Eric & Heather Viets of Preengaged.com provide premarital and pre-engagement counseling and have a fabulous blog that speaks to couples in every stage of the relationship — dating, engaged, and married. So when I considered my blog readers who aren’t yet hitched, but want to prepare themselves for sexual intimacy in marriage, Eric and Heather immediately came to mind. I appreciate them joining us today to answer “How much should you learn about sex before the wedding night?”
What immediately comes to your mind when you hear or read the word ‘SEX’? Do you immediately turn red or giggle? Do you feel ashamed? Do you feel indifferent? Do you get excited? Chances are you experience a few different (and perhaps even conflicting) feelings.
There is such power to the word ‘sex’ and other words pertaining to it. A friend of mine was once in a literature class and the teacher walked to the chalkboard on the first day of class and wrote a crude name for sex. Then, he turned around and explained the origin of the word and after lecturing for a few minutes, he said, “Now that I have your attention . . .” and proceeded to talk about literature. He knew that talking about sex, especially in a taboo way, would get his class’s attention!
Blooming and Confusion
We hear a lot of different ideas about sex and we’re taught a lot of subtle lessons. “Don’t think about sex! It will only tempt you!” or “Think about sex a lot and prepare for it, but don’t do it!” Growing up, I thought about sex a lot; of course, I didn’t broadcast that fact to others. It seemed like something I shouldn’t be thinking about, but my body was changing and the topic popped in my head often. Was that wrong? Should we not think about sex until we’re married? If we should think about sex, how much and in what context?
Personally, I think trying to keep someone over the age of twelve from thinking about sex is a lost cause. We humans are going to think about it. And since we are going to think about sex before marriage, we need to prepare for it; yet, we do need to be careful about how much we dwell on sex before we marry our special someone.
Preparing for an Upcoming Sexual Relationship in Marriage
Here are a few guidelines I recommend in mentally preparing for your upcoming sexual marriage relationship:
1. Prayer is powerful. When you actively think about sex, do so prayerfully. Ask God to guide you as you learn. Ask Him to keep your mind pure and to help you flee from sexual temptation and youthful lusts. Thinking about sex with no boundaries is a sure recipe for failure. The more we mentally dwell on the topic of sex, the more our bodies physiologically prepare for sex and desire sex. Married couples, if they are honest when asked, will also tell you that the more they find themselves thinking about sex, the more they want it!
2. Study about sex in the daylight. Nighttime brings temptations that daytime does not bring. There is something about the darkness and quiet that makes our minds wander places which are not righteous. For example, you may find yourself lying in bed having sexual fantasies if you study the mechanics of sexual interaction in the quiet of your dimly lit bedroom. Such fantasies can lead to bodily reactions and masturbation which often leads to shame and guilt. Such shame and guilt can make the vicious cycle repeat; so, for the sake of your purity, we recommend only studying the topic of sex in the light of day . . . preceded and followed by prayer.
3. Never turn to pornography or erotica to learn about sex. The sex industry would like us to believe that the sexual experiences featured in porn and erotica are normal, but it is far from normal. It highlights the sexual act as one of primarily receiving (or even downright taking) pleasure instead of displaying the tender, giving experience to each other which God intended sex to be in marriage. To study the logistics and mechanics of the sexual relationship (i.e., what physiologically happens from beginning to end of a sexual encounter), consult Christian books written to help singles prepare for marriage with textbook type drawings which portray the act of sex in a non-erotic way. One book we strongly recommend is Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman. But, caution! Before marriage, read the first four chapters only. And then, take the book with you on your honeymoon. ~smile~
4. Prepare for your wedding night. Please don’t focus all your attention on the wedding and then find yourself in a nice hotel suite with your new mate expecting everything to fall into place naturally. Sex is an activity which takes practice to achieve more skill. Therefore, if one were to grade the first time, we would surmise it would often get a “C-” for most couples. This is okay as the couple is just starting to learn each other, each other’s bodies, and each other’s desires. Sex often gets better the more you do it. Don’t believe the Hollywood lie that your first time has to be magical. Such an expectation will likely let you down.
