Prayer. And lots of it.
It's safe to say that's what helped my now-husband and I not have sex for the more than two years that we dated.
The decision to be celibate was an easy one to make at first. It was one of those situations where we knew we'd be husband and wife one day, even though we never really said it out loud. Of course, that made it even more difficult to wait because, what would the harm be in having sex with someone who you knew you were going to marry anyway?
In those extremely difficult moments, I always had to come back to being intentional about our celibacy. It was a vow that I made and knew I would regret if I didn't keep it. In part, it was a promise to God because I felt like I had disappointed Him enough in all of my failed situationships and I wanted to make a change. This was also a personal promise because I had finally discovered my value and wanted to fully know myself before I gave away this invaluable part of me to someone else.
But trust me, even with those promises, it got challenging.
We Set Boundaries
Clearly, we were attracted to one another. If not, we would have kept friendzoning each other like we did for the first 2+ years we knew each other. But once we crossed over into a serious relationship, and realized just how much we wanted to act on that attraction (and make up for lost time), we knew we had to set a few limits.
For starters, it wasn't anything unusual for him to spend the night when we first started dating. It was actually expected. Especially if neither of us had to work the next day. We found out the hard way that that was just asking for a night and morning of passion. So, him not staying the night anymore was the first boundary that we set. After that, I noticed that when he did leave or drop me off after a date night, he stopped prolonging the goodbyes.
Before I knew it, he was either at the door with his coat on ready to leave my apartment after a TV night, or wouldn't even come inside when he dropped me off. At first, I was in my feelings and was extra offended. But I was late to the party and realized these were more of his efforts to make sure we didn't cross that infamous line.
I Went With My Gut
Because let's be honest, if anyone was going to cross that line, it could have been us. Yes, we probably sound like very responsible people setting boundaries and whatnot. But to be real, there were times where I just knew we were going to end up doing it, like, in the heat of moment think, It's about to go down.
But that's where I'm convinced the prayers came into play. There were moments that going to a certain level honestly just did not feel right. It wasn't like a stomachache or anything like that, just this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was doing something wrong and something that I would regret. It became so strong, I didn't have a choice but to listen to it.
We Were True To Ourselves
I think another reason we were able to stay celibate during our dating phase was because it's what we wanted. Anyone who knows us knows that we grew up in church and were taught that sex was this thing you were supposed to steer clear of at all costs. But if we made that decision for our parents, or even to keep up appearances, I can't honestly say that we would have been successful. It all came down to what we felt was best for our relationship.
When we did get married, we didn't even put it out there that we had abstained from sex. Partly because we just made it by the hairs of our chinny chin chin. But also, because we just never really felt a need to have this major announcement. It's not even that we were embarrassed. I mean, these days celibacy seems to be the new trend. It just means that it was a decision that we felt good with within ourselves and didn't feel we needed to tell the world at the moment.
This doesn't mean that couples who do have sex before marriage are bad, or couples who are more open about their celibacy are doing it (or not doing it) the wrong way. In fact, some of those couples were an inspiration to me during my times of weakness. It was just about what was right for us. Now that we've been married for almost a year, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.