Thinking of spouse as an object--slightly graphic

The other night my husband and I engaged in the marital embrace. I was kind of angry with him about something else, and I wasn’t really in the mood but agreed anyway. During the embrace, my husband asked me if I loved him and I said, “yes” even though I didn’t feel like I did at that moment and thought it might be a lie. Still I thought to myself, “But love is a CHOICE, not a FEELING.” Okay, so I’ve been told by my confessor that it’s okay to think sexual thoughts about your husband. So I focused on some thoughts during the embrace; they were about my husband and me engaging in the marital embrace; however, they were mainly focused on his body parts. Sorry if that’s too graphic. Well, yesterday I began to feel guilty for saying I loved my husband twice during the embrace when I didn’t feel like I did, and I felt like I was lying. I reasoned that they were probably venial lies because even if I wasn’t feeling like I loved my husband at that moment, I must love him deep down because I’m committed to my marriage vows. Then I started to think that perhaps I was thinking of my husband as an “object” during the embrace–instead of appreciating him as a whole person. This is made worse by the fact that I wasn’t feeling particularly loving towards him at the time. Since then I’ve thought back to those thoughts several times for a few seconds each time–partially to examine my conscience and partially because they were attractive to me; however, I do not feel I continued to “entertain them for the purpose of arousal”. I think that these are venial sins and that I really need to ask God’s help to be more loving towards my husband and to see him and treat him as a whole person; however, I feel so dirty and yucky–like I’ve mortally sinned. Still, I feel like even if it was grave matter, I wasn’t thinking of it as grave matter at the time. Frankly, I am worn out from going to confession so often, and I would like to get back to going once a month if possible. Do you think this is something that can wait until my next confession, or does it sound like something that needs to be confessed as soon as possible? I want to reiterate that I know thinking chaste sexual thoughts about your spouse is okay…however, I feel like I crossed the line into objectifying him. Does this make sense?

I’m failing to see any sins in what you’ve described. First, you’re to be commended for telling your husband you love him, especially when you might be emotionally upset with him. You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, love is an action, not an emotion. You were being loving to your husband by responding to him in a positive and caring manner instead of lashing out at him and fueling negative emotions. I wish I had the self-control over my mouth to keep from speaking the negative emotions I feel sometimes. I usually feel pretty bad afterwards and wish I didn’t say them.

As to your thoughts of a sexual nature towards your husband. There’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with thinking of parts of his body, or his face, or smile, or smell. Our bodies are part of us. They are meant to attract you.

I think you misunderstand about the idea of thinking of someone as an object. Objectifying someone means viewing them as a means to your own ends. Sexually objectifying someone means you don’t care about them as a person, but view them as nothing more than a large sex toy that you can gain sexual pleasure from. I doubt this is what you were doing, it certainly didn’t come across that way.

Your post came across as a wife who is genuinely concerned about and cares for her husband, and as a wife who enjoys spending time with your husband. You seem to be someone who expresses her love for her husband,even when she might not “feel” like it. Those are good things.

I would suggest you might talk to your confessor or spiritual director and ask him to look for signs of scrupulosity in you, and to help you to control them so you do not have such anxiety all the time.

God bless!

Oh my goodness, Veronica, please do not torment yourself. Do you realize that anyone reading this will see loving thoughts, words, and deeds by a wife toward her husband, made all the more meritorious by virtue of the fact that you did not have the warm feelings to initially motivate you? You pondered memories of intimate encounters with your husband, you engaged in lovemaking, you told him you loved him precisely when he needed to hear it. These are all good things! And it is great that you enjoy thoughts of lovemaking, and that you find his body attractive and arousing.
We don’t always have full control over our feelings, but thankfully we can show love through our actions even when our feelings do not cooperate with our will. That is precisely what you did.
You do NOT need to confess anything here. What you describe is no sin at all, but is objectively GOOD.

I guess what I am most concerned about is that I focused on his “private” body parts in my mind, if you know what I mean…instead of focusing on my husband as a whole person. I mean, if I would take a picture of my husband and just focus on that part of his body, that would be very wrong and would be objectifying him. So I guess I’m trying to figure out the difference between doing that or between thinking of him like that when we are apart and cannot embrace each other (which could also be objectifying him, especially if I continued to think about him in order to be aroused) and thinking what I thought during the marital embrace. I mean, where exactly is the line?