5. Consider getting outside counsel. “You mean, talk to someone else about sex? That’s crazy talk!” In our premarital counseling program, we have an entire two-hour session on preparing for the wedding night and the sexual relationship in marriage. We cover a lot of ground including both the male and female sexual response cycles and all of our couples have found this session very beneficial. It is important to discuss together who you will go to for counsel regarding this sensitive topic should issues arise; and, if those issues do arise, seek out a Christian professional who treats the topic biblically and with gentleness.
6. For the ladies . . . Ladies, prepare for your wedding night by packing something to wear that makes you feel beautiful. For your first time, it is wise to use lubricants while your body adjusts to having sex. Also, think about how you will feel most comfortable undressing in front of your husband for the first time. If she’s nervous and wants to reveal herself much more slowly, some couples start by the woman getting into a bubble bath before the man comes in and joins her. There is nothing wrong with easing into it! It is much better than rushing it and feeling frustrated and let down.
7. For the guys . . . Gentlemen, plan something for your wedding night. I’ve heard of a man washing his new wife’s feet as a symbol of his commitment to love and serve her (see John 13). Some men bring a gift and a thoughtful card. Think of a way to transition from the hectic wedding day into a calm, unforgettable wedding night. Remember that even though you may be raring to go, your new bride may be nervous. So, plan to move into your first sexual experience slowly and lovingly. Think of several ways to make her feel special and beautiful on your wedding night (gifts, verbal compliments, poems, previously written letters, etc.). This is the first of many sexual experiences and you’ll want her to associate sex with positive feelings! ~smile~
8. Don’t discuss sex in detail with your sweetie until about one month before the wedding. When you do talk about it, do so in the daylight and in a public place. You’ll obviously want to use your indoor voice. ~smile~ You can talk about your expectations and fears, but again, do so prayerfully. Those last few weeks before the wedding can be some of the most tempting times because you will begin to feel married as you make countless decisions together. It’s during those times you will want to beef up your accountability and take extra precautions.
It’s Time to Think about Sex
In college, a dorm-mate of mine happily shared her notes with me from class one afternoon. Her female professor (my understanding is that this class was comprised solely of ladies) had talked to her class about the stages human bodies go through during a sexual experience. That may be the only lesson those girls remember from her class as I’m sure they were all ears! It’s a favorite topic across the board. Her professor told the class that young people are told not to think about sex, but she had a different belief. She thought singles should think about, understand, and prepare for a sexual relationship… and I agree with her!
If you endeavor to keep your heart and mind pure as you prepare to love one man or one woman forever, you can study the sexual relationship in a godly context. We want you to go into your wedding night filled with wonder at the mystery of God’s plan for sex and marriage, but we don’t want you to be fearful. The more you understand about sex and the way God intended it to be, the less fearful you should be. Knowledge is power! ~smile~
What questions or concerns do you have about your future sexual marriage relationship?
Eric and Heather Viets write at PreEngaged.com, a resource blog which aids Christian singles and couples to prepare well for marriage and spouse selection.
12 thoughts on “How Much Should You Learn about Sex before the Wedding Night?”
Eric & Heather, thank you for speaking about this! Needed more than you may know.
Ironically (and statistics back this up) those of us who are unmarried already know too much of what we shouldn’t in regards to sexual intimacy (and in great detail). What we often don’t know is what we should: biblical truth surrounding it. Truth about biblical sexuality is deadly to Satan and crucial for us. Part (not all, but part) of what God used to rescue me from pornography was when I began to earnestly seek the truth about sexual intimacy in what all too often are deemed the “wrong” places: marriage websites, blogs, and forums (read: off-limits to singles). Those are the only places I found honest answers to my questions.
We need a solid, biblical view of what sexual intimacy means and entails. We need encouragement to remain pure ourselves–and why–and be challenging and encouraging others with the truth. Jessica Harris nails this very well in the following post:
Thank you for the compliment! It is very true that when we start learning the truth (and applying it), it definitely tears down negative strongholds in our lives. The truth really does set us free!
Thank you for the link to Jessica’s site – I’ll check it out!
Hopefully, you’ll also stop by our site as well as we cover many topics for dating and engaged people (married people like us too! ~smile~)!
