Periodic Abstinence with NFP

I wasn’t sure if this belongs in the Family Life forum or here, but since this is a question of morality, I put it here.

So after years of contracepting, my husband and I decided to use NFP. We’ve been doing it for about three months now. I love it, but my husband absolutely hates the periodic abstinence. Every month during phase 2, we get into huge arguments about how to express love to each other without sex. He wants to do oral sex occasionally during abstinence times. I’ve told him about the immorality of that, but he still insists on it. He says he doesn’t want to do it all the time, but that during months where we can’t be together during our “free time” because of illnesses or whatever, he needs something to help him through the abstinence times.

He’s struggled with pornography and masturbation for years, and he’s still trying to break his habits/addictions to those things. He says that once that little switch in his brain turns on, he masturbates or it makes him crazy. He comes home from work and sits on the computer all night, playing solitaire until bedtime. When he gets like that, he doesn’t even come eat dinner with the rest of the family. His temper gets short, and he snaps at me and the kids. etc. Personally, I think all that behavior (not the masturbation itself) is just a form of “adult temper tantrum.” It’s like he can’t get what he wants, so I feel like he’s punishing me for not going along with him.

Last night, he told me that he’d rather do something with me, but that if I don’t do things like the oral sex with him, he will end up going off and watching porn or masturbating. He feels that I’m just abandoning him by refusing to engage in oral sex during our abstinence periods, and he feels like it would be less immoral for us to do something together than for him to go off on his own. He feels like there should be some give and take in the marriage, and that I should be willing to do something that he likes, since he can’t reach the “ideal” yet. I feel like he’s asking me to do something that I truly feel is immoral, and that he’s giving me a type of ultimatum–do something I feel is immoral with him, or he’ll just go watch pornography or masturbate. I feel like giving a bit and meeting in the middle is great when it comes to differing preferences, but that it’s different when one choice is moral and the other isn’t.

He told me that since it’s an addiction he’s breaking, he can’t really be expected to be perfect in this right away. I understand that he’s going to make mistakes, but am I just being selfish by telling him not to pull me into it with him? I’m really confused about how to deal with this situation. I want to help him, but I really don’t know how. We’re on different places in our spiritual journey. Would it be acceptable for me to do something with him rather than refusing and leaving him to “take care of it himself”?

The source is the pornography and masturbation. I guess the best thing to do is have himself master his body. Indeed, it is quite a challenge to men originally exposed to such acts (pornography and masturbation) to leave them behind. Try do activity together instead (jogging, etc).

When he watches porns instead of attending to family matters, that’s something i’m very much worried of.

Try to help him by giving him books on Chastity. Also, ask him to join you in the rosary. Read to him the acts and lives of the saints who lived and defended Chastity.

May God bless you. Draw graces from your marriage sacrament. Christ is with you. Pray before every action and major decisions.

Hello OpenArms, The way I read it he is the selfish one, do not allow him to control you in this.He must deal with his own immorality and sin himself. Do not allow him to blame you for his weakness, Peace, Carlan

All marital acts are to end with the parts in the right places. So no manual or oral stimulation to completion.

Also, requests to fulfill the marital debt are generally to be paid, especially when the one requesting the debt is likely to fall into sin.

This is one of the problems with NFP and one of the reasons why its use is not always licit.

Very good posts above…

Like white sheep said - you may want to discuss your very reasons for using NFP in the first place. Talk openly about the fact that sex was designed by God to be open to life… and fertility is part of what you are as a couple.

But, if your reasons for avoiding children right now are serious, and this truly is simply a behavioral/addiction issue that he’s still coping with - I would highly suggest coming up with practical ways to keep yourselves busy! Get a HOBBY! Rent NetFlix! Read a book together! Get involved with an activity - sports, volunteering, whatever! There are plenty of distractions that can wear you out so much that you’re too exhausted to even consider letting your mind wander to those illicit activities…

Find practical solutions…

From what I understand in the OP, OpenArms says her husband and she both want to avoid having children right now and have agreed to use NFP to do so. So they are mutually consenting to avoid having children right now and mutually consenting to using NFP to do so. However, her husband is now wanting to use NFP illicitly by pestering her for illicit ways for him to reach sexual satisfaction on days they can’t join, which of course is not an option according to the teachings of the Church. OpenArms can correct me if I read her OP incorrectly, but from her post, her husband does not want the marital embrace, but something else.