Do not doubt your conscience nor your intelligence. If what you’ve thought torments you, don’t let it torment you for long. If you’re tired of confession, either you’re fooling yourself somewhere or you’re being too hard on yourself.
Sexual sins often feel worst than they actually are. They are the lesser sins because they’re actually just a misinterpretation of love. But love is a good thing. So think/pray about it: were you actually loving or were you lusting? The line is hard to see, it’s very fine, so it’s best to be on the safest side.
But, as you said, it’s most likely a venial sin since you weren’t purposely sinning, you only thought(/realised?) it afterwards.
If the thoughts continue afterwards, that may be more of a concern. If they just pop up, it happens, try to chase them away, don’t dwell on them.

For pity’s sake stop over thinking the sexual love between you and your husband. If you have sinned by concentrating on body parts as part of an arousal then all men are doomed to hell. You loved him as an act of the will and as an act of a loving wife, even when you were annoyed with him. Many many women fail in their marriages by using sexual availability like the bell to Pavlov’s dogs, in a reward framework that demeans themselves whilst failing in their marriage vows.
As all the responses have so wisely advised, you have not sinned. Go and enjoy him, he’s yours.

As others have described, there is no sin here.

Firstly, telling your husband that you love him was an act of love; a choice to love. It was a wonderful thing you did. How many marriages would be stronger if spouses made such choices to love, even when they don’t really feel like it?

Secondly, what you describe in terms of the marital embrace is merely attraction, not objectification. Attraction is a gift from God, and the human race would cease to exist without it. And attraction is God’s gift to you and your husband, to strengthen your bond.

Your husband’s body IS your husband. He is not some disembodied spirit. Desiring his body is the same thing as desiring him. :thumbsup:

Okay, this makes sense. But now because of all this talk about my thoughts today, it has caused me to think these same thoughts OUTSIDE of the marital embrace today. So when do these types of thoughts outside the marital embrace become sinful? Obviously they would become sinful if they led to an impure act with self. But other than that, could having these thoughts outside the marital embrace, when there is no chance of engaging in it (my husband is out of town) be sinful? I would say that I keep thinking these thoughts frequently, but when I do I think about them, it’s for no more than 5 seconds at one time. How do I know if I’m using my husband as an object to entertain myself or whether I am desiring him and that’s okay?

That private body part is not only for sexual pleasure though; it’s for baby-making, so how about reminding yourself that to get aroused by thinking about your husband’s private area is all part of God’s design, so it’s beautiful. Even the smell is designed for arousal; for married couples to enjoy love-making and make babies. Our sexual organs are sacred. I do totally get what you’re saying though, because Saint JPll said we shouldn’t look lustfully even at our spouses! There’s a real head-scratch. I’m assuming you’ve read some of his book Theology of the Body. I personally can’t imagine having having sex without being aroused, which requires lust, not love alone. For a woman to make love without being aroused is very painful because as you will know, in order to accommodate the penis, the vagina must be moist and widened, otherwise it would hurt! Also, a man needs an erection, he can’t just get hard from love alone. So maybe the grey area is around the word “lust”. I imagine that Saint JPll meant that we shouldn’t objectify our spouse.
The only part of your post I find worrying is that you had sex without really wanting to. Is that an issue for you? You must love yourself aswell and not feel pressured into having sex. Sorry if I misunderstood you though.

Recalling an intimate encounter with your husband is also a good thing, and no sin. I had to wrestle with these questions, too, when I converted, and I went to confession often over it. Finally, a priest gave me good counsel. He said to be thankful that I had someone whom I loved and with whom I could engage in loving play and not to let worry about sin spoil my blessing. He encouraged me to have a sense of freedom and gratitude. So I offer his wisdom to you! Be happy. Be thankful. Enjoy the gift of married love. Enjoy the moments of recollection, and the fond memories, which all help you to be responsive to your husband on the next opportunity for an encounter. Do not allow overly scrupulous thoughts to spoil your blessing.
Regarding the question of dwelling upon the thought of specific body parts of our spouses: genitals and other erogenous zones are quite beautiful, and are meant to attract the attention and caresses of husband to wife and wife to husband. Men often linger on thoughts of their wives’ curves or private areas, just as their eyes linger on those body parts when they are visible. During coitus, much of a man’s body is hidden from view, so our imagination often supplies thoughts of what we cannot see. Such thoughts of the beauty of the body of one’s spouse is far more interesting than the walls of the room the couple is in, and far more helpful to ponder than the cobwebs in the corner and the dusty lamp shade. :wink:

There is nothing wrong with what you are describing here. Enjoying the thoughts of love-making with your husband, and enjoying the thoughts of his body/smell/look/feel/warmth/etc is something good and holy.

