Do most Christians know that God intended sex only for marriage? Most likely. Do humans always live according to that belief? Certainly not. In fact, rarely might even be a word I’d venture to use. I say that because when I explain to people that my husband was a twenty-six-year old virgin when we married, they usually respond with, “Wow, that’s rare!”
I, however, was part of the estimated 90 percent of people who walk the aisle on their wedding day as a non-virgin, having head knowledge that pre-marital sex was wrong, but a heart that was too hungry to ignore the magnetic pull of sexual temptation. And although Greg was determined not to become a part of that club with me, I confess I tried to initiate him anyway… And although I wasn’t getting my way at the time, I’ve grown so incredibly thankful for his strength of character in those moments.
But not every spouse has that kind of self-control prior to marrying the love of his or her life. And this creates all kinds of interesting dynamics as the years go by. It would be helpful to examine some of these possible dynamics so that some deep healing can take place and you can focus together on cultivating the passionate sexual relationship you both want in your marriage.
Maybe, like me, you are part of the 90-percent club. Perhaps the two of you caved in to sexual temptation at the exact same moment, each taking full responsibility rather than placing any blame on the other. Later, hopefully you put on your big-girl panties and big-boy boxers, apologized for your own lack of self-control, forgave each other, and moved on. If so, congratulations! Hopefully there’s no major harm, no intended foul, no need for any tears or tyranny.
However, many couples report quite a different story:
- Gretchen, who says, “I told my husband I wanted to be a virgin on my wedding day, but he kept pushing the envelope and pushing my buttons and pushing his luck . . . until he got lucky. At my expense. Rather than recognize what was happening as disrespect and stopping him in his tracks, I eventually gave him what he wanted for fear of losing him if I didn’t. Then I felt I had to marry him. Otherwise, I’d have been damaged goods. Eighteen years later, I’ve still not been able to completely forgive him for stealing my dream and making me feel like a hypocrite. Looking at myself in the mirror wearing white on my wedding day made me want to cry.”
- Gary wrote in an e-mail, “When I took my wife out on our first date, I had no idea that sex was going to become part of the equation so quickly. I didn’t see it coming, and by the time I did, she already had me firing on all cylinders. There was no stopping her or myself at that point. I got so hooked, but I also grew to hate what I’d become-a sex-addicted man who’d abandoned all my moral values. Needless to say, trust and insecurities are big issues in our relationship, even after all these years.”
As these testimonies reveal, pre-marital sexual activity can do a lot of damage, especially if either spouse feels as if he or she was manipulated or taken advantage of in any way. Professional counseling is often needed to resolve such deeply rooted feelings of betrayal in a relationship. If you suspect that’s the case in yours, I encourage you to pursue it! Marriage counseling is, in my opinion, one of the best investments of time, money, and energy a couple can make!
Excerpted from The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in Marriage by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Published by W Publishing Group, and imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.