This is mainly for the women, I guess, but anyone please chime in.
Many people have recommended “The Good News…” for a number of reasons, mostly because it helps explain TOB and the role of sex in a marriage. One or two women have said it helped them understand sex and where their husbands were coming from on sex and how it tied to intimacy for them, and even helped improve their sex lives somehow.
I’m looking for specifics. I’m going to order the book, but I need to know more of how it helped and that it is not - or if it is only - an easier way to understand Church teachings. Did it really help any wives understand their husbands viewpoint? If so, what did it say and why did it help? Did it really improve anyone’s sex life? Details, please!
It has been a while since I have read this book, however, I will provide a quick “review” and provide some thoughts about it. My first observation is that this book is an “easy read” due to the question/answer format that the book is written. It was a big help for me to understand the teachings or sex within marriage and the reasonings behind them. The book provides excellent, down to earth explanations for the many different issues presented.
As a husband, it helped me to view my wife in a completely different light. It taught me to respect her and her sexuality. It taught me how certain acts can be harmful to the marital embrace and it taught me the true meaning of the marital embrace. This has made my relationship with my wife so much better and vice versa. It helped me to see her as my partner, the one that I will share everything with, especially this most intimate act, a renewal of our wedding vows.
As it says in the book, it allows us to come together, to give ourselves to one another freely, totally and fruitfully.
The free exchange of consent properly witnessed by the Church establishes the marriage bond. Sexual union consummates it – seals it, completes it, perfects it. Sexual union, then, is where the words of the wedding vows become flesh. The very “language” that God has inscribed in sexual intercourse is the language of the marriage covenant: the free commitment to a union of love that is indissoluble, faithful, and open to children.
If spouses willfully contradict any of these goods of marriage in their sexual expressions, marital intimacy becomes less than God intended it to be. In turn, spouses, rather than renewing their vows through intercourse, contradict them. In practical terms, how healthy would a marriage be if spouses were regularly unfaithful to their vows? On the other hand, how healthy would a marriage be if spouses regularly renewed their vows, expressing an ever-increasing commitment to them?
The often disputed sexual moral teachings of the Church become lucid when seen through this lens. Like all sacramental realities, if sexual union (as the consummate expression of the sacrament of marriage) is truly to communicate God’s life and love, then it must accurately symbolize it.
Sexual union that is free, total, faithful, and open to new life (i.e., sexual union that truly expresses wedding vows) symbolizes and participates in the communion of Christ and the Church. Masturbation, fornication, adultery, intentionally sterilized sex, homosexual acts, etc.– none of these accurately symbolize, and thus never bring about the love of Christ for the Church. None of these behaviors are marital. Thus, for sexual union to consummate a marriage it must be performed in a “human manner” and be “per se suitable for the generation of children.”
The book in my opinion just puts a question/answer format to many common sense issues. I don’t think it does anything to help a wife understand where her husband is coming from or his viewpoint, nor do I think that a wife should try to understand that. Husband and wife need to help each other model their viewpoints in line with Church teaching. The book is an excellent starting point on learning what the Church teaches, though.
I’ve read this book several times and DH has read it a couple times too. We’ve given this book as a wedding gift (along with other things) to each Catholic couple whose wedding we’ve attended.
There were a couple things that really helped me. One was that it explained the theology AND the practical aspects of sex. It was a great reminder for both of us of the beauty in the marital embrace and was a reminder for us to NOT get caught up on society’s objectifying the other during the marital embrace. DH and I both came from relationships that were impure before we really embraced our Catholic faith, so we knew it could be a struggle. Reading this book helped us prepare and served to keep us in check when we were engaged and entering into marriage.
I love this book, but not because it helped me understand my DH or improved our sex life. (We were virgins when we married, so if our sex was “bad,” I’m not sure we’d know the difference, anyway. ) My best source for understanding my DH is, well, DH. He doesn’t hesitate to talk about what he wants/likes/wants to try. The book gives excellent examples of what’s immoral and why, and is very helpful in understanding God’s viewpoint, which is always the most important.
