Romance in marriage

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am back to this forum after nearly eight years. I benefitted a lot from reading the different posts. Now I need advice over a personal issue I have been quietly suffering from for the last 13 years. Please hear me out and give me some perspective. I feel lost.

Here is my problem:

I have been married for 13 years. I went to great length to ensure to myself that my marriage was "spiritual", meaning, no lust, no premarital sex, carefully evaluating my fiancé whether he had a good prayer life, asking him his dream of the kind of saintly life he wants to live with me serving the church..., you know, like that of the parents of reknowned saints the stories we hear about all the time. We fantasized a great deal about tithing and having a prayer room in the house we would build, etc. Especially me!

Then we got married. Everybody was happy for us as we were both dedicated servants in our parish. I then wanted to live the life I fantasized and pushed him to do this and that. He on the other hand began to belittle my "saintly" demands on him and myself. He started mocking me when I got up for prayer in the morning. For a while I focused on myself. But he became a once-a-week church goer, and his prayer life totally dissappeared. We lived like that for 6 years.

At the same time, the ugliest truth began rearing its head. We don't have any romantic feeling for each other. I dreaded sleeping with him, and he never seemed to care less. We realized we were both hardbworkers and dedicated servants who care for others, but more was needed between us than that: namely, a spark! A romantic attraction! A physical connection, and emotional chemistry. This caused a disaster on our marriage, added to infertility, and we nearly divorced. But he apologized and we got back together again. It was an embarassing experience because everyone who knew us heard of the marital friction and kept wondering how come the union that was so much envied up on (as some people later told me) ended up at such a place of bitterness, emotional distance, and barrness (both financial and biological). We seemed to never grow!

We still together, trying to groe financially (which we did), trying to conceive, waiting for God's miracle, but with each passing day, I lose my passion for life regretting how on earth my marriage became neither like the worldly couples who prioritize their own personal pleasure and satisfaction in spouse selection, nor like those saints whose lives I tried to emulate (especially the first four or five years).

Now I am begging God for the smallest things, such as an energetic day, and my miracle is not to produce a saint, but I am just asking for a child. I had wish to raise childrrn to serve God, dont get me wrong, I dont force things too much, I know the balance between fun and work/prayer. But my marriage is so messed up. Sometimes, we act like enemies. He is good with everyone else. I am fine with everyone else. We just don't fit with each other. I feel like I asked for fish and God gave me snake. My husband wants the marriage to continue. I don't. I sometimes feel suicidal. Had I been financially stable, I would have left!

Secular counselors tell me to leave. Christian counselors tell me to "bear my cross." But I have never talked this with Orthodox counselors as most marriage counselors in my town happen to be Protestants. Our soul father insisted we should stay together since there is no infidelity involved in our case. As a monk, I dont know how much he would understand romance and attraction. I am afraid he would simply consider me as lusting for some experience outside the marriage.

What do you advise me? Is there any hope for me? Anyone who understands what I am talking about please help!

I am confused and exhausted from years of contemplating divorce! Help!

Erene

Comments

  • edited April 23
    Please private message me. I was like your husband, and our marriage was very similar to yours. I believe I can be of some help if you allow me to speak frankly.

    Thank you for reaching out to us after many years.

    You are correct about the lack of Orthodox counselors or therapists. I would not advise a monk to be a Spiritual Father about marriage issues. I do not even confess to an English speaking monk who used to serve at our Monastery, I confess to our Abouna even though he is not great at English because he is married and has issues that you and I go through in marriage. I look forward to helping you as much as I can. Please pray for me, my wife and our son. It took us 16 years to have a child for very similar reasons to yours.
  • Thank you so much for your reply ItalianCoptic! I can't wait to learn from what you have to say!

    May the Lord pour His blessings on your family!
  • Dearest Erene,
    There is always hope. Christ tells us, what God has joined together, let no man separate. So escaping isn’t the answer. It’s an easy way out, that is simply not God’s will. Is it your cross to bear? Possibly, but this is a very diluted answer. Your cross might be that you might be the only one fighting for the marriage for a period of time, but if you approach it right, then it will no longer be a cross but a blessing. Our goal in marriage is to lead each other towards God. But it so happens this objective gets skewed with our inmost passions to satisfy our personal desires and wants in the marriage. Some of which are extremely normal. Not being able to have a child is a great burden. The one who is unable to provide is heavy ridden with guilt that is difficult to express and the one who is able but cannot is sacrificing a normal desire. Each one needs a good spiritual father and guide, as well as someone to guide you to accept your situation while knowing there is still a lot to fight for, their are other means to achieve your marital goal, as well as other ways to express this hidden love you would have for the child you wish to have.

    All that to say, there is hope, it is simply a matter to know the rights steps. Seek, you shall find. Keep praying that He opens the doors to the clarity of His will for you both. I’m sure He will deliver.
    God bless you and your marriage.
  • edited April 29
    I think it is good to pray, but don't do it on the expense of your marriage. If your husband wants or needs intimacy, and you go want to live a life of constant prayer, why did you marry him for?? Why not go into a monastery? 

    I don't think it is good he made fun of you, but sarcasm sometimes can show miscontent over your actions. 

