Sex and Self-Control (It’s not just for before the wedding night)

My husband and I waited to have sex until we got married.

In today’s culture this is a weird decision. Having sex is seen as a benchmark of commitment in a dating relationship. A quick google search will reveal scores of articles about when is the perfect time to “Invite him back to my place,” when to give someone a drawer or a key to your apartment, and why it just makes sense to move in together before you get married.

Our reasons for waiting were based on our faith. But it wasn’t easy. In the two and a half years of our dating relationship, we had conversation after conversation about our “boundaries” and “how far is too far.”

Many times we were fed up. What is the point of waiting anyway?

Sure, we quoted scripture references about purity (but did we really believe them?)
Sure, we wanted to avoid pregnancy (but isn’t that what birth control is for?)
Sure, we “believed” sex is for marriage (but did it really matter?)

But waiting? A lot of times, it just felt like denying ourselves something we desperately wanted, a pointless exercise in self-control. I could say I “trusted God’s plan” all day long but I really didn’t get it.
WeddingWhen you save sex for marriage, the wedding day becomes super important. I couldn’t wait to be Aaron’s wife. Our friends (equally as inexperienced as we were) told us to stock up on Gatorade for our honeymoon. We laughed and expected the wild abandon of passion to replace the self-control that gripped us while we were dating. I was ready to throw off the fetters of our sexual self-control and be done with this struggle.

Little did I know that self-control would continue to be a necessary–and beautiful–part of our relationship.

We got pregnant unexpectedly the first year of our marriage and had twins 16 months after our wedding day.

My husband worked hard to support our brand new family of 4.

We were tired, exhausted.

Sex gets more complicated when babies enter the picture. Kids have uncanny timing, don’t they? Nothing like the wail of an infant (or two) to throw a wet blanket on the fires of passion.

There were interruptions.
There were long days and even longer, sleepless nights.
There were worries about money and kids who wet the bed.
There were three more pregnancies and one miscarriage.

There were months of morning sickness and big bellies, postpartum healing, and floods of hormones.
There were 70+ hour work weeks and insurance headaches.
There was falling asleep on the couch at 8:17pm.
There were separate beds and nursing babies.
IMG_5326Sex was still important in our marriage but as we moved farther and farther from our wedding day, self-control became even more important.
In those interrupted moments and sexually frustrated seasons, self-control quietly entreated, “Be kind. Wait. Not tonight.”

I used to think self-control was about muscling my way to good behavior, or denying myself something I really wanted.
I’ve come to realize that self-control is controlling the Self, the part of my heart that says “I want what I want NOW.”
My Self lacks perspective.
My Self loves Brittany the best.
It is, literally, selfish.

But self-control in marriage says to the beloved, “I want what is best for you. I want want what is best for us, even if I don’t get what I want right now.”

While we had months where our sex-life diminished, our intimacy grew, nurtured by each time we chose self-control over self-interest in our marriage.

Before I got married, I thought waiting for sex was about avoiding a pregnancy scare or STIs or guilt. I thought it was about doing what God said because he said “thou shalt not.”
SexSelfControlI didn’t realize that self-control is essential to a healthy marriage, because in order to have a healthy a sex life, you have to respect each partner’s emotional and physical needs through life’s unique seasons.

I didn’t get it then, but the self-control we grudgingly adopted while dating helped prepare us to deal with the interludes of abstinence that every healthy marriage goes through.

It wasn’t pointless. It wasn’t just about avoiding sin, or pregnancy, or simply “because God said.”

God always has our Good in mind, and now I can see, ten years later, that waiting was not holding us back. It was preparing us for the very real self-control that is needed in a healthy marriage.

Self control: It’s not just for before the wedding night.

How has Self-Control played a role in your marriage?
Has it made your marriage stronger?
Share your story below!

PS. The #1 thing we fight about in our marriage
Advice I would give to myself as a young bride (10 years later!)

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

8 Comments

  1. Shana

    Hi, Brittany.
    Thank you for this entry articulating some of the thoughts I’ve had in our almost 16 years of marriage. Only by God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit, my husband and I, too, waited to engage in sexual intimacy until our wedding night.
    During our first month of marriage, we began training with a local Catholic Church to learn and use Natural Family Planning as our method for avoiding pregnancy. It was a tremendous blessing to us and opened our eyes to the value of acting lovingly towards each other in our sexual relationship even WITHIN marriage.
    Interestingly, the Lord only gave my husband and me about 24 months of combined unassisted fertility in our mid-30’s. Just after adopting our son from Korea, I became pregnant, but lost triplets. Then 5 months later, God planted twin boys in me! When they were not quite a year old, I conceived a single baby, but he was lost. Talk about a hormonal ride! It wasn’t until I was through it that I realized I had been struggling with Postpartum Depression. The fact that our twins didn’t sleep through the night until age 3 added to the stress. Yet, our intimacy grew and my husband was so loving towards me, even though it was one of the most difficult periods of our marriage.
    I’m so glad you approached this subject on your blog and hope it will encourage others as it has encouraged me. This point from your article is so significant,
    “I didn’t get it then, but the self-control we grudgingly adopted while dating helped prepare us to deal with the interludes of abstinence that every healthy marriage goes through.”
    I was led to this page by a FB post from one of our former pastors, and I will share it now on my FB page.
    Thank you, again. God bless you!
    ~Shana

    • Shana, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am truly sorry to hear about the loss of your precious babies. I have written a bit about my miscarriage. It is a grief like no other.
      I am so glad to hear this post encouraged you! It is my hope and prayer that this truth can be shared with lots of people, especially singles who want to wait for sex until marriage. God has so much good in store for us. His good plan is practical too.
      Thanks for sharing with your pastor. I really appreciate it! God bless you too and thanks for reading.
      Brittany

  2. kathy super

    Exactly my thoughts fairly recently…how our obedience (and that’s how we viewed it 30 some years ago during our dating and engagement years – not some sort of optional ideal…), how our obedience to waiting for the wedding night built fruits of self control in my life that I still in my 50s benefit from. How much learning to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ was part of our being able to “wait till marriage.”

    • kathy super

      PS. I share this from a heart of encouragement to not miss some deeper things of God, and well remembering how hard it can be to wait till marriage…

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