Where Logic Meets Love

Waiting until Marriage -- Not as Stupid as It Sounds

Sunday, May 8, 2011

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Waiting until Marriage--Not as Stupid as It Sounds | Faith Permeating Life
Two very important notes:
  1. This post is not intended as a judgment on anybody. If you are not married and you have had sex, I am not casting judgment on you. This post is intended as a response to people who judge me for choosing to wait until I was married to have sex.
  2. The usual disclaimer that if you don't want to read about sex, you don't want to think about me having sex, or you are my mother, you should skip this one.
As most of you know, there are a lot of things I've chosen for my own life, many of which happen to be in line with my Catholic upbringing, that I don't necessarily hold to other people. This is hard for some people to understand. For example, Mike and I chose not to kiss until our wedding day, and I think this made some people very uncomfortable because they thought we believed that people who kiss before marriage are terrible and that everybody should be doing what we were doing. I explained in a previous post why I think people sometimes react this way.

So you can imagine, if people who had kissed before marriage felt somehow threatened by us, how much more threatened people who had had sex before marriage felt.

And when people feel threatened or judged, they start coming up not only with reasons why what they're doing is OK, but with reasons why what you're doing is actually a bad idea.

The number one reason I've heard for why you shouldn't wait until marriage to have sex is: What if the sex is really bad? What if you're just not a good match sexually?

I find this argument rather stupid for a number of reasons, but let me use an example from a book I read recently to explain why I disagree with the premise of these questions.

In my quest to read funny books this month, I have ended up with a few recommended books that ended up not only not being that funny but actually being kind of sad. (This may be because I'm overly sensitive.) In Milkrun by Sarah Mlynowski, the main character tries desperately for the entire book to find a boyfriend and basically puts her whole self-worth into whether or not she can find a good guy to date. (Not surprisingly, this was the inspiration for my previous post.)

She eventually ends up with Tim, who is sweet, cute, nice, loving, etc., everything she's looking for, and then she finally gets him to have sex with her. And it's terrible. He ejaculates the moment he enters, then immediately cuddles up with her, seeing no problem with the situation. She's appalled. She doesn't know what to do. She consults with her best friends. She has sex with him again with the same result. She decides she has no choice but to dump him, since "Life's too short for bad sex."

The joke, I guess, is supposed to be that he says he's had sex with thirteen women, and she can't imagine how none of them told him that he was bad at sex.

And yet, she doesn't either.

Saying you should have sex before marriage because "what if the sex is terrible" is operating on the premise that the Tims of the world are just hopeless cases who will never end up marrying anyone unless it's some poor girl who waits until she's locked into holy matrimony to discover his lack of sexual ability.

When Mike and I got married, we didn't know what the hell we were doing. We didn't even know how to kiss. It took a couple of days until he learned to keep his mouth closed and stop slobbering on me. And that was fine. I wasn't horrified or immediately regretting that I'd married him. (Although I did ask my matron of honor, "Is this how kissing is supposed to be? Is it always this wet?") I won't get into the sexual details, but that took quite a while as well. And we're still learning.

Here's the key, though: We have trust. We have open communication. We are not afraid to talk about sex, and not afraid to ask for what we need from each other.

And because we're married, we recognize that we're in this for the long haul. We know we have to put some effort into it. We're not trying to build the best marriage by continually searching for the ideal partner. We're building the best marriage out of what we've got -- the two of us, flaws and all.


  1. Sorry that I'm commenting on this post when you mentioned that it had no comments on it...

    I love that you said "what if it's bad?" is the number one argument against waiting until marriage. I hear that all the time and it has never made sense to me. Now I will just direct them to this post!

  2. @Elizabeth
    Haha, no problem, comments are always welcome!

    I still hear this argument all the time and it makes no sense. It's as if "sexual ability" is this fixed attribute everyone is born with. Do all the people making this argument just think they were awesome at sex from the very first time??

  3. This is beautiful! I think it's awesome you waited to kiss even...I would have saved myself a lot of uh, lusting, if I had done that!

