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Posted May 10, 2015

Catholic and Married: Leaning into Love
Editors: Art and Laraine Bennett,
Our Sunday Visitor. Huntington, IN. 2015. Pp. 155

An excerpt from the jacket:

Only in fairy tales, you say. But there is life after the honeymoon --- messy, challenging, happily married life. That's the great promise of Catholic marriage, and if you're married or considering marriage the joy is there for you, too.

Many Catholics today share the culture's unease --- fear of divorce, the prevalence of cohabitation, and the wounds of past relationships all conspire to make 'til death do us part seem like a risky proposition. But the authors of Catholic and Married all agree, marriage is the adventure of a lifetime.

In these sometimes funny, tell-it-like-it-is chapters, the diverse group of men and women offer you their insights and advice on:

Children - the gift that keeps on giving
Marrying young --- objections and object lessons
Contraception --- an honest discussion on a touchy subject
Parenting skills --- it's not rocket science (it just feels lie it sometimes)
And much more

An excerpt from the book:

A Bottomless Well

Even without the lingering effects of past sexual history, the challenges to marriage in contemporary society don't end after the exchange of rings and a big ballroom bash. No discussion of this topic would be complete without consideration of the omnipresent temptation of pornography.

. . . Pornography is a bottomless well of empty promises. First, it promises that it will help, rather than impede, actual intimacy with your spouse. Then, it promises that it will fulfill your sexual needs that aren't currently being fulfilled. After that, it promises that it can be all that you want and need. And finally, it promises that with one more viewing of a slightly more perverse video, you will finally be satisfied.

Let's consider each of these promises.

Porn's first move is to suggest that it will get you in the mood and broaden your sexual horizons. But instead it short-circuits the intimacy and intimate communication that you ought to have with your spouse. It provides an easy route to sexual release in a fantasy world where your partner doesn't have feelings or vulnerabilities or the need to be loved. Porn presents an unrealistic view of sexuality that implants new desires that your spouse may not be willing or able to fulfill, cutting off the honest communication of preferences that leads to a mature and respectful relationship and (let's be honest) better sex.

Having seeded these new desires, porn then promises that it can fulfill them as a supplement to your spouse. But t the fantasies of porn-land soon migrate from the laptop to the bedroom. Soon you are being physically intimate with your spouse, but mentally you're with your performer. Soon your spouse becomes an inadequate stand-in for the naughty beauties of the screen.

This is when porn tells you it can be all you need. But we still value companionship, and so people often seek out those who can fulfill their pornographic desires. One woman told me about how her marriage ended after she discovered that her husband --- a practicing Catholic and successful businessman --- had hired a prostitute while on a business trip. She then discovered evidence of substantial use of Internet pornography. According to a spokesman for My House, a Catholic resource for overcoming pornography use, this is not an isolated example. "Sadly, I have talked to Catholic men whose pornography addiction led to infidelity and/or sexual contact with prostitutes."

Once porn has consumed you and deadened you to the actual people around you, it promises that the next, more stimulating experience will finally bring satisfaction. But as each slightly more depraved stimulation becomes commonplace, more is required. In her disturbing book Pornified, feminist journalist Pamela Paul ventures into the rabbit hole of online porn, describing in lurid detail the violence, the callousness, and the degeneracy of what is portrayed --- and the men who can't get enough of it all. The well of empty promises is a black abyss.

Table of Contents:

1. Mirrors around a flame: the gift of children
2. Trending toward joy: taking the long view
3. Stars in the country sky: contemporary challenges to marriage
4. Marrying young: from Central Park to the confessional
5. Are you done?: Catholic marriage and contraception
6. Getting to know you: convenience, commitment and cohabitation
7. Parenting skills: It's not rocket science
8. Having hope for marriage as a child of divorce
9. It takes two