Young couples as well as older people appreciate this in their hearts. O.M. will not work without love, and because there are so many mistaken conceptions of love it is necessary to enlarge on it. All the world over love is spoiled very often by the fact that sexual intercourse is surrounded by fears, false beliefs, shame, selfishness and ignorance. Yet God created the act of sex. He did so for two closely related reasons. The long-term one is continuation of the human race; but the immediate object of intercourse is to provide man and woman with a unique means of expressing their love for each other in marriage. When sexual intercourse is experienced not only as a physical union, but simultaneously as a deep spiritual union of two persons, the one is very close indeed to realizing in the depths of that union that the greatest thing that life has to offer husband and wife is real love, and God is love. This love is surely a mystery and one cannot define it precisely. St. Paul help us to understand that “love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous; never boastful or conceited; is never rude or selfish; it delights in the truth; always ready to excuse, to trust, to endure what comes and to suffer for the other.
God created us to be happy people, and through these pages it is hoped to enhance the expression of love between husband and wife, and to dispel some unfounded fears. If there is one more than any other that breaks marriage and diminishes love even between two people who once truly loved each other, I would choose as that one thing the abuse of physical sex. Once the act of sex is allowed to become predominant in love, trouble is on the way. Soon partners will be substituting sex for real love to try to close the gap that is developing between them. This is the way to separation. Love feeds on personal intercourse (involving the whole person), not just on the physical act.
A happy marriage is one where the balance is maintained between the physical and the spiritual. To maintain that balance it is necessary to abstain from sexual intercourse on many occasions, out of respect for one’s partner. But another very important reason is that temporary abstinence is the key to the highest peaks of experience in life. Satiety deadens; abstinence excites, inspires, enriches.
The experience of many people has shown that it is possible to achieve contentment, without strain, during the times of abstinence, by developing a facility to express their love physically without genital arousal. This takes time, love and strength of character, but the reward in terms of emotional well-being is well worth the effort. It is within the powers of most couples to master this control. For an engaged couple it is an invaluable preparation for marriage.
SEX (GENITAL AND NON-GENITAL)
Sex involves a person’s whole being. It is not merely genital. Genital sex refers only to contact between the male and female reproductive organs. The word non-genital includes all other expressions of our sexuality. This point must be understood to see how men and women complement each other as one half of an orange complements the other. We need each other God made us so. It is by our sexual relations that we complement each other, but this relationship does not always require a genital expression. It exists before people get married. Widows and widowers can adapt themselves to a new, richer way of life without genital sex. And unmarried people do not need intercourse to become complete personalities, as is sometimes thought. Indeed they are often harmed by having premarital sex. Genital sex too soon, numbs a person’s sensitivity to increased knowledge of another.
Within Marriage however, genital sex comes into its own. It is the type of sexuality proper to marriage. Yet husband and wife also need to express the love between them in non-genital ways. And if they are to be truly happy together the non-genital expressions must be a lot more frequent than genital sex. The closet sexual union only occurs where genital sex does not begin the love-story.