Interior Integration for Catholics

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Join Dr. Peter as he uses the model of a canopied marriage bed to explain step-by-step the different psychological elements in Catholic married sexual life -- not only what those elements are, but how they work together (or don't work together) to help you understand your marriage and others' marriages better in order to deepen and enrich a beautiful sexual intimacy in Catholic marriages.

Show Notes

  1. Intro: Welcome to the podcast Interior Integration for Catholics 
    1. Interior Integration for Catholics brings to you in each episode the best psychological information essential for your human formation, knowledge that is fundamental in shoring up the natural foundation for your Catholic spiritual life.  
    2. Often said that if you want to start an argument, bring up sex, politics or religion.  Those are the tried and true, sure-fire ways to stoke disagreement among people.  
    3. This podcast helps you focus inward on your interior integration -- to help you bring together the different parts of yourself into unity and harmony with God -- so we're going to leave the politics and social justice questions and societal reform efforts and climate change and all those big-picture, macro-level, externally-focused topics out of our conversation, so that leaves us with sex and religion.  And we're going to take on both of them together because 
    4. In this podcast, we confront the tough internal questions we Catholics have in our day-to-day lives, we confront head-on our struggles in the natural realm, the psychological difficulties that keep us from fully loving our Lord and our Lady in a deep, personal, intimate way and living out our vocations, including our vocation to Catholic marriage which necessarily brings in both sexuality and religion.
    5. And we're dealing with sexuality and religion in this episode for two primary reasons: first to free you to love God our Father, Jesus our Brother, the Holy Spirit and Our Mother Mary more and more over time and 
    6. Second, to love you neighbor as yourself -- And who is your neighbor?  If you are married, your first neighbor, your closest neighbor, the neighbor toward whom you have the most responsibilities is your spouse.  Because of your marriage vows.  
I, Roger, take you, Sarah, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. 
  1. I’m clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski and I am here with you, to be your host and guide.  
  2. This podcast is part of Souls and Hearts, our online outreach at, which is all about shoring up our natural foundation for the Catholic spiritual life, all about overcoming psychological obstacles to being loved and to loving God and neighbor
  3. This is episode 58, released on March 8, 2021
  4. This is the tenth episode in our series on sexuality the second in our subseries on Catholic marriages 
  5. Way back in episode 50, the second one in this series on sexuality, we explored what a healthy, ordered, fully Catholic sexuality looks like.  
  6. Now we are zeroing in on sexuality within Catholic marriages and we're going diagnose some extremely common relational problems between Catholic spouses that get expressed through how they relate sexually.  
  7. So this episode is titled The Catholic Marriage Bed.  The Catholic Marriage Bed.
  8. So get ready, prepare yourself for light bulbs to switch on and shine brightly as we explore new and much clearer ways of thinking about sexual life in Catholic marriages, grounded in the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church and informed by the best of psychology. 
  9. I'm doing this subseries on sexuality within Catholic marriage because I want you to have ways out of the sexual traps that so many Catholic married couple find themselves in, the negative cycles, the problematic repeating patterns that are so frustrating, that cause so much conflict and that harm people, even Catholic spouses who want to do the right thing.   
  10. And even if you're not trapped, your marriage is sound, love is growing -- there is going to be so much in these episodes to deepen the understanding, the awareness, the empathy, the commitment, and the love.  
  11. So we are discussing the marriage bed.  I'm using the image of a canopy bed to illustrate all the psychological and relational aspects in the natural realm that go into a vibrant, life-giving Catholic married sexuality.  We're going to be painting a word picture, a conceptual diagram of a canopy bed, with all the pieces of that bed named, labels and defined, and show how all the parts of the bed are essential to a grounded, peaceful, harmonious shared sexual life in Catholic marriage.   
  12. But first let's review the Lay of the Land, the Current Situation
    1. We are going to start with a broad overview here.  Key Words:  Confusion.  Lot of confusion about sexuality in our culture today
      1. Wider array of generally socially accepted sexual practices in our land than has ever existed before.  
        1. Internet has provided a forum to bring together people who practice all kinds of 

      1. Greater amount of disagreement about what healthy sexual life looks like
      1. Moving away from natural law
      1. Things that were obvious even 20 years ago, even 10 years are not being questioned
        1. Can a man become a woman? -- now an open question being debated in our society
        1. Can two men and a woman all be in the same marriage?  Can a woman marry a dolphin?  In 2006, British millionaire Sharon Tendler married a dolphin named Cinderella, at the Eilat Reef.

