My husband and I met as students at the university chaplaincy. Both of us had been “through the wringer” in sexual matters, but we had also offered our lives to Jesus and wanted to walk in His way.
Our friendship soon grew into an infatuation. Alas, the wounds arising from our former disordered lives were considerable and we lacked experience. We soon fell into sin. And yet we never actually consented to impurity. We never once said—or even let it cross our minds—that “since it is so hard to save sex for marriage, let’s give up the struggle like so many others who do not persevere.” We did not give up. We went to confession, received the Eucharist, prayed together, and made resolutions. Some of these were successful, others less so. In the end, we decided to stop kissing on the lips altogether. Other kisses were allowed, but only under strict conditions. This proved to be very successful. In time, our infatuation grew into true love.
We got married. That was over thirteen years ago. Since then we have brought four children into the world. All this time we have lived a chaste married life. But God constantly presents us with new challenges. Now we see our purity consists not only in being open to life (i.e. avoiding contraception), but also in growing in love and caring for each other. What kind of relationship would a couple enjoy, if at the end of his working day the man did nothing but expect to be served and failed to relieve his wife of the burden of caring for the children, for example? What kind of relationship would they have, if the one were not attentive to the spiritual and physical needs of the other? Gradually, by moving hearts, by acting through a regular confessor and spiritual reading, God stirs us to greater love as expressed in an act of tenderness, a helping hand extended, a flower or surprise given, a favorite dish cooked, etc.
My husband and I use natural family planning methods. But we see now that this is not enough. We also need to work on ourselves and on our relationship with God, so as to become mature human beings. We are growing into responsible parenthood and are becoming gifts to each other.
We see our periods of sexual abstinence (itself an expression of marital love) as an occasion to grow in unselfishness—to mature in our love. This way our relations gain in freshness and do not sink into tedious routine. During our moments of sexual intimacy we are more present to each other and do not look for something in return. We find it much easier to master the temptation of seeking ever-new impressions and experiences. This is not to say that we do not experience hardship and temptations, but the experience we gained in struggling for purity before we got married helps us a great deal in this regard.
We belong to the Community of the Holy Family. We find it of great help in living out mature married love, of which purity is such a significant part. We meet regularly with married couples and families who share the same ideals. We can build on their experiences and turn to them for advice. The importance of constant formation (both as individuals and as a couple) is constantly brought home to us, for by growing spiritually, we grow in every area of life. We also share our own experiences—both with the families of our community and with others. For the past two years my husband has also been giving marriage courses at the parish.
In all honesty we can say that we are happy. We sincerely wish this for all young people and married couples.
Eva & Peter