Sexual Problems in Marriage


#1

I apologize in advance for the length of this thread.

I was raised Catholic, but my parents were not very secure in their beliefs. My mother hasn't been to church in years, and my dad is decidedly not Catholic anymore. That being said, I had some moral guidance, but not a firm grounding.

I dated a guy for seven years, and after four of them, I gave in and lost my virginity to him. I had assumed that we were getting married as soon as we got out of college, and we even went looking for rings. Long story short, he was actually a terrible and abusive person, and we broke up.

I met my husband a few months later. He has never been baptized. I hadn't been to church or even very sure of my Catholic faith for a few years, so I had few qualms when sleeping with him before marriage. We lived together for two years, and it was a normal thing to do in my social circle.

When we decided to get married in the Catholic church, we started marriage classes. This lead to a reawakening in my faith. DH and I go to Mass every week now, and he is in the first year of RCIA. Though he's not 100% sure if he wants to convert, he at least wants to know what our kids will learn.

The end result is this - I felt very ashamed about my past once I had gone back to church. I confessed it once, but I did not feel absolution. It had been so long since I had been to confession and I was so shaky and unsure of the process that I felt like I screwed it up.

In our home life, I have a very hard time being sexually attracted to my husband, and I feel like at least part of it is my indiscretion in the past. I feel like all sex is wrong and I have a hard time not feeling guilty and ashamed when with my husband in that way. I'm seeing a therapist, but it doesn't really seem to help all that much.

I want to be able to enjoy my marriage and give my husband the connection that he deserves. Any and all advice that you have is welcomed.


#2

Hello there. I first want to tell you that sex is not wrong. God created it to do a whole host of beautiful things within marriage. If you are truly sorry for your previous sexual experiences, have confessed them, then you are forgiven. You have to forgive yourself!! I am going to repeat something to you that was said to me quite a few years ago when I had a similar problem of not being able to forgive myself for something. "Jesus has forgiven you, who are you to think you are more important than Jesus?" That hit me hard. It is not just forgiving yourself. You have to face that you have done it, own it, know that you are truly sorry, realize that you have a firm purpose of amenment in that way, accept it, move past it, and be proud that this has been a HUGE period of growth for you. Don't let the backside whip around and knock you down!!!! You have already been through it!! Can't you see that God has been working in your life as you look back over this? Jason Evert and his wife have beautiful infornation on chastity, purity and what sex is really for. I think they have a website, chastity.com (or something like that.) Google Jason Evert. He used to have a show on EWTN called Pure Love and a website, but I haven't been there in a couple of years. They speak to teens and young adults, but they are just on my level!!!! I hope this helps. Forgive yourself honey. Enjoy the blessings that God has bestowed on you!!!


#3

Dear friend,

In a valid confession a Priest through the power of the Holy Spirit absolves you of all your sins. God no longer remembers them once they are confessed and repented of, you are forgiven by Him, you also need to forgive yourself. Feelings are something very subjective, God never commands us or tells us to feel a certain way because all sorts of different things can affect our feelings.

We are all sinners, falling short of His glory, but through His help we can be saints. Sex is a natural and healthy part of our lives, God has ordained its proper place to be in the marriage bed. You need not feel any shame in being intimate with your husband, you are giving yourself to him and becoming one flesh as Holy Scripture states.

Keep running back to the sacraments regularly, they are our life source in the Church. The Holy Spirit will sustain you through them. If you are seeking out therapy, be sure to seek out a good Catholic therapist that will accept and support your beliefs. Your parish Priest should be able to direct you to this type of therapist. You are in my prayers. God love you!


#4

A thought just occurred to me. Be thankful that you now have some guilt for your previous sins because that means that GOD IS WORKING IN YOUR LIFE!!! I am so happy for you!!! Can’t you see it? You wouldn’t feel any guilt otherwise. This is a GOOD thing. Just don’t let it consume you. Let it make you better, stronger. We would all just love to have that proof that God is currently tapping us on the shoulder! You have it now!!!


