37-Love Letters from Vietnam: The Sex Before Marriage Dilemma-Revisited
Click here for Index to all letters from Tim to Kate and Kate to Tim from the beginning of Tim's enlistment to this point.
See sociogram in index above to view names and relationships of friends. Many more letters to follow. Will Tim and Kate break up before he comes home on Christmas leave? Will they continue their relationship in spite of the angst they're experiencing? What is the solution? What wiill happen If Tim is sent to Vietnam? Will Kate continue her personal resistence against the war while Tim is in the Army? Find out as letters become posted.
Dear Readers - A Footnote
Backdrop for this group of letters:
For those of you who have been following the Tim and Kate story, you know that these two young people met in November of 1968 when Kate was in her first year of teaching and Tim was in the electrical engineering program. In three short months, by February, Tim, in his Sheldon-like approach to love, told Kate that if they continued seeing each other it should be to look at each other as marriage partners. Kate, of course, was fully and deeply certain that Tim was her soul-mate and was ready to commit to Tim with almost every aspect of her being.
As the physical intensity of their relationship grew, these two young people who had been fully indoctrinated since they were in kindergarten with the teachings of the Catholic Church on abstinence as a virtue and sex before marriage as a sin, were faced with an actual moral dilemma. Their desire to connect with each other on that most intimate of levels was becoming stronger and stronger. However, marriage, the acceptable way to connect and follow their faith, seemed impractical given that Tim had enlisted in the Army and the future was uncertain.
When Tim had come home on leave from basic training in August of 1969, the passion was intense probably additionally intensified by the restriction of "abstinence." So the two young lovers on the few days of that leave continually approached that peak of passion from which there is no pulling back - except by extraordinary self-discipline. Approaching the forbidden and resisting makes the heart and mind and soul inflamed with even more desire. And that is precisely what Tim is alluding to in these letters. There is guilt; there is desire. The issue of what would happen on Tim's next leave at Christmas time was the question of morality the two young lovers faced - all a backdrop and symbol for the larger issue of morality that loomed in the background of a war whose pursuing was also a question of morality itself.
Time Article: "Religion-Sex Before Marriage" 1950 !!!
- Religion: Sex Before Marriage - TIME
Anthropologist George Peter Murdock of Yale states in this article:"Relief from sexual frustration is a very inadequate motive for marriage"
3 November, 1969
Hello my love, how are you? Happy and at peace with yourself, I hope. Well dear, i did as you requested - wrote my father a letter. You were right, I should write more often. I guess the plain truth is, I love my father, but you take precedence over all. Now don't feel guilty; it's just that my love for you and the love we hare is my whole life. It is my life. Please don't be too harsh on me.
Thank you my love for making my guard tour go faster. Thank you for the wonderful memories that occupied my mind during those long lonely hours. Those contempletive hours made me realize how wonderful a gift God has given us. They also made me realize how much I love you, how much I need you, how much I want to live my whole life with you. The waiting, damn the waiting, is getting harder and harder to bear. Thank you so much for the poem, Kate. It was beautiful. Too soupy, Kate? No, it was an expression of your love that I will always cherish, unworthy as I may be to receive it.
I hope the week is going well for you my love. O that's right, teacher's convention is coming up soon. Enjoy yourself, Kate. Take your mind off your school work.
Got to close now; it's getting late. God bless you.
PS I didn't bowl too well tonight - going to have to do better if I want to keep my name off the KP roster.
5 November, 1969
Hello my love. How ya be? Well and happy, I hope and pray. I need you every day Kate, but today in particular. I experienced a depression and loneliness that only you can dispel. I've become totally dependent on your love Kate, your smile, your mood, your encouragement, your trust and belief in me, and the goodness of your heart as well. I called earlier, but I had forgotten that today is Wednesday and you have CCD classes to teach.** (I'll try calling again this evening. O, how I long to hear your voice. Sometimes, Kate, my love and need for you seems to explode within me and life without you by my side seems so pointless. You give my life meaning and direction. Life without you, Kate, holds nothing for me. You are my life. Yes, Kate, our relationship has caused us pain, but greater than that is the joy and happiness we've experienced. There's no problem our love cannot surmount. Our love will let us see the joy of life, even through our tears. Because of you, Kate, I can say in my heart something I was never able to say before, "I love God."
