It’s a polarizing word, I know. I thought hard about the title. I don’t like the word because of its connotations I realize, but… it’s a process. After being married, I feel like I have the right to talk about 2 things a lot more now – vocation and sex. So as uncomfortable as the title is, I still felt like this somehow needed to be written, so be open and read on!
Sex and physical intimacy always has a bad name pre-marriage. It’s taboo, constantly surrounded by a lot of secrecy and shame. I always had an issue with that because I don’t think it brings people into the light if they are struggling with it. One spirals inward until their self-image becomes so broken as they feel so tainted and unworthy.
At the very beginning, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to show passion, affection and ‘love’ to the fullest if I had the ability to do so. Because,
- That’s how people show and receive affection,
- I was trying to feel more affirmed in my own femininity, and
- my hormonal teenage body seems to agree that it’s a good thing,
so why not? (Unfortunately, I didn’t quite yet understand love as a gift and a sacrifice. Oh well.)
Yet, something still doesn’t sit right, Love should be ‘better’ than this. I read books/articles and learn about the basic concept of ‘loving’ versus ‘using’. I started to draw distinct boundaries when I knew whatever I was doing was for my pleasure and not the other’s. I slipped here and there but logic tided me over my dating days. “Does this lead me to an unhealthy obsession, guilt and secrecy? If yes, don’t do it.” With a little grace and self-control, I got through painful times recalibrating my expectations and comfort zone.
In the battle to rid lust and impurity, I spent a lot of my effort telling myself that this is a time to focus on other ways to show affection. I rebuked those suggestive fantastical scenes in the media as it’s mostly done in an unhealthy environment – in affairs, in abuse, in frivolity. I had hardly seen sex in it fullness, surrounded by love and within the security of commitment. I doubt it translates well on screen – probably takes too long.
Sex felt overrated and even felt a little cheap. How is this suppose to be a great expression of love? So, I tell myself: keep your desires in check, avoid the temptation, avoid the sin. DON’T SLIDE DOWN THE SLIPPERY SLOPE. Sex and God were 2 different goals, 2 different directions, especially in dating life.
Then, I approached marriage, where suddenly, the message took a 180degree turn: Sex is actually something that’s healthy in a loving marriage. Not that I ever believed that it is intrinsically bad, but now I had to change my attitude and spend time convincing myself that
- this act is a sacred union between husband and wife – a sign of love and sharing in Jesus’ love for the Church,
- is a profound intimacy that glorifies love, vulnerability and trust, and
- allows us to become mindblowing co-creators of life with God.
Just knowing it’s purpose in marriage is really pleasure enough! I grew more and more excited at this new responsibility, but became so afraid of my own impurity and incompetence.
Am I being manipulative? Are my desires tainted by selfishness? How can I respect the other as a person and be physically intimate without any form of objectification? Does this chain us to lust or free us to love? Is there pleasure without pain and sacrifice? Will my brokenness ever allow me to experience sex the right way?
Thankfully, especially in this day and age, it is important to know that it is possible – Purity and holiness in marriage is a reality (It has much to do with Jesus saving us and how he is the bridegroom of the Church but this needs more reading up on). Just because we are so fearful does not mean that this ideal is to be brushed aside. We might not see it in the media but it is lived out everyday by the people who still believe in it, secretly giving us the hope that it is indeed something beautiful.
I’m not here to lament about the media industry and the values it portrays (although I clearly have issue with that), but in my journey I have seen just how warped my idea of sex is because of how the media has shaped me. And in the past few weeks of conversations with friends, I’ve come to see just how necessary it is to fight for the goodness of sex and to allow it to be real, especially in the context of marriage. Even if we are half screaming about it in a crowded restaurant. X:
Sex is painful, awkward, slow, hilarious, scary, exciting, considerate but most of all, it brings us closer to God. I’ll be honest, it is something I still can’t quite comprehend yet because the sex I know always sat on the opposite end from God. But we learn as a couple, as a community, to die to ourselves.
We had recently gone through an episode where I was pregnant but lost the baby around the 5th week. He never took root in the womb. It was a time when we really felt the gravity of this part of the mission. One night, Shaun asked if I was actually ready to be a mother and raise a child, were we really open? Strangely, I didn’t think too long about it, I had simply said this:
When I said “I will” to you at that altar, I meant it. I don’t feel like it but I’m ready. I am prepared to give myself to you as fully as possible – body, mind and heart. We’re married!
A few days later, we read the Gospel and sang this song together at 7am with terrible morning voices,
Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.
Every lyric in that song makes sense, especially the part about being tried and true. Here’s to beauty.
*if you’re gonna be married, this is something EE and MPC would never prepare you for. haha, other than… sticky situations.
*And if you just got married, We found this useful as a starting point: http://www.catechism.cc/articles/QA