Is it ok for a husband (or wife for that matter) who is in a sexless marriage to pray for the gift of Celibacy?


#1

Is it ok for a husband (or wife for that matter) who is in a sexless marriage to pray for the gift of Celibacy?

Like any marriage my wife and I have had our good times and differences and like many couples we have the common, high sex drive - low sex drive, between us. After 20+ years of a sexless marriage, we share the Marital Embrace only a few times/year, about 4-8 times in a year, a couple times in our marriage we have gone a full year without any intimacy.

Over a year ago I started to pray the Rosary the burden of my sex drive would be lifted from me. So a few months ago it stared to drop off and now I have virtually no proactive interest or desire for my wife. Don’t get me wrong, we have a great time when we are intimate, but now, I have no interest to even bring the subject up and would never deny her, it is just for me, what ever happens…happens. I actually prefer to sleep some where else in the house, on the couch, another bedroom, etc. She likes to watch TV and I would rather get a good night sleep.

We get along fine, my prayer life has never been stronger, but I am completely happy to only be intimate when she wants too, whether it is 3 weeks from now or 3 years. I exercise 5-7 days/wk eat right and am in good shape, so I would not attribute this to anything physical being in my early 40’s.


#2

For what it's worth, I think it IS okay if both couples agree to it. While it's true, your bodies belong to one another, if you don't want to be intimate anymore, and it's both your choices, than why not?

In my opinion, it's NOT a good idea to sleep in a separate bed and the same dwelling as your spouse. No, that doesn't mean that every couple that does that is a bad couple, or a couple whose marriage is in trouble, but generally, it's not a good idea.


#3

It sounds like it is working very well for you guys. I think this means God’s pretty a-okay with it. Your wife sounds like she is perfectly alright with it, you still find the intimacy to be a cherishable, loving event, which is very good, you still love each other and are devoted to Christ…I see nothing wrong with what you’ve done. As long as there is love and devotion to each other in the relationship, it sounds fine to me.


#4

If your'e married though, when you have intercourse you and your spouse are given special graces to strengthen your marriage, to live out the marital vocation, serving eachother and the Church.

I have read about some married saints that chose the celibate lifestyle, but very few.

Pardon me for asking, but could this be a way of not dealing with deeper issues, say for one your sex drive vs. your wifes? I do know that it's not all about sex, but usually if there are problems that is the first place the problems or lack there of reveal themselves.

I'm not a psychologist, but maybe I should have been, I don't know, I just wanted to share this with you, it is a great resource.

There is a great study on the Theology of the Body done by Christopher West that maybe could give you some deeper clarity, both for you and your wife. It is a ten disc set that cost me 3.50 donation at the time a few years ago. Christopher West puts it all in layman terms and you will be enlightened by the shear wisdom of John Paul II and of course God! Actually, you'll be stunned. I strongly recommend this!
www.ChristopherWest.com

God Bless! :)


#5

Well, there have been married saints who later decided to abstain from all sexual relations, in order to devote themselves entirely to God. Perhaps this is what you and your wife are called to do. I'd definitely talk about it together and pray about it, and most importantly, I'd talk to your priest and ask his guidance about it. I wouldn't commit to it without prayer and discernment.


#6

[quote="Rascalking, post:2, topic:194969"]
For what it's worth, I think it IS okay if both couples agree to it. While it's true, your bodies belong to one another, if you don't want to be intimate anymore, and it's both your choices, than why not?

In my opinion, it's NOT a good idea to sleep in a separate bed and the same dwelling as your spouse. No, that doesn't mean that every couple that does that is a bad couple, or a couple whose marriage is in trouble, but generally, it's not a good idea.

[/quote]

Well I would never have imaged that I would be in a sexless marriage and not something I would have done on purpose by any means. But with four children I "went along to get along" and now with out the burden of desire for my wife and a solid Spiritual Life I am content.

As far as sleeping separately, this is something I have to catch myself. My DW likes to keep her feet warm on me by rubbing them on my legs, it's annoying to be woken up a few times with this habit, but it is like sleep walking. So if I can find a non-hurtful reason to sleep elsewhere I will.


