Is it a sin to be intimate with your spouse if she doesn't want to use NFP?


#1

I really want to start using the NFP method. I have presented my wife with all the information and explained to her how it works. She just will not open up to the idea and has fear of getting pregnant again when she feels she is not financially ready. I have told her how effective NFP is if done correctly. The only way she will be intimate with me is if I use a condom. Am I sinning by having sex with my wife even though it is against my will to use condoms? If I am sinning, am I just to refuse sex with her all together until I can convince her to use natural family planning?


#2

Yes, that would be a sin. (Sorry. :() If your wife were on birth control against your wishes, it would not be a sin for you to be intimate with her.

I don't know that witholding sex until you get her to do what you want is the recommended approach, though. I would talk this over with a priest and see what he recommends.


#3

I would talk to a good priest. I know father Serpa here at CAF has commented on this situation where the man is the one insisting on the condom.

Just as important is your wife’s potential guilt of sin in this situation. More the reason to bring it up with a good priest.

I would also make sure that you are as supportive and helpful with your current child(ren) as possible. Often it is not (only) the financial aspect, but the emotional and additional work/exhaustion aspect of having additional children that people fear.


#4

[quote="whm, post:3, topic:230266"]

I would also make sure that you are as supportive and helpful with your current child(ren) as possible. Often it is not (only) the financial aspect, but the emotional and additional work/exhaustion aspect of having additional children that people fear.

[/quote]

That is a good point. If she feels like she is the only one caring for the kid(s) you already have, she may feel genuinely overwhelmed by the idea of having another one.

HOWEVER, that is not really the issue. The issue (it seems) is that you two do not equally understand the purpose of sexuality within marriage. Whether to use NFP or not is not only about its effectiveness if done properly. It's about your marriage itself, and wanting all of your relations to be theologically marital (i.e. always open to life the way God intended). It can be argued that contracepted sex is not marital, since contraception has no rightful place in marriage. But the key is to understand the WHY behind that. It is imperative to remove any contraceptive mindset from your (her) ideology. NFP is not simply Catholic contraception, any more than anullment is Catholic divorce.

Yes, she needs to know about how NFP works, and that it is effective when done properly. But you need to get to the root of the issue, which is both of you understanding the theology of marriage.

You could start with a Christopher West book or two. My fiance and I read The Good News About Sex and Marriage. It's an easy read and informative. A good starting point to understanding JPII's Theology of the Body.

For learning about NFP and fertility, I (and others on CAF) recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It is very VERY informative about fertility. I am reading it right now. I got an older edition off Amazon for really cheap. The only caveat is to be aware that Weschler talks both about FAM, the fertility awareness method and NFP, Natural Family Planning. The main difference between the two is abstaining (moral) when fertile or using a barrier (immoral). She does not speak disrespectfully in any way though, and has even stated that couples who abstain feel closer by using the method. The fact that a secular writer says that speaks volumes, I think. And the does list a few Catholic/NFP resources in the back of the book too.

As for the main question in the OP: My opinion is that I would not have sex with a spouse who insisted on using contraception. And I am pretty sure that that is a licit reason to refuse.


#5

[quote="Joe_5859, post:2, topic:230266"]
Yes, that would be a sin. (Sorry. :() If your wife were on birth control against your wishes, it would not be a sin for you to be intimate with her.

I don't know that witholding sex until you get her to do what you want is the recommended approach, though. I would talk this over with a priest and see what he recommends.

[/quote]

But isn't her insisting that I use a condom her form of birth control even though it is against my will?

If I don't have sex with her or refuse isn't that a sin in itself?

I would be sinning by having sex with her and refusing sex with her. Very frustrating.


#6

No, you would not be sinning by having sex with her. You would only be sinning if you used contraception. Likewise, refusing sex is not always a sin, as I stated above.


#7

I don’t think that the marriage debt exists if it is requested unjustly. Again check with a good priest. You are right to be frustrated this is a very big deal! Its your responsibility to deal with it, ultimately posting on the internet is not going to cut it. You owe it to your wife to protect both of your souls, not just your own.


#8

[quote="caseyf22, post:5, topic:230266"]
But isn't her insisting that I use a condom her form of birth control even though it is against my will?

