Did you say ABSTINENCE? A challenge to love differently.

Using a natural system to avoid a pregnancy means that at some point during a woman's cycle, she will be fertile, and the couple will have a period of abstinence.  Usually this is only eight days but every woman's cycle is different.

Abstinence??? FOR 8 DAYS!!!!!!????  Um....

Breathe.  It's okay.  Abstinence is actually a beautiful thing. Let me explain. 

Would you believe me if I said that periods of abstinence in a marriage can strengthen it and make it better?

Would you believe me if I said that contrary to what mainstream media plasters all over the television and internet, we were created to love with our brains and not our genitals?

Yes, that's right. Love with our brains, folks. 

So why then is abstinence a beautiful thing?  Because it allows a couple to love differently outside of the marital act.  It teaches couples to love with their brains.. like a love boot camp, if you will.

Before learning Creighton, I had no idea how to love my husband.  Nobody had given me a "How to Love Your Husband for Dummies" book or anything like it.  Matter of fact, I thought I had the love thing all figured out -- imagine that.

I quickly learned that love takes time, patience, work.... Creighton gave me a place to start and I offer that to you this morning. A place to start loving your spouse better. 

Have you recently loved your spouse.......

Spiritually? This can include praying with your spouse or maybe praying for him/her.  Some ideas: try to go to daily mass twice a month together, commit to praying a novena (nine day prayer for a specific intention), pick a religious text to read together, meditate on one Scripture verse together before bed, bless your home together, give glory to God for the blessings in your life, invite God into your marriage and family vocally together... I love this area of love!  Ask God to help love each other better spiritually... He's always knows what is needed.

Physically? Hold hands during a movie.  Hug and kiss more frequently throughout the day. Cuddle.  Play footsie under the table at the in-laws.  Dance (dancing in the kitchen is MUH thing).  Affection is the key here.  It's important to practice affirming touch.

Intellectually? Being a stay home Mom I sometimes have the hardest time with this category because I talk to an infant all day, we don't have television, and I sometimes never get the chance to check the news to see what's going on in the world... I have to challenge myself to read articles or blogs so that I can bring something to a conversation other than "your daughter had five messy diapers today....".  It's important to bring something to the table -- even if you know it will spark a debate. :)

Creatively? I remember when my husband and I were engaged and just learning about The Five Love Languages; I figured out that my love language was gift giving and my husband's was not.  But he wanted to step out of his comfort zone and love me creatively with a gift.  SOOO, he gave me a dozen Gerbera daisies stuck in a four-pack of Red Bulls (at the time I was addicted to those things... gross) and I love those BIG daisies.  It was perfect!  Loving creatively breeds delightful memories, and we all want more of those, so go crazy with this one! 

We just recently celebrated our four-year anniversary and while I was away picking up Cheesecake Factory curbside to-go, he was at home decorating our house to look like our wedding reception.  He found the glasses we used with our first toast, he had a slideshow playing in the background, and he even picked up our remaining centerpieces from my Mom's and decorated the dining room table with them.  Then, after enjoying our dinner, he proceeded to have me sit on the sofa to watch our wedding ceremony and renew our vows.... sheesh, that man... creative.  He's come a long way from daisies and red bulls, eh?

Ok, enough 'I have the best husband in the world' mush... 

Emotionally? This area has been so important in our marriage.  I think the key here is attentiveness.  Are you aware of your spouse's emotional state?  Sometimes it takes a little more effort to 'see' what's going on with him/her.

Truthfully, abstinence is a beautiful gift in marriage, and I am thankful for it because every cycle I can consciously evaluate areas of my relationship I think I would otherwise glance over.  It's one thing to just not make love, and it's another to choose as a couple the same thing. Abstinence is a choice that the couple makes together and that's the difference. In choosing to abstain, the couple practices self control in their sexual relationship and agrees to love each other differently.  

Is it easy? Nope. 

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

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