#7

In my opinion God created sex for two reasons: One, for procreation - Two as a reward for the married couple and a means of restoring love and intimacy in the marriage which is sometimes lost or forgotten in our very hectic lifestyles these days. I would respectfully suggest you both should think very carefully, discuss intimately the reasons this situation has occurred and yes even counseling before you discard one of God's most important blessing for married couples. May Almighty God bless you. Yours in Christ. jaripako


#8

[quote="Khrystyne, post:4, topic:194969"]
If your'e married though, when you have intercourse you and your spouse are given special graces to strengthen your marriage, to live out the marital vocation, serving eachother and the Church.

I have read about some married saints that chose the celibate lifestyle, but very few.

Pardon me for asking, but could this be a way of not dealing with deeper issues, say for one your sex drive vs. your wifes? I do know that it's not all about sex, but usually if there are problems that is the first place the problems or lack there of reveal themselves.

I'm not a psychologist, but maybe I should have been, I don't know, I just wanted to share this with you, it is a great resource.

There is a great study on the Theology of the Body done by Christopher West that maybe could give you some deeper clarity, both for you and your wife. It is a ten disc set that cost me 3.50 donation at the time a few years ago. Christopher West puts it all in layman terms and you will be enlightened by the shear wisdom of John Paul II and of course God! Actually, you'll be stunned. I strongly recommend this!
www.ChristopherWest.com

God Bless! :)

[/quote]

I have read enough and been taught about the Christopher West books enough to have a good grasp to understand that the Marital Embrace is a sacred gift from God. Unfortunately my wife has more of a feminist and secular view of sex and has pretty much used it a way to have children and as a weapon in our marriage.


#9

[quote="Roger1, post:8, topic:194969"]
I have read enough and been taught about the Christopher West books enough to have a good grasp to understand that the Marital Embrace is a sacred gift from God. Unfortunately my wife has more of a feminist and secular view of sex and has pretty much used it a way to have children and as a weapon in our marriage.

[/quote]

From this post and others that you have posted in this thread, it does not sound to me like you and your wife are like the admirable saints of old who embraced celibacy as a way to become more holy. So I would humbly suggest that you stop kidding yourself and stop entertaining any delusions or listening to others who are trying to tell you that your lack of sexual intercourse is a good and holy thing. It is NOT a good thing at all. It is devilish.

It sounds to me like there is a pathological situation in your marriage. Whether it is physical or emotional is impossible for me to say. It could be a bit of both. Many women have a physical cause for low sex drive. This needs to be checked out and if present, corrected, by a medical doctor.

But from what you way, your strong-minded wife would probably refuse to consult with a physician about her low libido. Right now, your wife has everything her way and she sounds pretty happy about it. You are enabling her to continue to say "no" when the Bible makes it clear that she is no longer the sole owner of her own body. Asking for celibacy for yourself is wrong because it will enable your wife to live a self-centered life and continue practicing the sin of denying her husband the marriage bed.

Here's my suggestion--separate from her. I believe that the Church allows this. Perhaps the physical separation from you will jolt your wife out of her complacent selfishness and make it crystal clear that the current situation is NOT acceptable and that you will NOT allow this to become the norm for your marriage for the rest of your lives.

When one spouse denies sex to the other spouse, this is a twisted marriage. The Lord intended for marriage, including the act of love, to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His spouse, the Church. By deliberately avoiding sex without a mutual calling from the Lord to do so, you and your wife are distorting this picture and giving the world an incomplete and therefore false picture of the mutual pleasure and love shared between Christ and His Church.

Please consider my suggestion to separate--this is drastic enough to wake up your wife and force her to consult a physician first, and then a counselor if everything is fine physically, and finally, a priest or teacher who can inform her of Church teaching regarding marriage and sex. Just as a man does not have the right to twist Church teaching to include homosexual pleasure, a married woman does not have the right to twist Church teaching to fit her personal desires. She must submit to her husband, unless, as I have stated several times, the Lord truly has called BOTH spouses to a life of celibate prayer. But honestly now, it doesn't sound like this is the case in your marriage. Honestly.

