INVITATION TO A PASSIONATE MARRIAGE
When we make the commitment to one another in marriage, we are saying
with our whole being:
; “I love you in full knowledge of who you are. I have chosen you from
among all others and I will be faithful to you in mind, heart and body all
the days of my life.”
; “I accept your family as my own, and together we will love them.”
; “I accept any children we bring into marriage. Together we will raise
; “If God blesses us with children, I will love them, support them and raise
them to know and love you and their Creator in heaven.”
; “I will do this because I have been given a never ending love for you that
is comparable only to God’s love for you.”
The Sacrament of Matrimony calls married couples to a passionate love
relationship both inside and outside the bedroom.
Chastity – or keeping oneself pure until marriage makes sense in the context
of what married love is about.
; Postponing sex until marriage reassures us that our decision to marry is
the correct one.
; Chastity is the virtue of temperance – the practice of self-mastery we’ll
need in all areas of our lives.
; Chastity shows respect for the other person. It lets him/her know, “I
think you’re worth waiting for.”
; Chaste love means putting your heart and soul, your emotional center in
the custody of another.
; Chaste love is a product of prayer.
For couples who live together, postponing sex until marriage seems almost impossible. Yet when couples enter into a mutual agreement to wait, they have found creative ways to live.
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
Joe and Donna bought a house together to save money on rent. Joe’s aunt had a sign
made for the door of the Master Bedroom: Unoccupied Until June 30th, the date of their marriage. They decorated that room and made up the bed with fresh linens and then closed the door, not to enter it again until their wedding night when they could finally make love. Until
then, Donna took the guest room and Joe slept on the couch.
Jason and Elaine planned a traditional Catholic wedding to be celebrated at Christmas time. The hall, the caterer, the musicians, had all been hired. The guests had been told to save
the date. Eight months before the wedding was to take place, Jason won a fellowship to graduate school, which meant he had very little money to live on – and Elaine got a job teaching.
They were madly in love and couldn’t wait to be married, so while it made sense to them for
them to live together before marriage, they realized there was no way they could keep their hands off each other. So they contacted their pastor and had a small wedding with family and a few friends in August. On their original marriage date at Christmas, they put on their wedding garments, renewed their vows in church before all their guests, and had the great wedding reception they had planned. They’ve been married 15 years and have five children and are still
Marsha and Ken did a similar thing. Ken knew he couldn’t continue to live with Marsha and postpone sex until their wedding, scheduled for a year later. In particular, Ken also felt the need to receive the Eucharist again and to get his life straight with God. So they decided to
separate the wedding from the reception. They got married a month after they finished Pre-
Cana, with about 25 invited guests. About five months later, they had a huge open-house at
their home and invited all their family and friends to celebrate their marriage. They had a great party and saved a ton of money as well.
God does care about our bodies and what we do with them. He has also given
us the capacity to have fun together, to enjoy our bodies and to receive the
fullness of sexual pleasure.
Let’s look at some of the attitudes you may have about your bodies.
1. Questions for Discussion
[Discuss the following questions in detail. If you don’t have time to finish now,
you can discuss them later when you are on a date.]
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 2 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
; Is my own appearance important to me?
; Is it important to me that my fiancé maintains his/her current physical
appearance and weight throughout our marriage?
; How important is hygiene to me (taking showers, using deodorant, brushing
teeth, etc.)? (Discuss both your own and each other’s hygiene).
; The part of my body I am most bothered by is….
; The part of my body I am most happy with is…
; What I most cherish about your body is …
; When I hear that God has given us the capacity to have fun together, to enjoy
our bodies and to receive the fullness of sexual pleasure, I feel…
; I have worked at being healed of any past relationships or sexual hurts by…
; How do I feel about postponing sex until we are married?
Our attitudes about sex and sexuality are formed long before we’re married.
; For some of us sexual intercourse may be seen as a matter of two bodies
coming together to have sex. Our hearts and souls would not be involved.
; For some of us, sexual intercourse has always been part of lust. We have
treated others or been treated as objects, not persons, and we have felt
used and cheated.
; For some of us, sexual intercourse has been explained as something dirty
; We all need to be free of the influences of our culture and our past.
Our prayer comes from the book of Tobit 8:4b-8.
On their wedding night Tobiah arose from bed
and said to his wife,
„Sister, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us
and to grant us deliverance.‟
Sarah got up, and they started to pray
And beg that deliverance might be theirs.
They began with these words:
“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 3 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
Praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
To be his help and support;
And from these two the human race descended.
You said, „It is not good for the man to be alone;
Let us make him a partner like himself.‟
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
Not because of lust,
But for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
And allow us to live together to a happy old age.”
They said together, “Amen, amen.”
Catholics believe that every person who has received the Holy Spirit and continues to be in the state of grace is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
God lives within all such persons.
; Sex is holy because it is the most complete and intimate way one person,
filled with God’s presence, can give himself/herself to another human
being, also filled with God’s presence.
; Sex is holy because you are holy.
2. Questions for Discussion
[Discuss the following statements in detail].
; Discussing our sexual relationship you is ___easy, ___difficult for me.
(Check one.) Talk about why you answered this way.
; Thinking of sex as holy makes me feel…
; When I think of each of us as filled with God’s presence, I feel…
; The idea of inviting God into our sexual relationship is …
; Becoming a great lover to my spouse both inside and outside the
bedroom makes me feel…
; The idea that God’s love is revealed to us in our sexual relationship makes
; Sex with my spouse will be a ___chore or a ___ blessing to me. (Check one
and discuss your answer.)
; Can sex change people for better or worse? How?
; If two people really love each other, their sexual relationship will still
take work. Discuss.
