Another NFP issue


#1

Hello! I’ve been a long time lurker on the forum but finally decided to register. Just some background. Dh and I are both cradle Catholics but grew up in the 70’s & 80’s when Catholic teaching was very watered down. It was only about 4 years ago that we learned and embraced the teaching on ABC -and switched over to NFP.
Dh and I have been married 15 years and have a very solid marriage. We have two beautiful daughters and due to health reasons need to use NFP to prevent pregnancy. (We have had second & third opinions as well as consulted our very orthodox parish priest.)
Our only area of difficulty is abstaining during the phase II. We enjoy and utilize the times I’m not fertile but during phase II my dh seems to struggle and suffer tremedously when we need to abstain. He literally turns into an insomniac. If I awake during the night I find him staring at the ceiling wide awake. He has a physically demanding job and should be very tired but he only gets a few hours sleep if that during phase II. At any other time he can fall asleep on a dime. His personality changes as well. Normally he’s very easy going and laid back but during the times we are abstaining he’s tense and crabby.
Sometimes I find myself getting quite angry and frustrated with him. He has always had a very strong umm…desire. During our ABC years we never went more than 2 days without being intimate - ever (and he suppemented with uh…solo activities :o )I’ve felt guilty at times because I can see he is genuinely suffering but at other times I get angry and withdrawn. I can see other men on the forum who seem to be ok with the periods of abstinance. I don’t understand why it is so hard for my dh.
He is a fantastic husband in every other way. This is our only issue but I just don’t know how to deal with it. I dread this time of the month. He says he needs physical touch to feel close to me but if we are affectionate during phase II it offen goes too far and we both end up going to confession. I just don’t know what to do at this point.


#2

Part of this might be biological. Some men (myself included) are simply more attuned to the fertility of the women around us - I’ve known women were pregnant before they did, and knew what phase (+/- 1 day) my ex was in even when she was refusing to chart in her quest to find ways to try to avoid relations. Also, some women are more obvious than others in their fertility signs / pheromones / whatever it is that I can “read”.

Also, Hard work gets a guy in the mood. Likewise, women do have a natural attraction to sweaty guys (even after they’ve cleaned up).

Combine all of those with a guy who has a past history of something bordering on addiction to “release” and its hard times when one gets withthe program and has to seriously abstain in Phase 2.

So, possible solutions / things to try:

Have you tried separate sleeping arrangements of some sort during phase 2. Not sleeping right next to the pheromone source might help your DH get better shut-eye during the time you have to abstain. Don’t go buy a second mattress to try it, but experiment a few nights somehow to see if it helps.

Another possibility - staggered bedtimes, where one of you stays up (that would be you as my first guess) so the other can go to sleep without the hormonal distraction.

Also, try to load up on non-sexual physical affection while wide awake and in front of the kids. all the time, not just during phase 2, so you have a habit of it that outside of the bedroom.


#3

GracieJayne: {During our ABC years we never went more than 2 days without being intimate - ever (and he suppemented with uh…solo activities }

That’s probably part of the reason it’s so hard during Phase II. He’s used to instant gratification (so to speak :wink: ).

Not sure you can “do” much since you need to abstain – other than pray and sacrifice for him. —KCT


#4

Thank you very much for responding so quickly. As far as staggered bed times my dh works 2nd shift so I am usually a sleep before he is. It may work better if I could go to bed after him but we really can’t do that because he usually doesn’t go to bed until at least 4 a.m.

We could try sleeping apart but I do have a couple of concerns about that. 1) How would we explain that to our daughters? 2) My dh really stresses his need for physical closeness I worry relagating him to the couch would make him feel even more rejected.

We are generally quite affectionate and playful but I find myself tensing up during phase II for fear of adding to his already pretty intense sexual frustration. If I give my dh more space he feels rejected but if I am affectionate I only add to his desire.

Like KCT said I’m really not sure there is anything I can do. I love my dh dearly. Part of me feels like a bad wife to see him suffering and not be able to help. It’s my health issues that are causing us to have to abstain. My dh insists he doesn’t blame me. I love being intimate with my dh, I can’t ever count on him to say “No we can’t do that right now.” I’m the one always saying “We can’t” and it wears on me.

I’m sorry for rambling I just feel so stuck and frustrated.


#5

My heart goes out to you! It goes to show the amazing nature of marriage, that one person’s cross (in this case, your husband’s mighty struggle against lust) gets entangled in another’s (your patience with your husband and constant need to be “on guard”). Two truly do become one, and our sins and struggles do, too!

