Life is too short for bad sex with a good husband.

Life is too short for bad sex with a good husband. May 19, 2014

This is the greatest letter I’ve gotten in a million years. It’s from MightyMighty at Letters To Us. I’ve bolded the best lines. She mentions Greg Popcak’s excellent book Holy Sex, which I’ve been meaning to review for a long time; and also references the Real Catholic Love and Sex blog, which is full of good and honest discussions. Here’s the letter:

I don’t want to be a freaky fan girl, but would like to take a sec to tell you how awesome your book is. I read it during a loooooong period of abstinence after our 3rd was born. It was sort of funny the way it worked out. I was reading a book about how sex is good and not a joke on women & reading similar things on All while waiting for some clear signs of fertility to start showing up so that we could chart. By the time it happened at 11 months postpartum, I was actually enthusiastic about sex for the first time since before our first was born.

Normally my interest is completely tied to what’s going on with me physically, but thanks to your book, I’ve realized how that’s not being very loving–it lowers sex into something that is just about scratching an itch. If it’s really about love, it is worth making the effort to be together throughout whatever parts of the month are open to the couple. My husband has now read your book (he wanted to understand the huge change in attitude) and he is working on making some similar changes himself. We’re both pretty guilty of first asking, “Am I in the mood?” instead of asking what our spouse/marriage needs in this moment. I pointed out, “We don’t do that about other things that are good for us, like exercising or paying the bills or eating. Maybe we ought to stop acting like being together is as optional as watching Netflix together.”

I feel like reading Popcak’s “Holy Sex” helped me start shedding some of the prudery I had about sex being a little bit frivolous/selfish and your book helped me shed the rest of it + the poisoning lies the culture teaches about sex. (Men are animals, women are the gatekeepers, sex is mostly about getting pleasure, God sorta hates women for setting them up for either 20 pregnancies or no sex when their hormones are cooperating, etc.) At some point I thought, “Life is too short for bad sex with a good husband. I am going to get to middle and old age and really regret spending the healthiest years of my life this way, just like I already regret spending my teens and twenties dressing like a frump.”

My dad died at 61 last year and my mom just said last week, “I really regret not lavishing more affection on your father. He shouldn’t have had to coax me. I should have been more….[hand gesture indicating va-va-voom]! He deserved that!” I was shocked, but glad to see that it’s really never too late to get a healthier view on sex.


PIC dancing peasant couple

In another letter, she says:


It was very helpful to read your (semi-sarcastic) comments about developing some skill in bed. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has put minimal effort into any session that I was participating in out of duty/charity. I find that putting in the same effort as I do when I’m all gung-ho (when I’d honestly rather just read in bed) takes the session (is there a better word??) from kind-of-degrading-to-both-of-us-because-I-feel-used-and-he-feels-judged to just as good as when I was up for it. For whatever reason, I needed permission to stop acting like a prude and start trusting that my husband wouldn’t be scandalized by me being enthusiastic.

I now realize that acting like sex is dirty if it’s too enthusiastic gives power to the smutty culture that reduces sex to “consensual pleasure.” God made sex awesome and me participating in it fully is good, not dirty. What’s dirty is when two married people feel smug for having sex without having given each other their all, including the trust needed to let go, unconditional acceptance for each other’s everything, and the effort to really be generous with one another, not just their fertility. Good job! You ate a protein bar at a 5 star restaurant! You went to Italy and never left the hotel! Good job, you’re Catholic and you still managed to separate love from sex!


 So smart. Thanks, MightyMighty!
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  • Anna Cools

    I could have written this. I totally agree. Thank Simcha and Popcack! Those two books came into my life at the same time too, and it’s changed everything for the better.

  • Does MightyMighty have a blog, too??? Please say yes!

    • MightyMighty1

      I do! I’m just coming back after a very long break. 🙂 Should be called “I’m” but that was taken.

  • anna lisa

    Yes, sometimes the culture of death disguises itself with what appears to be the most Catholic of trappings, when in fact chastity, purity and continence are simply good fronts for (at the worst,) selfishness and at the least an imperfect sacrifice upon an altar. I feel sad when I hear an examination of conscience at an evening of recollection, when intimacy is reduced to the question: “Have you been generous with the gift of your body, to your husband?” It reminds me of what St.Paul says about the marriage “debt”. I find that so truncated and so very, very far from the mark. Sure, that examination of conscience has a lot to do with what priests hear from men in the confessional, or spiritual direction, but it is a sign of a sickness that needs to be directly attended to or it will linger on and become what any man or woman would describe as “bad sex”, or the absence thereof.

    Before anything else, good sex has to do with THE TRUTH–not what we would HOPE is the truth, or mimic, but an unvarnished reality. Good sex doesn’t bear a shadow of resentment between the spouses. Good sex has no room for shame; on the contrary, it exults in every aspect of the physicality of the act. Good sex requires the skill, built up over time that any virtuoso acquires after much practice. Good sex ONLY comes after a baring of the *soul*, that holds nothing back. It involves souls that are like a pool of clear water in which the other can see easily to the bottom and from side to side. It employs a steady gaze that finds comfort and joy staring into the eyes of the beloved. Good sex requires a soul that listens to the voice of the other’s body. It knows a language that is unspoken, but is also unafraid to elevate, and make holy, words and postures that the world has tried to defile. Good sex has no room for fear or anxiety, it is not something that doctors of the church could barely tolerate. It is a high form of prayer that they hardly could conceive of. The best sex is when the spouses realize it IS a *profound* prayer, but this won’t always be the case! Good sex doesn’t linger on scruples. Every single act of love is different. (Good sex is not the impetuous drug of our youth. It shouldn’t be compared to the kind of high that an addict pursues) It is often the best when it is simple and we are surprised at how nearly effortless it is, but it always involves a kind of *work*, –an effort that gains momentum. This is why a good wife or husband knows that the self sacrifice of that “work” won’t be much compared to what is gained when the body is seeking rest, but we reanimate ourselves in the name of that prayer and covenant which is physical love. Good sex simply has seasons, temperatures, and conditions that are often blessedly and thankfully unpredictable–it doesn’t always follow rules! I think there is a sacredness to that reality. It is what causes the lover, to sometimes place a finger of silence on the lips of their lover, saying with urgency “it shouldn’t be compared or contrasted!”

    This is not to say that certain great aspects shouldn’t be blurted out spontaneously or contemplated and expressed with candor at a later date. It should always be remembered that *compliments* and an honest building up of the other, –compliments that a new bride or groom might blush at–are ALL part of that language of love which is constantly building up until the next time a husband or wife consummate their love again.
    Life is too *short* for good sex, with a good husband.

    • anna lisa

      BTW, almost everything I’ve learned, I had to learn the hard way. In the reading this morning it says Paul discerned that a lame man had the *disposition* to be healed. There were times in my marriage when my husband and I lacked the disposition/hope to be healed of what needed healing. It was worse than that actually. We were too complacent to even *understand* we needed healing. I might have read what I just wrote and thrown off a cynical, “well aren’t *you* special…”
      I’m so grateful I didn’t stagnate there.
      Resist cynicism. It slows the work of the Holy Spirit.

      • Cordelia

        Thank you so much, Anna Lisa. Thanks more than I can say.

  • John Harrison

    Am I the only one in the world who hates the phrase “most unexceptional”??? What does that mean? The best average? Top-notch ordinary? Excellant standard? I don’t get it…

  • MightyMighty1

    Thanks, Simcha! Your book really is amazing. I’m debating giving a copy to a couple that is newly converted but probably still contracepting…might change everything for the awesome, might be the most awkward gift ever…