Written in January 2004
It is customary for couples who are planning on marriage to get physical in their mays of showing affection. We know that this can lead to a slippery slope of unnecessarily sexual involvement before marriage. Therefore it is very necessary for couples to develop some guidelines in this area.
A key aspect of this is that it is the woman who often needs to hold the brakes. It is best for the couple to talk about this early in their relationship. Perhaps someone else who wisdom as a counsellor is respected by the couple could also help in this conversation. As the couple will not get married immediately developing guidelines here is going to be particularly important.
One thing to remember is that often the two people come from different cultures where standards and practices of showing affection differ. But such cultural differences will not affect sexual happiness and pleasure within marriage. For example a woman from a very conservative background can have a wonderful sexual relationship with a man from a more liberal attitude towards physical expression.
It is helpful to bear in mind some keys to happy sex life within marriage even before marriage. This way you can wait patiently and eagerly to fully enjoy “the real thing.” Here are some keys:
1. Both need to have a healthy theology of sex that sees it as something to be enjoyed thoroughly and as a means to deep intimacy with each other. Some highly religious people do not have this theology and that can pose a big problem. They have only been told about the dangers of sex and therefore they think about sex as being something dangerous and unclean though necessary for having children! That is a very unbiblical attitude as Song of Solomon clearly shows us.
2. Very important for physical enjoyment is emotional and mental unity. If a couple are mad at each other, they will never fully enjoy physical relations. They need to first come to “of one mind” before physical relations are to be enjoyed.
3. It is very important that we always remain sensitive to the partner’s needs, preferences and desires. When you make it your goal to make the other person happy you find that you will derive great happiness from that.
4. Within marriage the only rules are that you will not do things that the partner is uncomfortable with. You are free to fully enjoy and experiment and try new things, so long as both agree to this. The prospect of full enjoyment of sex within marriage will become an incentive to self-control before marriage.
Because this beautiful area of your life involves so much emotional energy and desire, and because you need to wait till marriage to fulfil it, you both will need to exercise a lot of restraint before marriage. You should talk about this frankly and come up with some rules that will govern your behaviour, and then keep talking about those rules and bringing them up in various situations. Because men are usually the ones who initiate the physical side and in whom the desire and energy is very strong, they may often feel like going beyond what the rules allow. Then the woman will need to help apply the brakes! The man must recognise this as a necessary part of the relationship and learn to appreciate these brake applications.
Usually it is a blow to a man’s ego to be held back by a woman in this way. Therefore the woman must be very sensitive and not harsh in the way she holds the brakes. The man on the other hand must learn to accept these brake applications as a necessary aspect of a disciplined, loving and holy life. This helps him to overcome the humiliation which comes with the “rejection.”
This principle of self control learned during courtship becomes very helpful later on after the couple have married. Even married couples need to exercise a lot of self control because sometimes when one partner wants to have sex, the other partner is not feeling positive towards it. Generally for a man sexual temptation gets more intense after marriage because and area that has been kept under control for so long has now been opened up. Therefore often a man gets more tempted to getting sexual pleasure outside marriage after marriage than before marriage. Also men are notorious for having sex when their wives are not in the mood. This is a sure way for the beautiful thing called sex to turn sour within a relationship. So learning self-control before marriage is a very important key to happiness within marriage.