might be a factor here, as you seem to suspect.

Marriage will always have moments where one is "in the mood" and the other isn't. It's not uncommon at all for the guy to be in the mood all the time and the woman, umm, much less often. But not at all? Not good. Nor is it good to consider sexual intimacy a "debt owed." Should be a mutual delight.

He really needs to back off because it's only going to get worse for both of you in the status quo. That's his struggle. Your struggle is to recognize that what he is feeling by your lack of sexual interest is that you don't really love him fully. No matter how many times you say it or go to heroic extremes of expressing it in other ways, he's feeling like a roomate instead of a husband. Yeah, we men are shallow, but we have our good points too.
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  #5  
Old Sep 29, '11, 12:47 pm
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AnneTeresa AnneTeresa is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

I suggest also getting a therapist and especially a catholic one. I went through this too in my marriage, but I worked with a secular counselor. It helped a lot with the issues similar to yours but the methods they used were often in conflict with catholic values (I know now). I know this is difficult and I will say a prayer for you.

Also, yes, it is OK to say no if you are being hurt emotionally. At least in my opinion. In joint therapy, my hb learned how to approach me so I would not be so hurt-it was something you have to work on together.
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  #6  
Old Sep 29, '11, 1:11 pm
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Rascalking Rascalking is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Someone said it before, but it's still important. Make sure you find a priest that is also a qualified mental health counselor.

Your in my prayers.
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  #7  
Old Sep 29, '11, 1:30 pm
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philial philial is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Talking to a priest has its important points, but we cant expect him to be a marriage & sexuality psycologist!

Print out what you have typed & show it to your husband in the presence of a marriage counsellor - there are practicing catholic ones out there - and discuss. BUT, at all times and for all ways, learn to nurse your husband's silly masculine ego - no point in hoping it'll go away - alas, it won't!, and I hope the both of you learn "to diminish so that Christ might increase". God bless
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  #8  
Old Sep 29, '11, 1:31 pm
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purplesunshine purplesunshine is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

You definatly need councelling. It dosnt seem as if you have really delt with your past.

Sexual feelings are part of romantic feelings. I love my friends with a faaar different love than my boyfriend. To not have *that* differentation is huge.

Part of your hesidency may be the natural puritanical opionion of sex in the traditional churches. Not only do you have your own personal qualms you have the imbuded shame that comes with old fasioned ideas.

There, obvously, is no going back now. You must find a way to deal with this sooner rather than later. Sex is a fun uniting part of marriage. It is a sign of the covenant of God and the church.

Please dont rely on the parish priest. You need a good therepist, preferribly female, who can talk you through the problems. This affects you spirituality but it is not a spiritual problem. Reading books on sexual healing or even joining message boards or support groups are a good addition to face-to-face therepy.

The sooner you focus and find resolve the sooner your life will really start. The deeper your emotions will become, the more you will see. And thats the biggest thing because you will be stronger. So when a bad memory comes it wont shut you down. It may give you a topsy feeling for a bit but even new things will not devistate.

One last thing. Dont fear meds. They can help alot.
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  #9  
Old Sep 29, '11, 1:51 pm
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Mary Gail 36 Mary Gail 36 is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

The part where you wrote that you cry during intimacy broke my heart. How does he react to your tears?

Both of you should see a counselor, 1 for you to heal and 2. for him to realize that you have been traumatized by sex, and that perhaps the"pain of mortal sin" approach to intimacy is not working.

Perhaps try also reading Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul, you can find excerpts on line.

Also, By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice Von Hildebrand

Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich Von Hildebrand

Man, Woman, and the Meaning of Love: God's Plan for Love, Marriage, Intimacy, and the Family by Dietrich Von Hildebrand

Prayers for you.
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  #10  
Old Sep 29, '11, 2:07 pm
ringil ringil is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Your husband has sex with you WHILE you are crying? That's not good. I could never imagine doing such a thing even if my wife was being the most unreasonable person in the world. I'm not saying you are at all. It's just that I would think that crying is kind of a . . . . turn off you know. . . . I mean what could be going through his head?

