I am THRILLED to feature a guest post by the Vintage Housewife herself. Christine and I are basically opposites, except for that whole "saving sex for marriage thing," but we totally respect our differences. She has undertaken the unique project of learning what housekeeping was like in the 1950s, straight from vintage guides themselves! You gotta respect a woman who understands the importance of primary sources. Today she's writing about one of the failures of purity culture--the lack of frank discussions about sex. Just a gentle reminder to my readers that I actively seek out guest writers with opinions different from my own. I absolutely love what Christine has written today, and I'm honored to feature her on my blog.
I was a virgin on my wedding night, and a pretty “virginal” one at that. My new husband and I had never seen each other naked or done any of the activities that would follow that step (blow jobs, hand jobs, etc.), so most sexual activities were new to us in this union of “Holy Matrimony.” The main factor for us in this decision was religious reasons – we felt that God wanted us to be as pure as possible for our wedding night.
Looking back, this is one of the best decisions my husband and I made in our relationship, and we both agree on that. There would have been a lot of guilt and resentment if we would have gone against our consciences to do something we knew was wrong. It was definitely the right decision for us, so perhaps the “worst” part of this title is a little misleading. The reason why I put that there, however, is because being a “hard-core virgin” on my wedding night presented some problems for my marriage that I never anticipated. I wish that people would warn other dating, abstinent Christians of these things. They need some sort of disclaimer, like, “This is what’s right, and it will be very advantageous to your relationship, but here is what you’re going to struggle with because of this choice.” I’ll go through the pros and cons of our decision so you can see what we went through on the “other side” of that magical wedding night – we are now almost four years into a happy, fulfilling marriage, so I think I have some authority to speak on the topic.
BEST THING EVER
(I’ll gloss over these quickly because they’re the ones that are preached to everyone on “why to remain abstinent”).
1. An obvious benefit of being virgins on your wedding night is that neither of you have been with anyone else. You don’t have to worry about being compared and thinking, “Oh no, am I the best he ever had? Does he regret this decision? Am I good enough?” He has nothing to compare it to, so you’re obviously the best.
2. Beyond the comparison issue, neither of you bring the emotional baggage that comes with having multiple sex partners. Any exes are pretty PG, so no one has to harbor the anger and jealousy that can come with the thought of your partner being with someone else.
3. STDs are clearly not going to be an issue.
4. Saving yourself for marriage builds a lot of self-control, and this is a quality that carries over into the marriage realm too. I’m not worried that my husband will cheat on me. I’m sure that this is mostly because we’re in a good relationship, however I also know that if he were ever tempted to stray, he has the self-control to “keep it in his pants” and not just go with how he’s feeling in a moment. It takes strength to be passionately with someone for years and not sleep with them just because you don’t believe it is right. That strength we built is useful in other areas of our marriage too.
WORST THING EVER
(I’ll go into a little more detail on these, because I don’t feel like people talk about them enough).
1. There is a huge mental/emotional block that comes with suddenly becoming sexually active. There is nothing else on earth that is completely forbidden one second, and then with a few “I do’s,” it’s suddenly not only permissible, but essential to the health of your relationship. That is super strange. I was supposed to be “pure pure pure” one night and then a veritable porn star the next. That’s impossible. I definitely struggled with this. For a long time, sex felt “dirty,” and I felt guilty for doing it even though I knew it was okay. I really blame society for this: they’ve set up this virgin/whore dichotomy where women can’t be righteous in God’s eyes and still enjoy a healthy sexuality. Why is this? The Bible is full of sensuality (Um. Have you read Song of Solomon?), but I couldn’t seem to grasp that concept. For the first few months of our marriage, that made me feel like an extremely inadequate wife. My husband is great and was obviously more than understanding (after all, guys are “supposed” to be sexual, so he didn’t really have the same block but understood why I did), but I still felt like such a loser for not being able to do an instantaneous mind switch on this topic.
2. For a while, you’ll have no idea what you’re doing. People make jokes about “awkward honeymoon sex,” but for real – it’s so strange. I mean, prior to my wedding night, no one had seen me naked since I was in diapers. Now I was supposed to confidently stride around a honeymoon suite naked and jump my new husband every chance I had? Weird. Also, there’s just the mechanics of sex in general. I realize that sex itself isn’t that difficult (after all, teenagers do it), but I would argue that good sex takes time to figure out. Especially when I’d never “explored myself” or my husband prior to this – how were we supposed to know what felt good and what didn’t? In short, we didn’t know. So we just kept trying different stuff. The awkwardness is cute on the honeymoon, like, “Oh, look at us, so new to all this…ha ha ha!” but as the months roll by and orgasms aren’t easy and mind-blowing, frustration sets in. It starts to cause tension – is something wrong with me? Him? Both of us? Do we “practice” more often or just give up for a while? And it can cause division in your relationship. Sex was the #1 reason my husband and I fought in our first year of marriage, which is something I never would have expected! Fights about sex? What? But apparently that’s one of the top two causes of marital discord in the country (the other one is finances).
3. The idea of “sexual compatibility” is pretty deceiving. This one will link to #2. People talk about making sure that you’re “sexually compatible” with your partner prior to marrying them, and this was something I struggled with a lot at the beginning. I felt that if two people were “sexually compatible,” then they would quickly understand each other’s preferences and rhythms (because theirs were the same, right?), and sex would become mind-blowingly fantastic after a handful of tries. When sex wasn’t instantly amazing, I started to wonder if maybe my husband and I weren’t “sexually compatible.” That was frustrating. I would never cheat on him, obviously, but I started to wonder if maybe I had given up a chance for better sex by marrying him. I wondered if maybe I should have slept with more people to learn who was really best in bed. Ugh – I feel so horrible even typing those words because they’re so ridiculous and selfish, but that’s how I felt. I’m sure other new brides have felt this way too. Now, four years in, I can say that our sex life has gotten consistently better from Day 1 until now, and I anticipate it will continue to get better in the future. It’s not about finding the person who knows all of your exact sexual preferences immediately; it’s about finding someone who is so emotionally and mentally committed to you that they’re willing to put in the work to learn what you like and do it for you. That’s going to produce some amazing sex.
Beau and I just finished up Night Three of our honeymoon last night! This post has obviously been scheduled in advance, and no, I am not interrupting my steady stream of sex, sleep, alcohol, books, and the beach to update my blog. So here's hoping that all our preparation got us ready for great sex! If not, Christine is right. We have the rest of our lives to communicate our desires and become closer every day.