Chastity during Marriage and the Honeymoon Effect

If you practice the Creighton Model within a marriage and you are avoiding pregnancy, you know that periods of abstinence are required during times of fertility.  “Wow,” is often a couple’s first reaction.  “You mean there are times when we can’t have intercourse?”

That’s correct!  If you and your husband are seriously avoiding pregnancy, and if you are committed to practicing NFP, you must avoid any genital contact on the days of fertility in the woman’s cycle. On those fertile days, any genital contact may result in pregnancy.  It’s always a couple’s choice whether to refrain from genital activity on days of fertility or to engage in intercourse.  But if your decision on any given day is to avoid pregnancy, then all genital activity must be avoided.

This period of abstinence, however, is rarely a burden.  In fact, many couples tell us that periodic times of chastity actually increase their love, their passion and their devotion to one another.  The Creighton Model calls this “the honeymoon effect.”  Are we crazy?!

Not at all!  Philosophers from the “stoic” era realized that when we give something up, even for a short time, that “something” takes on even more value and gives more pleasure when we return to it.  And happily, the same applies to giving up genital activity for proscribed periods of time.  Read what Eric Baker wrote, and consider chastity a gift:

 Denying yourself something makes you appreciate the things you take for granted.

Ancient advice? Yeah, it sounds like something my grandfather would have said. But science agrees wholeheartedly.  Harvard professor Michael Norton writes that a bit of self-denial is a huge happiness booster: ” …if you love, every day, having the same coffee, don’t have it for a few days. Once you have it again, it’s going to be way more amazing than all of the ones that you would have had in the meantime… It’s not ‘give it up forever.’ It’s ‘Give it up for short periods of time, and I promise you you’re going to love it even more when you come back to it.”  Making the things you take for granted into “a treat” is something the ancients and scientists agree on. [Eric Barker from “Barking up the Wrong Tree” published online at “The Week”]

Abstinence during marriage is not a curse but a gift and a joy.  There will always be times when chastity is not a choice—for example, during illness, after the birth of a baby and during periods of separation.  Abstinence, chosen or secondary to life circumstances, allows us time to focus on our partner, who he or she really is intellectually and emotionally.  It allows us to step back from our passion but not from our love and devotion.  It allows us to be fully present without expecting anything in return.

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