    Let's get this straight: he became a once a week Church goer?? Church is once a week. What's wrong with you? And then you dreaded sleeping with him because of this??? Are you crazy?

    Look, be practical. Had you just had sex and made him happy, everything would have been OK. 

    I don't think you ought to divorce, but someone, other than your husband, needs to slap you, and then they ought to tell your husband that you've been corrected.

    So let's get this straight: you started bitching about his spiritual life and chastising him for not praying enough, and then when he got upset, you dreaded sleeping with him?????


  • edited April 29
    "Had you just had sex and made him happy, everything would have been OK."

    No. That's not how marriage works. That's an Islamic ideal, not Christian. A marriage in Orthodox Christianity does not say, "..Till death do us part." You become one in marriage.

    A marriage is not just about sexual gratification. Not only is that shallow and ignorant, but it shows that you aren't actually paying attention during Divine Liturgy. Sex is lust. I'm human, I look at beautiful women and I am not Saint. But, to suggest that my wife should have sex with me for my own satisfaction is selfish.

    Church is not just once a week. Most churches have Liturgy on Wednesday morning, Saturday and Sunday. I agree that the, "once a week.." comment is a bit pretentious.

    Her problem is not understanding that a marriage is not a Monk and a Nun getting together. My wife knows all my bad sides, I complain to her all the time, I'm short tempered with her, I rip stinky farts in bed and stay under the sheets, she sees my belly fat, she sees sides of me no one else knows about besides my Abouna and God know.

    That can be overwhelming for a person who can't grasp that. I don't know if she needs slapped exactly, probably to set standards for marriage that are a bit more practical and realistic. I can't knock you for being honest though.
  • Bro,

    When they tell us that we may become ONE - that is actually talking about sex. He even mentions it. They PRAY that we can be come ONE both physically and spiritually. So, having sex is part if becoming One. Islam is us becoming 5, then 4 then 3, then 2 and perhaps right back up to 5 again depending on your mood. HAHAH (1+4)


     NO NO.. In arabic, we have a word for this condition: IT IS CALLED DARWASHA

  • edited April 29
    @Zoxasi, forgive me but though it is not incorrect it is very incomplete, and slightly inappropriate. Sexual relations are beyond the simple act. In fact, the church teaches that there is unlawful sexual relations within marriage. Having sex, just for the sake of having sex, is not entirely correct. There is much more to it. It is as much of a spiritual relation than a physical one.

    Sexual relations, as you say Zoxasi, is crucial for marriage. And having good relations will have an impact on the health of the relationship, but there are many more factors to it. To even begin having relations, the female needs to feel romantically involved (and what is romantic to one female differs with another). Men are physically wired, women emotionally wired. Both need to feed into each other. There may be many stumbling blocks to these purpose in that relationship that both are blind to. We are all blind to our shortcomings and failures. Don’t be so quick to throw blame. Everyone has some blame to take. Always. Laying blame is pointless and a waste of time.
  • edited April 29

    "So, having sex is part of becoming One."

    It is, but not in the sense that you think it is.

    The purpose of sex, or simply procreation in general, is to strengthen the unified bond that is between the married couple. They come together to create a child who will eventually be another member of the church, as well as another member of Christ's army. Society today is extremely hellbent on perverting sex to something that it's not as ItalianCoptic described. If I look at a woman with lust, that's selfish.

    Pope Shenouda once said a great quote: "The difference between love and lust is this: love gives while lust only takes away." That's precisely what pleasurable sex embodies--if its for self-desire, I couldn't care less about my wife, but only for my own needs. 

    Islamic thought sees sex, and women in general, really, as an object(s) of gratification. Sex in heaven is the reward for the good muslim.

    Besides the point, marriage isn't all about sex. Its one PART of a healthy marriage I would argue, but it does NOT embody the entire relationship. That's precisely why the divorce rate in the U.S. nears 50% or so--many do not understand that point. A healthy marriage is one where 2 Christ-loving individuals are unified under the Holy Spirit and perform good works together. Sex on one hand and celibacy on the other are also 2 separate forms of service - one serves a future child of God, the other is service to a congregation or a community.

    I would highly suggest going on orthodoxebooks.org and looking up Bishop Moussa's commentary on these issues. He provides wonderful perspectives on all this. 
  • edited April 30
    @ShareTheLord and @PopeKyrillosHabibi

    Awesome backups from both of you.

    @Zoxsasi I apologize for my impending statements, but your mindset is Arab and Islamic. I married a woman from Cairo. My son, in his four weeks on the planet, has stayed at our Abouna's house, spent the Holy Week at the church and has been cared for by his mother, Tasoni, and his grandmother and grandfather. All of whom speak Arabic as a native tongue. He only hears English and the occasional Italian phrase from me.

    I have been with my wife for sixteen years and have fully embraced the Egyptian Christian culture. My son will barely know his Italian side, and that is a conscious decision made by his father.

    With that said, I have a keen understanding of your culture. I also enjoy having an outsider's perspective with an ability to analyze your culture. Much of what I see and know is genuine and loving. Some, is influenced greatly by 1,400 years of Islamic presence and about 1,300 of those years in relative isolation from western influences until English colonization of your country. That doesn't mean because I'm American my morality is superior. My morals were taught to me by my Italian and Sicilian grandparents.

    A woman pleasing a man solely for his own benefit is abhorrent, disrespectful and a disgrace to our Christian values. That is not meant to be some liberal, modern perspective. That was taught to me as a child by men who fought in World War II almost eighty years ago.

    You obviously are not married and are merely in your 20s. There are times a woman may do something for her husband she doesn't want to do to make him happy. That is called being respectful. Respect is earned, not given because of your sex. I do laundry, cook equally to her, do dishes, clean the house and even pick up groceries. Do you think those are things I enjoy? But, because I contribute and help, she allows me to do things she doesn't enjoy with me.

    That is marriage. The issues with the OP are based on mistakes that were intended to be beneficial, not just because she doesn't have sex with him. I had issues with intimacy with my wife after we got married, and that was far more complex than not just having sex. Marriage is a serious commitment that many people are not prepared for. There are a
    number of details and a dependency on both parties that a person may not understand. A successful marriage is a cross we carry. It is extremely difficult with many hardships, but when you face them together with Christ it makes a bond that only a mother and child can supplant.





  • Look,
    we are not kids. I disagree with you all. 
    It worries me your philosophy.

    1. Desiring sex in marriage is not wrong. Is that desire lust??? No! St Paul even says that you ought to give yourselves to one another rather than BURN in desire. 
    2. Marriage is a sacrament. Whether you have sex, or not, whether you love each other or not, Marriage is what makes me happy as a Christian man. It is God's blessing in this unity that I love. 
    3. I find it very offensive that if someone says something you disagree with, you reply "Oh that's Islamic" . FFS! 
    I find the Coptic Christians do not know ANYTHING about their faith, a bunch of medarwisheen people, and the ONLY thing they know is "We are not muslims". Do you understand salvation? No. But we know we are not muslim.

    4. We all have a relationship with God. It goes up and down. We change. God does not change towards us. We change towards him. Give your husband , or wife, the space to change towards God. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB to mentor them spiritually. It is your job to workout your OWN salvation. You should be a blessing to your partner in their spiritual lives, but not a director. If you like to pray together, great. If not, don't force your husband into prayer to the point of him nearly divorcing you. That is stupid.


  • How was anything said above in disagreement with what you said?
  • edited May 2
    No one is disagreeing that sex in marriage is not lust. We're disagreeing that you assume a woman should just have sex to please a man. And if you want me to not use an offense term and call your mentality Muslim, stop acting like one. Even your view on prayer is Muslim. Yes, I agree the original question was a bit pretentious as I have said, but to say you don't play a role in your spouse's prayer life is, once again,against what we should be teaching in our church. For someone who trashes his own people for being ignorant, you are acting in the same manner with a narrow a selfish view of prayer in marriage. My Abouna and his wife pray together all the time. My wife and I can interchangeably move from part to part of the Agpeya when we pray. That creates an amazing connection for a marriage.
  • "We're disagreeing that you assume a woman should just have sex to please a man". What a WAY to twist my words!!! HIS WIFE SHOULD HAVE SEX WITH HIM if he is burning in desire than to say to him : "NO! Let's pray 1st" . 

    And yes it pleases him. The same for him: if she's burning in desire, and needs sex, he should submit to her. It's normal. AND YES!! THAT COULD MAKE BOTH OF THEM HAPPY!!!
    There is NOTHING unchristian about this.

    You guys like to act holier than God and it just makes you look medarwisheen.
  • edited May 4
    Again Zoxsasi, it seems that you are not really willing to listen and instead are just, unfortunately, attacking. Don't you agree that if the man is in "burning desire," as you say, to have sex with his wife, that there's an inherent problem within the relationship? And that such a desire is inherently lustful in nature? The woman is not to "please" the man. No one party in the relaitonship has dominion over the other. They have been, and forever will be, unified as ONE. They have since their marriage and ever since Christ's carnal sacrifice for us. 

    Read Anba Moussa's excerpt on this. I think you, and really all of us, could benefit immensely from it. I certainly have and will continue on to reading the actual book soon. 

    No, none of here is acting holier than God. God is the only Perfect Being, the ONE true God that we all believe in and whom we submit to and glorify forever and ever. We are all simply discussing the significance of meaningful relationships in the Coptic church. 

    Instead of having this turn into a fight...let's all thank God and the Church for teaching us the RIGHT way to maintain a relationship and treat our spouses on earth for His glory +

    ربنا يهديك ;)
  • You know what?? I think I mis read the original post. Well, I may have made some wrong assumptions. we know that she wanted to have a kind of prayerful life with her husband, but we dont know whether she refused him sex as a result of that.

    If she refused him sex because she wanted to pray, then I stand by my statement: that's dumb.

    If her hubby was simply put off sex because he found his wife unattractive or boring from all this prayer, well, I think that's another problem.

    I just dont understand why they were going to divorce.

    I think it is great to pray together. Especially in marriage. But she seems a bit odd. I mean she is upset that her husband is a once a week Christian. That's just silly.
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