Thursday, May 3, 2012

the wait was well worth it

It all began when I first heard the Goyte song Somebody That I Used to Know, which means this post has been floating around in my head for about two months.  In case you don't know the song I'll put a fully clothed cover of it right here, though you can find the original song and video here.



Every time I listen to this song I think of the somebodies that I used to know, guys I once dated / hung out with / crushed on / flirted with / impressed with my "flux capacitor" t-shirt.  Some of the guys I kissed, some I did not.  Some of the guys I remember with great embarrassment and some I can barely remember at all.  Pretty much all of them that I kissed I wish I had not.

And all of this makes me thank God that I was a virgin when I got married.  Unfortunately there are guys in that list above with whom I did more than kiss; there were times when being pure and chaste were not of the highest importance.  There were times when we were not leaving much room at all for the Holy Spirit.  And honestly, it makes me a little sick to my stomach when I think about that.  I really do regret those relationships with guys who are no more than people that I used to know and I simultaneously am very grateful that I never had sex with them.

Having run in Christian circles for a long time I have heard a kabillion times why I should "save myself for marriage."  When I was young and single I pretty much thought it was a good idea, with a dash of doing what the Church told me, with a healthy dose of fear of pregnancy, STDs, and having people disappointed in me.  But now that I am married I can see all the reasons why it was so good that I did wait and many of those reasons I don't think I could have ever fully appreciated without knowing what I know now.

One reason I'm super glad I didn't have sex outside of marriage is because I married a virgin.  He didn't have to worry about any tag-along diseases I was bringing into the marriage and neither did I.  Our conversation about sex was pretty easy to have:  You've never had sex?  I've never had sex.  I'll see ya on our wedding night.  It was completely clear that the pressure to have sex would not be present during our dating or our engagement (which is not to say we weren't tempted).

So when our wedding night came, well, it was awkward and painful. I won't go into any details, I'll just stick with those two adjectives. The good thing, though, is that I was with my best friend and a man who was 100% committed to me.  My husband and I laughed together as we figured things out together.  I didn't have to be sexy or afraid. I didn't feel vulnerable or unsure if I was making a good decision.  When I have seen scenes in movies or tv of a couple losing their virginity or even just having sex together for the first time (scenes I am assuming are based on real people's real experiences) it is nothing like what I experienced.  And I what I experienced was my husband loving me, adoring me, enjoying being with the whole of me.  He was giving 100% of himself to me.  Only me.  Always me.  Looking into my eyes, wanting only me forever.  It was truly beautiful.  While still remaining awkward and painful. 

Closely related to all that is the fact I never had to worry about him comparing me to some other woman he'd slept with (was she thinner, prettier, better in bed?) and vice versa.  As it turned out the man I was meant to marry was engaged to someone before me.  Their relationship was pretty pure but I still felt a lot of insecurity (because I'm insecure) especially in the beginning of our marriage.  Had he been sexually active with his former fiance it would have been very, very difficult for me.  I realize that this  may not be the same for everyone but for my husband it would have been.  I suspect that this single issue would still be rearing its ugly head, especially when our marriage hits a rough patch.  It's better to not even have that issue to deal with.

Lastly, I do want to say that of the guys I dated and did not marry there is only one whom I completely respect and sincerely wish the best.  Unlike all the other guys I do not consider him "somebody that I used to know" but instead as a man that I briefly dated.  The only thing that separates him from the others is that his intentions were clear and godly and he never even held my hand.  I think those things illustrate the amount of respect he had for my eternal soul and for my future husband.  I can appreciate any man who is that good, especially a man who has that much respect for the man I did marry - whom I consider to be the best of men.

I do not assume that all the people who read this were or will be virgins on their wedding day and I sincerely hope I didn't shame or judge you.  I have enough to be ashamed about and I didn't write this post to make myself look or feel better.  But if you are still a virgin I hope that sharing my experiences may reaffirm the decisions you've made.  And if you are unmarried but not a virgin I pray that something I wrote will make you rethink your decision to be sexually active outside of marriage. 

I was 25 when I got married and the wait was well worth it.  The man I gave, not lost but gave, my virginity to is not "somebody that I used to know."  He is not a person who "screwed me over" and I had to cut out of my life.  He was a man who waited for me, not even knowing it was me he was waiting for.  He is a man of virtue, character, and selflessness.  He is a man who loves and adores me.  He is a man who I can wholly give myself to and trust that he will protect, love, and care for me for the rest of his life.  Like I said, the wait was well worth it.

