Chastity Q4

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 12, Q4

Chastity: “Rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Personal notes:

  • Everyone’s favorite week;
  • Life certainly is different now.

Short post this week for Chastity because in a way, there’s not much to say. I’ve given up on sex — no, not that way — but the other way: the way that was young, carefree and full of partners. Sex now is probably the quickest way to ruin: paying a woman to leave, a hidden online relationship, a dark hotel room. Sex has become dangerous. So for me, I think about chastity and understand the real value of the phrase “injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.” I could lose more than reputation — I could lose the people I see everyday.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 13, Q4

HumilityImitate Jesus and Socrates

Well, it’s been a year — can you believe it? — and next week’s post for Humility is the last. With all that’s going on in the world, we could all use a moment (and maybe more) to reflect on Humility.

Chastity Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 12, Q2

Chastity: “Rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Personal notes:

  • Everyone’s favorite week is back;
  • My wife’s talking about more kids;
  • Oh boy.

I hate writing about Chastity week. It’s inevitably a giant pain in the ass. What I think is funny and true my wife interprets as insulting and sad. Whenever I write, it hammers home how differently the two sexes view the world. Every guy I know jokes about sex and being married, it’s the way we’re wired. And I’m sure every wife get’s mad about it and takes it personally. So yeah, I hate writing about this week: what to share, what not. Can’t keep it light because then it’s insulting. Can’t keep it honest because then it’s revealing.

But let’s be honest, sex is a totally different ball game when you have kids. Yes, sex changes when you’re in a longterm relationship, but when you have kids, you see the biological result of having sex – offspring – and sometimes offspring are miserable. We haven’t slept in a week because our daughter is sick, and they’re both always awake before dawn anyway. There’s also been a lot of crying and whining lately, especially on this cold Monday morning. It’s a terrible way to start the week and a terrible way to write a blog post.

I should qualify this post with the fact that I love my kids and family. They make me laugh, keep me grounded, give me a world of hugs and kisses. 99% of the time I wouldn’t know what to do without them, but shit, sometimes it’s miserable and it complicates the relationship with my wife, which is manifested in the most physical form through sex.

Sex is always complicated and messy with ups and downs and mistakes. When you have a family, a weird calculus evolves: you seem to have less sex but more complications. I love having a family. But I’d be lying if I said everything is always perfect. Most days, sex is the furthest thing from my mind and writing about it seems ridiculous.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 13, Q3

Humility: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Personal notes:

  • Put yourself into the shoes of others;
  • Remember that we all falter.

There are a number of difficulties lying before us this week. Best to remain measured and humble. We all stumble one time or another, remember others do as well.

Chastity Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 12, Q2

Chastity: “rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Personal notes:

  • This week is a decade too late;
  • It’s the most difficult week to write about publicly;
  • Focus on “health” and/or “offspring,” depending on what the boss says.

We went on vacation with family last week and, in true family vacation fashion, space was at a premium. Rooms overflowed with bodies big and small, wine bottles battled chocolate doughnuts for counter space, and 6 cousins watched TV in a gaggle of arms, legs and feet across a brown couch built for 3. The week was crowded, fantastic, and inevitably chaste.

Sleeping four to a room quickly crowds out intimacy, no surprise, but no matter. Each night our bedroom stirred with children flipping in their beds. Their soft breathing, their proximity, and their tiny shuffles were all a comfort; a comfort transcending the loud, sweaty, and inebriated vacations of old.

Life is a far cry from past spring breaks where wild Friday night romps rolled into bleary Saturday afternoons. Sex is not as often now, we’re most excited about sleep, but sex is more intimate, sober, and healthy. That’s not to say this week is unimportant, certainly not; in fact, our vacation hammers home how important this week is.

This week is not about being chaste, but being faithful. There is considerable cost to sex and there is much to lose: family, happiness, love. The price is too high. “Rarely use venery but for health or offspring” seems a bargain in comparison.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 13, Q2

Humility: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates

Personal notes:

  • Think about others;
  • Think about where we are;
  • Find happiness here.

