Engaged sex - Questions about becoming chaste again


#1

If there is a thread somewhere that discusses this same issue, I have not found it - I apologize if this is a duplication of any sort.

I was raised in the church but never really embraced it. I have always identified myself as still a Catholic, because although I had issues with many of the rules, I always agreed with the bigger picture. I felt it was important to be married by a priest and raise my children Catholic … just because I didn’t “take to it” was not reason enough to stay away completely. My fiance’ and I began our Pre Cana counseling with the priest and attended Engaged Encounter this past weekend. He is not Catholic; he was raised Southern Baptist but he didnt’ “take to it” either. He is very open to learning about the church and he’s not opposed to conversion if he decides later it’s right for him.

The EE weekend moved us in a way that neither of us expected. After this weekend I began to feel very strongly about us discontinuing our sexual relationship until after the wedding (nine and a half months from now). My reasoning is odd - I am not upset that we have had sex to this point but that to do so now that our “eyes are starting to open” would be wrong. Future Husband and I had a very long conversation about this … he understands it is important to me but really feels that cutting off our intimacy at this point would be damaging instead of beneficial. It is not the physical gratification he is worried about missing, it is the deep emotional connection involved in being completely open and vulnerable to another person, the life-giving selflessness of one partner sharing themself with the other … the connection of married intimacy. He maintains that the only reason we are not married in the church tomorrow is because we need time to plan and execute the big production surrounding the ceremony for our families, so why should our connection be punished in the meantime? I see his point.

We came to somewhat of a compromise; we agreed that six months prior to the wedding we would stop all sexual contact beyond kissing and snuggling. Since we live together, we would commit to ensuring we are modestly clothed in front of each other, and to avoid displaying any other behaviors the other would find arousing. We also agreed to learn more about NFP and stop using condoms after the wedding. I was satisfied with this, until last night when he asked me for sexual contact and I realized that I am still not comfortable with what is essentially three and a half months of sin. I turned him away and felt horrible, more horrible than I have ever felt in any sin I have ever committed. I was going back on my promise, when he, the non-Catholic, had agreed to something he was unsure and scared of, putting his trust me and a religion he does not yet know or understand. He was very hurt and confused … I have not ever hurt him like this before and I cannot stand the thought of doing so again.

My brain tells me that to have sex with him again before our vows is a sin, period. My heart tells me that I cannot withhold this from him over the next few months and go against my promise to him and the agreement we made. We have always made decisions together, and my gut tells me that to just overrule him and his feelings in favor of my fear is horribly horribly wrong.

Please, when you answer, keep in mind I know the rule. Simply retyping it for me does not help. An answer from a member of the clergy would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.


#2

Yes, marital intimacy is the right phrase here. It is a physical ratification of the marital covenant and the marital commitment. But the marital commitment has not yet been given. So the marital intimacy without the marital covenant turns out to be a lie.


#3

Hi,
I was pretty much in the same boat as you. Cohabitating, believing in the big picture, knowingly sinning, but not feeling super bad about it because my fiancé was still the only person I had had sex with and I figured I was rectifying a sinful situation with marriage.

With this, I just want to say that this stage in your life is not permanent. It is temporary. You will be married soon. You will go to confession and you will be forgiven and you will feel God’s grace and it will be so amazing.

But then you may or may not have other issues with God’s rules according to the church and these issues are not necessarily temporary. You will have to struggle with them forever unless you fully accept them.

What came more as a surprise than anything to me was NFP. I didn’t think anything of it before. My husband too isn’t Catholic. He isn’t even a Christian.

The big sins I struggle with are :

NFP vs. ABC ( although not right now since I am happily pregnant with my first ).

Attending mass every weekend (it was not a problem at first and then my life got busy… and my husband doesn’t always go with me… and my priorities are not straight right now )

Make sure you talk to your husband about EVERYTHING before you get married. How many kids you will have ( or whether you will use NFP forever, and whether you will be fully open to life… what open to life means to you).

Talk seriously about raising your kids Catholic.

As for sexual contact and abstinence… you will have many periods of abstinence in your married relationship when you use NFP… so you have to “get used to it” now.

