At the heart of romance is the discovery of the interior riches of another person — from observing endearing idiosyncrasies to uncovering deep places of past love and hurt to the easy manner of being in each other’s presence. This delight of mutual discovery draws a man and woman together, and the thought slowly arises, like the sun dawning on the horizon: “This is someone with whom I would like to spend my life.”
As romance blossoms, a man and a woman experience the desire for physical intimacy that reflects their deepening emotional and spiritual intimacy. This natural desire for conjugal intimacy with the one whom you love is very different than the manipulative desire of lust. It is a good and holy desire and corresponds to God’s pattern for the flourishing of human life. This desire will increase as other bonds of intimacy are strengthened — sharing experiences, friends, memories of your past and dreams of what your future life together might become. As you look into your beloved’s eyes, you see her goodness and desire to draw ever closer. Why should you wait for conjugal intimacy when your interpersonal intimacy has become so strong?
The answer is simple. The plethora of experiences that have drawn you together are only a precursor to the greatest and most intimate moment of your relationship: the moment you bind yourself in an irrevocable vow to the one you love: “I, N., take you, N., to be my wife. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.”
These two sentences turn the experience of romance into something much deeper. Your mutual attraction has become an unbreakable spiritual bond for the duration of your lifetime. Your relationship passes from the realm of ‘delightful experiences’ to ‘spiritual reality.’ Only then is conjugal intimacy capable of expressing its true meaning: “I see such goodness and beauty in you that I know the world would be better if there were more people like you on this earth. For this reason, I will commit my life to serving you and, with you, raising our children so that all of creation might be enriched by our bond.” The beautiful meaning of conjugal intimacy only attains its true meaning in the vowed, irrevocably-bound relationship of a husband and wife, and its meaning cannot be changed, even by mutual consent.
St. John Paul II insightfully observes in his book “Love and Responsibility,” that “the greater the feeling of responsibility for the person, the more true love there is.” Rather than diminishing love, waiting for marriage deepens your sense of responsibility for your beloved’s dignity. The self-discipline that you and your fiancée exercise together will enrich your spiritual bond and deepen your comprehension of the sacredness of your marital covenant. Good things come to those who wait!
Father Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.