Why Purity Early Protects You Later


Today’s guest post is from Alecia from Marriage Life Ministries.

My husband had an affair. It almost wrecked our marriage, but instead it was the catalyst for bringing us closer together. But through the whole sordid process, I learned something important: what we do before marriage often impacts what we do after marriage.

Most of the world thinks that purity is for the birds–that saving yourself isn’t relevant, convenient or even necessary. Or that remaining pure in your mind body and spirit after you get married isn’t important. I beg to differ.

It’s interesting that while over the last few decades our culture has gotten more sexually permissive, it has also adopted firmer attitudes against adultery. This “oddity” was found by the Marriage Project at Rutgers University when they were doing research on marriage and infidelity. People now disapprove of adultery more than they did a few decades ago, even though we’re also becoming more promiscuous. How can we as a culture not see how these two things are completely connected to one another?

Our behavior, as a culture, definitely speaks to different priorities than what the studies and surveys are suggesting. A majority might feel that cheating on one’s spouse is wrong, but that’s not stopping very many affairs.

Why? Again, it comes down to this. Purity.

I was slapped in the face with this concept shortly after Clint’s confession. Oh, sure, I’d heard it all growing up: “Don’t’ give yourself away.” “Sex before marriage is bad.”, but it was amazing to me to sit down and think about the ramifications of the choices that had been made in our situation. It wasn’t just Clint’s lack of sexual purity (before marriage and during our marriage) that led to our problem, but also my own lack of sexual purity. I had contributed to an atmosphere in our marriage that made us susceptible to adultery.

Infidelity doesn’t just create an atmosphere of non-purity in our marriage relationship…it stems from one.

Just as much as it matters what you do with your mind and your body after you get married, it matters what you do with it before. Our marriage wasn’t just affected by Clint’s infidelity. His infidelity was made possible because of sexual impurity.

The things you view, the way you think, the relationships you have, the sexual experiences you participate in, can all too easily impact your marriage–its health, longevity, and its ability to ward off infidelity.

If you didn’t have purity when you were younger, single, and dating, though, it’s not too late! With God, it never is. The important thing is to recognize that you need it—that you need Him to help you.

But you also need to work at it. If you don’t work at it, your choices will fester in your marriage like an old rotten pair of gym shoes shoved in the back of the closet. You’d like to forget they’re there but the smell wafts out at you every once in a while until the stench permeates the whole house and you’re hunting around playing the “What’s that smell” game. You can’t shove it under a rug or hide it or minimize it. As a couple you must deal with it.

If you feel like your marriage lacks what we would call purity, make some changes. Take the time to care about what you watch (by yourself, with your spouse, and as a family). What you expose your eyes and ears to will affect your mind and will affect your marriage. Take the time to care about the relationships and connections you make with the opposite sex. Strike up non-negotiable boundaries that serve to protect your marriage. Take the time to care about the type of intimacy you and your spouse have and build up a more positive form of it from the foundation up.

This thing called purity is kind of an important thing. After all, the couples who enjoy the best sex are those who are monogamous, and who waited until they were married to have sex. Oh, the irony!

This antiquated, stuffy, prudish word is actually anything but.

It’s the portal to you and your spouse living the next 50 years happily together.

 

From Sheila: I so appreciate Alecia’s take on this, as someone who has lived through an affair and has come out the other side.

I think sometimes we misunderstand purity. We think that it applies BEFORE marriage, but as Alecia says, it’s just as important once we’re married. We need to keep ourselves pure, which means keeping ourselves focused simply on our husbands.

When we’re married, we have great sexual license, which I talked about in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. But let’s not confuse that freedom with a lack of boundaries. Just because you can, and should, enjoy sex now does not mean that it’s a good idea to focus on just getting yourself aroused any old way, like thinking about another man, or watching porn, or immersing yourself in explicit HBO miniseries. Many couples have found that taking this license too far is quite dangerous.

Why? Because it reinforces the idea that sex is only about the physical, only about getting aroused, and not about a spiritual and emotional intimacy. And once we start to entertain these thoughts, it’s too easy to get careless.

So let’s keep pure in our marriages! Today, can you tell us how you do that? Leave a comment, or if you’re having a tough time figuring out what this means, leave a question, and maybe we can help you!

Alecia and Clint blog at Marriage Life Ministries.  Find them on Facebook here.

Comments

  1. Great post! The world would have us believe that purity as God commands is living life in a straitjacket, but in reality it’s a kevlar vest keeping us alive and whole.

  2. It never occurred to me that an affair could result from the sexual stimuli and encounters a couple allows inside their marriage, but in reading this, it makes perfect sense. Thank you for the eye-opener.

    Having survived an emotional affair, I don’t have the same experience, but can account for lack purity of thought toward my husband and his sexual needs as a most obvious detour to finding acceptance elsewhere. Rather than see and hear “need”, I saw and heard “demand”. The waterfall of negative thoughts along that line kept us from bonding emotionally, mentally and spiritually, thereby putting a choke-hold on the physical (for me).

    As for keeping purity within the fortress of marriage, I think the one aspect my husband and I have learned in the aftermath is that honoring the each other, with the desire to become God’s view of “one” in mind, makes the best sex. Thinking of what our spouse does, says or is that will excite us, then acting on it accordingly, leaves no space for wandering. For those who don’t think this way, it will take some brain training, I know. I’m walking a friend through it right now.

