About the Author
Lane Jordan is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in trauma counseling and couples counseling. You can schedule an appointment with Lane for online counseling or in-person at our Kansas City, MO counseling center.
Congratulations, you have found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and are going to get married! You have also followed your parents and Church’s teaching and saved sexual intimacy for marriage! Now, what happens? Is the wedding night supposed to magically happen and fulfill all of your wildest expectations and be just like the movies? Needless to say, there might be some nerves around this night.
Many young adults who were raised in the church and saved sex for marriage approach the wedding night together with their new spouse with unrealistic, or no expectations for what that first night with their spouse will be like. The wedding night is important, as it is the couple’s first fully sexually intimate encounter and first experiences can create a lasting impression. Therefore, sitting down with your future spouse and dialoguing through different topics will help you both feel more prepared, and calm some of the nerves around the wedding night and the first experience of sex together.
1. Education and History of Sexual Intimacy
It will be helpful to know what your future spouse has been through in the past and how their sexuality has developed. We all have different experiences and different education levels on sex on both the mechanics of sex and how sexual intimacy manifests itself in marriage. Therefore, it will be important to explore each other’s past sexual experiences of any kind while discussing how each other were educated on what sex was and the purpose it in their household. Here are some good questions to start a conversation:
- Did your parents sit you down and have “The Talk?”
- Where did you learn about what a sexual relationship looked like (the internet, school, friends, etc)?
- What did you and your friends talk about in regard to sexual experiences?
- What did you learn about the nature and purpose of sexual intimacy from church?
- Did you have any past romantic relationships, what is different in the current relationship?
- What, (if any) past sexual experiences have you had?
- Are there elements of the physical relationship that makes you nervous? If so, why?
- Have you had, or currently experiencing temptation with pornography? (If either partner is actively using pornography, it is suggested that professional guidance is consulted)
Discussing each other’s past around sexual experience will help you both understand each other beliefs on sexual intimacy. An excellent resource to use as a guide during these conversation is A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds by Dr. Douglas Rosenau.
This first conversation will help identify potential areas that need further attention. Exploring the past will also help identify if there are any triggers from past hurts that might be brought up as you connect sexually. Once you have identified these together you can create a plan on how to stop these memories from being triggered and potentially ruining the wedding night. This conversation can be difficult and encouraging at the same time. Difficult because it may bring memories that may be painful. Being vulnerable about the past and the possible mistakes we have made is challenging, because, at times, we are afraid our significant other will see us in a different light. However, having this conversation can also be encouraging because it promotes healing and relief when our significant other is attentive and accepts us despite of our past mistakes and deficiencies. Opening about the past and being honest is cleansing, because it allows us to be authentic and have the grace of God to come into our life and future marriage. This honesty helps create a bond of trust that will fuel the marriage to thrive in the toughest of circumstances.
2. The Purpose of the Sexual Relationship
This conversation closely relates to the one previously discussed on sexual histories. The way we were raised influences the view we hold on the purpose of sex.
- Is sex only for physical release?
- Is reproduction the only use for sex?
- Is sex in itself dirty and should be avoided?
These are all views of the purpose of sex in the marriage relationship. Unknowingly, you and your future spouse may have a different view of the purpose of sex. It will be helpful to sit down and discuss the purpose God designed sex to fulfill in the marriage relationship. Scriptures that can be used to guide the conversation are 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 and Ephesians 5:22-33 (focusing on verse 31). Another conversation started could be Timothy Keller’s quote found in his book The Meaning of Marriage,
- “Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, ‘I belong completely, permanently and exclusively to you.’”
This conversation could also benefit from having a pastor, counselor, or trusted mature couple, present to help you both navigate this conversation. God has designed sex to serve a life-giving and God glorying purpose in the marriage relationship, and we can have different views of what this means when we enter the marriage. Therefore, sitting down together and discussing God’s purpose for sex will prove beneficial for future satisfaction of your marriage.
3. Expectations for Sexual Intimacy
There is a misconception that we will automatically know what we will enjoy during sexual intercourse and what our spouse will enjoy once the wedding night comes, like a light switch. However, this is not the case. If you sit down with your future spouse and discuss the following areas of expectation you both will be more prepared to make your spouse feel loved on the wedding night.
Expectations for Romance
Everyone responds differently to various types of touch and has different turn-ons and turns-offs. It will be helpful to establish some of these with your partner before the wedding night occurs. Christian Sex Therapist Dr. Doug Rosenau recommends making a list and using all five of your senses to establish turn-ons, that will help you into the mood of lovemaking. The list can be extensive and everyone is different. Here are some ideas to help you get started on this list:
- A bubble bath
- A nice massage
- Partner appearing naked unexpectedly
- Songs that are special to you
- A love letter
- Eating out at special location
- A clean room or clean kitchen
These turn-ons will help your spouse know of ways that they can show you love and slowly help you into the mood of being sexual intimate. Examples of turn-offs can be more challenging to come up, so here are some ideas:
- Bright lights
- Unclean sheets
- Coercion into lovemaking
- A dirty house
- Physically being dirty
- Unkempt beards
- Onion breath
All of these examples are small ones but could play a role in how your first night together goes. Develop your own list then share it with your future spouse. This list can be added to after marriage as you discover more about what brings you pleasure, but it will be helpful to have a start so you can know what makes your partner more comfortable during that night.