OpenArms, the two of you have a choice within the teachings of the Church: either abstain from the marital embrace because it’s not the right time for you to conceive, or participate in the martial embrace and be open to any life that might result. But the Church, and you want to be in communion with the Church, says you can’t end in any other way but with the end result being open to life. So what he does on his own is really his own sin, especially if he not only consents, but wants, to abstain in order to not conceive. But you can’t participate in helping him sin, or you will be sinning too.

Ok, well there are some technicalities you raise, but the bottom line is that a precondition for use of NFP is that neither party be tempted to falling into sin due to its use. This is the case here. Periodic continence is placing a burden on the husband that he is having difficulty dealing with and is putting him in the situation of asking his wife to perform immoral acts and tempting him to resort to pornography and masturbation. I would say that they should take this to their confessor, but really it takes a special person to talk about this with a priest. Otherwise it seems clear to me that they do not meet the precondition and if the use of NFP is causing him to stumble, then they shouldn’t be using it.

Thank you for all the responses so far.

I’ve tried having him read books on chastity. He says that he doesn’t learn by reading things, he learns by experiences. If he can’t actually feel or see the negative consequences for doing something, he doesn’t learn from it. He’s not going to take the opinion of “some book” on how our marriage should work. To him, the bad thing is us not being together, and he feels that being together in some way is better than him running off to masturbate on his own.

In regards to the bolded part, he’s not looking at porn while avoiding the rest of us. He’s not looking at porn on the computer, he’s playing solitaire all evening. He says that it just consumes his mind so much that he can’t focus on work, home or anything else until he gets some release for it. So, in trying to avoid the porn, he just gets into his own “bubble” and closes out the rest of the world.

At this time, we are both in agreement that we can not support another child. He has agreed to use NFP because I don’t want to use contraception. But he feels like it’s very much me getting “my way” on this. He feels like if he choses to use contraception, it’s just a way for me to “bend the rules.” So he’s agreed to use NFP, but isn’t really happy with it. He feels like he’s giving a little, so I should meet him halfway and help him reach the same goal.

He feels like I just one day decided to change the way things are done in the bedroom, and won’t budge or take his needs into consideration. In a way, that’s true. As soon as I learned about the immorality of contraception, oral sex, etc. I told him about it and stopped right then and there. (I realize that oral stimulation as a part of a complete marital act is acceptable, I’m just talking about oral sex on it’s own here.) It’s just been easier for me to change than it has for him, and he feels like I’m just abandoning him and getting my way. I really feel torn about this. I want to do what is right by God, but I don’t want to make my husband feel abandoned by doing this. And it sort of feels like I’m abandoning him when he tells me he feels like he’s going to fail and he would rather do something with me than go off and masturbate, and I just say, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Almost like I’m just saying, “too bad, so sad, deal with it yourself.”

Your husband is full of it.

No. You will carry your own hide before St. Peter and account for your mortal sins, you are virtuous, not selfish, and trying to help him be virtuous too.

No.

The extra info is helpful, thanks…

That’s a tough, tough call. One that certainly requires a LOT of prayer.

But I’m going to go back to my suggestions above - can you show him your affection and attention through a different means? Can you (subtly) make plans on the evenings you are fertile? Or try to phrase things a little differently? Like when he initiates - instead of saying “I can’t, I’m fertile.” you can try a different approach with “why don’t we do this instead… and I’m really looking forward to next week!” There’s a bit of psychology involved… you don’t have to outright reject him, but the message can be sent with much more loving words. But be sure to BE INVOLVED with him on those nights, so that he isn’t alone and wanting to divert to those personal sins.

Thanks for the suggestions. On most nights, I’m able to find something else to do, but it’s when we get into bed at night that’s the problem. Doesn’t matter if we’ve been so busy that it’s 2am and he’s got to get up at 5. He’ll still push for it. And when I ask, “aren’t you tired?” then he says, “well, I won’t be able to sleep anyway until this is dealt with. You can help me or you can just go off to sleep peacefully on your own.” (Yes, that last bit is usually dripping with sarcasm.)

He feels like he shouldn’t have to obey a rule that “a bunch of monks and priests who never have sex anyways” have written. I think it’s kind of like a cocaine addict who says he doesn’t want to follow the advice of a doctor who is telling him to get off the cocaine. The doctor doesn’t understand, the addict *needs *it. I’m sure hubby would agree that in that case, the addict is just full of himself, but he doesn’t see how it applies to our situation. :shrug:

I am thinking about making an appointment with my parish priest about this, but I feel uncomfortable discussing these types of issues with someone who actually knows me. I know that he’s probably heard similar stories from other people, it just makes me uncomfortable.