Due to the pressures of this life, the exhausting work of raising children and teenagers, the demands of working inside and outside the home, the constant barrage of activities in the church and community, the stress of dealing with other people, the worries about money and politics, etc. etc, women can easily get into a habit of saying no, and then it becomes very difficult for them to become aroused and enjoy sexual intercourse.

For a woman, sex is not a release from stress like it is for a man. For a woman, sex can be just one more thing on the never-ending list of things to do today. Women aren't like men--most women can forget about sex for days, weeks, months, years. A man can't even imagine this, as most men think about sex almost constantly. It's the way God made men, so it's not wrong. But it's definitely different than the way God made women.

If a woman is married, she has no right to forget all about sex, unless God truly calls BOTH spouses to a celibate marriage.

So a woman needs to break the habit of saying No, just like smokers need to break the habit of smoking. It IS a habit, a bad habit. A woman says no because she's tired. Then the next night, she says no because she is bloated. Then the next night, she says no because she had a bad day at work. And on it goes, and before she knows it, it's been months, even years, since she said yes. And at that point, the habit of saying No is so ingrained into her that it is very difficult for her to see herself as a sexual being, having intercourse even with her husband. She sees herself as a non-sexual being.

This habit needs to be broken. It's not the way a marriage should be.

She will probably need guidance and training from a counselor as she breaks the habit of saying no and relearns how to become aroused and how to give herself to the man that she loves and is married to.

A good husband will work with his wife and do anything to help her break this habit. He will not sit back and pretend that this is a "spiritual" thing in their marriage. It's just the opposite--as I said, it's devilish. A man who is not enjoying sex with his wife on a regular basis (and that could be only once a month or so, but at least it's regular), is at prime risk for having an affair and destroying his marriage and the life of his mistress, as well as his own life and soul. The Bible makes it very clear that spouses should cling to each other to avoid temptation. When a marriage breaks up, the picture of Christ and His Church is utterly broken and the world has more reasons to reject the Gospel.

Please think about what I have written. Godspeed to you and your wife.


#10

Ugh, totally disagree with the previous poster ... If you have found the grace to cope with the situation you're given, good for you. But to leave your wife over this -- no way!


#11

[quote="Cat, post:9, topic:194969"]
From this post and others that you have posted in this thread, it does not sound to me like you and your wife are like the admirable saints of old who embraced celibacy as a way to become more holy. So I would humbly suggest that you stop kidding yourself and stop entertaining any delusions or listening to others who are trying to tell you that your lack of sexual intercourse is a good and holy thing. It is NOT a good thing at all. It is devilish.

It sounds to me like there is a pathological situation in your marriage. Whether it is physical or emotional is impossible for me to say. It could be a bit of both. Many women have a physical cause for low sex drive. This needs to be checked out and if present, corrected, by a medical doctor.

But from what you way, your strong-minded wife would probably refuse to consult with a physician about her low libido. Right now, your wife has everything her way and she sounds pretty happy about it. You are enabling her to continue to say "no" when the Bible makes it clear that she is no longer the sole owner of her own body. Asking for celibacy for yourself is wrong because it will enable your wife to live a self-centered life and continue practicing the sin of denying her husband the marriage bed.

Here's my suggestion--separate from her. I believe that the Church allows this. Perhaps the physical separation from you will jolt your wife out of her complacent selfishness and make it crystal clear that the current situation is NOT acceptable and that you will NOT allow this to become the norm for your marriage for the rest of your lives.

When one spouse denies sex to the other spouse, this is a twisted marriage. The Lord intended for marriage, including the act of love, to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His spouse, the Church. By deliberately avoiding sex without a mutual calling from the Lord to do so, you and your wife are distorting this picture and giving the world an incomplete and therefore false picture of the mutual pleasure and love shared between Christ and His Church.

.............

A good husband will work with his wife and do anything to help her break this habit. He will not sit back and pretend that this is a "spiritual" thing in their marriage. It's just the opposite--as I said, it's devilish. A man who is not enjoying sex with his wife on a regular basis (and that could be only once a month or so, but at least it's regular), is at prime risk for having an affair and destroying his marriage and the life of his mistress, as well as his own life and soul. The Bible makes it very clear that spouses should cling to each other to avoid temptation. When a marriage breaks up, the picture of Christ and His Church is utterly broken and the world has more reasons to reject the Gospel.

