Social Question

Hobosnake's avatar

How common is abstinence inside of marriage?

Asked by Hobosnake (796points) September 23rd, 2009

Do you, or does someone you know, practice abstinence within marriage? It’s a new idea to me and I’m wondering how common (or how rare) it really is.

The idea being that one does not feel ready for parenthood yet does not believe in sex without childbirth as a possible end, yet, at the same time, wants marriage.

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37 Answers

EmpressPixie's avatar

It is fairly common among couples who have very low/no sex drives to abstain, despite marriage. I have not heard of couples doing it for religious reasons, though, as you indicate.

I suspect the parenthood-sex thing has to do with religion, I could be wrong.

casheroo's avatar

I know of couples that abstain because they don’t use birth control and the only birth control they can use is just not having sex….and they want to prevent having children. I see nothing wrong with it. I don’t really think it’s just religious people. Well, I guess so because they could use condoms but I think some religions view that as wasting the “seed”.

XOIIO's avatar

I think the real definition for abstenance is “justcantgetanysoillmakeupawordsothatnobodyrealisesthatimactuallyincrediblydesperatefirsexbutcantgetany”


drdoombot's avatar

I think healthy relationships need to have sex.

With that said, abstinence is a common practice amongst Orthodox Jews when a woman is having her period. A husband is not allowed to touch (I mean literally, touch) his wife until after her period is over and she has purified herself in a ritual bath called a mikveh. Rabbinic scholars say that this actually strengthens the marriage, forcing the couple to connect in ways other than physical, for at least one week each month.

It’s a quaint idea, but I don’t know how true it is.

airowDee's avatar

Just do it , or not.

Its your life.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@drdoombot: That’s all true, but it doesn’t add up to abstinence to me. A lot of couples don’t have sex during menstruation.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

That thought process seems to go along with several religions. Which is one reason why some people have 8+ kids etc., they just don’t believe in contraception of any form

augustlan's avatar

I’ve never known a married couple to practice abstinence for reasons other than physical inability or lack of drive. I imagine some hard-core Catholics must do this though, either before they are ready for children or after they have as many as they want.

Hobosnake's avatar

Although at this point I highly value my virginity and am sort of in this position myself, I didn’t ask this question because I was interested in the prospect. If I do get married, it’ll be because I felt I could actually see myself as being ready for fatherhood some time in the near future and had found the right person, not because I decided to implement this idea.

I’m just interested in the idea, as it was foreign to me.

wildflower's avatar

Am I the only one thinking of that catholic sketch by Monty Python…?

ratboy's avatar

I thought abstinence after marriage was the norm for those too lazy to cheat.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@wildflower Every sperm is sacred

cyndyh's avatar

I practice abstinence within my marriage—sometimes more than once a day. :^>

It’s a good idea for the marriage to be about the couple first. If you rush into having kids too soon you don’t have much to build the family on. The couple needs to take some time to get to really know each other first.

As strange as you think it is for a couple to want to marry without having kids (like you stated in another question thread), some of us think it’s stranger still to make kids the focus of your relationship.

If you married and she couldn’t get pregnant would the marriage be a waste to you?

laureth's avatar

It depends on how long you’ve been married. ;)

janbb's avatar

What some people call “abstinenece” others just call “sleeping.”

Hobosnake's avatar

@cyndyh “If you married and she couldn’t get pregnant would the marriage be a waste to you?”

No, but I wouldn’t feel right not trying. I think the main thing is that I view it as simply too typical to love sex and hate pregnancy, and therefore put forward all efforts to have the former without the latter, and am disgusted with that idea. The entire process is a gift for those ready for the entire gift.

And some people seem to be confused. By “abstinence” I don’t mean a lack of adultery, I mean a lack of sex altogether, even with one’s spouse. I should hope the question be not worth asking otherwise.

majorrich's avatar

@wildflower every sperm is good

casheroo's avatar

@janbb lol, seriously.

I mean, what are we defining abstinence as, within a marriage? Because I know when I practice NFP (natural family planning) we would abstain when I’m most fertile…does that count? note:that is not how I got pregnant. NFP was great for us after our son was born, when followed properly.

majorrich's avatar

After 22 years, there are still many coins in the legendary wedding jar. That, and alas, the good Lord took the lead from my pencil 8 years ago.

cyndyh's avatar

@Hobosnake: I think everyone discussing it here does know what abstinence is. Some of us just have a sense of humor about it.