Yeah, I can appreciate how he feels, by your description. It would be one thing if you were always practicing NFP for the sake of the rules of the Church, but you’ve been contracepting for years and out of the blue decided for him and you that you weren’t going to do that anymore. I think he just needs time, prayers and your patience :slight_smile:

Porn is adultery, I hope he gave you a thorough apology for how he has abused your trust, disregarded the exclusivity of marital life and sexuality and been so indifferent not only to your feelings and your sense of self-worth but also for how he helped keep a prostitution industry going, which causes so incredibly much suffering to the people who are in it. Its truly an industry of molested girls on cocaine and with sexual diseases spreading rapidly… these women and men are someones children… Does your husband realise that… does he realise the immoral example he has been setting for the children also because of his not being present at table? Does he realise how he cheated on you as he filled his head with films of women and men doing extreme and perverse acts, of women faking pleasure at even violent sex and giving an image of being mere sexual objects always ready to satisfy any man…?

And him trying to push you into mortally sinning with him is unacceptable. he is manipulating and pushing you like some hormone-filled teenager. He is blaming you for his sex-addiction and acting like a baby who wont take responsibility for his own messed up priorities.

He needs to take a long hard look at himself and how he is influencing you and the children. I think you really need to put your foot down now, or your husband will be passing on a lousy example to your children and disrespect you more and more. The fact that you have put up with his behaviour this far probably gives him a signal that he can do whatever he wants because you’ll wanna please him and keep him no matter what. You need to be a very strong woman… I’d say get rid of that computer in your home and demand that he goes to marriage counseling with you.
The way he treats you is way below your dignity, and since his body belongs to you too, he has a responsibility to steer it back on the path of love.

I must say this whole problem sounds like you have been letting things get out of hand by not demanding respect over a long period of time

Well, the only thing I can say is, boy is your husband selfish! He’s trying to control you and manipulate you into doing things you don’t want to. He’s acting like a spoiled brat by saying if you don’t do oral, he’ll go watch porn. If I were you, I’d just let him go off and watch his porn. You don’t want to get into a habit of being bullied and controlled by your husband. That’s not a healthy relationship.

Thank you for all the responses. I had a feeling that I shouldn’t allow myself to be pulled into a sinful situation in order to “help” him find a way through his. After him telling me so many times that I’m the one being selfish, I guess I started to believe it a little, or wonder if I shouldn’t be doing more to help him out.

I hope everything is getting better now.

I think he should also see a priest and/or a spiritual director. Indeed, doing is better. But what should you do? It is by learning from others either by reading or hearing. I do not know why he has this “bubble” that he wants to be in his own. Maybe it is the masculine thing, but eventually, he has to go out of it and interact with people especially with the family.

Remind him to concentrate instead in interacting with you and your children as well as taking care of the family and the home. This way, he will be distracted from the urge to masturbate. Again, prayer is also something that he can “do”.

Of course, as a male myself, i guess a little intimacy with him would surely reduce his “urges.” I realized in my personal life that when my wife is less intimate, it takes me a lot of effort (and prayers) just to keep my eyes and mind away from the sexual thoughts that typically leads to urges to have sex (concupiscence is at work here).

It takes practice to master ourselves. I’m also trying hard. We fall but the more important fact is we stand always. And that we stand the proper way – Confession then Eucharist.

I’m not an expert at NFP but the way I understand my body is that there are truly only 2 or 3 days when I am fertile. So that leaves 27 days that marital relations is good.

Reading through all of the posts, I sounds like your husband likes to have sex every single day. Does he want to have sex when he has pnuemonia? Would he want to have sex when you have the vomiting stomach flu? Surely he can have enough self control to abstain for 3 days?!? Unless he is a 17 year old boy with raging hormones, he should have mastered his lustful desires. For example, he most likely does not masturbate when he gets aroused while at his job? Would he masturbate if he got aroused at a parent teacher conference?

So now that I have said my bit on his needing to conquer self control, what does this say about your marriage? You became enlightened that contraception was evil and changed. You tell us that he agreed to it, but it is obvious that he agreed to it to make you happy or possibly to get you to shut up. Men do that, you know. I wonder how many other decisions get made like this? I think you should seek counsel from your priest or the NFP expert for your parish.

Good Luck!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.