You were right, Kate. There has been something bothering me. It's the army. Sometimes the army's "rote-without-reason" attitude seems too much for me to bear. It would be if it wasn't for you. I don't know why, Kate, but I can't seem to conform to the army, nor do I want to. But then so many men before me have done it. I guess I can too - with your help.
How have you been, Kate? I hope things have been going better for you at school, commanding that little army of your own. Enjoy the teachers' convention and if you possibly can, don't do any lesson planning. Well, I'd better close now; it's about time to call you again. Give my love to our family.
**Kate's notes: I had, during this time of my life, taught religious education classes - Confraternity of Christian Doctrine - at the Catholic Church to which I belonged. I'd like to emphasis that that was long ago in my spiritual journey and far away from now.)
8 November, 1969
Hello my love, how are you? By the time you receive this letter, it should be the start of another week. I hope it hasn't been marred by any tantrums thus far. I do hope that some incident or something one of the children said reminded you of the good, both scholastically and morally, you are doing as a teacher. Most of all, I wish I could be there to tell you these things. How did your weekend with Sally go? Refreshing and exciting I hope. Since the start of this letter, I have used "hope" three times! Instead of being at your side, living your life with you trying to make it a happier one, all I can do is hope. I am a man in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. I should be by your side, making you happy. Until I am there, doing that, my heart will never rest, and I will be incomplete.
O Kate, how I long to share the little things as well as the big things in life with ou. Only the thought that we will soon be together, never to be separated gives life any importance for me. I love and miss you Kate, so much. my soul doesn't burst before Christmas comes. Perhaps I shouldn't say this Kate, because we're not officially married. But I know, and God know, that I am. I want you. Just as my soul aches for yours, my body aches for your body. They both long to be one with yours. The love I have for you is real, and so is the pain. I pray that you don't think any less of me for admitting this to you. I know you understand.
So are, this weekend had gone as so many weekends, lonely and long, except on Friday night, I was on an agressor detail (for which I voluntered). We went all night in the swamp trying to capture OCS graduates. It was a military problem. They had to make if from one point to another under darkness without being captured by the enemy, us. It was cold, but a lot of fun. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow when I call.
I pray that life is kind to you, Kate. Take care of yourself.
10 November, 1969
Hello my love. I hope the week has gone well for you, void of disappointments and rich with love which would mean that not a single tear has been shed. But if disappointments do come, save your tears until I come home for Christmas, so that I can kiss away each one as they roll down your beautiful checks. If only I had the power to kiss away your problems so easily. I pray that God gives me the ability to see into your soul, anticipate your needs, and always be ready to fulfill them. That is the most important thing in life to me.
It seems that my kisses only bring you more problems, and that saddens me beyond description. Remember how our love grew, Kate, as it is still growing? With it grew our desire to fulfill each other's needs. With it grew the ability to sense each other's needs and the long to fulfill them. Our love has become complete. Our need has become complete. I strive to be able to gratify all your needs, mental, spiritual, and physical. I yearn to challenge and counsel your mind, to console your spirit,and to give pleasure to your body. Not just one or two of those needs, but all of them, the complete you, Kate. And I, my love, need these things from you.
Forgive me Kate for the pain I cause. I'm so confused. I know how you feel about pre-marital relations and yet, I sense a physical need in you. Are my sense true, Kate, or am I only seeing a projection of my own need. And because you love me, you give as much as you can. I hope and pray I don't destroy our love. Know Kate, that no matter what happens, I will always love you. Can you love me?
What I want to do is marry you now for my heart is sure my life would be empty without you. But the practical! Damn the practical! My life won't start until you're my wife. Even if I don't make OCS, would you consider marrying me before I got out of the army? It would be rough, Kate. It would require a lot of sacrifices on both our parts. While I'm in the service,my life won't be my own. Well, we will talk about this more when I come home for Christmas.
Well, I'd better close now, it's getting late.
PS Only 39 more days and I'll be with you, my Love.
PPS Received your pound cake and it was really good. It lasted about 12 minutes in Room 319.
More by this Author
1969, a soldier in love, a young woman waiting back home, neither knowing whether or not Vietnam is his next stop. What do two Catholic young people do in the 60s with all that passion before marriage
25 November, 1969 (note: this letter was apparently written two days before Thanksgiving in 1969, but Tim anticipated that it would be received after Thanksgiving, thus the reference to the past tense "was filled") ...
Does the way you think affect your relationship? In this segment of "Letters from Vietnam" Tim and Kate still struggle with the abstinance question but different thought proccesses cause confusion.