If you’ve ever read the book “Love Languages”, you might want to have your husband check it out. I never really went in for the concept, but if you could find the “second language” your husband speaks (physical expression of love obviously is the first), maybe you could load up on that during Phase II.

Ask him what else you could do to assure him of your love for him during that time. Surely sex isn’t the only way he’ll feel loved by you? I’m sure you’ve tried this already, sorry if it’s redundant.

As for sleeping arrangements- my husband also works 2nd shift. He doesn’t get home until 3 am or so. I understand not wanting him to sleep on the couch, esp. after a long day at work!- is there another room you could sleep in? As for what to tell your daughters- I don’t know how old they are, but maybe just a simple, “Sometimes people need to sleep apart for a while” will suffice for now…?

I sometimes get up when my husband gets home to chat with him for a while. I don’t know how much of an interruption it would be for your sleep (I have chronic insomnia, so it’s not a big deal for me), but maybe you could try that- get up when he gets home, let him unwind, send him to bed first, then when he’s asleep (let’s hope he really CAN fall asleep on a dime), get back into bed for a few more hours shuteye.

But be sure to keep lines of communication open. It probably won’t help to nag or guilt him (not that I’m implying that you have been, I just know that’s the route I’d take :rolleyes: ), but neither should this be something that you’re constantly having to enforce. Yes, he’s sacrificing, but there needs to be some attempt at doing so gracefully.

Best wishes,
C


#6

My heart goes out to you! It goes to show the amazing nature of marriage, that one person’s cross (in this case, your husband’s mighty struggle against lust) gets entangled in another’s (your patience with your husband and constant need to be “on guard”). Two truly do become one, and our sins and struggles do, too!

If you’ve ever read the book “Love Languages”, you might want to have your husband check it out. I never really went in for the concept, but if you could find the “second language” your husband speaks (physical expression of love obviously is the first), maybe you could load up on that during Phase II.

Ask him what else you could do to assure him of your love for him during that time. Surely sex isn’t the only way he’ll feel loved by you? I’m sure you’ve tried this already, sorry if it’s redundant.

As for sleeping arrangements- my husband also works 2nd shift. He doesn’t get home until 3 am or so. I understand not wanting him to sleep on the couch, esp. after a long day at work!- is there another room you could sleep in? As for what to tell your daughters- I don’t know how old they are, but maybe just a simple, “Sometimes people need to sleep apart for a while” will suffice for now…?

I sometimes get up when my husband gets home to chat with him for a while. I don’t know how much of an interruption it would be for your sleep (I have chronic insomnia, so it’s not a big deal for me), but maybe you could try that- get up when he gets home, let him unwind, send him to bed first, then when he’s asleep (let’s hope he really CAN fall asleep on a dime), get back into bed for a few more hours shuteye.

But be sure to keep lines of communication open. It probably won’t help to nag or guilt him (not that I’m implying that you have been, I just know that’s the route I’d take :rolleyes: ), but neither should this be something that you’re constantly having to enforce. Yes, he’s sacrificing, but there needs to be some attempt at doing so gracefully.

Best wishes,
C


#7

My heart goes out to you! It goes to show the amazing nature of marriage, that one person’s cross (in this case, your husband’s mighty struggle against lust) gets entangled in another’s (your patience with your husband and constant need to be “on guard”). Two truly do become one, and our sins and struggles do, too!

If you’ve ever read the book “Love Languages”, you might want to have your husband check it out. I never really went in for the concept, but if you could find the “second language” your husband speaks (physical expression of love obviously is the first), maybe you could load up on that during Phase II.

Ask him what else you could do to assure him of your love for him during that time. Surely sex isn’t the only way he’ll feel loved by you? I’m sure you’ve tried this already, sorry if it’s redundant.

As for sleeping arrangements- my husband also works 2nd shift. He doesn’t get home until 3 am or so. I understand not wanting him to sleep on the couch, esp. after a long day at work!- is there another room you could sleep in? As for what to tell your daughters- I don’t know how old they are, but maybe just a simple, “Sometimes people need to sleep apart for a while” will suffice for now…?

I sometimes get up when my husband gets home to chat with him for a while. I don’t know how much of an interruption it would be for your sleep (I have chronic insomnia, so it’s not a big deal for me), but maybe you could try that- get up when he gets home, let him unwind, send him to bed first, then when he’s asleep (let’s hope he really CAN fall asleep on a dime), get back into bed for a few more hours shuteye.

