Tag Archives: lovers

A Rash of Unwanted Divorces – Prayers Needed

21 Apr

Recently I have personally witness a seeming rash of divorces by long married couples with wives leaving husbands of 20-34 years. The wives have left without saying a single word prior – and in several cases gutting the couples financial resources just before retirement. The husbands are left confused and conflicted. One thing that has stood out to me is that the husbands all did not see any signs that the divorce was coming – until the day it happened.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. My wife has pointed out that there is definitely a failure to communicate in many instances and cited some examples for me. I was not shocked by anything she said. I was however shocked that small wounds were allowed to fester to a boiling point before anything was said. Often, these women have suffered in silence for years. It was not generally the size of the wounds which were killing the marriage, but rather the untreated festering infection.

What is the solution? As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One thing I observed is that some of these women feared their husbands in some way – some even physically. These bother me the most – your wife should never fear being physically harmed by you as her husband.  Others were just averse to conflict. You need to learn to listen carefully, and reply thoughtfully. You can chew your food before you swallow – do the same with your thoughts – chew on them a bit before you blurt them out. Words are the single most dangerous thing we have in a marriage. Be careful with yours always, think before you speak – and speak kindly always. We can blame the wives all we want for what they did or did not do, but it won’t save your marriage from divorce or make your wife happy. The fix requires more than being attentive, it means serious effort on your part. Remember that you cannot change other people – you must accept and love her as she is. Instead change yourself as that is something you do have control over and can change.

Trust is paramount. She has to be sure she can share honest feelings with you without facing retaliation emotionally, verbally, or physically. You have to listen, consider, and find ways to address her concerns in a matter that resolves them to both of your satisfaction. I highly recommend the tactical approach of listening carefully while repressing negative facial expressions or comments, then thinking carefully about how to respond, only after that – do you open your mouth and do so. Peoples tongues are the source of more self inflicted marital wounds than many realize. DO NOT tell her it is her fault, denigrate her, or blame her in your response. Focus your response solely on what you can do to alleviate her concerns and then do it. This is NOT a negotiation, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT say things like I’ll do X if you do Y.

Keep in mind that often women just need to vent their feelings in a safe environment. They do not expect you to necessarily fix it – what they want is for you to listen. Letting her get her feeling out by listening attentively. Act when it is appropriate, and listen and hold her when action is not required.

Your wife might trust you with her life and well being, yet not trust you with her heart. This is where the problems fester and grow. You need to regain her faith in you to counter this, and open deep lines of communication. While you might want to say that telling her to make changes would make more sense – it does not. The only person you can change is you, so work with what you have. Make sure you are attentive to her feelings, emotions, and the little things she says. You won’t get this right most of the time being male, but she will appreciate sincere interest in her and her feelings. For what you have done, and what you have failed to do… Often we hear Catholics say this mantra, but fail to heed it. Have you given your wife cause to think that there are things important to her that she cannot accomplish within marriage – things in keeping with sacramental marriage, of course? Maybe it’s travel, education, learning to play an instrument, learning to ride a motorcycle, learning to hunt/shoot/fish, or becoming a HAM radio operator. Don’t fail her by ruling things out. Don’t put unnecessary impediments or barriers on your marriage. Married life is like a dance, it works best if both parties move together as one. If your wife takes the time to tell you about her dreams and goals – listen and then start working to make them happen. Learn to take a hint, and act on it.  Where such is feasible it is an opportunity for you to grow together – find joy in it. Service to your wife does not have to be a sacrifice – it can be a source of unending joy and discovery for both of you. Don’t fail to make sure your wife knows that there is nothing she can accomplish outside marriage that cannot be accomplished within marriage more easily. Don’t fail to support and work towards her goals as well – after all you expect her to work towards and support yours.

Intimacy is always of paramount importance – I cannot stress this enough. It is through intimacy that the bond between man and woman is strengthened and maintained. Sexual relations are a byproduct of intimacy, not the other way around.  So many marriages suffer from unresolved sexual issues because people refuse to communicate. Do not assume you are “doing it right” – even after years of marriage. Do not ask for a critique of your performance. Instead, do ask your wife what would please her – and then follow her guidance exactly and without hesitation. Too often women are shortchanged here because they are making a sacrifice to protect their husbands ego and self-image. Frustration builds over time, never deny her the marital embrace and accompanying intimacy – ignoring her or refusing her is a rejection. Rejection destroys intimacy at the root.. Give her the opportunity to protect your self-esteem, your marriage, and have her needs met by opening lines of communication. You may find yourself surprised at the changes in your experience when you stop worrying about yourself and focus every fiber of your being on pleasing her. You may also be astounded by the levels of intimacy that can be achieved when she does not feel sex is a sacrifice or worse that she is being used as a repository for your sexual angst. It is that intimacy that will keep your bond both sealed and renewed.

Pax Christi,

Colin

Love is Never Wrong? Not Exactly –

3 Feb

Love is Never Wrong“Love is never Wrong” – I keep seeing and hearing this slogan a lot, and it’s being used to justify morally a plethora of belief systems and deviant sexual practices which are immoral according to the Catholic Church. It’s simple, catchy, and even hard to argue about if you don’t think too much in the process. After all, who could stand against “Love” since Christ himself said it was the greatest commandment. However, what constitutes “Love”? When you understand that, then it is simple to love a person while rejecting their perversion of a core teaching of Christ himself. You see, the Greeks know all about “Love” – They even had 4 different words for it – each denoting a kind of “Love”. Jesus never used “Eros”, or intended it’s use, in His greatest commandment..

This brings me to my second point – “Love is always a CHOICE”. Humans have free will and control their actions. If  love were not a choice then Jesus’s admonishment to “Love one another as I have loved you” would have to be pure nonsense – yet it is the very verse which people like to quote the most. I have said this many times before and people still like to disagree on that point. Maybe this will put that disagreement to rest. When Jesus speaks of Loving, he speaks of Agape (Spiritual) Love – Not Eros (Erotic). This post will not even stop to take on the two other Greek words for “Love” Philia (Brotherly) and Storge (Offspring/Familial) – I can handle that in another blog.

So where did this catchy, but incorrect, slogan and de facto excuse for immoral behavior come from? You’ve likely seen it most commonly seen it used in banners, internet memes, and signs promoting gay marriage. However, it also makes appearances from time to time in support the following: Adultery, Pedophilia, Fornication, Bestiality, Divorce and Remarriage, etc… Before you accept this “Slogan” as a moral truth – ask yourself if you think it would be wrong for your wife of 20 years to run off abandoning you and the children to have sex with the milkman because she is in “Love”, a teacher to have sex with your underage daughter because they are in “Love”, if you were a farmer – is it ok to have a naked man with “Wellingtons” on to be out in the fields molesting your sheep? All because he is in “Love”.  Next the same line of thinking will be used to defend a rapist who couldn’t control himself because he was in “Love” with his victim, and since “Love is never wrong” how can we revile his actions or judge them?

You need to keep asking the same question when it comes to homosexual unions, polygamous unions, and  other perversions of the Sacrament of Matrimony. They too are morally wrong. If you allow this ridiculous justification to poison your mind, it opens a Pandora’s box of logical consequences that lead to “Love” being used to justify everything from immoral behaviour between consenting adults – all the way to the unspeakable horrors of pedophilia and rape.

Don’t be deceived – Love is a choice. Choices, by definition, can be wrong. Ergo “Love” is NOT always morally right. Deal with it – and stop pandering to that despicable slogan, while praying very hard for the deceived.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Monogamy is unnatural

9 Jan

This reblog is one from Matt Walsh who has presented the most eloquent defense of sacramental morality any “Neanderthal” has ever graced a professor with vaulted “Cerebral Superiority” with (at least that I have witnessed).

“If you won 600 million dollars in the lottery, would you go out the next day and break into cars to steal the change from the cup holders? That’s what sleeping around is like when you’ve already found a woman who will pledge her life and her entire being to you for the remainder of her existence.”

The real question you have to ask yourself is why you are going into debt and your children are mortgaging their next 30+ years to student loans not just to support this nutter and those like him – but to have their minds, hearts, and souls POISONED by this shameless drivel. Intellectual inferiority at it’s best…. Read the whole thing here, it will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Things like this are rare gems. Pass this one on. Monogamy is unnatural.