Not wanting to have children and hating pregnancy are two entirely different things. If you truly think sex with birth control is disgusting then, yep, I’d say you’re not ready. I’m just glad you don’t get to make my choices.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s never been common in any of my marriages, lol

cyndyh's avatar

I once knew a woman who thought her kids were too young to fast in observance of Ramadan. She had to convince one of them that if they had lunch that day they got to fast two times. :^>

lukiarobecheck's avatar

Casheroo, brought up an excellent point earlier that I was thinking about. “Wasting the Seed” I don’t understand that thinking by some religions. What about nocturnal emissions? It happens naturally.

wildflower's avatar

@Saturated_Brain & @majorrich guess I’m not the only one then :)

ratboy's avatar

@lukiarobecheck A nocturnal emission is not natural; it is fornication that occurs when a man is visited in the night by a succubus.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

@ratboy That is hilarious!

majorrich's avatar

Now, uh.. how is that pronounced again? :D

cyndyh's avatar

Suck You Bus. :^>

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@majorrich @wildflower [enter the little kids] Ooooooohhhh….

wundayatta's avatar

Marriage means a lot of different things to different people. For some, it does mean creating a family—at least, at some time in the future. Many couples will postpone children for periods of differing lengths of time. Some want to be married but they never want children.

So, for your first issue—marriage does not have to mean children. It is possible to marry someone not for the purposes of raising a family, but for other reasons.

This is confounded, though, for people with certain religious beliefs. Some believe that marriage is for children, and if you don’t want children, you shouldn’t get married. I guess is someone believes that and they don’t want children, they shouldn’t get married—at least, not until they want children.

Other people want to marry and have children eventually but not now. They have many birth control options. But some people don’t believe in birth control. Including so-called natural birth control. I think this is probably pretty rare. But people have all kinds of beliefs.

It’s hard for me to imagine being in such a situation, because it seems like you are deliberately putting yourself in an impossible situation. I think you have two choices—marry and don’t try to avoid children, or don’t marry and don’t ever have sex.

There are a number of people in the world who have eschewed marriage—at least to another person. Priests and nuns of some denominations are supposed to avoid sex with other people, and they are not allowed to marry. They are married to God or to the Church or something, instead. Who knows how many of them actually stay celibate? In any case, that’s a model for a marriage without children and without sex. It’s a metaphorical marriage, and I suppose that if that was of value to someone, or to two someones, then they could get married and not have sex. Again, I think this is quite rare.

I don’t understand why celibacy is important to some people. I do understand why remaining childless is important to people. I don’t understand why some people think that marriage is for having children, and that’s it’s only purpose. I don’t understand why some people believe that birth control is forbidden by their belief system. It seems to me like it would be a very twisted and confusing set of beliefs, and people who had those beliefs must have a hard time with life. But hey, different strokes for different folks. As long as they don’t try to force me or anyone else live by their rules, I’m happy to leave them be.

I think your scenario must be pretty rare. It seems like it would be an arcane religious practice. It seems like it would really mess with a person’s head. I can’t imagine that very many people would voluntarily take on such a challenge. I hope this is just an intellectual exercise, and not something you or someone else is actually considering.

Dr_C's avatar

We had this discussion last weekend. A friend had a bunch of us over for drinks at his house… the wives (and in my case fiancee) were all there also. We all got a little shitfaced and ended up playing a couples game similar to “the newlywed game” in board game form but with pre-set “naughty” questions etc.
One of the questions asked our hosts was “how often do you have sex?” they both answered “hardly ever”.... when we asked about this they both answered “dude.. we’re married”.


casheroo's avatar

@Dr_C Do they have children?

Dr_C's avatar

@casheroo not yet. (the other couples do… so basically this couple, Mrs C and I are the only childless people in the bunch).
I think it bears mentioning that they love spending time together and are still very much in love. They are both extremely busy people but are very considerate of each other, very loving and generous with each other and their friends.

Hobosnake's avatar

This is confounded, though, for people with certain religious beliefs. Some believe that marriage is for children, and if you don’t want children, you shouldn’t get married. I guess is someone believes that and they don’t want children, they shouldn’t get married—at least, not until they want children.

Funny you should say that, that would be me.

And no, I’m not actually considering this. I just heard about the possibility and became curious as to how common it might be.

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