Monday, May 13, 2013

Guest Post From Trista: Sex Is Replacable, Love Is Not

Ever since I first wrote about wedding night anxieties a few months ago, I've been so humbled by your responses.  I talked about coming to marriage as virgins, my friend Rebecca wrote on starting over when you aren't virgins, and today, Trista from Not A Minx, A Moron, Or A Parasite has a different take: what if one of you has a sexual past and the other doesn't?  Trista's marrying Bryan, the love of her life, later this month and I love her take on healing and truest joy.  Read on for her wisdom!

Although delighted and grateful to be called to marriage and to have met the man I'm made to enter the Sacrament with, I fell into a spiritual, emotional, and physical funk as our time of discernment and engagement began.  

My husband-to-be had not waited for me.

I had known the whole time we dated that he was not a virgin but as he was revealed to be my husband, this sexual past wounded me and stirred up a number of insecurities.

Would he compare me to others, even subconsciously?  And would I be up to par?
Would I be a disappointment in bed because I don't have any experience?
Why was I suddenly embarrassed about my virginity?  Feeling like the only one who hadn't studied for a test?

Would I feel free enough to explore holy sex without wondering, “Was it like this for him when he was with so-and-so?”

For months, this subject weighed heavily on me.  I sought advice from married bloggers, talked and cried about it with my fiance (over and over again), and begged the Lord for help.

Trista's conclusions about waiting, forgiving, and honesty, with a little help from Fulton Sheen (we're mutually obsessed!):

“All love craves unity.  This is evident in marriage, where there is the unity of two in one flesh.” -Venerable Fulton Sheen
I had to reexamine my struggle.  In the midst of the surprising heartache, there is still a lot to celebrate.  Your fiance showed amazing courage and docility to the Holy Spirit by embracing chastity.  He is committed to caring for you and letting true love grow.  What a holy man!  Your commitment to chastity, together, is beautiful and a blessing to your future marriage.  Rejoice!  Don't let the Devil rob you of the joy that is rightfully yours by keeping you focused on the past.  Pray to the Lord for help to keep rooted in the present.

Let's get more than physical.
If you remain focused solely on the physical aspects of sex, then yes, it does seem like there will be nothing new for your fiance to experience except a new body to have sex with.  That's the carnal definition of sex, though, and not the one the Lord or your fiance has in mind.  As Venerable Fulton Sheen writes, "Sex love substitutes one occasion of pleasure for the other, but love knows no substitution" (Three to Get Married 75).  Sex withing marriage is not just physical – it involves the soul, the mind, the heart, and the will, as much as the reproductive organs (Three to Get Married 125).

You are entering into something much deeper than the bonds developed through sex outside of marriage.  You are entering into the marital act, the symbol of the union of your souls, which in turn is a symbol of the union of Christ and His Church (Three to Get Married 76).  This will be a new, grace-filled experience for both you and your fiance!
Instead of focusing on your lack of tips and tricks from Cosmo, focus on being yourself, remaining honest and open, and loving your fiance.  Sex is about communion of persons, not a test where you pass or fail based on what you can do.

Wonderfully made.
“I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!  My very self you know.  My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.”
-Psalm 139:14-16

Just as it takes an act of will for your fiance to remove past memories, it will take an act of will and prayer for you to move on and stop wondering about past lovers.  You are wonderfully made!  Both the Lord and your fiance believe this, and it's true!  Stop comparing yourself to other women.  Stop imagining that everyone knows what to do and how to do it perfectly on the first try.  You are wonderfully made!  Beautiful.  Funny and smart, and your fiance is ready to commit himself to you for the rest of his life!  He's crazy about you!  Our culture doesn't have the first clue about sex, so in your insecurity, don't panic and look to Cosmo, movies, and Nora Roberts for advice; that will only make you feel worse.

Whenever you feel yourself getting anxious or beginning to compare yourself to others, stop, pray, and remind yourself that you are wonderfully made.  Spend time before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, praying and pondering Psalm 139.  Let Him make you confident of who you are.  Journal your thoughts and anxieties; talk with a trusted priest; and ask you fiance to affirm how beautiful he thinks you are.  
Also, ask your fiance to actively use your Love Language (I'm sure he does, but doubling up never hurt!), because when you're feeling safe and connected, it's easier to resist the anxiety.  Keep exercising, primping, and getting full nights of sleep.  When I'm feeling well-rested and physically strong, I've noticed I have the strength to kick my worries to the curb.