Faithfully Yours,

-Colin

This High Price of Artificial Birth Control

18 Dec

Nuvaring_with_quarter

Let me ask you a question, and let’s be honest with the answer. Is it worth risking the life of your wife or even paramour (if not married) to artificially prevent contraception?

Think on that. We’ll get back to it.

The Catholic Church has made it’s ban on artificial contraception as infallible doctrine. It is not subject to change or revision. Many people are angered by this, but what they really should be angered by is the number of women dying of breast cancer because of the hormone based contraceptives, the number of women having strokes because of the hormone based contraceptives, the number of heart attacks women suffer from hormone based contraceptives, among other things. These are not just happening to older women.

I know, now you want to tell me how much safer newer contraceptives are – like say Nuvaring?

I was hoping you’d go there. Before you muddle on any further in your thoughts – you need to read this article in Vanity Fair magazine (Don’t worry there are lots more out there from other media outlets).

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2014/01/nuvaring-lethal-contraceptive-trial

Now that you’re finished reading, I want you to honestly answer the initial question about whether or not the ability to make free with your wife, like she was made of rubber and inflatable, without fearing conception is worth putting her at such risk? You see somebody needs to explain to me the kind of love and/or marriage that allows for one person’s wants or needs to overpower the health and welfare of the person they supposedly love. I’ve already written about my own struggle with the Church teaching on NFP – it’s a popular read and if you’re not already familiar it’s here. Do your own research on the side effects of the pill, nuvaring, hormone infused IUD’s, and recoil in horror as I did. Forget the Pink Ribbons and “Save the TATA’s” slogans – if you want to protect your wife from such horrors, get rid of those hormone laced pills, shots, and devices. There are fantastic benefits to doing so it you do – for you as well as her.

Sex, Intimacy, and NFP

I would like to think, that with a little common sense and some gentle introspection most rational people can stop rationalizing what they personally want long enough to see the truth. Artificial Birth Control HARMS and  KILLS WOMEN. It also lowers libido and can cause weight gain and depression, among other non-lethal side effects, which is often treated with more dangerous hormones and just leaves your sex life in a downward spiral. Is this something you would subject a woman you love with all your heart to, just so that you can have sex with her on command and avoid conception?

If you just answered “Yes” then you don’t understand what love really is.

If you just answered “No” then I would ask you – What are you going to do about it?

Yours in Christ,

Colin

The Indissolubility of Marriage

3 Dec

conjoined ringsGiven the recent state of the Media and some very suspicious statements from an unidentified Vatican Representative also in the news have led to the wildest of speculation bringing joyful adulation from the progressives and furtive searches for the nearest SSPX parish by faithful “Traddies”. Saying something will be discussed in a Synod is not in any proof that heresy will occur. It is both right and good for the Catholic Church to look for ways to reconcile them or ease the suffering of these divorced and remarried Catholics who have trapped themselves in grave mortal sin while respecting Doctrine and the Sacraments. Nothing has been said thus far which indicates any other purpose to the Synods’s deliberations. In fact the Vatican has already clearly reaffirmed that permitting Divorce is not on the table.

The Indissolubility of Marriage is an Infallible Catholic TeachingBTAR  – Navy Radioman lingo for “Break Text, End Transmission, No Response Required” commonly used by crotchety Chiefs and Petty Officers to quiet the protests of mewling Seamen. It is not up for debate, nor can the Pope change this teaching or attempt to without becoming the first Pope in History to teach Heresy.

Here is the basis for that infallibility –

“Matrimony was not instituted or re-established by men but by God; not men, but God, the Author of nature and Christ our Lord, the restorer of nature, provided marriage with its laws, confirmed it and elevated it; and consequently those laws can in no way be subject to human wills or to any contrary pact made even by the contracting parties themselves.  This is the teaching of Sacred Scripture (Gen. I, 27-28); it is the solemnly defined doctrine of the Council of Trent, which uses the words of Holy Scripture to proclaim and establish that the perpetual indissolubility of the marriage bond, its unity and its stability, derive from God Himself (Council of Trent, Sess. XXIV).”  (Pius XI: Encycl. Casti Connubii, 31 Dec. 1930, M. 267.)

Or we could fall back on the words of Jesus Himself, don’t worry it does not take a rocket scientist to understand this, it’s quite simple and clear –

Luke 16:17-18

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fall.

18 Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery.

Next, we can discuss about how it is also Infallible Church Doctrine that one must be free of mortal sin in order to receive communion. This poses a serious problem for divorcees who have remarried as they are Adulterers in God’s eyes regardless of society’s permissive attitudes. This means that they are always in a state of GRAVE MORTAL SIN and therefore ineligible for communion. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is abused if the recipient does not truly intend to cease the sin and sin no further – so unless the adulterer discards his false spouse and reconciles with his rightful one or discards his false spouse and lives chastely, there is no valid way to just give them absolution before each mass. Abuse of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is again in itself a GRAVE MORTAL SIN – which would once again prevent participation in the Sacrament of Communion.

There is some hope, as the Catholic Church will grant an Annulment if the marriage can be proven invalid. This is easier said than done, as many will attest. It is a long and painful process designed to heal hearts and restore the spirit. You might think of it like physical therapy for the soul, it hurts – but it is not done to hurt you but to help you. The problem with this approach is that people who have grounds for an annulment usually already have them, those who have no legitimate grounds simply waste their money and the Church’s time needlessly.

Why is this a big deal, you ask? Because, many people end up divorced through no fault of their own, and even over their explicit objection. While the spouse who left goes on to marry their paramour, to keep in communion with the Church and it’s Sacraments they must remain Chaste. They deserve our compassion, our love, our caring, and our community to rally around them. The errant spouse also deserves compassion and love, but never acceptance of their adulterous relationship.

While some might argue that this is an issue of Justice for the aggrieved spouse who must remain single but can still receive the sacraments. A greater injustice is perpetrated by forcing them to sit in Church next to their adulterous spouse and their false spouse/adulterer while they too receive the sacraments in a state of grave mortal sin. It would serve as a tacit endorsement by the Church of Divorce in contradiction of Infallible Doctrine (Heresy). Such a thing demeans The Church, The Sacrament of Marriage, and the Sacrament of Communion, and the Papacy. What does it say to the children in the congregation? What does it say to the other married couples – especially those going through a trying time in their marriage but determined to make it work because their faith requires it of them? In fact, the Church of England was formed over the Church’s refusal to grant a divorce to King Henry VIII – many were martyred for their faith in this infallible teaching at that time. Such an action would be spittle in the eyes of those martyrs. The persecution of Catholics in the UK over the split caused by upholding this doctrine remains to this day, one only needs to think of Ireland or the fact that Tony Blair did not convert until he was out of office because a Catholic cannot be prime minister in the UK.

So what does the Church already do? Those adulterers are always welcome in Church. They may receive a blessing from the priest in lieu of communion. They may sit in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may be counseled by a priest about how best to remedy their situation – often one which becomes even more heartbreaking when children are involved. They may receive assistance in filing for an annulment if there are bonafide grounds for such. The Church did not create their sin, they did – and only they can reconcile it with God and the Church. These rules of the faith are so basic and fundamental that even children know them. The Church is eternal and not progressive, God does not change his mind.

The fact is that any solution has to be grounded in doctrine, and not opposed to it. Doctrinally, there can be no Communion for remarried divorcees, nor any other soul with unreconciled mortal sin. As Catholics, we take our Sacraments very seriously because we experience their power in our daily lives. The fact that these people feel the heartbreaking suffering because they have distanced themselves from God by their sin and further still by knowing he is but a decision away. The solution is that a decision must be made, one cannot have their faith and subvert it too. Each person must decide whether or not God is more important than whatever they think their adulterous marriage has gained them and make a choice. It is a basic choice between good and evil – and then they must make penance and reparation as is possible to their spouse and the heart rending suffering they have caused them through their actions. Even if reconciliation is no longer an option.

