I waited for this?
That was the thought that ran through my head as my then-husband climbed off of me, unaware of the disappointment that was building up inside.
For almost 25 years, I had held on to my prized possession, dodging advances from guys who I knew only wanted to get in between my thighs in hopes of finding “the one" who not only loved it, but loved me too. While many people no longer believe in celibacy and abstinence, I was raised in a family that valued conservative morals and grew up in the church, which often preaches waiting until marriage for sex. I did not really date throughout high school because most boys I met focused on sex, which I wasn't interested in.
I wanted love.
I met my ex-husband my sophomore year at a Christian college. He seemed different: kind, sweet, and gentle. He never pressured me for sex and seemed incredibly understanding, and it didn't hurt that he wanted to be a pastor. During the four years of us dating, we never had intercourse, although we did engage in other acts of pleasure. I thought I was doing the "good Christian girl" thing by not having sex. Funny thing is, people often said that since we weren't having sex that I might end up with bad sex. Ultimately, it seems that they got the last laugh.
On Valentine's Day in 2011, he got down on one knee, and I was beyond elated. I had followed the plan—I went to school, got good grades, didn't date a lot, didn't party or do drugs, and certainly didn't have sex, so I made the decision that since I was finally engaged and going to spend the rest of my life with this man, I would unlock the chastity belt.
It finally happened one night when our guards were down and our intoxication levels up.
It wasn't sweet or romantic as I had imagined it would be.
In fact, it was completely unexpected. He still lived at home with his mom, but she was out of town on this particular night. The alcohol got the best of us as we fell into an awkward exploration of each other's bodies. At first I panicked—I didn't have a condom, and though we were engaged, I was still hesitant to share the part of me that I had held onto so dearly for so long. But he was prepared—he slipped his protection on, and I knew that there was no turning back from there.
It was good.
It was exciting.
It was new.
I was finally doing the thing I always wanted to do! And yet…it felt like something was missing. Although I was enjoying it, a part of me questioned whether there was something more that I should've been experiencing. Unlike me, it wasn't his first time having sex, so I was surprised that I lacked the feeling of ecstasy that so many of my friends had described. I just assumed it would get better as time went on. They say practice makes perfect, and after all, we were just getting started.
A couple of months later, we exchanged vows, and the honeymoon was nothing short of amazing. But I began to notice that I was a bit more adventurous than he was. I thought sex should be exciting and fun, but he seemed a bit more conservative. There were things I wanted to explore that he objected to, instead we stuck to the same positions and the same old routine. I tried approaching him on my lack of satisfaction, which only led to uncomfortable post-sex debriefings where he questioned the quality of the performance.
Throughout the years, I began to notice that our sex life was getting increasingly more boring each time we had sex. It got to the point where I found myself drinking alcohol just to enjoy it.
I found myself noticing our sexual incompatibility more often. We seemed to want different things and had different ideas of what was exciting. He valued foreplay, and I penetration. Before long, I began to realize that the unthinkable had happened—I saved myself for marriage to a guy that couldn't fulfill me sexually.
I tried to get creative to improve our sex life, but it wasn't working. Eventually, I had to accept that we were very incompatible sexually.
Sex had become a chore and something I did only when I had to.
As my marriage declined, sex became a means to an end: Maybe if I do it tonight we won't bicker and argue. Maybe I won't have to deal with his attitude. Maybe I'll get some space from him afterward.
But three years into our marriage, we found ourselves signing divorce papers.
It wasn't until I started dating again that I realized the joys of what sex could be, and where I may have went wrong with my ex-husband. My first encounter was with a good friend who I had a deep connection with. With him, I could let down my guard—I didn't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed as I did with my ex-husband. I realized that it was likely because with my ex, my weight was often criticized and my body critiqued in ways that expounded upon my already existing insecurities.
Not only was I lacking in experience, but I also felt unattractive to the one person I should've felt the most beautiful around. I would often retreat inside my head instead of enjoying the moment, and him being a more cerebral person, he did the same.
As I started dating I began to learn more about who I was both sexually and as a woman. As a virgin, I had no idea that I valued a man who could dominate in the bedroom, just as I did everyday in my workplace. I didn't know that I needed an alpha-male, and my ex was everything but one. It became more obvious to me that the signs of our incompatibility were there all along. He was an introvert who preferred a routine life with little spontaneity. I am an extrovert and a go-getter always looking forward to the next challenge—something new.
As hard as it is to admit, I had subconsciously settled for the good guy with the bad sex, not because we were truly in love, but because we were convenient and safe for one another.
While I don't fully regret waiting until I found my husband to lose my virginity, I won't say that if given the opportunity that I would do it again. I know people say that you can teach your partner what you like and learn more about what turns them on, and I completely agree. However, it requires mutual desire from both parts. Unfortunately, that was not my reality.
I saved myself for my husband and was disappointed, yet as unpleasant of an experience as it was, I am thankful for it. I learned to let my inhibitions go, stop judging myself through his eyes, and own and accept my sexuality.
In a sense, it was the sexual imprisonment in my marriage that ultimately lead to my freedom.
- As Told To Kiah McBride