*****
If you're interested I also point you to this article from the New York Times, The downside of cohabitating before marriage.

And now watch this:

33 comments:

  1. I waited and then waited some more. We both did. I was 24 when I married my wife and she was 22. I had no money to my name and to this day I tell people she was crazy for marrying me. It was probably seven months after our marriage that I finally convinced her that I was not going anywhere, that I did not marry her just to have sex with. Our first time was nothing magical. It still only happens sporadically to this day ~ we have been married for almost 14 years. There is love in our marriage but it is expressed in a sexual manner. As difficult as it may be I did take her for better or worse and what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

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  2. I typically just lurk, but I have to tell you how beautiful this is. I have 3 girls, and I want them to read this when they are old enough. Purity is so rare these days, it scares me. I am striving to instill it in them, even from their young age.

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  3. Praise God for the courage and humility He gave you, and that you so willingly share with us. May His message, through you, encourage and strengthen those that need it.

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  4. I loved reading this, and as I approach my wedding day (16 days away!!)it just was a great encouragement/excitement for this virgin bride.

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  5. So beautiful Bonnie! I ALWAYS cry when I see a bride walking down the aisle.

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  6. My husband & I were both virgins we were married and I'm so glad for that for so many reasons, most of which are covered by Bon. However, when teaching my children about sex I want to focus on marrying the right person. Sometimes I feel the church focuses on telling teenagers not to have sex before marriage and even though they sometimes keep the message positive, I just don't want to base everything on sex. If I were to pick, I'd rather my child have sex before they were married than marry the wrong person. So while it's an important message-it isn't the only message. And I want sex to be a part of the conversation about marriage but not the entire conversation. Know what I mean?

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  7. That song is like a knife in an old wound and yet strangely cathartic. My husband was a virgin when we married, but sadly I was not. My poor husband has had to deal with the fallout from the one who 'screwed me over.' It has caused our marriage pain and yet we persevere. Maryflorence is right. Marrying the right person is so very important. I can't imagine my life if I had made a marriage mistake as big as the premarital sex mistake. But better still if I had not any moral failings. The Lord's name is mercy!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is very encouraging for this will-be-virgin bride.

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  9. Bonnie, thank you for posting this. Luke and I read it together and we're even more affirmed that we're making the right decision for ourselves and for each other, and that waiting will be well worth it. It spurred a great conversation. It's awesome to hear such encouraging words! :) Thank you!

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  10. Thank you for writing this. It's always encouraging to find out others are/were committed to this. I am getting married this summer and am so glad my fiancé and I are in the same boat you were.
    I'd never heard the song, and it perfectly describes the situations my current roommates are creating for themselves. It makes me so sad for the future marriages of all involved.
    Prayers are very much appreciated!

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  11. I just stumbled onto your blog from Conversion Diary and it is really beautiful! Prayers for you and your precious baby--Mama Mary has got you both in her arms! Thanks so much for this post. I have 3 daughters and a son and I want them to understand that saving sex for marriage is all about love and not some act of repression. My husband and I were virgins when we married 10 years ago and our wedding night was one of the most innocent, sweet, and joyful experiences of my life. I wish the same for every married couple.

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  12. I waited and waited, and waited some more, and still waiting .. well, for what? Whom am I kidding? I'm 43 and sometimes feel so beatrayed.

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  13. This is a one-off comment. I just chanced on this blog but I HAVE to say to 43-year-old Anonymous - I felt exactly as you did when I was 43. I felt so betrayed. BUT you never know what's going to happen. Here am I, years later, in a gloriously happy marriage. And guess what, I met my husband when I was 45, married at 48....Please, never give up and above all, please don't compromise on your principles. I nearly did and now I'm SO glad that one didn't work out!
    (And keep prayin' - it really works!) Love and prayers from another Anonymous....

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  14. To wait and be married at 25 is one thing. To wait and still not be married after 40, despite being faithful to Christ, acting the gentleman, and consistently praying, is different altogether. Maybe tomorrow something changes (I have heard this for decades now), but the loss can never be replaced. Of course there is no option left to a man of integrity, but the cruelty is a scar of loneliness that leaves little hope of family or an end to infernal questions about one's wife or how many children one has. I thank God for those who have found their mate: it is a good and blessed thing. Others can revel in their singleness. The rest, however, bear a crushing load, too quickly forgotten by the married and ignored by the Church. Betrayal is a a fair assessment.