    I always think the argument of "what if you dont' like it," is pretty strange. I had a similar experience to yours during our honeymoon...we had NO idea what we were doing! It took a while to even make "it" happen! Thankfully, an ecclesial leader of ours had counseled us to use sex as a way to bond and communicate, and to remember that you have to start somewhere but it'll just get better! I am SO glad we waited. I feel like waiting helped heighten our emotional and physical intimacy as a married couple that can only be described as beautiful.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

  4. @Hannah
    That's really good that you were counseled that it has "to start somewhere but it'll just get better." I think too often people in the church, particularly those who are pushing abstinence, try to make it sound worth the wait by promising that you will spend your honeymoon have amazing, mind-blowing sex. That's just an unfair setup.

  5. Ha! Yes...I definitely agree! But what can we do except teach our future children to have healthy expectations? Probably not much!

  6. @Hannah
    Yeah, healthy and realistic are the keys. You can set sex up as something awesome worth waiting for without promising that it will be amazing right off the bat. I like what you said about emphasizing sex as a way to bond and communicate--that's totally a healthy way to approach it.

  7. Thank you for posting this. It makes me feel hopeful that someday I will actually find a man who will respect my decision to wait. I made the decision years ago that I wanted to wait until I was married for sex because I don't want to compare my husband to any other man. I don't even care if my husband waited for me, because it's my own choice and like you I won't hold anyone else to my own standards. I just want him to respect my choice. But every guy I have ever dated has dumped me because I don't "put out"... Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. I don't know.

  8. @Anonymous
    Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences with guys! I do believe there are plenty of guys out there who want to wait until they're married to have sex, although I think all the ones I know personally are Christian guys whose decision is tied to their faith. So that's the first thing I'm curious, what your own faith background is and whether you're looking for or open to dating guys with a strong faith.

    In my situation with Mike, he knew my thoughts on physical intimacy in relationships well before we started dating, so there was never a chance that he was going to dump me over it. Although it might be too awkward in a traditional "first date" situation to share your thoughts on sex and marriage, I do think it's a good thing to have a conversation about physical intimacy pretty early on if you start seeing someone regularly, to ensure you're on the same page. And if your group of friends discusses things like this, make your personal decision known, so if a friend wants to set you up with someone they can keep your expectations in mind. It's like I said in this post--the more open and honest you are at the beginning about who you are, the less likely you are to be dumped down the line because your true self was "discovered."

    I don't know if any of this is helpful, but I hope it at least gives you some things to think about. Some types of guys may be more difficult to find, but once you find that one you're meant to be with, it doesn't matter how many (or few) others there are :)

  9. @Anonymous
    Follow up: There was a recent post at the Good Men Project about this! I think they reiterated what I was trying to say here.

  10. Waiting until marriage is a pretty unknown phenomenon in Belgium, I've never met anyone who waited for that purpose. Possible that is because churchgoing is something of the past here, two generations ago people still went, but now it's just births, deaths and marriages when it comes to the church. If you'd tell a guy you wanted to wait for marriage here, you'd get some strange looks. Waiting for a while might be acceptable, but years, nobody would understand. I do see the appeal, for me it's too late of course, but the thought of having sex with just one person sounds good. I'm glad you pointed out that even though you're married the firsts are still awkward, as the whole idea behind it seems to emphasize that it will be this amazing perfect first time. Any first time is generally confusing and awkward. But I can imagine, with the right person, it's just a good laugh for later on when things go 'smoother'. I don't necesarily regret having sex earlier, I never did it without loving the person. But the fact that my last relationship, of two years, ended in brutal heartbreak and me realising what a selfish person I was dating, gave me a slightly different perspective on the whole waiting thing. I'm an emotional person and have been hurt by guys, so sex is something personal to me, so I guess I don't like the thought of having done something so personal with someone who turned out to not really care as much as I thought. So yes, even though it is a rather old-fashioned idea here, it does appeal to me.

  11. @Little redhead
    That's really interesting to hear about the different expectations around sex in Belgium. Even though I don't think everyone needs to wait until marriage to have sex, I do think everyone should decide for themselves what sex means to them and when and with whom they're comfortable having it. Even if you've already had sex, you can still determine for yourself when and if you want to have it again, and I believe it's important to make that decision as independent of cultural pressure as possible. Mike had kissed someone before he met me, but we together decided to wait to kiss each other until our wedding day, even though we didn't know very many people who had done that, and none who waited as long as we did to get married.

    I don't know if you read my post on the myth of amazing first-time sex, but I do think more people would wait to have sex if they knew how awkward and difficult it might be at first, than if they were told it was going to be this amazing and incredible experience right off the bat. I'm glad that I got to go through that learning process with Mike :)


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