So I’m engaged to a wonderful Godly man. We are both looking forward to marriage and building a home together. Getting engaged brought us to the age old question: How far should we go physically?
A bit of background: We are both converts from a very conservative side of Protestantism (e.g. Hand-holding before marriage? Scandal! Women wearing pants? Only man-baiting sirens wear blue jeans! ). In fact, due to our upbringing (and a hasty vow I made to God) we are saving our first kiss until marriage. This boundary (no-kissing) isn’t something we’re willing to budge on. However, Catholicism has shown me that the body is a good thing and should be considered. I know that the time of engagement is a time of preparation and I wonder if the body is involved in that preparation.
Are there things within the bounds of chastity that we should practice to prepare for physical intimacy in marriage?
Dear Anonymous Fiancee,
I am not sure whether you’ve started the pre-Cana process yet but this would certainly be an excellent topic to bring up. I think it’s commendable that you are saving your first kiss until your wedding. I don’t see any reason why you should lessen that hastily made (as you put it) vow to God by pushing the boundaries of intimacy before your nuptials. You don’t need to “practice physical intimacy” and potentially court temptation in order to establish intimate bonds before marriage.
The best thing you can do to prepare for a lifetime of intimacy is to build trust between you two. To build that trust you can help each other honor your prenuptial vows. Having open communication with your future spouse also enhances intimacy. I would be more focused in this early stage of your life together on building emotional and spiritual intimacy. You’ll have the rest of your lives to grow in physical intimacy. Trust, communication, and emotional and spiritual intimacy are things that precede and eventually enhance physical intimacy that will come later.
When you say you wonder if the body should be involved in the marriage preparation process, I would answer yes, the whole body. The mind and the heart, the spirit, and the will. You want to consider the body? Then consider its whole, made in the image and likeness of God.
I also think it’s important not to view chastity as only refraining from being physically intimate. Chastity is more than just not having sex or just not kissing. Chastity is keeping your heart and intentions pure as well.
I know you’re young and excited to be married but I speak the truth when I say that in order to have real genuine physical intimacy you must have trust first. Work on building that through prayer and communication and the physical intimacy will blossom within the boundaries of marriage.
Congratulations on your engagement.