and girls should know what their sex experimentation is all about. A kiss for
example, can express friendship and companionship and a general appreciation of
other aspects of a relationship. What does petting express besides
self-gratification? If a couple really care for each other, they should be
bringing more to sex than mere pleasure. Outside of marriage, this is not
possible, and sensible couples will not get involved in anything that will
endanger emotional and intellectual growth in other spheres of their lives.
The sex pleasure obtained from
petting by mutual consent may satisfy a young couple for a while, but it may
have the disadvantage of blocking any further interest in each other as
persons. Such a relationship tends to become restricted; for the couple may
have nothing else in common but the pleasure obtained from the exploitation of
each other’s body.
Many people who have talked over
these problems with counsellors have admitted that other problems follow in the
wake of petting. Social evenings, for example, become battles for control, and
the light-hearted enjoyment of former times turns to tension and conflict.
Often there is an over-all feeling of frustration, even disgust, with
themselves and with sex in general. On the other hand, when sex is kept in an
important place but in control, it is forming the attitudes and habits towards
self and the opposite sex that will be carried on into later life.
Once it is understood that sexual
expression alone is not the most desirable goal in life, and that much more is
needed to achieve satisfaction, it becomes obvious that it is sensible to
sacrifice one kind of temporary satisfaction in order to realize a better set
of values. Youth, for example, needs the respect of others, the ability to work
in with others, particularly with friends and parents, and, most important of
all, it needs self-respect.
Moreover, we do have stronger
desires than the desire of sex satisfaction. We desire to be needed, for
example; we desire to love and be loved. These desire do not manifest
themselves as urgently as the sex desire sometime does, it is true, and so they
often pass unnoticed. Those who constantly indulge their
sexual desires before marriage risk losing the ability to achieve these goals.
They tend particularly to lose their self-respect. Such people often “protest
too much” in trying to rationalize their behaviour, and, because of the
dominance of their sexual desire, they have a sense of enslavement which may
have far-reaching effects on their whole lives. Petting provides “instant
pleasure”, but the easy way is not always the best way. It must not be thought, however,
that young people, drawn to each other in the normal “youth to youth since the
world began” manner, ought to have a relationship lacking in warmth and
affection. But if there is a true mutual appreciation, there will be concern
and thoughtfulness in their relationship, and not a “using” of each other for
self-gratification. In other words, the couple will treat each other as
persons, and their attitude to each other will reflect their own attitude
towards life in general.
In sex matters, this means that
those who are attracted to one another want a relationship that is based on much
more than physical enjoyment. They want the good of the other person, they want
the respect of those who already love and are responsible for that person, and
they want to develop their own ability to know such a person. Thus, they
prepare themselves for true love that may be yet to come.
giving-in to the desire for quick and easy sex pleasure is a stumbling-block to
such developments. Sex pleasure becomes an end in itself. When sex demands are
not made, however, couples learn to talk and listen to each other and get to
know each other as persons. This gradually establishes a companionship basis
that will provide a valuable contribution to their happiness in marriage, if
the attraction proves to be a lasting one. If it does not, they will still have
taken a valuable step towards maturity.
For a happy marriage, it is necessary, of course, that the engaged couple find each other congenial and enjoy each other’s company.
They must agree to share loyally the joys and the sorrows of wedded union and fulfill its obligations.
Each one must be bent on procuring for the other as much happiness as possible and oblige himself beforehand to a mode of life which will disturb his partner as little as possible.
The husband must love his profession, and his wife should share this love or at least neglect nothing in order to respect and facilitate it.
They should be able to make their decisions together, not certainly without sometimes having recourse to the counsels of competent authorities, but with a beautiful and joyful independence of any member of the family who may be too prone at times to attempt to domineer over the young couple. There should, of course, be no presumption, no narrow aloofness, but a serene and supple liberty of spirit; serene and supple humility.
In order to be able to practice the sanctity of their state in all the details of their life, they must understand their duty of leaning upon God. It will not be sufficient to link together their two wills; they must be determined to pray to obtain help from on High.
