men can be monogamous
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How Men Can Be Monogamous, According to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters

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Tolkien once wrote a letter on how men can be monogamous. The implication is that men are not naturally monogamous.

Usually, when someone hears of a devoted Catholic man committing adultery, there are expressions of shock and disbelief.

“Not John, who goes to adoration five times a day!”
“Not Peter, who brought the Latin Mass to our parish”!

It’s natural for us to be shocked, but we shouldn’t be. We are nothing without God and to achieve perfection, we must work hard.

What if he is unfaithful? Is Adultery Grounds for an Annulment in the Catholic Church?

Ladies, if you married an unfaithful man, you don’t automatically get an annulment. Adultery is not grounds for an annulment, if your marriage is otherwise found to be valid.

For some men, monogamy is easy, while others struggle.

I came across some letters by J.R. Tolkien where he addresses how men can be monogamous and I thought I would comment on some of the sections.

We are naturally, the lowest of the low and Can’t do it Without God’s Help.

All of us are. We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking we’re good, because we’re not. And we can’t do it without God’s help.

“Men are not [monogamous].  No good pretending.  Men just ain’t, not by their animal nature.  Monogamy (although it has long been fundamental to our inherited ideas) is for us men a piece of ‘revealed ethic’, according to faith and not the flesh.  The essence of a fallen world is that the best cannot be attained by free enjoyment, or by what is called “self-realization” (usually a nice name for self-indulgence, wholly inimical to the realization of other selves); but by denial, by suffering.  Faithfulness in Christian marriages entails that: great mortification.”

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

In other words, “personal development” is not enough and neither is being in a “happy place” in your life. Human beings are fickle, and we’re never satisfied with anything for long. The only thing that can stop a man from being unfaithful is prayer and mortification.

If you are used to denying yourself, then it won’t be a hard thing to deny that attractive young woman you see at work, Mass or on social media. Practice makes perfect doesn’t it?

The Struggle is Real

“For a Christian man there is no escape.  Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains.  It will not satisfy him — as hunger may be kept off by regular meals.  It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state as it provides easements. “

Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Marriage is a remedy for concupiscence (sinful lust), but even though you might be sexually satisfied, without God’s help, no man is beyond the slimy hands of the devil and his temptations.

It is vitally important that a Godly man prays, fasts and make small sacrifices every day, which helps to mold the will.

As St Augustine says. ” Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. “

Yes, His Mind Might Sometimes Stray, but He Can Take Control through Self-Denial

No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial.  Too few are told that — even those brought up in ‘the Church’.  Those outside seem seldom to have heard it.

Ladies, if you think your husband has never had a salacious thought about another woman, you are mistaken. It is not sinful for thoughts to cross our minds, as long as we put them out of our minds and not linger on them.

Your Soulmate is the Person You’re With

When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think that they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find.  The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along.  Someone whom they might indeed very profitably have married, if only.  Hence divorce, to provide the ‘if only’.

And of course they are as a rule quite right: they did make a mistake.  Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates.  But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to.  In this fallen world, we have as our only guides, prudence, wisdom (rare in youth, too late in age), a clean heart, and fidelity of will…”

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

The truth is there are a number of possible people we could choose to build a life with. Sometimes we end up with deliriously happy marriages and sometimes it takes sacrifice (lots of it), perseverance and fortitude to remain in the marriages we are in.

Your soulmate is the person you’re married to.

With lots of prayer and sacrifice, a man can remain true to his wife.

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