    I focus on my husband as my one and only source of physical catalyst, desire and fulfillment. When I didn’t bother to look for these things, I saw him only as a beggar. Keeping my eyes and thoughts on the positives in him, that’s all I ever consider, and find other avenues a turn-off because they throw off my aim!
    Amy recently posted…Ten Ways to Love: Give without SparingMy Profile

    • Awesome! I love how you are re”training” yourself to think about the positives in your husband and using that to create desire. My husband and I firmly believe that thoughts produce feelings produce actions. If you think on good things and positive things it will most definitely affect your feelings and your actions.
      Alecia recently posted…Reasons Why I Love My HusbandMy Profile

  3. Interestingly I have been discussing pre-marital chastity elsewhere and while I admit and concede that it is a good healthy life choice and God’s ideal I have to say I have seen so many unhappy posts on this blog that I wonder whether sometimes “sex before marriage is wrong” teaching is none of our business: if a Christian couple who are committed to each other and intending on marriage want to explore their sexual compatibility then I believe that is between them and God.

    Sex is a major part of marriage, and if it is fraught with pain, unhappiness, misery and conflict because the people are totally sexually incompatible and different then while difficulties are not insurmountable I just wonder if we should be careful before moralising to others about this issue. If sexual fulfillment is high on a couple’s marital agenda, to ensure they are going to have that fulfillment they may decide to have a period of journeying with each for mutual benefit – maybe not going all the way, but exploring each other’s sexual triggers and aquainting themselves with their sexuality.

    I have seen so many Christian marriages breakdown due to sexual incompatibility and differences – the range of sexual triggers from one individual to another can be broad: also this might include sexual abuse issues (so one partner will refuse sex because of psychological trauma), or sexual deviancy (some men and women may like kinky things such as BDSM or role-play to trigger them sexually which can cause difficulties if one partner is turned off by such things – while there is nothing wrong with such things if both partners like it, if one does and one doesn’t then it can lead to marital confusion in the bedroom). And then some men (and maybe women) are gay but suppress and repress that because that is what Christians are supposed to do – so they marry but then sexual issues arise, because they cannot overcome their sexual wiring for same-sex love and attraction.

    I think if a christian couple responsibly wish to ensure their sex life has a good chance of success and happiness I wouldn’t judge or condemn them. I am not saying this is ideal, but that it’s none of our business.

    I never indulged in sex with my husband before we were married, and I’m glad I didn’t, but reading so much of the difficulties Christians encounter sexually on this site I am questioning whether some of the morals we push in church actually are having a counter-productive effect of producing a lot of unhappy marriages in the sexual area. The Law of Untindended consequences has a way of dealing bad blows as well as good – push “no sex before marriage” and you might jsut end up with a lot of sexually unhappy couples whose marriage will end in divorce – or affairs/porn addiction, you name it. Maybe couples exploring their sexual compatibility beforehand is a personal decision between them and God to guard their sexual hearts from harm and pain.

    I had a sexual relationship before I met my husband (I was in a relationship with a man for nine years) and it has never affected my marriage adversely sexually at all – though I acknowledged it as sin and confessed and repented when I committed my life to the Lord. But I think we can make too much of previous sexual liaisons if viewed in a certain negative perspective, and put ourselves under unnecessary shame and guilt.

    • “… if a Christian couple who are committed to each other and intending on marriage want to explore their sexual compatibility then I believe that is between them and God.”

      “I had a sexual relationship before I met my husband (I was in a relationship with a man for nine years) and it has never affected my marriage adversely sexually at all – though I acknowledged it as sin and confessed and repented when I committed my life to the Lord. ”

      I find it interesting that you admit that your sexual relationship before marriage was sin and that you repented of that, but also feel its OK that couples intended for marriage to explore their sexual compatibility before marriage. Those two statements are at odds with each other. You either believe sex before marriage is a sin or you don’t.

      “Maybe couples exploring their sexual compatibility beforehand is a personal decision between them and God to guard their sexual hearts from harm and pain.”

      I think that the above statement is very foolish. You may want to read into what the Bible says about infidelity and the consequences of sin.
      Stacy recently posted…The Power Of A Praying Wife – His MindMy Profile

      • Yes I see how it reads confusing Stacy.

        What I mean is there is different types of sex before marriage. Generally in principle it is wrong. But I had in mind this scenario concerning a divorced couple – which is a true story confided to me by a Christian friend of mine:

        My first wife had been raped as a 12 yo by her Uncle …..and although we heavy petted during our 6 month ( far too short) courtship, we never had intercourse until the wedding night….and I found her weeping many times on honeymoon…..but she only made one chance remark about her Uncle at that time (which I did not understand…..until years later when our little girl was 12 and I was the same age as Uncle when he raped my first wife). Our marriage was ” Hell on Steroids” for 23 years….my wife constantly rejected me over and over and over…..until I became suicidal and left home and met my present wife who has been the best thing that ever happened to me! I often wonder what might have happened if my first wife and I had gone all the way before marriage. Would she have told me about the rape then? Could we have gotten her some help early? I know another young Christian fellow who was pressing his girl to go ” all the way”….and when she started to cry, it came out that her Christian Dad had slept with her and made her pregnant, and he punched her in the tummy till she aborted. My second wife and I lived in a committed relationship for some time before we married, as her first (38 year) marriage was also “hell on steroids” (with 5 kids)….so we both needed to know that we weren’t stepping into a repeat of the previous relationships. We could not be happier now.”

        It is that kind of messy scenario which is not easy to be overly moralistic about on this kind of thing – we have to remember he was probably in his early twenties when he first married: how can one so young even have any clue how to handle someone who had been sexually abused? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t judge these two people after all they had been through. They are now married and very happy together :)

        I hope that helps to see the difficult perspective I am trying to see into.

    • Hanlie Wessels says:

      We had a very good discussion about this in my bible study

      Yes we are free in Christ, yes we are covered by Grace and yes we shouldn’t judge others.

      However, And, this is a big but, grace is not free. We are bought by the blood of Christ and we are called to be holy. There are some things that each person can judge for themselves (like whether it is harms your relationship with your husband to read romance novels) and there are some things that are explicitly forbidden. Sex before marriage is explicitly forbidden. It is never ok. It is a sin and sin is a big deal.

