I read an article today from a few years back, which highlighted a certain aspect of male-female interactions. It was very interesting and inadvertently explains some of the rational behind Catholic morals regarding sex.
The writer, whom I will refer to as The Guru, is a woman in late middle age and very worldly, so her sexual morals are not something I endorse. For this reason also, I will not link to her website etc. However, her understanding of the basic psychological differences between men and women are very helpful, for married and unmarried women alike. Probably, men reading her would think she is insane, due to her irrational approach to emotions. For this reason, also, a Catholic woman would have to read her through a heavily Catholic filter.
But in the article I read, she was counseling a young woman who was heartbroken over a love affair. I say “love affair” but the love was all in the young woman’s mind (and not only because it doesn’t stack up to the Catholic concept of marital love). She had considered herself to be “in a relationship” with a man, because he liked being with her, called her often, took her on dates, and they had sexual relations on many occasions.
The Guru, as kindly as she could, and while obviously caring for this young woman, told her that the relationship was imaginary – it had only ever existed in her mind. The Guru explained what had really happened: the man had asked the woman out on dates, and had asked her for sex, and she had agreed. That’s it! That’s the sum total of the “relationship.” He wanted to remain “friends” presumably because of the benefits.
This little story – as painful as almost any modern woman would find it, because it’s so horribly close to the bone – is the simple reality. Men and women do not have the same expectations of a relationship. A man only has a relationship with a woman, essentially because of his own desires. He desires to marry, so he finds a good woman and marries her. Or, more romantically, he falls in love with a woman (usually – maybe always) because she has somehow facilitated an intense emotional bond to form. If he is not a virtuous man, he might perhaps marry for whatever vestiges of morals remain in society, and he will leave the marriage as soon as his own rationale for being married evaporate. A woman today will certainly leave her marriage for selfish reasons, but in more traditional set ups, a woman is far less likely to leave her husband. Catholic morals have always tended to help both spouses, particularly the man, remain within the marriage during the unavoidable rough patches. I’m inclined to think that all marriages reach breaking point, and some “break.” (Strictly not, but that’s another topic).
Women will never – as a group – really be able to thrive in “love affairs”. There are certainly some exceptions, and I might even mention a few some other time. But women were made to be cherished by men, and it’s only marriage which can facilitate that.
There are no guarantees either. That’s life, I’m sad to say. But for the Christian, there is a Higher Love, Who can always be relied upon.