Please think about what I have written. Godspeed to you and your wife.

[/quote]

I love a lot of the points brought up by this poster. Particularly Cat's wise reflections on the "bad habit of saying no".
I'm not sure, however that separation would look like anything other than "selfish hubby abandoning his wife because she wouldn't have more sex". Hopefully there are steps that can be taken that won't lead to separation. They have 4 kids who I'm guessing are adolescent-aged. Now, if there are other problems and this lack of sex is just a symptom then those need to be dealt with. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to separation. Wife has to have enough desire for the marriage itself to want to do whatever it takes to fix the marriage for that sort of wake-up call to work.

A priest once said that sex problems (unless it's a physical issue) are usually faith problems being played out. The couple's faith life might be suffering too...

Praying for you Roger1.


#12

[quote="SarahR, post:11, topic:194969"]
I love a lot of the points brought up by this poster. Particularly Cat's wise reflections on the "bad habit of saying no".
I'm not sure, however that separation would look like anything other than "selfish hubby abandoning his wife because she wouldn't have more sex". Hopefully there are steps that can be taken that won't lead to separation. They have 4 kids who I'm guessing are adolescent-aged. Now, if there are other problems and this lack of sex is just a symptom then those need to be dealt with. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to separation. Wife has to have enough desire for the marriage itself to want to do whatever it takes to fix the marriage for that sort of wake-up call to work.

A priest once said that sex problems (unless it's a physical issue) are usually faith problems being played out. The couple's faith life might be suffering too...

Praying for you Roger1.

[/quote]

Very well said. I'm glad that the OP is well-adjusted right now, but he's just dealing with a bad situation. The fact that your wife uses sex as a weapon is a very terrible thing and unfortunately there's not much you can do now to get her to back off of that except praying for her and just asking her to seek counseling for that. No amount of pleading, talking, whatever is going to change it because that would be, well, a move that would turn her off even more. Total beta move.

In normal cases where a wife's desire seems slackening for no physiological reason, I'd suggest working out more, eating right and basically boosting your image. Simple steps like that, as well as a good attitude adjustment to make yourself more appealing (by being more alpha if you're being steamrolled or incorporating some beta skills if your wife complains that you never listen, for instance) can usually do the trick. But there's much more to that in this case I'm afraid. Continue to do what you're doing as far as increasing your appeal, but take a few extra steps.

Be sure your spiritual life is not just YOUR spiritual life. Pray together and do so often. Go to confession together. And if you want some spark back, it's A-OK to pray for intimacy to return. I'd suggest not broaching the subject of praying for that immediately with your wife, but if she's receptive to these other steps, I'd say you can figure out when to mention that you're praying for her to change her attitude towards sex and perhaps coax her to do the same. After all, we all pray for our attitudes to change on a subject on which we know we're stubborn and possibly wrong, why not her on this one?


#13

I didn’t say to “leave your wife” or end the marriage.

I suggested a separation. As far as I know, a separation is acceptable in the Catholic Church as a technique to allow a husband and wife to work out problems.

This isn’t about sex and a husband not getting his jollies. This is about a husband helping his wife to stop sinning.

Sex is part of the the picture of Christ and his Church, and if sex is not present in a marriage because a partner is denying it, then that is serious business and she is sinning badtime. The Bible warns that her actions could cause her husband to fall into mortal sin. It sounds to me like the OP has already tried a lot of the other suggestions (dinners out, etc.), and they didn’t work. His wife is having it all her own way, living a self-centered dream life, and as long as husband tolerates it and allows it, she will continue to live that way. SOMEONE has to have the guts to stand up to her and tell her it’s wrong and help her to stop sinning and see her marriage as the sacrament that God intended it to be.

Drastic steps for drastic times. This isn’t the time to bring flowers and candy. This is the time to say, “Honey, I’m going to fight for our souls.”


