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Divorce & Annulments

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?

No.

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.

 

 

Further reading

Check out Lisa’s take on the most common mistake in post-divorce dating here.

(This post has been read 23,815 times)

37 Comments

  1. Kathleen-732944 July 10, 2011

    Awesome article, Lisa!

  2. Chris-498632 July 11, 2011

    This is well said. When boundaries of intimacy could be a challenge before marriage, they certainly are more so once one has that “muscle memory”.

    • Maria-689654 July 13, 2011

      Hi Chris,
      You are right! The memories of the pleasures of all the sexual encounters with your previous relationships is ingrained in every fiber of our being. Specially when we are attracted to someone.
      These are the times when we need to put the stops before we lose control and we throw all our cares to the wind and say “To hell with rules!”. I find it extremely difficult to contain these urges.

  3. Mary-487190 July 12, 2011

    Great article and great reminders and analogies on the importance of being chaste, besides the obvious.

  4. Marietta-59073 July 13, 2011

    I agree with the chastity and moderate clothing. I wonder if you deem the picture on this article of the woman in the tight nearly see through top as a moderate shirt to wear?
    I tinnk it shows too much …to eeryone. No doubt it is a common look for women..but can’t we see through that veil?
    What do guys think is moderate for women? Is the girl modestly dressed…I ask guys and gals alike.

    • Maria-689654 July 13, 2011

      Hi Marietta,
      Maybe they are already married! I agree that the top is too revealing and when one tempts the other person to commit sin that person commits double sin. I am a very sensual person and I am proud of my sexuality! Does this make me a bad person? NO! I love my body and the pleasures it can give and receive. Despite these facts; I still need to obey God. For this and only this reason is why I practice chastity!

      • Sue-731445 July 15, 2011

        This is a good article. I have practiced chastity all of my life (I’m 59) because I believe what God says regarding sex outside of marriage. But it has cost me dearly. While I desire marriage and wanted to have as many children as God would allow, marriage and children have alluded me. I am looked upon, by my family, friends and society, as having something “wrong” with me or I am prejudged as “probably gay”. I believe, now, that God has/had other reasons possibly as to why I am not married. As Jeremiah said of the Lord…’For I know the plans I have for you. They are for good and not for evil’ (paraphrased). While I don’t understand and continue to yearn for that personal human intamacy I feel I need, I am content to follow His Will for me. I don’t need to know the plan, just that His hand is in all things. While it has been difficult to come to this understanding, I question if I am doing the right thing in being a member of this sight. My desire is first and foremost, to follow His Will for me in all things.

        • Diane-750207 August 1, 2011

          Sue I too felt that something was wrong with me for not feeling this type of intimacy when I should have with my ex-husband and it cost me dearly too. My silver lining is that I found a closer and better relationship with God. I believe that we (me and my ex) put so much stress on that side of our relationship that I lost sight of the relationship that I should have been having with God. Even though it was a tough lesson to learn, I now know not to put anyone, no matter how deep the relationship before God.
          The analogies in this story were a great way to connect intimacy, our bodies and how Christ wants us to act purely with each other and ourselves.

    • Craig-742679 July 28, 2011

      My opinion is that it is a little too revealing, not horrible, but on the edge. From a male perspective, it is a distraction when women dress in a manner that is edgy. Yes, it attracts looks, but it also compels men to focus on the physical attributes instead of what is really important. I wish more women would understand how their choices on attire can impact the level that the man engages them on.

      • Luz-1055440 February 6, 2014

        I’ll throw two cents. Sometimes it seems men, or want least most of the, are wired to filter ladies by the looks. For some women it can be hard to decide what is appropriate, because without the looks, it is quite unfortunate but usually the lady gets zero attention.
        This is the reason many try the edges… To avoid being completely ignored.

  5. Geysha-696950 July 23, 2011

    Good article. But I want to know the opinion of the catholic’s men about it . Because in my profile search a 50% or more of the men don’t accept the Church’s teaching about premarital sex.

    • Michelle-730999 July 24, 2011

      What I find even more intriguing is that most of the men who don’t agree with the Church’s teaching on premarital sex, also don’t believe in the Church’s teaching on contraceptives.

      Although, I did notice one man who didn’t agree with the premarital sex teaching, but agreed with not using contraception. So, basically, he’s saying it’s ok to have sex before marriage but doesn’t believe in doing anything to prevent pregnancy. A great and tragic contradiction, if you ask me.

  6. Marie-575233 July 23, 2011

    One should only give one’s body in a commited,safe and sacred relationship.IN MARRIAGE!

