Let’s see, how shall I begin?
I am so proud of you, that you’ve decided to maintain your virginity until you are married.
While it is true that millions (billions, more likely) of young brides have eventually “figured all this out” on their own, it really is a disservice to you not to share the simple, practical things we “older brides” have learned.
If you choose to read-on, know that plain-speaking commences immediately.
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Beginning with your first pelvic exam and/or pap smear:
Request a small speculum (some places call this a pediatric speculum). As a virgin (even if you are a tampon-user) your vaginal opening will be smaller than the “average” woman coming in for an exam, and the speculum used by default could be large enough to brake your hymen, painfully.
I know at least one woman who still asks for the small speculum years later, as she’s never delivered (given birth) vaginally.
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About the hymen:
- It is possible to gently stretch it over the course of your engagement so that first intercourse is not the horribly painful thing stereotype paints it to be.
- Not every virgin bleeds. (This is more important to some).
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The main resource I recomend to explain the hows and wherefores of the pure wedding night is The First Years of Forever.
This has suggestions for preparing the hymen, and what positions put the least strain on it.
If you’re too busy to read one more book, check ebay for the two-tape set that proceeded the book, Before the Wedding Night. It can be tricky to track down, but I *highly* recomend it.
If you can’t find the tape set, you might consider rearranging your schedule and making time to read– or else find some plain-speaking wife to give you the details I’m not.
Try to see it as the investment it is in your marriage.
Both resources are a combination pre-marital counseling session and practical (but not weird) preparation for the wedding night itself.
My advice for couples using these resources:
- Save tape #2 and the sexual parts of the book until the week of your wedding.
- *Don’t* go through them as a couple.
Desire will inevitably increase as you imagine/prepare-for your wedding night, and to avoid disappointing yourself you should take common-sense steps to minimize opportunities to “cheat.”
You’ve made it this far (Engaged!) you can make it to your wedding night!
This, by the way, is why my mother always emphasizes the value/importance of short engagements.
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You should be prepared for your wedding night.
Contrary to the images in movies or television, not everyone finds sex to be easy or “natural” (or, often, pleasurable) the first time.
What you need to stay aware of is that the more you learn– the more fully you anticipate what is going to happen– the more you feel the desires growing in you.
This is good and natural. But the earlier you begin the harder it will be to continue to wait.
Song of Songs (a book in the Bible) several times says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until the time is right.”
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If you choose not to read the book, here are three basic things you ought to know if you want a comfortable honeymoon:
- Have a good lubricant on-hand: KY jelly/liquid, Astroglide. (I love that these are right across from the baby food in my local store.)
- Have some hand towels or wash cloths in reach if you’re not using condoms. One of these under the woman’s hips will prevent a wet spot on the bed, and extras make for easy clean-up. If you didn’t know already: Sex is messy.
- The wife needs to urinate after every act of intercourse.
This last (unromantic) direction is to prevent a bladder infection from bacteria in the urethra. Sometimes called honeymoon cystitis (that’s how common it is), it will make intercourse painful, sap your energy, and give you a fever.
No one wants to test “in sickness” on their honeymoon.
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- Use lots when you’re first starting. It might add to the “mess” until you know what you’re doing, but it’s worth it to minimize discomfort for the woman.
- Some people are alergic to some types of lubricant.
If you have any pain, itchiness or discomfort in your skin, don’t assume it’s just because you’re new to this whole sex thing. Switch lubricants immediately and see if that resolves the problem. (Give the skin a chance to heal, too.)
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The most important thing is to clarify expectations.
Your wedding night will be something memorable, but don’t expect it to indicate you what your sex life will be your whole married life.
There is a (once) popular song with the line,
It still seems like the first time
My husband said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Who’d want that?”
Our wedding night is a very happy memory, but there’s no way (especially knowing what we know now) that we’d want it to stay the same.