What we can do as Catholics is to keep all such Catholics, trapped in a living Hell of their own making, in our prayers. Most especially the children and spouses whom have been dragged innocently into this hell with them. I would also pray for the Synod that they can find some way within the confines of Cannon Law to improve the spiritual lives of the afflicted individuals and help them to bring them into full communion. May God grant them the strength and faith to do what is right.

Sincerely,

Colin

Sex Every Day for a Year!

11 Sep

download

WARNING: This post contains subject matter suited only to married couples. I’m interested in my readers thoughts on this one (especially those of the Catholic clergy, or those that have tried and succeeded or failed trying this). For me this is a thought experiment only, where I’m working through all the pros and cons and researching aspects of it in the Cathechism (as the author is a Baptist apparently). Confidential submissions/reports will be kept so and can be sent to cc70458@gmail.com

I had heard of this a while back, http://www.amazon.com/365-Nights-Intimacy-Charla-Muller/dp/0425222578, when the book was being promoted. It’s hit the news again recently on CNN too.  Seems a couple made a splash announcing their success at completing the program and decided to interview on national television. Warning book spoiler – A wife makes “sex every day for an entire year” a gift to her husband for his 40th birthday, then writes a bestseller from the diary she kept on her effort. She also keeps an ongoing Blog here on WordPress (http://charlamuller.wordpress.com/) that details what follows that rather large experiment.

Some of my initial thoughts on this are:

  • A year is a very long time. I would think making it a whole month might be a reasonable while very challenging goal
  • The author of the book gave this to her husband as a GIFT, as all sexual relations in a marriage should be given in that spirit. I suspect that to make it through any period of time each would be in a position of truly making a gift to the other of themselves, possibly for the first time in their marriage as physical gratification gives way to emotional gratification as the primary driver
  • The author made a big deal of effective birth control. As a Catholic, pregnancy is pretty darned likely under these circumstances. Birth Control is RIGHT OUT – So this is a great challenge if you are hoping to have children, but not so practical for those who are not open to life.
  • Performing on command can be equally difficult for both spouses, men too after the first week or two (just being honest here). This will probably mean that both spouses will have to find ways to build the desire in each other up each day through looks, touches, calls, notes, etc…
  • I cannot argue with the underlying premise, that an accelerated level of sexual coupling will have rather dramatic effects on the sacrament of marriage if the marriage is stable, but if it is unstable it could also be the catalyst for the demise of the sacramental bond
  • It can take lust out of the equation over time – letting people explore love and intimacy without raging hormones dictating words or actions
  • It can be a huge learning experience for both parties about themselves and each other as pretenses are dropped and honesty is injected into the lovemaking process about our likes, dislikes, and feelings about sex
  • It does force a habit of making time to be intimate with each other, and keeps people thinking about how to fulfill the commitment each day
  • It poses a risk of resentment when either party learns enough about the other that they no longer see submission and participation as the same thing. If either party realizes that the other is regularly just submitting it can be either very educational or very damaging to the marriage depending on the real reason
  • It can have positive effects of encouraging spontaneity and enable people to learn to enjoy their spouses pleasure and excitement as much or more than your own, learning to sacrifice yourself joyfully is key to marriage in general for both spouses. Its not that you have to necessarily want the sex itself, so much as you necessarily have to want to be emotionally close and bring joy to another (husband or wife). If you just want to get it over with before your gum looses flavor it’s going to have a detrimental effect

While I can see the potential good, I fear the potential emotional and spiritual damage many could be exposed to as the barriers so carefully erected to preserve their true feelings about the marital embrace and their spouse will be eroded away not like a sand castle washed away by an incoming tide, but instead destroyed by a tidal wave. While washing away those barriers is not necessarily bad, if we are not willing to accept what we learn in a loving and constructive manner and do something to fix it then disaster looms. This can be much harder when it happens very quickly. Our emotions often run very high and close to the surface when it comes to sex, and when humans get emotional they often say exactly what they mean in the worst possible and least constructive manner. Here thar be Dragons…

The honest truth is that I want my wife to be with me intimately not because she is obligated to by a promise or a vow, but because she wants to and can think of nowhere in the world she would rather be physically or emotionally. After almost 22 years of marriage this conviction has only gotten stronger over time. Anything forced from within or without, I fear would do more harm than good – no matter who does the forcing.

Food for thought,

Colin

Time Enough for Love…

28 Aug

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, How symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

It’s really easy to forget the simple things. It’s gotten too easy to fall into a rhythm of thinking that you can take care of it later. Love very much suffers from this mindset. How many times have we put off a touch or a kiss because we assume we can do it later. How many loving words are never exchanged, or sweet nothings whispered into one’s ear. Did you ever wonder how many hands went unheld or how many kind words went unsaid because we shied away at the moment of decision. We decided in our minds we could do it later, we got nervous about public displays of affection, about what people might say if they saw us acting that way. Sometimes we let our anger or hurt get the best of us and we even withdraw on purpose – withholding our affection to our detriment and the detriment of our spouse.

All these things are important. They hold the power to bond us and heal us. It is these small things that provide our most cherished memories and our deepest regrets. As anyone who has been close to death can tell you, approaching death brings a painful clarity. All too often, while previously you couldn’t recall hardly any missed opportunities – now you feel the weight of a tremendous number of them as they flood your mind. The worst part is that you know you are running short on time and there may not be a later. You learn that now is the only moment you have – and you resolve to make the most of it. You’ll fail of course, especially as time softens your memories of those moments you thought might be your last.

Just a few thoughts from someone whos been there. Kiss your wife very day – a gentle loving kiss, not a teen-aged tongue down your throat epitome of ineptitude and inexperience. Never ignore her when she tries to talk to you, and listen intently when she does – as it is often what is not said or how it is said that is the most important communication. Tell her you love her every day. Reach for her hand when you’re close to her, hold it gently if she takes yours when offered. Whenever you think that she looks pretty or sexy would be a good time to just blurt out what you’re honestly thinking. She doesn’t need disingenuous compliments as they will just damage her self esteem, but real and honest ones are an opportunity never to be missed. A kind word honestly spoken from you can make her hour, day, or week! Next time you make love, remember to tell her you love her afterwards and discover the joys of clinging to each other afterwards for more than 30 seconds.

My wife and I hold hands when we sleep, whether I am behind her or in front of her. Without this small comfort, I can’t sleep until sheer exhaustion causes my collapse because I keep realizing she’s not there. I’ve found that our heartbeats and breathing sync up involuntarily after just a few minutes sitting or lying down together. I even love to watch her sleep safe in my arms. With her eyes closed and a gentle smile on her lips she looks more lovely than I expect no matter how many times I have watched her. Before I slip off, I try to make it a point to make sure she has not just heard my words or felt me holding her tenderly – but knows with certainty just how deeply loved and cared for she is. Then I can be content that if tommorow never comes, there will be no regrets.

Just my thoughts…

Colin

Meditations for the Assumption of Mary

15 Aug

Fulton Sheen

I’m a huge fan of Fulton Sheen. For the feast of the assumption I have taken a few selected quotes of his to recommend for meditation. The Assumption seems like an excellent time to pray for our wives, the mothers of our children, entrusted by God to be the vessels and caretakers of his ongoing work of creation. It’s also a good time to meditate and pray for ourselves that we might be worthy of them.

Here are the four quotes to meditate on:

“In every friendship hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

“It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary

“Most of us love a non-self, or something extrinsic and apart from our inner life; but a mother’s love during the time she is a flesh-and-blood ciborium is not for a non-self but for one that is her very self, a perfect example of charity and love which hardly perceives a separation. Motherhood then becomes a kind of priesthood. She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

 

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Catholic Sexuality and the Marital Embrace

12 Aug

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

There is nothing in the world more contentious among Catholics themselves than what is permissible in their bedrooms by their religion. While the Catechism is fairly clear on this issue (and the Catechism represents that which must be followed and believed), many follow a variety of philosophies. These range from what I call the “Augustinian” view that sex is only for procreation and nothing more, only in one set position, and God forbid the woman actually enjoy it because an orgasm for her is a sin – all the way to the “Progressive/Rationalist” view, that what happens between consenting adults in their own bedroom is none of the Church’s or God’s business and basically anything goes.

