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A couple I knew had been dating for two years and remained abstinent until their wedding night. This inadvertently cause them to enter the process of being sexually intimate with baggage.

Up until this moment, they’d been told how shameful and dangerous sex would be to their relationship, and now they were supposed to see it as good and purposeful blessing. They didn’t even know where to begin unpacking and unlearning all that they’d come to believe.

There were things to work through and wounds from their past that needed to be healed. Like many others caught in this predicament, they didn’t know where to start.

It might sound crazy to you, but these are some of the things you don’t get to hear from the outside looking in: Men and women who save themselves for marriage, but then struggle to enjoy all that they have saved.

Somewhere along the way, there’s a misconception that if we save ourselves for marriage, our wedding night will be filled with hours and hours of amazing hot sex. We imagine all the stars aligning in that perfect moment, our bodies naturally taking over, knowing exactly just what to do.

And then the moment comes, and it’s never exactly how we thought it would be. Though maybe not as extreme as the couple I mentioned above, I hear from so many couples whose wedding night was filled with frustration, fears, and the shedding of a few tears.

Part of the problem is that we often go into marriage with unrealistic expectations. I’m not even sure where these expectations come from, but they are definitely ones that I, too, believed somewhere along the way. I’m thankful for honest friends and mentors who came alongside me and spoke truth into my life long before I got married, helping me set things straight.

Here are some truths I learned about this very important subject:

Waiting is always worth it, but not for the reasons we think.

We often tell young men and women that they need to wait until marriage to enjoy sex, but fail to tell them why, or make them think that virginity is the one and only key to a fulfilling sex life come wedding night. But none of those things are the reasons we wait. We don’t wait so that we can we can have an evening of ecstasy on our honeymoon night—because trust me, that’s rarely the case.

We wait because through the process of waiting our relationship is built, our trust is strengthened and our commitment to one another is tried, tested and refined. We wait because through the process of waiting, we learn discipline, self-control, reverence for the sacred.

We wait because it’s an act of worship and obedience to a God who knows exactly how we’re wired, what we need and what is best for our lives. Our waiting is an act of trusting. And trusting God always leads to greater things, including greater sex along the way.

Sex is a Process.

They say good sex starts in the kitchen and it does. What that means is that it’s in the everyday interactions with one another that our sex lives begin to grow. Through marriage you learn that sex isn’t this one-time action like Hollywood movies tend to portray. Sex in its intended form is a process.

It’s a process of learning selflessness, trust, communication and a whole lot of grace. It’s a process of learning to be vulnerable, asking for what we need and trusting our spouse to meet us where we’re at. It’s a process of becoming a better person as much as it is about becoming a better lover.

The framework of marriage is the one way that we get to watch this process unfold in the most meaningful way—the process of becoming healthy, whole and one. There’s a lot to learn about having a healthy sex life. It’s a lifelong process of learning along the way, not something you can figure all out on your wedding night.

Practice makes Perfect

I look back at my wedding night and I have to chuckle a bit. I’ll spare you the details, but it was quite a learning curve filled with laughs, trial and error, and a whole lot of practice. But practice makes perfect, and I have to say I am honored to have the chance to practice with this man that I love so deeply for the rest of our lives. That’s what marital sex it’s all about.

Just like anything significant in life, good sex takes time, energy and practice to get better. I hear from older couples who are investing in their relationship and thriving in their marriage that their sex life always follows suit—getting healthier, happier and more exciting as time passes.

The honeymoon is simply the start: the beginning of the lifelong journey. It’s important for us to have healthy expectations of this thing called “sex” long before we enter a marriage relationship.

For those of you who are still waiting, continue trusting God with your heart, your desires and your needs—He will always come through. Your wait will never be in vain.

For those of you who are married, remember that sex is a process—one that must be talked about, learned about and practiced. one that comes with its ups and downs, yet can always lead to greater intimacy along the way. If you find yourself struggling, don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek the help of a professional counselor to help you along the way, that’s our job!

Sex is holistic because it involves the health of our bodies but also the health of our hearts, minds and souls. No matter who you are or what your relationship status, may God guide you into the healing of every one of these parts starting today.

This article is taken from an excerpt of Debra’s newest book, Choosing Marriage: Why it Has To Start With We > Meand used with permission. 

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