  7. Andy-516957 July 24, 2011

    I had a bad rejection, and in response I I had sex (I had been chaste for years prior) and, I needed it. It helped. It was still a mistake, and I was still in love with the girl that broke my heart, and I couldn”t fall for the girl I had the fling with, my heart was just not open yet. So, I ended up causing hurt. That part I regret.
    The Rejection that sparked this domino effect of hurt? I proposed to a woman that I had not had sex with. I’ll make new mistakes, because I sure am not going to do that one again.

    Do women know what men want them? It isn’t just for sex. Men aren’t men, if they don’t have a woman. They’re just guys, having a woman means you are worth the trouble. When the woman I loved said I wasn’t woth the trouble…. that really blew. (I know from bad experiences, and that was the worst)
    I’m not looking for sex on the first, or even the third or 7th date. but about a fifth of women seem to be able to live their lives with no sex ever. How do I know for sure you my dear, are not part of that 20%?
    That an I open my presents on Christmas Eve.

    • Luz-1055440 February 6, 2014

      Some people are uncapable to love. If a person does not love the man who proposes, OR who they have sex with, they will not accept. Sex will not make them able to love.

  8. Ella-744240 August 9, 2011

    I totally agree with Chastity before marriage—but trying to find a GUY who agrees with it has been “Mission Impossible!!!”

    • Derek-481265 August 11, 2011

      Geysha, Ella, et al who mention that many men in their searches don’t agree with church teachings… when you setup your search, there is an option to search for men who agree with at least “All” of the church teachings (this should help you screen and save you some time). However, although I’ve used the same option, I noticed some of the women who show in my match results as 100% match do not actually agree with all 7 teachings mentioned in CM. It must be a tech issue….

  9. Llewellyn-658954 August 25, 2011

    I agree that Sex is for married adults. If you respect your intended bride you will wait tiil after the marriage.. Chastity, Fidelity and honesty are in my life requisites for having a happy marriage. So wait and you’ll have a happier life. Respect is another key element

  10. Hugh-621992 September 17, 2011

    Very nice article. Thank you for sharing and for your insight.

  11. Mirella-652157 October 4, 2011

    Love is kind, love is patient…I really enjoyed this article. I will pray for strenght.

  12. Ell-696293 November 16, 2011

    good piece! and I’m not even divorced =)

  13. Anne-702606 December 26, 2011

    This is really true though sometimes feelings can overtake someone but all you need to do is to be disciplined and take good care of yourself.

  14. Bob-797101 December 28, 2011

    Not to be long..but I made that mistake once..and in mid-99 I turned my tv on…had no clue what channel was on..and before the screen came on..I heard a male voice say, “And the Blessed Mother told the children (Fatima I later found out..in 1917) that there were more souls in hell for sins of the flesh/sins of impurity than for any other reason. This convicted me BIG-TIME…it was a public access show on Warner Cable by (of all churches) the Pius V church in town…sedevacantists I think they are……but I saw this as no coincidence…it was meant to be…..the Blessed Mother had kicked my butt and taught me a lesson..and saved me from hell……….I ended the sinful relationship with the only woman I ever fell in love with…made a good sacramental confession..and put up with her friends making fun of me for deciding to live a grace-filled life and not a sin-filled fornication life…or actually adultery life as she was not divorced and not free to marry in the Holy Church and I found out never wanted to get married anyway. You live and you learn…and yes, did I feel bad…did I miss her? Sure I did…but I didnt miss committing mortal sins which were extremely displeasing to God and His Mother. Sure I was hurting…but so was God…I was hurting Him by my sinful behavior…is that how you thank Jesus for going through that 16-18 tortuous passion so that you can get to heaven by paying Him back with sin??? . . . …We’re called to holiness…not sinfulness…in the Our Father..”Thy Will be done!!” not ours..and what is His Will for us?? Our sanctification…. So yeah before I ever meet another woman in a dating service setting, I ask them to review 1 Cor 6:9-20..Romans 7..Gal 5:16-21…Col 3:5…Eph 5:3-5…2 Cor 7 I believe it is…Heb 13:4, James 1:14-15, 1 Peter 1:16-17…1 Thes 4:3-7… 1 John 3:3…and Revelation 21:8 and 22:15 and see if they have any questions about obeying the Word of God. I mean I’m not a prude…I love giving hand/back/neck/foot rubs to a woman I feel may be my wife some day….arm around her at Mass…chaste kisses…and hugs…put my arm chastely around her if lying down watching a movie or tv..but it goes no farther. And if she truly loves me, she will do the same for me and look forward to a great honeymoon and marriage. bob,cincinnati

    • Astrid-613871 December 29, 2011

      Bob, (you rock by the way)

      Truly, I wish, your dissertation would rocket around the world. I mean if the Blessed Virgin Mary can lift you up out of what humanity can easily call a really tight hold on your emotions, and shine the light of God and dispel your darkness; how many times is she willing to do this for others? I say an infinite number of times. It would seem that the world, without the sin of impurity, would be well on its way to a time of springtime and peace. In the Immaculate heart we can not fail, She will love us, pick us up, let us bring Her light to others in need and keep us for Her own. What does Our Lady live for other than to gather souls for Her Son’s Kingdom?

