Do you remember me talking about my favorite undergraduate class, PSYC 361 (Marriage and Family Psychology)? One of the books assigned in that class was called Intimate Deception by P. Roger Hillerstrom. It was such a tremendous book! Though it would be sufficient, Hillerstrom didn’t just say, “The Bible says don’t have sex outside of marriage, so don’t!” He took scientific research and showed us why God’s plan for sexuality is the only healthy way.
Sadly, I don’t think Intimate Deception is still in print, but never fear! He has another book he co-authored with his daughter entitled The Intimacy Cover-Up: Uncovering the Difference Between Love and Sex. I read the majority of this book in one day (and we’ve already discussed the fact that I’m not a voracious reader!), and would strongly recommend this book to singles and married people alike. He and his daughter Karlyn marry a lot of great information and a personal touch and have formed a fantastic new book!
Over the next few blogs, I’ll be discussing a few topics from The Intimacy Cover-Up that got my attention. Today we’ll talk about the pressure of the wedding night.
Though Hillerstrom spends the majority of the book talking the effects of premarital sex on a relationship, he does also cover the other side of the equation in his The Other Side of the Coin chapter. Though the majority of couples tend to struggle with keeping their bodies and minds pure until their wedding day, some couples have strong convictions to stay completely or almost completely untouched (e.g., no physical touch at all, only holding hands, only short hugs, no kissing whatsoever, etc.) until after their wedding ceremonies.
In Christian circles, we hear a lot of messages about sex outside of marriage: “It will hurt you emotionally.” “It displeases God.” “You’ll get STDs.” “You’ll get pregnant.” “It can ruin your life” … just to name a few. On the flip side, we also hear: “If you wait until you’re married to have sex, it will be such an amazing experience.” “God will honor your decision to wait.” “Your sex life will be so much more fulfilling.” So, these couples who are convicted to keep their lives completely free of sexual activity eventually get married and then they go into their wedding night thinking everything should fall into place. Unfortunately, that’s unrealistic….
Wedding Night Discouragement
So, to continue our scenario above, Johnny and Susie have refrained from any sexual interaction. They never parked on a dark street to make out. They never sneaked into the house after curfew. In fact, if they were going to be out late, they made sure someone was with them to keep them accountable. Their first kiss was at the altar and now they are ready to take part in this amazing sexual experience couples who wait are supposed to have. But… that’s not quite what happens. She’s embarrassed to undress. He doesn’t know what to do first. “Isn’t this supposed to be natural?”
Media and other sources give off the impression that the wedding night is this time of unbridled, animalistic passion. For some people it might be, but for couples who have never had sex before, it is usually a little less Hollywood and a lot more, “Do we know what we’re doing?” So, couples like Johnny and Susie give into the pressure to have sex immediately (perhaps on their wedding night) and the experience is usually not that great (or even awful) and suddenly bad feelings are associated with sex instead of warm, intimate feelings. “What’s wrong with us? We can’t even have sex right!”
Couples need to progress slowly in the sexual arena when first beginning sexual activity – even after marriage. Even couples who don’t wait until marriage for sex generally follow a progression. They don’t just look at each other, smile, and then hop into bed (most of the time). Usually there is some form of conversation first, touching while dancing or walking together, kissing, undressing, and then sex. For a couple who has guarded their purity so tightly, going from the first peck at the altar to intercourse later that night is a huge leap (and, perhaps for some couples, too far of a leap in one night)!
A Progression is Needed
Hillerstrom covers the natural physical progression of couples in his chapter The Technical Virginity Trap. For couples to jump from their first short kiss into bed is jumping over several progressive steps. You don’t jump into the shower the second you turn on the water. You let the water warm up and then you jump in the shower. So Hillerstrom suggests a counter-cultural approach to the wedding night for those couples who have kept a strict code of conduct during their courtship. Are you ready?
You don’t have to have intercourse on your wedding night.
“Did I hear you, right? You said couples don’t have to have sex on their wedding night?” Yes, you heard correctly. Instead of feeling the pressure to dive under the covers and preform a beautiful song you’ve never practiced before, take it slow. Work through the steps slowly. Soak in a bubble bath together. Spend some time kissing, but only as much as your wife (or, in some cases, husband) is comfortable with at the time. If you take a few (or several) days to work up to sexual intercourse, the experience is bound to be about a thousand times better than if it is done out of “obligation” or expectation on the wedding night.
It Takes Time
Sex is an amazing perk to marriage, but don’t let Hollywood or your friend down the street convince you that you are a weirdo if you don’t immediately become a sexual expert. The reason committed, married couples are said to have a more fulfilling sex life probably come down to two things: trust and practice. The longer you’re married, the better it’s likely to get (assuming your relationship is not in turmoil).
Again, I strongly recommend The Intimacy Cover-Up by P. Roger Hillerstrom and his daughter Karlyn Hillerstrom. Read it, love it, and then buy copies for your friends (family members may find it a bit awkward if you give it to them ~smile~)! Who doesn’t love to read about sex, anyway? ~smile~
What messages and expectations have you heard from others about the wedding night?