Pray pray and pray about it!

And congratulations on your engagement.


#4

Well. Ok. I understand that he’s not Catholic, and that he probably doesn’t believe that pre-marital sex is a mortal sin. But regardless, that’s what it is, and you both are jeopardizing your eternal salvation. Big stuff:D

If he loves you, he will wait for you. Bottom line. My DH and I finally became chaste for TWO YEARS before we got married. We were not having sex, but we were doing pretty much everything else. It was hard to go from that to being chaste, and at the time, he was an atheist. However, he loved me enough to respect, and eventually protect my chastity. If you wait now, you will not regret it. I promise. Will it be hard? HECK YES. Will your whole lives have to change? Yes. But when we stopped being physically intimate, our relationship (which I had always thought was good) got a million times better. Sex belongs within marriage, your head (and I think your heart, too) knows this. I would also add that co-habiting is not wise, and could be an added tempation against chastity. It seems your hesitation is that you’ve made an agreement with him to have sex for an arbitrary amount of time. I think if he loves you, he’ll listen to your distress and let you rescind on this agreement. You are not married yet, you do not owe him married relations :slight_smile:

Also, think about this…there will be times in your married life when you will have to abstain from sex…after the birth of a baby, when one of you is sick, etc. Learning now to show your love for eachother in non-sexual ways is only going to make your marriage that much better. Prayers for you both!


#5

This level of intimacy is not open to unmarried people as an option. Period. You are enjoying the benefits of marriage without the grace of the sacrament. This can be extremely damaging to your future marriage.

I was satisfied with this, until last night when he asked me for sexual contact and I realized that I am still not comfortable with what is essentially three and a half months of sin. I turned him away and felt horrible, more horrible than I have ever felt in any sin I have ever committed. I was going back on my promise, when he, the non-Catholic, had agreed to something he was unsure and scared of, putting his trust me and a religion he does not yet know or understand. He was very hurt and confused … I have not ever hurt him like this before and I cannot stand the thought of doing so again.

Consider how bad you would feel if you allowed him to engage in mortal sin, he died, and you knew he was damned forever because of those actions. One of the main things a spouse is responsible for is getting their spouse to heaven. By continuing this behavior you are not helping him, or you, in any way whatsoever. You are endangering both of you greatly.

My brain tells me that to have sex with him again before our vows is a sin, period.

Then you are a very smart girl. :slight_smile:

My heart tells me that I cannot withhold this from him over the next few months and go against my promise to him and the agreement we made. We have always made decisions together, and my gut tells me that to just overrule him and his feelings in favor of my fear is horribly horribly wrong.

But you are also in love. And there is nothing wrong with that. But how you express that love is far more important. You have an entire lifetime to be with him and love him and to show him your love in an intimate way. If he feels so betrayed now, how would he feel if by some horrible fluke one of you could never have sex again? Would he leave you? Or would that be ok? This sounds really horrible, and not something we want to think about before a wedding, but it is an extremely serious question.

Please, when you answer, keep in mind I know the rule. Simply retyping it for me does not help. An answer from a member of the clergy would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

I’m not sure what you mean “know the rule”. :shrug:

Anyway - I strongly suggest you follow what you know is right, not what your emotions and your fiancé are trying to get you to do. You know you are supposed to be chaste - otherwise you would not be asking these questions, you would just go along with what your fiancé wants and what “feels right”.

Go to confession, stay chaste, and look forward to an amazing wedding night. :smiley: Trust me - been there, done that. Waiting till your wedding night is absolutely worth it.

~Liza


#6

Again, I understand the rule, but I am not the only one in this relationship. He is not Catholic, and does not feel that our contact is sinful. He equates his feeling when I turn him away with how a happily married man would feel if his wife turned him away repeatedly without a reason he could accept.

As easy as choice as it may be for you, it is not for me. I am looking for wisdom from those who have either been there or can see how hurting him is as big (or bigger) a sin to me as the sex. If obeying the written rule gave me peace in my heart, I would not need to ask for guidance.


#7

So you two are living together and enjoying sex. How are you not having babies.