Expectations for Behavior
Another way to be more prepared for the wedding night is to discuss what is safe behavior for the wedding night. The purpose of this conversation is not to determine what is wrong or right sexual behavior, but to establish a sense of what your partner is comfortable with at the current time. Everyone has a different level of what they are comfortable with, especially if it is their first time. It is terrifying to ride a bike for the first time and attempt a large jump on the first day. Establish what everyone is comfortable with and as the relationship progresses the training wheels can come off. However, the training wheels can only come off when we communicate that we are ready to try something different. Therefore, it is imperative to communicate what is comfortable and what is not. The goal of the first night is to have a pleasurable experience, not a great performance. This conversation can start before marriage but is one that never stops and is foundational to sexual intimacy that is amazing!
Expectations after the Wedding Night
Between you and your future spouse, establish what the norms are going to be for your sexual relationship.
- Talk about how frequently you would like to have sexual intimacy.
- Who will initiate?
- How to initiate?
- What are some fun ways that each spouse would like to be pursued? A romantic night out, cleaning the house without warning, a message?
These are ways we can pursue our spouse and it can change from season to season, but it is helpful to know what to expect. Men typically want to have sex more often than their spouse, but it will be easier for the man to wait and not always ask for more if he knows that his wife will be ready sometime soon, just not right now. Men, it also helps if you show your wife a little love and affection, they love this!
4. Birth Control
There are numerous types of birth control on the market today and they work effectively if you use them correctly. One of the main causes of accidental pregnancy is improper use of birth control. Having a conversation about what type of birth control, if any, will be used in the marriage will give an appropriate expectation for everyone’s role in marriage when it comes to birth control, and make it feel like a team decision, but ladies ultimately the choice is up to you. Take some time to discover what works best for you. Often times if you decide to use birth control, it will be helpful to start using the chosen method months in advance so you can see how it affects you. Men, it is your role to lovingly keep her accountable and maybe wear a condom if that is what your wife wants.
5. The Wedding Night Itself
If you have never experienced a wedding before, I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that they are exhausting! The last thing that my wife and I wanted to do was to try to have sex as soon as we got away from the wedding. Often it is not wise to try to do something new for the first time with somebody if you are super sleepy. Because of this, it will be helpful to devise a plan with your spouse about to handle that first night alone. Maybe that means taking a nap, watching a movie, or waiting until the next morning to engage in sexual intimacy for the first time. Whatever makes you both feel the most comfortable.
Having a backup plan is helpful for the first time. It is normal for the first time of engaging in sexual intercourse with your new spouse for it to be painful, awkward, or scary. We want to be careful not to have our first experience with intercourse to be a negative one. We do not want our first experience of sexual intimacy together to be completely associated with physical and emotional pain. A painful association is like a crack in the foundation of a house, it can be repaired over time, but if we see it starting to form, we can stop it from causing more unnecessary damage. Therefore, with your spouse create a backup plan of what to do if the first night together begins less than ideal. Men, it is important for you to make your new wife feels safe and comfortable with what is happening. If she tells you something is not right or you sense something might be off, do not be afraid to stop, affirm your wife that everything will be okay, and that you love her no matter what occurs. Then maybe do something else for little while.
One of the elements of the wedding night that the movies do not show is the potential for messes that might occur. During your first night together you both are still learning how to have sexual intercourse, because of this it leaves the potential for mistakes and mishaps that might cause a mess. This is normal! Because of this, it is helpful to plan pre-placed supplies to clean up with just in case. For example, place some tissues by the bed, or a towel down on the bed if you want to avoid washing sheets on your wedding night.
6. The Honeymoon
Some believe that the honeymoon is more important than the actual wedding itself because it is the first time you spend alone with your spouse and a time for bonding that will last a lifetime! The bonding is both emotional and physical. With your spouse discuss what you both envision for your sexual intimacy to look like while you are on your honeymoon and are starting to get used to being around each other for the first time. The honeymoon is a great time to start learning who your partner is as a sexual human being. This practice will never stop, and the honeymoon is a safe place to start learning.
Your wedding is something that you have dreamed of for most of your life. Because of this, there can be nerves about expectations and what can happen during this night and why sexual intimacy is an important part of the relationship. The nerves you are experiencing are valid. The wedding night is a monumental moment in a person’s life because it signifies a lifelong relationship that has been stated. Therefore, sitting down with your future spouse and communicating about topics surrounding the first night together will prove beneficial in helping the wedding night be an exciting success.
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