The truth is a fair distance from each philosophy and it is clearly laid out in the Catechism (read it here for yourself  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm). No matter who you ask you will get different answers on what is acceptable and what is not (trust me, I’ve asked priests and never gotten the same answer twice). The answers are in the Catechism for those who will take a moment to read it, and greatly expounded upon in the series of sermons that make up the Theology of The Body.

The “Augustinian” view is derived primarily from the writings of St. Augustine who though a Doctor of the Church and very wise did not write with infallibility, nor do his writings and recommendations constitute Dogma, nor Canon Law. Due to Augustine’s rather debauched early life and his need to reject his own sensuality, as he wrote in “Confessions” which is still widely read today, his harsh recommendations were his prescription for combating the lust and sin so prevalent in his earlier life which of which he was extremely averse. In paragraphs 2360-2363 of the Catechism it is made clear that sex is for bonding a couple, bring joy a pleasure as a gift from each to the other, and that it must always remain chaste and open to life. There are no prohibitions on positions, or frequency – but there are prohibitions on using your partner solely for your physical gratification. In remaining open to life and chaste, marital sex must be performed with no barriers to contraception and only with the person to whom we are sacramentally bonded in marriage.

The “Progressive/Rationalist” view throws the Catechism out the window. People tell themselves that anything they want to do with their partner is OK regardless of whether it fits in the context of sacramental marriage. Masterbation, trying to avoid pregnancy by pulling out early, bringing other partners into your bed, and using your spouse for relief instead of in a mutual giving where both of you give the other a gift of themselves and the other graciously receives it – are right out.

Sex in a Catholic Marriage is a chaste expression of love, the giving of a gift of oneself to another and receiving that gift in return. We men especially, often fail here to recognize that 30 seconds of foreplay and 10 seconds of thrusting, followed by 8 hours of snoring does not constitute a gift to our wives. Such crude behaviour masquerading as marital intimacy only breeds resentment, distrust, and unhappiness in the recipient of your “gift” who you just treated like a common whore, or inflatable female facsimile. The marital embrace should always be open to life and a spiritually bonding experience for the loving couple. This does not mean that a quickie in the morning as a gift from your wife is wrong, so long as it is a gift freely given and not demanded. Such gifts are much more likely to occur if there is a whole-hearted attempt to return that gift at an appropriate time and place when you can focus yourself on returning that gift rather than your own gratification.

Exercised in the proper context and within the principles of the Catechism, the marital embrace can bring Husband and Wife both to new levels of both pleasure and intimacy – bonding them inseparably in the process. Outside the confines of the Catechism, sex becomes the greatest  weapon in damaging relationships that there is. Infidelity, using your wife as a receptacle for your lust, and making demands instead of accepting gifts do more to damage marriages than anything else I know of. Such actions destroy the trust and intimacy that is the basis for both Love and the sacramental marriage and hurt both parties physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you have concerns about a particular issue, then open the link to the Catechism above and see if it qualifies there as well as being loving gift to your spouse which is open to life. Ask yourself if you are having to apply pressure to your spouse. Even fearing your anger, disappointment, or disapproval will constitute an inability on her part to give herself freely to you. Take the time to learn each other both physically and emotionally and let your wife surprise you with her gifts. I assure you, a woman in love can be more creative than you can imagine in your wildest fantasy when she wants to please you. You should be setting an example for her to follow.

I know this post will likely produce a plethora of comments and additional questions, I welcome all of them – but ask that you keep them civil and polite.

Colin

Pregnancy, Change, Marriage

10 Aug

12-01-2007 03_53_47PMWhether expected or a surprise, pregnancy is a time of great change – for you as a husband into a father, for your wife into a mother, and for your marriage which becomes a new family. In truth this is a time of great change and transition for you as  well as for your wife. Each woman is different and each pregnancy is different. This makes setting any specific expectations impossible. I can however assure you of one thing – this too shall pass, it may pass like a kidney stone, but pass it will.

Here is some advice from someone who has been through this 4 times:

Your initial reaction is important. More important than you know! Don’t make the mistake of letting your fears and apprehensions overshadow the joy when you respond to the news of an impending birth. First impressions matter, and she needs your support at that moment more than you will understand. Allow your happiness and pride to be what shows, hold any apprehensions and fears until you can work them out. Truth is that most of those fears and apprehensions will work themselves out. I know how the rush of mixed emotions can be overpowering – but this is a place where a little care with your speech and actions can make or break the tone for the next few months, and even the whole marriage.

The only thing for sure is change, and your wife will be undergoing physiological changes beyond her control. She may happy and stable one minute and in tears and despairing the next, especially if this is her first child. She will also be undergoing physical changes as well, more than just the expanding belly – her hips will be widening to accommodate the coming birth, and her breasts may be tender in preparing to feed the coming child. During some periods her hormones may make making love more pleasurable for her than ever before, and at other times painful, or even distasteful. Enjoy the glow which accompanies pregnancy, it will make her seem more beautiful than ever. Be emotionally and physically supportive, so that she is reassured. As at all times in marriage, but especially now ,she will need your love. She alone carries a gift of God to both of you, but it is a heavy burden to bring that life to bear and you must help to carry her through it.

Most importantly, you need to focus on adapting to the new reality and embracing it joyfully. Your life is changing and God will give you the strength to adapt to your additional responsibilities. Your marriage is also changing to accommodate the new addition to your family who will consume necessarily your wife’s time and attention as well as your own. Sharing in the care of the child will not only help you bond as a father, but also help bond you to your wife even more deeply than you imagined. Set aside/arrange time for yourself and your wife to be together alone, and set aside breathing room for your wife to pursue her own interests at least a few hours a week. Even letting her have a respite to go shopping alone while you hold down the fort for a few hours can have a tremendous effect on her mental state and morale.

Your marriage will continue to change as children are both born, and move away to start their own families. Never view your family as an impediment to your dreams but rather as support in achieving them, and let them be your inspiration. Most importantly, they are the ones with whom you can share your joy and your achievements with. You will even find that those dreams change over time, changing from your dreams for yourself to dreams for your family – this is that seminal moment when one discovers what it means to me to be both husband and father.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section –

Colin

What to Expect when #5 Comes Along

9 Aug

Pregnant

First of all – this is reblogged with permission from the friend who wrote it. She is expecting number 5 and is catching the wave of popular public interest. I know this drill all too well as my wife and I have only 4 and even just having the youngest 3 in tow in the supermarket checkout often generates stupid questions and ignorant comments. Anyone with a large family will identify, and those expecting one – brace for impact.

She has managed to couch in humor something very serious – I’ll start you with this:

“Here, let me just answer all the questions and save folks the trouble of asking. I want to spare you the trouble, and also spare you the dirty looks you’ll get, plus the tone of voice, and sharp responses of which I’m capable of providing. Because like I said: It’s lame, and it does nothing to entertain me. And it’s just not funny. I’m easily amused, but the same questions just don’t do it for me. Step up your game already. Be original and humorous. Give me something I haven’t already heard.

Are you ready for it? Here goes:

1. Yes, we know what causes it. We’ve had 21 years of practice. We’re damn good at it. We like it. We’re married to each other, so we’re SUPPOSED to be doing it with each other, not someone else. It’s not wrong to actually LIKE your spouse. We’ve worked a lot of years to get where we are, and we like where we are. Don’t be jealous that you can’t get in on our party, ok? Just go get your own.

2. Yes, we have tv, cable, dvd’s, etc and we utilize them. We actually have multiples of each. Oh, ANNNND we have computers with internet access, plus smartphones. We have friends. We have access to entertainment. And we have access to each other – you know like I said up there^ in that spousal thing.

3. Yes, *I* am Catholic, but my husband is not. Our inter-faith marriage is always a work in progress, and we don’t follow any one strict tenet versus another. Ours is an interesting dance of sorts, melded together the last 21 years with a lot of compromise after a lot of trial and error. Apparently, I’m a better Catholic than I thought I was, though. And apparently, I’m the kind of Catholic girl the Southern Baptist boys like. Take that as you will.