But be sure to keep lines of communication open. It probably won’t help to nag or guilt him (not that I’m implying that you have been, I just know that’s the route I’d take :rolleyes: ), but neither should this be something that you’re constantly having to enforce. Yes, he’s sacrificing, but there needs to be some attempt at doing so gracefully.

Best wishes,
C


#8

My heart goes out to you! It goes to show the amazing nature of marriage, that one person’s cross (in this case, your husband’s mighty struggle against lust) gets entangled in another’s (your patience with your husband and constant need to be “on guard”). Two truly do become one, and our sins and struggles do, too!

If you’ve ever read the book “Love Languages”, you might want to have your husband check it out. I never really went in for the concept, but if you could find the “second language” your husband speaks (physical expression of love obviously is the first), maybe you could load up on that during Phase II.

Ask him what else you could do to assure him of your love for him during that time. Surely sex isn’t the only way he’ll feel loved by you? I’m sure you’ve tried this already, sorry if it’s redundant.

As for sleeping arrangements- my husband also works 2nd shift. He doesn’t get home until 3 am or so. I understand not wanting him to sleep on the couch, esp. after a long day at work!- is there another room you could sleep in? As for what to tell your daughters- I don’t know how old they are, but maybe just a simple, “Sometimes people need to sleep apart for a while” will suffice for now…?

I sometimes get up when my husband gets home to chat with him for a while. I don’t know how much of an interruption it would be for your sleep (I have chronic insomnia, so it’s not a big deal for me), but maybe you could try that- get up when he gets home, let him unwind, send him to bed first, then when he’s asleep (let’s hope he really CAN fall asleep on a dime), get back into bed for a few more hours shuteye.

But be sure to keep lines of communication open. It probably won’t help to nag or guilt him (not that I’m implying that you have been, I just know that’s the route I’d take :rolleyes: ), but neither should this be something that you’re constantly having to enforce. Yes, he’s sacrificing, but there needs to be some attempt at doing so gracefully.

Best wishes,
C


#9

My heart goes out to you! It goes to show the amazing nature of marriage, that one person’s cross (in this case, your husband’s mighty struggle against lust) gets entangled in another’s (your patience with your husband and constant need to be “on guard”). Two truly do become one, and our sins and struggles do, too!

If you’ve ever read the book “Love Languages”, you might want to have your husband check it out. I never really went in for the concept, but if you could find the “second language” your husband speaks (physical expression of love obviously is the first), maybe you could load up on that during Phase II.

Ask him what else you could do to assure him of your love for him during that time. Surely sex isn’t the only way he’ll feel loved by you? I’m sure you’ve tried this already, sorry if it’s redundant.

As for sleeping arrangements- my husband also works 2nd shift. He doesn’t get home until 3 am or so. I understand not wanting him to sleep on the couch, esp. after a long day at work!- is there another room you could sleep in? As for what to tell your daughters- I don’t know how old they are, but maybe just a simple, “Sometimes people need to sleep apart for a while” will suffice for now…?

I sometimes get up when my husband gets home to chat with him for a while. I don’t know how much of an interruption it would be for your sleep (I have chronic insomnia, so it’s not a big deal for me), but maybe you could try that- get up when he gets home, let him unwind, send him to bed first, then when he’s asleep (let’s hope he really CAN fall asleep on a dime), get back into bed for a few more hours shuteye.

But be sure to keep lines of communication open. It probably won’t help to nag or guilt him (not that I’m implying that you have been, I just know that’s the route I’d take :rolleyes: ), but neither should this be something that you’re constantly having to enforce. Yes, he’s sacrificing, but there needs to be some attempt at doing so gracefully.

Best wishes,
C


#10

Our daughters are 9 & 11. We have a three bedroom house and each girl has her own room so there really isn’t another place to sleep. When dh doesn’t have overtime he’s home by 2 a.m. and I do stay up sometimes and chat for a little bit. Then when he goes to take a shower I go to bed. I do homeschool our girls so I need a relatively decent nights sleep in order to have the clarity of mind and patience it takes to get through their lessons.

I think telling the girls we need to sleep apart would raise eyebrows if not alarm. They see us being very loving and affectionate to each other, suddenly sleeping apart may lead them to believe something is wrong.

I’ve heard good things about the 5 Love Languaages, I will try to pick that book up within the next few days.