      We, as the body of Christ, are called to keep each other accountable and holy before God. We have a responsibility to teach the pure gospel (all of it not just what is convenient and “relevant”). We should have an atmosphere in our church communities that is both loving and where we help each other to strive for purity and holiness. That doesn’t mean that we should run out and condemn each other. But it also doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to each others sins because it doesn’t concern us. It does. We are a body; what harms one member harms us all. But everything should be done with the utmost humility and love.

  4. Interesting, that while society has become more tolerant of promiscuity it has become less tolerant of adultery. I think it’s because society now has higher expectations of those who commit to marriage. It’s like if you’re going to not be in a marriage, anything goes, but once you make that commitment the whole world is scrutinizing it waiting for you to screw up and when you do it’s “Oh! Oh! Look at the married person! They messed up!”
    Melissa recently posted…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!My Profile

  5. It’s so important to remain pure, before marriage, and even after marriage.

    My husband of 29 years and I were blessed to be born again while we were teens, and God’s grace kept us pure.

    As a married couple, we’ve been very careful to “be friendly to members of the opposite sex, but not good friends.” We’re very careful with our interactions with others, and try to spend some time every day talking together. We’ve also eliminated a lot of media in our home.

    Those things, I think, help to go a long way to retaining our purity even in marriage. It may sound, as someone else aptly said, like a straight jacket, but it’s really a kevlar vest protecting us!
    Lisa recently posted…2012 – The Year of Carpet BurnsMy Profile

  6. Please help!!!! I’m being really honest here so please don’t attack me!!!…..I am becoming very attracted to a close friend of my husbands, he is also giving me signs he feels the same way. I’m walking in dangerous territory and don’t know how to stop it……how, literally do I stop the feelings I’m having towards this man???? How do I stop the thoughts/feelings…I know its wrong but how do I stop it????…I feel sick in the stomach just writing this but I need help before I make a terrible mistake…and I don’t mean only physically, I feel an emotion attraction to this man as well….I’m so confused about how to handle this….any kind advice from you wise lovely people would be wonderful…

    • Natalie, that’s a really important question and one that I know many people struggle with. I just asked it on my Facebook page, and got some great answers and feedback from women. You can see that post here. Pray over the comments and ask God to show you what to follow.

      My quick thoughts: stop contact as much as possible. NEVER talk about your feelings to this other man–in fact, don’t talk to him at all if you can help it. Throw yourself into your marriage. Tell at least one other woman who can hold you accountable. Don’t think about him. When the feelings or thoughts come, replace them with something else. You can choose not to think about him.

      And honestly, sometimes these feelings are overwhelming. But as overwhelming and enticing as they seem, they don’t survive unless we flame them. If you pull away contact, the feeling will diminish. It really will.

      Read what some of my other followers said, but that would be my main advice: steer clear of him, don’t talk to him about it (that creates another level of intimacy), don’t think about him, and find someone to hold you accountable. Whether that someone is your husband or not is a difficult decision, and they’re going back and forth in the comments about it. But you do need someone to tell for sure.

    • Hi, Natalie.
      I have never been where you are, but am walking with a friend through this very situation. She has felt attracted to a the husband of a family friend, and has let her thoughts go where they should not, and her situation extended to a greater distance from what you share.

      My friend and I decided on some action to take, and she has followed the plan so far, and had great success, kicking out the impure thoughts and replacing them with those she should have. Natalie, we all have to work at marriage. It doesn’t come naturally and it doesn’t happen easily every day.

      Here are the points we decided would make the most difference to achieve:

      – PRAY. Ask forgiveness of God for the thoughts/actions as well as the deception you are committing with them. Pray for guidance as you redirect those thoughts, and ask for God to let you feel that support. Pray every day for peace and strength in following this path.

      – When the thoughts come, pray them away. Put your husband in your focus, and retrain your brain to stay on him. Don’t let the wrong thinking have a second more of your time before you banish it with prayer and husband-centered thoughts.

      – Read Sheila’s book (The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex – Sheila Wray Gregoire) and you will find some great ideas and explanations about the male and female aspects of not only sex, but marriage and also just plain THINKING. We are different — learn how to understand and react to those differences to help build your marriage in a positive way. *NOTE: My friend has felt most empowered by this book, I recommend it to every married person, having difficulties or not.

      – Make yourself accountable. If you have a trusted friend at church, she may be a good person to speak to, share your situation, and ask her for check-ins and some scheduled talks. Regularly, not just when you have a minute. Make it a priority to make yourself transparent. If you don’t have a human friend, rely more heavily on God. He can hack it. Another friend came out of an emotional affair with just herself and God handling her issues. She’s doing great and praises Him for His constant availability.

      – Get busy. While working at moving improper thoughts out and renovating with pure, husband-oriented thoughts, keep busy. If you work, set some goals that require your full attention. At home, find tasks that make you focus on your family, and allow that prayer time, as needed, to refocus.

      – Thank God every day. Thank Him for every small success, thank him for the support you feel, thank him for putting angels in your path to divert your attention and help you to refocus.

      – If you can, and when the time is right AND if you have good communication with your husband already, let him know you were feeling tempted, let him know your discomfort with this particular friend. If it were my husband, he would want to know, and would handle the situation for my protection, as well as for his … a friend should not move in on a friend’s spouse, no matter what signals go up. Wrong is wrong.

      My friend has begun scheduling regular date nights, and purposefully avoids the friend of the family, as much as possible. The date nights have helped her grow closer to her husband, and that allows him to occupy her thoughts often and naturally, and she has less and less thought about her former “love interest”.

      You are brave to come to an open forum and ask for help. That tells me you want to do the right thing. With God’s help, and some good guidance, I know you will.