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  15. Well, I pray for 20 years, and more. All the girls (and boys) I know who were sleeping around eventually got married, all of them have kids, and most of them are still happy married.
    So, the only conclusion I may have is - the more you pray and try to live saintly, the harder life you'll get.
    And yes, I see all these years lonely, ugly and meaningless. And cannot be grateful for life I'm given because it's miserable. Like He gave me life only to torture me.

    43-year old Anonymous

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  16. I share your journey, 43 Anonymous. All of my college mates are happily married (by their own admission) with children. Almost all slept around and the ones who didn't played loose and fast with their faith. I chose to honor God and remain chaste have little to show for it at 40. There is no good in this journey, unless someone wishes to argue that suffering for suffering's sake is more "noble". It was not good for Adam to be alone, but for me and others like me there is a different standard. Likewise, twenty- and thirty-somethings who talk about "waiting" know nothing of what they say. That is akin to an American missing a single meal waxing eloquent on hunger. Some of us know real famine, but yet must still burn each day... all the while being required to celebrate the joys bestowed on others but denied to themselves.

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  17. Oh, and the best thing is that at 40, when you have been faithful and sexually pure, everyone tries to set you up with divorced people, people who have slept around, or those who have illegitimate children, etc. Why? because they just needed a "good" man. So here is the reward of my being pure: (1) continuing to "wait" until I die alone; or (2) being forced to settle for someone's leftovers.

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  18. I think there is too much emphasis on "meeting the right one". Instead of focussing on that, why not develop your relationship with yourself? It's not a crime to be single and there's certainly nothing wrong with being a virgin and "older". My self-esteem meant more to me than a one-night roll in the hay. I'm 60 years old now and although I met several men whom I liked very much, I knew that none of them would be a potential spouse. I'm very happy being single. I have a good job, I just finished my master's, I love to travel, I have good friends and I'm close with my family. There are far worse things in life than being single. Embrace the adventure.nn

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  19. To 60 years old Anonymous:
    Well, we have so much in common. Like you, I have a good job, I'm just finishing my master's, I love to travel, I have good friends and I'm close with my family. I speak several foreign languages and read tons of books. And I had plenty of time to develop my relationship with myself, too.
    The only difference is I'm not happy being single. Never was, never will be. How can I be so sure? Well, I had plenty of time to know myself ...

    43-year old Anonymous

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  20. wonderful witness! thank you so much!

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing this. My boyfriend and I read this today and it's so encouraging to know we're not crazy in waiting for our wedding day. In a world where sex is a recreational sport it's nice to know we're trying to do the right thing. If marriage is in fact our vocation I know that this will strengthen our family that much more because we waited.

    Thanks so much!!

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  22. It is SO refreshing to hear stories like this - THANK YOU for writing about waiting for marriage! I am Catholic teen (18) and will be giving my virginity to my spouse on my wedding day. I couldn't think of a better gift to give him :-)

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  23. @blogger: beautiful post. I think I'll try writing one from the perspective of someone who waited and married someone who hadn't.

    @Anonymous 40: I'm not going to try to say that I know how you feel, because as someone who married happily at 23, I'm sure I don't. I think I could take the angst of the years of waiting (and since I started thinking about marriage in kindergarten, it is a long time, even by 23) and multiply it by 100. But maybe it's worse than that.

    I will say, it sounds like you may be your own worst enemy here. Referring to other people as "leftovers" because they have fallen in a way that you haven't is a super unattractive thing to do. People are not garbage or leftovers because they've sinned, anymore than you are garbage because you're arrogant and apparently a champ at turning off women. Christ died for all of us, including people who've had failed marriages or out-of-wedlock babies, and those of us who are so judgmental that we reject all of these people made in God's image because we think we actually deserve a perfect person. None of us deserve a perfect person, and yet Christ gives himself to us anyway. How can we be too good to condescend to love a fellow sinner when Christ wasn't too good to die for sinners?