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By having healthy expectations (reading a book like I mentioned above will help with that) a lot of potential frustration can be dissolved before it starts.
The wedding night is important, sort of like the wedding itself.
But the real glory of sex (as the real glory of the relationship) is found in the marriage. Not in the wedding night.
Very sound advice. We did not heed my mom’s advice to pack some lubricant, and after a very painful attempt, we decided to go to sleep. We flew to our honeymoon the next day, finally got to a drugstore that night, and the next morning FINALLY consumated our marriage.
Sex, as with the wonderful friendship of marriage, gets better the longer you’re together. SO true.
I applaud you!
I would feel comfortable giving this advice. While it’s true you can never really know all there is to know right away and you can never really know without doing it is also true that knowledge leads to curiosity. So how far one chooses to prepare, I think the most important thing about the preparation is to realize it is a lot of learn-as-you-go and it’s not reasonable to expect pure, romantic bliss. I really like “But the real glory of sex (as the real glory of the relationship) is found in the marriage.” I.e. Sex totally gets hotter! In case some were worried about that. :)
I’m not sure if you’ve said this, but some virgins do not have their hymen still intact, which they should find out during their exam, but perhaps sometimes not, so it’s good to know.
Oh, and this might sound odd but it helps to know stereotypes about sex. You don’t want to be ignorant and accidentally insult your partner while you’re trying to compliment them during pillow talk. Heh. Anyway, I’m sure there’s got to be a book out there about those.
Good for you for writting this!!
May I add a few thoughts?
Bring more than one kind of lubricant along on the honeymoon, in case you are allergic to one of them.
Become comfortable with “those parts” of your body before trying to introduce them to your husband. I’m not suggesting anything questionable here – just a basic comfort level with your own anatamy.
I highly recommending not actually going “all the way” the night of your wedding. This was recommneded to me, and we waited a few days, and I LOVED that, and here’s why: there is SO much emotional exhaustion after the wedding – so many feelings, you’ve been so busy. If you have waited up to this point, I at least wanted things to continue to progress naturally. So, we enjoyed the freedom to “enjoy” each other the first day or so, to explore, before we tried anything that would have expectations or potential pain/learning curves involved. It felt like a much more natural progression, and allowed the wedding night itself to be magical and special without any pressure for me. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone, but if it sounds like a relief to you ITS OK TO WAIT. You have the rest of your life – GET STARTED ON THE RIGHT FOOT!
I also recommend the book “Getting your sex life off to a great start” by Penner. You can go through it before the wedding, and what I like about it is that it goes into the “everyday life” aspects of sex – who you are as a whole person, since it will be these things that can cause problems, as much as the logistics.
Amy Jane, I hope you don’t mind that I wrote so much!!!
Catherine, I’m so glad you brought up waiting.
That is so important: Brides, you don’t have to have sex the first night!
This is a good thing to clarify during your discussions with Groom about your expectations for the wedding night.
You don’t have to scare him by saying you don’t want sex– you probably both do.
Rather, actually verbalize this idea of letting things “progress” naturally rather than working toward a goal of, say, “finishing” by midnight.
The night is long.
You have lots of time.
You will be tired. Maybe exhausted.
Just knowing you don’t have to go all the way will probably make it easier to relax and go further.
Great advice here. I’ll have to link to this in the future. Very step-by-step and yet tastefully shared! Well done!
Wow! If only I had this advice prior to my wedding it would have certainly spared my husband and I from the pain and shock of our wedding night/honeymoon. We were both under the illusion that our honeymoon would be filled with non-stop sex – boy, were we ignorant! I will definitely be sharing this info with the bride-to-be’s that come into my life.
Wow, this is excellent advice… While I did not have the privilege of a Christian upbringing, or keeping my virginity in tact, I have a daughter who does. She is nearly 16, and wants to wait until her wedding night. I will share this post with her at a later date. And look into the resources you have mentioned.
