Worth the wait
Advice for your engagement
Congratulations on your engagement! This time of your life can come with a lot of joy, hope, and stress.
If you are trying to wait to have sex until you are married, you may be finding it very challenging to wait. You are not alone! You are physically attracted to your partner and you have natural sexual desires - those are both good things. See below for a quick reminder on why it's worth waiting and tips for making this time of waiting a little easier.
It is worth the wait! (And it is never "too late"to make a renewed commitment to wait)
Waiting until your wedding day is not about suppressing your sexual desires, but learning to harness them. While there are many theological reasons for reserving sex for marriage (it has been designed by God for husband and wife),here are a few practical reasons:
1. Learning to control your desires out of love of your partner: While it may feel difficult to control your sexual desires, it is good and helpful to learn to do so while you're engaged. If you can learn now, it will help your relationship grow stronger as you learn to build your bond in non-sexual ways both now and in the future. After marriage, there will be many times when you will want to have sex but choose not to, e.g. when one spouse is sick or injured, after the birth of a baby, or when using NFP and in a season where you're trying to avoid a pregnancy.
2. Clarity in discerning the marriage potential of your relationship: There are many engaged couples who discern they will not go forward with marriage. This is a difficult decision to make, but ultimately it is best to make this decision before the wedding day. Two people who have physically bonded through sexual activity will find it much more difficult to make clear decisions about their relationship. A lifetime commitment should never be taken lightly, and it is important to remember that this commitment is not official until the wedding day.
Discuss and agree upon clear boundaries
Learn the difference between what you and your spouse-to-be experience as “affirming” and “arousing” touch and refrain from intentionally touching one another in arousing ways.
Have a plan in place for responding if things start to go too far. It should not exclusively be one person’s job to be the “brakes.” Both persons should take responsibility to be aware and in control.
Avoid moments of temptation:
You have hopefully already learned to navigate this, but temptation can be stronger during the engagement period.
Avoid lying down together and drinking excessively together.
Remember the acronym HALT : if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired you are more likely to feel tempted to cross the boundaries you’ve set.
Write a list of ways you can bond outside of the physical – be creative!
Develop a list of date night ideas.
The developers of the Creighton NFP Method recommend focusing on bonding activities that develop the spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative/communicative, and emotional elements of your relationship.
Try to make sure your conversations are not exclusively on planning your wedding day. After that big day is over, you want to make sure you still know how to talk about other subjects!
Make time to pray together:
Make plans to attend church together each Sunday, when possible.
Begin a night-prayer routine through evening phone calls.
Use your knowledge of NFP to understand that temptations may be more difficult when the woman is fertile:
When a woman is fertile, she is more likely to desire sexual intimacy. This is a natural desire that God has given to aid the process of new life coming into the world. However, it is important to be aware that she will find it more difficult to control her desires just before and when she is ovulating. Similarly, some studies have shown that a man may find himself more attracted to his bride-to-be during this time.
If you know you are fertile, be extra protective of your boundaries and more intentional in planning your time together (i.e. perhaps avoid cuddling on the couch if you know you'll be more tempted).
Address any setbacks you may be having:
If you feel like you two have been crossing boundaries regularly, you must be able to discuss what has been happening and renew your intentions. These communication skills will play an integral role in your marriage.
If are facing setbacks, you may want to visit the Sacrament of Confession. However, avoid using the Sacrament as a crutch. Some couples may (unintentionally) develop a pattern of continually crossing boundaries while justifying “this is ok, because we can go to Confession later.” Regular appointments with the same priest can help fight this mentality. Seek counsel from the priest on how often you should meet. Depending on your situation, bi-weekly or weekly visits may be advised.
NOTE: If you feel like your partner is not respecting your physical boundaries, this may be a warning sign about your relationship. Respect and reverence are crucial elements of any married relationship. Being united in marriage will not cause any pre-existing problems to change overnight. If anything, marriage will emphasize your problem areas. Be sure that you are with someone who truly respects you, can communicate with you about difficult topics, and can bond with you in more ways than physical.