Sometimes I just think my dh isn’t trying hard enough. I think if he just prayed more or was more committed to it more wouldn’t be so hard. That’s usually about day 4 of phase II when I’m really starting to feel the pressure. I’m not a guy though so I can’t really know how hard it is.

We’ve already sat down once with our priest to discuss this issue. He explained if we do become more “affectionate” than we should and something happens accidently there is no sin in that. He said the intent is very important. If we are intending to not be open to life than it’s a sin. Unfortunately I think our wonderful priest’s advice has only made things worse. I think my dh trys to push the envelope so something happens accidently/on-purpose if you know what I mean?

Sorry for being so long winded tonight. As you can probably guess we’re in the midst of phase II and I’m just really struggling right now.


#11

As one homeschooling mom to another, I totally sympathize with your need for sleep! :wink:

It does seem, from your posts (and forgive me if I’m reading them wrong), that your husband could be dealing with this with a little more grace. In fact, by being so…I don’t want to say “resentful”, but I can’t think of another word, it seems almost as if he’s viewing sexual intimacy merely in terms of lust and physical gratification. This, to me at least, is one of the fruits of artificial birth control- the “contraceptive mentality” that encourages us to view our spouses in lustful terms. And don’t get me wrong, when used incorrectly, even NFP contributes to this mindset.

I can understand the urgent nature of physical desire, and in no way am I belittling your husband’s struggle, but it’s one that he’s being called to bear. He shouldn’t be putting you in situations where you have to bear the burden for both of you. He’s head of the Domestic Church- that means he’s called to sacrifice for the family that way Christ did.

But check out that Love Languages book. Have him read through it. Maybe by picking out “alternate” expressions of love, he’ll be able to calm down a bit.


#12

To me, it sounds like your husband is struggling with a sexual addiction. IMHO, sex every other night with masturbation in between is a LOT of sexual gratification. (Not to mention that the masturbation is, of course, sinful). To suddenly go “cold turkey” during phase II is quite certainly driving him crazy and keeping him awake with anxiety or tension issues.

Is he a reader? Maybe he needs to spend his sleepless nights reading The Good News About Sex and Marriage or the Theology of the Body, so he can at least turn his attention elsewhere and at the same time learn about the sacredness of the sexual act - in other words, it isn’t just for release and personal enjoyment…


#13

Trust me I often feel that way too! That’s when I find myself getting really angry. Honestly my dh has come a long way. He was very promiscuos in his teens and his first sexual experience happened before he was out of grade school. He comes from a disfucntional family. There was physical and verbal abuse and little physical affection.

Now before this comes off sounding really bad my dh is a very loving man. He’s a very involved and loving dad and and a very supportive husband. This is the only area we struggle in.

I think lust and physical gratification are a big part of it but I do think it’s more than that. Hopefully this doesn’t sound crass but my dh is very good at physical intimacy. I think he derives a lot of his self esteem from um…making sure I’m satisfied. It’s like he needs to be needed when it comes to this area of our marriage.

I agree that he doesn’t seem to handle this well - thats where I sometimes feel almost emotionally manipulated and frustrated. But when we talk about it I know his feelings are real. It isn’t just physical gratification that he is seeking there is an emotional gratification as well. Sometimes I just want to say “Just deal with it already!” We’ve spent many nights rehashing this over and over without any real resolution.

I think I’m so used to having such a loving, close relationship with him that when were both tense and on edge it just drives me crazy -I just want to fix it.

Anyway I should be getting off to bed. Thank you so much for you advice. I will get that book.:slight_smile:


#14

The book might help him find ways to please you, too. If your primary “love language” isn’t physical, than all the “satisfying” he’s doing for you is really just for him.
Maybe once he sees that you feel loved and valued when he X, Y, or Z, he’ll be able to channel some of that anxiety over the abstinence periods into ways to sincerely express his love for you in a language you speak.

Cheers,
C


#15

Well when we began using NFP the masturbation stopped. He realized it was sinful and stopped “cold turkey” which to me was amazing. That was four years ago. Our NFP class was a big help in changing many “selfish” aspects of our intimacy. Even though he was doubtful about NFP once we started the class he completely commited to it. Maybe I need to pull out our book and have a refresher course.