      Blessings to you!
      Amy recently posted…Miscarriage: the Ultimate EmptinessMy Profile

      • Great advice, Amy. Thank you.

      • Thank you so much Amy…especially for not judging me too harshly!…I’m going to try all of your suggestions..I’m already asking God to help me, I can’t hide my feelings from Him, He knows my heart , the good the bad and the down right ugly…I’m so so glad He pushed me to confront these feelings and ask for help. I love that you’ve given me REAL practical advice…I feel like I’ve taken a small step away from the edge of the cliff I’ve been looking over…thank you x

        • Natalie, it totally is very common to have these feelings. The feelings themselves are not anything to feel guilty about. It’s only what you do with them. So don’t beat yourself up; use it as an opportunity to really throw yourself on God and say to Him, “Okay, I want to do the right thing, but you have to help me. Please be real to me right now.” It’s often in these difficult times that God does show His strength in our lives, when we’re willing to be honest. So the point isn’t to make yourself feel badly; it’s only to point you in the right direction!

          • Thanks so much Sheila..I’ve just purchased your book, I’m praying hard and steering clear of temptation as much as possible..thank you so much, you’re really helping me.

        • You’re welcome, Natalie. It’s true, you can’t hide from God, but people can hide from reality — sensations and attention from another person can confuse and persuade a person easily. I will continue praying for you, and I hope you will update us on your progress.
          One more thing. I heard a quote on the radio this morning saying this.

          “Sometimes God redeems us FROM our struggles. Sometimes He redeems us THROUGH our struggles.” I think that no matter how closely a person walks with God, we remain fallible, and He uses our circumstances to cleanse and refine us.
          Amy recently posted…Ten Ways to Love: Pray without CeasingMy Profile

          • Thanks so much Amy…I’m putting in place some boundaries etc as suggested to avoid any kind of intimate/private contact with him…If it feels wrong it probably is and I should remove myself from temptation as quickly as possible…I’m praying for guidance and I’ve also purchased Sheilas book..feeling a bit stronger after doing this and reading all the FB comments. I know I have a kind of lustfull personality and really need to focus my attention on my husband…he really really loves me and I don’t want to hurt him…so thank you so much for helping me, I really do appreaciate it and I’ve taken it all on baord….thank you x

    • I echo Sheila’s response and say, remain in a place of NO CONTACT with this other man. Work on not thinking about him in any way. I know this seems hard, maybe impossible, but you can change the way your mind thinks about this person and this situation. As I said on another response, and as Clint and I say on our site over and over “thoughts produce feelings produce actions.” Tell yourself the truth whenever these thoughts and feelings come up.
      Alecia recently posted…Reasons Why I Love My HusbandMy Profile

  7. Now in my 70s I feel that I have earned the privilege to pass on some of my experience. My wife and I have never had any sexual experiences with anyone else nor did we do so before our wedding night. Neither has had any desire to stray. We both know that we are God’s gift to each other. He knew best whom we both needed. Now after nearly 40 years it is important to make each and every day special. My wife is the most wonderful woman in the world; she is the most beautiful as well, her beauty radiating from inside her. I long to be in her company because we are best friends. I love to take care of her and count it a privilege to be her husband. I long to be intimate with her because we become truly one flesh. After many years of marriage we now do it more than ever before and it is the most thrilling experience . I believe this can only be experienced by a husband and wife fully committed to each other as God intends. I thank God for her daily. I try to show her how much i love her by my actions but I also tell her regularly how much i love her. We cuddle often thoughout the day which is a great advantage of being retired! I love to be in her company outside our home and we hold hands often when we go for walks together. Keeping ourselves true to each other is why we are more in love than ever before. When our relationship flourishes it is because we are obeying God, when it fails it is because we take our eyes off Jesus. I am no poet but I do write love letters to her quite regularly.

    • Thank you for this testimony!!

    • Yes, thank you… It’s a rare thing to see God’s plan for marriage so beautifully displayed in a world that is feeling the effects of sexual disobedience.

    • You’ve got no idea how much I needed to read that! thank you so much for sharing your thoughts x

      • Dear ladies you do not know how much you have blessed me today. We visited a doctor this morning and some health concerns my wife had have been allayed so we were both filled with joy. Then I read your comments and feel doubly blessed, thank you so much.
        While my wife and I are seniors none of us knows when God may call us or our spouses home. So make sure that whenever you part from your husbands that it be with a smile, a hug and a kiss and “I love you”. You would not want your last memory of your husband to be anything less than joyful. Our last words in bed every night are “Good night, honey, I love you’ or words to that effect.

  8. I cannot express how these posts have helped me. I am currently working on putting my marriage back together after an affair. I now understand how we got to his cheating and see we can overcome this, not just overcome but improve. Thank you!

  9. Anon,
    I’m confused w/ your comment. You say that if a couple wants to explore to see if they’re compatible then that’s between them & God. In another sentence you say you acknowledged your sin, confessed & repented. So, is it sin or isn’t it? Clearly the Bible calls sex outside of marriage sin & what you say in your comment up until the last paragraph (other than the last sentence) is anything but biblical. These are not “morals” we push in church! These are God’s ways clearly laid out for us in Scripture. You need to read Galatians 5: 19-21 & you also need to read Romans. People struggle in their marriage because two sinners got married and there is selfishness, pride, fleshly desires, etc. that cause problems & have to be dealt with. You have been sucking up the worlds philosophy & it is anything but Gods. If I have misunderstood you I’m sorry, but from what I got I would ask you to study your Bible before you lead anyone down the path of sin.

    • Thank you for the challenge Amy – yes I have read my Bible from beginning to end several times over, for many years and I was a totally “fundamental” bible-bashing black & white no-nonsense Christian up until I saw all the sexual problems people encounter.

