MARITAL LOVEMAKING  

When To Make Love?
     When should a husband and wife have sex? Sometimes it's obvious: when they both want to and the circumstances are right. But a lot of the time it's not obvious at all: one of them wants it and the other one doesn't.
     It's easy to say that they need to communicate and work it out between them, and that's certainly true. But what should they be saying when they are "communicating" on this topic? How can the one who wants it more communicate this without being overbearing or making his partner feel guilty? And how can the one who wants it less communicate this without being unloving or making her partner feel guilty?
     It's a delicate little dance sometimes. The one who wants sex more has to be preparing his spouse for it in other ways, by creating an atmosphere in which she will be more inclined to engage in it, and to be patient in the meantime. The one who wants sex less has to be preparing herself for engaging in it sooner than she otherwise might, and to be understanding about it.  (My pronouns reflect my belief that it is typically the male who wants and the female who is reluctant, but that is by no means universal, of course.)

  Some sensible observations on this question here.

  Anyone who thinks there are easy answers to this question is crazy.

Why Make Love?
     Why and when should a husband seek out or pursue having relations with his wife?  "When he feels like it" is a partial answer, but given that some of us would lose our jobs if we followed through on that advice, not to mention driving our wives nuts, more needs to be said.
     It doesn't seem right to say that sexual relations with my wife should be ONLY about responding to a physical need, though physical desire is certainly a fact and responding to it is not bad. It's not "human" to pursue sex only as something physical -- not because what's physical is bad (it's certainly not), but because there's so much more that's good.
     I don't think the answer should be "just for procreation" either. Having sex in order to have children is beautiful -- something many people have lost sight of.  But, as John Paul II pointed out in his book Love and Responsibility, to reduce marital relations to a means to procreation (and nothing else) -- making my wife simply a means to that end -- would be a distortion.  (Note that there's a big difference between saying that "I will make love to my wife without ever deliberately making those relations sterile" and "I will only make love to my wife in order to have children.")
     I think the answer to the question "why make love" must involve the desire to achieve some sort of unity.  Sex is both a means to unity, and a symbol of it -- it “does” it. The unity with my wife should exist at every level of me:  physical, emotional, affective (referring to the will as something that goes beyond emotions -- how we love), and intellectual and spiritual. At its highest level, it is sharing an understanding of and movement toward our ultimate end in life. I know that sounds abstract, and it's certainly not the way most people think of sexual unity, but it flows from common sense reflection on what it means to be a person, a human being.

     One practical implication of this focus on unity is that one very important element of marital lovemaking is speaking.  Speech is one way that we communicate and focus together on the same ideas and goals -- it adds to the sharing that goes on in our lovemaking.
     So, it's good to talk to your wife during sex: about how beautiful she is, about why you love her so much, about what a wonderful mother she is, about how wonderful your children are.  And it's also good to speak out loud your gratitude for the exquisite pleasure you are experiencing in this act -- thanking her, and thanking God for this great gift.
     Needless to say, this doesn't mean that, just as your wife is about to climax, you are running through a list of her virtues. There's a natural rhythm to sex, and the speech is most appropriate at the beginning and the end. But men tend to "get into it" pretty quickly and often don't want much talking. Women are not that way -- though they, too, will get into it at some point and leave words behind. That doesn't mean that the communication ends -- it's just a shift to touches, and movements, and sounds doing the communicating, as she gets caught up in the unfolding of the act.