My last post on What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night? received a very interesting comment. Here’s part of it:
“… I think the title needs to be changed. It should be, ‘What Should a Christian Virgin Groom Know about His Wedding Night?’ For many, this experience has already taken place with the one they are going to marry. And, for many this experience has taken place with someone they are not going to marry.”
I did indeed write that post with a virgin groom in mind, actually in response to a request for such information. But the commenter brings out a great point: Most spouses do not enter marriage as virgins. Even many lifelong Christians were sexually active before the I-Do’s — with their own spouse or with others in their past.
So what do those of us with sexual baggage need to know as we enter marriage?
First, come clean. Explain your sexual history to your spouse. Your spouse should know what they’re getting into so that they can help you through it. If you’ve had multiple sexual partners, own up to any residual consequences and offer to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. If your fiancé has questions, answer them directly, not withholding what they need to hear (“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Proverbs 24:26).
You don’t need to share every detail. An overall accounting is reasonable, but providing specifics can cause your mate unnecessary hurt. Your beloved doesn’t need to have heart-rending images planted in his/her head that won’t go away. They need to know enough to be able to walk beside you as you forge a new life together, one with healthy sexual intimacy.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9
Seek healing. Address and resolve lingering pain and misconceptions. Don’t simply expect the wedding vows to erase the wounds of the past.
If sex has been a negatively charged experience, you need to intentionally change your view to appreciate sex as a gift from God to marriage. If you’ve developed harmful patterns of behavior, you need to intentionally replace those with new approaches. If you have memories of past sexual experiences, you need to intentionally move past them so you can build a fresh, better intimacy with your beloved.
Your sexual past has impacted your current thinking. Understand your history and deal with the brokenness before it unintentionally becomes a wedge in your marital intimacy. Decide whether you need to talk with a friend, a mentor, a pastor, or a counselor. Find books, websites, or blogs which address your circumstances. Attend classes, conferences, or support groups as needed. Seek the healing you need to enter your marriage with a godly understanding of sex and a fresh start for your sexual intimacy.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Focus on your spouse. Whatever happened before, however someone else behaved or hurt you or enjoyed something, this is a new moment. You have both the challenge and the opportunity to create a beautiful, sexually intimate life with your spouse. Focus on this person you married, figuring out on what they like.
Sure, a few things translate to your new situation — like Tab A still fits into Slot B — but your spouse is a unique person with their own experiences, desires, and preferences. Your spouse may have a lower or higher drive than prior partners. Your spouse may like to be touched in different places and with different intensity. Your spouse may be less or more willing to do certain sexual activities. Your spouse may have sexual baggage of their own. Learn how to navigate sexual intimacy with the person you married.
If people hurt you sexually in your past, remember that they are not your spouse. Yes, you may find sexual moments that trigger bad memories, but immediately return your mind to your spouse and the encounter at hand. Focus your energy on this one person — the mate you chose and have a lifetime with. Over time, you two can build a sexual relationship that is unique to the two of you and satisfying for both.
“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10
Take time. Allow yourselves time to move past your sexual baggage and build healthy sexual intimacy instead. If your sexual past rears its ugly head, whether in your first year of marriage or down the road, take a deep breath and handle it. Don’t assume that your sexual baggage will weigh you down forever. You can break free and create something beautiful.
Remember that you are in this for the long haul, a lifetime of love. You have time to let go of the past and build a better future. Each step in the right direction leads you to the destination you desire — satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage. Celebrate the small successes and work through the gaps. Invite God in and let Him edge you forward to where He wants you to be.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
I definitely entered my own marriage with sexual baggage. Sure, I wish I’d been a virgin when I married, but my story didn’t end after those chapters. God had more to write. I sought God’s forgiveness, forgave myself, and forged a beautiful, God-honoring sexual relationship with my husband. It can be done.
Our God is a God of second chances. Take Him at His word that He can restore and renew your life, even in the area of sexual intimacy.
I welcome you to share your own story of brokenness to healing below; it may inspire others.
Or share where you are struggling with sexual baggage from your past, in hopes that I or others will have wise advice to heal your marriage.