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Katie van Schaijik

Intimacy and emotional dryness

Jul. 7, 2009, at 12:23pm

A reader who listened to Bishop Sheen’s talk on marriage, linked below, sends in this question:

This is good. I wonder, however, what Archbishop Sheen would say regarding intimacy during affective dryness. Michael Healy’s [June 3rd, available at our downloads page] talk seems to indicate that only romantic love can save acts of intimacy from various perversions (or inordinacies). Doesn’t dryness imply a lack of romantic love? If so, it would seem that there should be no intimacy during dryness.

Maybe Dr. Healy or someone else could take it up.


Ruben • Jul 23, 2009 - 4:58 pm

I have just a short personal reflection here. Perhaps dryness and lack of romantic love reflects a lack of sacrificial love. Fulton Sheen advised in one of his talks for married persons to “remember to sweeten your marriage by sprinkling it with small sacrifices.”
 
I can think of few things more romantic than the idea of my beloved having sacrificed for love of me. If we meditate on the love of Christ in his desire to have endured his passion and death for us, do not our hearts grow enflamed with the fire of his love for us?

So it might seem that if dryness occurs, then perhaps acts of sacrifice for the sake of the beloved, may enkindle the fire of romantic love.

Katie van Schaijik • Jul 23, 2009 - 5:38 pm

What you say makes good sense, Ruben.  I think your right that a lot of “emotional dryness” in marriage could be cured by deepening our own commitment to sacrificial love.  On the other hand, I don’t think it’s always the case.  Consider the situation of Mother Teresa, who was afflicted with aridity for decades, while her life was a symphony of sacrificial love.
Might there not be a parallel in human marriage?  Might there not be seasons of aridity mysteriously given to challenge and perfect our love?

Ruben • Jul 24, 2009 - 5:57 pm

I can only think that perhaps in a supreme paradox, that it was in the aridity of Mother Teresa’s life that she was able to accomplish her mission of slaking Christ’s “I thirst”, which was the inspiration of that mission. Mother Teresa was in a profound way such an oasis and refuge for others. There is a mystery here I cannot explain except that it may have to do with what we call “black” grace, a grace that comes in the form of desolation or affliction. St Francis De Sales said “an ounce of desolation is a greater work than a pound of consolation”. So as to the mystery of this “black” grace, since grace orients the mind toward truth and the will toward good, then it would seem quite true that cooperation with such a grace would lead to a higher good than what is visible to us. What comes to mind is the example of the weaving of a tapestry which we see from below that may appear formless to us, but that from God’s perspective above, is a work of art in progress.

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