Genuine human love is the key to a fulfilled and long lasting marriage. The challenges posed by sexuality in general and genital sexuality in particular for marriage in our society are significant.
Concerns surrounding sexual power and its expression today
Obviously the present attention and concern that is seen with the loss of sexual powers underscores just how important they are right now. Paradoxically, the obsessive importance placed on genital sexuality can also cause its demise.
For years wives used to complain that they had to compete against the foldouts of playboy. Today, however, men have their own competition. Women are now seeking more attention in the bedroom than it was previously. The inability of men do well in their bedroom duties have led to infidelity and failed marriages. Both genders are now actively tuned to sexual satisfaction.
Couples are swamped by the scenes of passionate love splashed on the screen, celebrated in songs, and detailed in stories. It is always so captivating and perfect that we are drawn to seek it and bask in the euphoria.
It is difficult for couples not to look around and wonder why they are not keeping pace with the torrid scenes of the media. Media has dictated what the ideal passionate relationship and married love should be. However, the plain true still remains; the truth that every relationship/marriage cannot be perfect.
Expressing affective and genital sexuality
Expression of passionate love cannot be underestimated in marriage. But first, is the pure human love that makes us reach out to one another in love and friendship; that which makes us act as loving individuals and on which all other forms of love are made firm.
Surely, when we act as loving individuals, we are acting as sexual beings, but we are not necessarily involved genitally. In fact, in some loving relationships there is never any question of genital involvement, while in other relationships the genital expression of love may be more or less important and imperative.
It is not unusual to find that to the extent that the affective dimension of sexuality is undeveloped and unappreciated, preoccupation with the genital or physical aspects of sexuality which increases significantly. Here, the genital sexuality occupies a higher place while the affective sexuality is barely functional.
This type of situation often leads to the cultivation of behaviors which are destructive and/or futile, because, although physical sexual needs surely are real, they are not the highest human needs. The highest needs are genuine love and affection, they are the core human foundation and fulfilment.
If then these latter human needs go unrecognized and remain unmet, no satisfaction of our physical sexual needs is likely to result in a sense of human fulfilment. This is a vital point to take to heart.
Psychologists make much of the fact that it is not unusual for people to attempt to address their needs for human sexual fulfilment, self-acceptance and a sense of belonging by satisfying their desire for sexual pleasure by means of relationships involving genital contact. In their quest for true fulfillment and the filling of their empty self, they result to sexual gratification with persons hoping that they will be fulfilled.
The need, however, for affirmation and for real intimacy is more fundamental and more powerful than the need for genital expression itself, and it is not as easily fulfilled. This is so because it is more than physical; it is deeper and more interior in nature and it takes time and grooming to bring it to its desire state.
Setting the right foundation for our needs
Experience often enough proves that genital relationships provide no guarantee for the realization of intimacy; no less does experience bear witness to the fact that intimacy is possible without genital expression. Thus, there should be a sort of balance, and also the acknowledgement and place of both in the actualization of genuine love and affection.
However, it seems that when the higher, greater, or more powerful needs are being met, our lower needs are more manageable, even as their fulfillment is more gratifying. We cannot but agree that one key, then, to keeping the physical or genital dimension of a relationship in proper perspective is to develop the affective dimension of sexuality. Once the higher is met, once the foundation is set, all will definitely fall in place gradually.
It is, indeed, possible to live fully and happily without the pleasing experience of genital sexuality, but it is not possible to do so without developed affective sexual relationships.
The first step is knowing the true progression. True affective love first and then genital sexual love. Once both are well developed into one affective sexual love, then the lesser appetite can be held up while the higher good takes over. By then, with or without genital relations, the relationship is firm and balanced.
Living relationships and marriage
Man and woman instinctively gravitate towards each other on account of their sexual drive. But sexual union entirely based on this instinctive drive is not a complete human love.
Besides and even prior to the expressions of sexual love, the relationship of the sexes must be a personal encounter of mutual reverence and charitable concern. We cannot overlook this very important point. It needs to be sung and hallowed everyday so that everyone will get it well and right.
The great commandment of love also applies to the domain of sexuality. Sexual affection needs illumination and guidance by the self-forgetful love of Christian agape. The love which is not selfish not hurtful and does not seek the individual’s good alone.
Every erotic and sexual love which does not have the backing of the total person, which is therefore not prepared to take responsibility and obligations, cannot be regarded as genuine love. Sexual desire that regards the partner simply as an object of one’s own satisfaction or that does not see sexuality in its social aspect is clearly on a mistaken track.