#8

She mentioned something about condoms.


#9

Ok I know EVERYONE on this board repeatedly gives this as a reference but Princess18, I strongly suggest you order ( or pick up from your local Catholic resources store ) the book
"The Good News about Sex and Marriage" By Christopher West.

You said your fiancé feels that your turning him down for sex now is like turning him down for sex without reason within marriage. There are going to be times when you don’t want any relations with him while you are marriage. You don’t get to “use” each other. It’s about mature, mutual respect. Seriously check out the book… it gave me direction.

I know it feels bad for you right now that you are turning him down, but you are truly doing the right thing. Please pray about it.


#10

Then my question to the OP is since they have accepted that level of intimacy, do they accept children before marriage as well?

Even the CDC (center for disease control) and Alan Guttmacher (Planned Parenthood’s research organization) admit that condoms aren’t very effective.

I know OP is discerning and learning, but she could present the question to her FH. Since he wants sex, is he willing to want the kids, too? And if not, what does this tell her?


#11

You are making this into more that it needs to be. You have chosen to marry a man who is not of the same Faith - that could cause you more problems down the road. He has chosen to marry a Catholic woman. You are not following something that you made up and are using to make him miserable - you are following YOUR FAITH. What he has to back him up is his feelings - you have the Truth of the Catholic Faith and of God. Your fiance is asking you to put him before your Faith and that is absolutely wrong and damaging. He needs to understand that you are not doing this to hurt him, but to keep safe both of you until you are married. Which you are NOT - regardless of what he “feels”.

You know “the rule” - what are you asking for? A way not to hurt him? He is only being hurt by his inability to support you in your Faith beliefs. If this is the case now, you need to consider what issues this may cause you down the road.

~Liza


#12

Here’s the deal. No Christian religion that I am aware of approves of pre-marital sex. You aren’t married now, so, while it may make each of you unhappy, sex is not a benefit either of you can sinlessly enjoy. Using the logic that “we’ll eventually be married” is simply temptation from the Devil. Would you say “It’s okay for me to steal a BMW because eventually I’ll have enough money to buy one”? Not that you or he is a BMW, but I think it makes the point.

You and he are concerned about losing your intimacy and connection if you abstain from sex. I understand that very much. But here are some things to think about:

-You each need to find ways to connect that do not require sexual gratification. Why? Because, unless you are more blessed than most people in the world, you won’t be “goin’ at it” daily, and will need to find other ways to keep spark in your relationship. Also, some day you will have children, and at least 6 weeks afterwards, you will need to feel loved by him more than any other time in your life, and cannot engage in intercourse.

-To truly love someone, you must desire Heaven for them. You have made it clear that you understand sex from now until your wedding is sinful (excellent realization!). If you “indulge” his desires for sex, you are letting him choose an eternally dangerous path, and taking yourself with you.

-You will need to be open, free, and vulnerable with each other far more regularly than the fleeting moments of sexual bliss provide. Start working on that now, so you have a solid trust and understanding to ground your future.

-It will be very difficult to abstain from sex while you are living together. If possible, think about how you can alter your living arrangement to remove that temptation.

We’ll be praying for you!


#13

I think this is off topic. Let’s help her be chaste and that will take care of the condom issue. She has already said they agreed to NFP after the wedding.

~Liza


#14

Actually we avoided sex altogether when I was fertile, and used condoms the rest of the time to be sure. NFP was addressed at our EE weekend and we don’t expect the transition to be too hard. After the ceremony, if God blesses us with a child unexpectedly while practicing NFP, that’s fine. We just didn’t feel that bringing a child into our non-married situation would be wise.

On a side note, somehow in my Catholic upbringing and CCD, the vast majority of what is ok or not ok in marital sex and reproduction was not addressed. Learning about NFP was a pleasant surprise.


#15

Your H2B was raised Southern Baptist - guess what, he was raised that sex outside of marriage is a sin.

In Christian marriage, one has to love God first. The second most important thing is the spiritual well-being of your spouse. A loving spouse will never do anything to jeopordize the soul of their spouse.

