PART 4: Waiting While Dating »
Michael was undoubtedly excited about his upcoming wedding day, but you could tell from the look in his eye that he was really excited about his wedding night. Who could blame him? He and Stacy had been dating for close to two years, and now the excitement and anticipation of sexual intimacy in marriage lay before them.
Anticipation was there for sure, but he also had some lingering questions: “After putting on the brakes for so long, what will the accelerator feel like?” “Will I be able to satisfy my bride?” “When it comes to sexual intimacy, how similar and different am I from Stacy?”
If you, like Michael, are anticipating your wedding night, here are some steps you can take as a guy to help get your sexual relationship off to a great start:
1. Be intentional about your marriage preparation.
Keep in mind that women experience their relationship as a whole unit, not as segmented parts like us guys tend to do. So during premarital counseling, initiate the homework assignments with her and practice some of the relationship skills you’re learning. Her appreciation for you will grow exponentially. You might view it as a “sexual intimacy” savings account.
It may sound like I’m encouraging you to have a self-serving agenda: Show her kindness and consideration before your wedding day so that you will get the sex that you want after you walk down the aisle. Listen carefully; I’m not suggesting that you manipulate her in any way! If you do that, she’ll likely see through it, and you’ll end up discouraged and rejected. Show interest in your relationship and soon-to-be bride because she’s worth it!
Loving her unconditionally is God’s intent revealed in His manual. But God is the electrician as well, and He did the wiring. When you approach your fiancée with a sacrificial and connected heart, there will come a time when it will benefit you as well.
2. If there’s been sexual involvement with your fiancée or anyone else, do business with God about it.
God’s not here to condemn you, but He does want an honest response from you. We live in a day where premarital sex is winked at, if not outright encouraged. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but the Bible speaks to the place of sexual purity (1 Corinthians 7:2). When we’ve forged our own way with intercourse or any other bonding sexual behavior, God wants us to acknowledge, repent and turn to Him.
It’s also important to set boundaries in your relationship if you’ve been involved sexually or are finding it increasingly difficult to resist temptation. If you’ve been sexually active, abstain until your wedding night. You can’t undo your past, but you can address your future. If you explain your reasoning and your desire to be obedient to God, there might be some, but probably not many, women who will give you a fight on that one. If they do, you might need to reconsider your choice of a wife.
You might also find Heather Jamison’s book, Reclaiming Intimacy: Overcoming the Consequences of Premarital Relationships, a valuable tool to help you work through the spiritual and emotional dynamics of premarital sex. It can also be helpful to clarify and establish boundaries regarding how, when and where you will show affection to each other. I’m not against the expression of affection during engagement, but too often couples leave themselves prone to sexual temptation by trying to get as close to the edge of the cliff as possible. You will have plenty of time to experience closeness and intimacy when you’re married. If you err at all, err on the side of safeguarding purity.
3. As you get closer to your wedding date, read a book that speaks to a godly approach to sex in marriage.
It’s important to realize that such a topic can set your passions on fire, so caution again is needed. I don’t think that means, though, that you have to avoid the topic until your wedding night.
At this point in your life, you’ve probably gained your understanding of sex from a variety of sources, some on target and some probably not. An accurate and godly resource can serve to help you and your fiancée get on the same page when it comes to the issue of sex.
You might turn to Ed and Gaye Wheat’s book, Intended for Pleasure. Don’t worry if your parents read the same book for their marriage; it’s now in its fourth edition. Another resource is Cliff and Joyce Penner’s The Gift of Sex.
4. If either you or your fiancée has unresolved sexual issues, those are best addressed before you marry.
Those issues might include pornography use, unhealthy sexual attitudes developed in childhood, and past sexual abuse. Not every concern is going to have the same intensity level, but all are important to process. It’s easy to presume that we just need to move forward, but if we don’t face the past, it will come back to haunt you and your marriage. Many times, these issues are best addressed through counseling with a Christian therapist.
