Foreplay question


#1

This is not the normal "how far is to far" thread I've seen thousands of...

My wife had surgery (her right ovary removed due to a cyst) a couple weeks ago. The doctors say that we can't have sex for 8-10 weeks (plus the 2 weeks before we could not due to the issues related to the cyst :eek:)

I've, of course, completely accepted this and would never expect her to "try" before she is ready even if it takes more then 10 weeks.

My question is this, Since there is no option of intercourse what can (or should) we do for physical expressions of love? Should I avoid any sexual type of situation with my wife because we can't "go all the way"?

My opinion is we can do heavy/extended kissing. We can (when she's ready) do some "heavy petting" type of things.

Personally I'm going to avoid her "stimulating" me directly in any way because after 10 weeks I don't want to "lost control" so to speak.

I ask because while these things are certainly sexual in nature, they also are a way to show each other your love. In a normal time when we could complete the act these things are perfectly acceptable, could I consider this extremely extended foreplay?

I know there is no official Teaching on this, just looking for opinions because I don't want to rely on my own judgement alone since my desires will clearly inhibit my ability to think strait. lol


#2

Actually, this is a “how far is too far” thread. :wink:

My thoughts are your wife probably won’t even be in the mood for any physical contact. :shrug:


#3

I would qualify this as a “how far is too far” thread as well.

I would think that if whatever you are doing is leading you or her to become aroused, that’s a line you shouldn’t cross. So, if you can kiss each other without getting aroused, that’s fine. “Heavy petting” type of things are meant for arousal, so those should probably be avoided. There are plenty of ways to show your love for each other without sex–like back rubs, holding hands, even putting your arm around her while you’re sitting on the couch, for example.


#4

[quote="limabeanerson, post:1, topic:227843"]
This is not the normal "how far is to far" thread I've seen thousands of...

My wife had surgery (her right ovary removed due to a cyst) a couple weeks ago. The doctors say that we can't have sex for 8-10 weeks (plus the 2 weeks before we could not due to the issues related to the cyst :eek:)

I've, of course, completely accepted this and would never expect her to "try" before she is ready even if it takes more then 10 weeks.

My question is this, Since there is no option of intercourse what can (or should) we do for physical expressions of love? Should I avoid any sexual type of situation with my wife because we can't "go all the way"?

My opinion is we can do heavy/extended kissing. We can (when she's ready) do some "heavy petting" type of things.

Personally I'm going to avoid her "stimulating" me directly in any way because after 10 weeks I don't want to "lost control" so to speak.

I ask because while these things are certainly sexual in nature, they also are a way to show each other your love. In a normal time when we could complete the act these things are perfectly acceptable, could I consider this extremely extended foreplay?

I know there is no official Teaching on this, just looking for opinions because I don't want to rely on my own judgement alone since my desires will clearly inhibit my ability to think strait. lol

[/quote]

Gregory Popcak and the Creighton method of NFP have a good chapter on SPICE - loving each other spiritually, physically, intellectually...I forgot what CE is. I always forget that. Basically it expands how you express your love and makes you creative to see expressions of love as beyond what would typically be considered sexual. Granted, that said, my husband and I have always prayed the liturgy of the hours together. I've always found it intimate, but when we were dating it always helped us to stay chaste. Now lately when we pray the hours I have trouble keeping my hands off of him. Maybe its just pregnancy hormones. But we tried doing the SPICE thing when we were engaged and I got all worked up simply from my husband (then fiance) taking the time to verbally tell me how wonderful and beautiful he thought I was.

I have heard a lot about how when you're abstaining during marriage that more is permitted than when you are dating, but I think its ultimately something you have to figure out yourself a bit. Technically what I've been told by priests and what I've read is that you are permitted to do more because you are married, but ultimately you don't want to tempt yourself to substitute other behavior for intercourse. So its really not wise to get each other worked up to be REALLY wanting intercourse when you can't have it and then tempting yourselves to committing masturbatory sins.

But I've heard that treating it like you were dating can be unadvisable. I mean, I've seen that from the couple to couple league and I've heard that from very orthodox priests. Do I think that's the best advise? Well when my husband and I have had to abstain in our marriage, so far allowing ourselves more leeway tends to make things frustrating. My husband has requested that if we can't do it at all, things like my modesty needs to increase and we need to not make out and stuff like that, else I'm just putting him in a near occassion of sin. The key though I think is to try to not lead each other into other sins. So should it be like you're dating? I don't know. There are a lot of different opinions about what is appropriate in dating. I mean, while I could get really riled up, I never had a desire for intercourse before I was married. I could do plenty and stop like that, but I knew there was more to chastity than simply avoiding intercourse. I considered it immoral to get that intimate with my boyfriend. It wasn't just sinful to have sex with everything else being a near occassion of sin. I saw it as sinful to do a lot of other sexual stuff independant of intercourse. But I've noticed not everyone sees it that way and just sees it as avoiding near occassions of sin.

