Discuss: Married Sexuality


#1

It became apparent in various threads here that many of us have different ideas about sex and sexual duty.

This is my understanding of the duties of the marriage vocation.

We are to be as united as it is possible to be, and the key to unity is sex. Therefore, we are to have sex as much as is reasonably possible.

The assumption is that every evening will lead to sex. It isn’t that one person initiates and hopes for an affirmative response…the affirmative response is expected. Initiating isn’t even required because the act is so expected. Night time falls…the couple heads to bed and strips off their clothes and lay together. Pillow talk- hugging- sex- shower- sleep. Thats the norm…not something that happens when the stars align just right and both couples are in the mood. The exceptions to this are things like menses, illness, extreme exhaustion, lack of privacy, agreed upon fasting period, or if one partner has had an affair. If sex will not happen…for whatever reason…then it should be announced compassionately so that neither spouse must face rejection in the evening.

It is very similar to communion. We go as much as we can. Daily is preferable. We receive each time we go unless we have committed a grave sin.

Because both spouses expect to be intimate, and both spouses know that sex is better when things are going well…each spouse has even more reason to work out marital issues. Neither spouse is wishing and hoping and praying their spouse will say “ok”. Nobody is using sex as a weapon to get what they want. Nobody is feeling “dirty” because sex is part of the job description of their vocation, not something they do because they like it. Whether or not they like it is besides the point.

NFP interferes with the marriage duty…so it can only be practiced if it is agreed upon. Many polite spouses will say they agree…but when a rift develops in the relationship then the NFP must be discontinued. If the unitive aspect of marriage is threatened then you can be certain that “family planning” is not Gods plan for you.

One judges the necessity of NFP by whether the fear of pregnancy is equal or close to equal amongst both spouses. Only then can it really work without hurting the relationships unity.

If there is any question as to the serious reasons to avoid then the deciding vote goes to the Husband. He is the leader and (ideally) the provider… The wife must communicate effectively her needs so that her husband can provide for them.

If anybody has a different understanding please discuss! I believe my approach to this is most theologically accurate, so I want to know if someone has a different opinion from the theological point of view.


#2

Wow, I don't know what to think. If the things you discussed are the Church's teachings on marital relations, then I'm not living a Catholic marriage. I'm perfectly happy going through life w/o sexual relations, and my husband knows and understands that. It may be tied up in the fact that we're infertile.


#3

I’m not married… but I have kind of a different interpretation. I’m not saying mine is necessarily right though. I don’t know.

I would question the first point that the key to unity in marriage is sex… I would say that it is love in general (especially selfless, self giving love) - and the married couple could demonstrate this love when they have sex, but also in many different ways as well. That is why when the couple abstains during a fasting period, for example, their married life is not somehow lessened. That’s just my interpretation.

I also believe in developing self control within marriage as in without. I’m not saying that in your marriage, you lack self control. Clearly that is not for me to know or say. But what I’m saying is that it’s possible to sin through lust within marriage also, it’s not anything goes. If sex is always based on love, that’s great, but if it’s based on lust, that could get tricky and turn into something selfish and no longer according to God. (again, I’m not saying this is happening in your marriage). Also, I think that practicing times of abstinence could help the couple in ways… like if one of them doesn’t want to have sex at the time, and their spouse respects that, they are showing them love and respect.

I don’t know… that’s just my understanding, but I could be wrong! and like I said, I’m not married, and never have been, so what I said is totally theory based.


#4

I also believe in developing self control within marriage as in without.

I think this happens organically, especially when the babies start coming.


#5

Wow, I don't know what to think. If the things you discussed are the Church's teachings on marital relations, then I'm not living a Catholic marriage. I'm perfectly happy going through life w/o sexual relations, and my husband knows and understands that. It may be tied up in the fact that we're infertile.

You definitely need to talk to a priest about this. If your husband does not feel equally called to a josephite marriage then you could be committing a serious sin.