#5

Are you possibly on any medications that may affect your sex drive? I ask this because of personal experience. My wife is on a medication that has a strong negative impact on her sex drive. It is a source of frustration for both of us, but we try and work through it together.

I'm just wondering if this could be a reason.


#6

Thank you for the clarification on absolution. I will work on the forgiving myself part. It doesn't help that I have depression and anxiety issues, but I'll see what I can do.

Always for Him - Good point about guilt. I'll try to think about it that way.

FreeThinker - I had been, but it's been almost 6 months now. I've gotten better, but not nearly back to where I should be. The doctors say that there's no way the meds could still be affecting me.


#7

Do you feel used by your husband?
Sometimes if we already suffer from some self-loathing because of past mistakes, any indication of use inside what should be an safe and unutilitarian relationship may trigger anxiety.
Have you talked to your husband openly about how you feel? Its important that you realise that whatever negative self image you have is not shared by him and certainly not shared by the Lord and the rest of the church either.


#8

My advice, being a husband in what I believe might be a similar situation to your husband, is to communicate with him about your struggles. I wouldn’t tell him you don’t find him attractive, but do tell him you have anxiety issues that make it difficult for you to want to have relations. It is really important that you guys communicate otherwise overtime you will develop opposing ideas as to what is really happening and end up projecting problems on the other spouse. It will be much easier for him to deal with this and to help you if he understands what is going on and also understands that you at least want things to be different, that is normal.

I wouldn’t discount the drugs having a very long lasting impact, while you might not have chemicals remaining in your body, the reliance on the drugs during that period can change the way you react to different stresses. You kind of get use to that crutch and now it is gone (for which im glad).

Things can get better for you guys, the fact that you are searching for solutions gives hope.


#9

this is the first time i have chimed in on anything. but i agree with what everyone says about moving on and forgiving your self.

The point was made that if you still feel guilty that you truley growing with God. I can relate to that feeling of guilt, due to my vasectomy and eventual coming back to the Church.

My addition is to the lack of sexual attraction or drive. my wife went through the same thing about a year/year and a half ago. She had no sex drive/attraction to sex at all. turned out she had a thyroid issue. been on meds ever since and it has turned her around to how we used to be.

not saying that it is what is wrong, but if you are able to, have your dr run a blood test for that stuff.

and one thing that really stuck out to me, my wife told me the dr asked a question that seemed funny at the time, but means a lot. she asked ‘and even though you dont have any desire, are you still madly in love with your husband’ if you can answer ‘yes’ to that, then there may be something medically out of whack.

perhaps the past medication altered some other chemestry that wasnt accounted for.


#10

[quote="mrnobudy, post:9, topic:241838"]

and one thing that really stuck out to me, my wife told me the dr asked a question that seemed funny at the time, but means a lot. she asked 'and even though you dont have any desire, are you still madly in love with your husband' if you can answer 'yes' to that, then there may be something medically out of whack.

perhaps the past medication altered some other chemestry that wasnt accounted for.

[/quote]

I don't really get that one.. there may be something medically out of whack??


#11

[quote="nervousmartha, post:1, topic:241838"]
I apologize in advance for the length of this thread.

I was raised Catholic, but my parents were not very secure in their beliefs. My mother hasn't been to church in years, and my dad is decidedly not Catholic anymore. That being said, I had some moral guidance, but not a firm grounding.

I dated a guy for seven years, and after four of them, I gave in and lost my virginity to him. I had assumed that we were getting married as soon as we got out of college, and we even went looking for rings. Long story short, he was actually a terrible and abusive person, and we broke up.

I met my husband a few months later. He has never been baptized. I hadn't been to church or even very sure of my Catholic faith for a few years, so I had few qualms when sleeping with him before marriage. We lived together for two years, and it was a normal thing to do in my social circle.

When we decided to get married in the Catholic church, we started marriage classes. This lead to a reawakening in my faith. DH and I go to Mass every week now, and he is in the first year of RCIA. Though he's not 100% sure if he wants to convert, he at least wants to know what our kids will learn.

