Between deprivation and gluttony

Posted on June 25, 2013 by

Continuation of a previous thread. My final comment:

I think everyone is forgetting that I’m living with someone who wants less sex than I do, so I’m used to thinking about why that is and how I can benefit from it without feeling bitter and frustrated. I can totally empathize with men whose wives’ regularly reject them, but the sort of sexual temper-tantrums they throw at the idea of her turning them down ever is ridiculous. She’s a wife, not a human pincushion.

I’ve learned to take it in stride because I don’t think my husband is being unreasonable, and because I am not being deprived (Having sex twice per week, when I’d rather have it twice per day, is not deprivation, by any stretch of the imagination.), which is why I was sort of nonplussed by the idea that my marriage is less valid or holy just because we’re not going at it like rabbits. There’s nothing sinful about having a lot of sex, but there’s also nothing particularly holy about it. It is, on the other hand, possible that less sex is holier than more, depending upon how you use the extra time. It is likewise possible that more sex is holier than less, if it helps someone avoid an occasion to sin.

There is also — and let me say this explicitly — absolutely nothing wrong with a spouse occasionally saying no. I think it’s important to point this out to our readers, as many are frequenting sites where this distinction is never made, and I worry that some of their spouses might suffer in their confusion. You do not get to throw a Bible at your spouse if they sometimes say, “Not tonight, I don’t feel well.” Sometimes they really don’t feel well and you should back the fuck off. It’s not all about you. Get over yourself and learn some self control already.

The church (and not just the RCC, by the way) makes no demands that you have sex at all, so it’s fine to limit it as long as nobody is being truly deprived or otherwise suffering from the lack of it, and as long as you are open to accepting new life into your marriage (generally through adoption or pregnancy).

My larger point is that people criticize NFP because they do not understand the basic Catholic theology of marriage. Sacramental marriage is not primarily about sex, but about helping each other achieve holiness. That is what is so mysterious about it, and what elevates it above mere natural marriage, which really is just about sex (and therefore forbidden for Christians). Most of us, however, need the sex to stay on the straight-and-narrow, and then our spouse should help us out in that regard, so that we can avoid temptation and achieve holiness.

In short, I think there is a range between sexual deprivation and gluttony, just as there’s a range between food deprivation and gluttony, and each married couple should find their best place in that range. I know that nobody wants me to write stuff like this, because we’re supposed to be sex-cheerleaders or whatever, but I think it’s important to present some balance in our arguments.

And now you are free to scream at me and throw tomatoes at your monitor.