Struggling


#1

Hi all…

I have been struggling with a few issues lately and could use some guidance (and prayers).

  1. Sex and Family -
    DH and I have been married for 10 years. We have 2 children DS 3 and DD 1. After DD was born DH felt strongly that our family is complete. I was able to convince DH not to get a vasectomy and for us to stop using condoms and to give NFP a try (Praise God:thumbsup:). I was worried because I was (and still am) breastfeeding and my cycles had not returned. They recently have and charting seems to be going well so far. I have no problem abstaining during the fertile times but I seem to have a much lower libido than normal I think;). My problem? It is my understanding that the Catholic Church requires that each and all sex acts be “ordered toward procreation” even if they occur in infertile times. (There seems to be some debate about whether oral or manual stimulation can be part of foreplay or take place before or after sex that does finish in a procreative manner?) Before returning to the church we would sometimes engage in sexual acts that would not fit this description. DH on occasion still sometimes requests to give or receive sexual acts that are not in themselves “ordered toward procreation”. Sometimes these have been on fertile days and other times on infertile “green days”. Although I feel guilty about it, I have given in to these requests on a few occasions.:blush:

DH claims he has read the actual texts of Theology of the Body and doesn’t really care about Christopher West’s (in his opinion overly conservative) interpretation. DH believes that openness to life is over the course of a marriage rather than about policing each and every sex act. He says that he thinks that he is open to life, considering we have had 2 children - the first one even when doctors were advising abortion due to complications and the second even though it was an unplanned pregnancy. If we become pregnant again we will absolutely be open to having more.

DH proposed a situation with 2 couples: The first couple have steady jobs and good health, never engage in “non-procreative sex acts”, and use NFP to strictly restrict sex only to on fertile times in order to avoid having any or more than one child. The second couple have 6 children and hope to have more. They are using NFP to actively conceive more children. They are very open to life but on occasion like to “spice it up” with acts that are not in themselves ordered to life as part of the unitive aspects of sex and marriage (which is equally important with the procreative aspect). Which couple is actually more open to life?

It seems to me that engaging in non procreative sex acts during a fertile time, if we would not be willing to engage in procreative sex acts during that time would be potentially contraceptive. If such acts are done in a non-fertile time - I don’t know… I would just prefer to stick to plain old boring “making love the old fashioned way” but I know that it was a big leap of faith for DH to follow NFP and I don’t want to have him frustrated away from NFP totally… I also do want to consider his needs in terms of the unitive aspects of our marriage… I’m guessing that if I do not he will probably end up “sexually satisfying himself” :frowning:

I have read that in some cases if one spouse insists on using contraception despite the concerns or the other partner that intercourse may not be considered sinful for the partner that does not want to use contraception. I’m not sure whether that would apply in this case, or whether it would depend if my husband is requesting to be on the receiving or giving end of acts that are not in themselves “ordered to procreation”.

I know that NFP can be morally used to space or limit births for moral/just reasons. I don’t feel like we are called by God to have another baby at this time. I do feel like using NFP to avoid is moral and acceptable at our current point in time. I want to keep my heart and mind open to the possibility that we might feel compelled by God to expand our family in a few years. DH says his intention as of now is to use NFP indefinitely to time intercourse to only infertile periods with the intent of permanently limiting our family size to its current size, unless of course God has other plans and we would gladly welcome another child if a pregnancy were to occur. Is this acceptable use of NFP?


#2

Sure, prayers. Lots of them coming right up.

I too have read both Christopher west’s watered down version, and the actual Wednesday audiences of PJPII. I am not fond of Christopher west’s interpretation in a few places, because I think he misinterprets the full range of meaning the pope gave in the actual teaching; eg: specific points, not the whole of Chirstopher’s work.

But, having said that, I would ask if you could get your husband to inform you of which of the Wednesday audiences gave him the idea that any sexual act could be not ordered to life. eg: In my reading, I would interpret it that each and EVERY act must be open to life. That would help the interpretation of this thread and the advice given very much.

But let me be careful here:

There are multiple stages of marital intimacy, and they are not all to be viewed the same. For example, if he happens to hold you close while dancing which causes some arousal – that is a sexual act, but that doesn’t mean that one is required to have full sexual relations “just because” one became aroused.

Nor would a hug in the shower require full relations, just because things touched during the fertile time. But in my opinion from reading PJPII’s works, should sexual arousal be aimed at, purposefully, during any period – one would have the obligation to allow whatever small leakage there is to be in the appropriate place; even if that did not include finishing the sexual act. The purpose of the conjugal union is the open-ness to the gift of life; and in the same way, the open-ness to one’s spouse. These are BOTH required. If one has a little to give, then a little it is – if much, then much it is. But one may not close off that which the body has produced due to sexual stimulation while disrobed. It may be that the little will not as likely produce a conception – but there is no sin if that gift, in whatever amount, is not interfered with by disturbing, blocking, or sterilizing what has already happened or is inevitably going to happen – eg: the point of no return for the man.

I was given advice by a confessor, that if one were to — say — begin the sexual act with full contact in the appropriate place – that there is no sin in holding each other and having a conversation and perhaps, then, if disinterest sets in so that it becomes a mere cuddling session with genital contact – that is not a sin. The gift of self was given as far as the bodies needs were called forth at that time.

