98. (ix) Sexual love in a human being is not the source of conjugial love, but is its first phase, being as it were the natural exterior in which the spiritual interior is implanted.
I am speaking here of truly conjugial love, not the common kind of love which is also called conjugial* love, and in some cases is nothing but a restricted sexual love. Truly conjugial love is only to be found among those who have a thirst for wisdom, and so advance further and further towards it. The Lord sees them beforehand and provides them with conjugial love. This love of theirs certainly begins with sexual love or rather begins by way of sexual love; but this is not its source. It grows as the person's wisdom steps forward and comes to light; for wisdom and conjugial love are inseparable companions.
 The reason why conjugial love begins with sexual love is that, before a partner is found, there is a generalised love and aimiable disposition towards the other sex. Social custom also plays a part in it. For the young man is free to choose, and as a result of the innate inclination towards marriage with one woman, which lurks in the depths of his mind, his exterior is aroused to welcome warmth. A final resolution on marriage is put off for various reasons until he is well into adulthood, and meanwhile the beginning of this love resembles lust, which in some cases actually turns into sexual love; still in these cases restraint is not relaxed beyond the point up to which indulgence is conducive to health. These remarks apply to the male sex. since this is subject to an enticement which produces genuine passion; but they do not apply to the female sex.
These considerations make it plain that sexual love is not the source of truly conjugial love, but is its first stage in time, but not first as an objective. That which is the first objective comes first in the mind and intention, because it plays the leading role. But this first objective is approached by a succession of intermediate stages. These are not essentially first objectives, but merely means which promote the realisation of what is in itself the first objective. * The word 'also' seems to prove that conjugalis is here a misprint for conjugialis, the form consistently employed by the author. If not, it might be here translated 'married love.'