Sex is good!
That’s what Pope John Paul II told us in his Theology of the Body addresses and that’s what God wants you to understand. But sex has a purpose and a place, and that is within the confines of marriage.
Dating after divorce brings the issue of sex right to the forefront of discussion: whether or not sex is OK, how much intimacy is too much, and really, why do you have to wait if you’re not a virgin anymore, anyway?
Divorced people get into dating with the best of intentions, but also with a serious handicap: You’re already used to giving yourself to your spouse and it is hard to tell your body that now things have to change. Whether your experience with married sex was good or bad, you still experienced the freedom to be sexually intimate with your spouse and that is something that can be difficult to step away from after divorce.
Now I’ve read a lot of posts on the forum and I can see that so many of you are vehemently committed to living a chaste life and having chaste relationships. I commend you and support you!
But society has stacked the odds against you and sexual intimacy is still one of the most common mistake people make after a divorce.
Here are some suggestions that I found helped me date and remain chaste:
First, I made it known to my date that sexual intimacy was not an option when we planned our date. Since you are a member of CatholicMatch, you already have a head-start on that, but it’s good to be sure that your date is aware of your desire to remain chaste. Does this mean that holding hands and a kiss is out of the question?
I think we all understand that showing affection is a good part of dating. But just like drinking alcohol, your body tells you when you need to stop so you need to listen to those signals and not let things get carried away.
Something else that’s important, mostly for the ladies but certainly for men, is dressing the right way. A theater stage is shrouded by a curtain until it’s show time… A Christmas gift remains wrapped until Dec. 25… A blind fold covers the eyes and blocks the view of the surprise until the time is just right…
Veils, shrouds, curtains, etc. are not for the purpose of hiding something. They are for the purpose of revealing – when the time is right. Even the Eucharist remains concealed in the tabernacle – not to be hidden from us, but to reveal the glory of Jesus in Adoration and the sacrament of the Eucharist at the appointed times.
If you are divorced, you should be guarding your gift, the gift of yourself, with utmost care and protection until the appointed time arrives and you may reveal yourself again.
Safeguard the gift of your heart, mind, body and soul – the total donation of yourself in marriage – with the understanding of the sacredness and importance. Dress yourself in such a way that people can see you honor the gift you possess and it is precious to you, as it will be to someone else when everything else is right. In doing so, peace and the companionship of Christ will reign in your heart and your joy will be complete.
Many people believe the standards of chastity are too difficult to abide by in today’s world, and I understand that. As I mentioned before, society has definitely stacked the odds against us. But allow me to offer you another analogy that puts this into perspective.
Imagine an elementary school that has its playground along a busy city street. If the playground has no fence, the potential for disaster is eminent. All kinds of bad situations can and would happen. But if the playground has a fence, then traffic flows and children play freely without accidents or disasters.
This is precisely what the Church is trying to do by giving you these parameters. The Church, which simply upholds the teachings of Christ, wants you to live a morally safe and happy life; to live freely without the potential for disaster. Most certainly to help you avoid experiencing the pain of divorce yet again! And these parameters are not limited to divorced men and women, they are for everyone regardless of their state in life. Chastity, fidelity, honesty… these are the boundaries we are all called to abide by.
As you find your matches and go on dates, I hope that you have great times and wonderful experiences getting to know other people and that when the day comes for you to stand at the altar and take your vows again, you can do so with the thrilling joy of knowing that everything is right, just as it should be because you saved the honeymoon for after the wedding.
Check out Lisa’s take on the most common mistake in post-divorce dating here.