4. Yes, we’ve heard of birth control, and condoms, and at some points, we HAVE utilized a variety of all of them. I don’t have to share this topic with anyone outside of my husband, I am not going to share the details of why, how, etc of what we do in that regard. I don’t say a word about your decision to do permanent sterilization, hormonal birth control, barrier methods, etc. Be respectful of what we do, just like I’m respectful of what you do. In short, I stay out of your uterus, you stay out of mine.

5. Yes, everything OBVIOUSLY functions just normally, nothing is broken, so please tell me what is there to fix?

6. Yes, I have my hands full. I have a head and heart full too. The van is full. The house is full. The garage is full too. Our lives are full. How is yours? Is it full of good stuff or just junk and drama and crap?

There are people who completely ache and pay lots of money to ATTEMPT to even get a tenth of what we have. I’m truly and completely blessed, while my heart breaks for those who long for the simplest part of my life, and some may never have it. Don’t tell me the obvious, because somewhere in earshot of your comment is someone else who you’re insulting in the opposite manner, by reminding them of their empty hearts and arms. And there are those who have suffered the losses of 4, 5, even 8, or 12, or more babies and pregnancies. They are so grateful to have a baby make it into this world, while forever mourning the loss of those who grew wings before seeing light of day. They happily bring as many into this world as they humanly can. It hurts and it stings and it drives the knives deeper, while you twist them. Do you still feel brilliant saying that one?

7. No, I don’t know how YOU do it with just one, or two. Seriously, I need balance in my life, and I need my own interests and hobbies. I don’t know how you can helicopter- and lawnmower-parent a completely normal child who has zero no neuro-challenges and come out the other side with your dignity and sanity intact, or theirs for that matter. I delegate stuff to the kids to do, as they become independent and capable enough to handle things. I’ve blogged about that before. Simply put, it’s my job to create independent people who can function outside of me, and handle the hiccups of life. I have my own interests because one day those buggers will fly the nest and I don’t want to be that mother-in-law that gets ranted about on the internet. I want my children and their families to feel like I respect their adulthood, and parenthood, and I will do my best to allow that by knowing my place in their world and not encroaching where I do not belong. I blessedly have a fair selection of wise in-laws who may not agree with how we do things, but they know it’s not their family or household.

8. No, I didn’t realize that we didn’t need to have any more kids. Thank you for telling me that. I didn’t realize I was still 6, and asking for a second dessert an hour before bedtime. Last I checked, we are well beyond age 18, and still married to the same person after all these years. If I have my wits about me, we have kids who are 20 and almost 19. So unless there’s some strange science or miracle, I think we are qualified to decide what my husband and I need, or don’t need. I think your words simply speak of your own insecurities, and lack of time spent with us and getting to know us sufficiently. We are raising our kids in a manner that rivals most any other way modern parents do nowadays, and we’ve got one who was trained for management at his job as soon as he graduated high school, and another about to head off to MCRD Parris Island for boot camp. The Marines don’t take *just* anybody. Our oldest daughter has life skills her peers can’t fathom, and a perspective they won’t achieve till they’re much older. Our preschooler is articulate, funny, well-adjusted and capable of handling things kids her age still have a tantrum over happening, and she’s fiercely independent. But they’re still capable of being kids. We haven’t robbed them of anything. We’ve sacrificed our own self-serving desires to give them what they need. We have indulged in some things, because we need balance and they need to see us doing our own thing, chasing our own goals and dreams, and they need to see us sacrifice for the greater good or to achieve those goals. Despite the fact that I’m running headlong toward 40, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, either.

9. Yes, they were all surprises. No, we didn’t plan or try for any of them. They were all not in our radar at the times they appeared on it, and now we can’t imagine that radar without them there. Then they brought friends to the party, who we mistreat just the same as we do our own. I have birthed and borrowed children, and never imagined this many people would call me Mom. I’m just glad I didn’t have to change all of THEIR diapers, or potty train them.

10. No, we don’t know if we’re done yet. We thought we were done with the last 5. No, we don’t know if we’ll have any more. Every time we have thought “done” and laid plans of our own, another mini human comes along and mucks up the plans. But it’s cool. We make pretty babies with brains and a sense of humor. And they think it’s pretty neat that mom & dad ride motorcycles. Well, dad does, mom’s just good at dropping them and then getting pregnant again.

One other side note about the variations of these questions: Again, when you’re asking a parent of one, or ten, about the number of kids, you’re insulting them. And the ones who only have one or two who like previously mentioned, utterly ACHE for more kids and can’t attain that are once again stabbed by your words. Why must you be so intrusive? Don’t be offended if one of us snaps back with “Why? were you looking to hire me as your surrogate, because I don’t know if I’m the one you want doing that. I might not want to give up a child to be raised by twits like you.”

11. No, I’m not easily offended. I married a Marine and had a bunch of children with him. When you have that combination, you recognize when God laughs at you (in my case, it’s almost daily since the early 1990s), and you learn to live by that other Marine motto: Semper Gumby. If you think you can offend me, you can, but it requires extreme stupidity, lack of consideration and forethought, no sense of humor, and downright intrusive and demeaning foolishness. I am not sure you want to test the mettle of this Feisty Irish Wench. Some of the things slung at me verbally by strangers, meant to offend, really didn’t do that. I’ve survived a number of things, including two teens at once – and one was a daily test of my faith and ovarian fortitude. I have reasonably thick skin, and some of you will be lucky I don’t have him with me when you open your mouth.

So, please, I absolutely encourage you to get creative when you see me or my larger-family cohorts. Ask us something we have NOT already been asked. Or for poops n giggles, maybe say something encouraging to the mom whose day is shot because of that series of wackadoodle events instead of “well you chose to have that many”. Yep, we ultimately did. Someone has to combat the stupidity of the world, and it may as well be us, because YOU are sucking at it.”

And encourage you to take a moment and read the rest here: http://feistyirishwench.blogspot.com/2013/08/originality-and-humor.html

Remember being hateful and hurtful never helped anyone, and whatsoever you do to the least of his pregnant people – that you do unto Him DOUBLE.

Many thanks to “FeistyIrishWench” for letting me reblog her post!

Colin

Expectations of A Catholic Husband

4 Aug

God holding your Marriage

I’ve been asked more than a few times what the building blocks of a successful marriage are. Recently a few readers have sent questions to me looking for advice in new marriages and prior to marriage on what their future wives will be expecting of them. Aside from some very candid discussions with your current or future spouse, there are some givens that she will expect and from which all the others are merely outgrowths.

I’ve put some real thought into this. That means both brain cells were parallel processing until they started releasing their magic blue smoke. You see, I’ve been married for over 20 years and in terms of expectations – well they seem to change if you focus on the minutiae. However, if you look at the bigger picture, the little things all fall into line, if you remember the big ones. There are a core group of things every woman expects from her husband whether she even realizes it or not.

One major disclaimer – I have no more insight into a womans mind than any other man. Women are like the trinity in that they are a mystery which cannot be understood by man and must simply be accepted. The disclaimer does however, provide me a good segway into expectation number one.

Acceptance – This one seems so obvious, but I hear neverending stories of women whose husbands/fiancee’s threaten a divorce over 5 lbs. or will only marry if she can fit into a certain size dress. Stop and pray before you act, speak, or think like this and here is why. Neither of you know what the future is going to bring, or where it will take you together. Just like with God, you must simply accept each other joyfully. In the long view – your wife is likely going to be like the weather in Louisiana. Don’t like it? Wait a bit, it will change. Your wife will change sizes, her personality will change, her interests will change, her health will change – the one thing that must never change is that you accept and love her for who she is each morning. It’s critically important to both of you that you do. If she was disfigured in a fire or accident would you love her any less? What if she was barren? Would you continue to love and keep her? Time ravages all physical things and she needs to know that regardless of what changes happen to each of you both physically and emotionally, as long as it remains compatible with sacramental marriage, that you will make  anew that decision every morning to accept and love her as she is. Always don your rose colored glasses and see the best in her and about her.

