Loneliness or marriage with limitations


Hi, I have a few questions.
I am a mother of 2 from a civil marriage which has now been over for a number of years. I have been celibate since the end of that relationship and free to get married within the Catholic Church. I am approaching 40 and sometimes I struggle with motherhood. If I feel that I don’t want more children: 1/ because of the struggle of motherhood, 2/with the mother’s age birth defects are more likely.
Can I be still thinking of entering a valid, sacramental marriage? Or that’s it? Should I accept that I will be on my own for the rest of my life and not pursue any relationship that could lead to marriage?

What is the Church’s take on my situation?
Unfortunately the more I read on this topic the more I think that I am damned If I stay on my own or think of pursuing a relationship as I would go against my instinct to procreate.

I am able and very much willing to accept all teaching what are pre marital, including celibacy but have great trouble accepting the great limitations that come with marriage (no contraception, NFP, obligation to have sex, selfishness if abstaining, obligation to procreate) but still I don’t want to be alone.
Am I selfish?
Please help!


Speak to your pastor. No one here can give you any useful information. You’ll just get a lot of nonsensical “free legal opinions” from armchair “canon lawyers” who don’t have the slightest clue what they are talking about.

This site is not intended for giving advice on such serious and complicated matters.


thank you for the very frank answer.
God Bless


My prayers are with you!


Honestly, if you see this as limitations, I don´t think the christian concept of marriage is close to what you want. Not meant to be offensive :slight_smile:


I agree with Andrew that speaking with your pastor is going to be the most fruitful course of action. Nonetheless, I just wanted to comment on this piece. While it is certainly true that Catholics cannot use artificial contraception, it doesn’t mean that Catholic wives are obligated to provide “sex on demand” for their husbands, nor to churn out as many children as is physically possible regardless of circumstances.


You don’t necessarily need a spouse in order to get rid of your loneliness.


What does God want for you?

Since you asked, quite honestly, there is a lot of “I” in your post.

Give this time in prayer - preferably before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Rather than being Martha, who was preoccupied with many things, be her sister Mary who sat in rapt attention at our Lord’s feet.


A guy who really loves you and is in tune with your needs is not going to push some “obligation to have sex” on you or call you “selfish” if you refrain. And a woman who loved a man wouldn’t push that on him either.


I agree with Tis_. I think if you meet the right Catholic guy, all will go well and you have nothing to worry about.


Thank you all for your input.

So this is where I am after reading The Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II and various other catholic theology websites,

Marriage is for having as many babies as your fertility allows. NFP is ok for short periods of time to space out the birth of the children if there is a legitimate reason for this. What are legitimate reasons? The age of the mother is not, as I understand.
To abstain from sex (in the context of a marriage) is ok for a SHORT time and if both spouses agree. :

“Marital sex constitutes an obligation: A spouse is bound to have sex consensually when the other spouse reasonably requests it. This is in accordance with the precept of the Apostle in 1 Cor. 7: “The husband must pay the debt to his wife, and the wife to her husband”. If they refuse without a legitimate reason, they commit a serious sin. This obligation is binding not only when a spouse expressly asks for sex but even when it is done tacitly, by some sign or indication, as is often the case with wives, who through embarassment or modesty do not venture to ask their husbands openly to pay the marital debt.”

Marriage between a couple who are infertile is still valid even tho they have sex (as it is their obligation) but have no chance of getting pregnant (as is the purpose of marriage). While a couple who want fewer children can’t abstain or use contraception other than NFP, as having sex is their obligation.

As much as I accept that children are a blessing, but taking a chance on having a handicapped child due to the mother’s more mature age, is not necessarily right for all families. I love my children. I would give my life for them but I struggle with motherhood as it is.

And yes, I did put a lot of “I” in my post as these are questions I am trying to find an answer to.

Absolutely as a Catholic, I am praying that I find the Lord’s plan for me, as times I feel lost. Second time around (as I said , I am divorced) I want to get it right.
And perhaps, if my non wanting more children does not fit with the Church’s teaching I have to accept life on my own and not pursue any romantic relationships or just wait until post menopause to get married then.

I understand that loneliness can be combated by finding other thing to do and prayer but let’s face it, I am a very imperfect person and as such I crave that intimate (not just sexual) relationship as most people do that perhaps only marriage can provide. I have been on my own for 5 ish years and it gets LONELY even with an otherwise busy life.
Can I or anyone in similar shoes fulfil the vocation of a Catholic marriage without wanting more children?
Sorry for the lengthy post, but God Bless you if you got to the bottom of it.
Thank you


This is not at all Church teaching.


I really think until you meet a man with whom you would be seriously discussing marriage, it’s hard to say any more on this than we already have.


Also, this is not correct.


This is how I understand it after reading up on it for a while now. Perhaps you could point me in a direction of a literature of the contrary?
God Bless


where can i find a literature to the contrary?


What source told you this was true? It is nearly impossible to prove a negative.


The Catechism, section 1643, states that marriages must be “open to fertility”. This means that you do not use any artificial birth control and that you and your husband marry with the understanding that you are open to having and raising any children that you might conceive.

There is no obligation to conceive a certain number of children, or to “have as many babies as your fertility allows” (which for many women might be 10, 15 or even 20 children, a number which would likely put a big strain on the woman’s health and from an economic standpoint in this day and age, be very difficult for two parents to care for and pay expenses for).

There also isn’t a limit on how long you can abstain from sex, as long as you physically consummated the marriage and both parties to the marriage are in mutual agreement over the abstention. The Church isn’t standing over you with a schedule noting that you need to have sex at least once a week or you’ve committed a sin. And as I already mentioned, loving couples do not see sex with each other as some kind of a “debt” they have to pay or demand payment from the other.


NO, you are not selfish! You, like so many of us, are caught on the horns of a dilemma. The suggestion to talk to a priest is a good one. Also might consider a retreat, (if possible given you children) that might be aimed toward middle age adult living choices. Good luck


please talk to a priest.

However, I question your understanding of these three things you listed.

  1. obligation to have sex: you really don’t have an “obligation to have sex.” However, you should not withhold sex for unjust reason. There really is a big difference. In other words, you don’t have to have sex every time you husband wants it, but you should not be withholding it from him in an unhealthy way.

  2. selfishness if abstaining: abstaining from sex is never a bad thing, unless you are truly doing it for really selfish or vindictive reasons. In other words, if you are abstaining to unjustly punish your husband or if you are abstaining because your heart is truly closed to life, then that would be a problem.

  3. obligation to procreate: we do not have an “obligation to procreate.” However, we do have an obligation to be open to life. There is a fine difference.

God bless

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