      If I may explain a little more – my “sin” was that I was in a relationship with an unbeliever where there was no real commitment to marry (at least from him – though I would have). It was a wrong relationship from the start.

      It is very difficult for me to get across my perspective in a wholesome manner – I do not promote sex before marriage generally – especially for young people who are generally clueless about sex: they should save it for the day and go on a sexual journey together from their youth.

      …., but what I am trying to say is that maybe say a mature couple who have experienced sexual difficulties and pain in their sexual hearts in a previous relationship (maybe they are widowed or divorced) and happiness in the sexual side of marriage is extremely important to them and they are very much in love they might decide not to wait until the day. (Just read “Wedding Night Disasters” on this blog – wedding nights seem to be one of the most unhappiest times for some, though i agree it’s more about the marriage than sex – but why do people marry? Because they want good happy sex with the person they marry!) Maybe a partner will feel a bit uneasy about something even – so many marriages are wrecked by sexual incompatibility that I think it’s up to the individuals concerned to make their own decision without condemnation from others.

      All I am saying we should not be too judgmental. My strongly held views that all sex before marriage is wrong has changed – largely because in the churches today there are often co-habiting couples and couples who one suspects (though doesn’t know for certain) have a sexual relationship during engagement. I refuse to withdraw myself from the communion table even though these co-habiting couples might be present in the church and take the emblems themselves – their private sex lives as unmarried Christian couples is not my business – it is between them as a couple and God.

      I hope that helps to explain?

      • Anonymous says:

        I understand what you mean and I wouldn’t withdraw from the communion table either, but the Bible is pretty clear that sex before marriage is wrong. A couple figures out whether they are compatible to spend their lives together by talking and spending time together. I’m no therapist, but I think that you can figure out whether you are sexually compatible by talking about it. It would be an extremely rare circumstance where the physical parts don’t fit. To experiment beforehand only damages a relationship both immediately and after marriage.

        • I agree that talking about sex before marriage is intensely important. My now husband and I did not have sex before we were married, but we talked (possibly excessively) about it. And it really helped us to know that, even if things weren’t good right away (and … well, they weren’t :) ), that we could talk them out, listen to one another, and work things out. Because it really is super important to know that you have one-another’s backs when it comes to sex.

          • Bethany – I agree and am pleased you talked about sex though I think a lot of Christian couples do not go into it in that much detail – often they do not always know what they like themselves maybe I don’t know, but I agree it is an area which can be talked through.

            I sometimes think God could have done a better job when He created sex – it seems such a complex area with weird and strange things built into how some people are wired and it is a difficult area for couples and a source of massive struggle when really it should be so much easier, but maybe it has something to do with the fall I don’t know, you think something so pleasurable would be easy!

            Me and my husband have a good sex life which, like good wine, has improved with age lol – especially the past two years when we really started communicating about it seriously – mainly because I was wanting much more from our sex life – I am now in menopause and usually women can lose their libido during menopause, but mine escalated! Boy – is a high sex drive something which will get you communicating with your spouse about sex lol!

          • Anon, I’m with you — the differences are kind of challenging and odd. But I do think one really cool thing about the differences in peoples likes, dislikes, drives, etc are that they give you a chance to grow past differences, to learn new things, to be challenged to grow beyond what works for you alone. And yes — maybe it does have something to do with the fall that it can be so hard — but these challenges are maybe also a way that God refines and sanctifies us, too. As far as communication goes, yeah, it can be challenging to know a lot about sex (beyond what you read in books, which, as my husband and I have found, may not REALLY apply to you as a couple) if you’re not having it, but the discipline of talking honestly about how we feel, what we think we want, what we already know about our bodies — really did keep the difficulties of the early weeks of our marriage from becoming something that separated us; rather, it was something we got to tackle as a team. I like teamwork. Also, thanks for the encouragement of sex getting better with time. We’re still early on, and I look forward to the things to come!
            Bethany recently posted…Laundry DetergentMy Profile

        • Anonymous – I agree sex before marriage is wrong in principle yes, though I wasn’t talking about whether the physical bits fit together ! More about the psychological side of sex – triggers and things. What turns one person on might not be what turns another on and possibly never the twain shall meet – though of course it’s all about each partner giving and communicating. I don’t know, I am just trying to have some understanding as to why a couple might go down this path. I hope I never would if ever I found myself single and dating again – I do not advocate it as a healthy life choice, but I try not to shun others if they do.

          I sometimes confess to feeling confused; I have read about Christians who have done it by the book: according to all the right morals but end up with a desperately unhappy marriage sexually and in every other way, yet I have as friends a Christian married couple who did it all the wrong way round (a love-child out of wedlock) and are blissfully happy, now with another child (this time within their wedlock – they were ever committed to each from the start before marriage.

          You wonder sometimes whether Christian morals really do bring happiness and that “abundent life” Christ promised. Maybe marital and sexual happiness is less to do with doing things right by the moralistic book and more to do with just plain luck. . I know that sounds heretical, but sometimes life makes you think.

          • anonymous says:

            I sometimes confess to feeling confused; I have read about Christians who have done it by the book: according to all the right morals but end up with a desperately unhappy marriage sexually and in every other way, yet I have as friends a Christian married couple who did it all the wrong way round (a love-child out of wedlock) and are blissfully happy….Maybe marital and sexual happiness is less to do with doing things right by the moralistic book and more to do with just plain luck

            Doing the right thing on this earth is NO guarantee of success. The physical world is not God, and it is not fair. Some people never smoke, and still get lung cancer — while others (eg, my Dad) smoke like chimmeys with no lung problems whatseoever. Some people run and pump iron and eat right from their youth up, and yet still get fat with age (me), yet others stay lean effortlessly. NOT FAIR. And yes…some people do the romance-marriage-sex thing righteously and have bad relationships, while others who do it all wrong end up happy.

