Extended Period of Abstintence


#1

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone here has done a period of, mutually agreed upon, extended abstinence from sexual relations? I ask because my husband and I have agreed upon this, and have been living this way for six months. Has an extended period of abstinence (EPA) been good for your marriage? In what ways have you gotten closer as a couple? What struggles has this caused?

We plan to do an EPA for four or five years to get our lives in order. To make a long story short, we are in a very dire financial situation, being supported by DH's family while DH goes back to college for a second degree. NFP has not worked for us in the past because when the chart says "no relations" we want relations. It has basically caused more strain on our marriage than complete abstinence. (I hate NFP!) We've come to the conclusion that stopping all relations will be better for us than NFP, like an alcoholic should stop all alcohol, or a sugar addict should not eat sugar.

I'm not looking for answers about how wonderful NFP can be, or that I should simply try a different method. (Been there, bought the T-shirt, still hate NFP.) I am simply looking to if others have practiced EPA and for how long? This is still a church-sanctioned way to space children, so please don't give me a hard time about this.

--K


#2

[quote="Brav3N3wWorld, post:1, topic:239066"]
Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone here has done a period of, mutually agreed upon, extended abstinence from sexual relations? I ask because my husband and I have agreed upon this, and have been living this way for six months. Has an extended period of abstinence (EPA) been good for your marriage? In what ways have you gotten closer as a couple? What struggles has this caused?

We plan to do an EPA for four or five years to get our lives in order. To make a long story short, we are in a very dire financial situation, being supported by DH's family while DH goes back to college for a second degree. NFP has not worked for us in the past because when the chart says "no relations" we want relations. It has basically caused more strain on our marriage than complete abstinence. (I hate NFP!) We've come to the conclusion that stopping all relations will be better for us than NFP, like an alcoholic should stop all alcohol, or a sugar addict should not eat sugar.

I'm not looking for answers about how wonderful NFP can be, or that I should simply try a different method. (Been there, bought the T-shirt, still hate NFP.) I am simply looking to if others have practiced EPA and for how long? This is still a church-sanctioned way to space children, so please don't give me a hard time about this.

--K

[/quote]

Is there anything wrong with sexual activity which is not able to produce pregnancy? It seems to me that the challenge will be to maintain your intimacy.


#3

I don’t think there is anything wrong with it sexual intimacy that doesn’t lead to pregnancy. The problem is our sexual intimacy is constantly leading to pregnancy, and we can’t support the children we have now. And even using NFP, the anxiety caused by wondering if I’ll get pregnant has taken its toll on our marriage. It’s been more freeing and less stressful to not have that in the equation.


#4

It's okay by the church as long as you both agree.

However, hubby and I had to go two months without due to inability to track fertility. It SUCKED. Yes, we both agreed, but our intimacy plummeted, we were at each other's throats all the time, we fought over the STUPIDEST things, and it was just miserable. Frankly, it was a miracle we got through it. It's a lot like having a chocolate cake in front of you the whole time and not being able to do a darn thing about it. Pretty soon you start to hate the cake for existing. Hubby's response was to turn off his sex drive (I don't know how on earth he does that) so he was basically ignoring me ALL THE TIME. My response was to get irritable. When you combine irritable with being ignored....whoo boy!

Needless to say, if you guys can handle it, then go for it. If not, don't push it. Figure something else out. God created sex in marriage because he's a smart and wonderful God. A marriage without sex takes a saint-like attitude on both ends.


#5

[quote="Brav3N3wWorld, post:3, topic:239066"]
I don't think there is anything wrong with it sexual intimacy that doesn't lead to pregnancy. The problem is our sexual intimacy is constantly leading to pregnancy, and we can't support the children we have now. And even using NFP, the anxiety caused by wondering if I'll get pregnant has taken its toll on our marriage. It's been more freeing and less stressful to not have that in the equation.

[/quote]

I was just thinking that there are many ways to be intimate, including orgasm which do not require penetration which could lead to pregnancy. I am wondering if maintaining your intimacy at least on that level might help to keep the relationship healthy. Just a thought.


#6

My wife and I are doing this now. We can’t chance having any more children because of a discovered genetic issue. Our marriage has not been affected either way. We have substituted long massage and closeness that doesn’t have to end up with having sex. Yes, I admit, the thought is still in my mind all the time, but by putting God first in our lives, we have overcome the animal instinct. Was it easy? NO!!! Keep close. Be creative. Spend time praying together. Take a walk in the evening and say the Rosary. Don’t let yourselves be forced apart by this. Be drawn together. It does get easier as time goes on.


#7

That is against the teachings of the Catholic Church and is considered a Mortal Sin. All sexual activity must lead to and end in a procreative union.


#8

I think it’s wonderful the beauty you have found in your marriage! I know there is no replacing the closeness of being together through sex, but you have not pushed each other away and have found ways to grow closer together and with God!


#9

Thank you, Jim! This is what I was wanting to know. It’s good to know that we are not the only couple doing this. As I said earlier, I think our marriage has improved because we are no longer having sexual relations.

He’s been helping more around the house and with the kids, and I’m actually happier having the burden of charting and being the “sex police” removed.

I have found that sleeping in separate rooms makes it easier. This decision had nothing to do with our choice of abstinence. The baby needs to sleep with me, and DH is afraid he’ll roll on the baby. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to simply enjoy sleeping next to each other once the baby is in his own bed.

I don’t think this makes us saintly, rather it was a practical decision made due to extenuating circumstances . Like I said, practicing NFP for 4 years was putting a strain on our marriage. We are 25 and 26, and have 2 children. I figure there will be plenty of time for sex and babies again once we are back on our feet and able to support our family. We may try NFP again later if we feel confident with it, but the ambiguities and surprises of NFP were the source of many arguments. I’m glad that’s gone.


#10

Maybe you should give up massage, then. I don’t mean to be flip, but where do you draw the line?


#11

regarding the bold above.

No, but you can exceed it through becoming closer to God!

Be careful with dwelling on that something is missing in your marriage. It can be a little dangerous if not discouraging. If you are not able to safely have relations for very serious reasons, you are not missing out, it is not an option! Look at it as an opportunity to grow closer to God through sacrifice and build a stronger relationship by lovingly abstaining for each others sake. Through this you will realize how truly much you love each other. The love of sacrifice is a higher love (what greater love…) Build very open and frequent communication on the subject, it is easy to drift into distorted ideas if the communication is not good. (for example the husband may be less affectionate in certain ways to avoid arousal, not because a decrease in love) Take walks, pray together, incredibly fulfilling!


#12

[quote="Rock_Happy, post:10, topic:239066"]
Maybe you should give up massage, then. I don't mean to be flip, but where do you draw the line?

[/quote]

There's a whole range of massage that doesn't require a couple to end up engaged in sex. It is very relaxing and fosters a loving touch that doesn't require a need to climax. I believe that answers your question.


#13

Jim, I read your posts on severel threads and the word that comes to mind is RESPECT.
You are pretty cool :thumbsup:

Due to my studies I have read a lot of earlier church father writings about marriage and sexuality. Its quite clear that it is the contraceptive mentality today that leaves people thinking its somehow unfair if they have to sacrifice in this area when they see how the rest of society indulges, but periods of abstinence have always been around up until the time where pills and condoms became the norm.
Of course… in other times - and in many other countries today - there is no pill, no condom, and not even NFP- books and teachers (Americans are VERY privileged) , so the way to space or avoid having more babies was (and is) to refocus that energy on other useful things.


#14

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