Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Love begins at home: in the bedroom

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the May 24, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell In his first encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI narrowed our focus to a fine and fundamental point – Deus Caritas Est – “God is Love.” He challenged Catholics to see with the eyes of Christ. “Love is indeed ‘ecstasy,’” he wrote, “not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God.”

The pope drew a strong connection between the love of a married couple and charity in the world saying, love does not merely serve reproduction, but rather is “concern and care for the other.” His encyclical refers to “Song of Songs,” a sensual book of the Bible believed to have been a Hebrew wedding song borrowed to illustrate God’s love for us and our love for God.

Experiencing sexual union within a deeply loving marriage may be the closest we’ll ever come to understanding God. It is the spring from which our waters of love flow to family and the greater world. So why is sex so often low priority? Why do we commit to yard work, exercise, American Idol, coffee with friends, watching sports and extra projects for the boss, but not to loving our spouse?

Redbook magazine reports upwards to 24 million American women say they don’t have time, are too tired, or just not in the mood for sex. If you have any number of children under four, at this stage you’re probably ready to clobber me. Moms caring for babies and toddlers get more than their share of physical touch. The demands of youngsters can take every bit of a mother’s time and energy.

After counseling hundreds of couples about sex, psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman says too many husbands do not understand that if they helped more with the kids and housework, their wives would be more interested in sex. He says women often have no idea that many men’s primary sexual desire is to satisfy their wives, and that a sexually fulfilled man will do anything for his woman, including housework.

Dr. Leman’s book Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage is frank, factual and fun. Written from a Christian perspective, it begins with advice for engaged couples and ends with a candid look at physical intimacy in the golden years.

The intimate relationship between married couples is one of God’s greatest gifts. Even poets through the centuries have been unable to fully describe its wonder. But whatever movies and TV would have you think, a satisfying love life does not come naturally to any one of us. Practice, effort, forethought and a selfless spirit are necessary.

Gloria and Bill have been married 16 years and have five children. But it’s not the kids that hinder their lovemaking. Gloria says the problem is assumptions they make about what their partner is thinking or needs. “It’s failing to communicate,” she says.

Mike and I recently got a king size bed. I sometimes cup my hands to speak across the expanse, then sham that I can’t hear him answer. We laugh, but it’s no joke that men and women have difficulty with direct, open talk about sex.

Sheet Music demystifies men and women’s sexual differences with humor and blunt honesty. Leman calls both spouses to take responsibility for learning the uniqueness of the other, being supportive, and cultivating the sexual bond. He addresses, quite frankly, every problem I can imagine a couple confronting in their love life, and offers detailed solutions and ways to spice things up. A more exciting and satisfying love life, Dr. Leman claims, will rejuvenate your entire life.

I picked up this book when symptoms of peri-menopause sparked fears that my love life might suffer as my body changed. My doctor’s basic advice was, “Use it or lose it.” Mike needed no convincing. With all this encouragement, plus Pope Benedict’s blessing, I decided to tune up the orchestra before the concert was over. What’s to lose?

© 2007, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children’s writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at

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