            Most likely the “happy” couples were good NATURAL matches — physically, emotioanally, etc — and would have been equally happy with each other no matter how they got together. If they’d grown up in Saudia Arabia as Muslims, and had been put together in an arranged marriage by their parents, they’d still probably be happy with each other.

            I’ve heard or read that Christian couples who don’t even KISS before marriage, often have severe sexual problems. A possible reason is this: there are biochemical as well as visual and emotional aspects to attraction, and in a french-kiss, the exchange of biochemical information is possibly an important aspect of mate-compatibilty. Mismatched couplles who kissed, and were innnately repulsed (think the “car scene” in the original “Back to the FUture”), would never make it to the altar — they’d just break up. But without the kiss, they may not find out till the wedding night that, biochemically speaking, they just don’t like each other….

          • Anonymous says:

            Anon, I was also talking about the psychological side. Because the physical bits are going to fit and don’t need to be tested out, the psychological side can be determined by talking. And like Bethany said, when there are differences, working through them really cements a couple together. Working through sexual issues with my husband has led to a greater degree of intimacy in our relationship, and has made me trust him on an even deeper level.

            I agree that doing the right thing is no guarantee… although I would change the word “success” to “happiness” in what anonymous said. God never guarantees us happiness, but He does guarantee us peace when we’re doing the right thing.

            If I had to re-do my dating time with my husband, I would have saved our first kiss for the altar. For me, the fire gets lit all too easily and it’s difficult (impossible) to stop once I’m going. Although we both had previous partner(s) before we met, we did not have sex with each other until we got married. However, we did things we had no business doing. Because we didn’t keep ourselves pure with each other before we married, I had trouble feeling free with him and trusting him for a really long time into our marriage. Not that I thought he was going to cheat on me – nothing like that – it was just difficult to know at a soul level that he loved and cherished me for who I am. We’ve worked through it and are finally past it, but it took a long time.

          • Thank you for sharing that Anonymous – that is helpful. Having thought this through having been graciously challenged by others on here I think I have come to seeing that “sex before marriage” is a broad spectrum: at one end we have young healthy normal Christian people who are in love and for them purity is wholesome and right, but at the complete other end of the spectrum (see my reply to Stacy) you have mature people who are either divorced or widowed who have seriously sexually wounded hearts (for whatever reason – usually because they have been abused, or because they have been constantly rejected sexually by their partner causing severe psychological damage). For these couples whose sexual hearts are deeply wounded I would not judge them if they have sex before marriage as the last thing they want is to go into another marriage with sexual problems. As someone who has experienced sexual wounding up to a point (which I have worked through), I have to say if ever I was in another relationship for any reason, I would be very wary as I wouldn’t want to experience ANY kind of sexual wounding ever again – it can make you suicidal and extremely depressed. I hope I wouldn’t ever go down the premarital sex path, but until you actually go on that sexual journey with someone in a responsible and committed manner you may never know what problems you’re going to encounter. If it didn’t work out, you just discreetly part and agree that it would be too damaging to endure a long marriage with sexual difficulties ever again.

          • anomymous says:

            If I had to re-do my dating time with my husband, I would have saved our first kiss for the altar. For me, the fire gets lit all too easily

            Fair enough. But some alternative is necessary. There’s a reason why most traditional cultures promoted DANCING as a courtship activity — because dancing causes you to work up a sweat, and gets you close enough to react (usually unconscuously) to those who are good biochemical matches. But a lot of churches nowadays, frown on kissing and yet don’t hold singles dances either. So some couples may be pariing off visually and emotionally,, who just aren’t good biochemical matches– and they won’t instinctively respond to each other, no matter how many sex books they read.

            The solution: You’ve got to make SOME provision for the biochemistry to work. A chaperoned singles dance once every few weeks would probably increase the evangelical marriage rate, which is far too low.

            Yet another factor is hormonal birth control. Women who are on the pill, often find their smell preferences are inverted. So they find themselves pining after guys who will never want them. Its surprising how many single Christian women, who are supposedly abstinent, are on the pill…….. WHY?????

          • Good points – there has to be CHEMISTRY for a good sex life. Physical CHEMISTRY – so often that is lacking.

            Also a lot of it cultural – in our Teutonic Christian culture we have a very narrow view of sex and attraction in many ways. One of the least damaging sexual encounters I had – though we didn’t go all the way as I wasn’t on the pill – was with a French guy. The French have a totally different attitude toward sex – it’s very natural and like you eat, drink and do sex: it’s as natural as breathing. in fact in France it’s a sin if you *don’t* have a good sex life. I’m not saying this is a healthy lifestyle or to sleep around, but I think a lot of our sexual problems stem from our mental attitude toward sex and physical attraction. As someone once said, don’t marry anyone unless you fancy them like mad.

      • Different Amy, here.
        I understand, Anon, what you have said. I think it comes down to wiggle room, and a person’s decision to either allow it or disallow it. Allowing the wiggle room of engaging in sex before marriage for one reason allows in a slew of others. Each person will have his or her reason. Where does anyone draw a line, then? There is right and wrong. Sex before marriage is wrong — and my husband and I have repented for it — I’m not perfect, but I do hope to help someone else thinking “it’s okay” to understand the truth. It causes scars, and sometimes builds walls that you don’t even realize you have built.
        If a couple contemplates marriage and one of them has a physical abnormality or disability, are they to engage in sex so they can get it right and won’t feel anything but fireworks on their wedding night? I think that either situation — either sexual/emotional issues from the past or physical issues that may cause some finagling, will come into play at some point in life. Having a “perfect” experience immediately doesn’t mean success in the future, nor true compatibility.
        Marriage is a covenant between two people — for all the vowing we do, many people still don’t honor that commitment. To have an insurance policy of great sex from the start, or at least the ability to have it, means nothing in the scheme of things. Life will happen, accidents, injuries, illnesses and myriad other detriments may hit. “Kinks” may appear out of the blue from years of repression. Brains are complex things, and the sex now doesn’t mean “healthy” later. Working together and talking it out are the only “cures” for these things, and even then, sometimes that isn’t enough. Some people struggle continually, either one or the other in a couple. God can make the difference, but giving into the societal “norms” will not.
        I appreciate and respect your attitude and your responses here. I can tell you have the desire to help others, and that you feel very strongly about this. Some people feel chastised for opposing views, but I believe these forums are to hash out the issues, and to, I hope, help someone, whether it’s one of us or someone who happens along in the future.
        Amy recently posted…Pray for Your EnemyMy Profile

