“I’d marry you tomorrow if it wasn’t for sex.”
I told him, during conversation with my boyfriend chatting about our future together, and what our timelines for marriage looked like.
Just a couple of months later, I sat with him and the pastors who were giving us “pre-marital counseling” and cried as I confessed that I was terrified of having sex, and of being naked with my future husband.
I wanted to call the entire wedding off, and postpone it until the following year. I felt so much guilt, and thought I was terrible wife material.
Other single women attending my church would be triggered by any mention of sex, because they were looking forward to it. I felt triggered by it because the thought of allowing a man inside my very body left me feeling petrified. The though of a man seeing my body, naked and stripped bare, made me queasy. And yet, I was the woman who was engaged to be married.
The invitations had already been sent, the future in-laws had multiple car loads of relatives routing their way to the mountains of Virginia where we were planning to be wed.
My pastors gave us the best advice they had. Rather than upset everyone, and reach out to everyone we had invited, I was asked if I could trust my fiancée when he said he didn’t mind waiting for sex.
I hesitated and looked at him, searching his face.
My pastor said that he thought my fiancées offer to wait for sex was extremely Christ-like and sacrificial and a beautiful example of Jesus laying his life down for the church. He said he had confidence in the love we had for God, and the love we had for each other that we could get married and plan to not have sex for a while until I felt safer. He said it may be rough for a few months, but he thought we’d come out stronger for it. "I am confident in your love for each other, and for God." he said.
Through tears and guilt, I decided that I would accept this extreme sacrifice: my soon-to-be-husband offering to blue his balls for me.
I believed I was asking my husband to endure nearly unbearable physical pain, and pressure. I believed I was asking him to try to hold back urges and instincts he’d struggled to fight against all his life. I believed that his offer was truly a sacrifice in every sense of the word, it was putting himself on the altar chopped into little bits, set ablaze and offered up into smoke — simply because I was terrified of sex.
The phrase, "modest is hottest" is funny. And yet it's not. Modesty did not give me any desire to be seen as "hot." I was petrified of being seen as hot. I was so terrified by years of conditioning that I wasn't even excited about my honeymoon.
I overheard women talking in the kitchen, as I prepared for my approaching wedding. It was just a matter of days before the big day. I heard the women talking, about sex. She said, "He's gone all day, and I don't know what his plans are, there's no connection or conversation, and then he comes in after 10 and climbs into bed, and expects me to meet his needs."
The other woman consoled her, and encouraged her to continue to love her husband sacrificially, and in godly submission and honor.
I turned away from the conversation, feeling sick to my stomach.
Is this what marriage was going to be like? You go through all this hell, and you let them inside your body and then they neglect you and use you like a prostitute or one-night stand? Surely my husband wouldn't be like that. Or would he?
The night before my "big day" instead of celebrating with my bridesmaids and sisters in law, I was out late with my fiancee in his car. We were parked on the driveway right down the road from where I was sleeping (and supposed to be celebrating with my bridesmaids.) I was sobbing my heart out. I was wracked with guilt and shame, and fear. I begged my fiancee to be honest with me. Was he lying? Could he really marry me the next day knowing he may have to wait months before he could get relief through sex?
He tenderly and emotionally reassured me that he could and he would do anything to support me and gently hold space for me to warm up to it. He said I could take as long as I needed.
I sobbed and sobbed, feeling so so guilty and terrified someone would find out that I couldn't give my husband sex on the wedding night and would tease and shame him for it.
He said if I needed, we could call the whole wedding off the next morning before anyone arrived, but that thought felt like paralysis leading to death. I didn't have capacity in that moment to think about all of the repercussions of such a decision, and in my emotional and mental exhaustion I didn't trust myself to make that call and trust it was the best decision.
I told him that it might not take too long after all. If we really took it slowly then I was pretty sure at some point on the honeymoon we would be able to make love. The wedding would go on.
It was past midnight when I finally trudged into my bed, barely undoing my clothes. I was exhausted and my eyes were swollen from crying. My bridesmaids were all asleep, they'd waited up long for me and finally dozed off waiting for me. Tears slipped down my cheeks as I fell asleep for the last time as a single woman.
Modesty, purity culture, and submission tucked me in and sang me a lullaby that night.
I would have been ecstatic for my wedding and honeymoon, to marry the man I loved....if it wasn't for sex.