Thursday, August 1, 2013

ARW: fantasizing about your spouse?

WARNING: Sexual content discussed below.

A reader writes...

A quick question from a husband: Is it ever ok to fantasize about making love to your wife? I've seen that some people argue this is always sinful but is it wrong to derive pleasure from contemplating and planning future self-giving, especially during times of the month when you are abstaining?

Ah, the life of the mind - easily the most difficult moral theology area for the discerning Catholic! The good news is, dear reader, you enjoy making love to your wife and you are not subjecting her to horrific chemicals. Mrs. Chastity thanks you for your witness.

But is thinking of your wife, knowing your wife, wrong? I answer a qualified 'no.' There is surely joy in creating wonderful memories of passionate encounters, and some joy too in calling those memories to mind when the moments have passed. Yet the two dangers here are: 1) that you will cause yourself to be aroused in a way that cannot be justly satisfied (say, if you two have really discerned the need to abstain), and 2) that you will objectify your wife. The first part is fairly obvious to detect (are you physically aroused, are you wanting to engage your wife in illicit activities since you two have discerned to abstain?), but the second may not be. Make sure that you do not come to her expecting a 'repeat' of past 'performances' - the ones you have been playing in your mind. She is a human person, and therefore always changing and being changed; she will not always react the same way, be able to enjoy love the same way, be open to it as before. Please be sure you are not replacing your flesh-and-blood lovely wife with the fantasy wife you are creating in your mind, even if based off truth.

A last word of caution: do not dwell too long on these thoughts. These thoughts can be good and holy, but there are holier thoughts still. Let these thoughts flow easily into prayer for your lovely wife, for whatever you know is burdening her, and let those prayers flow just as easily into service of her whom you love. Just as marital lovemaking should always call us to be gift to our spouse, make sure these thoughts do not merely give you pleasure, but lead to joy for your wife as well.

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