Pity the Virgins – Wedding Night Blues

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I won’t say their marriage was doomed by virginity or sexual inexperience. But it certainly wasn’t helped. Her virginity provided no reassurance for him, no spiritual haven for her. His inexperience made the wedding night nerve racking rather than “special.”

People do NOT need to be sexually experienced before marriage to enjoy sex after it. But “love” and “commitment” generally aren’t enough to ensure a happily-ever-after. People who don’t have intercourse need sex education as much as those who do. Everyone needs words for their body parts; information to combat common myths (masturbation is dangerous, men don’t like to hug, etc.); good decision-making skills; and a sense of empowerment about their sexuality.

When people have good information, feel comfortable with their bodies, can communicate with a partner, and believe that sex is lovely, their virginity is not an obstacle on the wedding night. But too often virgin-until-marriage also means enforced ignorance, unfamiliarity with the other gender, discomfort with one’s body, and a pile of taboos so high that people can barely see each other in bed.

I feel bad for Mr. A and Ms. B, who didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, they followed all the social rules with which they were raised—and paid the common price.

Here’s what I propose: in all cultures that emphasize pre-marital virginity, redefine the wedding night as the start of a couple’s sexual life together. That means the first night should just be looking; the second, talking; the third, touching; the fourth, kissing; etc.. If it took God a week to create the world out of nothing, couples need at least that much time to create a sexual connection out of nothing.

You’ll also remember that God said “Let there be light.” So to enable couples to see each other’s naked bodies on the wedding night, let’s start a new tradition. How about making it the maternal aunt’s honor to give the new couple a bedroom lamp?

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Dr. Marty Klein has been a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist for 31 years. A tireless advocate, Marty has published extensively and has given over 700 keynote speeches, training programs, and popular lectures to groups.
  • I really appreciated this article. Before I got married, I received a lot of unsolicited advice from a number of parties – including my old NCSY advisor – about what to do and not to do on my wedding night. It’s ultimately up to the individuals involved and what makes them feel comfortable, but – for those with little physical experience and especially for those who observe the laws of niddah and may not be able to touch for a week or two after intercourse – taking it slow after the wedding seems to make a lot of sense. There’s something to be said for build-up and exploration. And I appreciate the days of creation analogy at the end.

    Has anyone else received unsolicited advice on this, like I did?

    Did this article introduce a new idea to anyone, or is it “old hat”?

    • Banana

      It’s definitely not a new idea for me. I have spoken to several jewish individuals about how there is a rise in divorce rate among jews and part of the issue is what is described above. I do find it interesting how long the suffering persists, how many years the couple decides to stay together, because they dont want to let the community know that there is something wrong in your relationship. They would rather put on a fake show rather than find fulfilling life. Now sometimes you can work on doing so in your own relationship but when you cant… there is a looming fear of divorce.

  • YES. Yes to all of this. I shudder to think of how insanely awkward and unsatisfying so many wedding nights are.

  • Anonymous Internet Commenter

    Oh my god the thought of a “traditional wedding night” makes me CRINGE. I’m sure there are couples who have a great time, but I can’t imagine it being anything other than painful or awkward for most people…..

  • Anonymous

    I was a virgin on my wedding night and it ended in tears – he couldn’t get in, I didn’t know what to do, necessitating a midnight phone call to a Rabbi, a second attempt and then more tears, followed by seven days of not touching which all made me just think that there must be something wrong with me. When I asked my kallah teacher what it would feel like, and what I should know – her great wisdom was imparted to me: “it’s kind of like a stick.” What she really needed to have told me about was KY Jelly. So, maybe I can be that kind of Aunt from now on, but I would advise that in addition to the gift of a lamp, some lubricant might not be a bad idea either…(with specific instructions not to use it on the lamp…!)

    • I’m sitting in a cafe, getting strange looks as I laugh out loud thinking of your visual (using lube on the lamp). Wow.

      I’m sorry that your experience was negative, but I’m glad that you plan on making yourself available to friends. I’ve become very comfortable talking to young kallot about sex and have informally become the person that a lot of my friends and friend-of-friends turn to for advice. I’m happy to do this for the same reason that I take on most of my projects. I think “If only there was something that dealt with X or someone to tell me about Y”… and then I try to fill the gap as best I can.

      Anyway, thank you for sharing your story and keep on spreading the good word!