Interior Integration for Catholics

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Dr. Peter discusses how spouses' bodysets, mindsets, heartsets, and soulsets impact their sexual intimacy and how to understand your own sets and your spouse's sets better. He also give recommendations for when and how to talk with other outside the marriage about your sexual experiences in marriage.

Show Notes

  1. Intro:  
    1. This is it, this is the last episode in our 21 episode series on sexuality , our last episode of 14 in our subseries on sexuality in Catholic marriages, it has been a long run, thank you for being here
    2. We are finishing up with our metaphor of the canopied Catholic Marriage Bed 
      1. And today we'll be discussing the four bedposts, the canopy, and the bedskirt, bedspread and the shams with more examples.  
    3. I’m clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski and I am here with you, to be your host and guide.  
    4. This podcast, Interior Integration for Catholics, 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.
    5. In this podcast, we confront the tough 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. 
    6. This is episode 70, released on May 31, 2021, entitled Catholic Sex and the Four Pillars -- and the Dos and Don'ts of Sharing about your Sexual Life.
  2. Review of the bed
    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 -- everything begins here.  This is the most fundamental piece of the whole metaphor.  We need to be in contact with "I AM" with God who is the source of all reality.  We can't forget that
      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.  Understanding Attachment needs and integrity needs.  

        1. Leg 4.  Internal Family Systems  -- Episode 60 --  How well do you really know your spouse?
      6. 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
      7. The mattress  Empathetic attunement -- covered that in episode 65, last episode 
      8.  Two pillows:  Self-acceptance and Spouse-acceptance -- this is what we are focusing on today.  
        1. Pillows support us, comfort us.  
        2. Great security with pillows
          1. Pam travels with her pillow -- learned this from her friend Cabrina -- comfort in having your own pillow
          1. Comfort in being accepted by someone who knows you.  

      9. Bottom Sheet:  sexual attraction, the intensity of sexual passion
      10. Top Sheet:  Communication between the spouses
      11. The blankets:  human warmth, emotional connection
      12. Covering today Four Bedposts -- imagine two spiral intertwined, like the double-helix structure of DNA -- these are the four pillars of Catholic resilience, going all the way back to episode 4 of this podcast  
        1. Mindset
        2. Heartset
        3. Bodyset
        4. Soulset
      13. Covering today: The canopy and the curtains -- to protect privacy and propriety or to hide dysfunction, exploitation, even abuse.  
      14. Covering today:  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.  

  3. Bedposts Four Sets
    1. Bodyset, Mindset, Heartset and Soulset
    1. Double helix structure -- the husband's strand and the wife's strand interwoven, entwined together like the double-helix structure of DNA rising up overhead, looking down on the bed
    1. Dynamism of Sets -- not static -- our sets shift, they vary as a function of our parts and what is activated and not activated within us in a given moment. 

    1. Descriptions review from way back in Episode 4 
      1. Bodyset is how our body affects us, how our physical reactions impact us and our dispositions and inclinations.  
      2. 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. 
      3. Heartset is the dispositions or the orientation of our heart, the emotional and intuitive ways of our heart.  
      4. Soulset is essentially our attitude of soul.  It is the disposition of our spirit, or how our souls is oriented.  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.  Our soulset very much depends on the virtues we have acquired, especially the virtues of faith, hope and charity.  Our soulset is also very dynamic, it can change rapidly

    1. A lot of your human formation is being aware of your own sets -- Bodyset, Mindset, Heartset and Soulset
    1. So much of your empathy for your spouse will involve reading your spouse's sets -- Bodyset, Mindset, Heartset and Soulset
      1. Will this legitimate sexual experience be good for your spouse's mind, heart, soul and body, right now, in these circumstances?  
        1. Where is she emotionally, relationally with you?  How is she doing physically right now, how is her soul?

    1. Paying attention to common, repeated relational patterns or cycles that happen between you and your spouse. 

    1. Our parts have very different experiences of sexual intimacy
      1. Definition of parts:  Discussed this at length in episodes 60 and 61.  Parts:  Separate, independently operating personalities within us, each with own unique prominent needs, roles in our lives, emotions, body sensations, guiding beliefs and assumptions, typical thoughts, intentions, desires, attitudes, impulses, interpersonal style, and world view.  IFS therapist Robert Falconer calls parts "insiders."  Each part also has its own approach to sexuality.  

      1. One part may be blended within you 

      1. Your spouse may be blended in a part
      1. Parts can switch -- episode 61 Fractured, Fragmented Sex in Catholic Marriages described how parts in a sexual encounter can switch rapidly.  

    1. Bodyset is 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.  Obviously our bodyset is dynamic and can change as well.
      1. Understanding bodyset is so important in marriage because the bodies of the husband and wife are so united.  

