How can my fiancé and I prepare for our wedding night in a God-honoring way? We are both virgins, and I can honestly say that our deepest desire is to please and honor God with our relationship. We also want our relationship to be an example to others.
What is a responsible way to be preparing for the time when we can become one? My fiancé says that, closer to the date of our marriage, we should talk about what our expectations are so that we don't come together with very different ideas of what our wedding night would be like. (Whether or not it's necessary to consummate the marriage the first night, etc.) At this point, I don't really know what my expectations are or how much I should be trying to define them!
I don't have a very clear idea of how we can best talk and think about our wedding night without exploring things we shouldn't.
It's wise to be aware of the need to discuss expectations about your honeymoon, and specifically sex, with your fiancé, as well as to wonder about the timing and content of those conversations prior to the wedding. But don't have the conversation too soon or you'll only create opportunities for temptation. It's amazing how erotic just talking about sex can be.
I would also recommend not having the conversation alone. At a minimum you should talk with your fiancé about expectations during your premarital counseling. That's a common topic covered by most pastors before the wedding. If what you're able to cover with your pastor seems inadequate, you could talk separately with a same-sex mentor about specific questions or concerns you have.
A candid conversation with an older married woman you trust would be helpful a few weeks before the wedding. You really don't need much time to prepare. And your fiancé will need even less. He should have a similar talk with a man he trusts (ideally you would be talking to married spouses) a few days before the wedding. Any sooner than that will just leave him tempted to fantasize.
I recommend finding a mentor couple now, if you don't already have one. There are lots of things to talk through before the wedding beyond expectations for sex; doing so with a husband and wife who have a good marriage is invaluable.
Be careful not to overdo it. A little preparation before the wedding will go a long way. You can anticipate a honeymoon full of the time and privacy you'll need to explore, discover and practice — that's what it's for, or used to be, when bride and groom were virgins. And when the honeymoon's over, you'll have a lifetime together to learn about sex and get good at having it.
Share expectations about when you'll consummate, but try not to have them about specifics. It takes time to learn what delights the other. I know many couples find they're too tired after a long day of wedding activities to attempt first-time intimacy the minute they close the door of their honeymoon suite. There's no rule that says you have to. Maybe you'll get to your room early enough that you could take a nap first (that's what we did). If not, and you're exhausted, wait till the next day when you can be fresh and rested for each other. (I have heard of brides too afraid to ever consummate on the honeymoon. I would not personally recommend putting it off till after the honeymoon, nor, I suspect, would your fiancé like that idea! Hopefully you won't either.) When bride and groom both have an attitude of service, sweet and passionate intimacy is the result.
One of the best words of advice we received came a week after the wedding. In the card attached to one gift, our newlywed friends wrote, "relax and enjoy the process. It took us a few months to figure things out." That advice, even "that long" after the wedding, was a relief. It was OK that we were still "figuring things out." No pressure to perform.
A few months before the wedding, I read The Art of Natural Family Planning and then gave my marked up copy to Steve to read. Whether you decide to follow that method or opt for birth control, the information in that book about fertility and how a woman's body works is invaluable for both husband and wife. The book provided lots of occasions for us to talk about what in the book we agreed with, what we disagreed with and our philosophy of marriage and sex and family in the context of a biblical worldview.
For answers to our more practical, physiological questions, we read The Gift of Sex, by Dr. Clifford and Joyce Penner, when we got back from our honeymoon. Also helpful was Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Loraine Pintus.
Before my wedding, I asked my mentor if she would recommend any books to "prepare." She said, "We didn't want to read any books, we wanted to write our own." That was the permission I needed to put the books down when they got overwhelming.
But I also needed permission to pick them back up again. After 25 years of working so hard to not think sexual thoughts, it felt a little sneaky to be reading such explicit information. That's why we stuck with books written by respected Christian authors. Our culture has much to say in praise of sex done wrong, but when it comes to doing it right, it's virtually silent.
The more you save for the honeymoon, the better it will be! Have fun, enjoy one another and this wonderful gift. And relax, most of what you need to know can be learned together after the wedding.