#14

Hey I get this. My wife drives me nuts when I sleep with her. I also keep her up and she is much more tired the next day even though we rarely engage in the marriage act. It’s not for lack of desire but the lack of her ability in that she seems to always be tired. So I too practice discipline to an extreme. No doubt I love her and assume the same for her loving me. We have 3 children ranging from 5 to 15. The little one occupies most of our time. Time alone in the bedroom is just short of a miracle. At one point though she was pushing, kicking and just hurting me because of snoring issues. I felt that my overall health would be better if I reclined, literally, to the living room. Now AI make my bed every night in the bedroom which is partly why I post late at night. I’d rather sleep with her but I can do without the abuse, though understandable for someone exhausted all the time.


#15

[quote="Roger1, post:8, topic:194969"]
I have read enough and been taught about the Christopher West books enough to have a good grasp to understand that the Marital Embrace is a sacred gift from God. Unfortunately my wife has more of a feminist and secular view of sex and has pretty much used it a way to have children and as a weapon in our marriage.

[/quote]

Ooookkkaaayyyy......I agree with Cat up the wall here, although I would not seperate, Christ doesn't want you to be divided anymore than you already are. Forgive me, I'm kinda sensitive and I sense your pain even through the wires. I'm not a psychologist/counselor, but it sounds like you both need some help seperately and together. Pray and ask God for the help to heal this at the core rather than cut yourself and yourselves off from eachother.

I would say start with a lot of prayer and really talk to God with your heart, He wants to know.
This is going to take a lot of prayer for your wife too, to soften her heart. But with Christ ALL things are possible! Don't doubt Him on this. It may take some time....
Seek Godly counsel from a Priest, even if they might be somewhere else other than your parish.
And seek out a Catholic psychologist/counselor, they are out there, I used to work for one as well as having seen one myself. Make sure they are Christian.

Some of those married saints that were celibate much later in life were very rare and it was usually the woman who wanted it that way, and in my opinion I think there was something going on with them too. Being in the vocation of marriage and living out all aspects IS pious and HOLY, that is of course how God wants you to serve Him, so you can't get more Holier than that. Some of us have a miscued view of sex and our own bodies. God doesn't want you to live like a hermit/monk and if He did you would of had that conviction a loonnnggg time ago.

God doesn't want you to make yourself numb, He wants you to be fully alive. :)

I will be praying for you and your wife. ;)

God Bless You!


#16

Excellent replies so far...just adding another here. You can take this for whatever it's worth, but I read quite a few threads about people being in ''sexless'' marriages, and it's not like I read that there is an illness...that's understandable, for someone's lack of interest. Or abuse...that would obviously be a reason a woman or man would have trouble being interested in sex. But barring that, you say you and your wife ''get along'' very well...it just seems like in many marriages, when the wife says no, that's the end of the discussion. And the husband has to just live with it. I find this terribly sad, and wrong. Sex is not the end all be all...but, it's a gift from God, and a beautiful thing to share in a marriage. Granted, if one or the other spouse is paralyzed, ill, etc...then it makes sense to not be having sex. But, low sex drive can be helped. It can. Exercise, diet, go see a doctor...there's no reason why a healthy loving couple shouldn't be having sex. Praying for celibacy in your marriage is not a bad thing, but there are issues here that you and your wife need to address...I'm not going to tell you to buy her roses and romance her...there's something else here. It could be physical, could be emotional. But, you need to get to the heart of that...because really, your marriage deserves it. Your wife and you aren't roommates sharing bills and some laughs. Barring an illness or condition, your sex life CAN improve, you both have to be willing to discuss it, and help each other through it. I don't mean to sound crass...but it breaks my heart that so many women in marriages are calling the shots when it comes to sex...and the men just acquiesce. To keep the peace, I'm sure. Praying for you and your wife...hang in there!


#17

[quote="Cat, post:13, topic:194969"]
I didn't say to "leave your wife" or end the marriage.

I suggested a separation. As far as I know, a separation is acceptable in the Catholic Church as a technique to allow a husband and wife to work out problems.

[/quote]

Totally taken out of context. This is not quite right. It is the alternative to divorce and usually a preclude to irreconcilable differences. They really needRetrouvaille
before going down that path.

[quote="Cat, post:13, topic:194969"]
This isn't about sex and a husband not getting his jollies. This is about a husband helping his wife to stop sinning.

[/quote]

If I took advice like this from you or anyone else I'd never be married or have children.