The book is okay resource, but I’ve found that too many people (namely on this site) are using it and siting references to it as though it’s the Bible or the only book of its kind (or the only thing you can turn to) and it is not.
A great book that helps understand the way a husband thinks vs. the way a wife thinks is called “Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti” by Bill & Pam Farrel (both my fiance and I agree that this is a good book). It is written by a protestant couple but is very good for communication and understanding the thought process of the opposite sex. As far as beauty, meaning and symbolism behind sexual union in marriage, Christopher West explains it best!
You are correct. And I am one of those people. It is the first book on the topic I read. I, too, am not sure it would explain to DW “how I work/think.” But I am preparing a weekly talk to my teenage sons about chastity. Additional resources for this and that might be of help to “understand DH,” would be “Real Love” and “Healing Hearts & Mending Minds”. The latter is a very detailed analysis of brain operation, chemicals and sexual dependency. It may be TMI. It is also, out of print.
I’m sure there are others and would be interested to know the titles and get a review. But I can only read so much and “Good News…” is SO easy to read!
I read it. My wife didn’t. I’m not sure how much credit to give it.
Some stuff I think I was already well past so it wasn’t helpful. I didn’t need a book to tell me that homosexual union was wrong.
Was this the book that made the comparison that sex was to a marriage like chocolate chips are to a chocolate chip cookie? No the chocolate chips aren’t what holds everything together, but without 'em you just don’t have a chocolate chip cookie - you have a sugar cookie, or something else.
If this is where I got that analogy from, then the book helps immensely. So many of us were taught that sex was the “icing on the cake” - like it was “optional”. Once I got that out of my head, things began to improve. Or at least, I have a clearer direction on how to improve things. That is to say, even if the actual “sex life” doesn’t improve right away, you at least feel a sense of relief because you now know what to do about it.
It seems though that my journey included more than just the book. My journey includes lots of bits and pieces here and there and lots of thinking. Like a puzzle - how to fit it all together.
Again, Black Jaque, you hit an analogy that rings true. It is more than icing! Thanks!
I really do give credit to West for helping me get my head on straight about this. I always did think that sex was a great gift of God. But now I understand how and why it is so precious. You are correct, though, this is only a part of the bigger picture one needs. But a journey of a thousand miles starts with…
When I told my wife I would attempt to teach my kids about chastity, she wondered aloud if I thought I was qualified. I told her that I did read 3 books (now 5) on the subject. I AM motivated to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes I have made. Even though I may overestimate my abilities here.
That reminds me, I need a lesson for tonight… bye!
That chocolate chip analogy I found to be pretty powerful. It helped to make it clear that a marriage cannot be Platonic.
The challenge then for a husband is to demonstrate to his wife that her participation in the mariage bed is for the marriage, not just the husband’s selfish pleasure. And likewise what is good for the marriage is good for the children etc.
Once a wife appreciates that physical intimacy is for something much greater than the husband’s petty self-indulgence, the wife can understand that the marriage embrace is worth sacrificing for.
It’s like this. It’s selfish to expect a wife to forgo rest and sleep in order to “roll in the hay”, “knock one off”, “mattress dance”, “romp”, or any of the other vulgar expressions we use. However, it’s totally different to expect a wife to forgo rest and sleep in order to “consummate the wedding vows”, “be close”, “make love”, “be intimate”.
In the same way we men would chafe at the idea of working weekends and holidays to put gas in the bosses new yacht. On the other hand if it’s a matter of keeping the whole company afloat - we’ll bust our butts.
–There’s a whole lot packed into that chocolate chip cookie.
When I told my wife I would attempt to teach my kids about chastity, she wondered aloud if I thought I was qualified.
They’re your kids - of course your qualified. Simply live it out.
I think the best way to teach chastity to our children is to demonstrate to them that conjugal chastity really makes a man and a woman happy. If mom and dad were truly happy - then they’ll want what you had.
If mom and dad weren’t satisfied in marriage, then the kids will think the Catholic sexual ethic leaves something to be desired…