    1. Lot of Confusion about what a healthy, ordered  Catholic Sexuality should look like -- reviewed this in episode 50
      1. Opinions:  Survey data -- wide variety of opinions on sexual morality
        1. Pew 2014 Survey of more than 7200 Catholics, 57% Favor or Strongly Favor Same-sex Marriages 

        1. Pew 2016 survey of 817 Catholics only 8% of Catholics believe using contraception is morally wrong.  41% believe its morally acceptable and 48% believe it's not a moral issue.
        1. Pew 2019 Survey of 675 adult Catholics -- 62% of Catholic said that casual sex between consenting adults who are not in a committed relationship is always or sometimes acceptable.  Only 22% of Catholics said consensual casual sex never acceptable.  

      1. Wide Diversity of Sexual practices among Catholics
        1. Hard to find solid, recent data on this.  Talking to people you find out things. 

        1. What about oral sex, role-play sex, mutual masturbation, viewing pornography together, using sex toys together, and going beyond into anal sex, fetishes of various kinds, bondage and the list goes on and on.  

        1. Global sex toy market -- $34 billion  $4.50 for every man woman and child.  Tens of billions, estimates ranging up to $100 billion per year for porn.   

      1. But much more personally, for many Catholic spouses their sexual experiences in marriage are a great source of distress, pain, confusion  
        1. Internal conflicts about what is morally right and wrong
        2. Disagreements about sexual practices between Catholic spouses -- limited conflict resolutions'
        3. Inability for Catholic spouses to communicate about intimate sexual matters 
        4. Feeling devalued in the sexual aspects of the marital relationship
        5. Feeling used sexually, exploited, neglected.  
        6. High levels of dissatisfaction in the sexual relationship and intimacy more generally
        7. Not feeling seen, known, heard, understood, accepted as a person
        8. Not feeling safe and secure, not feeling protected in the sexual relationship
        9. Lacking anyone that can provide reassurance or a comforting word -- isolation and alienation
        10. Not feeling cherished, treasured, 
        11. Lots of silent grief -- loss -- women
        12. Lots of anger, bitterness, resentment -- men -- often anger is a way to protect against the same kinds of grief and loss that women feel more directly.
        13. Shame -- episodes 37-49
        14. Unmet needs driving behaviors, sometimes in a desperate way

    1. We are going to cut through this confusion.  We're bringing light into the marital bedroom.  

  13. The marriage bed -- an image, a metaphor to represent the shared sexual life in a sacramental Catholic marriage
    1. This is for you visual learners out there -- podcasts are great for auditory learners.  If you are more of a visual learner, using your imagination to visualize this Catholic bed metaphor may be really helpful to you. 

    1. Overview of the parts -- This is just an overview, we will be going into much greater depth about all of these elements in the next few episode.  
      1. So what do we have in a marriage bed, a canopy bed?   We have:
        1. The floor
        1. The four legs
        1. The frame and the box spring
        1. The mattress
        1. Bottom Sheet
        1. Top Sheet
        1.  Two pillows
        1. The blankets
        1. Four Bedposts -- imagine two spiral intertwined, like the double-helix structure of DNA
        1. The canopy and the curtains -- this is a very fancy bed.  

        1. The sham, the bedspread, and the bed skirt

    1. Description of each part of the bed -- symbolism of each part, what each part represents.  
      1. Starting from the floor up -- The rock-solid floor in the bedroom is the Foundation -- The presence of God -- and an active belief in God's Providence
      2. Four legs -- now more in the natural realm
        1. Leg 1 -- the husband's commitment to his own interior integration, his own human formation, his psychological health, his emotional wellbeing -- removing the beam from his own eye
        1. Leg 2.  the wife's commitment to her own interior integration, her own human formation, her own psychological health, her own emotional wellbeing -- her taking on her own personal responsibility for her natural life
        1. Leg 3.  Attachment theory -- Attachment theory is really important because it addresses ways to really address the unmet psychological, relational, and emotional needs that we discussed in the last episode, episode 57 as The One Main Psychological Reason Why Catholic Marriages Fail.  

        1. Leg 4.  Internal Family Systems approaches -- really understanding how the human person is both a unity and a multiplicity -- like we have One God in Three Persons, each of us is also one, but with many parts.   