Re: Hopefully, you’ll also stop by our site as well as we cover many topics for dating and engaged people (married people like us too! ~smile~)!
Thanks for the welcome–will do! My passion is ministry (Lord willing, somehow) to the group before yours 🙂 (i.e. those who would love to be married or even date, but may be discouraged in not having found the person God may have for them).
Not being aware of many blogs or web presence directly talking about this, I’ve started the following website (very much a work in progress):
I agree with the need to discuss things before the wedding. My fiancée and I had a very frank discussion a few weeks before our wedding which helped both of us know what to expect for our wedding night and honeymoon, both positive and negative. Because of physical issues, we ended up not being able to consummate physically until several weeks after the wedding, so it was a good thing we’d talked beforehand. We avoided disappointment and had a great time, and our marriage and sex life got started off on the right foot. Since then, my wife and I always counsel young couples to have the kind of conversation with the guidelines you outlined in this article.
I’m so glad you and your (now) husband took the time to prepare on this topic. We work with couples who either know too much too early or abstain from the topic until the vows are exchanged.
We often tell our couples that if marriage is the ice cream sundae, then sex is the cherry on top. The cherry doesn’t make the sundae, but it enhances the sundae. So, for couples who do not consummate their marriage on their honeymoon, they still have a lifetime ahead of themselves to enjoy each other. I’m happy for you two that you worked through it with maturity and have come out of it successful!
actually, I’m the (now) husband! I probably should mention that we avoided discussing sex in detail until just before marriage. Also, we were both virgins when we got married, which wasn’t easy, but we were thankful that we made it to marriage that way and were able to give ourselves to each other without a sexual past to worry about. However, I agree with your analogy of the cherry on top. It took us a while to get there and it wasn’t even all that great until after she had her first baby, but we had plenty of fun in other ways until then. And because we laid in good foundations, our marriage has been great and wonderful since then.
I was married last December (wooooo!) and I just have to say, learning as much as I could about sex before the wedding night was really helpful for me. I was engaged for about six months, and I was very careful before we got engaged to guard my thoughts (because I wouldn’t want to imagine having sex with this guy and end up marrying someone else someday), but once we got engaged, I was maybe one part excited and four parts terrified. The information that stuck out most in my head of what I’d been told by friends who had had sex was that it hurts a lot, and that it’s fun. I didn’t really know how those two could go together, but it didn’t sound good to me. I had some really wonderful married women in my life who were able to talk to me about what to expect and my fiance and I had some really great conversations that helped to ease my mind. It might be because I was still kind of scared so I had low expectations, but our wedding night was awesome. I would give it an A+. Sure, we’ve technically had better sex since, but that night was great.
Long story short, learning about sex in more detail than I had before was really helpful for me to ease my anxieties and make me a little bit more excited for it and a little bit less scared.
Wonderful that you were able to glean good information before going into your honeymoon. And also wonderful that your husband was open to discussing it and receiving what you knew to help your first night be great.
Since sex is something that is a skill, we often tell our couples who are inexperienced going into marriage that it was just be “okay.” If it’s better than their expectations, then that’s great; otherwise, they don’t have so far to fall with expectations Hollywood has engendered in our hearts and minds.
Congratulations on your marriage and blessings to you both!
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One little piece of advice I would like to offer: if your wedding reception finishes late and you are tired, cuddle till you fall asleep and wait for the morning after. We didn’t arrive at the motel until nearly 1am, tired and worn out. We had more time in the morning and just sleeping in each other’s arms was so special. My grandmother made me a special “see through” nightie for the event which I put on in the bathroom and he was happy to remove it himself the next morning!
That is great advice! It is consistent with what we counsel to our premarital couples when we have our session on physical intimacy in marriage in our premarital program. Ultimately, if *either* person is too tired, it’s much better to wait until the next day. Plus, we have advised that when the *option* to wait until the next day is truly realized, it brings more peace to the process and often with that mindset, consummation will more than often happen on the wedding night because they’re not stressed out about it. But, if it happens on the next day, that’s good too. ~smile~ Thank you for your insight!
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