The end result is this - I felt very ashamed about my past once I had gone back to church. I confessed it once, but I did not feel absolution. It had been so long since I had been to confession and I was so shaky and unsure of the process that I felt like I screwed it up.

In our home life, I have a very hard time being sexually attracted to my husband, and I feel like at least part of it is my indiscretion in the past. I feel like all sex is wrong and I have a hard time not feeling guilty and ashamed when with my husband in that way. I'm seeing a therapist, but it doesn't really seem to help all that much.

I want to be able to enjoy my marriage and give my husband the connection that he deserves. Any and all advice that you have is welcomed.

[/quote]

Martha. God is with you. Jesus' Peace is with you and Mary is with you.

I understand the conversion of heart. Started almost 5 years ago for me right here on CAF. Welcome. There is much good advice here. Beware of the self-righteous, they are here, too.

Guilt is a good thing, to a point. It means you can be truly sorry for your sins. But a good confession should not be cause for worry, only jubilation! Sex is a wonderful gift from God. Would God give you a gift that was bad? We are human and so, we can misuse a gift, but that never makes it bad.

The Church has a beautiful tool to help you with your feelings. Let me suggest this for your husband and you. Theology of the Body for Beginners. It's a short read and covers both the teachings of the church (in a condensed way) and gives you the understand of two important things. 1) The Church is patient. She waits for us to want to understand and we are forgiven for our sins. 2) You can have the Peace, love and life you know in your heart you should have and should have always had. As others say "Love is a choice, not an emotion." The book will equip you and your husband with the background you need to move forward with the right choices in the relationship. I suggest you go through it together, chapter by chapter and discuss it as you go. He will understand what God wants us to do and I think, if he's as good a man as you say, he will agree on how you should be loved and how you should love him back.

I have pointers to some audio discussions from priests and others familiar with the subject, too, if you like. For me, Theology of the Body (TOB) was the key to understanding those "confusing church rules" we hear so much about. I hope you find it helpful.

Peace to you and your husband.


#12

[quote="SaintChristian, post:10, topic:241838"]
I don't really get that one.. there may be something medically out of whack??

[/quote]

It makes sense to me. It eliminates some of the most common reasons for not desiring relations (not liking or hating him). The first thing a man (or at least many men) thinks when he realizes his wife doesn't want sex is that she does not love him. So it is good to establish and communicate to the husband that she loves him.


#13

These are all good points. Espcially the medical one. Thyroid issues are quite common, as we found out.

But the forgiveness guilt. It is also not uncommon. The trouble comes from carrying the baggage so long that instead of getting rid of it, you start to blame it on someone else. She doesn’t seem that far along but I’ve seen that happen. I’m sure I’ve even done it myself. There are whole threads on Scrupulosity and that may be the problem.


#14

[quote="nervousmartha, post:1, topic:241838"]
I apologize in advance for the length of this thread.

I was raised Catholic, but my parents were not very secure in their beliefs. My mother hasn't been to church in years, and my dad is decidedly not Catholic anymore. That being said, I had some moral guidance, but not a firm grounding.

I dated a guy for seven years, and after four of them, I gave in and lost my virginity to him. I had assumed that we were getting married as soon as we got out of college, and we even went looking for rings. Long story short, he was actually a terrible and abusive person, and we broke up.

I met my husband a few months later. He has never been baptized. I hadn't been to church or even very sure of my Catholic faith for a few years, so I had few qualms when sleeping with him before marriage. We lived together for two years, and it was a normal thing to do in my social circle.

When we decided to get married in the Catholic church, we started marriage classes. This lead to a reawakening in my faith. DH and I go to Mass every week now, and he is in the first year of RCIA. Though he's not 100% sure if he wants to convert, he at least wants to know what our kids will learn.

The end result is this - I felt very ashamed about my past once I had gone back to church. I confessed it once, but I did not feel absolution. It had been so long since I had been to confession and I was so shaky and unsure of the process that I felt like I screwed it up.

In our home life, I have a very hard time being sexually attracted to my husband, and I feel like at least part of it is my indiscretion in the past. I feel like all sex is wrong and I have a hard time not feeling guilty and ashamed when with my husband in that way. I'm seeing a therapist, but it doesn't really seem to help all that much.