Commitment – Your wife rightfully will expect that that you are fully committed to a lifetime of joyful servitude of her and any children you are blessed with. Your commitment is to the covenant you made with God when you accepted the Sacrament of Marriage from your wife. It is expected that this commitment is unbreakable, treat her accordingly – never make mention of or threaten divorce and choose your words carefully. A man must lead a family and not subjugate them by force or fear. You must nurture your wifes commitment to you, but ensuring that she is always secure in your commitment to her and to your marriage. Never take this commitment lightly, treat your wife, always, as if her commitment must be earned  – through the commitment itself does not need to be earned, her respect and trust do. Know in advance that there will be moments in your marriage when God and commitment will carry you through, and that without commitment to your covenant before God your marriage is doomed to failure – harming both you and your spouse irreparably.

Togetherness – All the hurdles and caveats life throws at you are going to be relying on you facing the challenges together. Whatever comes it is expected that you will work as a team to solve each and every crisis. Regardless of whether that crisis is emotional, physical, financial, professional, sexual, faith based, or something else. She is counting on you to help her, and it will be important to her to also help you. Remember that whatever hurdles you face, you will face them best as a well coordinated team who can react quickly to change, anticipate the other’s moves, and most importantly acknowledge each others strengths and weakness and understand which roles each is best suited to for any given problem. This may mean adjusting roles temporarily or permanently to best face your current situation in life. Work as a team not just to achieve those things necessary to your marriage, but also necessary to each others hearts and souls. The joy of shared experience is just as powerful as the bonding forged between two who share and overcome adversity together. Rather than let adversity tear you apart, let it bind you more tightly together. Rather than allowing marriage to overshadow each of your personal dreams and goals, make it a vehicle for you both to share in achieving them.

Love – Another one that seems obvious, however it is quite critical that you understand what this one means. Love does not mean liking someone, nor is love a feeling – rather that feeling is a symptom of love but not love itself. Love is a choice we make, and we must renew that choice each day. Love endures hardship and pain, it weathers squalls and storms. You cannot love one whom you do not accept as they are.  Your wife must be your best friend, your lover, and your partner through life. You must love God above all things, and love your wife above yourself – not as yourself, but below God and above you. She cannot return to you that which is not given to be returned. While romantic love and erotic love will come and go like squalls, and even hurricanes, throughout your marriage – your true love for each other must be like the ocean, fathomless and unending.

Trust – No love and no marriage can survive without this. Trust has more aspects than verbal honesty. Your wife must know you are being emotionally honest with her at all times. She is not a mind reader or clairvoyant and for her to learn to read you accurately over time she must really understand what you really think and feel. While she too must do the same, you need to make sure she feels free to do so. This means listening without judging her when she opens her heart to you, and for her to understand you – she must do the same for you. This is the basis of intimacy, for without feeling able to truly open up to each other and embrace not just what is outside – but what is inside we can never be truly intimate. Her sense of safety and security depend on her knowing that no harm will come to her. She is entrusting this care to you, you must never betray this sacred duty or her ability to trust in you will be lost. This does not always mean you will succeed, nor that you must do it alone – but together as God intended. By both of you acting selflessly for the good of the other party you will only increase that trust, and either party acting selfishly will serve to decrease or eliminate it. This applies to threats to your marriage that are violent, physical, emotional, financial, and otherwise. In short, she must trust unconditionally that you would never harm her nor knowingly allow her to come to harm.

There are a bunch of other things, I grant you – but after much introspection I believe that these are at the core. If you can manage these the others are extensions of them and will naturally follow.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Mine vs. Ours

28 Jan

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, how symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

What does marriage mean? What is it’s purpose? I have always loved the wedding vows from the episcopal book of prayer in the 1600’s (before their divergence from the Catholic Church reached the current level). They read something like this:

With this ring, I thee wed.
With my body, I thee worship.
And with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.

The words touch something deeply inside me about the nature of marriage, which many have forgotten. Marriage not a business partnership, about the money or things, nor about protecting oneself. If you do then you will never have a spiritual partnership, and whatever flame there was between you will slowly starve for lack of ability to be fed afresh from your combined hearts. This is because you are holding back and placing something else before your wife.

If you want to truly be one, you must treat and do for her as if she were yourself. You must do more than that actually–treat and love her as God loves you.

Trust always begins with one party lowering their defenses to show their sincerity to the other. As the husband, that responsibility falls to you.

Examine your life together.  Are you truly one or are you separated?  One of the surest signs is separated finances and property. If you weren’t prepared to trust unconditionally when you got married, then you should not have done so. Now the vow is made, and if you are to have any hope of the relationship intended for you, you will have to examine your situation and make changes accordingly. Likely this will be difficult, but most worthwhile things are.

There are very good reasons the Catholic Church will not marry a couple with a pre-nuptial agreement in place. Don’t presume that anything you own will ever compare to the joy you can feel when the barriers between you are removed. Pool your resources, and work together to make sound decisions for your future. Don’t let something as petty as money or material possessions drive a wedge between you. If you do, you will always regret what could have been. The regret of knowing you could have done something to change things but did not.

If you need to, think of it like a bet. If you venture little you limit your losses, but you also limit your potential gains. In marriage, the bet is an “All In” proposition. You put everything on the table and bet it all, with nothing in reserve. Too often now I hear from couples ho have separated finances and ask hard questions about why there seems to be a emotional gap between them. They fight over money, but worse, they worry about different things. In essence, they no longer share the same concerns at the local level. This leaves a couple disconnected from each other both materially and emotionally, especially when your are busy keeping score with who pays for what or contributes too little.  Most of the time these couples consider themselves enlightened, a new vanguard in the development of marriage, and a step in the right direction. They arrogantly assume that in all of history such arrangements have never been tried before and, therefore, have never been disproven as a a viable solution. No matter how forward thinking or enlightened you may tell yourself you are, the truth is that all of it is a massive self-justification you are using to try to convince yourself that your selfish impulses are fully compatible with a loving marriage. Most people want so very much to believe this that any truth or reason simply falls by the wayside along the way, and is replaced by wishful thinking and new-age philosophy. It’s almost like a fulfillment of the promise of the apple as made by the serpent, and  such knowledge without the moral compass to guide us quickly steers us into the abyss.

Of all the pernicious evils which creep into the marital relationship, selfishness is the most virulent. This is the one evil that affects every aspect our marriages and poisons them from the inside by creating strife and discontent in every conceivable facet. Whether it be in household choses, finances, work outside the home, or our bedrooms, selfishness alone can destroy the bonds between us. To be perfectly honest, once it has infected any one area, the next place it manifests is in our level of intimacy where each subsequent infection chews away at the bonds that bind us together and drives external wedges into the gaps it creates between us, hammering away until the bonds are broken and in tatters. How often have you realized that whatever you are angry about has suddenly manifested itself in your bedroom in the mood or actions of one partner or the other? Has your blood ever run cold, because you realized deep down what the cause was?  Perhaps you told yourself it was something else, because you wanted to cling to your “enlightened” notions. Of course, once the effect is in your bedroom the only real fix is to cast away all trappings of the situation which allowed it in, but once again we are too selfish to allow for that. We have this awful tendency to cling to our failed notions and try to retool them so that we don’t have to admit we were wrong rather than abandon them completely. In doing so, we give this evil the time and room to operate that it needs to destroy us and our marriages from within.

Guard against selfishness in your marriage. Ensure that your “self-interest” is realigned to whatever is best for your wife and not yourself. The only way to defeat this beast is to make her the focus of your efforts at self-preservation. This also goes for her as well–she must make the same effort. It will come much more easily and naturally to her when she sees the example not just in your actions, but in the unspoken speech reflected in your eyes and body language. The  sense of security and surety that such actions will foster in her can be overwhelming  and the end result for your marriage can be nothing short of miraculous – even if the miracle unfolds over time instead of appearing suddenly. You should be prepared for this to be the case and prepared to stay the course regardless of apparent immediate results. What you will have for your efforts is a complete lack of regret for both your actions and your motivations. You will have a clean conscience, and know that no matter what the outcome you have done everything possible to crush the serpent winding it’s way between you and in doing so also crushed any regrets and remorse, or self-recrimination you might have otherwise been liable to endure. Every time, and I mean every single time – I have put myself first in my marriage I have come to regret it. No matter how rational the decision seemed at the time, the end result was never justified, and I never felt like I had done the right thing, especially in hindsight. I hope that others can learn from my mistakes, rather than having to make them themselves. At the very least, I hope I can shorten the learning cycle down so that they come to the truth much faster and less painfully than I did. There is always time to make a change for the better, and never a better time than the present to do so.

