In this direct, eloquent, unabashed argument on behalf of sexual fidelity--its meaning, its blessing, its rewards, its necessity--Catherine Wallace addresses a major concern of our time.
At a time when emotional commitments are increasingly nervous, fragile, and short-lived, Wallace's vision of faithful lovers--with its aura of warmth, calm, and emotional continuity--is almost shockingly attractive.
Speaking to heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, she reminds us how deeply the powerful physical tempest that is sexual desire is connected to heart and soul, how immediately and profoundly it spirals to the core of our very identity; how reductive casual sex can be, how easily it can mute, indeed injure, the capacity for ultimate sexual happiness that exists only within the full development of true intimacy--intimacy that arises as fidelity is established and a promise is kept.
What's the difference between fidelity and repression or mere sexual exclusivity? How can people stay faithfully married for decades, while continuing to grow--and to change--as individuals? How do we help our sons and daughters sort through the conflicting messages about sexuality with which they are bombarded from childhood? The author's responses to these and other questions powerfully suggest to us that honor and courage, commitment and kindness to self and others, are indeed within our reach.
Catherine Wallace's gentle, moving, and persuasive argument for fidelity as the core of an entire way of being again and again draws assent from the reader--and provides, at last, a mode of talking with our children about a subject crucial to their success in achieving the fulfilled lives we so fervently wish for them.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: For Fidelity|
|Release Date: 02-09-2011|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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I argued throughout the preceding chapter, in various ways, that sexual desire is far more than a simple physiological need. Sexual desire is powerfully and intricately interwoven with the deepest levels of human identity and with the most difficult questions we have about who we are or what it means to be human. Sexual desire can be repressed, or it can be heedlessly indulged, or it can become a calculated part of a marketplace exchange. Or, I will propose in this chapter, sexual desire can be integrated into the whole of who we are. The question, of course, is how. How or where does sexual desire "belong" in the whole that we are?
The answer demands a return to my initial observation about sexual desire: It cannot be genuinely satisfied on the cheap or by the solitary individual. At its most potent, most vital, most delightful levels, sexual desire must be reciprocated to be sated. That's why we cannot "locate" an appropriate sexuality without considering the human relationship in which it is realized or enacted. We need to know the basis of the interaction in which sexual intercourse participates. Is it really mutual, for instance? Are both partners offering and seeking the same things? Consider rape, or prostitution, or the sexual abuse of a child. Consider how sexual access has been demanded as a condition of employment, promotion, business contracts, or social acceptance. The disparities are self-evident. It's easy to see what's wrong, which is a first step toward articulating an appropriate sexual relationship.
It may not be as easy to see what is wrong with what I have called "marketplace" sexual ethics. Consider ...