      1. Body has a huge impact on our relating.  

      1. The bodies of the husband and wife
        1. Genesis 2:21-25   So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man[e] this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
        1. Mark 10:6-9  -- these are the words of Jesus  But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
        1. 1 Corinthians 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

      1. What do I mean by understanding bodyset
        1. Example of a wife Carol feeling "tired" -- what might that mean?
          1. Hard day -- physical labor
          1. Illness -- coming down with a cold.  Medical condition.  

          1. Psychosomatic expression of distress
            1. I am not feeling well emotionally
            1. Firefighting part of the wife that is covering up anger at the husband?

        1. Example of headache -- parts generating a headache.  But not all of the spouse.  

        1. Example of the wife's cycles
          1. For some wives, sexual desire is so mediated by hormonal levels -- so body based
            1. Parts of the husband can interpret a lack of sexual desire this day as rejection, as evidence of being unloved or unlovable, undesirable -- all that could change in a few days. 

        1. Example of Bill from the last episode "I really get turned on when my wife bites me, it helps me to have sex with her, I find I don't have to use Viagra then -- is that ok, or is it better for me to use the Viagra?  I don't want to not be able to have the fullness of sexual intimacy with her…"  
          1. Bill's difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection are not purely a medical/physical issue -- he doesn't need the Viagra when his wife bites him.   Something is going on with his bodyset -- what is attractive and arousing about the biting?  It has a meaning to it.  

    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, including our sexual experiences. Our mindset is dynamic and changes – we can have a very positive outlook at one point in time and a very negative one at another point in time and look at the same set of circumstances.  Our mindset greatly influences not only our thinking but also our behavior.  
      1. Example of the tired wife Carol-- difficult day at work, difficult time with the children before her husband Ben comes home from working late.  Ben kisses the kids good night, he's ready for a late supper and maybe some romance, but the wife's mindset is one of
        1. Ben, You've left me alone with the kids repeatedly
        1. You don't understanding how much that demands from me
        1. It's not fair that you just get to come home, eat a fine supper that I prepared, kiss the kids and expect that I'm just going to be all into you and your wonderfulness, Ben.
          1. At this point, Carol's firefighting part that carries fatigue may lift and the anger in an exiled part may come through, an example of her heartset affecting her mindset
          1. Speaking from her anger, Carol says.  You don't really understand me, or you wouldn't be inviting me to bed like this.
          1. You need to help our more around here or I won't want any more kids, not if I have to raise them and care for them by myself.  No sex for you, Ben
          1. Ben's mindset -- shifting from how wonderful his wife is to his protector parts planning how to defend against her criticisms of him.  
            1. Carol, you're being unreasonable. What did I do wrong?  I came home from a long day at work, busting my hump to provide for this family and you lay into me as though it's a bad thing for a husband to be attracted to his wife.  

    1. 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. 

Heartset is even more dynamic and changeable for many people than mindset.  And it very much influences our mindset 
  1. Example of the heartset of the husband Ben in our example
    1. Ben's anger flaring up -- not fair that you say I don't help -- that's not what Carol said, but in a defensive mindset, Ben hears it that way.  Mindset and heartset working together.  

    1. Carol's heart is closed, sees Ben as intrusive, protectors have impulses to attack and withdraw from him into the kitchen out of anger and fear.  

  2. Soulset is essentially our attitude of soul.  It is the disposition of our spirit, or how our souls is oriented.  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.  Our soulset very much depends on the virtues we have acquired, especially the virtues of faith, hope and charity.  Our soulset is also very dynamic, it can change rapidly
    1. Carol and Ben not seeing each other as children of God.  Not seeing themselves as one flesh.  Not motivated by charity.  Invoking justice and fairness, not authentic agape love.  

    1. What would happen if they stopped and prayed their family rosary together, late, just the two of them, after the kids went down.  What if instead of making romantic overtures toward his wife, he volunteered to clean up with her in the kitchen?  

  3. Bedspread, Bedskirt, shams
    1. 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. Can also give a false impression to us.  

    1. Very natural to us to curate our social image, keeping up appearances
    1. We don't want detraction
    1. But we need to be real.  We need to see what is real about ourselves sexually, about our spouses sexually, and about our sexual intimacy. 

  6. Canopy
    1. Privacy of the marriage bed and what happens on it
    1. Openness to God
    1. Openness to our own parts
      1. Parts have very different attitudes toward our sexual expression
        1. e.g. latent anger -- if not given voice within ourselves, increases likelihood of enactment

    1. Openness to God
      1. In prayer
        1. Individually
        1. Together
        1. Sharing with each other what comes of the prayer.  Mutual discernment.  

