I’m sorry for the length, but want to give a clear picture of the scenario to get guidance.
My backstory: I am a cradle Catholic, but wasn’t consistent with my faith for a number of yrs. When my husband & I married 20yrs he was disinterested in anything religious or the idea of going to church, but tolerated the idea of raising our children Catholic as long as he didn’t have to take part in any way. He converted to Catholicism 6 yrs ago at the time of our 3rd child’s First Communion and fully embraced it, which was an unexpected blessing. He wanted to be authentically Catholic rather than the cafeteria-style I’d been raised with, so we began NFP, close observance of holy days, traditions, etc. In recent years he’s gotten more devout and lead us to attending TLM, daily rosary, fasting from meat on all Fridays, and he does First Saturdays devotion. He reads A LOT of doctrine, Church Fathers writings and listens to traditional podcasts and has become disdainful of post Vatican II reforms & Novus Ordo Mass, but I’m feeling this drive to constantly go deeper is now straining our marital relationship.
Not long ago he’d read about martial abstinence just before communion, which we’d not heard of previously, so we started to avoid intimacy the day before Mass. He also started fasting from eating from the night before as well, even though 1hr before is the norm. It’s as though whatever is current practice, he believes it’s not enough and wants to go further. Recently he started reading the Catechism of the Council of Trent that states:
"The first is that marriage is not to be used for purposes of lust or sensuality, but that its use is to be restrained within those limits which, as we have already shown, have been fixed by the Lord. It should be remembered that the Apostle admonishes: They that have wives, let them be as though they had them not, and that St. Jerome says: The love which a wise man cherishes towards his wife is the result of judgment, not the impulse of passion; he governs the impetuosity of desire, and is not hurried into indulgence. There is nothing more shameful than that a husband should love his wife as an adulteress.
But as every blessing is to be obtained from God by holy prayer, the faithful are also to be taught sometimes to abstain from the marriage debt, in order to devote themselves to prayer. Let the faithful understand that (this religious continence), according to the proper and holy injunction of our predecessors, is particularly to be observed for at least three days before Communion, and oftener during the solemn fast of Lent."
When he told me, my response to it was surprise and I noted that we already have significant periods of abstinence since my NFP cycles are erratic plus the single day before communion observance. He said nothing more, but since then he’s noticeably avoiding intimacy or anything that could lead to it. As he often attends Mass more than once a week I can see this new abstinence outlook will dramatically change our physical & emotional closeness, which had felt solid until now. I am struggling with this version of the catechism saying “sexual union is rendered right and honourable by marriage”, but then making it seem like it should be significantly avoided or is somehow dirty to be attracted to your spouse physically. We had a very low point in our marriage when I had post-partum complications at the birth of our 3rd child and he was very hands-off with parenting. I became emotionally & physically drained and needed support & affection, but it went unnoticed. I developed post partum depression and he retreated into his hobbies which lead to 6 months of abstinence that was emotionally very painful. I felt immense rejection from his disinterest at that time and those same feelings have come flooding back as I see him spending time scrolling through news or playing video games in bed as avoidance of intimacy now, which does not seem to be “devoting that time to prayer instead” that is called out in that text.
I don’t know a lot about doctrinal changes or context, but have seen that at the time the Council of Trent was written, taking communion was done very infrequently - not even once a month. Given that, I can see why more preparation/fasting beforehand would be so important, but in the current times with communion being much more frequent it seems extreme. I also know the Church has eased on a lot of fasting and abstaining in general in more recent times, but my husband’s aversion to Modernism means he often thinks current practices “aren’t enough” and only sees much older doctrine as true adherence. I’m perplexed at how to talk about this with him. I feel somewhat guilty because it’s like I’m asking him to put physical or psychological needs before what he now feels we need to do for our Faith, but I cannot see how this will not cause difficulties as it seems to push us into near celibacy in our marriage. I’d appreciate any references or advice on how to better deal with this.