Very few get a second chance to address such regrets. As one who has, I can assure you that there is no regret in failure that compares to the regret of not having taken the risk at all. Do not saddle your soul with regret, it is one of the few things you do take with you when you leave this life.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts or stories in the comments section, as always I appreciate your feedback and comments, tweets, likes, and reposts. You can email me at cc70458@gmail.com if you’d like to pass anything on.

Sex, Intimacy, and NFP

16 Jan

I’m well aware this is a topic nobody really wants to talk about. We would be happier to just pretend it didn’t exist and go on our merry way. None of this changes the fact that I feel compelled to write about it today, and it’s a post that I have been stewing over for some time now. You’re probably telling yourself this doesn’t apply to you or your marriage, or that you and your wife have a mutual understanding. The hard truth is  what you really might have is a mutual desire to avoid a deeply emotional subject which could potentially ignite a conflict if even mentioned. If after you read my story you find yourself feeling differently, consider letting your wife know that you’ve been reconsidering any prior decision on artificial birth control. This opens the door for a conversation if she senses you are sincere and would like the opportunity to revise the way things are. Heck, you might even let her read this just to get her reaction.

If there was a single word that could garner immediate interest and make your blood boil “SEX” would be it, whether with anger, fear, indignation, trepidation, anticipation, or some variety of other powerful and inflammatory emotions.  I think that’s why it has such a potent effect on our relationships with our spouses. On one side it is a driving biological imperative and at the same time an emotional one. Sex is a wondrous construct, with the power to do far more than provide pleasure .  It is also a conduit to intimacy, and when in the right context with the right person, a deeply bonding experience.

This was something I missed for the longest time. I think everyone notices that sex changes everything in a relationship. This is especially true in a marriage. I may find myself on a cracked and skinny limb here, but after over 20 years of marriage I discovered  a few things – some of them far more recently than I should have and this is one of them.

During my wife’s conversion to Catholicism she decided she needed to talk to me. It was obviously important to her; as she let me know in advance and very carefully selected a time and place to drop the bombshell. “I want to talk to you about stopping the artificial birth control”, she said. You could have knocked me over with a feather. If you’d asked me, I would have said everything was great! We had two children and were thinking maybe of having some more, but not that instant. I was taken aback. This would change everything, and change it far more than I realized at the time. It seems she had already talked to the priest about it and read up on what the Catechism had to say on the matter. It wasn’t an ultimatum, and she made it clear that she would not go forward without my agreement to do it. She wanted my consent and for me to take a little time to honestly evaluate the situation in order to give it.

That made things hard– no confrontation, no defiance, no excuse to react in any other way than to agree to look at it and give it some real thought. You might think I would have brushed it off, but I didn’t. Actually, it ate at me and gnawed continuously on my conscience. She provided me the sections of the Catechism relevant to the subject as well as Humane Vitae and some other materials on NFP. I stuck to the actual church materials and avoided other peoples interpretations of them. To this end, I actually read several of the sermons that comprised “Theology of the Body”. In the end I stewed and fretted, not just about the moral implications, but also about how it was going to affect me. Selfishness reared its ugly head early on and guided my “gut” reaction to help ensure the outcome it favored. One of the most important steps we took was to take a class on NFP. I only thought I understood a woman’s body and her natural cycles and rhythms. What I discovered was that I knew more about the inner workings of a nuclear reactor than I did about the inner workings of a woman. We went through the class and spent a few months tracking her cycle. It was something we did together, and it was actually both intimate and interesting. By the end of second month I started to realize just how much I hadn’t understood.

In the end I wholeheartedly agreed, without reservation, to end the artificial contraception for many reasons,  including the following:

I was not willing ask another person to commit mortal sin with me or for me, so that I could enjoy marital relations without reproductive implications. It was not worth the increased cancer risks and other assorted health implications, including decreased libido and increased stroke risk, for my wife to take those pills. When I thought about it objectively, what I was doing was putting my wife’s health at risk so that I could have my way with her without fear of impregnation. Essentially, the pill turned her from a human partner into a receptacle for my sexual angst, whether or not that was ever my intention. What’s worse, I had learned that most pills are abortive. Many work by causing a spontaneous abortion or failed implantation when the prevention of ovulation fails. A condom makes an even bigger statement. Then there is a very tangible physical barrier between us which has a direct bearing on intimacy. To be honest, I heard artificial birth control in general saying something to my spouse – it said, “I want to have sex, but I don’t want any entanglements to ensue”.  The truth is that marriage is all about entanglement, in all aspects of our being.

I had always hoped for a son one day, and one day after my wife passed a clot  during her period, I went to look at the carefully wrapped bloody pad in the wastebasket. It dawned on me with a sudden clarity that the son I had so long desired might be that very clot now laid to rest in a tidy package at the bottom of the trash can. That moment my mind was made up, and I agreed.

The part of this whole discourse that is important however, is that it caused me to totally change the way I viewed and treated my wife and our sexual relationship. I would have been aghast and defensive if you had suggested to me that I had been selfish or that my motives or actions were less than honorable. However, that feeling does not stand the test of scrutiny from several years forward in time. While parts it of manifest themselves immediately, the change was not instantaneous – but no lasting change usually is. The truth is that things only got better from there, and we had 2 more children using NFP to achieve the conception by predicting those times most favorable for doing so. My wife felt much better in general, and thought I thought our sex life was great before – there was a spark missing which rekindled itself into a burning flame once the intimacy barrier of artificial conception was removed.

Let’s be clear that I’m not at all advocating having children until your wife’s uterus falls out, nor am I advocating against spacing the children you do have out. Just that you leave room for God to work in your life. Artificial birth control is not infallible either, and just provides a false sense of security which ends up being an excuse for the holocaust of abortion in far too many instances. I am saying that disposing of artificial birth control will change your entire perspective on sex, your spouse, and your marriage. In making this decision together, you’ll both be sending the other person a message – and don’t let that message to be “I love you, but not enough to accept the possibility that our love might create a new life who is part of both of us.”. How would you feel if your wife whispered in your ear, “I love you dear, but I abhor the thought of carrying your child”?  It would kill the mood for me too. Opening yourself to life might add a spark and excitement that has been absent far too long, and the message it sends about love and acceptance to the other person works wonders on the intimacy level which can be achieved.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts or stories in the comments section, as always I appreciate your feedback and comments, tweets, likes, and reposts. You can email me at cc70458@gmail.com if you’d like to pass anything on.

 

Soulmates

8 Jan

Soul Mates“, the very term conjures up images of a relationship so deep and comfortable that one blissfully sinks into it without a care or thought toward any distractions to their partner or from their partner. Often these daydreams include visions of our idea of the most physically attractive partner we can imagine paired with a mind always in agreement with our own and seeking nothing for itself.

Of course, one wakes from these daydreams and distractions eventually and realizes the truth is much closer to home. For me it was my grandparents who despite their advanced years remained very much actively in love, playful with each other, very physically affectionate, and while capable of vehement disagreements they were capable of having them without anger or malice of any kind towards each other. They also regularly finished each others sentences and when queried by a third party they often responded in unison. I remember that each had the uncanny ability to predict exactly what the other would say when asked a specific question – but this never stopped them from communicating. Their interests diverged dramatically in many respects with his being favorites in things like flying, woodworking, and mechanics. Hers lay in travel, art,  and culinary exploration. Rather than their diversity being a source of derisiveness, having such divergent interests allowed them to better complement each other. They had married very young by today’s standards, and had been married for well over 50 years.