      5. The Frame  and the Box Spring -- this holds the whole bed together and it represents the firm commitment between the husband and the wife, the upholding of the marriage vows,  I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.  
        1. It's the charity.  Willing the highest good for one another
      6. The Mattress -- Empathetic attunement -- really knowing the spouse, really being able to enter into the phenomenological world of the spouse
      7. Bottom sheet -- sexual attraction, the intensity of sexual passion
      8. Top Sheet -- communication between the Catholic spouses. 
      9. Two Pillows -- Acceptance of who the husband is right now -- Acceptance of who the wife is right now. Self-acceptance and Spouse acceptance   
      10. The blankets -- human warmth, emotional connection
      11. Four bedposts -- intertwined spirals, like a double helix --  The four sets, the four pillars of resilience , that I introduced to you in this podcast almost a year ago, in March of 2020 in Episode 4.  
        1. Mindset is essentially a frame of mind.  Our mindset is the position of our intellect, and how we apply reason to our situation and our experiences.  
        2. Heartset is the dispositions or the orientation of our heart, the emotional and intuitive ways of our heart.  Heartset is essential our emotional state and the positions we take because of our feelings.
        3. Bodyset  how our body affects us, how our physical reactions impact us and our dispositions and inclinations.  We are embodied beings, body and soul composites.  Our physical bodies have a huge impact on us.  So our bodyset is the impact of our bodily states on us.   For example, if we are exhausted from a lack of sleep – that has an impact on us. 
        4. Soulset  is essentially our attitude of soul.  It is the disposition of our spirit, or how our souls is oriented.  Our attitude of soul.  It can operate independently of mindset and heartset.  Our soulset reflects how we see God, and how we see ourselves in relationship with God, how we see God viewing us.
      12. The Canopy and the curtains, which cover the bed
        1. this can be out of privacy and modesty, protecting the intimacy of the married sexual love
        1. Or it can also be a way for one spouse to imprison the other in silence, hiddenness and unhealthy secrecy -- we will discuss the difference 

      14. The Shams, the bedspread and the bed skirts -- these cover up the bed, give a favorable and even a false impression to the world of what the bed is like, keep the real bed under wraps, as it were.

  1. Review the bed -- remember this canopied marriage bed represents the sexual life of a married Catholic couple.  
    1. The floor -- The Presence of God and His Providence
    2. The four legs
      1. Leg 1 -- the husband's commitment to his own interior integration and his own human formation
      1. Leg 2.  the wife's commitment to her own interior integration, her own human formation
      1. Leg 3.  Attachment theory   

      1. Leg 4.  Internal Family Systems 

    5. The frame and the box spring -- the firm, unwavering commitment of the husband his marriage vows and the wife to her marriage vows -- separately.  Independently
    6. The mattress  Empathetic attunement
    7.  Two pillows:  Self-acceptance and Spouse-acceptance 
    8. Bottom Sheet:  sexual attraction, the intensity of sexual passion
    9. Top Sheet:  Communication between the spouses
    10. The blankets:  human warmth, emotional connection
    11. Four Bedposts -- imagine two spiral intertwined, like the double-helix structure of DNA
      1. Mindset
      1. Heartset
      1. Bodyset
      1. Soulset
    16. The canopy and the curtains -- to protect privacy and propriety or to hide dysfunction, exploitation, even abuse.  
    17. The sham, the bedspread, and the bedskirt -- Used to cover up the real bed, give an impression of the state of married life to the world.  
  2. Review:  So we've only just begun with this metaphor.  Now starting in the next episode, we are going to walk step by step through all the elements of the Catholic marriage bed, through all the components of married Catholic sexual life.  We're going to cover all the bases slowly and thoroughly so that all components, all the pieces become clear. 
    1. We will look at what each part of the Catholic marriage bed looks like when it is healthy as well as what can go wrong with each part of the bed.  
    2. Just as important, how all the pieces of the marriage bed, healthy or unhealthy are related to each other, how they interconnect and how those elements of Catholic Married sexual life can change over time.  
    3. Let me give you an example.  
    4. Remember the Bedframe and Box spring?  Let's say that in our hypothetical situation, both spouses remain committed to the marriage -- neither spouse has significant intentions to divorce the other and there is desire for the relationship to work out.  But…
    5. Remember, Legs 1 -- the Husband's commitment to his own interior integration, his own human formation -- and Leg 2 -- the Wife's commitment to her own interior integration, her own human formation?
    6. What if one of the spouses, let's just say the wife -- doesn't seem willing to work on her interior integration, she seems to be ignoring her "stuff" not putting the effort into healing and growing on the natural level?  Then what?   
      1. First off, there's a critical words here -- "seems"  She seems to be unwilling.  That could just be appearances.
      2. But let's say for the sake of argument that it's true -- the wife is really dominated by parts that are entrenched in a defensive protective positions and they are not letting anyone in at this time.  OK. 
      3. You then have for the moment a three-legged bed.  Not as stable as a four-legged bed, but still workable, there is a lot of hope for this situation over time.  And we will discuss how.  
    7. So we are not just discussing each of the parts of the Catholic marriage bed in detail, each of the components of Catholic married sexual life, we're not just discussing the function of each part of the bed, we're also discussing how all the parts of the bed work together -- this is what's called a dynamic model.
      1. Dynamic models are models that include an element of time, especially allowing for how interactions between the different parts of the model change over time. 