[quote="Cat, post:13, topic:194969"]
Sex is part of the the picture of Christ and his Church, and if sex is not present in a marriage because a partner is denying it, then that is serious business and she is sinning badtime. The Bible warns that her actions could cause her husband to fall into mortal sin. It sounds to me like the OP has already tried a lot of the other suggestions (dinners out, etc.), and they didn't work. His wife is having it all her own way, living a self-centered dream life, and as long as husband tolerates it and allows it, she will continue to live that way. SOMEONE has to have the guts to stand up to her and tell her it's wrong and help her to stop sinning and see her marriage as the sacrament that God intended it to be.

[/quote]

You've just made the case for all infidelity being excused. Thanks, I guess I'll go to Baby Dolls and pick up some chicks for a good time Don't you think prayer, fasting and patience are worth something? This is why the Church tells us to seek our advice from the priest over laity.

[quote="Cat, post:13, topic:194969"]
Drastic steps for drastic times. This isn't the time to bring flowers and candy. This is the time to say, "Honey, I'm going to fight for our souls."

[/quote]

Oh NO, this IS the time to be wooing her, showing her you really love her. A man is to love his wife like Christ loves the Church....that means sacrificially. The wooing is for to help spark a bit of romance in their relationship. Her saying no may have something to do with him. He may not be telling the entire story of how he comments on her figure or this or that. It doesn't even discuss how busy she may really be.

Please keep this kind of advice to yourself people. Seek proper professional counseling, preferably with one that respects the faith and moral teachings of the Church.


#18

[quote="Roger1, post:6, topic:194969"]
Well I would never have imaged that I would be in a sexless marriage and not something I would have done on purpose by any means. But with four children I "went along to get along" and now with out the burden of desire for my wife and a solid Spiritual Life I am content.

As far as sleeping separately, this is something I have to catch myself. My DW likes to keep her feet warm on me by rubbing them on my legs, it's annoying to be woken up a few times with this habit, but it is like sleep walking. So if I can find a non-hurtful reason to sleep elsewhere I will.

[/quote]

*The ''burden of desire'' for my wife...May I ask, why you feel this is the only option? Celibacy? Have you discussed this with your wife...is she open to counseling? Accepting celibacy because your wife has single handedly made that decision for you both, really isn't the best course of action. I'm not EVER suggesting you force the issue with a spouse...having sex should be a loving mutual act. But, you want your wife, and you are tolerating an alternative to that desire....this wasn't a mutual decision you both came to, it doesn't sound like. It just happened, because you want to keep peace. I get that, believe me, I do. I can't imagine your wife not desiring to be with you too. Sometimes women do have lower sex drives as they age...and some don't...but...for those who do, there are things they can do to improve that. I mean ...if you gain weight, do you just keep gaining weight and throw your hands up in the air? No, you try to take the weight off...for your health, for whatever. Same thing applies. People think...well, I'm older now, lower sex drive...oh well, we're done here. There are couples who have sex into their 70's...so, it's a symptom of something else. Could be purely physcial, and she really doesn't know what to do. Could be emotional. But, all things considered, you shouldn't have to live the rest of your married life as a celibate married man.

Please know I say this out of love and concern for your marriage...although, I feel passionate about this topic. God bless you...you sound like a sweet man...so does your wife. There has to be a way to get you both on the same page...and you don't feel like you have to ''stifle'' your desires for your wife. *


#19

Retrouvaille


#20

*Yes–I agree with that eucharisteo.

To the OP…Just more question, sorry…does your wife have the energy to entertain, shop, do a myriad of other things, but just not enough energy to have sex? That is more of what I’m talking about when I read these situations…and if that’s the case, yes Retrouvaille would be the answer. You know, anyone can get used to pretty much any situation in life. At first, it bothered you…then, over time, you both accept things as is now…and still have a happy life. But, you are making concessions in very big areas of your marriage, that I don’t think need to be. And really, I had to learn this also as a wife, it’s not all about when I want to…sometimes, part of being a loving wife, is sacrificing for our husbands. I don’t always want to…my husband is very understanding…but sometimes, it can’t always be about me. I’m not trying to paint your wife as selfish…PLEASE KNOW THIS. I’m merely saying that this isn’t your only alternative…*


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