I’ll never forget going to confession and the priest telling me that I shouldn’t be kissing or touching my boyfriend (who is now my husband) at all behind closed doors.
“Is that even possible?” I wondered to myself. We were already decided on waiting until marriage to have sex, but there was a lot of grey area regarding everything that came before that. The priest’s admonition was difficult to hear, but it was the jolt that I needed to have a more serious, and very specific, conversation with my now-husband about boundaries and “how far is too far.”
From the time of that confession, it was another two and a half years before we got married. And I won’t lie to you— that season of waiting was very challenging at times! But I can assure you that it was worth it. Here are some things that helped me stay pure (sometimes I failed but I picked myself up again) and I hope that they will help you too:
- 40-day purity challenge: This is ideal for a time like Lent, which is just around the corner; but it can work for any 40-day period (or longer if you like!). For 40 days, be totally pure: If you are in a premarital relationship or single, then abstain from sex; phone sex; masturbation; pornography; excessive touching/kissing/laying down with your partner, etc. (see some tips regarding boundaries below) for 40 days. See how you feel after this. I guarantee that your relationship (either with yourself if you’re single or with your partner if you’re in a relationship) will feel more aligned with your faith.
- Quick tip for setting boundaries: when kissing/hugging/touching/etc. turns into something that you’re only doing because if feels good and not just to show affection, you’ve crossed the line. Physical contact should not be self-serving but rather life-giving. That’s why sex within marriage that is open to children is a perfect gift of love! This type of life-giving love mirrors Christ’s love for the Church.
- Another helpful tool for keeping yourself accountable purity-wise: go to confession and if you’re in a relationship, bring your partner.
- Resources that helped me: Good News About Sex & Marriage and Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West
I hope that these tips help! And remember, when you fall, pick yourself up again. As another confessor told me, “there will be a bouquet of flowers awaiting you in heaven” in reward for your perseverance.
Mellie Napolitano is the author of Love Story: An Encounter with God. This novel, set to publish April 2021, is based on her experience of not waiting and waiting until marriage to have sex and why abstinence is both possible and worthwhile. In Love Story, Napolitano explores questions like:
- Why should I wait until marriage to have sex?
- I’m not a virgin anymore. What’s the point in waiting now?
- Is chastity really possible in today’s hookup culture?