So being that there are so many different prospectives on what chastity entails when you're single, its hard to just say whether or not it should be like when you were dating or not.

I mean, I think the real problem is that most Catholics read the definition of chastity in the Catechism, find it confusing and then live with an entirely different understanding of chastity in their brains. I don't think its a virtue we completely understand and I think too often we can't break away from attitudes that "intercourse is bad" or that "sexual pleasure is bad but morally necessary for making babies." etc. I think the advise we give tends to surround how we preceive what chastity is, but I don't see a lot of discussion about what it is, only what behaviors are forbidden and arguments about it, disagreements on it, etc. And I'm talking among those who are loyal to the magistrium.


#5

[quote="dailey, post:2, topic:227843"]
Actually, this is a "how far is too far" thread. ;)

My thoughts are your wife probably won't even be in the mood for any physical contact. :shrug:

[/quote]

I said its not the normal how far is to far thread, lol. Just trying to say that there is some extra detail so people don't just ignore it, lol.

You sure are right that my wife is not in the mood for it at all right now. I'm guessing at least a few more weeks like this. That's why I'm asking now. Its easier to think rationally when I do it ahead of time rather than wait. :)

[quote="SummerSmiles, post:3, topic:227843"]

I would think that if whatever you are doing is leading you or her to become aroused, that's a line you shouldn't cross. So, if you can kiss each other without getting aroused, that's fine. "Heavy petting" type of things are meant for arousal, so those should probably be avoided. There are plenty of ways to show your love for each other without sex--like back rubs, holding hands, even putting your arm around her while you're sitting on the couch, for example.

[/quote]

I thought about this to. One problem I find is this...I find my wife EXTREMELY attractive and arousing. She is often sleeping with out any "bottoms" because of one of her incisions is right at her pants line. We sleep quite closely and that (especially since its been awhile since we've had sex) can be quite arousing. Do I avoid sleeping in the same bed as her? I sure hope not!

Some days we are both getting ready for the day. I see her getting in and out of the shower. Clearly an arousing situation (for me at least). Do I avoid seeing this? The list goes on and on. lol. I hate to see my attraction to her and desire for her as a curse but at least for the next couple months its starting to seem that way :shrug:

[quote="twoangels, post:4, topic:227843"]
Gregory Popcak and the Creighton method of NFP have a good chapter on SPICE - loving each other spiritually, physically, intellectually...I forgot what CE is. I always forget that. Basically it expands how you express your love and mkes you creative to see expressions of love as beyond what would typically be cosidered sexual. Granted, that said, my husband and I have always prayed the liturgy of the hours togther. I've always found it intimate, but when we were dating it always helped us to stay chate. Now lately when we pray the hours I have trouble keeping my hands off of him. Maybe its just pregnancy hormones. But we tried doing the SPICE thing when we were engaged and I got all worked up simply from my husband (then fiance) taking the time to verbally tell me how wonderful and beautiful he thought I was.

about how when you're abstaining during marriage that more is permitted than when you are dating, but I think its ultimately something you have to figure out yourself a bit. Technically what I've been told by priests and what I've read is that you are permitted to do more because you are married, but ultimately you don't want to tempt yourself to substitute other behavior for intercourse. So its really not wise to get each other worked up to be REALLY wanting intercourse when you can't have it and then tempting yourselves to committing masturbatory sins.

But I've heard that treating it like you were dating can be unadvisable. I mean, I've seen that from the couple to couple league and I've heard that from very orthodox priests. Do I think that's the best advise? Well when my husband and I have had to abstain in our marriage, so far allowing ourselves more leeway tends to make things frustrating. My husband has requested that if we can't do it at all, things like my modesty needs to increase and we need to not make out and stuff like that, else I'm just putting him in a near occassion of sin. The key though I think is to try to not lead each other into other sins. So should it be like you're dating? I don't know. There are a lot of different opinions about what is appropriate in dating. I mean, while I could get really riled up, I never had a desire for intercourse before I was married. I could do plenty and stop like that, but I knew there was more to chastity than simply avoiding intercourse. I considered it immoral to get that intimate with my boyfriend. It wasn't just sinful to have sex with everything else being a near occassion of sin. I saw it as sinful to do a lot of other sexual stuff independant of intercourse. But I've noticed not everyone sees it that way and just sees it as avoiding near occassions of sin.