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 4 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
; When two people are in an on-going sexual relationship, they can
profoundly influence one another’s values. What values do we both share
and what still divides us? How can we work toward greater unity in our
; Thinking about marrying your whole family, both past, present and future,
makes me feel… Who in your family makes me most uneasy about our
future? How can you help me in this relationship?
; Loving each other with God’s love sounds…
; I enjoy being vulnerable with you. ___true ___false.
; For Catholics, the desire to build closeness as a couple and the desire to
have children are both legitimate reasons to have sex. ___true ___false. ; Having children can increase our desire and enjoyment in one another.
; I have complete trust in you in our sexual relationship. ___true ___false. ; When I think of the two of us sharing the responsibility for family
planning, I feel…
; When I think about “working” on our sexual intimacy vs. just letting it
happen, I feel…
[Discuss your answers with each other. Listen for understanding, especially the beliefs and attitudes expressed by your fiancé. Use the areas where you
agree most strongly as a foundation for your growth.
If you have come from a difficult background or had negative experiences in your past, work on the points in which you are in agreement and seek
counseling for those areas that are most difficult.
As you continue to explore your sexual relationship, try to discuss and
incorporate more of the spiritual dimension into it.]
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 5 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
The story of Adam and Eve is important because it gives us a picture of what
God has in mind for us as human beings.
A reading from the book of Genesis 1:26-28, 31a
Then God said:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
The birds of the air, and the cattle,
And over all the wild animals
And all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
In the image of God he created him;
Male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air,
And all the living things that move on the earth.”
God looked at everything he had made, and he found it Very good.
The strongest physical way we have of expressing our sexual intimacy is
; Our two bodies literally become one, and we enjoy intense pleasure and
; When the Pill or other forms of birth control are use, both spouses are
holding back from one another. They are saying “I love you” with their
bodies, but adding, “But I don’t want your children”.
; But when a married couple’s lovemaking is an act of pure and total love,
they do in fact, call forth God’s presence. They make the invisible God’s
union with us become visible.
; Sometimes God blesses this intense love with a flesh and blood sign to the
whole world – their child who carries a little bit of both of them and their
entire family history within.
; Every time a married couple makes love, God blesses them with growth in
their relationship and emotional intimacy.
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 6 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
Married couples should plan their lovemaking together and not leave it to
chance or when they both feel like it.
; Make love in prime time.
; Spend time together just touching and holding each other without making
; Be affectionate and thoughtful throughout the day. Don’t expect to jump
into bed and “turn on”.
; You won’t always feel like making love, but you can still choose to make
love. Often once you’ve begun, you’ll start to feel good about it.
; When You’re simply too tired, too sick or too distracted to focus on one
another in lovemaking, set a time for when you will make love. ; Plan your lovemaking ahead of time – like a date.
; As the “domestic” sacrament, marriage is the central sacrament of the
home. Parenthood is magnificent, but it’s not a sacrament.
; So great lovers set aside time for each other with a daily ritual of 10-15
minutes of conversation, regular affection and affirmation and frequent
Love is an expression of personal responsibility, responsibility to another
human being and responsibility to God.
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 7 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
Pope John Paul II tells us:
ruly, in begetting life the spouses fulfill one of the highest
dimensions of their calling: they are God’s co-workers. Precisely for
this reason they must have an extremely responsible attitude. In “T
deciding whether or not to have a child, they must not be motivated by selfishness or carelessness, but by a prudent, conscious generosity that weighs the possibilities and circumstances, and especially gives priority to the welfare of the unborn child. Therefore, when there is a reason not to procreate, this choice is permissible and may even be necessary.”
(July 1994 Angelus address)
; We are not called to have as many babies as possible, but we are
called to prayerfully discern each month whether God is calling us to
bring new life into the world by conceiving a baby.
; In discerning God’s will for the size of our families, we are obliged to
consider the resources God has given us to provide for the physical,
emotional and spiritual needs of a child.
; Couples who are unable to conceive a child or are beyond their
childbearing years when they marry are encouraged to love one
another dearly and spread their love lavishly on the people around
Since there are practical limits to how many children we can properly care for at any point in our lives, God has made our bodies so they signal to us times of fertility, when we are likely to get pregnant, and times of sterility, when we’re
not liable to get pregnant.
; This method of planning our pregnancies is called Natural Family
; It’s a reliable, healthy, ecological means of both achieving and postponing
; It’s beneficial to relationships because it challenges couples to grow in all
the virtues that lead to intimacy and a healthy sexuality.
; Natural Family Planning requires a couple to become intimately aware of
the natural cycles of the wife’s body. They can then choose to have
intercourse during her fertile period if they wish to conceive a child or
abstain during the fertile period if they need to postpone pregnancy.
; These periods of “Creative Abstinence”, usually lasting 5-7 days each
month allow the couple a brief “time out” from sexual intercourse.
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 8 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011
; This is a time when the couple moves from passionate lovemaking to
passionate loving in all the other areas of their relationship. It’s a time to
work on romance, fun and playfulness, dating, intimate verbal
communication – whatever you both enjoy that brings you closer
; It’s a time for celebrating your relationship all day long.
Every married couple will find their lives greatly enriched by learning about
and practicing Natural Family Planning.
[In addition to any local resources that may be available to teach you more about Natural Family Planning, there is also a home study course offered at the Couple-to-Couple League at www.ccli.org. They offer written materials in
both English and Spanish.
There is also an online course offered from Northwest Family Services at www.nwfs.org in English. In each course you will have access through phone
or e-mail to a Consultant who will guide you.]
3. Discussion Question:
What did I learn that I didn’t know about Natural Family Planning?
INVITATION TO PASSIONATE MARRIAGE SESSION FOUR DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 9 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION - DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE 5/2011