God Bless you and you family
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  #11  
Old Sep 29, '11, 2:22 pm
Te Deum Te Deum is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Explain your past too him, ask him if you could just "cool down" for a while, explain that you need to see a good Catholic counsellor as recommended in this thread.

Regarding the marital debt.. it is a mortal sin to deny your partner the marital debt. It would be equally sinful for him to deny your the debt. In marriage you have been joined as one. However, demanding the payment of the debt in a case such as yours, is border-line abusive and is not healthy.

Think of it like this. In 1217 Suffolk, England, a man owes another man a sum of money. The debtor saves up, and has enough gold to pay back the creditor. He sets out on his horse to pay the creditor.. when he is ambushed by some brigands. They strip him, beat him and take the gold..

The debtor makes his way to the town where the creditor lives and is taken in by the man. He explains what happened and asks if the creditor would please understand and forgive the debt for the time being as he simply cannot pay it back.

If the credit says "no, give me my payment" he would be perfectly within his rights to do so.. however he would not be practising charity for his neighbour, he would not be demonstrating love for his fellow man. Can we really say such a man can find grace with God?

Refusing the marital debt is a sin. Demanding the marital debt in such circumstances will hardly earn you God's favour.

You really should have spoken about this before you got married.
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  #12  
Old Sep 29, '11, 4:38 pm
Lily85 Lily85 is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Wow, I'm overwhelmed by all these replies! Thank you.

My husband did know about the abuse well before we were even engaged. To be fair to him, neither one of us thought it was going to be a big problem, but I also had no idea about men's libidos or how much he'd want it. I didn't see getting married as being such a huge change from being engaged. I knew obviously sex was part of marriage but I had no idea it would be anything like this.

I have tried looking for counselors/therapists. I called Catholic Ministries. The closest one told me "they are just owned by Catholic Ministries", but are actually secular. We live in a very rural area. I've looked online specifically for Catholic counselors, but the ones I've located are very far away, 2 or more hours.

That still of course leaves me with the option of our parish priests. I've tried talking to different ones in confession, but they just don't seem to understand. I'm pretty scared of going to talk to one of them face to face, but I suppose it would hurt less then feeling like this. I guess I'm just scared and rather dread going

Thank you for the book suggestions. I've developed quite the library. I get books hoping "maybe THIS will be the one that makes me feel better." I understand in my head what God's plan is SUPPOSED to be, and what I'm SUPPOSED to feel, but knowing it doesn't make me feel it.

I just feel so bad about not being able to please him. I want him to just stop wanting it, but I know that's unrealistic. I have such a good life otherwise. I see other wives at church and am just so puzzled wondering if I'm the only one who feels this way.

All your words do help. I think in the meantime I will talk to him about it some more. Being able to stop when I'm upset would be so nice. The way it is right now is awful. I think he's just gotten used to it and doesn't notice anymore. I can't even remember the last time it didn't end, or begin, with me in tears. I just hate it. But I feel so guilty if I resist because I know I'm not supposed to because he's my husband. I wish there was an easy fix, but I know it's up to me to make the next step.
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  #13  
Old Sep 29, '11, 5:57 pm
OraLabora OraLabora is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

I am not sure I like the archaic term "marriage debt" to talk about sex in a marriage. It sounds unhealthy to me to think of lovemaking in those terms. In a healthy marriage there will be times when the other doesn't feel like it, for various reasons: fatigue, stress, illness, a need to get up very early for work, etc. In a healthy marriage the other partner respects the situation realizing that the situation is only temporary. If the refusal becomes habitual because of psychological issues, then it's a problem.

That said as others said this is way beyond our pay grade, and a question like "how often is enough" is different from couple to couple, there just isn't one right answer. With your history of abuse, I think it's imperative to get professional assistance as well as spiritual assistance. Best of luck to you, you are in our prayers.