  3. Action Plan -- start drawing your bed.  You don't have to be a great artist -- but start drawing your own marriage bed, with your own insights, you own realizations.
    1. Start it in pencil and over the next several episodes gradually fill it in as we work our way through all the parts of the Catholic Marriage Bed.  

    1. See if your spouse would be willing to listen to this episode and the upcoming ones with you.  These episodes can be a real conversation starter -- don't just assume your spouse won't be interested -- pray about it and let grace work as well.  If you don't have a spouse, your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancée -- all of those would work as well. Widows and widowers, this also works as a retrospective.  You can also use it to evaluate your parents' marriage.  

    1. If you are in the Resilient Catholics Community, I will post a line drawing of a canopy bed in our app that you can download and print off
    1. If you are not in the Resilient Catholics Community, Get on the waiting list for the RCC --  go to to sign up -- there's no obligation to join, but you will get all kinds of cool free stuff.  For example, -- I will email you the line drawing of the canopy bed on Friday, March 12 along with another free gift.  Really want people to start signing up for the waitlist, I am so excited about the reopening of our Resilient Catholic community, which we are planning in June.  

    1. Speaking of the RCC waiting list, I have a special event just for people who are on the waiting list 
      1. Our people on the waiting list have been so patient, I am so appreciative, so for those of you on the waiting list, you are all invited to a Zoom meeting 
      2. On Tuesday, April 6, 2021 from 7:30 PM to 8:45 PM Eastern time
        1. I will make a brief presentation about Catholicism, Sexuality and Parts
        1. Then We will have an "Ask me anything" section to field your questions or comments and have a great discussion
        1. Then I will discuss the Resilient Catholics Community -- the RCC focus on human formation, the monthly themes for the RCC, the membership benefits, our office hours, the weekly premium podcast exclusively for RCC members, our private app with discussion boards, subscription rates
        1. Then we'll discuss what you are looking for in an online community and answer questions about the RCC community  

        1. You can also send me questions via email at or via my cell at 317.567.9594,
      7. So if you love this Interior Integration for Catholics podcast and you're not yet part of the Resilient Catholics Community, join with so many others from around the world like you that also love this podcast.  The RCC is about transformation, about preparing the way for love in our souls. It's about being together as Catholics on a journey, on a mission to really enter into an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ our brother, the Holy Spirit who is Love Himself and with our spiritual parents, God the Father and Mary our Mother.  It's about sharing our experiences in that journey on that mission.  So get on the waiting list at or email me at and I'll help you out.  

    1. For current RCC members -- we have a premium podcast coming out on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 on how Marriage, Beds and Parts -- how parts react to beds, it's a way to learn about our system.  

    1. Also for current RCC members we have our Second Wednesday Zoom meeting coming up from 7:30 PM to 8:45 PM on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 for Resilient Catholic Community members, and it's all about Parts, Sex and Marriage
    1. Catholic therapists who listen -- reopening the ITC.  Landing page  Reopened.  Really excited.  Human formation of therapist. 
      1.  IIC 58TWork-Life Balance -- Relationships, especially marriages

    1. Subscribing to this podcast -- Spotify, Apple Podcasts, google play, amazon.  Share the Interior Integration for Catholics Podcast on social media -- sharing buttons are on our website at  -- get your word out there, with your personal recommendation -- how these episodes have helped you.  Share them, let others know. 

    1. Next week, in Episode 59, we are going to start with the floor, the spiritual foundation of confidence in God's Providence and we might also get to the legs -- attachment theory and IFS -- we are also going to start bringing in the Greek words for seven different kinds of love --  The Greeks had great ways of making nuanced distinctions in internal experiences, including love.  So look for that coming up! 

    1. Feedback.  Let me know how these episodes are landing with you -- -- some of you already have.  Get in touch with me on my cell at 317.567.9594 or my email at
    1.  Patroness and Patron.

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Resilient Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation. We look for God's providence in all that happens to us, in accord with Romans 8:28, grounded in an authentic Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also join our online community around this podcast at