    I spent an hour today talking to a woman who has been married for 13 years, has 3 children, and has been told by 8 different therapists that her husband is a scary man and that she needs to leave him. She's holding on for her kids' sake, but I recommended that she talk to a priest. I suspect she'll learn that her marriage was never valid in the first place since it doesn't sound like her husband was ever intending to fully enter the marriage. So if she gets divorced to protect her kids from an increasingly psychopathic man, is she leftovers? Does the fact that she had sex with the man she was trying to stay married to make her garbage to you? I was floored by the courage and self-sacrifice that she brings to her daily life, and how hidden her suffering is to others, who see her big house, nice things, great kids, and would see her leaving as her just being a bimbo who didn't think twice about her children.

    Try to remember that sexual sins are actually not the worst sins. Pride is the worst sin and it sounds like it's what is holding you back from love. Chastity is not the capital virtue, charity is. If Christ would dine with prostitutes, is it so wrong for someone to set you up with a single mother?

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  24. 43-year-old Anon, and 40-year old Anon bloke:

    What can I say? Yes, it was a betrayal. I agree. And it's something the lucky ones can never appreciate.

    You were betrayed, but it was men and women who betrayed you respectively. If you'd experienced sex, and then been forever denied it by thing just not working out, you just can't understand how much worse it could be.

    I've been through periods in my marriage when my wife just closed herself off from me. Believe me, I know exactly what it feels like to burn without satisfaction. When you're a virgin it's bad enough, but when you know what it is you're missing, it's pure agony. It literally burns, leaving you psychically twisted and useless.

    So, I know it's pretty thin gruel to be told, 'Just be thankful it isn't any worse', but there you go: it could be worse to a degree you still can't appreciate.

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  25. Our overly-sexualized American society has unfortunately betrayed many beautiful hearts. The sexual revolution brought a revolting culture to the brink of physical and mental distress that it didn't want to foresee.
    But weren't there also past generations who were "betrayed" and left unmarried because of World War, or Great Depression, or social exclusion. Even today there are thousands in other countries who are smart, handsome/pretty, chaste and still unmarried because of famine and/or government oppression. Your position of aloneness is not without hope. May you find contentment in the Holy Spirit.
    I love the blog post because it is offering encouragement--not easy answers.
    Warmly,
    Candise (happily married for 22 years, since the age of 25 as a virgin, and helping her teens strive for the life God intends)

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  26. Well, I enjoyed this blogpost but this comment I'm going to pounce on like a tigress:

    However, when teaching my children about sex I want to focus on marrying the right person.

    I'm sorry but this is total garbage. There is no such thing as "the right person" only persons with more or less virtue. One wants one's children to marry a person who has virtue, preferably a lot of it. Many divorces occur in mid-life, when depression or some such enters in and one spouse concludes "I didn't marry the right person." Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. I speak from a certain amount of experience. And it's b/c this view is garbage that the Church does not and never has taught about "the right person." That's just stupid, American Hollywood crap.

    Anonymous this time.

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  27. MightyMighty- Much happens after 23 to one who attempts to remain chaste in this fallen world, so no it is not possible to compare our journeys. With that said, I think it a disappointing to write off my situation as being too judgmental, though this is a typical response. You might wish to see my perspective. I kept myself pure-- at great cost for these many years. I had opportunity to compromise, but have not. I have had to endure the insensitivity of others (even in the Church) who think that my commitment to purity is the problem-- so they attempt to set me up with women who never shared my commitment. Or, more often with someone they themselves would not have married or wish their son to marry, as if I waited this long for the next warm body. Is it wrong to have a standard? Is it wrong to expect from another the same commitment to purity? Is it "pride" to want to be equally yoked? Is it somehow wrong to desire what others desired in a wife-- a woman of virtue? I, and others like me, have invested dearly in keeping ourselves "unspotted from the world" and pure for marriage. But apparently that means little.... As to the mother you mentioned, I have compassion for her and am not the heartless monster you seem to assume me. I cannot speak to her sitaution, since I do not know all the facts (did she know this psychopathy before she married the man, etc.). All I can say, is that having charity and acknowledging Christ's salvific work is not the same as entering into a covenant relationship before God, until death. I take seriously the vows of marriage and the charge of Christ to husbands. Maybe too seriously in this day of license. I also take seriously the words of Jesus concerning divorce and remarriage. I cannot bind another to my conscience, but I must be able to stand before God. Married people mean well and probably think they are helping, so, no, it is not a "sin" to set me up, but it is often very insensitive. Being married so young you cannot understand the wearing effect this has-- a continuing slap in the face, as if to say, "you are too picky".

