Unitive Procreative Marital Act


Ok, I am going to try this again. I have tried before and it didn’t get anywhere, but let’s try again.

In order to better deal with all of the various threads on sexuality, can we all agree on definitions of three key phrases?

They are:
Marital Act.

Anyone with thoughts on definitions that are both correct and generally acceptable?

It seems to me, if we had this as agreed background, lots and lots of questions could be answered in a post or two.


Marital Act = mutually consensual sexual intercourse, including foreplay, resulting in the husband ejaculating inside his wife

Unitive = no physical barrier between the sex organs

[FONT=Arial]Procreative = no artificial means used to attempt to prevent contraception[/FONT]


In the catechism the “twofold end of marriage” is defined using a few different terms…

The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.

The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

"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."157

(1) “good of the spouses” and (2) “transmission of life”…
(1) “fidelity” and (2) “fecundity”…
(1) “unitive” and (2) “procreative”…

These are all different ways of saying the same thing.

So… let’s look at the definitions of all these terms…

(1) “fidelity” - 1 a: the quality or state of being faithful
(2) “fecundity” - 1 : fruitful in offspring or vegetation : prolific
(1) “unitive” - : characterized by or tending to produce union
(2) “procreative” - : to beget or bring forth offspring : reproduce

Or… how 'bout some layman’s terms…
I like how The Doctor put it above (well said!):


These seem like pretty sound definitions to me. :thumbsup:

btw…love the signature!


**Sounds right to me:)

except under procreative I would amend it to “no means used to attempt to prevent conception” instead of *artificial ***since then people go off into the “what if I just withdraw?” argument since that is technically natural:shrug:


Very good answers, just to add:

Consensual = part of the unitive aspect

husband ejaculate inside his wife = part of the procreative aspect.

Unitive aspect of the marital embrace is the uniting of the husband and wife in a renewal of their marriage vows in which they give to each other freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.

Fruitfully (aka procreative) means that each act is open to life each and every time.


A much better start than the last time that I tried this.

Let me ask a few questions on “Marital Act.”

Does it end on the husband’s orgasm?
If it has all the other trappings of a Marital Act but there is no orgasm by the husband, what is it then?
Does the answer to the last question depend on why there was no “finish”?
Is the wife’s orgasm totally irrelevant from a definitional standpoint?

On “Procreative,” even apart from the comment by Feanaro’s Wife, I assume it is supposed to read “…to prevent conception” rather than “… to prevent ***contra***ception”? Because I think we are supposed to try to prevent contraception–even with artificial means.


:rotfl: good catch!

As for the other questions…
Does the act end with the man’s orgasm? Not necessarily. The man is encouraged to bring his wife pleasure as a part of (but not apart from) the marital act.

I would still consider it a “marital act” even if the husband is not able to achieve orgasm. I think that yes, the answer does depend on the reason there was no ejaculation. If the man suffers from some sort of physical ailment which either temporarily or permanently prevents him from achieving orgasm, there is no sin in “trying” as long as he and his wife are open to life. If, on the other hand, he didn’t ejaculate because he chose not to (for whatever reason) then that definitely removes the “procreative” factor that should be present in the marital act.

Is the wife’s orgasm irrelevent from a definitional standpoint? (I see a very large train coming my way as I attempt to answer this…)

Interesting question. I don’t think so, because part of what the marital act is, is a matter of mutual support, being both open to life, and a pleasurable–unifying–experience for both partners. While a woman’s orgasm isn’t necessary for life, it does add to the unifying aspect of the act.


And this has been one of the issues that I have always struggled to define…how can one determine if such an act, occurring either after the husband’s orgasm, is part of the same marital act and permissible or be apart from that act and therefore not permissible. Sometimes there is no break in the action, so to speak, and the answer to the question is easy. However, sometimes that is not the case and so the answer, to me, is elusive at best. Thoughts?


My thought is that if both spouses are still feeling the “heat of the moment” (even if it’s after getting up to change a crying baby, lol) then it’s ok to resume marital relations and the husband can help the wife achieve an orgasm even if he already achieved his previous to the interruption.

What I don’t believe is ok is making love with your spouse, bringing the husband to climax, then going off and doing other things (like cleaning the house or making dinner) and then expecting to please the wife when they fall into bed later that night.

I think only the couple themselves can determine if it’s all part of the same marital act, but the simple answer would seem to be

  1. quick, unforseen interruption: ok to resume as soon as possible

  2. planned or longer interruption, need to start a whole new "session:)**


I agree with how Malia was saying it…

I think motivation and intention are a big part of the puzzle too… interruptions can be planned or unplanned…
Motivation and intention of the couple is the key… :wink:


Wow, this can so easily deteriorate into TMI too quickly.

With that thought and trying to be discrete so as not to fall into it, a situation that I was contemplating and trying to determine if it “reset” things to a “new act,” was a planned interruption involving a quick shower. Thoughts?


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: sorry…it’s just that yeah, this does get into the tmi category. I’d say common sense can take a role here too. Is the person showering so as to be “fresh” for his spouse, before bringing her to climax? If so, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that no, that doesn’t really qualify as a “new act” but rather a continuation. (the same way if suddenly you realized that you needed to use the restroom for instance) Seriously, I don’t think God or the Vatican is timing us here. I don’t think we need to get legalistic.


After participating in many of these discussion on this site and elsewhere and reading even more such discussions, I am left with the firm belief that the couples cannot determine this by themselves–there are vastly different lines drawn by some couples than by others.


LOL, yup, a little TMI but I completely understand the question. And I would assume that if the shower could be made part of the act, even better;)

**Yes, there ARE vast differences among couples…but hopefully they are doing their best to be right with God and not trying to see how far they can bend the rules while still technically following them:shrug:

Like in the shower example above… if it was the woman running for a freshen-up-shower, is her hubby eagerly anticipating her return or is he watching tv to pass the time? One seems like a continuation and one seems like the start of a new act…I would hope that most people can tell which is which:thumbsup:**


lol…thought it, but couldn’t bring myself to say it! :o


Just speaking for myself here, the problem that I have is that I am trying to be right with God, without being just legalistic, but without really knowing what the “rules” are (or more accurately the details of the rules or the application of the rules to a given situation) as opposed to what the rules seem to be based on study and discussions with folks (priests and lay folks) that I think range from poorly formed consciences that are scrupulous to those with well formed consciences to those with poorly formed consciences that are too “liberal.” The problem is trying to decide where it all fits especially if I am feeling that I am trying to find a particular answer that I want rather than being more analytical—which is often hard (at least for me) in these areas of sexuality and marital relations.

That is why I was trying to get some definitions in the first instance to better discuss the “rules” without always saying things like, “I know that but what does unitive mean in this context and what is a single marital act anyway?”

Are those really mutually exclusive? I think I might be able to do both. LOL.

Either your hope is misplaced or, more likely, I am not “most people.”


Wow, I ended that discussion quickly! LOL.


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