They must likewise have a certain concern, a legitimate concern, for physical charm, without, however, losing sight of the fact that beauty of soul is superior to beauty of body; so that if some day the physical attraction should diminish, they will not be less eager to remain together, but each will strive to find in the other the quality upon which profound union is established.
Both of them must love children. They must develop in themselves to the best of their ability the virtues necessary for parenthood, the courage to accept as many children as God wants them to have and the wisdom to rear them well–difficult virtues requiring strong souls.
Each must be possessed of a rich power of cordiality for the members of the other’s family. Both must resolve to take their in-laws and their household as they find them, and adopt as a principle for their contacts with them, It was not to share hates but to share love that I entered into your family.
Consequently, they must refuse to be drawn into family quarrels, seeking rather in all their actions to promote charity, union, and peace.
Even before their marriage, the young couple should decide to keep their expenses at a minimum, according to their situation, not with avarice or niggardliness, but with the desire to live in the gospel spirit of detachment from the goods of earth. Such judicious economy, which should of course be devoid of even the appearance of stinginess, will enable them to set aside something useful and necessary for their children. It will also enable them to relieve the misery around them.
It is to be assumed that both individuals contemplating marriage have the requisite health, since marriage has been created not only for mutual support but also to transmit life.
It is further to be assumed that each of the two has kept nothing of his past life hidden from the other, and that in view of this entire loyalty which is so desirable a trait in married couples, each has kept himself pure and refrained from dangerous experiences.
LOUIS PASTEUR came from a family of modest means. When he was twenty-six years old, his astonishing discovery in regard to crystals drew upon him the attention of scientists.
In 1849, he was named assistant professor in the University of Strasbourg. The rector of the university, Mr. Laurent, had three daughters. Fifteen days after Pasteur’s first visit, he asked for Marie in marriage. The young scientist felt that this young woman understood life as he did and wanted the same kind of life he sought–a life of simplicity, of work, and of goodness. He sent this letter to Mr. Laurent:
“Sir, a request of great significance for me and for your family will be addressed to you in a few days and I believe it my duty to give you the following information which can help to determine your acceptance or your refusal.
“My father is a tanner at Arbois, a little city in the Jura region.
My sisters keep house for my father since we had the sorrow of losing our mother last May. My family is in comfortable circumstances, but not wealthy. I do not evaluate what we own at more than ten thousand dollars. As for me, I decided long ago to leave my whole share to my sisters. I, then, have no fortune. All I possess is good health, a kind heart, and my position in the university.
“Two years ago I was graduated from l’Ecole Normale with the degree of agrege in the physical sciences. Eighteen months ago I received my doctorate, and I have presented some of my works to the Academy of Science where they were very well received, especially my last one. I have the pleasure of forwarding to you with this letter a very favorable report about this particular work of mine.
“That describes my present status. As for the future, all I can say is that unless I should undergo a complete change in my tastes, I shall devote myself to chemical research. It is my ambition to return to Paris when I have acquired a reputation through my work. Monsieur Biot has spoken to me several times to persuade me seriously to consider the Institute. In ten or fifteen years I shall perhaps be able to consider it seriously if I work assiduously. This dream is but wasted trouble; it is not that at all which makes me love science as science.”
Could a more modest, more completely sincere letter ever be sent by a young man in love?
And when he addressed himself to Marie he assured her with touching clumsiness that he was sure he could hardly be attractive for a young girl, but just let her have a little patience and she would learn his great love for her and he believed she would love him too, for “my memories tell me that when I have been very well known by persons, they have loved me.”
But great as was his love for Marie, his heart was divided:
Louis Pasteur loved science, he loved his crystals. He began to scruple about it, and finally wrote to his fiancée, asking her “not to be jealous if science took precedence over her in his life.”
She was not jealous. Madame Pasteur married not only the man but also his passion for science. Her love had that rare quality of knowing how to efface itself, and to manifest itself precisely by not manifesting itself at all at times. She was a worthy companion of this great man, of this great scientist, of this great heart.