[/quote]

Only if it's a female condom. Basically, there are limits to how much you are responsible for your wife's choices. If she uses contraception against your urging, it's her sin not yours. If you use a condom, even reluctantly, you are the one contracepting.

If I don't have sex with her or refuse isn't that a sin in itself?

Ordinarily, it's wrong to refuse to have marital relations with your spouse. But marital relations are to be both procreative and unitive. Contraceptive sex is neither. It is not a sin to refuse contracepted sex. If you chose to go that route, as a husband, it would be critical that you go out of the way to express your love and caring for her in other ways.


#9

Thank you all for your responses. This really does help.


#10

It's not a sin to be intimate with your spouse if they insist on using contraception themselves. That, however, is not your situation. Instead of using contraception herself, your wife is demanding that you, rather than she, use contraception as a precondition for sexual relations. She's asking you to commit a grave sin, effectively presenting you with a "me or God" choice. She probably hasn't thought about it that way and is simply scared of the thought of having another child. Whether it's just the financial concerns you mention, also the personal worries and stress of caring for another child, or any number of other reasons on top of those, the fact remains that she doesn't consider herself ready for it again right now. And that's fine. What's not fine, however, is the method she wishes to employ toward that end.

First, I would recommend pointing out that, by insisting you do something which goes against both your conscience and Church teaching, she is effectively asking the man she loves to commit a mortal sin. I highly doubt that's her intent. It probably hasn't even crossed her mind. She just wants peace of mind and has the mistaken idea that she can get that from condom use.

Then ask her, instead of insisting that you commit a mortal sin, to attend NFP classes WITH YOU. Don't make this something you're trying to explain to her yourself. Make it an activity that you're both doing together.

Also, don't insist that practicing NFP is something she must do, no questions asked. Just invite her to learn about the program from people who have real world experience with it and see how it goes from there. Let her bring her objections to the NFP instructors rather than to you. Let THEM answer the questions. They've most likely not only heard them before, but are better at giving a clear answer. Most NFP classes are also taught by couples. If she's only hearing about it from you, she's likely to only get the "blah blah statistics blah blah effectiveness blah blah process" kind of answer that we males want to provide for every question. With a couple teaching, the woman can answer the question your wife is probably really asking (I'm scared; will you please listen while I tell you why?) rather than the question you may think she's asking (What means may I employ to face and overcome my fear in the most efficient and effective manner?).

If she's not willing to at least hear about the program from instructors, not necessarily to put it into practice in her life but to simply learn the facts about something that matters so much to her husband, she likely has much greater issues going on than concern over another child, and probably needs counseling more than NFP instruction.

My wife was hesitant to practice NFP until we signed up to learn it from the Couple to Couple League. My own suggestion wasn't sufficient. She needed to hear testimony directly from someone else, someone who had been using it themselves for a time and could speak from experience on what it's all about. If she had been the one approaching me about practicing NFP, I would probably have been hesitant as well. And that's understandable. Testimony from personal experience can be a powerful thing. Just ask the apostles and the early Church :)

Whether you should use a condom between now and when you can arrange to take NFP classes... I don't know. The question is probably best directed to your priest. Personally, I would choose abstaining over directly taking a sinful action. My wife used the pill before learning NFP, but that was her act rather than my act. She never insisted that I use a condom, so thankfully I never had to deal with that question.


#11

[quote="Alindawyl, post:10, topic:230266"]
It's not a sin to be intimate with your spouse if they insist on using contraception themselves. That, however, is not your situation. Instead of using contraception herself, your wife is demanding that you, rather than she, use contraception as a precondition for sexual relations. She's asking you to commit a grave sin, effectively presenting you with a "me or God" choice. She probably hasn't thought about it that way and is simply scared of the thought of having another child. Whether it's just the financial concerns you mention, also the personal worries and stress of caring for another child, or any number of other reasons on top of those, the fact remains that she doesn't consider herself ready for it again right now. And that's fine. What's not fine, however, is the method she wishes to employ toward that end.

First, I would recommend pointing out that, by insisting you do something which goes against both your conscience and Church teaching, she is effectively asking the man she loves to commit a mortal sin. I highly doubt that's her intent. It probably hasn't even crossed her mind. She just wants peace of mind and has the mistaken idea that she can get that from condom use.

Then ask her, instead of insisting that you commit a mortal sin, to attend NFP classes WITH YOU. Don't make this something you're trying to explain to her yourself. Make it an activity that you're both doing together.