As you noted, you must keep some temperence with these thoughts when he is not available, lest you be tempted into the sin of masturbation. But enjoying the thoughts is a good thing (but just keep it tempered as noted).

You seem to also be mixing two separate items together. There is the issue of overly dwelling on these thoughts when he is not available, which might give in to temptation to sin. As mentioned above, we need to keep it tempered so this temptation doesn’t arise. Otherwise they are fine.

The other item is your concern about objectifying your husband. I just don’t see that you are doing that. Objectifying your husband would be to view him only as a means to your own end, as a means of satisfying your desires for pleasure with no concern for him, his well-being, or his needs. Don’t confuse this with enjoying sex with your husband, and enjoying all of him, all of his body. Those aren’t the same.

Objectifying is not thinking fondly or enjoying different “parts” of your husband. Objectifying is viewing your husband as an object. Do you see the difference?

You have a misunderstanding of what “lust” means. The greek language has three different words for what we in english refer to as “love”. They are philia (brotherly love), eros (passion, emotion), and agape (sacrificial self-giving). You are confusing eros, the passion and emotion, with lust. Lust is not eros. Passion and emotion are great, wonderful, and holy things that can help strongly bind a marriage together. (They can also fade, which is why we always need agape and to give agape, because that is what true “love” is).

Lust is what we feel when we are objectifying someone whom we wish to have sex with for our own sexual pleasure, with no concern for their well-being.

Go and enjoy the arousal, emotion, and eros that is generated between you and your husband. It is holy and what God wants and wishes for you. He gave us the Song of Solomon in the Holy Bible for a reason! Read that some. It is a celebration of the joy, passion, arousal, and love (agape and eros) of sexual intimacy between spouses.

And this will really blow your mind. Consider why Jesus refers to the Church as His Bride. Consider why the main altar at St. Peter’s, with the baldichino over it, is imaged after a marriage bed. Consider why God chooses to create a new, immortal, irreplaceable, unique soul and person through the act of sex. God wants us to enjoy and celebrate the sexual union with our spouse.

Okay, thank you all. The thoughts I was having weren’t actual memories of my husband and me–it was more of a fantasy…but nothing deviant or out of the ordinary. It was simply a thought of my husband coming home from working out of town all week and something happening right then and there when he gets home. It would never actually happen b/c he is very tired when he gets home and I would never ask him to do something when he is exhausted. Also, our grown son lives with us, so it isn’t practical. I simply think he is very handsome when I see him come in the door after I haven’t seen him for a few days. I don’t think this is a bad fantasy, is it?

No, that is not bad. That sounds very wonderful. I think you should tell your husband about your fantasy. Maybe he wouldn’t feel quite so tired coming home this time!:smiley:

Agreed, and it is an excellent suggestion. :slight_smile:

Your “fantasy” is longing for your husband. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is VERY right, in fact holy. Yes, I said holy. The love, bond, and emotions of matrimonial love and sex are good and holy. Enjoy it!

And don’t forget to check out Song of Solomon. It will give you some perspective on how important God feels about matrimonial love.

Thanks for explaining the word lust. This thread reminds me of the time I heard a priest say: “God is sexy!”.

Veronica, nothing wrong with your thoughts… Having fantasies about your husband is not a sin, even if they likely will not come true (although I think you are over estimating the likelihood of this fantasy even coming true for you). The sin would be in dreaming of using your husband in a way that you know he would not enjoy and in your dream know he isn’t enjoying it only for your own satisfaction.

As a husband, who often is tired after coming home from work, I can tell you, that under the right circumstances I could be made very UN-TIRED to make that fantasy come true for my wife, if that was what she wanted.

Thank you–your explanation helps me to see better what objectification is.

Thank you–this does make sense. I am not sure what happened that I suddenly thought I was being sinful in my thoughts, after having not thought so in previous times. I think it could be the devil trying to make something holy, as you say, into something “dirty”. And perhaps God can bring good out of this by helping me to make sure that my thoughts continue to be holy and that I always put the good of my husband first. :slight_smile:

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