When my now-husband and I announced that we were getting married, we were pushed into having the ceremony performed by his family’s local pastor. “Oh, sure,” I said, “How bad could it be?” Little did I know, it could be bad. Real bad. Like, no sex with your fiance for six months bad. Here’s what our vow of abstinence did to our relationship and how those repercussions have leaked into our marriage.
- I’m not even religious. I agreed to do this for my husband because his family is religious and it was important to them that we had a Christian wedding with a Christian pastor. I went into this experience with an open mind and no expectations. When we got to the church, we filled out a questionnaire about life, which included questions about past sexual experiences (um, really?) and partners. The pastor questioned whether or not I was wearing white at the wedding, pointing out that it would be unconventional considering I had been sexually active before. Yes, seriously.
- Our first thought: “Six months is nothing.” We automatically said yes to the vow, without discussing it together first. We promised the pastor, right then and there, that we would not have sex for six months. We prayed about it. We got back in the car and said, “We’ve got this, this is nothing.” WRONG. Six months is a very long time, especially for a young, madly-in-love couple who is used to having sex multiple times a week. Do not ever let anyone tell you differently.
- At first, it was torture. But like, the good kind. It was kind of fun teasing each other, knowing that we had made this promise and that we couldn’t actually follow through with the deed. We would make jokes about it, knowing it would all be over soon. We thought the abstinence was the simplest part of the counseling. Talking would be the hard part. Not touching each other would be easy. Little did we know…
- We actually considered lying about it. Soon, the torture became not so fun and we honestly considered breaking the vow and lying to the pastor. We couldn’t, however, because he started each counseling session by directly asking us, looking in our eyes, and asking if we had kept our promise. For the first time ever, I felt shame about having sex and I was mortified.
- It got really weird. That shame I mentioned? Yeah, it stuck around. I started to feel dirty about the things I wanted to do with my future husband, things I had never second-guessed in the past. My desire for sex actually decreased to the point that I really didn’t care that we weren’t having any. The excitement faded, and I started to get nervous about our wedding night. I felt like I was marrying someone I barely knew, even though I was perfectly happy with him before this experience.
- I didn’t want to have sex on our wedding night. It had been so long and I had unexpectedly struggled so much emotionally that it was difficult for me to get excited enough on our wedding night to actually have sex. I didn’t know how to explain that to my partner, so I faked being sick so that we wouldn’t have to talk about it.
- It was awkward. Having a dry spell before actually being a married couple did not set us off on the right foot. When we were finally able to sleep together during our honeymoon, it was like we had forgotten how to be close, how to touch each other intimately and take comfort in each other. We had sex twice while on our honeymoon. Two people in their twenties. TWICE. My husband admitted that it was awkward for him too. The dry spells come now more and more frequently, like an old habit.
- Our sex is still not the same as before we got married. It has been three years since our streak of abstinence ended, but I don’t think my husband and I have ever had sex as we did before counseling. I am disappointed that we let it take this toll 0n us. I understand that the experience could be rewarding for some couples, specifically the ones who are religious or spiritual, but it had the opposite effect on us.
- I wouldn’t do it again. The entire experience left a bad taste in my mouth. If I could go back, I wouldn’t let my desire to please my husband’s parents put me in a position for an older man to judge me by my sexual experiences. That’s what it boils down to for me — the shame. I don’t know how to have sex like the person I was before I got married. I’m not sure I ever will again. And that really sucks.