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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 58 - Celebrate Celibacy {FMF}

And we are here again for Five Minute Friday, the keyword-inspired blog party hosted by Kate Motaung. We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday, hosted my the terrific Messy Marriage site.

Today's word is CELEBRATE.

And I bet you're already taken aback by the title, right?

Execute.

This is going to be very personal - be warned. And it's from a guy's point of view. Prepare to be shocked.

Celibacy is fun.

Sex is now out of the question for us. I'm in too much pain, and Barbara is horrified that I could die during intercourse. Heck of a last memory.

But I'm still human...and some things are hard to give up

There are compensations, though, to a celibate life.

First, though, to be able to be happy in it, you've got to step away from the physical desires. Not to denigrate them; that's just sour grapes. But to look at their place in life, and to realize...I am much more than that.

I don't have to find an identity in sexuality, or in 'potency', or whatever words men like to use to 'feel like a man'.

It's a choice - to turn those energies and those desires into something else entirely. The pshrinks call it sublimation.

I call it transcendence.

It's a step in transcending myself, really; to step out of this box that is my body, and to allow my spirit to soar free. A part of me is no longer tied to a self-image that had been, unfortunately, tarnished by stereotype and posturing.

I can focus on compassion now, on listening. I can see through the veil a little more clearly, because my reflection isn't blocking the view.

God's voice is clearer now; I'm not drowning him out with an instinctive "I want".

I can focus on what really pleases my wife, while not thinking of what I might get in return.

In discipline, there's freedom.

I like being free.

Endex.

Whoa. Never thought I would have the nerve to write this one. I'll be very interested to hear y'all's comments.

Fire away.

43 comments:

  1. It is actually sort of cool that you wrote about this!!! I know your reasoning behind it is far different than my own and I am a female, BUT i have been on what i call a "sex strilke" since 2007. I was walking down a very dangerous road after I had my children and I was placing personal value on being wanted, sexually. I miscarried a few times and realized that by only valuing myself by men "wanting" me I was degrading myself, so after a tough miscarriage I went on "strike". It was the best decision I have ever made. Sure I miss it, but I love myself so much more than I ever thought possible!!! I don't worry about wanting to look sexy or any of that. I want someone who wants me for my heart and I want them for their heart as well. I am in a long distance relationship and have been for 2 years now and some find it odd that we don't do the online thing like some do, but its about respect, respect for ourselves, and for one another. It is truly a beautiful and amazing thing when you are chaste, it really is freeing!! Thank you for sharing from your much more difficult point of view. I love how much this journey has opened you up and is teaching you. To God be the Glory!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Marisa!You've expressed this beautifully, and this is a great addition. I really appreciate your sharing this story. I pray that the relationship you have will fulfill you, heart and soul...and that the wait will make the physical have the meaning that it's supposed to have. I admire you.

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  2. Thank you for your honesty, Andrew! Pedro and I had a season of celibacy during his cancer treatment. I'd call it more of a medically enforced celibacy than anything else--but boy, did we every appreciate each other more later on.

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    1. I'm so glad that it was a passing season for you and Pedro, Anita. And that the interlude it offered made your appreciation for each other all the sweeter. Thank you for sharing this.

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  3. Andrew,
    you're never one to shy away from bravery. Bravo. As soon as I saw your title I was laughing and intrigued (and a bit worried) about what you would have to say. :)
    When marriages are as they were intended to be-the most beautiful of friendships, intimacy is not limited to physical interaction. I would say the times I appreciated my husband the most were during the least attractive seasons of pregnancy when celibacy was the only option. I felt the most love and affection from him when I was the most swollen and miserable physically I had ever been in my life.
    It only deepened our bond, because we were focused on caring for each other. When the season of celibacy was over, there was celebration, but there is so much more depth to life together than that one aspect.
    Well-written, again! Thankful you were feeling up to it tonight.
    Sincerely,
    Tammy
    (#5 this week instead of in the 50s or 70s...)

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    1. Well, isn't that a writer's job...to worry people a bit? (Smiling hurts today, but I am smiling!)

      You've expressed this beautifully, and you're so right, that the blessing of intimacy can come when we least expect it, in ways that we would not have foreseen.

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I really appreciate the time and heart you put into it...and the courage. We need to express these things, to know learn from others the full depth and breadth of the love God put into our hearts...for each other, and for Him.

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  4. Andrew, thank you for being brave. I was actually intrigued by your post title. As a virgin (did I really just type that here?), I appreciated your thoughts on this subject. I want my future spouse to be more than the physical stuff. I loved this line: "I can focus on what really pleases my wife, while not thinking of what I might get in return." I am parked in the #6 spot this week.

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    1. You're the brave one, Tara. You show it every day, in choosing to remain chaste until marriage. There are so many benefits to that...and so many things that are just plain wrong with premarital sex.

      I salute you!

