Married couples practicing abstinence?

Any married couples out there practicing abstinence as a means of birth control - or for other reasons? How’s it working out?

All married couples end up like this.
Best shown in the Playboy cartoon of the couple at the altar:
He’s thinking: Now I can have sex whenever I want.
She’s thinking: Now I never have to have sex again.

younger couples…

Manually, I would imagine.

SO and I are getting married Saturday. We’ve been abstinent for the past 3 weeks (at my suggestion - just a test of wills and self-control, plus it’ll make the honeymoon festivities all them more…festive).

The first week was difficult, the second week, was trying, the third week has been tempered a little by moving and the exhaustion that comes with that. The hot tub in the new house has not helped the cause. From here on out, it’ll be a long, slow, endurance march.

I don’t know of anyone doing this, but it’s startling how many times people on the SDMB have advocated exactly that. It usually starts out with “If you can’t afford kids, don’t have them” and then when someone points out that even conscientious couples can have failures in birth control, the original complainant then says they shouldn’t have sex. This is more often heard when discussing unmarried people and kids being born out of wedlock, but it’s come up for poor families (with married spouses) as well.

That star of Gladiator (the one with the Oscar) said he was celebate for 6 mos. to “prepare” for his wedding night.
Uh huh.

Well, he probably made up for it by “Fighting Round the World”.

My fiancee and I are technically practicing abstinence, only because we’re not married yet… :wink:

Seriously, we’re both Catholic, and we’re going to use Natural Family Planning. This isn’t abstinence per se; couples actually use it as a method of determining when the woman is fertile in order to decide if they want to conceive that month.

This is not the old rhythm method. In short, here’s how it works: the woman’s vaginal mucus becomes more tacky during her fertile period of the month. She checks the consistency of her mucus on a daily basis and over time, develops a schedule of when she’s fertile and when she isn’t. While not 100% dead-on, most couples who use it are able to come darn close (one couple who spoke with us explained that two out of three times, they were able to conceive a kid on schedule, and the third time, they only had to wait a month to try again).

As a caveat, we’re not using it as a method of birth control (like I said, we’re Catholic), but of family planning. Being newlyweds, out financial situation is going to be a little shaky, so this method will give us the freedom, like I said, to decide if we want to conceive that month.

However, it will result in a 10-day period each month where she and I won’t be able to engage in relations. Our hope is that it’ll never fall on a weekend where the kids are visiting their grandparents…

What exactly is the difference between abstinence as birth control and abstinence as family planning?

Well, if you’re not using a back-up method, there’s not really one.

If, however, you’re using condoms or something with FAM until you’re ready to get pregnant, there’s a big difference. Condoms are your birth control, FAM is helping you conceive once you’re ready.

All of them? I’ve been married for 18 years and we have sex at least 5 times a weeks.

In answer to the Op, though. I’ve never known a married couple who used abstinence as a birth control method. I’ve known some who used the rhythm method (or Natural Family Planning), as outlined above. And I’ve known many who skipped sex for a night because they were out of birth control supplies. I’ve known a couple who were celibate by choice (because they both had low sex drives and agreed to a “marriage of friendship” for convenience and compnay) – but they didn’t want children so the choice had nothing to do with birth control. I’ve never known a couple who used abstinence as birth control in the sense of saying, “We’ll only have sex when we’re trying to get pregnant.”

Actually, my wife and I used this method after the birth of our first child.

We have four now.

Not that it didn’t work, it just takes a lot of discipline during those 10 day stretches…

Anyway, I guess the answer to my original question is: no.

A very fine line. :wink: No, actually it’s considered a philosophical difference. Catholics reject birth control in part because it denies the fullness of the marital/sexual act. Think of it this way: marriage requires that the couple accept each other unconditionally, flaws and virtues alike. (This is why something like a pre-nuptial agreement would invalidate a Catholic marriage.) The idea is that by placing a condition on the marriage, you’re not taking the whole person for who they are. An included aspect of this is the other person’s fertility: in a certain sense, it says “I’ll only love you if we can’t have kids together.”

(BTW–I’m not raising this to pick on couples who contracept; I fully appreciate that many married folk are very loving to each other even though they use some form of contraception. At this point, I’m just explaining the theology.)

The Catholic Church teaches that sex is supposed to be unitive and procreative. The first element is often left out by critics of the church’s stance on sex–yeah, sex is for procreation, but not just that. It’s also supposed to bring the couple together in pleasure and love, and it sees contraception as an impediment to that.

I guess the other difference is on that second point–NFP is, in a certain sense, procreative. Again, it’s a philosophical dimension: NFP is intended to be open to life. That is, couples are supposed to take into account that a baby might still result. The Church, in fact, teaches that NFP isn’t supposed to be used as a method of avoiding kids, but of planning one’s family. If an “oops” baby results, as sailorbychance may have hinted (unless I read you wrong), the kid is supposed to be loved and accepted in full. The idea with NFP is that “we’d prefer not to have a kid right now, but we’ll love it if we do,” while for many people, contraception is “we don’t want to have a kid.”

Here’s a link for more info.

I went to High School with a girl whose parents slept in seperate beds, and were very secretive about it, not in the sense of protecting their privacy, but as if they were ashamed of it. They are/were the most miserable family I have ever seen. YMMV!!!

You’re right, it is a very fine line. But, IMHO, you are being disingenuous towards people who use contraception. Contraception does not mean always mean saying “never” to kids. It’s a very efficient and effective way of saying “not right now” for most people. I think you were remiss in not acknowledging that, or putting qualifiers in your post to that effect. Again, just IMHO.

We once went abstinent for a whole month because I didn’t have any bc pills.

It sucked…heh.

How do you know that they were practicing abstinence? Maybe he snored. I have known couples who slept apart for practical reasons but were still having frequent sex.

Excellent point. But the beds were in the same room, so I don’t know how much noise protection there was.
Also, they aren’t very loving towards one another, and haven’t been for years.

Ask any couple who’s got a toddler or infant in the house. :wink: