Waiting For Sex Until Marriage

From a reader:

I stumbled upon your blog today, by total accident and I found it to be really intriguing, to say the least I am no your target audience. Here is a little back ground: I am a sex-positive woman who was never raised with the expectation of chastity from my parents nor religion. My mom always told me I should wait till I felt the time was right for me; that sex is more about love than marriage (and she waited). Even with no parental nor religious expectation of abstinence only until marriage, a rather secular and liberal upbringing I still suffered from really severe sexual dysfunctions. I was diagnosed with the triple threat of vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, and vaginismus. I figured out that something was amiss during sexual experiences that I had in my late teens and early 20s (which were all in the confines of monogamous relationships that lasted anywhere from 3 to 6 mo

nths) not really going the way I thought they should. I finally went to see a nurse at my university's health center and we went over my symptoms, with a quickly and excruciating examination, she diagnosed me.

I struggled enough in a rather awful relationship, within it I was diagnosed, being berated for being unable to have intercourse. Probably the lowest blows were when he told that no one would ever love me because I couldn't have sex with them and that he had a hard time loving me because of it. Luckily, I found my way out of that awful relationship. I found myself with a new guy, who was just coming out of a 5 year long monogamous relationship where sex was a constan

t, but he was ready and willing to (in my eyes) settle for me and my broken vagina. And would you believe it, almost all my problems vanished and we were able to reach a full level of intimacy just a few months into our relationship. It was a huge deal, of course, bu it really didn't feel like it. I don't know how to describe it. It just sort of happened. There was no planning, no candles, no music, no ceremony, no real romance, no fancy lingerie. But I wouldn't trade it for the world because it was perfect, and it was right for me.

Reading the letter of the woman with FSD really struck me, I cannot even fathom what it would have been like to find out, on my wedding night, that I was unable to have sex. I think that is what bothers me about the perpetuation of concept of the wedding night being a person, particularly a woman's, first time. I feel like a wedding makes you not only exhausted but also pressured to go through with it. What if you're not ready on your wedding night? I feel like you're not given a choice to say 'no' because it is a cultural and religious expectation to consummate the marriage as soon as you find yourself alone in a room, with a bed, with your partner. I think the emphasis on virginity is damaging because it tells girls that all they have to offer their husbands is their purity; when she cannot fully 'give' herself to him she may feel she is useless. Not only that, sometimes a woman's virginity/purity is sometimes held against her in such severe ways she can be murdered or jailed for any suspicion impurity, but I am sure you know this.

I find it really hard to swallow when people just assume that if you're having sex outside of marriage that you're automatically promiscuous. I have no urge nor desire to sleep around; I honestly don't think I could bring myself to do so. I also don't like it when people belittle the intimacy I share with partner, which apparently, is only amazing and meaningful and beautiful if we have rings on our fingers.


Thank you very much for this well thought out email. I am happy to address your thoughts and concerns. While I cannot speak for all Christians and all old-fashioned girls, I would imagine that many of them share my view points.

First let me express sympathy for your difficulties with sexual dysfunction. It is a very difficult thing to deal with especially as a teenager/young adult. This can be a formative time in a woman's life and experiencing a crisis with your sexuality during this time is unfortunate.

You had commented, "Even with no parental nor religious expectation of abstinence until marriage, [and] a rather secular and liberal upbringing, I still suffered from really severe sexual dysfunctions."

It concerns me that you are indirectly attributing these very serious sexual dysfunctions, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, and vaginismus, to a religious, conservative upbringing. These are medical, not social, diagnoses. Possible causes of vulvodynia include, genetic predisposition to inflammation, allergy or other sensitivity (for example: oxalates in the urine), an autoimmune disorder similar to lupus erythematosus or to eczema or to lichen sclerosus, infection (e.g., yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, HPV), injury, and neuropathy--including an increased number of nerve endings in the vaginal area.

You had expressed that "sex is more about love than marriage," and with this I agree. I believe this statement to be very true. For a Christian (and many non-Christians) love is about commitment. I believe Jesus Christ loves me and you, and that he will continue to love me unfailing. Christ is the perfect example to me of love and I know that will never change or waiver. He is committed. This is the kind of love I am committing to my husband when I say "I do." Before I committed to giving my husband my body, we wanted to both commit to giving our heart and soul. Unfortunately, there is divorce and there is heartache. You experienced that heartache when your boyfriend left you because you were unable to have sex. The hope would be that a man and woman be so devoted after making a marital commitment that learning of sexual dysfunction after marriage, for him or her, would be an obstacle that could be lovingly worked through as a team.

You make an interesting point about the pressure a woman (or man) may feel on their wedding night. While most couples feel excitement and anticipation regarding their first sexual encounter, many feel nervousness, shyness, or even fear. I strongly encourage all couples, old-fashioned Christian couples or "secular liberal" couples alike, to discuss at length their feelings and expectations about sex and their first time. Premarital counseling is a great way to open dialog about these topics.

You wrote, "I think the emphasis on virginity is damaging because it tells girls that all they have to offer their husbands is their purity; when she cannot fully 'give' herself to him she may feel she is useless. Not only that, sometimes a woman's virginity/purity is sometimes held against her in such severe ways she can be murdered or jailed for any suspicion impurity, but I am sure you know this."

Fortunately, the emphasis on virginity applies to men as well. A Christian man is taught the principle of purity the same as a Christian woman. I know many, many men who believe and live this principle. It seems to me, your fears may be based upon pairing yourself up with a man who will let you down. If that is the case, find a new man. Of course, we all make mistakes. But luckily, most Christians believe in the concept of repentance. Both men and women can be forgiven of choices they've made in the past.

I am so grateful to live in a country where such severe consequences for expressing ones sexuality do not exist. However, women everywhere still seem to be the party to blame in instances of promiscuity. It is an unfortunate cultural response for women to be labeled and called names while men are congratulated and given a pat on the back. Unfortunately, for this, there is no quick fix.

You said, "I also don't like it when people belittle the intimacy I share with my partner, which apparently, is only amazing and meaningful and beautiful if we have rings on our fingers." My intent is never to belittle the beliefs of others that don't happen to align with mine. I'm confident sex outside of marriage can be amazing and meaningful and beautiful. But I also believe that intimacy is improved when a couple is willing to be more vulnerable with one another. A public, formal, legal commitment like marriage can instill greater confidence in the longevity and stability of the relationship, which enables the couple to be more vulnerable with one another.

There has been much research done for and against waiting to have sex until after marriage. But I hope some of these points could serve as a starting point to understanding why many of my readers and I have chosen to work towards a long-lasting, monogomous relationship that is formalized by the commitment of marriage.

Readers, your kind, well-intended thoughts are welcome.


  1. Great thoughts, Gwen. I myself waited until just over a year ago to have sex (on my wedding night). I was nervous, but really, I would have been nervous at any other time. My new husband, the committed man he is, was patient and willing to wait until the next day if need be.

    I'd also like to emphasize to the writer that the emphasis on female-only purity is not a Christian value, it's a specific social standard. As Christians, BOTH men and women are called to be pure!

    " The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! ...

    18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. " (from 1 Corinthians 6)

  2. A timely study:


  3. I love how you put things, Gwen. As a Christian I strongly believe in waiting until my wedding night to make love to the man I'm in love with, but not only for religious/biblical reasons. It is something that I am definitely more excited than nervous about it because I see it as the ultimate way to show your love and connect with that other person in the deepest possible level. What better way to celebrate your union than by that?

  4. I always thought it strange to go from nothing to everything in one night as well. I know many people who only kiss before marriage, are never alone, never naked, never even shared a bed before. Honestly, I really appreciate my experiences with "fooling around", without sex or oral sex, before I actually lost my virginity. I wish that more "waiting until marriage" couples could be given the message that you don't have to do everything in one night, on your wedding night. I honestly cannot imagine what it would be like to have my first sight of a naked man and my first sexual encounter happen on the same night! That seems quite overwhelming.

  5. I waited until I was married to have sex. I also had vaginismus. It took my husband and I nearly a year and a half after our wedding day to have intercourse. This was finally achieved after months of counseling, along with a 10 step program.
    Many people may think that this would cause harm to our marriage -- but it's quite the opposite. We found many ways of "making love" without having actual intercourse.
    Of course, it was extremely frustrating and heartbreaking at times. But I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world! We grew closer together through that challenge.
    I am so glad that I was in not only a committed relationship -- but a covenant relationship. My husband and I both knew that we had forever to figure it out and we were in it for the long haul.
    I'm happy to report that six years later we have an amazing sex life that is more than we could have ever dreamed. I don't think we would be as close, have as great of communication skills, or have such a fantastic love life if we hadn't faced those challenges early on.

  6. I waited because I didn't want to experience that intimacy with anyone if I wasn't going to be with them forever. Sex deepens the feelings for a person and makes heartaches so much more.

  7. I was taught to wait until marriage for sex and had planned on it. I did fool around some before getting married, but never had full intercourse. Comparing the relationship I have with my husband to the guys I fooled around with, I can now see the emptiness and selfishness with the other guys. I don't believe that sex could be as good without that relationship of marriage simply for the connection and selflessness that is involved.

  8. Both my dear husband and I waited until our wedding night to do it all and yes though we were both somewhat shy at first, it was truly amazing to know that this was the first time for both of us. It was an absolutely WONDERFUL picture of Jesus Christ's pure love for us displayed in the husband and wife relationship~ Wait girls, wait!! It is soooo worth it!! :)

  9. very very interesting blog. and i am 100% WAITING!

  10. I experienced sexual problems in the early years of my marriage. While it was difficult and we're still working on things, it is such a comfort to me to know that he will be by my side forever. I can't imagine fearing that I may have to tackle my issues on my own one day or start over with someone else. While I realize the possibility of death or divorce, we aren't planning on it. We are taught, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves His church." My husband loves me that way. It makes sexual dysfunction a lot easier to deal with when you know that and have committed to each other forever, no matter what. As for my wedding night, it was one of the most perfect nights of my life. The perfect end to a perfect day.

  11. Thank you, Gwen, for saying what you said. I love your blog. You're so well spoken and open minded and it makes me very happy to see that. Your views seem to be the same as mine on marriage and commitment and sex. And I'm sorry that people have belittled this reader for her personal choice, but that is her choice to make. It may not coincide with mine or many others, but it is no person's place to judge.

  12. An interesting study was just released stating the benefits of delaying sex until marriage. Of course, every individual has the right and ability to choose and research always has flaws.

    The study involved 2,035 married participants including those who had sex within a month of meeting (776), those who had sex after a month but within two years (923), and those who waited until they were married (336) to have sex.

    According to the study, people who waited until marriage:
    *rated sexual quality 15% higher than people who had premarital sex
    *rated relationship stability as 22% higher
    *rated satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher


  13. Here is a link to the actual study which is now published in Journal of Family Psychology, Dec 2010.

    I'm a big fan of actually checking out the research methodology and sample etc.

  14. Thank you all for your insightful and kind comments. It's so great to hear your thoughts.

  15. Very interesting to read both the letter and your response to it. I decided not to have sex until after I was married and we actually did not consummate the marriage until three days after. I think it's more about respecting that Godly gift of procreation and it's also about focusing the relationship on an emotional, mental, and deeper connection rather than that of a physical relationship (though that is quite important it is for later in the relationship). I think that being sexually active too early in the relationship screws with your mind and emotions. I am glad I waited! And glad we waited even after I was married.


  16. I waited until marriage too. It has been very reassuring to know that my husband is staying by my side even though I've had some sexual dysfunctions.

  17. Great response Gwen!

    Coming from a girl who waited until she was married and did not fool around beforehand, my wedding night/first time was so fun and beautiful! Not overwhelming at all.

    You don't have to put pressure on yourself because you're with the one you love no matter what happens-and you have plenty of time to learn and have fun learning it!

  18. I love that fact that you're standing up for Christian values. Purity and chastity are such precious gifts. I have yet to know of someone who has experienced a bad sex life after waiting for marriage. Where purity is preserved, passion is enhanced. That's my motto!

  19. Gwen, I love the honest, objective view you take on abstinence until marriage aside from the standard Christian code of conduct. I love Jesus, and I believe the Bible, but I also think it's important to evaluate our beliefs and thus discover all the excellent practical life applications there are. The Bible's teachings are not just good in theory; there's genuine value in waiting for a lifelong monogamous relationship before becoming that vulnerable with someone.

  20. My husband and I also waited until marriage. after 3 years we were ready to go! that is, right up until the day of the wedding. however, since we had a great relationship, and my parents taught me how to talk about sex, even while waiting, hubby and I were able to laugh together and be nervous together and be kind to each other. with a lifetime ahead of us, we have had time to develop our love life in security.

    now my sister has a medical issue with wart like growths, (not an SDT) that makes sex painful. but again, in the safety of a marriage, she and her husband work together to make a good love life.

  21. While I respect the choice of those waiting, I just wanted to pipe in and say that I did not wait, I'm currently living with my partner (unmarried) and I don't regret it. I had a healthy, enjoyable sex life with many partners. They were respectful to me, I to them, and we had clear and talked about boundaries and expectations. One boundary I had was waiting until I graduated high school to lose my virginity- although other types of fooling around were fully enjoyed from about 8th grade on. The relationships ranged from serious to mutually understood flings. I wouldn't take back any of those experiences in a second, and after 4 serious long term sexual relationships, interspersed with several non-serious sexual relationships, I feel completely satisfied and comfortable with settling down and being monogamous with one partner. I don't wonder what's out there, I've done everything I've wanted to do, I was extremely safe- two forms of birth control, one of which was of course a condom to protect as much as possible from STD's, annual well woman visits that included a full STD screen- and I had the experiences I wanted and needed.

    There is, without a doubt, a very palpable difference between "just for fun between friends" sex and "I really care about you sex". And honestly, instead of thinking that the former diminishes the latter, I'm grateful that I've experienced both and that I know the wide array of experiences there are in the spectrum of human sexuality. I know how much more powerful "I really care about you sex" can be, and I appreciate the way that sex and intimacy can bind two people together in a relationship.

    Again, I totally respect the choice to wait, but I do take a slight issue with how the tone of such conversations often trends into using negative terms- belittles, diminishes, etc. With all due respect, if one has waited until marriage and has only had sex with one's spouse, I think it's a bit presumptuous to assume the experiences of those who didn't wait. I had a fabulous experience not waiting, just as I'm sure many people have fabulous experiences waiting. We all must be responsible for our bodies and our hearts and respect our personal morals and values regarding our sexuality. For some that means waiting. For others that means responsible exploration. I appreciate the moral differences between the two, but I get uncomfortable when one extrapolates one's own moral boundaries and issues onto another who doesn't have them. So please, to those of you who waited, keep in mind that while you may have been disappointed or sad if you didn't wait, those of who didn't are usually happy with our choice. It wouldn't be fair of me to say I "felt sorry" for those who waited who couldn't experience what I did, and it isn't any more fair for those who waited to imply it either, you know?

  22. I'll be honest, my fiance and I didn't wait before our wedding to have sex. We didn't just jump into bed together or anything - it was about a year after we started dating (and many, many years after we had met in the first place) before we even considered having sex.

    It didn't all happen at once, for which I am eternally grateful for. We built it up slowly, little acts over time that led to the main event later on. We were each other's first times. We were in our mid-twenties. Precautions were used. It was planned (we were on a vacation), it was carefully executed, and I loved every second. So did he.

    I've been asked before if I regret not waiting. The answer is absolutely not. I lost my virginity to the man who I know will become my husband, it wasn't some random man off the street. He's the love of my life, my best friend, and the man I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with and have kids with.

    I respect everyone's choice about when they have sex and who with - I wish more people would respect mine.

  23. Great Post Gwen...and one very dear to my heart. My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We attended a VERY small private school. We both came from strong Christian backgrounds and were very well established and convinced of the truth for ourselves. We had a standard, talked about it, battled with it at times but held firm.

    People's responses to our abstinence were always interesting. The people who knew us and knew God saw it as an awesome display of His love and an example. We always knew God had set us apart for His plan, to truly be a representation of love, commitment and purity. To this day we have a passion for teens and young married couples.

    It was absolutely a struggle at times!! We used to describe it as "the black cloud." We would find ourselves coming back from a date, after having spent so much intimate quality time in conversation and emotion, that sexual intimacy almost felt like it was the next step. And it was! But, reserved only for marriage. The interesting thing is that we knew what intmacy was without it, which made us what the next level even more.

    I can honestly say that the best gift we gave each other was our virginity on our wedding night. It was beautiful. After years of waiting, we reached the first peak in our intimacy. It was like the slow reveal of a masterpiece and the awe that followed still lingers. I am thankful for the relationship we have and how it continues to grow!! God honors faithfulness...and the benefits are loooong lasting.

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