Strain from Husband Increasing Marital Abstinence

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.

The only person that can solve this problem is your husband. You need to have an honest conversation. You can point to the Song of Songs to prove that God approves of sex for pleasure. If this doesn’t help, convince him to see a psychologist/psychoanalyst for couple’s therapy.

It also could be the case that your hubby is hiding behind religion to avoid discussing his erection issues.

I, too, suspect that there may be other issues here, whatever they might be. Many spouses seek out pretexts to avoid sexual relations.

Your husband needs to read this from Pope St Pius X in 1905:

You might also ask for a traditional priest (such as FSSP) to sit down with the two of you, and explain the relevant issues to your husband. I say that not to call into doubt the guidance of a priest who offers the Novus Ordo, but to find someone who could gain the trust of your husband. Think, too, that following the more stringent Tridentine guidelines, someone who receives communion daily could never honor the marriage debt. Those guidelines were set in a time when the laity rarely received communion.

1 Like

I hope this reference link might help you understand and also protect your self worth from what is happening. Fisheaters is traditionalist leaning but endeavoured to draw the line at attitudes that are obviously and destructively toxic. :pray: :pray: :pray:

This Fisheaters essay creates a “straw man”.

I have never known any traditionalists who were anything like this.

Anybody can write an essay. This article is a big steaming load of BS. It has some of the feel of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. It’s basically hate speech.

Outlandish allegations against a “disliked other” don’t have such a good track record.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. - Exodus 20:16 NABRE

1 Like

Fisheaters is a traditional Catholic site if you care to go and peruse the content. The owner is very aware of the virulence of toxic traddism having dealt with them on the discussion forum for many years.

You seem to think if you say something with enough emphatic force, you make it true. The OP is dealing with her spouses ever increasing trad behaviours that are affecting her sense of self. Perhaps you aren’t the right person to offer good advice for her.

I re-read this article more closely. I would say that maybe five percent of these things (and that’s being generous) have maybe a little bit of truth to them. The rest is turgid, histrionic drivel. As to “you seem to think if you say something with enough emphatic force, you make it true”, that sounds like it applies to the author of the article, more than anyone else.

Are you sure this isn’t some kind of parody piece? It reads more like something out of The Onion.

All I can say, is that I invite anyone to seek out their nearest TLM, go two or three times (you won’t know enough to make a judgment, just going once) and see if there is even a hint of, as I said, more than five percent of what is in this philippic. You’ll see.

1 Like

Fisheaters is a traditionalist site and the tract isn’t a ‘parody’. It’s a common enough and recurring phenomenon that the Magisterium has had to put restrictions on the movement to curtail the toxic elements that do nothing good for the god given faith of people.

P.s. Perhaps you could start some threads about you and your favourite issues rather than making every thread that comes up about you.

Duly noted.

This hatchet job of an article, with its exaggerated, largely baseless litany of woes, does nothing whatsoever to address the concerns of the OP. Fisheaters appears to be pretty much on hiatus lately.

The OP needs to take her husband to a priest who could win his trust. In this case, that would be a priest of a traditionalist bent, such as an FSSP priest who ipso facto is in full unity with the Church.


I agree with a previous poster that avoidance of sexual intimacy is likely a red-flag pretext for other issues in your marriage. Speak with your priest, and seek a referral to a marriage counselor. At least go alone, if he won’t go with you.

That is a very great thing, as we should always be growing in faith. That said, I would recommend trying to get him to watch this video:

His attention is distracted away from his family. Virtual things are powerfully adictives, and maybe he feels it’s more important for him than the monotony of conjugal life.

You should try to set strong boundiaries.
No screens in the bedroom. Definitely.
Go to bed at the same time. At least make it a duty at some times, when it’s “green” days.
Work to maintain physical contact. Every day at least a small thing.It may become a ritual.
Pray together, all days, in family, and as a couple.
Have discussions all days. Unimportant and more important. Look at each other, listen to the other.

I advise you to go to your traditional priest for help and advise. Maybe to a Catholic counselor.

These problem don’t go better if we do nothing.


As for “toxic traditionalism” as described on the website:
-Treating religion as a philosophy is a step into atheism. Religion is a relationship with God.
-Racism and nationalism have nothing to do with Jesus.
-It is moronic to believe the 1950s were a heyday of Christian social conservatism. This is the decade that gave the world the bikini, Elvis-Pelvis and beatniks.
-Criticizing modern technology is commendable. Transhumanism is around the corner, and it may be the a sign of the Antichrist.

1 Like

I would encourage @MG518 to avoid any association with a hypocrite who tells women to be silent while laughing her way to the bank doing just the opposite.

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.