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Chapter 2

Enter the Garden of Love

Although sex undoubtedly has a physical component, its foundation is built with more mental processes: selfawareness and self-education. What makes sex between committed partners fulfilling is having an ever-evolving definition of what love means to you and your spouse. This involves more reflection than expected. For example, men, who are visual creatures and get easily turned on, need to learn what turns a woman on meets more than the eyes. Gentle words, kisses, and things that show respect, trust, honesty, and transparency will make large deposits in your spouses emotional bank account. In order to get to this point, one has to take stock of what activity and responsibility is in involved with love. Consider this stage of the process as

surveying the land which will be your garden: appraising, reflecting, and imagining what can grow from the foundation you bring to your marriage. Educating Yourself About Love and Sex We are so bombarded with messages of how to make our sex lives hot101 tips, talk of G-spots, breast, and penis sizewe forgot the basics. If you believe God created you in a perfect state (not as defined by society and culture, which varies with time and place), why would anyone want to tamper with something so precious and important? What if instead of turning to Viagra or cosmetic surgery, we could understand that the body has an innate and natural arousal capacity and depth about which most people have no awareness. How well do we understand our bodies? How much feedback (not criticism) are couples able to give each other without them getting defensive? Communicating about sensitive matters (whether personal history, failed attempts, and future curiosities) takes time, patience, practice, and new knowledge. We all need to take ownership in our sexual education, just as we do for other important things in our lives like career and family. What is Love? It goes without saying that there are many kinds of love. The word love encompasses everything from divine love, to love of Prophets, to love of ideas, to

The Veiled Garden

love of family and friends. For example, physical love, also known as Eros, is a physical craving for food, sex, and material comfort. Brotherly love is a reciprocal love between friends, whereas godly love unconditionally meets the needs of others. As human beings we need all these varying levels of love in our life to feel fulfilled. Specifically in Islam, among the 99 attributes of God, there is the Arabic name Al-Wadud, or the Loving One. It refers to God as being "full of loving kindness." Additionally there are many religious narratives where the Prophet Muhammad spoke about his love of his wife. A great aspect of that love was the high regard he had for her. This respect manifested itself as help in the housework, playing together, and even jokes. Taking our God-given gifts, which are so perfectly exemplified by the Prophet, we can reach new heights in our spousal relationships through kindness, compassion, affection, and respect. To love God and follow the Prophet means to love people as the potential to realize their original nature the Creators love of making Himself manifest in His creation. Being close to one another, particularly through marriage, is shared human potential that is bolstered by mutual respect. Loving someone can strike a range and variety of emotions and attachment. It can invoke a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes. It can embody human kindness, compassion, and affection. Its always difficult to put into words, but love goes beyond lust, which is an initial passionate sexual desire that promotes mating and whose effects span a few weeks

or months. Romantic or sexual love is intimate. This intimacy stems from the understanding that love is shared human potential. We are bombarded with messages from movies to magazines about what romance, passion, and sex are supposed to be.

Although sex can and most often is a wonderful experience, it is rarely like the perceived experience that the media portrays. There is no slow motion with rain and music playing in the background. The moon is rarely shining and the lighting is far from perfect. At any stage of marriagefrom newlyweds to those in committed relationshipsthere is a period of getting to know one another and finding what works just as much what does not. Sometimes you just have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what to adapt or try anew. You dont have to reach orgasm every time. As long as you both get mutual pleasure and give of yourself to each other, the world is your playground.

The Veiled Garden

Romance does not have to be what we are sold. Romance isnt Valentines Day, nor is it accurately depicted in the movies: an animal act between two strangers. The best sex doesnt come by spending exorbitant amounts of money on expensive resorts or cruises. This doesnt mean sex always occurs in the bedroom or at home, but do not buy into the glitzy expensive romantic vacation when a simple change in venue will do. As mentioned before, sex is directly linked to intimacy and intimacy comes through being familiar. According to Sternberg, love is composed of three ingredients. First and foremost it consists of intimacy, which includes: sharing, good communication, mutual support, and building trust. The second is passion, not just physical, but also emotional passion. Third is commitment, which is a long-term focus to maintain the relationship. All three are required. Only with intimacy do you have friendship, passion, commitment, and fulfilling sex. Does Love Begin or End With Marriage? As pre-marital sex is a major sin in Islam and other faiths, the concept of love traditionally starts after marriage. We live in a culture where most young people may not be aware of this notion. From 19th century Europe the modern concept of love was born. Before that, you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that marriages in both the West and East were primarily arranged. Even today, according to ABC News, up to 90 percent of marriages in India and 60 percent of all

marriages in the world are arranged. This does not include forced marriages, which composes a small percentage of all marriages. In contemporary society arranged marriages are seen as backward. They are interpreted as being forced, a situation in which the couple, and especially the woman, has no choice. Today in the West people select their spouses through what we could call the free market. Theoretically, when people are free to choose their life partners, the result is long-term happy marriages. However, the divorce rate in North America as well as in Europe would indicate otherwise. It is common practice in the West, as moral standards change, that people engage is sex before marriage, or live together before the commitment of marriage. With this total freedom, the statistic of almost one in two first marriages ending in divorce seems to be a paradox. It raises the question of why perceived freedom does not result in commitments that are long lasting. Why are the choicest partnerships not made in the free market? It turns out people are more complicated and that choice does not dictate success. According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married. There are many factors that come into play in separation, including nofault divorce and decreasing societal pressures to stay married, even if there are problems. Additionally, there is usually not extended family to support the marriage as a lifelong commitment.

The Veiled Garden

Debunking the Big Myth of Love at First Sight So what is love? First let us put one myth away: Love at first sight is not an emotion most of us should count on. Infatuation or lust starts fast, but love starts slowly. Lust is selfish and impulsive; it takes and does not give. Lust is easily threatened, jealous, suspicious, and demanding. Lust objectifies a person and creates a detached body with only erotic appeal but no personality or soul. Lust can eventually harm other people because it is driven by self-interest and disconnects sex from intimacy. You may be wondering if your fianc or fiance is ready for marriage. Ask yourself if you can both love by self-sacrifice and total commitment. You know youre ready if your spouse says, Ill take care of you, and youre the most important thing in my life. Your concerns are my concerns. I want you for more than just your body. Every interaction that happens during the day has the potential to demonstrate love and contribute to climax during lovemaking. Love is about the whole person. It is about being patient and kind. It does not envy nor boast. It does away with pride and is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered and if it is, forgives easily. True love is enduring and unending; it is faithful and is committed.