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From Relationship to Marriage: Growth and Proper Disposition


Just like every living thing and every worthwhile adventure, the process of growth and nurturing cannot be divorced from fruitful accomplishment and overall performance. As we apply and follow every growth dynamics to achieve our desired goals, so also should we adapt the process of growth and nurturing to our relationships especially sexual relationships. The foundation of sexual relationships cannot be underestimated, it must be solid and well patterned to be able to hold firm all that will be built on it throughout the period of the relationship; thus the need for a mature and robust disposition.

Before entering into love relationships, boys and girls must first mature in their own characteristic manner in order to become real men and women. Little by little, as they grow, they must learn to encounter each other in an amicable, courteous way and in mutual regard. This initial disposition and respect for each other will go a long way to set the relationship on true personal encounter and reduce the desire for sex as bonding. It is also most important for them to learn a solid profession and the skills of housekeeping. This will make them capable and desirable as partners for life. Work and career should not be relegated to the background.

Young people must learn to meet persons of the other sex in a fair way, without sexual provocation. It is necessary that they get to know the individuality of the other sex in order that they gradually come to a deliberate choice of the partner for their future marriage or can consciously decide themselves upon the renunciation of marriage. Though the danger exists that these encounters get into sexual intimacy and a premature commitment, it is not correct to reject or to leap over this necessary stage of maturing in the human ability to love.

Since the maturing process in the love of the sexes is slow, it needs time. As much as the young people may feel urged to express their affection for each other in a more sensitive manner, caresses do not belong to their form of companionship. Caresses are only for those young people who are testing themselves seriously, in order to determine whether they want to remain together and grow together in the exclusive companionship of marriage. A too early solid bond has an adverse effect on the maturity of the young person, and its later dissolution may have tragic consequences for the girl. The prevalent issue of suicide, revenge on lovers and the inability to fully express true love after a break up are reasons why physical affection should be limited.


The manifestations of mutual affection are often covered by the terms necking and petting. The terms are often used interchangeably. But they also express differences in accent, which are worthwhile to note. Necking designates caresses of a lighter nature, such as stroking the hair, the usual forms of kissing. Patting of the shoulder and the like. In principle they pertain to the category of affections that are congruous between brother and sister. Complete bodily contact and strong sexual excitement are avoided.

Petting on the other hand refers to more intimate forms of caresses, such as hugging, embraces, or bodily contacts of a kind that ordinarily produce sexual arousal, especially in the man. For the youth of dating age forms of necking can be appropriate, not yet however caresses of a sexual nature and erotic petting. The latter have their place during engagement and the time of immediate preparation for marriage. But also a sensitivity for cultural customs and usages is required. What is admissible in the abstract and in principle, may be objectionable in the concrete and particular.

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There exist many pressures today that invite early and unrestrained enjoyment of sexual pleasure. They make little of self-control, maturing in love and pre-marital chastity. The representatives of sexual freedom promote their playboy mentality, even though they cannot show the fruits of mature personalities or of more stable or happier families. The youth who does not want to be infected by the sexualized public atmosphere urgently needs the courage to be different. Anyone who will go along with all possible entertainments and presentations of erotic nature and who indiscriminately takes to every reading matter cannot succeed in the mastering of sexuality and in the growing up in a mature love. Association with others who are likewise striving for a clean and decent attitude is an important aid to achieve this goal. Participation in worship, solidarity with the parish congregation and life with the community of faith are essential supports for Christians in a life lived by the spirit of the gospel.

When a young man and a young woman have learned to love each other such that they think of matrimony, they have the right to express love in more affectionate ways. The embrace and the kiss are for the engaged couple justified expressions of their love. But they should not forget that their deepest happiness lies in the protection rather than in the possession of each other.

The Church does not see the wedding day as an end point, but as a moving into deeper levels of growth, experience and service to one another. From the time of dating casually, to serious dating, to being engaged, you are developing many facets of your relationship simply through the time and effort you give in getting to know and love each other. It is in these deeper levels of relationship that sexual intimacy finds its true meaning.

The Church teaches that sexual intimacy is to be reserved for marriage because intercourse means something special. Sexual intercourse represents the deepest level of intimacy and self-giving that two people can share. In fact, sexual intercourse serves as a sign to one another that we are committed forever to the vows of our marriage.

Sexual intercourse is an act of self-revelation and self-giving which is so complete that it bears the potential of creating another life. As such, the act is too awe inspiring to be risked with anyone who is not appreciative of both one’s beauty and one’s fault. The only time genital intimacy tells the whole truth of beauty and power of human sexuality is when it signifies that a man and woman have united themselves as one and are willing to have their mutual love find fulfillment in the creation of new life.

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