        • Thank you Different Amy – I’m glad the someone can pick up my drift a little and that you can appreciate the essence of my “opposing” views – though really in principle I agree with purity before marriage. It’s just sometimes in our spiritual journeys you start questioning all kinds of things – very often it is cyclical and you come back to what you first believed in the first place, but I firmly believe a good sex life is at the heart of a happy, contented and fulfilled marriage.

          I agree that people’s sexuality can change over time too – yes excellent point! What is at the beginning of a couple’s sexual journey may take many twists and turns and as you say things might manifest years later. Thanks for pointing that out :)

      • anonymous says:

        I refuse to withdraw myself from the communion table even though these co-habiting couples might be present in the church and take the emblems themselves – their private sex lives as unmarried Christian couples is not my business – it is between them as a couple and God.

        How are we to respond to those who claim to be Christians, yet live in open sin?

        What does the scripture say about this?

        I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

        What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” 1st Cor 5:9-13

        • Yes but some of them might have good reason. I agree that co-habiting is a bad witness, but I feel there but for the grace of God go I – I have in mind a particular sad story. Unless we’ve walked in someone else’s mocassins over an issue like this I feel I would rather not judge.

          Unfortunately, there are aspects of the Christian life which are very disempowering and destructive – one of them is to do everything “by the moral biblical book” (marry someone you love and keep sex within marriage) only to find 20 plus years down the line you are trapped into a marriage which is causing you a nervous breakdown, making you suicidal because the person you are married to has been sexually abused and has checked out of sex completely amongst other things. Is that God’s will?

          Having said that, I agree that the perfect and good thing is to remain sexually pure :) Just that life gets very messy round the edges sometimes. Me and my husband never indulged in sex before marriage.

          • anonymous says:

            Yes but some of them might have good reason.

            And according to the Scripture, we have good reason for refusing to share communion.

            Speaking from very bitter experience — beware, beware those who were once serious Christians and backed away from it into open sin, especially sexual sin. Spiritually, they don’t go back to “nothing”, they end up attracting demons — “and the last state of that wo/man is worse than the first.” I learned far, far more than I wanted to know, about demons and the supernatural, and spiritual warfare in that situation…. and if I hadn’t dissociated myself from the fornicator, it would have been much worse.

            Unless we’ve walked in someone else’s mocassins over an issue like this I feel I would rather not judge.

            “…. Are you not to judge those inside? ….Expel the wicked person from among you…”

            Unfortunately, there are aspects of the Christian life which are very disempowering and destructive – one of them is to do everything “by the moral biblical book” (marry someone you love and keep sex within marriage) only to find 20 plus years down the line you are trapped into a marriage which is causing you a nervous breakdown, making you suicidal because the person you are married to has been sexually abused and has checked out of sex completely amongst other things. Is that God’s will?

            It wasn’t God’s will for that person to be abused, God’s will is to seek healing and restoration long before the 20 year mark. This situation does not warrant disobedience, however. Sex outside marriage is always disobedience, end of story.

          • Sex withing marriage can be disobedience too – sex within marriage isn’t always moral or right. (or the lack of it).

          • anonymous says:

            Sex withing marriage can be disobedience too – sex within marriage isn’t always moral or right.

            Only perversion (anal. s&m, 50 shades nonsense, etc).

            Natural sex is fair game 24/7. And most couples don’t do anywhere near enough.

          • I was thinking more of a friend of mine whose husband forced her (not quite rape) to have sex during her period when she wasn’t really up to it. Some women are fine with it as they feel really turned on during their period, but on this occasion my friend wasn’t feeling well with it. I don’t think that is very moral really.

            But yes the things you’ve named – those things are not right or moral – particularly if they are not by mutual consent.

            And yes, lack of sex within marriage is also no moral.

  10. When I was single and mentoring other single girls, we used to tell each other that if we could not stay faithful to Jesus (our ‘husband’ at that time), then we’d struggle to stay faithful to our future earthly husbands.

    Of course, our revelation was still limited at that time. After marriage, i got to understand the truth of that belief in deeper ways! (we were smart gals! lol)

    Thank you for sharing this truth Alecia and for your honesty. God bless.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…The Danger of Familiarity in MarriageMy Profile

  11. Anon, NO way is it okay to explore sexually before marriage. If God ordained it, & the couple keeps HIM at the center, incompatability dissipates. I mean, you have a whole lifetime to explore each other sexually!

    All things done before God’s holy, binding covenant of marriage will lose their luster with time. God always has something greater for us if we surrender it to Him.

    The reason you see so many dissatisfied spouses’ stories is because so many of them fail to realize that what they surrender to God cannot be lost. They fail to die to self daily & serve their spouse. They fail to build a strong relationship with God, not only individually, but also as a couple. If a couple needs to pull out kinks & porn to satisfy, that’s not just selfish, but also reveals a deeper problem within the soul between the individual & the Lord.

    P.s. agree with all you have commented, Amy!

