Today’s story is a deviation from the norm. Today we have a story from a woman of 26 years of age….who waited for marriage to lose her virginity. Some of you will know that this is a story that I have been searching for for a while.
It is no surprise to many of us that our parent’s generation waited for marriage to lose their virginity, or, as my mother once put it, ‘we got married so that we could have sex’. Out of wedlock sex was frowned upon and the lack of contraception made the pre-marital variety a risky business. But in modern (Western society at least), we have very little reason to wait.
Women can manage their lives on their own terms. We are educated. We can support ourselves. Our fathers are, generally speaking, not losing sleep over the fact that the family heirlooms might not get passed onto the correct heir just because their daughters are not ‘squeaky clean’. (Mainly, it must be said, because we have very few heirlooms to lose) But that asides, we have very little reason to wait. Or do we?
What if some people just want to save virginity for the ‘right’ person? One of my male interviewees once used the term ‘to honor oneself’ in reference to his own virginity and I think I know what he meant. He meant that virginity should be lost when you really want to lose it. And not because all your classmates are losing it. If you applied that theory here, I think you could say that Kathryn well and truly honored herself, alongside her new husband. It’s a personal choice. She decided she wanted to lose her virginity with one man and one man only. He wanted the same. Whatever you think of religion, people who wait, Mormonism, whatever, there is something quite sweet about that. There is something very touching about sharing what is traditionally thought of as a teenage moment but as an adult…and with someone that you have committed to spend the rest of your life with. It’s not going to happen to me. (Horses, gates, bolted etc). But I enjoyed reading about someone else’s experience of something that in my world at least, is very, very rare.
As a footnote, I am looking for someone similar, based in the UK, to be interviewed for my book. Absolute anonymity is guaranteed. Religious or not, I would like to interview a man or a woman between the ages of 20 and 30 (ish), who has chosen to keep their virginity until they get married. If you know someone who might be suitable, please get in touch, I would be delighted to hear from you. [email protected]
Kathryn, 26 in the USA, waited until her wedding night 6 years ago
As I sit here watching my children play, it strikes me that the media and norms of society will have a great influence on their decisions and impressions about virtue and virginity. It strikes me that this project represents exactly the voice that my children may hear telling them what is normal and expected. If I hope my children see waiting until marriage as a real option, real people who did wait need to be more vocal. This perspective can’t be seen if it isn’t offered. So why not me? I am modest, but not shy.
As I sit here considering what to write, I worry that people will read this account and know it is mine. But that is silly. My story is not remarkable or unique. Most of my friends have similar stories. That’s right, most of my social circle waited until their wedding night to lose their virginity. This is normal and somewhat expected in the LDS (Mormon) community.
I did not grow up in an LDS community. I did not grow up where most people knew what a ‘Mormon’ was. I was not sheltered or raised in a bubble. Most people in my high school were having sex. But not me. I was waiting until marriage. My religion has dating standards - youth are advised not to group date until 16, and not to pair off until 18. This made it much easier to resist temptation. My decision to wait and to follow these standards was not one my parents forced. They stayed mostly out of my business, only commenting every once in a while that I should date more. Not LDS, they had not waited for marriage, and did not understand my desire to do so.
After high school I moved west to Utah, the Mormon capital. Dating picked up with many more options. All who I dated were likewise LDS, most sharing the same values of waiting to marriage.
Wait, what? Men waiting until marriage?
Yes, quite a few actually.
At this point I had reached 18 and had decided that not only would I save my virginity for marriage, but that I would save my first kiss for the man I would marry. Church teaching? Nope. There is quite a bit of kissing going on in Mormon dating. But having made it that far, and being a romantic, I made this my new goal. I loved dating, loved the company of interesting, handsome, and intelligent men. I had no difficulty getting multiple dates a week, joking with my roommates that I never had to prepare a meal. But love had not yet made an appearance, so neither had kissing.
Then I met my husband.
I accepted dates based on judgment, but kissing was a matter of prayer because it meant commitment and marriage. Kissing meant ‘I love you.’ And when I prayed, I knew. Our first kiss was sweet and perfect. My chest was pounding - hammering. My lips shaking. It was closed mouthed and sweet. I was 19. Afterward I wanted to run away, but all I could do was float because gravity had fallen away and I was so light headed that I knew if I took a step I’d faint. I momentarily freaked out the next day. I was so young! How could I know whom I should marry? But I prayed again, and panic melted into peace.
Our engagement was short, only a few months. We were rarely alone with one another, not wanting to give opportunity to temptation. We planned to marry in the temple, an honor reserved for those who lived worthily, including following the law of chastity, i.e. no sex outside of marriage. We kissed, but our clothes stayed on and our hands stayed in neutral territory.
Showers were thrown in my honor where friends gave advice and lingerie with knowing smiles. My husband and I talked about our expectations and hopes for our intimate relationship; trying the best we could to measure sexual compatibility with words alone. I visited the gynecologist for a premarital exam. Many virgin brides seek medical counsel before marriage to minimize pain and worry. I was able to try a few different formulas of the birth control pill and find the one that didn’t make me a raging lunatic. I learned how to schedule my cycle using the pills so that our honeymoon would be worry free. And I was given a dilator and instructions on ‘stretching’ my hymen to lessen pain and tearing. I was modest, but not uneducated or unfamiliar with my anatomy. I had been using tampons for years and was not squeamish about preparing my body for intercourse.
Finally, our wedding night approached. We had been married for eternity. We had dined with family and friends. There had been music, and candles, and flowers. Pretty dresses and handsome tuxedos. Limousines, and sparkling cider toasts. And sweaty palms, fluttering hearts, and anxious glances between bride and groom. Could we leave this reception already?
Our hotel suite was amazing. Music and candlelight, flower petals on the bed. We hardly noticed. I went in the bathroom to change from wedding gown to carefully selected negligee. Odd that I was finally able to change in front of him but was still hiding in the bathroom. To heighten anticipation, I decided. I remember taking a deep breath and then walking to the bedroom.
Our wedding night was amazing. How to properly describe the anticipation of 20 years, and then the realization of perfection? Every fantasy I had was fulfilled. It was not painful, nor do I remember blood. He was gentle, patient and attentive to my needs. We used sight and touch to explore each other’s bodies for the first time, taking in their beauty. Never having seen a penis before, I must say I was a bit surprised. All the line drawings in anatomy books in the world wouldn’t give an accurate expectation.
We took our time and turned the night slowly into morning. I was able to watch sheer elation cross his face for the first time, and to know that what we were experiencing was ours only. He had never had this moment with another woman. There was something in that knowledge that took my breath away. It was the right time, in the right place, and with the right person. I remember my heart was so full of happiness and peace and ‘rightness’ that I thought it would burst. Or that I could cry.
Our marriage is strong, and through the years we have been able to learn much together. Now, if we were to go back to the sex of our newlywed days, I’m sure I’d laugh and we’d be grateful for all that we have learned. I know that the sex we had on our wedding night was not the best or most masterful sex ever had. But I can’t disparage the reality of that night - the sex was perfect. It was, I would bet, the most perfect loss of virginity in the history of humanity. Perfect because it was the complete fulfillment of everything I had built it up to be, everything I could have hoped it would be. Perfect for me.