Schedule a meeting with your Priest if need be, but, your H2B needs to understand that all of Christianity consider sex outside of marriage to be a sin. By asking you to have sex, he is asking you to sin. If he loves you in the way that is described in Scripture, that he will lay down his LIFE for you, he would certainly not want to lead you into sin.

It might be advisable for you to move in with your family until the wedding time?


#16

As you grow together after marriage, he will realize that this too might occur. He may find that he wants sex and you don’t. What will he do then, whether he considers your reasons sound or not? Go elsewhere for sex? Indulge himself? This is a time when both of you need to learn ways in which you can be intimate and loving, but in a non-sexual manner. After marriage, these skills are important. It will be a learning experience, but one that you will look back upon and later understand the benefits. God forbid that after marriage, one of you become ill or injured in such a way that makes sexual activity impossible.

If self-control is not practiced now, how do you suppose it will be later? Sex is a craving, much like others, which can either be an occassion of sin, or an occasion to learn the virtue of temperence for spiritual growth, the betterment of one’s soul. There’s no better time to learn such virtues than before one’s marriage. Such virtues, like chastity, don’t become habitual at the point in time one vows marriage. If not practiced now, then when? Practice makes perfect.


#17

Let’s say that you and your FH just found out that the tap water you have been drinking in your home has levels of lead in it that are dangerous. You didn’t know that before and that was why you both made the decision to drink it before. But, now that you know, would you continue to drink that water and let him drink that water for a few months until it is more convenient to get bottled water delivered? Or, would you stop right now?


#18

I appreciate your concern on that point. However, he is not sitting there thinking “That’s it. It’s me or her religion”. This is very new to him. He has personally witnessed me commit other sins which I did not feel at all badly about and before we started the counseling I may have been to church three times in the year and half we’ve been together. To say that “I’m springing this on him” is pretty close to accurate. He loves me very much and is trying to understand and support my return to the church, but like anything new, it’s taking some patience, time, and education on his part. It’s been two months since I started back to church every Sunday, and he’s been going with me. It’s been five days since I told him that I wanted to stop and he agreed to the six month deal. He’s definitely trying and open to accepting God into our relationship.

I am not looking for anyone to say “sure, go ahead and sleep with him, it’s fine”. If I wanted that answer I wouldn’t have come here. And it’s nearly certain that the end result will be us not having sex until the ceremony, but I need more discussion and input before I feel at peace about that decision.


#19

Heres what you know about each other:

That you both will sleep with someone you aren’t married to.

Do you really want to marry someone that will sleep with someone he’s not married to?

Do not use sex as a means to get closer. It is only an expression of what already is…and that must include marriage.

Sex is saying you give your full self to someone. If you haven’t publicly committed yet, then you are not giving your full self. Don’t lie with your bodies.\

And you don’t need a “big production” wedding. Focus on the sacrament instead.


#20

I recommend the following resources:

Romance without Regret
(DVD video presentation)
by Jason and Crystalina Evert

http://www.pureloveclub.com/images/store/romanceworegret.jpg

This presentation was a real eye-opener for me.

Also the following book:

Pure Love
By Jason Evert

http://www.pureloveclub.com/images/store/purelove_book.jpg

Pure love, that is, the love God intends between the both of you cannot be solely Eros. Eros without Agape is not what God intends. Pre-marital sex, because it harms your spirituality, your very soul, it is Eros which is disconnected from Agape. God loves you more than that and is urging you to abstain from something pleasurable for something even greater (you know God is urging you, and I suspect your fiance knows this too, even though the immediate pleasure of sex is perhaps keeping him from seeing this clearly). God is not urging this because he likes unnecessary restrictions and rules. He is urging you because since before he even created you, he knew what was best for you and the loved one He chose for you.

I’m a military guy, and I’m deploying away from my family for the next 6 months. After marriage, fidelity to one’s spouse requires a strong commitment to the virtue of chastity, and it is always a challenge. You cannot expect that “pure love” comes automatically with a wedding ring. Instead, it is something that takes work, it takes sacrifice, which most certainly requires practice. Practice this virtue now, as you will surely find that today’s practice will reap benefits later in your marriage.


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