Also, don't insist that practicing NFP is something she must do, no questions asked. Just invite her to learn about the program from people who have real world experience with it and see how it goes from there. Let her bring her objections to the NFP instructors rather than to you. Let THEM answer the questions. They've most likely not only heard them before, but are better at giving a clear answer. Most NFP classes are also taught by couples. If she's only hearing about it from you, she's likely to only get the "blah blah statistics blah blah effectiveness blah blah process" kind of answer that we males want to provide for every question. With a couple teaching, the woman can answer the question your wife is probably really asking (I'm scared; will you please listen while I tell you why?) rather than the question you may think she's asking (What means may I employ to face and overcome my fear in the most efficient and effective manner?).

If she's not willing to at least hear about the program from instructors, not necessarily to put it into practice in her life but to simply learn the facts about something that matters so much to her husband, she likely has much greater issues going on than concern over another child, and probably needs counseling more than NFP instruction.

My wife was hesitant to practice NFP until we signed up to learn it from the Couple to Couple League. My own suggestion wasn't sufficient. She needed to hear testimony directly from someone else, someone who had been using it themselves for a time and could speak from experience on what it's all about. If she had been the one approaching me about practicing NFP, I would probably have been hesitant as well. And that's understandable. Testimony from personal experience can be a powerful thing. Just ask the apostles and the early Church :)

Whether you should use a condom between now and when you can arrange to take NFP classes... I don't know. The question is probably best directed to your priest. Personally, I would choose abstaining over directly taking a sinful action. My wife used the pill before learning NFP, but that was her act rather than my act. She never insisted that I use a condom, so thankfully I never had to deal with that question.

[/quote]

Thanks for your informative response. It is very helpful. I have actually signed us both up to attend NFP classes. I think it will work out for us both.


#12

[quote="caseyf22, post:1, topic:230266"]
I really want to start using the NFP method. I have presented my wife with all the information and explained to her how it works. She just will not open up to the idea and has fear of getting pregnant again when she feels she is not financially ready. I have told her how effective NFP is if done correctly. The only way she will be intimate with me is if I use a condom. Am I sinning by having sex with my wife even though it is against my will to use condoms? If I am sinning, am I just to refuse sex with her all together until I can convince her to use natural family planning?

[/quote]

To start, don't throw NFP at the person that has to bear the burden of a new life in her womb for 9 months and the pain of childbirth until she fully understands the nature of marital relations. Start by praying that the Lord will help you both come to terms with what marital relations really are (as defined by the Church).

Next, together, make an effort to read Humanae Vitae. It's at vatican.va and is something that every Christian (Catholic and otherwise) should read. My wife and I read it together one night after the kids went to bed. It's a beautiful document.

Allowing her to use ABC so you don't sin is as bad as you wearing a condom. It's not an issue of the procreative aspect at this point, it's an issue of the unitive aspect. You're separating yourself from your wife's actions to satisfy your sexual desires. Simply put: sin by proxy. -- this is only my opinion, not the opinion of the Church, so take it for what it is --


#13

[quote="caseyf22, post:1, topic:230266"]
I really want to start using the NFP method. I have presented my wife with all the information and explained to her how it works. She just will not open up to the idea and has fear of getting pregnant again when she feels she is not financially ready. I have told her how effective NFP is if done correctly. The only way she will be intimate with me is if I use a condom. Am I sinning by having sex with my wife even though it is against my will to use condoms? If I am sinning, am I just to refuse sex with her all together until I can convince her to use natural family planning?

[/quote]

Tell you wife you are not using a condom and that you prefer to do NFP. If she is so adamant about using artificial contraception, then why doesn't she use it, but that still violates your conscience and church teaching. However, ultimately it is her decision to sin.

The best thing to do in my mind is to abstain until she recognizes the issues you are having.

Disclaimer: I know some of this is scandalous, but some of it does fall in line with what Fr. Vincent Serpa here on


#14

[quote="Chris_Etzel, post:12, topic:230266"]
To start, don't throw NFP at the person that has to bear the burden of a new life in her womb for 9 months and the pain of childbirth until she fully understands the nature of marital relations. Start by praying that the Lord will help you both come to terms with what marital relations really are (as defined by the Church).

