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 realCatholicloveandsex.com. 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!