If you struggle with a pornography problem, don’t think that marriage is your ticket to freedom. Pornography has destroyed many a marriage with exactly that perspective. You might find Russell Willingham’s book, Breaking Free: Sexual Addiction and the Healing Power of Jesus, a useful resource.
When sexual abuse has taken place, it will have some sort of impact in that person’s life; you can count on that. It doesn’t mean that a person is wasted goods nor that one can’t move forward in his or her life, but it can’t be swept under the rug. If a guy has been abused, he may struggle with anger issues that could spill over into domestic violence. Along with counseling, The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender might be a good tool to help him work through the pain.
5. Create an emotional atmosphere that woos your new bride’s heart.
Communication, laughter and emotional bonding act as a sort of relational juice that satisfies the thirst in a woman. In a woman, the hormone oxytocin is needed before sex. It is released when this “emotional foreplay” is experienced.
Some ideas? Create a crossword puzzle that your bride can complete. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to rival The New York Times crossword puzzles in its complexity; it can be simple. Or write her a letter after the wedding, telling her why you look forward to sexual intimacy with her specifically. You don’t have to be Shakespeare; just speak from your heart. When you respond patiently with your wife, making sure that she is receiving the emotional and physical stimulation she needs to reach orgasm, sex will be a whole lot more meaningful and enjoyable for both of you.
6. Don’t create a mythical island of Atlantis when it comes to your sexual expectations.
Since marital sex is to be anticipated and looked forward to, it’s easy to create an image that only exists in fantasy land. No, sex won’t be happening every day of the week; your sexual urges won’t always be as strong as they were when you were 21 years old; on occasion frustration and disappointment will be part of your sexual experience, and neither you nor your wife will always be in the mood for sex.
You might find it helpful to write a list of your expectations about sex as you approach marriage. What do you think will be most satisfying about it? When will it be most challenging for you, and when do you think it will be most challenging for your wife? What will you do when the two of you are on separate sheets of music sexually? How will you go about dealing with conflict when it comes to your sex lives?
These and other questions will likely come up in your sexual experience as husband and wife, so discussing your answers to these questions together at the outset of your marriage can keep many problems from developing. Be careful not to build the expectation too high in your mind, especially for the first night.
7. If your wedding is scheduled later in the day, you might consider waiting until the next morning for sexual intimacy.
Nothing is worse than feeling rushed, pressured or tired when you want to experience the delight of becoming one. I know that sounds like a bummer if you’ve been waiting patiently for that wonderful night. But mornings can be just as meaningful. Starting marital sex out on a positive note may well be worth the wait. Even if the decision is to be sexually intimate that night, it might be something worth discussing together.
8. Remember, when it comes to sexual arousal, your bride needs time, not pressure.
Men tend to go from 0 to 60 very quickly. A man, on average, can reach orgasm in 2.5 minutes, while a woman averages 13 minutes. Cited in Walt and Barb Larimore, His Brain, Her Brain, Zondervan, p. 113.
My wife and I were inexperienced on our honeymoon, increasing the need for patience with her time of arousal. I can’t say my attitude was always perfect, but by God’s grace, I was able give her body the time it needed to respond. Over the years, I’ve realized that it’s probably more accurate to say she was patient with me.
In 23 years of marriage, we’ve both learned a lot about each other’s bodies and how to meet each other’s needs. I think back to our wedding night and wonder what would have happened if either of us had “thrown in the towel” with impatience. Thinking more highly of each other goes a long way when it comes to gaining a more satisfying sexual life together.
9. Ask for help if there are problems in your sex life.
I know as guys we hate stopping and asking for directions. If sexual difficulties show up early in your marriage, seek out a Christian marriage counselor, preferably one that has experience doing sex therapy. Yes, you might feel a little embarrassed, but your bride will respect you for it.
My prayer for you and your soon-to-be bride is that sex will be God’s wedding gift to the two of you. Marriage is a fantastic experience! Sexual intimacy is a physical expression of the emotional and spiritual oneness that He desires you and your wife to share for a lifetime.
PART 6: Bridal Preparation for the Honeymoon »
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