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  6. [First of all, I had to chuckle, because whilst obviously it would be a horrid horrid memory for your wife, to go out in that way would, I'm sure, be a pretty good last memory for you!]...as you knowI'm a great believer in the power of training our minds and I definitely see the deep worth and value of transcendence....(hate to write this but 'I'm so glad to see you're still here'...) Helen P.S. Didn't reply to your long comment on my post as it would have turned in to an essay...(sorry...)...

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    1. I actually didn't think of that! You gave me my laugh for the day - thanks!

      I'm pretty glad to still be here, too.

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  7. Your words here: It's a step in transcending myself, really; to step out of this box that is my body, and to allow my spirit to soar free. A part of me is no longer tied to a self-image that had been, unfortunately, tarnished by stereotype and posturing.

    I can focus on compassion now, on listening. I can see through the veil a little more clearly, because my reflection isn't blocking the view.

    Wow. Isn't that the truth. We posture and try to be all things to our spouse when really the best thing we can be is a listener. We are adults, and we need a lot of things but really a friend and companion who listens is a huge gift and worthy of celebration. Celibacy is also worthy of celebration because when we make that choice for whatever reason we are able to more closely hear others and see others perhaps. Cheers to you and your wife as you continue to love each other in your own special ways day by day! Jenn #22 FMF

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    1. Thank you so much for this, Jennifer. It is true...being able to grow one's listening heart, without impediment, really does open up vistas of love and understanding that are often shrouded my the smoke arising from flames of passion.

      And the choice of that discipline, every day (even though it be driven by circumstance) pays dividends in so many areas of life.

      Thank you so much for being here today.

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  8. Love your honesty. So appreciate reading your wise and thought out responses to FMF each week. Thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your life. It's an honor to read.

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    1. Thank you, Syndal. It's an honour to have you here, as a reader an commenter.

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  9. Yes - "In discipline, there's freedom. I like being free." Beautiful summary here, Andrew.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa. I appreciate the comment, your presence here, and your friendship.

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  10. Loved this post, Andrew! As a single-again, celibacy has been a difficult issue in my life...especially as newly single-again...and I made some really bad choices! :-) But God is gracious in forgiveness and in teaching me all the nuances of intimacy with Him, and friends, and family. Physical intimacy is a true blessing, but there are many more layers of intimacy to be enjoyed as well. Blessings to you today!

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    1. I love the way you put this, Holly..."many more layers of intimacy". That's a strikingly apt image, and it's so true!

      Thank you for being here today. Thank you for being my friend.

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  11. You needed to go there, Andrew. And you can bet that plenty will resonate with your words.

    Wise indeed ... as ever.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. It was a difficult piece to write (which is why it's the 58th installment...I had to work up the nerve). But you're absolutely right. It had to be written. Glad I did.

      And thank you for being here...you are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  12. You, our friend and comrade, are brave to go with a post with TMI!!! LOL! Intimacy is found in so many different ways - a good hand-holding fest and sitting on the couch is kinda cool too!!!! xo I'm just glad you're still here, Andrew.

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    1. Um, Susan...I had to look up what the acronym TMI meant. Texas Military Institute?

      Oh, maybe the other one. Three Mile Island? Yeah, what a meltdown.

      Seriously, I put a lot of thought into approaching this, because it's kind of necessary, but WAY to easy to give TMI...or too little to be useful.

      Then I figured that I might kick it around until it's too late to write, so I took a pass at it...and was nervous when I hit 'publish'.

      And I'm glad to be here, too.

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  13. Brave, very brave to write about sex (or lack of it) with a bunch of women reading! I LOVE getting your perspective and it will be missed, someday, but not yet. I personally wish more Christians would talk about sex. Especially those of us that have been happily married for a long time. God designed it for US, not for the world. What you wrote made me think of the Scripture about abstaining for a period of time. It sounds like your forced celibacy has allowed you and your wife to have some very special intimate times. As your time draws nearer those will be sweet memories for Barbara. (much better than a memory involving love making and dying)

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    1. I completely agree with you, Christy. Sex is an important part of Christian life, and it's not, as some Christians seem to think, a mistake on God's part. He used the metaphor of Christ the bridegroom deliberately, to make us realize that our faith is supposed to permeate all levels of our being.

      It's actually easier to write about this for a large-female audience. Men get their egos bound up in their sexuality and identity, and it can be hard to present anything other than "I am a Man, I can do anything!" thesis. It's beginning to change...I hope.

      And yes, enforced celibacy does make the other intimacies of marriage both sweeter, and refreshing. Intercourse, even if I braved the pain, would take a lot out of me.

      What is there instead gives me strength.

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  16. Andrew - you certainly give us much food for thought, don't you? As a member of the thank-God-for -grace-from-my-twenties generation, I've given a lot of thought about sex and intimacy. I know how easily intimacy can be taken out of the act of sex (note: 'act'). It is interesting to consider that sex can be taken out of the 'act' of intimacy. I believe you are transcending the ordinary. I looked forward to reading your post today - and I continue praying for relief from your pain and peace for you. Gentle hugs, sir, gentle hugs with great respect.