Thanks for covering such a vital topic on your blog. May I link to it sometime soon on my blog? It will help many people/friends also with daughters…
Hi, I just wanted to say thank you to you and the other Ladies who posted replies, for all your excellent advice. My boyfriend (he’s 23) and I (I’m 20) are not officially engaged yet, but will be getting married sometime in the next two to two and a half years. We have done courtship, and so have not even kissed each other yet, and will have our first kiss on our wedding day, so especially the advice about not having to have sex on the wedding night is a big thing for me, he has kissed a few girls in his past, but this is my first and only relationship, so it’s all going to be new to me, and I like the idea of progressing naturally, because it was starting to seem a little overwhelming to have your fist kiss and lose your virginity all in the same day! So again I just wanted to say thank you for the very helpful and encouraging advice you all gave!
I just got married and we waiting until our wedding night. I’m surprised no one mentioned it yet, but it was really weird being “allowed” to have sex. We figured we’d be all over each other but…we’d told ourselves no for so long that it was strange to be able to make love. We waited a couple of days because we felt so much pressure to perform.
Thanks for commenting, Amy.
You are not the first person to report that hesitancy and “strangeness.” I’m so glad you both felt free to take things slowly. One woman told me she had the same feelings but that she and her husband didn’t feel “allowed” to wait.
Isn’t it interesting how many expectations mix into something as intimate as the wedding night?
I am really happy to learn that I am not the only virgin bride-to-be. Sometimes it seems like it. It is soooooo hard to resist. I also feel like when people see me with my man they see me as just another product of a modern age and don’t realize how much hard work I put in to stay pure. But stay strong ladies and enjoy it when the time comes!!!
thanks so much you wise ladies.. I am a 31 year old virgin that finally will get able to open my “locked garden” for the first time in 4 weeks.. Your advise has helped and i’m so glad others out there totally get it and understand the importance of the gift God gives each one of us.
This is great advice, ladies! I’m getting married in SIX DAYS and my fiance and I are both virgins. We’ve read a great book called “Sheet Music” and I highly reccoment it. We are ready for our first night together to be a learning experience, but here’s one way we are attempting to have more time for that first night: we planned our wedding for the morning (10:30 AM-3:30PM) and it’s a brunch thing. This way, we can get to our hotel at 3:30ish and have plenty of time to relax! I can’t wait.
Hi! I just read this page, and I thought it was wonderful!!! I am getting married in a little over a year, we are both virgins and yes, I am slightly scared. We have not talked close particulars since we have a long while to wait (don’t worry about the long engagement, he’s overseas, and we’ve waited too long already to ruin this!) but I like knowing what to expect. Thank you for your frank answers to questions that most people seem to take for granted as known! As someone who knows really nothing about the matter at hand and who holds their virginity sacred on religious grounds, it is really reasuring to have found a place for answers to those buring curiosity related questions that does not debase my morality, and make intercourse something that feels dirty, which is the last feeling I want for this incredible gift. Thank you again for your frank answers and advice on resources!
WOW! what a lovely support group. I am 25, still virgin, and getting married in 3 weeks. the past few weeks my fiance had been getting a little too “romantic” with me, half-jokingly coaxing me to have a preview, as we’re getting married in a few days anyway. it’s becoming more and more difficult to say no. but i’m glad i found this page. just like going to the supermarket after a weightwatchers session, i think i can lovingly tell my fiance to wait with more conviction now.
by the way. how much does it hurt? i remember when i was little and i was listening to my mom talking with her friends. she said her first night was ok. but the second night hurt like hell. that scared me!
Using the information/techniques mentioned in the resources can reduce the amount of discomfort.
I theorize that the difference between an “okay” night and a painful one is the attentiveness/patience of the new husband. Most know to be careful/gentle the first night, but they could later forget that the new wife’s body still has more getting ready to do than his does.
As to the increased pressure, the least-confrontative way to avoid it (though you may have to get serious and straight-up that “this is important to me and please don’t make me pit my love against my principles”) is to minimize the frequency and length of your time alone together.
