My Marriage Crushed My Catholic Mother
I wish I could say that Jack and I eschewed a big, formal wedding in favor of an intimate ceremony, perhaps just us with the officiant on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We could have been so present, so completely in the moment, so utterly enveloped by love — not only our love, but the love of our Divine Creator as well, the One who blessed us with each other.
It would be a beautiful story, but no. That’s not what happened.
Jack and I knew from our first kiss at age seventeen that we were a match, but it would be an “agonizing” four years before he finally proposed. We’d spend the first two of those four years avoiding intercourse, worried about the state of our immortal souls if his penis crossed that sacred threshold.
Oh yes, my mother had done her duty as a Catholic parent — she’d terrified me away from having sex with the threat of eternal Hell. According to the painfully long three-minute sex talk she gave me in middle school, sex was pretty much a sacrament. The only “right” way to have sex was to be married to someone of the opposite gender, and then it was called lovemaking and should produce a baby. Sex outside of marriage is a sin, and sinners go to Hell, and you don’t want to go to Hell, now do you, Anna?
My mother still laments that my college education made me “too intellectual” and turned me away from the Catholic Church. For the record, I primarily studied literature, education, history, and anthropology, though I did go through a phase where I was borderline obsessed with the wives of Henry VIII. Maybe she’d be better off blaming Anne Boleyn.
I still went to Mass with my family every Sunday when I was home, though in truth I hadn’t gone to the Catholic church even once during my weekends on campus. It was no secret that Jack was Methodist, but he often attended Mass with us, so he was alright-enough in my mother’s esteem. Plus, Jack’s mother had been raised Catholic, so perhaps she figured this was God’s way of returning Jack to the “right” religion.
Jack didn’t see it that way. The fact is he’ll do almost anything for me, and accompanying me to Mass was just another way to make me happy. Not that I wanted to be there —…