Why I’m Not Afraid of an Awkward Wedding Night

I am 29 years old, and I have never had sex. Not even close. My decision to practice chastity implies that I never will, unless or until I am married. Which means if I do get married, I won’t have any sexual “experience.”

So a young adult who reads my blog once asked me the following question:

“Why would you want to have an awkward wedding night?

I don’t. Nobody who saves sex saves it because they want the wedding night to be awkward. The reader’s question is probably rooted in a fear that sexual inexperience will result in awkward or “imperfect” wedding night sex. This disturbs a lot of the people I’ve encountered who have responded with shock or pity to my decision to save sex.

But their discomfort with sexual inexperience at marriage is normal. I expect it out of the culture that prefers preparedness for a wedding night over preparedness for marriage—a culture that probably doesn’t even discern the difference. It’s a culture that is curious as to why I can enter marriage without any sexual history and be undisturbed by that.

I’ll tell you why: because we don’t have to be disturbed. Entering marriage without prior sexual experience expresses confidence in our commitment to each other, and not knowing what to expect authenticates it. A couple that won’t save sex because they don’t want to have to communicate on their wedding night isn’t likely to communicate well in a marriage.

Entering marriage without sexual “experience” is a choice worth making for the following reasons:

In holy matrimony, very little depends on wedding night sex. 
If you marry in the Church, you agree to love and honor each other all the days of your lives. This is a process. Just as you will need to grow in love in thousands of other ways throughout your marriage, a couple will likewise need time to learn how to best express physical love to each other. It’s not something to fear, but to anticipate with joy.

Authentic love transcends sexual inexperience.
Love is patient, and kind, and doesn’t dump you because you lack sexual experience. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. A couple that has entered a marriage based on authentic love has been given a safe space for trial and error, in which they can discover the mystery of sexual intimacy together.

Chaste living strengthens your ability to love
By saving sex for marriage, chaste couples gain experience in patience, self-mastery, fidelity, and other forms of intimacy that ultimately will serve to strengthen their marriage.

The pursuit of virtue is worth sexual inexperience. 
Chastity is a virtue. It’s a decision we make over and over to do the right thing regarding sex, which we as Catholics define as a sacred, physical sign of the vows a husband and wife made at the altar. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, “the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.”

The virtues require us to wait and work in a culture that “doesn’t wanna,” to live lives that don’t align with what the world around us values, and to risk, by being chaste, what some fear could be an “awkward” wedding night. But you know what? That’s worth it, because it’s part of our efforts to become like the one who created us (who created us able to love the same way he does). And that isn’t awkward at all.

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profile pic fall 2014-3Arleen Spenceley is author of the book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin (Ave Maria Press, Nov. 2014). She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. She blogs at arleenspenceley.com. Click here to follow her on Twitter, click here to like her on Facebook, and click here to follow her on Instagram.

34 Comments

  1. So beautiful and true, Arleen!!

    By Shannon | 1 year ago Reply
    • Thank you, Shannon!

      By Arleen Spenceley | 1 year ago Reply
      • I’d like to mention here also (been married 32 yrs!) that the wedding night is only the first of many, many “getting to know you” nights! Not awkward, but simply beautiful moments of intimate revelations between 2 people committed to love one another unto death 🙂

        By Salwa | 1 year ago Reply
  2. The people asking about the “awkward wedding night” are silly. It’s not as if the wedding night is the only time you’ll ever have sex (so you’d better get it right or ELSE), or as if there will be a team of judges in the marital bedchamber holding up signs with how they rate your performance. Good grief!

    By Stephanie | 1 year ago Reply
    • RIGHT?! An argument I get a lot is that you’ve got to know that you’re sexually compatible before marriage. But it implies that sex is static, that it never changes, which is false. I believe that most of the folks who’ve used that argument don’t actually seek sexual compatibility — what they REALLY want is compatibility that’s effortless or intuitive. Which is unrealistic inside AND outside the bedroom.

      Also LOL @ the team of judges.

      By Arleen Spenceley | 1 year ago Reply
  3. I’m 46 and still a virgin. People simply don’t seem to understand the sacredness of the whole thing

    By Dave | 1 year ago Reply
    • You are an amazing role model, sir. I would shake your hand if I could. Stay strong, and I could not be more impressed.