Next, together, make an effort to read Humanae Vitae. It's at vatican.va and is something that every Christian (Catholic and otherwise) should read. My wife and I read it together one night after the kids went to bed. It's a beautiful document.

Allowing her to use ABC so you don't sin is as bad as you wearing a condom. It's not an issue of the procreative aspect at this point, it's an issue of the unitive aspect. You're separating yourself from your wife's actions to satisfy your sexual desires. Simply put: sin by proxy. -- this is only my opinion, not the opinion of the Church, so take it for what it is --

[/quote]

I absolutely agree that it is hypocritical and just as immoral to refuse to wear a condom because contraception is wrong but then to go ahead and have sex as long as the wife is the one contracepting. Where is the loving partnership in that - you do the sinning and I can have the sex?

I also think it sounds like at one time you both were on the same page with ABC in your marriage and this represents a change in your thinking. You have to allow that she needs time to get to the same place you are and cutting off sexual relations now may only place an added strain at a time when you are trying to come together on such an important change in your marriage.


#15

[quote="caseyf22, post:1, topic:230266"]
I really want to start using the NFP method. I have presented my wife with all the information and explained to her how it works. She just will not open up to the idea and has fear of getting pregnant again when she feels she is not financially ready. I have told her how effective NFP is if done correctly. The only way she will be intimate with me is if I use a condom. Am I sinning by having sex with my wife even though it is against my will to use condoms? If I am sinning, am I just to refuse sex with her all together until I can convince her to use natural family planning?

[/quote]

I was in a very similar situation this past summer. I am a cradle catholic but can honestly say I did not know it was a mortal sin for a married couple to used ABC. :o I just assumed it was "old school" way of thinking. I take full responsibility for not seeking out the truth..however, I wish the priest would mention this from time to time during mass.

At any rate, I told my husband (who is not even slightly religious) that we were going to stop using ABC. Just like your wife, he was not very happy about it! I know that if my husband chooses to used protection, then it is not my sin. HOWEVER, I know in my heart that I would still be guilty of sin because we, as catholic's, are required to do whatever it takes to change our spouses mind. And i'm pretty good at changing his mind, lol!:p I personally would rather go without sex then to have relations with my husband if he insisted on using a condom..


#16

[quote="ComputerGeek25, post:13, topic:230266"]
Tell you wife you are not using a condom and that you prefer to do NFP. If she is so adamant about using artificial contraception, then why doesn't she use it, but that still violates your conscience and church teaching. However, ultimately it is her decision to sin.

The best thing to do in my mind is to abstain until she recognizes the issues you are having.

Disclaimer: I know some of this is scandalous, but some of it does fall in line with what Fr. Vincent Serpa here on

[/quote]

Ha! That is not scandalous at all. I agree with your statement..:thumbsup:


#17

I just want both of us to receive Holy Communion sin free, and not have to go to confession every week to confess that I use ABC with my bride, knowing fully that it will happen again next week. It is a relief knowing that there is a solution out there and that we are both going to be attending NFP classes together.


#18

[quote="caseyf22, post:17, topic:230266"]
I just want both of us to receive Holy Communion sin free, and not have to go to confession every week to confess that I use ABC with my bride, knowing fully that it will happen again next week. It is a relief knowing that there is a solution out there and that we are both going to be attending NFP classes together.

[/quote]

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but without an intent not to commit the sin again, absolution is not even granted in the first place. You are supposed to not only confess the act, but express a committed intent not to do it again. If you're in the confessional knowing you will do it again, the confession's not valid.


#19

[quote="Fidelia, post:18, topic:230266"]
Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but without an intent not to commit the sin again, absolution is not even granted in the first place. You are supposed to not only confess the act, but express a committed intent not to do it again. If you're in the confessional knowing you will do it again, the confession's not valid.

[/quote]

That is true if you intend to do it again. It is not the case if you know or acknowledge that it is highly likely you will do it again (like an addict of some kind).

That being said it sounds like the OP is heading in the right direction on this issue.


#20

[quote="whm, post:19, topic:230266"]
That is true if you intend to do it again. It is not the case if you know or acknowledge that it is highly likely you will do it again (like an addict of some kind).

That being said it sounds like the OP is heading in the right direction on this issue.

[/quote]

Correct, I know I'm probably going to sin again in many of the same ways (i.e. bad habbits) but I have to try not too.


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