Reader: Hi Athol, I’ve reading your blog for a few months now and I’ve gone through some of the archives but I have not seen this question addressed although I’m sure it has. Do you need to have sex before marriage in order to know you will enjoy sex with that person later? To know that you have “chemistry”? Or is all that is needed is two willing partners willing to work towards pleasing each other? So that in essence, you could have good sex with anybody.
Thank you for your time.
Athol: In short, most penises fit into most vaginas, so it will probably be just fine. If you’ve kissed each other a ton and you feel you have chemistry when you do that, you’ve got chemistry.
But… day-um marriage is high stakes poker these days. So I’m just going to go out on a limb and assume you have, or are about to have, a fiance, and you’re from a conservative religious background.
Rather than reach into the morality bag for a large stick to beat you with, let’s just say that the plan to wait until marriage is called the Virginity Strategy. The basic plan being that if you wait until marriage, you arrive unsullied, without baggage, without bad experiences and with all that pristine sexuality, you and your bride merge easily and happily into a really high quality sexual relationship.
The good news is that really can be all true. The Virginity Strategy really can work out really well for a couple. But it’s not a perfect plan and some people end up with dramatic sexual failures as a result. Sometimes you discover some kind of unknown sexual incompatibility. Sometimes the Virginity Strategy is purposely used by one half of the couple as a smoke screen to hide a known sexual dysfunction or non-heterosexual orientation. I know of several couples where the husband was discovered to be gay after the wedding, one case of micropenis, multiple cases where the wife refused nearly all sexual contact with her husband after the wedding due to prior undisclosed rape trauma. All pretty major problems resulting in the marriage being an epic fail. I’d love to be able to stay that the Virginity Strategy is a perfect strategy, but it’s only a pretty good one.
So my advice is to adhere to the Virginity Strategy, but cover the risks inherent in it by having sex during the engagement. If you want to save intercourse for the wedding night, that’s fine by me, but you should at least have an understanding of how to get each other off before the wedding. You should see that each other has a working set of bits and you’re not marrying into an obvious sexual failure.
The Teachman study suggests the primary benefit of “not having sex before marriage” is the low partner / cohabitation count as opposed to the waiting for marriage part. So if your partner count is just one, whether your wife became your sex partner before or after you married her, has no real effect on the marriage outcome. The benefit is that you married your one and only.
With Jennifer and myself, we did have sex before marriage. Frankly I think that was absolutely vital for us to be bonded to each other to have survived our long distance courtship. To be quite blunt, I think a number of my girlfriend relationships fell apart because I wasn’t having sex with them. I’m pretty damn sure that my first serious girlfriend and I had that as a issue. So sexual activity with Jennifer was I think a key part in making it to the wedding. Yeah we broke the goody-two-shoes rules and it worked out just fine for us.
I also know of a few couples that “did the right thing” and waited during the engagement and one half of the couple simply became impatient with waiting and started having sex with someone else. Yes indeed they cheated and were in the wrong for doing so, but I also think if the other set of rules were broken and they were actually getting laid by their future spouse… it all was much less likely to have turned into a cheating situation. To be blunt, it’s a highly unnatural situation for a young couple to not have sex together for an extended amount of time. There’s a fine line between being “sexually moral” and “modeling sexual dysfunction.”
Bearing in mind that I am an atheist when I say this… a wedding ceremony provides a trivial amount of genuine bonding compared to your biological response to each other during sex. Or as the bible puts it, when you have sex together you become “One Flesh.” So if you want the religious viewpoint, One Flesh trumps anything that happens in the church. Not just by a little bit… by a lot.
What happens in a church wedding, legally bonds you to your spouse in multiple and serious ways. With some degree of irony, what actually happens in a church wedding is simply the frosting covering over a quite worldly contract and you really should have a lawyer present for before you sign. The actual spiritual connection between a couple happens in the Holiday Inn when you told everyone you were going out to see The Avengers again. (See what I did there?)
So maybe I’m just cynical, but I think you should figure out whether or not the One Flesh routine actually works for you both, before you sign the paperwork to change your tax filing status and become co-responsible for each other’s debts.
But don’t misunderstand, I think it’s a very strong benefit that Jennifer and I have only had P-in-V sex with each other. That’s a huge factor in our marriage and a reason why Jennifer is okay with me doing everything I do with MMSL. It’s no secret that I struggle with monogamy on a Body Agenda level, but rationally I know it, and she, has been the making of both me and so much of my overall happiness. That being said, I kinda like that Jennifer was so into me she was willing to break the rules to have me. She kinda likes that I was the sort of guy who made her want to break the rules. Being Alpha is more fun, so you may as well establish you’re a force of nature during the engagement.
Mood music lol…