      By Matt | 1 year ago Reply
  4. Thank you Arleen! I heard one guy say he would want his future wife to know what she was doing in the bedroom by the time they get married. Assuming that this guy is not the only person that his future wife has ever been with on a sexually intimate level. How would he feel about that, if he really thought about it? Obviously nobody knows who their future spouse will be if they are called to marriage, or if that person has been sexually active in the past. Sometimes we might meet someone, and through them and the power of the Holy Spirit working in them, be called to live a chaste existence.

    By Clare | 1 year ago Reply
  5. I have always fully expected that my first time having sex will be the most awkward thing ever. That is exactly why I am saving this experience for when I am married. I fear that the poor fellow would never interact with me again if we he wasn’t already married to me.

    By Sarah | 1 year ago Reply
  6. Fantastic Arleen! – and so needing to be said. If the entire success of the lifetime commitment to someone is judged on the 6 hour period after the wedding, what kind of relationships is this culture promoting? I would so much rather have a spouse who has struggled and striven to be chaste than a ‘not-awkward’ wedding night.

    By Chloe M. | 1 year ago Reply
  7. the emotional “adhesive” God intended for sex has not been diluted by multiple previous experiences when both spouses have saved themselves for marriage. There’s no baggage. The bond that type of couple forms is the strongest physical, emotional, and spiritual bond humanly possible. Isn’t that something everyone longs for?

    By Richard | 1 year ago Reply
  8. What does this mean? A couple that won’t save sex because they don’t want to have to communicate on their wedding night isn’t likely to communicate well in a marriage.

    By Leslie | 1 year ago Reply
  9. Not to undermine or contradict that marriage is way more than wedding night sex, but perhaps changing the subtitle a bit or clarifying: it is not “very little” that depends on it…according to Church teaching, that first night of union consummates the sacrament. THAT is the sacred value of that first time.

    By Grace Hernandez | 1 year ago Reply
  10. I was very fortunate to find a women to marry and equally as fortunate to find that she was chaste. A man appreciates a sincere woman who would desire a one to one relationship based on honesty and trust as far as is possible and one that continues to grow in such a way. To have a women chaste or otherwise is a blessing for a man and were both chaste would be a double blessing. Married life can be difficult and eliminating obstacles is good but by insinuating false obstacles doesn’t help anyone.

    By Vincent Licitra | 1 year ago Reply
  11. Great post. This is certainly on the minds of the chastity-ers.
    I challenge this: Why “wedding night”? The day is going to be busy and you may be exhausted. Hopefully, the couple will have many long happy years together. Relax, rest, have some cuddly intimacy and have a wonderful, loving consummation when you recover from the stress and bustle. Make it count rather than have the obligatory wedding night. I mean, if you saved this long, it is no big deal.

    By Drea | 1 year ago Reply
  12. I’d heard that argument before getting married and I knew it was silly, but after I got married it seemed sillier than ever! With whom else would I want to share the hilarity of the awkwardness than the man who loves me so much he’ll never leave me? And what is more vulnerable than inexperience? Offer that to the one who will receive your vulnerability with reverence and total love! But I think it just shows how much confusion there is surrounding the significance of a wedding, and how little we truly love ourselves and each other.

    By Maria | 1 year ago Reply
  13. Awesome article! SO many people needlessly worry about this. I like so much what you said about preparing for the MARRIAGE more than the WEDDING night.

    By Beth Steury | 1 year ago Reply
  14. Great post Arleen! I always love reading your stuff. As a guy who was married once before, I do have something to tell everyone out there: Don’t worry about the wedding night. Here was my wedding day and night: We got married at 11am, our reception started at 3pm, it went till 10pm, then we went to my father-in-law’s house for leftover late night desserts, we got home at 1am and we crashed into bed and feel asleep FULLY CLOTHED. The alarm went off at 5am. We woke up, packed the car, and we were driving on the road to our honeymoon location at 6am still in the clothes we were wearing the previous day when we feel asleep.

    Trust me, there are going to be more awkward moments in marriage than the wedding night. Wait until the two of you have to pay the bills together for the first time or the first time the bank account becomes overdrawn or the first time the spouse who doesn’t know how to cook tries to make dinner.

