CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY
Real talk: one of the things I was most stressed about during my engagement was the wedding night. While I was thankful that Kristian and I had (by the grace of God and the virtue of chastity) saved sex for marriage, I was also freaked out by the fact that in a few short months, I would finally be giving myself, body and soul, to the man I love.
I realize now that so many of my nerves were completely normal, and that most women (and men) who wait to make love until their wedding night have a similar experience. We all want our first night as a married couple to be beautiful and romantic and intimate...but what if it isn’t? What if it’s awkward, uncomfortable, or even physically painful?
To some extent, it’s impossible to dispel all of the pre-wedding night jitters. Even laid-back brides find that their wedding day can be emotionally exhausting (in a good way), and the pressure to have the perfect wedding night can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!
The Lord created us in such a way that sexual union between husband and wife naturally unfolds (yes, even the first time), and he established marriage as a lifelong union between spouses, meaning that your first time together on the wedding night is only the beginning of a lifetime of learning to love each other in this intimate way.
Hopefully, you have a married woman (or two) in your life who will help assuage any irrational fears you may have about the wedding night, but if you don’t (or are just too shy to ask), here are a few tips I found helpful:
Ask your fiancé to prepare in advance.
It’s no secret that men and women have different needs when it comes to foreplay and making love, but your husband-to-be may need to get some pointers from married friends (preferably Catholic ones) on how to best navigate these differences. The more he knows about how women work, the more smoothly your wedding night will go.
Relaxation is key.
At the end of your wedding day, you will probably be a strange mix of totally wired and completely exhausted. Regardless of where you are on the emotional spectrum, there’s a good chance you will need some relaxation time before you’re ready to make love. Talk to your fiancé about this before your wedding so that he’ll be prepared to wait a bit longer, and have some relaxation supplies (champagne, bubble bath, massage oils) ready at the honeymoon suite. The more relaxed you are, the more enjoyable (physically and emotionally) love-making will be.
It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, but a simple, heartfelt prayer asking the Lord to bless your first night together will bring peace to both of your hearts and prepare you spiritually to consummate your marriage. If you're at a loss for words, consider making Tobias and Sarah's prayer (Tobit 8:4-8) your own.
Talk honestly and openly about your experience the next morning.
The only way a couple can grow together sexually is by openly communicating their needs to one another. As awkward as it may feel at first, talking about your love making is essential to establishing a healthy, happy, mutually satisfying marital life together.
Don’t be afraid to wait a day (or two).
One of the reasons why so many women are nervous about the wedding night is because they have it in their heads that they must have incredible sex with their husbands on the first night of their marriage...or else. That’s simply not the case! Some couples decide to wait until the next morning so that they are more rested. Some are practicing NFP to avoid pregnancy and choose to delay consummation until after the woman’s fertile period is over. Regardless of what you and your husband decide to do, it is best to discuss it before you get to your honeymoon suite.
It’s okay if your first time making love isn’t amazing. Like anything important in marriage, it takes time and practice to learn what works and what doesn’t work for you as a couple. Be patient with yourself and with your husband, and remember that your first time won’t be your last time (even if you get pregnant right away, you can still make love throughout pregnancy). That said, if you experience any serious physical complications during love-making that make it difficult for you to give yourself fully to your husband, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
One final note: if the thought of making love with your husband absolutely terrifies you due to wounds or trauma from your past, please consider going to therapy before you get married. Marital sex is supposed to be a beautiful expression of the love between spouses, not a source of fear or intense anxiety. Therapy can help you work through your past wounds so that you have peace about making love with your husband.