Congratulations! This is our half way point; it’s amazing how quickly it goes. After 6 months, we return to Humility – the keystone virtue. This week, think about Humility: read about it, explore it, practice it; there is value here.

Chastity

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week Twelve, Q1

Chastity: “Rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Personal notes:

  • Stay off the internet. Porn is everywhere!
  • Focus on my wife; think about our relationship.
  • Do the reverse and schedule time together.

Remember last week when I mentioned our apartment setbacks: critters, hot water, leaks, etc.? Well, one major and unspoken setback was the lack of door locks. Now, I immediately mentioned this upon first inspection of the apartment but received a shrug. Before signing the contract, I reminded my wife, “No locks on the bedroom doors.” Response, “It’s ok.” Turns out, no, it’s not ok, unless of course your goal is chastity. You see, if you want to practice chastity, the combination of children and non-locking doors guarantees 100% success. I love my children but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say we’ve been practicing Chastity well before this week arrived.

During our first week in the new apartment, it was probably the third or fourth successive nighttime invasion that my wife sighed and said, “Ooooh, there’s no door locks.” Yup, kids are ruthlessly effective at squashing intimacy (and sleep). They’re merciless marauders, sapping time and energy, springing traps on you in the middle of the night and ambushing you when most vulnerable. I’m still confused how we created a second child, and even more uncertain how we’ll satisfy my wife’s urge for a third.

The other night, everyone was asleep when we realized we never showered that day, standard Saturday. Making use of the time, we slipped into the shower for a necessary wash and maybe a little fun. Well, before the soap was lathered, one little cupped hand pressed against the foggy shower door, followed by another, and ending with a nose and cheek smushed hard against the glass asking, “Mommy, daddy, what are you doing in there?” In Harry Potter they say mischief managed; in our house it’s chastity chasten.

Since our open door, abstinence as birth-control policy is fool-proof, when this week’s Chastity challenge rolled around, we effectively shrugged; bring it. But that wouldn’t be fair. There has to be some sort of challenge or introspection. Why not look somewhere else? How about porn? After all, porn helped me get through some far longer stretches of unwilling, adolescent abstinence.

I’m old enough to remember when coming home early from school to find a Victoria’s Secret catalog in the mail was better than winning the lottery. Today, the ease and magnitude of what’s available is insane in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, this is no denouncement, I’ve made use of this new found treasure and enjoy watching it, but I’ve never thought anything about porn until now. So what happens when you think about the definition of Chastity while watching porn? Well, pretty much the worst thing imaginable. The whole experience of watching porn was ruined. When I watched, all I could think was “This is degrading.” That revelation was miserable.

Why was it miserable? Because porn is something I’ve enjoyed in one variation or another for decades and now this experiment was ruining it for me. In fact, the conflicting emotions triggered a mini-existential crisis. Who would’ve thought? An existential crisis over pornography? The recognition of degradation, particularly the feeling I was degrading myself, had an effect; I couldn’t watch. Not being able to watch made me sad, but not just sad, conflicted. Half of me thinks this is a victory, but there’s another half that hopes this feeling goes away.

Truthfully, I know this feeling will go away because I’m going to ignore it. Hell, there’s no way I could keep this up! A life of virtue is one thing, but complete denial returned me to the state of a 13-year-old celibate. How can one continue life as an adult when the slightest sight of a woman’s ankle is enough to send me over the edge? Locking myself in the closet is not an option, besides, they have no locks. So let’s return to the core of Ben Franklin’s statement, “rarely use venery but for health or offspring.”

“Health and offspring,” all right, Ben’s giving us an out. In fact, by my interpretation, we need to increase our physical engagement in order to improve our physical and mental health. Yes, one more reason that moving is a good thing. On our “must-have” list, between dishwasher and storage, we’ll be sure to put locking doors. There’s hope for us yet! As for “never to dullness or weakness,” well, come on, let’s be honest, that time has passed. Maybe if the internet existed when I was 16 “dullness” may have been a problem, but today, with my kids running around, all I lust for is a nap.