So being that there are so many different prospectives on what chastity entails when you're single, its hard to just say whether or not it should be like when you were dating or not.

I mean, I think the real problem is that most Catholics read the definition of chastity in the Catechism, find it confusing and then live with an entirely different understanding of chastity in their brains. I don't think its a virtue we completely understand and I think too often we can't break away from attitudes that "intercourse is bad" or that "sexual pleasure is bad but morally necessary for making babies." etc. I think the advise we give tends to surround how we preceive what chastity is, but I don't see a lot of discussion about what it is, only what behaviors are forbidden and arguments about it, disagreements on it, etc. And I'm talking among those who are loyal to the magistrium.

[/quote]

I'll have to look into this "SPICE" teachings. Thanks for all the great advice!

I was thinking I could just treat it like the part in the bible (sorry I am awful at chapter/verse quotes) that says its ok for a husband and wife to not have sex for a period of time to give themselves more over to God.

I can Avoid all sexually arousing activity and every time I start thinking about her that way say some prayers. The only danger here would be I think God would get tired of hearing my near constant prayers! (just kidding of course).


#6

I guess the only other advice I could give you is to look at your intent in the actions as well. I see the point about sleeping in the same bed. And catching glimpses of each other is just a part of married life–it’s going to happen. But as far as things like heavy petting goes, those are things that are usually done with the intent of arousing your partner for sex. I don’t think you’d do something intended to sexually arouse your wife when you had no intent of “finishing the job” so to speak, and vice versa. I completely understand your situation, though. When I had my second baby, I had some complications in recovering, and my husband and I had to go 12 weeks without sex. That had to have been difficult for him.


#7

Actually the Orthodox do sleep in separate beds during their periods of abstinence. Not only do they not touch or kiss, but the wife can’t even pass the salt directly to her husband during that time. Some place a vase with a single rose between them on the dinner table as evidence of their separation. (Which is kind of charming, actually.)

Yes, you might want to avoid getting yourself overly aroused when you know you’re wife cannot have relations with you. Still, this seems like a time when you’re being asked to always put your wife as a person ahead of the desires she arouses in you. If you choose not to avoid arousal, you can use this time to develop the habit of looking for her needs as a person whenever desire rises in you, so that in the future the two will always automatically go together. This can only increase your generosity when you go back to having relations. Or, you can get the vase out and put some distance in. As far as I know, it isn’t a sin, per se, to become aroused by your spouse without consumation. That implies that arousal is completely in your control, which is not true. The problem comes when you seek a climax or the pleasure of all-but-climax when that is not intended to be a part of a consumation open to all the goods of the marital act. But those are only the minimum boundaries, not necessarily the wisest ones.

Even apart from the moral considerations, foreplay (aka heavy petting) when the intent is to avoid consumation is an ultimately frustrating activity. The Orthodox Jewish method is much wiser. If you had some chips in the pantry that you couldn’t have until Super Bowl Sunday, going into the pantry and running your hands all over the bags with the intent to not open any of them would not make the period of anticipation easier to bear. It would be better to put those chips in a box with a ribbon, and leave them out of sight, even though not out of mind!


#8

[quote="SummerSmiles, post:6, topic:227843"]
I guess the only other advice I could give you is to look at your intent in the actions as well. I see the point about sleeping in the same bed. And catching glimpses of each other is just a part of married life--it's going to happen. But as far as things like heavy petting goes, those are things that are usually done with the intent of arousing your partner for sex. I don't think you'd do something intended to sexually arouse your wife when you had no intent of "finishing the job" so to speak, and vice versa. I completely understand your situation, though. When I had my second baby, I had some complications in recovering, and my husband and I had to go 12 weeks without sex. That had to have been difficult for him.

[/quote]

[quote="EasterJoy, post:7, topic:227843"]
Actually the Orthodox do sleep in separate beds during their periods of abstinence. Not only do they not touch or kiss, but the wife can't even pass the salt directly to her husband during that time. Some place a vase with a single rose between them on the dinner table as evidence of their separation. (Which is kind of charming, actually.)