    • Thank Lil – well see my reply to Amy. I agree sexual exploration before marriage is NOT God’s will –

      But we live in a broke world with people with broken sexuality and how is a Christin supposed to gaurd their sexual heart if they suspect the person they are dating has some strange kink?

      Also, with so many co-habiting couples in churches these days maybe it’s just none of our business to moralise about it so much. They may have very good reasons for doing it – should we shun them?

      Also I am afraid that porn and kink aren’t so easy to eradicate in a marriage: on another blog (Christian Nymphos) I read a heartbreaking post on there (can’t remember which thread it was now) of a woman whose Christian husband had a kinky trigger and while they worked on it to get rid of it, it left her rather damaged unfortunately. Can’t remember the details now, wish I could find it, but if she had known her husband was so sexually deviant she would never have married him and because of his deviancy she never regained her love and respect for him – she lost it. I hope she found it again, but she (and he) could have saved themselves a lot of pain if only they’d known about the differences.

      • I should say it is a path I would not wish to go down myself – but that I can have empathy with couples who may take this path and I wouldn’t condemn them for it. that’s all.

      • Hi there,

        Thanks for clarifying your position!

        I totally agree with you that there are many people in sexually incompatible marriages, either because drives are significantly different or because preferences are significantly different.

        I think where we may disagree, though, is that I believe that this is a symptom, rather than the actual issue. That’s why I don’t think that “trying each other out first” or whatever it may mean will solve the problem, because it is not a sexual problem. It is a heart problem.

        When two people honestly love God and are intimate with God and have surrendered to God, they will be able to experience true intimacy when they make love. When they don’t, it’s usually because of a sin issue in their lives, or it’s because of brokenness (say from past abuse, for instance). When people indulge in porn, or when they withdraw from sex because of a fear of intimacy, or when they become domineering, the problem is not a sexual one. It is, at heart, a problem with how they see themselves before God.

        Having sex before marriage won’t solve any of this. The key is to marry someone with whom you are spiritually compatible. If you can be spiritually intimate with someone before marriage, and you can pray with them, and be completely transparent, then you have the tools to work through any sexual incompatibility issues. But if you aren’t communicating, and you aren’t praying, then these are the fundamental problems, not the sexual ones.

        So I say to couples concentrate on building real intimacy. Learn what intimacy with God means first, and then learn how to sacrificially love. Find someone with whom you can do taht. And if you are attracted to someone, but you can’t pray with them, or you can’t really open up, then run away as fast as you can, because you will have problems in your marriage.

        I hope that explains my position a bit!

        • That’s wonderful Sheila – such wisdom, and great advice.

          I think for most people this works, though life can throw some incredibly messy things at people.

          Abuse is particularly difficult for the non-abused partner to handle because it usually results in a virtually sexless marriage – it really needs professional help and 20 -30 years ago it wasn’t around. I know some mature divorced people who couldn’t handle the sexual issues from the fall-out of being married to a partner who had been sexually abused. The abused person (women in both cases) didn’t tell their husbands-to-be about their sexual problems. So the husbands married blind not knowing what they were taking on.

          I do feel that people who have been sexually abused MUST inform their intended marital partners – this is an act of LOVE: and they should also be open to receiving counselling. To have a past which has sexual abuse in it and then not inform the person you are marrying is a difficult situation because obviously they don’t want to lose the person they love – but people should be transparent as you say.

          I think that is a very balanced and well-thought out answer, thank you so much :)

  12. Jeannette says:

    I have a bit of a different problem with this situation. I wasn’t a virgin when my husband and I married. I decided to have sex when I was 15 and shortly after I fell into a deep depression and the next several years I was raped by so called “friends” and dated boys who didn’t treat me well. After I moved away from the sexual abuse, I was cheated on several times by my boyfriends and even my ex fiance. I started counseling and went back to church in college. My ex and I decided we really weren’t in love and called off the wedding. Then I met my husband. He was the first man to treat me with respect. He has very high morals. Cheating isn’t a possibility in his mind, but because of my past I often dream that he’ll cheat on me and leave me. It leaves me deeply hurt when I wake up.

    We’ve been married 4 years now and have an amazing little boy and a brand new daughter. I want our children to know how important it is to guard their hearts and bodies because God was absolutely right in His decree. Although my husband is an outstanding and faithful man, the pain of my past has tainted our marriage and left doubt in my mind. We’re going through a whole lot of counseling to help me through my past and not project it on my husband. All sex before marriage does is cause pain in the future… and it wasn’t even good sex because the emotional and spiritual aspect were missing.

  13. Sex isn’t always moral or right WITHIN marriage – so that needs to be held in tension with committed Christian couples who may practice it outside of marriage.

  14. Jen in Oz says:

    I have learned to protect my mind from thoughts that tempt me to be dissatisfied with my life. A big thing is reading romance novels and watching romantically themed movies where sex is more prominent than relating.

    I didn’t “love” my husband when we married, but on a logical basis I knew we were well matched. We had similar backgrounds, similar goals and values for our futures. I knew he loved me more than I loved him but I didn’t think that really mattered in the long run.

    It hasn’t mattered. We are still happily married 20 years and 4 children later. What has mattered is that I have kept my mind focused on our marriage, by not reading or watching or even thinking of things that would make me dissatisfied with my marriage and its imperfections. Working on myself to be the best I can be for my husband in all ways, even if it isn’t naturally comfortable for me is also a big part of our success.

    I still don’t like much cuddling or kissing but I can give him a little hug while passing or a kiss on the lips just because. It doesn’t happen as much as I know he would like but he accepts that. We are comfortable enough with each other to acknowledge we are different with affection and libidos but we are sticking at it, and things are getting much better especially now we are out of the babies stage.

    It may not be a romance novel but my marriage is good and I am happy that it is improving for us both as we both work on being aware of each other’s needs and differences.

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