#6

based on my understanding of Catholic teaching, this is not wrong…

Violet you compared the marital act to the Eucharist in your post… I think that it’s very important to receive the Eucharist as often as possible and I think it’s the central point of our faith and also the greatest intimacy we could have with God… but I don’t know if this same reasoning is applicable to marriage. When we receive the Eucharist, there’s no possibility of anything sinful, unless we receive unworthily. On the contrary, we receive many graces. But with sex, since it is not fully spiritual and since our human natures are fallen, it’s not very difficult to make it into something that’s based on lust and forgetting the Sacramental and “agape” love side of marriage. It could be that I’m incorrect on this and this is not applicable to marriage, only to sex outside of marriage… but I know that there are ways that a married couple can sin, for example if they watch porn. It just seems to me that participating in something so “carnal” (I’m not saying this as a negative term, but meaning anything that is related to our passions, appetite, etc) on a frequent basis could make spiritual life more difficult. This is not just for sex, but also eating, shopping, etc, anything that is not purely of a spiritual nature - like the Eucharist. I know that sex within marriage is something sacred and not evil… I just don’t know if there’s such a thing as “too much” of it, and imo there might be, if it interferes with spiritual life. However if it does not, then I am wrong. :shrug:


#7

I don’t think married couples should default to having sex every night. Sex is often better when you haven’t had it very recently.

I’m a man and, I think like most men, would prefer to have a bit more sex in our marriage. But every night? I think sex is more special when the husband and wife chose it, as opposed to seeing it as an expected routine.


#8

sure, that can be. :slight_smile:

I’ve never heard of this… in what way would it be a sin?

(just trying to learn lol)


#9

[quote="violet81, post:1, topic:223557"]

The assumption is that every evening will lead to sex.

[/quote]

Hmm, that's not the assumption for either myself or my husband, or for most people I know. Both of us are perfectly fine with the amount of sex we're having (once or twice a week). At one point, we did have a "dry spell," so to speak, but by discussing our feelings honestly we were able to work toward a frequency that we were both comfortable with.

In short, I am not persuaded that daily sex ought to be the goal. Frequent, sure -- but if both spouses are comfortable with the frequency and comfortable with the level of intimacy in their marriage, why should it be changed? Also, as another poster said, self-control is a worthy virtue, even within a marriage. There will be times over the course of a marriage when the spouses will have to abstain (following childbirth, during illness or injury, during absence/deployment etc.), perhaps for somewhat lengthy periods, and self-control will be necessary.

(As an aside, not to be too graphic, but for many women there is often some, uh, chafing so daily intercourse for a lengthy period might become uncomfortable...)

One judges the necessity of NFP by whether the fear of pregnancy is equal or close to equal amongst both spouses. Only then can it really work without hurting the relationships unity.

If there is any question as to the serious reasons to avoid then the deciding vote goes to the Husband. He is the leader and (ideally) the provider... The wife must communicate effectively her needs so that her husband can provide for them.

Actually, when the fear of pregnancy is not equal among both spouses, I would think that is when NFP is most needed. If a child is conceived that is not desired or welcomed by both parents, that pregnancy could destroy the couple's unity and damage their marriage. If one spouse is adamantly opposed to another pregnancy at that time and one wants to seek pregnancy, then I think spouses should seriously discuss their disagreement, the reasons for avoiding or seeking pregnancy, and continue to pray about and discuss the matter, while practicing NFP (for avoidance) until they reach an agreement. I doubt that throwing away the practice of NFP is going to bring peace to a marriage in which there is a disagreement about the spacing of children. It seems far more likely to me to breed resentment in one of the spouses.

Also, why should the deciding vote always be the husband's? Suppose the serious reasons to avoid pregnancy are related to the wife's physical or emotional health... I would suggest that she may be the best arbiter of reasons that relate to her own health.


#10

I think that planning on sex every night starts to feel like a job. The frequency tends to change through out the marriage. Maybe when you are first married it is twice a day. Then you start having children and it might be once or twice a week. Then the kids get older and it is a few times a week. But a lot depends on the sex drive of the couple.