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    1. My comment multiplied! Eek!

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    2. O Janet of the multiplying comments! Thank you so much for the prayers, and the gentle hugs. They are important, in a way beyond words.

      When you realize the process of transcendence...catch it in the act, so to speak...it's kind of fun. To realize that there's a far deeper intimacy that can be gained by giving up the physical form...it's like being on the edge of the Grand Canyon as sunrise, as the new day unfolds the glory for you.

      Thank you for being here - I appreciate your presence, and your comment!

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  17. Brave words, Andrew! Your perspective is unique and challenging for any married person. Visiting from FMFParty. Ever grateful.

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    1. Christina, thank you so much - I really appreciate that...and I so value being a part of FMF. It's the highlight of my week.

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  18. Andrew, one of the many things I've appreciated about you is your transparency and your "realness." I know when I read your words I'm going to get the real Andrew. Nothing sugar-coated or fake. Thank you for that. Not many could appropriately address this subject, let alone write about it. Glad you did both. Keep sharing, brother. You continue to inspire!

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    1. Julie, I can't begin to say how much I appreciate your words. Writing this at the end of what has been a really ugly few days, they're a balm and a spur to my spirit.

      Thank you so much for being here.

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  19. Andrew, one of the many things I've appreciated about you is your transparency and your "realness." I know when I read your words I'm going to get the real Andrew. Nothing sugar-coated or fake. Thank you for that. Not many could appropriately address this subject, let alone write about it. Glad you did both. Keep sharing, brother. You continue to inspire!

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  20. Is it out of place for me to continue in 2 Corinthians here, after beginning there on my own blog? We're in such different spots, yet with a God whose truth is not relative to our positions.

    "So we do not lose heart." -- and I see that you aren't! -- "Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction" -- yikes! -- "is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison . . . ." (2 Cor. 4:16, 17).

    I'm just getting early glimmers of the glory of the temporary marriage, while you're getting ready for the permanence of that incomparable, eternal weight of glory. Thanks for so graciously sharing that process with us. God is good.

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    1. Not out of place at all - I think it;s wonderful, and I thank you.

      I pray for you daily - that your marriage may be all that you hope it will be, and more, and that it's truly a reflection of the Almighty's love.

      God is indeed good, all the time. He doesn't get a break from Goodness!

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  21. I appreciate your honesty. Illness throws a real tough wrench into the sex thing. It's hard for the not-ill spouse to not take it personally. There's tears and questions and anger. But I think that, with a whole lot of prayer, God can and does take this hardship and turns it into something good. We come to understand the greater depth and meaning of marriage. We learn to express love and intimacy in different ways.

    Love you, brother.

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    1. Marie, yes - you're absolutely right, and you said this beautifully. The transcendence I mentioned is a kind of birth - there's both pain and glory mixed.

      In a small way, transcending our passions becomes a window onto His Passion - you think?

      Love you too, sister. You are a strong arm, holding me up, and a strong heart, sometimes beating for mine.

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  22. These are hard posts, for sure! Deep, thought-provoking and words that may, at first seem hard to share. First, what you share with us...FROM YOUR HEART AND SOUL! Then, what others share of their lives just in a "simple" comment to your post!

    Me? I've never really been a big fan of that...you know, sex! I am not, in any way, shape, OR form, sexy...and that doesn't bother me. I hope and pray I am loved for who I am inside, more than what I look like on the outside.

    What you are doing for your wife is admirable; afterall, we should think of each other when in a relationship, regardless of what "barriers" there may be. As others have said, you ARE brave and to be admired...take advantage of what you do have and can do...if I make any sense at all!

    Prayers continue...and as someone said...so happy that you are still here. Your words are cherished and look for them each day! Thank you!

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    1. Barbara, thank you so much for this comment, and the transparency you've offered.

      I've been told that I have the physical appeal of a piece of plywood (not by my wife).. But that's OK. There is SO much more to life, as you said!

      Thank you for being here, Barbara...and please excuse my delayed response. Very hard days.

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  23. Yes, there really is freedom in celibacy to explore new aspects of your relationship that might have taken a backseat when sex was in the picture. I think it's so important for couples to cultivate these avenues of intimacy just as much as they do the physical avenue. I'm so glad that you are doing that with Barbara. Listening and being "present" are bigger and more precious gifts to our mates than we ever stop to realize until it is just about all we can do for them. Thanks for this important challenge, Andrew. I think it's one that couples universally--healthy or not--should embrace.

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    1. "...cultivate these avenues of intimacy."

      Exactly, Beth, and beautifully said.

      Thank you so much for being here, and please excuse the lateness of my reply. Hard days.

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