I want to be able to enjoy my marriage and give my husband the connection that he deserves. Any and all advice that you have is welcomed.

[/quote]

There is nothing like guilt to kill sex drive. I know, because I have the problem right now, only my guilt goes back a heck of a lot more years than yours does. I never felt that guilt when I was having all the experiences I have had, or very little anyway, but now it's as if I am feeling all of it for my whole life! And whammo! I couldn't care less if I ever have sex again. Needless to say, this is not helping my marriage at all. I am not in therapy but I am thinking that I may need to find a Catholic therapist to help me overcome this self-condemnation so I can enjoy marital relations again.

You can go to confess again, if you don't think you made a good confession. Be very detailed this time, and be sure to pray to Jesus to give you His peace both before and after. And if the priest doesn't offer a penance, ask for one anyway. I find it's about 50/50 whether the priest actually gives me a penance, but I am a pre-Vat II child and I NEED my penance! :)

I agree with everyone else - communication with your husband is absolutely necessary. But talk to your therapist about how to do this - you don't want it to sound as though you are angry at him for taking advantage of you and the aim is not to spread the guilt so he feels bad at what you guys did together before you were married. (Does he know that you had been with another guy before him? It's not necessary that he knows details so don't go into that, and be sure to talk to your therapist before discussing it with him.)

Dear sister in Christ, I will be sure to pray for you! Please allow Jesus to comfort you, you deserve a life of peace and joy!


#15

I am very lucky that I have a VERY understanding husband. We talk about it fairly often and he’s more than supportive of what I’m going through. He understands all of my past and accepts it. We both agree that we regret not having our first times together (he had been with only one other as well). He understands that I’m trying and has been very patient.

I worry that his patience will one day run out. Not necessarily because he’s the type of person to leave when things get tough, but because that’s what happened to my parents. My mom became just a mother when the kids came along and treated my dad more like a kid than a husband. My dad ended up moving on to find someone he thinks fulfills his needs better.

I 100% love my husband, just as much as when I met him. It’s just the sex drive that has gone out the window. I will check out the thyroid issue. I had been tested when in high school about 10 years ago, but things do change.


#16

[quote="nervousmartha, post:15, topic:241838"]
I am very lucky that I have a VERY understanding husband. We talk about it fairly often and he's more than supportive of what I'm going through. He understands all of my past and accepts it. We both agree that we regret not having our first times together (he had been with only one other as well). He understands that I'm trying and has been very patient.

I worry that his patience will one day run out. Not necessarily because he's the type of person to leave when things get tough, but because that's what happened to my parents. My mom became just a mother when the kids came along and treated my dad more like a kid than a husband. My dad ended up moving on to find someone he thinks fulfills his needs better.

I 100% love my husband, just as much as when I met him. It's just the sex drive that has gone out the window. I will check out the thyroid issue. I had been tested when in high school about 10 years ago, but things do change.

[/quote]

Women are susceptible to thyroid problems - it is a weak spot in our bodies. You will need to have it checked yearly during your physical, and also know that "normal" may not be optimum for YOU. Most people feel best with a TSH of around 1, but the "normal" until recently was 2-5, so doctors would ignore symptoms if someone's TSH was in that range.

Determine that you are NOT going to be like your mother! You don't have to become your mom. And whatever the reasons for your parents' breakup, you may have real physical reasons that can be treated. If it's the guilt, that can be addressed as well. Please don't let guilt overwhelm you - I think some of us are prone to using guilt to hammer ourselves, and that is not what Jesus wants for us!


#17

Martha, one of the things you wrote was the you didn’t feel absolved. I had that problem sometimes, and my pastor encouraged me to remember that my feelings don’t have anything to do with whether the absolution “sticks” or not.

One concrete thing that really helps me: I need the priest to actually lay his hands on my head when he pronounces absolution, not just float them above me. Somehow feeling that pressure, instead of just hearing the words, can make all the difference.

Kind of a random thing, but maybe it’s helpful.


#18

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