Yes, you might want to avoid getting yourself overly aroused when you know you're wife cannot have relations with you. Still, this seems like a time when you're being asked to always put your wife as a person ahead of the desires she arouses in you. If you choose not to avoid arousal, you can use this time to develop the habit of looking for her needs as a person whenever desire rises in you, so that in the future the two will always automatically go together. This can only increase your generosity when you go back to having relations. Or, you can get the vase out and put some distance in. As far as I know, it isn't a sin, per se, to become aroused by your spouse without consumation. That implies that arousal is completely in your control, which is not true. The problem comes when you seek a climax or the pleasure of all-but-climax when that is not intended to be a part of a consumation open to all the goods of the marital act. But those are only the minimum boundaries, not necessarily the wisest ones.

Even apart from the moral considerations, foreplay (aka heavy petting) when the intent is to avoid consumation is an ultimately frustrating activity. The Orthodox Jewish method is much wiser. If you had some chips in the pantry that you couldn't have until Super Bowl Sunday, going into the pantry and running your hands all over the bags with the intent to not open any of them would not make the period of anticipation easier to bear. It would be better to put those chips in a box with a ribbon, and leave them out of sight, even though not out of mind!

[/quote]

Thank you both for the advice.

At this point, with the kind advice of everyone here, I think I've decided to avoid completely any action that I'd consider explicitly sexual (heavy petting, overly passionate kissing). I can't really see that holding my wife while we drift off to sleep would be sinful even if an unintended side effect of some arousal takes place. Same with seeing her while getting ready in the mornings (this is kind of rare anyway since our schedules are different for getting ready)

One "gray area" for me now would be typically while holding my wife when we go to bed my hand usually happens to rest on or near her breast (entirely accidental I tell her but she does not seem to believe me, lol :shrug:) This can be arousing of course but I also find it very comforting. Maybe I need a shrink to see why but it is such a calming, safe, loving feeling and other than the first minute or two of holding her this way it is not sexual at all to speak of.

I'll continue to pray on this and I'm confident God will guide me to find the balance of ensuring both my wife and I do not find ourselves feeling distant while also keeping Gods plan for us foremost in our minds.


#9

This might be a guideline that helps, seeking sexual pleasure outside of marital intercourse is not ok, as God made sexual pleasure, a good thing, part of the marital embrace. So no, for example, you shouldn’t seek it through activity that is “foreplay” outside of the marital act. There is a huge difference, though, between arousal that happens without you seeking it (for example, you happen to walk in and she is changing) and intentionally doing activities that will cause arousal, like heavy petting. We were in a similar situation once when we had to abstain several weeks prior to having a baby and then the 6 weeks after, but the reasons behind why you are abstaining, be it medical issues, NFP to avoid pregnancies, etc, do not change what the natural order of sexuality. God put that pleasure there, for spouses to enjoy, but as part of the marital act, one that is both procreative (does not mean a baby has to come from it, just means this aspect cannot be thwarted) and unitive.

2351 … Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

2362 "The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude."145 Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:
The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.146
2363 The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. **The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity. **


#10

[quote="limabeanerson, post:8, topic:227843"]
Thank you both for the advice.

At this point, with the kind advice of everyone here, I think I've decided to avoid completely any action that I'd consider explicitly sexual (heavy petting, overly passionate kissing). I can't really see that holding my wife while we drift off to sleep would be sinful even if an unintended side effect of some arousal takes place. Same with seeing her while getting ready in the mornings (this is kind of rare anyway since our schedules are different for getting ready)

One "gray area" for me now would be typically while holding my wife when we go to bed my hand usually happens to rest on or near her breast (entirely accidental I tell her but she does not seem to believe me, lol :shrug:) This can be arousing of course but I also find it very comforting. Maybe I need a shrink to see why but it is such a calming, safe, loving feeling and other than the first minute or two of holding her this way it is not sexual at all to speak of.

I'll continue to pray on this and I'm confident God will guide me to find the balance of ensuring both my wife and I do not find ourselves feeling distant while also keeping Gods plan for us foremost in our minds.

[/quote]

Be honest with yourself and use your common sense.....or better yet, ask your wife. Also, keep in mind that what is "not sexual at all to speak of" on Week 2 might be a horse of a different color on Week 8. Continue to be aware of these things...


#11

[quote="limabeanerson, post:1, topic:227843"]
...what can (or should) we do for physical expressions of love?

[/quote]

The laundry, fixing the busted porch light, painting that wall you've been meaning to get around to, preparing dinner for her..:D.maybe throw in a fully clothed back/foot rub...:rolleyes:.


#12

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