#11

Well, my husband doesn't demand sex of me, and I'm not sure what he feels about it. We don't argue about the frequency, though.


#12

In short, I am not persuaded that daily sex ought to be the goal. Frequent, sure -- but if both spouses are comfortable with the frequency and comfortable with the level of intimacy in their marriage, why should it be changed? Also, as another poster said, self-control is a worthy virtue, even within a marriage. There will be times over the course of a marriage when the spouses will have to abstain (following childbirth, during illness or injury, during absence/deployment etc.), perhaps for somewhat lengthy periods, and self-control will be necessary.

Because of several issues...

  1. The fear of rejection. Who picks what day is the day? Someone must risk rejection.
  2. Feelings of love and affection are like a bank account that you keep full so that if something happens you can withdraw from it without going into the negative.
  3. Self-control can be attributed to daily intercourse just as easily as to abstinence. You might not always feel like it...but you get yourself in the mood anyway out of a sense of duty and sacrificial love.

#13

Well, my husband doesn’t demand sex of me, and I’m not sure what he feels about it. We don’t argue about the frequency, though.

The fact that he doesn’t demand it doesn’t mean that he isn’t feeling angry/hurt/betrayed/frustrated.


#14

Sex every night? lol

Anyone who thinks this or actually does this is either (a) not married (b) young and married or (c) young, married and childless


#15

I think that planning on sex every night starts to feel like a job.

Sometimes it does feel like a job. Sometimes one spouse enjoys it more than the other. Sometimes both enjoy it equally.

The point isn’t the enjoyment but the unity.


#16

Anyone who thinks this or actually does this is either (a) not married (b) young and married or (c) young, married and childless

We don't average every day anymore because we have 5 children and many health issues between us but it hasn't stopped being the goal.


#17

[quote="violet81, post:16, topic:223557"]
We don't average every day anymore because we have 5 children and many health issues between us but it hasn't stopped being the goal.

[/quote]

I think a better and healthier goal for a married couple is to have sex as often as wanted/needed....and I really doubt that as a couple gets older and/or has children that sex is wanted or needed every day.


#18

[quote="violet81, post:12, topic:223557"]
Because of several issues...

  1. The fear of rejection. Who picks what day is the day? Someone must risk rejection.
  2. Feelings of love and affection are like a bank account that you keep full so that if something happens you can withdraw from it without going into the negative.
  3. Self-control can be attributed to daily intercourse just as easily as to abstinence. You might not always feel like it...but you get yourself in the mood anyway out of a sense of duty and sacrificial love.

[/quote]

If you have a loving marriage, why would there be a fear of rejection? I have been married for 19 years and have probably said no - 3 times. And that is when I had 4 little ones and felt fat. My husband has never said no. I think a couple just needs to communicate.

I don't see the reason to have sex if both are not in the mood.

I like the way you think but it is not that way in most marriages.


#19

[quote="violet81, post:15, topic:223557"]
Sometimes it does feel like a job. Sometimes one spouse enjoys it more than the other. Sometimes both enjoy it equally.

The point isn't the enjoyment but the unity.

[/quote]

I don't know. Instead of have great sex 4 times a week, you end up with okay sex 7 days a week. I would rather have great sex.


#20

This assumes that all married sex is unitive. If sex begins to feel like a job, I don’t really see how it’s unitive. You get the physical enjoyment (maybe), but if one or both spouses are thinking “oh geez, I don’t have time for this, I need to put a load of laundry in the washer/I am so tired/I need to sleep,” then I don’t see much emotional benefit arising from that.

Also, as a PP pointed out, sex can be an occasion of sin (even within marriage) – it’s quite possible to objectify one’s spouse, treat them in an unloving way, or deliberately entertain sinful thoughts during the marriage act. Whether that is more likely with frequent intercourse, I don’t know. But if an instance of intercourse is an occasion of sin for one or both spouses, it isn’t truly unitive.

You also didn’t answer my questions on NFP, which I’m interested in hearing your take on.


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