He isn’t much of reader, but maybe we can read those books you mentioned together. At this point I’m ready to try just about anything. He is so self-sacrificing in so many other parts of our marriage - it’s just this one area we can’t seem to get a handle on. :frowning:


#16

The book is available on tape (and I assume, CD). My husband’s not a big reader, either, but if I can load it up on his ipod, he’ll give it a go…


#17

Well I talked to dh this morning when he came to bed. He thinks it’s possible there’s some addiction involved. Although I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about that. I will try to get some Christopher West material as well as the 5 Love Languages.
He definitely does not want to sleep apart. He wasn’t really thrilled about sharing our issues with strangers on the internet but he did seem understanding that I needed another perspective. If you could pray for us that would be great! :slight_smile:


#18

Pray the rosary as a family before bedtime, even if you can only do a decade with the girls. Then, when he’s ready to go to bed, suggest he pray the rosary while getting ready to sleep.

I wouldn’t harp on this one too much–leave him too work it out. You two don’t really have a choice but to put up with it. Just be extra loving and kind to him during phase II. Sometimes the less said, the better. And phase III is always just around the corner.:slight_smile:

Something that might help: a fertility monitor to narrow down the days where you must abstain.
Pax Christi,
Ann


#19

Hello and welcome -

If you search through some of the posts on NFP and frustration, you will find that I am exactly in line with and feel/seem just like your husband. Everything you observe/state is dead on about how he feels; I am the same and it is very difficult. While some other men on these forums seem to deal or accept things so easily (maybe not the case or it’s taken time), I am not one who is there yet.

There absolutely is a need for a man to feel physical intimacy with his wife, in giving and receiving, and it is not just a lust problem as someone suggested. (And it drives me crazy when people downplay it or treat it only as a guy is wired to want sex). It is important to me for being emotionally and lovingly accepted by my wife that I also make her physically satisfied to the greatest extent possible; it is incredibly emotionally satisfying to me to know that in my love for her, I can do that, when she lets me. To me, it is the ultimate in giving of myself to her because I am focused on her. Do I want and need emotionally to feel her to do the same to me? Absolutely, yes. But that is not just wanting physical or instant gratification; it is feeling loved and accepted by my wife if she willingly does so.

Until a few years ago, my wife and I engaged in other sexual activities to completion in between infertile times when we wanted or needed each other, either physically or for emotional closeness; we thought we were well within our marriage and understanding of things in the Church. We learned otherwise and it has been several years for me of being frustrated since all of that stopped. You sounded exactly like my wife when you said you are the one to say “we can’t do that now”, and I’m pretty much like your husband hoping something would accidently happen on purpose. My wife is the rock and I’m not. If the subject ever does come up, my wife does not understand and says, “We’ve been doing this for years (no sex outside of Ph 3)” as if it should be no problem. And I’ve told her of the negative physical impact I believe it has contributed to. But it is not easy at all for a man who wants, needs, and desires to be sexually intimate with his wife out of love, not just lust, to turn it off after so many years. I wish people would not make it seem like there is something wrong with a man who feels this way or is struggling.

You can read through the “NFP and Men’s Complaints” and other threads to see some of where I’m coming from. The past few years has taken an emotional and physical toll on me and the overall intimacy with my wife. It is not at all just NFP, but the combination of NFP and strictly following Church teachings are a big part of what we deal with. We are praying and working on our communication and intimacy as other things in life improve slowly, but honestly, my wife has no idea how hard this is on me. I’ve tried to explain my emotional need to physically satisfy her, but she sees it as lust, not making love. There is no choice but to follow Church teachings, and to do otherwise leads her to sin as well as me, so it is difficult to see a reason to talk about it as nothing can or will change. And frankly, it opens up my struggles which I feel are between me, God, and a priest.

As for sleeping in different beds, I’d feel rejected and shunned. Is it sexual addiction? I debate that because it makes it seem like such powerful emotions, not just physical need, can be turned off like water.

I will say that as some other personal changes are taking place, adding prayer is bringing an odd, quiet kernal of peace as I struggle to understand why the Church teaches what it does. It is not the complete cure all yet for me as it seems to be for other men, but have your husband pray, and I will keep you both in mine. God bless.


#20

I do understand not wanting to sleep in separate rooms (I was thinking more an air mattress in your bedroom or something to to see if that was going to help or not).

Perhaps one of those “body pillows” laid between the two of you on the bed during Phase 2 would put enough space in to help keep things cooled off.

There is part of this he’s just going to have to get a grip on himself (possibly with some personal guidance from a priest or reliable Catholic counselor trained in sex therapy).


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.