Consider: even a celebate man discharges his sexual fluids on a daily basis – just not by stimulation to simulate the sexual act to the very end. A woman too, ovulates, and this is also lost when the woman is celebate.

The sin, therefore, does not consist in the “seed” not being put to use; rather it is the act and intention which constitute the sinning, if any – It is the “falsification” of the gift and the denial to God to use that gift as he sees fit which is the crux of both JPII’s theology of the body, and also that of Humanae Vite.

In my opinion, then, the church has not actively spoken against purposely coming together in full sexual embrace – even knowing that one does not intend to complete the act. I am speaking of the cases where perhaps a spontaneous embrace occurs, or one given to a husband/wife as reassurance of their love and desirability AND OPEN-NESS,

I know that from modern studies, some men do release small amounts of fertile fluid during the arousal time; others do not. But so long as this is not avoided entering the other spouses body, eg: wiping it off or using spermicidal gels; then it is not contrary to the gift of ones self.

But also note: Unilateral NFP is the same as refusing the spousal duty; NFP must be a joint choice; otherwise a duty remains to give the gift that was promised irrevocably in the marital vows. In your case, if you asked your husband for sexual relations in your fertile time – he does not have the right to refuse you based on his own wishes. (That doesn’t mean he can’t complain; just that he must soften his heart and give in if you insist, and you are well objectively. )

and one last, but incomplete thought,
In a scientific vein, I would like to note that there are real bilogical reasons that the church’s teaching of forbidden acts matches with studies done on brain dysfunction, particularly the sexual faculties – and certain very strong memories of fear, love, etc. which that part of the brain controls. Disordered sexual activities have effects on the brain that often people are not aware of – that is, these people have the symptoms, but don’t know why. Vasectomy has complications as well.

The church has not shown clearly the principle with respect to the woman and sexual stimulation; but in analogy to the man, I expect that there is an obligation perhaps related to her fertile supporting fluids which would be in analogy to that of the man. Becomeing “one flesh” does not mean pregnancy, nor has any official church teaching I have read exclude the possibility that those fluids of the woman are in fact required as gift to the husband as well. I do know that the old testament scriptures see the fluids as the “clay” or “slip” from which the body is formed, and therefore a bidirectional obligation may exist.

This is an area that I believe the church needs to elucidate; and perhaps does not yet have sufficiently developed doctrine to address. There is a knee jerk reaction to pin the sin solely on the seminal fluid, but since masturbation is intrinsically wrong – and the sex of the masturbator is not important – this subject deserves closer inspection than it has received in church teaching which I have seen.

Now, enough talk, I’ll pray for a bit. May God grant you wisdom and wit in dealing with your situation.


#3

Sex is for procreation and unification in the marriage.

Great book: HOLY SEX which actually says all acts mutually agreed upon are OK with the stipulation climax occurs within the woman’s body. (as an aside, I am not sure if that means you are supposed to give up sex if you can no longer do that due to age or injury).

Finally, every situation is unique. Consulting with a priest or married deacon knowledge-able about these things can be a good thing.


#4

Each sexual act that a husband and wife engage in must be unitive and procreative EACH TIME. You cannot “take a break” during one act saying that over the course of your life you have been open to life. It has to be each time. Many times (during the infertile time) conception is not going to happen, but that does not diminish your openness to life at this time.

(As a side note, oral and manual stimulation is acceptable during the sexual act so long as it is not offensive to either party and does not end in an orgasm for the husband. He must ejaculate inside of his wife every time)

If you and your husband are trying to avoid, then the fertile days are days that you must abstain from sexual activity and find other ways to love each other that are non-sexual. That is the beauty of NFP, learning to love and sacrifice for your spouse. One will not die without sex. True, being “in the mood” and trying to avoid a pregnancy (for just reasons) is not easy, but God never said it would be.

Just a few references (in the next post) from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to support this:

Openness to life must be present in each and every act, not over the course of a marriage.

It is up to the couple to prayerfully decide when and if the time is right to bring another child into their lives. For some having 2 children may be all that they feel that they can have and/or want. Others feel that it is more. No one can decide that for the couple, they must make that decision for themselves. Again, each sex act must be open to life. Look back at the vows that you took at your wedding day and these are applied to your sexual life as well:

–Have you come here freely and without reservation to give completely of yourself to one another?
–Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?
–Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up accrding to the law of Christ and the Church?

This speaks of the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital embrace.

Please read “Holy Sex” and see what is the meaning of the sexual act. It is not about “satisfying each other with an orgasm,” it is way more than just that.

If you want to get into the masturbation aspect, the Catechism 2352 in next post is clear on this as well

See all the information above.


#5

2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is “on the side of life,” teaches that “it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.” “This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.”

2369 “By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood.”

2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."
To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.


#6

Hello again Walk Humbly! I still say, if it is possible that both of you see a priest/deacon *together *and talk this all over, there will be a resolution. This is not just about sex acts. It is about values clarification and marital communication. NFP is supposed to enhance marital communication. Well, here you go! :slight_smile: Communication isn’t just about how to use NFP. It’s about working through these things you bring up. And they are difficult, sensitive, and unique to the two of you. So, I still say, find a good priest/deacon to consult with. Bring your first post here and all the rules cited in this forum. Prayers.


#7

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