      I am in my third year, since my separation and divorce and awaiting my annulment, of being celibate. Recently, a Holy priest friend of mine said, God is asking some of us, in my position, to honor our state in life, to help make up for those that are not living their state of life in the purity that pleases God. I told my priest friend that I can not do anything good without the Grace of God and so I better keep on my knees praying for it.

      Personally, I think sex outside of marriage is like saying, ‘May I use you while you use me as an object.’……………..’No full on commitment just let’s torture our emotions as long as we want to.’

      I mean you would not let a stranger into your million dollar bank account; why would you let a uncommitted sacramental or casual person mess with your eternal soul?

      Astrid

    • Joseph-717977 January 12, 2012

      Bravo Bob! Great turn around!

    • Patricia-825638 February 20, 2012

      Great articles….especially love the well-put comments by Bob on how the Blessed Mother had taught him a lesson in living more of a ‘grace-filled’ life. Bob, I’m not a match maker, but have you met “Sue”, she has devoted her whole life to God and practiced a grace-filled life….it just sounds like you two might be a match….forgive me for interfering….just saying….God Bless

  15. Michael-827380 April 22, 2012

    Great story Bob. You are an inspiration. I have been in a relationship with a woman for almost 2 years now. My wife of nearly 40 years passed away about 3 years ago after a lengthy illness. At age 62, I thought chastity issues were in the past but they crept in slowly as I continued in this relationship. She is in the process of getting an anullment and we are both praying that God will guide to where He wants us to be, either apart or in a committed relationship blessed by the sacrament of marriage. The point I am making is that once you have been weakened by this sin, it becomes so difficult, if no impossible, to revert to a chaste relationship, so just say NO to your unchaste inclinations and wait. You will be so much happier being on God’s grace and following His plan, not your own.

  16. Barbara-105617 May 30, 2012

    I totally agree! I quit dating at all due to this subject. Every man wanted to take it further, and when I refused, due to Christ’s teaching, the relationship always went sour. I guess there was no relationship in the first place. I truly would love to have a pure relationship with a man who has the same commitment to Christ that I have.
    GREAT article!

  17. Celeste-865338 June 9, 2012

    I have been divorced for a long time! I learned the hurt and will never give myself to any man until marriage again. It is just the right thing to do in God’s eyes.

  18. Audreyrose-812629 June 16, 2012

    awww… learned so much from this article… May God gives me strength and grace to live a life that is truly pleasing to Him.. thank you again for this.

  19. Bill-177181 November 4, 2012

    There was a time when the woman said “no” to a man’s sexual advances. It was expected, at least for awhile. Nowadays when a man says no he more often than not gets a negative reaction. Sometimes a very negative reaction. Like, “Goodbye.” That’s why I love Catholic Match. We are more likely to be on the same page.
    I want what’s best for the one I love. What’s best for her, and everyone else for that matter, is Heaven. My mission is to help her get there. Tempting her into sin would not be helping her. Hmmm..maybe I should put that in my profile. :-)

  20. Jeann-850705 November 9, 2012

    I am supportive of this idea. If a man is taking too long to propose for instance over one year & no indication that he will do it soon & if a woman is novice in this.
    For instance, for a woman who does not know too much about intimacy, what help a man can provide to her the first time they will meet? Will be a disaster?

  21. Alycia-969754 May 6, 2013

    Why is this whole thing on divorced Catholics? Shouldn’t it be annulled Catholics?

  22. Melissa-365568 July 7, 2013

    So some people who read this will get upset, but what is a divorced Catholic? There is no divorce in the Catholic Church, only in civil marriages. Catholics can have a marriage annulled, but I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as divorce in the Catholic Church. (And for the record, the Catholic Church is based on the teachings of Jesus)

    • Luz-1055440 February 6, 2014

      The article does specify they do mean Catholic people who went through a civil divorce. They are saying that people who are inThis situation should not be having sex. In fact, they have another article where they say they should not be dating until hey receive a decree of nulity. It is my understanding that this is consistent with the teachings of the Church.

  23. Nancy-988180 July 11, 2013

    i love your honest only i dont know your age and iam in uk

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