      1. Through others

    1. Openness to trusted, competent others who love us
      1. May as well
        1. Luke 8:17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.
        1. Psalm 90:8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

      1. Major impediment to this openness and relating within yourself, with your spouse and with God [Drum roll]  
        1. Shame
        2. Check out episodes 37-49, which are a whole course on shame and overcoming shame.  

      1. Diagnostic -- what am I reluctant to reveal?  And why
        1. Again, asking our parts inside.   Fear, shame, guilt, -- If so, of what
        1. If you seek you'll find.  Many people never seek
        1. May be very surprising.  

        1. What happens in secret will be proclaimed from the rooftops.  

      1. Ways to share sexual aspects with others
        1. Respect for spouse
          1. Your husband is a beloved son of God; your wife is a beloved daughter of God.  

          1. Asking permission to discuss with a particular person
            1. Resistance is often within our own parts -- externalized to the spouse.  But have you asked your spouse?
            1. Bringing in parts language for your spouse.
              1. She never wants to have sexual intimacy with me vs. a part of her seems to really avoid having sexual intimacy with me.  
                1. Not all of my spouse.  
                2. How we speak, think influences our attitudes.  

        1. Positive frame -- wanting to make things better
        1. Owning your own part of any of the challenges -- beams and specks
        1. Can share frustration, but it should be more than just venting, a spouse bashing session.  
          1. But I might take that if it's the only way a person can start sharing anything about a dysfunctional sexual pattern in relationship -- depends on maturity.  

        1. No gossiping
        1. Clarity of language -- self-abuse instead of masturbation.  Euphemisms or ways to skirt the reality of an action.   
          1. Whatever facilitates communication -- street terms in the formal terms are not understood.  
          2. Victorian age -- sense of propriety.  

      1. Choosing a professional
        1. Marital therapy can be extremely helpful.  

        1. Therapist or a life coach or a spiritual director or some other professional role
          1. Professionals often have their own sexual issues that impact how they relate with their clients.  

          1. Many Catholic professionals may not really hold to what the Church teaches
            1. Ignorance
            1. Professional formation
            1. Personal sexual issues that are getting stirred up
              1. You can ask.  You can challenge your therapist -- he or she doesn't have to reveal everything to you, not entitled to know all about your therapist's sexual life, but the question can spur your therapist to think.  
                1. I am into clients challenging their therapists
                2. And therapists rising to the challenges.  

          1. Use your judgement, powers of discernment.  Seek and ye shall find.  

      1. What about when a husband doesn’t want his wife to discuss her experience of sexuality with him with anyone else.  Or if a wife doesn’t want her husband to discuss their sex life with any other person?  Then what?
        1. Consider the reasons why
          1. Safety, Security
          1. Emotions
            1. Fear
            1. Shame
            1. Guilt

          1. Consider what parts of the spouse might be activated by the idea of the sharing
          1. See if the spouse could discuss the reasons for the resistance to sharing.  
            1. Spouse may not know
            2. Gentleness and kindness here, if you are capable of them

        1. Float the possibility of discussing together – marital therapy, for example.
        1. If continued refusal
          1. If your situation is not urgent or abusive, consider waiting
            1. Prayer, sacrifice
            1. Revisiting
            1. Consider a hypothetical

          1. If situation is urgent or abusive
            1. Examples
              1. domestic violence
              1. harm to children
              1. Gaslighting – psychological manipulation around sex

            1. Talk about it with someone you trust anyway
            1. Spouse has no right to your absolute silence.  
              1. Example of confession
              2. No right to violate your dignity as a child of God. 

  9. The process of problem solving
    1. Review of the three parts of the moral act from last episode, Episode 69 -- example of Edward and Vera -- Very has some difficulty with sexual arousal, finds when Edward stimulates her with his fingers, she loosens up, becomes much more responsive, it's easier for her to have vaginal intercourse -- really common situation.  But Edward has noticed that he tends to come to orgasm when his wife does -- that is so exciting for him, and he has had a history of premature ejaculation in the past.  Fumbling around, not able to get inside of Vera in time.  
      1. Three Parts of the Moral Act
        1. Object = the action or inaction chosen -- the what -- 

        1. Intention/Motive -- the reason for doing the action or not doing an action
        1. Circumstances - -- situational factors which may affect the morality of an action -- who, what, where, how.  

        1. All three of these, the object, the intention, and the circumstances must be evaluated to determine if a moral act is good or evil. 
          1. All three must be good for an act to be moral.   

      3. Analyze the object first, then the intention, then the circumstances
      4. Object -- Vaginal intercourse-- would be nice for both to experience orgasm, maybe even at the same time.  
      5. Intention/Motive/End  Edward and Vera are open to life, intending to have vaginal intercourse.  Very open to the enhancing the marital bond, connected with each other
      6. Circumstances
        1. Bodyset
          1. Being really aware of body responses, especially around ejaculation.  

