the interview they gave The Irish Times.
TOM and JACKI ASCOUGH
Jacki : “When Tom and I met there was an instant attraction. Very early on we had to make some tough decisions about how far we were going to go sexually. Because the attraction we felt was so strong, it took a lot of self-restraint on both our parts to draw a line and not cross it.
“But we both felt our relationship had the potential to be long term, and that kept us motivated to save sexual intercourse. It wasn’t always easy. Because when you are in love and the attraction is so strong, the desire is to get closer and closer physically.
“We both wanted to save sex for marriage whether that was going to be with each other or with someone else. A big key for us was communication. As our relationship progressed, we discussed it a lot! When I felt weak and wanted to give in to my sexual feelings, Tom would stay focused and remind me what we were at and visa versa. It wasn’t always easy, but because we loved each other so much, we managed.”
How do you think this has impacted on subsequent married life?
Tom: “Neither of us fears disloyalty from the other. We feel stronger knowing that we were able to show practical commitment to each other before we married. Our focus now is on being a strong family. The idea of considering other potential partners just doesn’t enter the picture for either of us.”
Jacki: “It has had a huge impact on our married life. We have a bond that is amazing. We’ve been married 15 years now. We are a normal couple with ups and downs in our relationship, but overall we have a very healthy and strong marriage. Because we both know that we are capable of controlling our sexual desires, I think that has built more trust into our relationship now.
“I trust Tom to stay faithful to our marriage vows, and he trusts me. That kind of trust doesn’t just happen – it is built. Our time together before marriage is the foundation that we have built our marriage on for today.”
Do you see any changes in Irish society in relation to this issue?
Tom : “There has been a marked increase in relationship breakdown along with the sexual boom of recent decades. Although not the only factor, it is a major one.”
Jacki : “Yes. Logically it seems like a good idea to have sex before marriage and even live together to see if you are a compatible couple. Many people would say if you’re in a committed relationship, then why not have sex if you love each other? But from my own personal observations, it seems to me those kind of relationships seem to have more difficulties. They don’t go the distance. Why? I’m sure there are many factors. Relationships are complex, but I know I wanted to do whatever I could to give the best start to our marriage. For us, that meant waiting to have sex until after we said, ‘I do’.”
Read the full interview here.