I remember one seminal moment when the doctor came to see my grandfather when he and my grandmother were both in the hospital. My grandmother had been at home, sleepless with worry (as my grandfather had had a recent bout with Lupus) and busying herself with cooking for family and watching the Travel Channel as she plotted whether or not there was yet another place she needed to see in person. She had a favorite stool at her kitchen’s island and it was old and worn. She fell asleep on the stool and suddenly fell sideways breaking her hip. She had been suffering from heart problems making it necessary for them to wait a few days for the replacement surgery and as she did her health seemed to deteriorate quickly. She too soon had caught an infection and the fever set in. The surgery never happened and she became bedridden – home care was arranged but she seemed to wilt as she realized her life would never be the same.

My grandfather aided by family watched over and cared for her – but eventually she needed in-patient care to stabilize her and she was transferred to the hospital. About the same time, and though my grandfather had been quite healthy and vigorous, a small wound on his foot had become infected, the infection reached the bone, and a partial amputation followed. Soon a systemic infection set in and this burly and powerful man was laid low by the smallest of creation’s creatures and they were in the hospital together in separate rooms on separate floors.

I was visiting him one day when the doctor came in and told him that he had finally turned the corner and if things continued he would be going home the next week. He immediately brightened up, and told the doctor how good it would be to be back at home with his wife. The doctor paused, and carefully explained that he would be going home – his wife was another matter and that he should expect that she would never go home again. Her prognosis was very grim, and with that, his dreams of being back at home with her again were dashed like a crystal vase on a tile floor. I saw it in his eyes and face. It was like the emotion drained out of him. His eyes which once sparkled and glittered now dimmed and dulled, his expression became solemn and lifeless, and he seemed smaller and suddenly weak. In addition, because of his prior infection and her weakened state he would be not be permitted to see her in person or be in the same room, much less have any form of physical contact. He nodded to the doctor, and without saying a word lay back in the bed and closed his eyes. He almost whispered, “I’m so tired, and I just can’t face going home without her…”. A tear rolled down the cheek of the one man I had never seen cry. He refused food and drink. The next night he passed away quietly and wordlessly, as if to use silence to say “there is nothing more to be said”. I never saw him alive again.

There was great consternation about whether or not to tell my grandmother what had happened.  The fever had taken her for days at a time and her lucidity came and went like a flickering porch lamp. Often when she was lucid it didn’t last long enough to impart any useful information, as she often didn’t know where or when she was. A few days after he died though, I had come in from a work trip to see her. They had warned me she was slipping away, and it had been a rush to beat the reaper so that we could say our goodbyes. I was awash in emotion and trying very hard to hold it together, but when I walked in she was alert and sitting up and talking up a storm. As soon as I walked in the door she blurted out to me “He’s dead you know. He’s gone. He left without me. Oh it’s so good to see you!”. We had a lovely conversation during which I told her about work and her great-grandchild, and got to laugh and cry together. It wasn’t to last, as the day wore on she started to fade. She knew she couldn’t go home and kept repeating “He’s gone, and I miss him so much. I just want to be with him again… even if for a short time, I forgot to tell him I’ll always love him…” throughout the evening. She asked me to hold her hand because she was scared,and Grampa wasn’t there to do it. I did, I sat by her bed and held her hand for the next few hours and the family piled into her room and the children played, the adults argued about inane trivia, and we all watched a TV game show she had been following. At some point I noticed that she no longer had a pulse. She still had my hand tightly gripped when she passed away, with wisp of a smile on her face. They died within a week of each other and Thanksgiving is always tinged with sadness at their loss and thankfulness for the mercy that they were able to not only live together but die together, so that she was not subjected to the loneliness and despair that his loss caused her any longer than was necessary.

They were soul mates. Their shining example of a harmonious marriage built on a foundation of service to each other, mutual love and affection, and an abundance of  joy made a lasting imprint on me. When she met the woman who would later become my wife, her primary concern was that she would not be fully aware of  the task of caring for a husband in the manner of the example I had been raised to expect. They both spent endless hours as I grew up imparting wisdom and instructions on how to care for your partner and maintain a happy and balanced marriage. She did the same for my fiancee, both before and after the marriage. At one point she provided my wife a recipe box containing my favorite foods to help her in caring for me as the military was about to take my new family far from home. Her only criteria for a good spouse was that they were also my best friend and that they truly love me and care for me, so that she could one day leave this world confident that I was in good hands. She abhorred divorce as the child of a broken home, and often reiterated that “we make ourselves happy.  Your husband or wife simply shares the joy you create.” It was her greatest hope that I would find my soulmate, but she also insisted that soulmates were made and not found, and that developing a marriage to that point would take more years than she would live to see. I know for a fact, that they are both very proud and happy for what we found together and then built upon over the intervening years. By growing together instead of apart through joy and adversity, we, too, have become Soulmates.

Picture of my Grandparents

My Grandparents

Please feel free to share your thoughts or stories in the comments section, as always I appreciate your feedback and comments, tweets, likes, and reposts. You can email me at cc70458@gmail.com if you’d like to pass anything on.

Friends and Lovers

30 Dec

Who is your best friend. Think about this question for a second and visualize them, this is the person you tell all you innermost secrets to, the one you trust with your most embarrassing moments and dilemmas. They are the shoulder you cry on and the one who holds you up when you just can’t carry on anymore. Now is the person you are thinking of the one you are married to?

If your wife is not your best friend then you are missing out on a key aspect of marriage. God made woman because it was not good that man should be alone. Why did God not just make another man to be Adam’s companion?

Obviously, man was created with emotional needs that woman alone was specifically created to fill – and woman in being created for man, has needs only he can fill. It pains me to see so many people of both sexes who, though married, feel alone. This crisis in our society has led many to seek the companionship they innately require outside their marriage, constituting a dangerous situation for the marriage. Once one party turns to another for emotional or physical companionship, the consummation of that infidelity is imminent. Resulting in either the complete destruction of or irreparable damage to the marriage (it will never be the same again).

True intimacy requires that the couple be best friends, not mere acquaintances who are bound in temporary lust. It also requires that both physical and emotional needs are being met as circumstances permit. In a marriage, best friends share a physical bond as well as an emotional one. Like any relationship it requires continual maintenance, absolute trust, and absolute loyalty to maintain it.

If you wife is not your best friend, or if you are not hers, then you have your work cut out for you. This does not mean that she cannot or should not have friends of the same and even opposite sex. It does mean that you need to make sure that she is not put in a position of relying on those friends because you are unwilling or unavailable to her when she needs YOU. It also means that you both need to respect very firm boundaries regarding those relationships.

This is a place you must lead by example. As the husband the responsibility lies with you to be available, accessible, willing, and interested. The best way to make a best friend is to be one. If you cannot talk to her then how can you expect her to talk to you? If you cannot communicate, you cannot have real intimacy, and without real intimacy you cannot have a real marriage.

Some points to ponder:

1. Communicate. Your role here is to lead. Do not wait around for her to come to you. Go to her, and be a friend.

2. Respect Boundaries. Your wife is vowed to you and you to her. You disrespect her and your marital vows when you go outside your marriage for emotional support she should be providing and/or deny her the opportunity to provide that support. You also set a bad precedent if you do and by your example open the door for her to do the same.

3. Keep you Priorities Straight. Your wife should be the most important thing in your life. That said, make sure she knows it, and give her the tools and information she needs to support you. Make sure that you always do the same for her. Other friends, jobs, and hobbies will come and go over time, but your marriage should be the one constant you can count on.

4. No Secrets. They dissolve trust and erode intimacy. If you find yourself trying to conceal anything from your wife other than her Christmas present then you need to stop, drop everything, and talk to her. The sooner you fix it the less damage is done and the less damage you can do. Fixing it will also foster trust and let her know she can come to you in a similar situation before things get out of hand.

5. Share Everything. Shared thoughts, hopes, dreams, crisis, trials, triumphs, joys, and sorrows are the mortar that holds your foundation together. What good are your joys if you have nobody to share them with? Without support how much harder is it to deal with your sorrows?

Man is truly incomplete without woman. It is why she was created, and because she was created from part of man, she too is incomplete without him. Only by joining together in marriage do we reach our full potential in so many respects. A wife is so much more than a lover. She is a best friend. To forget that– even for a moment– is to deny yourselves a depth of joy and contentment which is otherwise readily attainable.

Please send requests, suggestions, questions, or comments to cc70458@gmail.com

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