PS and no offence intended but the term "novus ordo" Catholic is seen as derogatory by many, myself included. There is only one kind of Catholic, a person baptized in the Catholic Church according to Catholic rites. One can be faithful to the Magisterium whether one prefers the OF or EF Mass. One can be in imperfect communion if one isn't faithful to the Magisterium, but one remains Catholic and Catholic only, the only acceptable prefix to Catholic would be the rite one belongs to (e.g. Roman, etc.)
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Old Sep 30, '11, 4:42 am
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purplesunshine purplesunshine is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily85 View Post
Wow, I'm overwhelmed by all these replies! Thank you.

My husband did know about the abuse well before we were even engaged. To be fair to him, neither one of us thought it was going to be a big problem, but I also had no idea about men's libidos or how much he'd want it. I didn't see getting married as being such a huge change from being engaged. I knew obviously sex was part of marriage but I had no idea it would be anything like this.

I have tried looking for counselors/therapists. I called Catholic Ministries. The closest one told me "they are just owned by Catholic Ministries", but are actually secular. We live in a very rural area. I've looked online specifically for Catholic counselors, but the ones I've located are very far away, 2 or more hours.

That still of course leaves me with the option of our parish priests. I've tried talking to different ones in confession, but they just don't seem to understand. I'm pretty scared of going to talk to one of them face to face, but I suppose it would hurt less then feeling like this. I guess I'm just scared and rather dread going

Thank you for the book suggestions. I've developed quite the library. I get books hoping "maybe THIS will be the one that makes me feel better." I understand in my head what God's plan is SUPPOSED to be, and what I'm SUPPOSED to feel, but knowing it doesn't make me feel it.

I just feel so bad about not being able to please him. I want him to just stop wanting it, but I know that's unrealistic. I have such a good life otherwise. I see other wives at church and am just so puzzled wondering if I'm the only one who feels this way.

All your words do help. I think in the meantime I will talk to him about it some more. Being able to stop when I'm upset would be so nice. The way it is right now is awful. I think he's just gotten used to it and doesn't notice anymore. I can't even remember the last time it didn't end, or begin, with me in tears. I just hate it. But I feel so guilty if I resist because I know I'm not supposed to because he's my husband. I wish there was an easy fix, but I know it's up to me to make the next step.
With all due respect you need councelling for sexual abuse. 99.9% of Priests will be of little or no use.

You need to put your healing before anything else. If this means before your wallet and driving 2 hours sobeit. If this means before pride and going to a "just" Christian counceller than thats what you need to do. Personally, I find mormon (NOT flds) councellers to be excellent. Many commit to not imparting their beliefs during councelling and morally they walk the same path as Catholics.

Books from the holy sex perspective are typically not written with sexually abused in mind. Actually many ignore it. But with 1 in 3 woman abused before 18 it should be. You need books and web and even a hotline to help you out with your sexual issues before you deal with the spiritual.

And be prepared for any counceller worth their salt to tell you your husband is wrong right now. He is retraumatizing you insted of helping you and comforting you and teaching you to enjoy sex.

And please let this be a warning to all women. Yes, you are worthy of love....but if you arent looking forward to sex...the sexual union...don't get married. Sex IS not an addon like fluffy towels. Marrige is built on the sexual covenant.
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Old Sep 30, '11, 5:33 am
OraLabora OraLabora is offline
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Default Re: What is a "just cause" in refusing marriage debt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will S View Post
I find it kind of odd that you gripe about the term "Novus Ordo Catholic" right at the same time you act like a stereotypical "Novus Ordo Catholic" by disparaging traditional Catholic doctrine and vocabulary on the nature of marriage.
I am a Roman Catholic, period.

If you disagree with my terminology, then by all means say why, but there is no need for an ad hominem attack disparaging me for an alleged lack of orthodoxy.

And please do tell where I have disparaged "traditional Catholic doctrine" in suggesting that more sensitive language can be used?
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