Q. When an aging married couple have difficulty engaging in the marriage act, can they resort to mutual masturbation or marital sodomy?
A. No. Regardless of our ages, the pleasures of the marriage act are reserved exclusively to the marriage act.
Sometimes there are some things that can be used to help the aging couple engage in the marriage act. If the wife is suffering from vaginal dryness,a lubricant can be used. It is for similar situations that a drug such as Viagra can be used. I hate the Cialis ads so much that I don’t like to mention these things. You certainly don’t see old duffers in their ads.
Q. If a married couple cannot engage in the marriage act, does that drain the marriage act of its unitive dimension?
No, the absence of the marriage act does not drain a marriage of its unitive dimension. The marriage act is a unique expression of marital love and affection, but it is by no means the sole expression. In fact, with a 50% divorce rate among contracepting married couples, it is clear that immediate and frequent access to the marriage bed is utterly no guarantee of a happy marriage. If one or both spouses feel sorry for themselves, then the absence of the marriage act can be a real drag. But if they accept it as part of growing old and focus more on showing affection in other ways, they may be happier than ever. They can still give each other a big hug and a kiss in the kitchen. The can still snuggle in bed, and one or the other or both may still experience sexual arousal in such circumstances. And if this is so, they are obliged not to let themselves be carried away to experience non-coital orgasm.
Marital chastity without the marriage act is not the celibacy of a married person with respect to someone not his or her spouse. The signs of affection in the above paragraph are certainly forbidden with the next-door neighbor. The non-marriage-act tokens of affection and caring love are important as signs of marriage.
Because of the nature of sexual pleasure, we married men sometimes have to ask ourselves if we are engaging in the act as an act of caring, marital love or whether it’s too much or too often primarily for our own satisfaction. I’m not saying it is wrong to have pleasure on one’s mind. But we do need to keep in mind that the marriage act needs to be far from the sole expression of caring love for one’s spouse. Lastly, it may sometimes be helpful for us who are entering the age of attending funerals and wondering who’s next that one of these days or years we won’t have each other. And I suspect that when one becomes a widow or widower, she or he will be reflecting on their bedroom affection much less, if at all, than on whatever he or she did to make the spouse feel loved and cared for outside the bedroom. (The morning I wrote this I attended the funeral of a man 12 years younger than myself. And he was a widower of some years.)
I hope someone finds some of this helpful.
John F. Kippley
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