For Engaged Couples – The Message of Intercourse

When a couple wants to give themselves completely to one another, nakedness communicates that kind of extraordinary generosity and openness. It says: “I give you my whole self and I accept you in full knowledge of who you are”.

Once you are ready to say: “I love you permanently and totally”, it is natural to use your whole body including your genitals, because it communicates permanence through the linking with future generations. Intercourse says:

  • “I love you totally and permanently”
  • “I give you my entire person and hold nothing back”
  • “You and I are no longer two but one body”
  • “We are family, permanently and forever”
  • “I love you and your children, and your children’s children”.

These are incredibly affirming messages when they are true, but they can only be completely true in the context of marriage. They are devastating when they are false. Being lied to hurts; we feel betrayed when someone lies to us and we feel guilty and ashamed when we are insincere and dishonest ourselves.

More commonly, they are only partially true. The problem with this is that accepting half-truths desensitizes you to the full potential of the most sacred of messages. If you use language to mean something else, it is hard to change its meaning later. For example, the word ‘gay’ used to mean ‘lively and fun’. It’s hard to hear it that way now that it has been used differently. Likewise, if you use intercourse to only mean “I am attracted to you” or “I feel close to you” what part of the body can you use when you want to say, “I give you all that I am”?
The result is that if intercourse did not mean “I am permanently committed to you” before, it becomes more difficult to trust that it means this in marriage. It also reduces your openness to an experience that is new and more meaningful in marriage. For those who have had multiple sexual partners, an added complication is that memories of others degrade the sense that your spouse is incomparable and that your marriage relationship is unique.

Obviously the ideal would be to have never said to anyone else what you are now preparing to say to each other on your wedding night. If however, you have had premarital sex with your fiancé or with previous partners, most likely you did so without realising the true meaning of your actions. To contain the residual effects and restore the sacred meaning of intercourse, resolve to be honest and sincere in all communication with each other from this day forward. Use this time of engagement to prepare yourself spiritually for your wedding night by refraining from sex so that you can truthfully and authentically celebrate your marital union as a total gift of self.

In contrast to popular wisdom, the best sex is married sex because you hold nothing back. Within the safety of an exclusive and permanent commitment, you can give yourself generously and unreservedly in a sacred gift.

Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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