I have a question about adult struggles with chastity, for anybody who feels like answering, but especially for people who are in my situation. In a nutshell:
- I married a Catholic woman who abandoned me after less than a year without any stated warning, and without ever telling me she had a major problem with me or the relationship, let alone trying to save the marriage. Without going into unnecessary detail, there were definitely some emotional/psychological issues present that I perceived in her, but failed to understand for what they really were before the wedding took place.
- I took my own vows very seriously, and as a devout Catholic, “divorce” was never even in my vocabulary. So, for almost two years, I gave her every opportunity to have a change of heart and reconcile, praying intensely every day. When it became abundantly clear that no reconciliation was to be, at the advising of my pastor, I then obtained a civil divorce in order to be able to begin the tribunal process.
- My case is now in the tribunal, two-and-a-half years after it all started.
Given my faith, even entertaining another relationship before a decree of nullity from the tribunal (God willing) is not possible, and the process could take at least another year. So, I have been living a single life of prayer and penance these past couple years, which has produced tremendous spiritual fruit, and I will continue to do so for the duration.
This leads to my question. Although a sexual relationship with a woman is currently so far out of the question as to not even be a temptation for me, I have struggled periodically with personal chastity since this started. To enjoy regular sexual intercourse and to know how wonderful it feels, and then to suddenly have it taken away, can be a lot more difficult than simply remaining chaste while still a virgin. Although it’s gotten better as I’ve gotten used to my current state in life, I do get caught off guard from time to time and succumb to the temptation to masturbate. I don’t look at things that are visually stimulating, I just start to get mental visions of sex that are very hard to get rid of without giving into them. Whenever this happens, I go to confession within 24 hours and then I’m ok for quite a while until I get weak again.
I’ve talked to confessors about it, but I’m just wondering - for others actually in my situation, how do you remain pure and chaste? Other than regular prayer and fasting and doing one’s best to avoid near occasions of sin, what other ways are there to subdue this natural urge?