With only 3 weeks before the wedding (and life to live as you prepare) you may even have a genuine excuse.
Thank you so much for writing this. Im 21 and soon to be married and have no one to ask about these things. Also, while I am a Bio major and know the science of these things,Ive been extremely ignorant of “love making”. The fact that i study Biology and SHOULD know,makes me embarrassed to ask. I find it difficult to imagine, or to formulate a theory of what to expect. What I HAVE heard has scared me, because the married woman i HAVE spoken to, told me that it was awful her first time and she still doesnt like it. So after hearing her story im very reluctant. I never used to think sex would be an issue for me because i never thought about it, but now i feel like i suddenly have to and im not ready because ive never even kissed my fiance. Anyways back to the main point, thank you for such credible reassuring advice:)
Bring a lubricant of some kind
RELAX together before anything!
Talk about conceptives before(in our case I take both control)
Take things slow. You have forever!
Stay strong in your purity, ladies. It is so magical to be a virgin bride. Also. If you aren’t married PRAY for your groom to stay pure!! God Bless ladies.
I got engaged on Valentine’s day and we are getting married in June. We have both saved ourselves. We are both getting a lot of negative feedback from friends, both about the short engagement (and we’ve only been together a little over a year now) and about our wedding night. Everyone says it’s going to be a disaster because neither of us have any experience. We are good friends with a couple from our church who waited as well, and we’ve eached talked to them privately about this, so we know not to expect fire works. I think our expectations are appropriate, but as far as the “logistics go,” it’s true that we have no idea what we’re doing. And I just can’t ask any body about those things! My fiance jokingly suggested we should watch some porn to get ideas, but that’s clearly not an option lol.
I’m so glad I found this site, because I don’t think either of us would have thought about some of the things I’ve already learned here.
Do you have any advice for a fellow who is a virgin marrying a woman who is not? It is difficult and embarassing for me to ask her anything because it brings me too many negative feelings. Thank you.
Peter, thank you for your question.
As a Woman I had my instant responses to your question, but I talked about it with my husband as well (him being able to provide a man’s perspective), and together we saw two potential angles to what you’re wrestling with.
There is the element of variable experience, a potential fear of comparison, and there may also be your complex feelings about your wife herself.
The first of these, though I’m sorry for your expected discomfort, will necessitate an open conversation with your wife-to-be, and a humility on your own part. As a husband, you’ll already need to be a student of your wife’s preferences, and as not-her-first, you’ll both need to be able to focus on who you are now, and what you enjoy now (sexually speaking), without bringing the past into it.
You won’t like her to say, for example “Mr. X did this [better]”, and she will feel less free to say what she enjoys (and give you the chance to really please her) if one of your responses is ever, “Because Mr. X did that?”
Both of those are digs designed to make the other person uncomfortable, if not directly in pain, and as such they have no place in a loving relationship. The first time may be merely thoughtless, but it could still hurt, and plans can be made ahead to avoid the gaff.
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You are about to embark on a life-long exploration, and while your respective histories have brought you to where you are now, the choices you make in the present will determine where you go from here. I hope it’s awesome for you.
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The second option is something that you would need to work through in yourself, though aspects of it will likely (probably already are) show(ing) through in your relationship to the woman you plan to marry.
I sensed a great deal of sorrow in your question, and couldn’t sort out where it all was coming from. Here is a string of responses, and I hope you take what is useful/applicable, and release the rest to the internet-searcher who needs that answer instead.
You should not follow (only) the advice of some random writer on the internet, but I’ll still urge you: do not get married before any or all of these negative feelings are resolved, and you can genuinely feel like you are thankful to have her for your wife.
I’ve said in multiple places that my husband and I both feel like we got the better end of the deal, and I think that is a critical element for health and sustainability in the marriage.
