“Wait until marriage”. “Don’t have sex before marriage.”
If you grew up in the church, you heard those things at infinitum. At every youth retreat. At every youth group activity. It was drilled into us.
Yet few of us did it. In the surveys I took for my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that only about 40% of Christians were virgins on their wedding night. That means that 60% weren’t. And from their responses to the surveys, and from emails I get, it can have profound consequences on your sex life within marriage.
I’ve written before on why people should wait until they’re married, and I don’t want to rehash all of that again today. But I do want to deal with just one aspect of it: what are the repercussions, once you are married, if you had sex before? Now, I’m not trying to make any of you feel guilty (and, in fact, here’s a post on how God wants to deal with any guilt you feel over sex before you’re married). It’s just that I know a lot of you are dealing with very specific problems, and I want to try to help you with some suggestions on how to overcome this.
So let’s start with what those problems may be.
1. Sex Before Marriage Has A Different Meaning Than Sex Once You’re Married
Here’s the central issue: sex after marriage and sex before marriage are two very different things. Within marriage, sex is the combination of a spiritual, emotional, and physical union. It’s everything we are, because we’re committed to one another, and it’s expressing the sum total of that commitment. Outside of marriage, though, sex is primarily physical. It isn’t a spiritual union in the same way because there isn’t real commitment present–even if you are engaged. And so sex takes on a flavor that it really wasn’t intended to have.
When you do get married, then, you could still be stuck in that mindset (or your husband could be stuck in that mindset). I received an email recently, for instance, that said,
Before we were married, we had sex a lot. Now, it feels like just the same thing. My husband always wants to rush through it. He feels great, but I never feel like it’s a truly intimate experience the way you talk about in your book.
Very common. The husband rushing through is an issue often even for people who have waited for marriage, so you’re certainly not alone! But it is very common in this situation. You’re married, and you want sex to take on a deeper meaning. You want it to feel sacred. But it’s hard, because that’s not what it was in the beginning.
2. Sex Before Marriage Makes Sex Feel Dirty
The other extremely common problem is that sex feels like it’s somehow wrong. When you have sex before you’re married, you know you’re not really supposed to. And so it’s something forbidden. Then, when you do get married, you feel as if you’re always getting second best. It would be so much better if we had waited. And, if you have any sexual problems or sexual issues, you start to feel like it’s all because you had sex beforehand. It would be bliss and we wouldn’t have all these problems if we had waited.
Let’s try to unpack that. First, let me assure you that many people who wait until they’re married still have sexual problems (I certainly did). The tendency, when you have problems, is to blame yourself, or your husband. But sometimes it’s far more complicated than just “we had sex before we were married”. So please, take that burden off of you.
But the only way to remove that burden is also to forgive yourself. God does not intend for you to beat yourself up in perpetuity for sin. This being Easter Week, it’s a beautiful reminder that Jesus already paid for what you did. If you keep feeling guilty, it’s as if you’re saying that His death didn’t do a good enough job. Would you really like Him to climb back up on the cross again? Of course not. And so maybe this week God is calling you to really examine what the cross means in your marriage.
It means that no matter what you did before your marriage, if you have accepted Christ, before God you are pure.
It means that you have a new start:
If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come!
And it means that even if you did sleep with your husband before you were married when you were already a Christian, Christ’s blood still covers you. (1 John 1:9). You honestly do have a new start. Take it!
If you can forgive yourself, then ask God to let you see that sex is not something dirty. It may have felt dirty if you did it before the wedding, but it is blessed and sacred now–even if it doesn’t always feel that way. That is an objective truth, not just a subjective one. It is true regardless of your feelings. And if you can tell yourself that truth, then it’s more likely that your feelings will eventually jump on board!
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3. Sex Before Marriage Can Make Sex Kinda Lousy
When you have sex before you’re married, chances are it wasn’t a long, drawn out affair. There likely weren’t candles and flowers and lots of romance, the way you may picture your honeymoon or romantic interludes after you’re married. It was likely rather quick. It wasn’t necessarily something planned; it was something that “just happened”.
But if you both have experienced sex primarily in that way–when it is rushed, and hurried, then it likely became far more for him than it is for you. After all, for women to feel good, we tend to need a lot more time and care. It doesn’t really go well with the whole “getting carried away in the moment” thing.
When that’s how sex starts, though, that tends to become your “routine”. And to him, it works, because he gets his release. To you, it often doesn’t. And so sex feels empty, rushed, and not for you. How do you change that?
That’s a big issue, and so we’re going to tackle that tomorrow. It will be a “How to Push the Reset Button on Your Sex Life”, and I hope you’ll come back and join me!
God does not intend for you to beat yourself up in perpetuity for sin.
4. Sex Before Marriage Can Make Married Sex No Longer Exciting
One last problem that many people encounter: sex is no longer exciting. I received an email from a man recently who said this:
Before we were married, my wife (then fiancee) had sex with me all the time. She loved sex! We had a great physical life. Then we got married and it slowly stopped, to the point now where she has completely shut off. I feel as if she sucked me in under false pretences. She was saying, “look how great it’s going to be”, and then she turned into a cold fish. She lied to me!
I understand the man’s comment, but I have to admit that I was a little perturbed. The man was a Christian, and he was saying that all of this was his wife’s fault, because she advertised something to him that she didn’t then follow through with.
However, sin is exciting. The forbidden has an allure. And so before you’re married, sometimes sex is very exciting. Then you get married, and it’s no longer forbidden. And you start to feel guilty for what you did. So you can begin to shut down.
What this man needed to do, I believe, was to honestly see that what they did before marriage was wrong. His wife saw that; he did not. If he could see that he shouldn’t be pining away for something that was wrong, I think they could have made headway in their relationship. It’s very common for people to enjoy sex more before they’re married (the opposite is also common; that’s the weird thing about humans. We don’t all react the same way). But that doesn’t mean that if you’re having a lousy sex life now it would have been better if you had had sex earlier. What it means is that the act of making love first can mess you up later. If you don’t get messed up in the first place, everybody is better off.
So if you found sex better before you were married, the steps are the same. Understand that you’re forgiven. Understand that God sees you as a new person, and that your relationship now is sacred.
And finally, perhaps it’s time for a reset on your sex life. That’s what we’re going to tackle tomorrow for Wifey Wednesday!
And if you want to dig deeper into this subject, or if you want to see more about what my surveys showed about what happens when you wait vs. you don’t wait, pick up The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex! It’s getting some wonderful reviews at Amazon, and I know that it will enhance your marriage!