Those couples who thrive, who learn to give of themselves, don’t give up on pleasure. It’s just that sometimes they need to have a little patience and take the necessary time and make the necessary effort to find that pleasure, peeling it like a sweet fruit consumed amid the complications of everyday life. This wonderful challenge is never experienced by those who live in a world of casual encounters and who imagine their own little love stories untouched by the messiness of everyday life. Theirs seems to be a fabulous way of living: glittering, happy, free, and carefree. But if truth be told, I see none of that in those who have lived through this experience. Rather, those who have trivialized sex find it hasn’t done them any good. Where there is no boundary, where nothing is off limits, where there is no experience of the “sacred risk” of conceiving a child, and where there is no sense of achievement (because what we wanted to achieve has been available to us from an early age, at no great effort to ourselves), there’s very little left to be proud of.

We women are more responsible for this state of play than men. Thinking we were emancipating ourselves, we’ve sold out, as we say in Italy, “for a plate of lentils.” What we’ve done is accept the male view of sexuality, hook, line, and sinker. We were the custodians of life, but not anymore. We are emancipated, that’s true. We no longer depend on anyone. But in return, we run the very real risk of losing that total reciprocal self-giving between two people that we long for and desire, written, as it is, into our DNA.

The result is that in exchange for our newfound freedom, we are the first to suffer. We are suffering and the whole world is suffering, because if we won’t do it, who will guard love for life?

Costanza Miriano, Marry Him and Be Submissive (2016)

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