Transitioning from Marriage to Celibacy

ON TRANSITIONING FROM MARRIAGE TO CELIBACY

There was a recent BYU article about "Transitioning from Sexually Active to Sexually Inactive" that got a good deal of well-warranted criticism. The author (who has never been divorced or widowed) gave a heartfelt and vulnerable apology for the insensitivity of the article. In fairness, she was assigned to write the article by a professor she worked for. The following was my response to her apology. I hope it was mostly constructive and helpful. That was my intent.

Paige, my wife Cathy and I are both divorcees and we have written a book to mid-singles, which will be released this fall. I think the biggest omission in your article is, honestly, an empathetic acknowledgement of how difficult it is to adjust to celibacy. There is NOTHING else in life that can fill that gap -- and an article suggesting that other things can compensate just fails to understand. Adult human beings are not designed for celibacy. Once we are used to being partnered, going back to celibacy is one of the hardest things we've ever done. Any other idea like, "just pray" or "exercise more," is not really going to help very much. You might as well be honest and just say, "it hurts like the devil, you deeply crave intimacy and can't have it, and you will be sorely tempted, and there is nothing you can do about it without breaking your temple covenants." That would be honest and empathetic. You can say, "We don't make covenants to follow Christ only when it is easy."
Writing to divorcees, you will get nowhere with unbridled Latter-day Saint idealism -- and making the gospel seem easy. Divorcees in the church have long since learned that it is not accurate to say, "If you just live the gospel everything works out." Be honest with them and show empathy and they will at least feel understood. Treating them like they have returned to adolescence with "For the Strength of Youth" lectures on chastity is guaranteed to turn them off.
I'm not trying to be critical at all -- just some feedback for future efforts.

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