    Concerning the "thin gruel" of "just be thankful it isn't any worse", such is akin to cutting off a man's foot and telling him, "just be happy I did not cut off your leg." Either way he is hobbled and left with loss. Thus, I would not presume to compare "periods" of one's life to an entire life, nor do I compare my pain with yours. How does my pain not leave me "twisted and useless"? Pain is pain. Loss is loss. I could as easily say that at least you have had seasons of relief. More to the point, the issue is less about sex, and more about the "mutual society" of marriage.

    In the end, all is moot (or, should I say with Solomon, "vanity"). Those who are married have God's clear and rightful blessing, those who find purpose in their singleness have His grace, and those like me, who find neither in this life, must simply endure. I cannot compromise my commitment to chastity outside of marriage, so I have no option but to suffer the pain. There is no honor or comfort in this, since the Church finds little place for me (beyond nice words, or the more common "get over it, it could be worse"). When will someone be willing to bear my burden? No, the lot of the "older" virgin, who does not choose celibacy as a vocation and longs to find release from the curse of loneliness and barrenness, is to be taken variously as a misfit, a perfectionist, or a loser. The Church celebrates young people who keep pure for a few years. It too often marginalizes the ones who have kept the Faith for the long term. That was the point my earlier post. (-Anon 40)

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  28. You are so right Candise! May your children follow in your footsteps, both in virtue and in an early marriage. I believe the problem is that when a person is faithful for many years, without seeing any benefit, the pain is great and swept under the rug. The difficulty increases when those who willfully disregard God's law end up in happy homes, while some who have kept His standard are alone and reminded daily of their pain. How then is that position "not without hope". A war, famine, or government gives a tangible reason (good or bad, it is a reason)to help cope, though I doubt it makes the pain any less or more. What is the explanation for a 40+ virgin who has been pure, can find no reason for or purpose in singleness, and daily witnessing the blessing of others, especially those who have not been so faithful? Can comfort be found in a roulette of most win the jackpot, but a few go home broke? I, too, hope each finds contentment in the Holy Spirit, but it is easy to say these words when someone is content, happily married for 22 years, and spared from being alone for 22+ years.

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  29. For those who're over 40 and haven't been married,i can't say i fully understand,but i can say this:my uncle's about 48 and he's never bn married and he's still a virgin.he finds comfort in us his nephews and nieces and we in turn treat him like our father.i can't say that this is a great solution,but i can say this-our love gives him the strenght to face a new day with renewed hope. I hope you also find that kind of love that will give you the strenght to face each day wit joy,regardless of your unmarried status.
    I'm 23,a virgin,unmarried,not in a relationship(havin lost boyfriends who can't cope wit the no-sex rule) and yes,the temptation and loneliness is somtimes soo great that it's almost a physical pain. Thank you Bonnie for your article,it's a source of great encouragement.

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  30. I stumbled upon your blog from another blog of Abp Fulton Sheen...and this blog post is trully amazing and encouraging. The very last paragraph made me tear up a bit. Thanks for this post, I will be re-reading it later. It reassured me in my journey of chastity. My fiance is 25 and I'm 22 and we are both virgins, waiting til our wedding night, which is next year August 17, 2013. I realize we still have a whole another year to get through and I know it won't be easy. The more books I read about the beauty of marital sex, the more impatient I become about experiencing it. As much as I would like to experience this closeness with my fiance, I also want to be an obedient daughter to God and I know that it will all be WORTH THE WAIT.

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  31. Saw this on a link from Ignitum Today.

    I loved the part about how sex can be beautiful because of who you are with and how you are being together, even if the sex itself isn't that great, or even "awkward and painful".

    I think sometimes people can get so caught up in pleasure (not to say that sexual pleasure isn't AWESOME) that they forget that sex is about being close to your spouse who you love very much. Pleasure is great—and something spouses want to give each other—but it's the icing, not the cake.

    If couples have the intimacy, they'll figure out the pleasure.

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  32. Bonnie! This is good. Real good. I linked to it from your post this morning. How interesting some of the comments were, but I will tell you as 30 crept up and I felt called to marriage and wasn't finding mr. right, it was the scariest feeling. All that being said, the post is beautiful. My husband and I saved the gift of our full selves to each other until our wedding night. My husband converted 3 months before we began dating, so, maybe needless to say, he had a very different reality of dating then I did. That part was tough for us, and weirdly enough, still comes up sometimes in our most intimate conversations. Linking it to the song, 'someone I used to know' is fascinating- Good stuff.

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