My fiance and I seemed to struggle with this topic at least once a month.  For days, I would live in a haze where this was all I worried about morning, noon, and night.  I couldn't seem to climb the wall of fear and leave it permanently behind.  I knew this wasn't God's plan for me--“Do not let your hearts be troubled”--and I needed divine help.  If I couldn't move on, I trusted that the Lord, in me, could. 

Through confession, the Lord gave me the graces to see things rightly, to bury my obsessive thoughts about past lovers, and to grow in trust of my fiance.  

Anticipate God's grace.
On July 12, 1939, Pope Pius XII told a group of newlyweds, “...the Catholic family is based upon a sacrament.  This means we are concerned not with a simple contract...but with a true and proper religious act of supernatural life, from which flows an almost undeniable right to obtain all graces, all divine assistance necessary and appropriate to sanctify married life, to perform the obligations of the conjugal state, to overcome its difficulties, to carry out its purposes and to achieve its highest ideals.” 

If you find yourself still worrying, anticipate God's grace.  You're not married yet; you haven't entered into the Sacrament.  When you do, you will be given all the graces needed for your sanctification and for your marriage, including sex.  Trust Him!  He is with you in all things!   

Be kind to yourself and your fiance.  Loving, like all things, takes time and trial and error. 

There is for the Christian no such thing in marriage as choosing between body and soul or sex and love.  He must choose both together.  Marriage is a vocation to put God in every detail of love.  In this way, the dream of the bride and groom for eternal happiness really comes true, not in themselves alone, but through themselves.  Now they love each other not as they dreamed they would, but as God dreamed they would.  Such a reconciliation of that tension is possible only to those
who know that it takes three to make love.

(Three to Get Married 31-32)

Hopefully all the dialogue that's been going on has been as eye-opening for you as it has for me!  Trista and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments or in an email, so don't be afraid to speak up.  You can reach Trista at and me at  Meantime, I stumbled across this article on this very subject and thought it had some valuable wisdom, as well.  Let us know what you think!



  1. Excellent point about love languages.

    One of the five love languages is physical touch. Both my wife and I have this as our primary language. Unfortunately, some chastity advocates can take a view of physical touch as always being sexual and something to be avoided or a near occasion of sin. Such a view can cause "touchy" couples to starve their relationship for intimacy.

    Counterintuitively, allowing ourselves to touch each other when we need to abstain from sex has made the abstinence a lot easier. Engaged chastity is different from marital chastity, but engaged couples shouldn't be afraid to get close to each other.

    1. Thanks for commenting, James! Great advice for people with touch as a primary love language.

  2. This is beautiful. Praise God that he gives us spouses who teach us, sometimes through their own failings and sometimes through their strength, to trust and love in God even more than we would have been able to otherwise.

    1. Thank you, Sarah! What a beautiful reflection you just gave me.

  3. SO beautiful Trista, my husband also was in the same boat as your future husband, and it bothered me and even worried me a little, but we prayer and talked a lot about...He told me even though he didn't wait till marriage, that I was worth waiting for until we got married:)
    SUCH a good post!!!

  4. Thank you for this post! You've given me more to reflect on. :)

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  6. I do want to add one more thing for Trista and anyone else in this situation:

    Your fiancé wants YOU and has been willing to wait for YOU. He probably views his past lovers as unimportant. If all he wanted was sex, he would never have waited so long.

    I'm sure he's doesn't care that you are inexperienced. In fact, I would guess he's probably looking forward to helping you discover this area in your relationship.

    I think sometimes well-meaning talk about the importance of abstinence and chastity can backfire. Yes, sex does bond us to another person. But it doesn't bond us forever, even in marriage. This is how widows and widowers can find new love and remarry. People can and do leave old lovers behind and commit themselves completely to another person.

    Your fiancé wants to commit himself completely to you. Do not think you are inadequate in any way.

    1. Wonderful, wonderful comments. I will admit my fiance said the same things as you many times but it took me a while to truly believe it!

  7. Beautiful souls, all of you. Thanks so much, Trista!



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