    For those of you who are nervous about the wedding night, remember this, you will spending more time at the dinner table than anywhere else in your marriage. If you don’t know how to communicate there, then the bedroom won’t matter

    By Andy | 1 year ago Reply
    • Love your story!

      By Drea | 1 year ago Reply
  15. Hashtag! AUTHENTIC LOVE!!!! ^^

    By noni | 1 year ago Reply
  16. Honestly, I find that it’s been REALLY worth it since I’ve been married to have waited. Yeah, the first time wasn’t perfect but it gets better as time goes on, it’s a language we’ve developed together, and that for me has been worth far more than a ‘perfect’ wedding night.

    A lifetime is way better than a single night anyway. 🙂

    By GiannaT | 1 year ago Reply
  17. Good article. A relationship that can’t handle a little awkwardness can’t handle marriage. I would tend to ask people, why would you want your wedding night to be the same old thing?

    By Angela Lessard | 1 year ago Reply
  18. ” I expect it out of the culture that prefers preparedness for a wedding night over preparedness for marriage—a culture that probably doesn’t even discern the difference. ”
    That’s it… (y)
    God bless you Arleen 🙂

    By Matt Pratt | 1 year ago Reply
  19. Arleen, this post is awesome and I think that it’s so true. Let’s say a prayer for every person who reads this and everyone who is afraid to be allegedly “unprepared” for their honeymoon.

    By Michelle | 1 year ago Reply
  20. I think waiting affirms the mystery that is waiting for us in heaven. It also reveals to us the order of God’s creation. And it reminds us of the importance of faithfully waiting for his return. On top of all that, waiting humbles us to the fact that we don’t know it all and that there is a place and time for everything.

    By John Morgan | 1 year ago Reply
  21. God bless you! To save the most precious gift you could gove your spouse – yourself – is incredible. To cement the bond the two of you will have in this manner is what our Lord expects of us. Thank you for sharing this.

    By Maureen | 1 year ago Reply
  22. This year we will be married 7 years. And we don’t regret waiting for our wedding night one bit. Even though we were not “experienced” it was still a very special night for us. Each time was better and better as we became closer in our marriage. Still to this day it has defied my expectations and still gets better when i thought there was no room for improvement. Growing closer emotionally, spiritually, and communicatively has grown the physical side of our marriage to an amazing place. I love my husband so much and wouldn’t have our marriage any other way 🙂

    By Julie | 1 year ago Reply
  23. Farts, strange squishy noises, weird feelings, tickles, chills, goosebumps, butterflies in the stomach, nervousness, sloppy kisses, some tears, sweat and outbursts will occur on your wedding night. It’s unavoidable, normal and FINE. It will be awkward, strange, weird, scary and hopefully, youre marrying someone who truly loves and respects you and has the decency to EMBRACE the awkwardness and you, through the course of the night. Besides, it’s not like Catholic couples have sex all that often anyways, just to have kids. Much bigger things to worry about in a marriage.

    By Broken Hearted | 1 year ago Reply
    • “Catholic couples don’t have sex all that often” lmao what???

      By Ginnie | 1 year ago Reply
  24. You go girl

    By Mike olognese | 1 year ago Reply
  25. You go girl

    By Mike olognese | 1 year ago Reply
  26. Our wedding reception ended at 3am. We went to the hotel only to find out the hotel was double booked. There were no available hotels in the area so we headed back to the in laws finally at 5am and crashed immediately. It was a while before we even had a “wedding night”! And since we practice NFP we don’t even have sex that often anyway.

    By Joanne | 1 year ago Reply
  27. I’m 24 and I have heard this question a million times. The one thing I never really get is, how does your having sex for the first time become less awkward outside of the wedding night? Also, I feel like this is such a silly and trivial argument. I’m marrying my best friend, we have a lot of growing to do together still, but he is my best friend. Maybe things will be awkward, but neither of us will ever feel insecure about it because we’re going to be figuring things out together. Besides, our daily lives are already filled with lots of awkward moments, we are both awkward people. It brings us closer because we get to laugh through them, together. Marry your best friend and you’ll realize that a little awkwardness as you slip out of your dress is the least of your concerns. 😉

    By Danielle | 1 year ago Reply

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