          1. Solution may be for him to go a lot slower
            1. Or to be already inside her
            1. And to stimulate her while inside her or afterward.  

            1. Practicing -- later, not long after the Edward's refractory period ends
              1. Refractory period = the recovery phase after orgasm during which it is physiologically impossible for a man to have additional orgasms.[

        1. Mindset
          1. Openness to ideas, receptivity, solution finding focus vs. an intellectual rigidity, fixed ideas of how things should be and how to get there.    

        1. Heartset
          1. Can they be playful about this -- have a sense of lightness of humor? - or does there need to be a dark seriousness about it, a deep sense of gravity.  

        1. Soulset -- sense of Divine Providence being operative in the sexual intimacy challenges.  

    1. Importance of the hierarchy of priorities
      1.  1942 essay by C.S. Lewis, “First and Second Things.” 
        1. Lewis wrote: “To sacrifice the greater good for the less and then not to get the lesser good after all—that is the surprising folly . . . Every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made. Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got his pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception. You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.” Don't want to sacrifice a greater good for a lesser good. 
        2. Sexual pleasure -- the lesser good -- procreation and the emotional bond of the spouses are the greater goods.  
        3. Matthew 6:33 Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
        4. If parts are acting autonomously, disconnected from the core self, they always get what they don't want.  
          1. Neglect of the two great goods -- seeking pleasure, gratification through more intense orgasms is not the way to sustain relationships. Sometimes that won't happen.  

      1. Having sexual intimacy this way is so countercultural, so opposite of the what the world tells us.
        1. WebMD -- 14 reasons you should have sex now
          1.  It's exercise
          1. Good for a woman's heart -- decreases risk of heart disease
          1. Sex can help with pain
          1. Lowers stress -- e.g. public speaking (masturbation doesn't count)
          1. Longer life expectancy for women
          1. Slightly greater cognitive capacity for 50+ crowd -- number recall, basic math
          1. Better mood
          1. Bonding to your partner  two guys snuggling
          2. More sex, lower weight
          3. Better mental health
          4. More common-cold fighting antibodies
          5. Helps with sleep
          6. Greater likelihood of a baby -- more sex primes women for conception and improves sperm quality in men.
          7. Better quality of life in old age, health and happiness

  10. Edward and Vera are moving toward vaginal intercourse as the focus and center of the sexual intimacy of the spouse
    1. Openness to procreation -- this is the procreative act.  

    1. Bond of the spouses
      1. In the missionary position, spouses seeing each other, experiencing with each other
        1. Vs. being caught up in a self-absorbed experience of orgasm, for example

  11. Jesus very understanding and forgiving of sexual sins
    1. Examples
      1. Woman caught in the act of adultery Jn 8-1-11   Pharisees asking whether or not to stone her, trying to trap Jesus.  
        1. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

      1. Woman at the well -- John 4, 5 husbands, cohabiting with a man not her husband.  

      1. Eating with Sinners, professional mistresses or prostitutes at Matthew the tax collector's house.  
        1. MT 9:10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

    1. Reaching out to sexual outcasts
      1. He saw what goods their parts were seeking in their sexual behaviors
        1. Love, care, attention, protection, 

      1. Parts separate from the core self always get what they don't want. 

    1. He will help you and your spouse, too, if he's invited into this realm.   

  12. Loving each other in the sexual intimacy
  13. Charity is possible.  
    1. 1 Cor 13: 4-7 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
    2. Pilgrimage
      1. Human formation
        1. We all need help
        1. We all need structure
        1. We all need support.  

      1. Relaunch discussion.  
        1. Excited that our landing page at is updated and it has the video presentation on the relaunch we did on May 25 now posted.  Check that out, consider prayerfully about joining us, and if your discernment says "yes"  Get on the waiting list --   
        2. We have more than 120 on the waiting list so far. Not all of them will join.  We are taking about 80 new members in, we're keeping it manageable -- we don't want to lose the Catholic touch.  
        3. Waiting list, first chance, you'll get an email on June 1 with a link to register for the RCC.  
        4.  By June 4, landing page.  
        5. Join with your spouse

      1. Conversation hours Tuesday and Thursday starting on  June 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, and 29 -- 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM Eastern time -- 317.567.9594.  

  14. IIC 70A  Latent Emotions Around Sexuality
    1. Shame
    1. Guilt
    1. Grief
    1. Fear
    1. Sadness

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation, via Internal Family Systems approaches grounded in a 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 check out the Resilient Catholics Community which grew up around this podcast at