If either of you enter marriage thinking you’re doing the other person a favor, that will come out as resentment or entitlement in the relationship—down the road if it’s not already present.
Also, consider what sort of experience your wife-to-be may have had.
I know a lot of people think of virginity as the woman’s to give or keep, but reality can be more complex than that. This story here is a superb example of the husband responding the loving way—to each level of revelation.
A few practicality points:
I pray peace for you both as you make decisions about how to move forward.
First, thank you so much for your prompt and thoughtful response. I guess I did not provide much information along with my initial question. Actually, it is the woman’s perspective that I need. There is no feeling by me of being deprived or cheated of anything; I feel as though I am extremely lucky to have met the woman that will soon be my wife. I am grateful that she has chosen me to be her husband, and I give thanks that she has returned to God and the Church rather than me facing the situation where I am struggling to decide whether to marry her in her previously unGodly state.
Its not that I am uncomfortable with my wife’s past or in being compared to other men, my discomfort is in my own possible inadequacies – in being an inexperienced fool. It’s not about the past at all, it’s about adapting to the present and moving into our future. Despite (or perhaps because) my wife has repented and is forgiven (by God, she needs not seek forgiveness from me), she is quite open about her past. It would be impossible for her to talk about or look at the pictures she has of her trips to Paris or Morocco or Peru and pretend that she wasn’t there with other men. I have even been fine meeting them; I am the guy that has won her after all.
You said that you “sensed a great deal of sorrow in your question.” There really is no “sorrow” in me. I am proud and comfortable that I am the one marrying her. But if Mr. X did do something better (or did something at all that I wasn’t doing), I would prefer her to tell me rather than me not trying to be the best for her. I have thought about it before and reflected again last night about your points and I genuinely do not feel that A. my wife is unacceptably imperfect, she is by every measure talented, accomplished, beautiful; B. I was gypped, it the opposite: I feel she is way ahead of me, or C. I have taken a charity case, she is the better catch than I am and I am excited about marrying her. My negative feelings are not about her at all, they are about me, my insecurities and potential inadequacies. It is easier to seek advice from “some random writer on the internet” because of anonymity and your demonstrated empathy. As to your final points: \ no STDs she has had a lot of experience, but a limited number of partners; \ she a “take charge” woman, unless there is something she is really hiding none of the relationships were unpleasant, let alone traumatizing; \ not only does she say she loves me, but also demonstrates it in many sacrificing ways (for example, her idea to get married in my town, over 1500 miles away from her family for the benefit of my frail parents). She says that I am the least jealous guy she has ever known. Not just dated, but known, including her girlfriends’ boyfriends that were in “open” relationships. My feeling is that I don’t have any claim to ownership in her, that would be crazy Instead I must win her heart and affection every day. What it gets down to is that I already know all of the “whos,” and don’t need to know the specifics of what it was like with each. What troubles me is while SHE knows what she likes, I don’t know.
I was drawn to this article because it is specifically about wedding night. My question is how do I navigate her past experiences? Do I ask her (and should she tell me) what she likes? (I know that she has done just about everything, and I nothing.) When does this discussion take place? Would it be dangerous to have an explicit discussion before our wedding night? Should I expect her to be my “teacher?” Trying to pretend that the past is not there is the only thing that wouldn’t work. Thank you for your help and your prayers.
Thank you for your follow-up. I am delighted and relieved to wrong on so many counts.
[I emailed this at once because I didn’t know how long till I could write a worth-reading response on the post]
My short answer is, yes, be a student, just as she will be a student of you and your preferences. It’s the same as if the man was more experienced than the woman. There needs to be gentleness and humility and patience– but those aren’t a burden in love.
When both parties are being generous and focused on sharing with one another, there’s no need to worry about pasts or experience levels. Pleasure and delight are so much about the present that the past doesn’t need to get in the way. “The first time” is not an omen or panacea that it must be “right” or cause problems. See it as a first step, and just enjoy the process.