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Is Abstaining Before Marriage Hard? What Are The Benefits?

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

The answer to the first question might seem obvious.

In a culture obsessed with sex, there is a lot of pressure on those choosing to abstain to conform to mainstream values. Sex is everywhere we look and is hard to escape. Sexually explicit media and music dominate the mainstream and are compounded by hook up culture.

Yes, abstinence is hard. But it is possible.

Let’s talk about how and why people choose abstinence. But first, let’s start with the definition. Abstinence is the practice of not doing or having something that is wanted or enjoyable. Now this isn’t to say that what is enjoyable is bad in itself. When you abstain, you are waiting for the right time to enjoy the good, which is the case for sex.

There is still debate around what abstaining from sex (until marriage) means. For some, it means you can watch porn and masturbate or even have anal or oral sex. However, for others abstaining from sex includes abstaining from any sexual activity, and includes watching porn or listening to/watching sexually explicit media. For the purpose of this blog, we are going to have the scope of abstaining include abstaining from all sexual activity, including anal, oral, and vaginal sex.

Now that we have clarified what abstaining from sex before marriage looks like for this blog, let’s talk about the benefits of abstaining.

The first benefit of saving sex for marriage is stability.

Stability in a marriage or in any relationship is something I think we can all agree is important. Stability is built on trust and commitment, which can only be built through having a strong emotional, mental, and spiritual connection to your spouse or partner.

When sex enters a relationship before the couple is married, it can create a false sense of intimacy in the relationship, meaning that the couple will feel emotionally closer than they actually are. This is due to the release of oxytocin during sex. Oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”, produces feelings of bonding, which can occur from a simple hug. As such, when you have sex, the most intimate form of touch, you experience a heightened sense of bonding. This is what falsely elevates the relationship, as both people feel really close but in many cases are actually emotionally distant.

This, then can lead to downplaying red flags, signs of potential abuse, or non-negotiable incompatibility that become present within the relationship.

The next benefit is building relationship skills.

In any relationship, friendships or romantic relationships, it is important to practice good relationship skills, which include communication, healthy problem resolution, and self-growth. These things are better to establish and refine prior to becoming sexually intimate. It’s much harder to put serious effort into improving these parts of your relationship when your brain is taking an oxytocin bath. As such, sex prevents partners from looking deeper into the relationship because the feelings of closeness and likely the unconscious or conscious fear that drawing attention to existing communication or compatibility problems will end the relationship can be problematic, especially if the couple are living together.

When a relationship with someone is based on sex, then sexual pleasure can become one of the major needs in the relationship. This leads to chasing sexual satisfaction and can quickly make one partner dissatisfied with the relationship when pleasure cannot be achieved at the height it was before. This can be one of the reasons partners cheat. When sex is the main reason for the relationship or is a requirement for the relationship, then good looks and pleasure can become a major focus and when that is not met, partners may look for it in other places.

The third reason for abstaining is.. greater sexual satisfaction!

Couples who wait to have sex experience higher rates of sexual satisfaction in their relationship and experience greater quality of relationship as well. This goes against the notion today that having a sexual experience outside of marriage is essential for compatibility. When your first sexual experience is with someone you know you can trust and who you have a deeper emotional connection and can communicate effectively with, there is an ease to the sexual experience. You feel comfortable with that person and feel at ease in expressing if you don’t like something.

When your first sexual experience, which I think everyone can agree is a memorable one, is with someone who you have vowed to spend the rest of your life with and truly love, it becomes something special that is shared between you and your partner, rather than a quick and meaningless initiation into adulthood.

Other added benefits of saving sex for marriage are the decreased chances of contracting STI’s and of having unplanned pregnancies.

STI’s are generally contracted when you have multiple sexual partners (this includes oral and anal sex). Unplanned pregnancies can also occur through having anal and oral sex, if sperm comes in contact with the vagina. Complete abstinence is the only proven method of contraception that works 100% of the time in preventing STI’s and unplanned pregnancy.

Now that we have covered the benefits of abstaining from sex before marriage, let’s talk about how you can abstain successfully.

First, a key factor in helping yourself abstain is not engaging in any sexually arousing activities.

These can include things like masturbation, watching or listening to media/music that are sexually explicit or watching pornography. This also includes putting yourself into a situation in which sexual arousal can become heightened. For example, going to parties that allow for arousing or sexual behavior to occur.

It can also include hanging out with friends who have multiple sexual partners, as they may influence you towards this behaviour. This also includes intentionally spending time with a partner in contexts where sex can occur (like inviting your date up to your apartment). All these things initiate sexual arousal, which, as everyone knows, is hard to control once it’s started and can lead to pushing sexual boundaries.

Often if sexual arousal is indulged, without any moral perimeters to mediate it, it can lead to other more stimulating forms of arousal. For example, if someone listens to explicit music and watches sexually explicit shows, there will be a higher chance of them watching porn, as it gives a higher arousal stimulus and because that person has accepted explicit sexual content or soft porn as acceptable and therefore, porn is seen as less deviant or “bad”.

Another way to help yourself abstain is through really reflecting and getting informed on sex itself.

Researching the consequences of sex is very helpful in creating your own boundaries around sex and reflecting on what you are willing to take a chance on. As mentioned above, some consequences of being sexually active before marriage are having unplanned pregnancies and getting STI’s. Whether or not you use other contraceptives, there is still a chance of having an unplanned pregnancy or contracting STI’s, as discussed previously. It is important to reflect on this and ask yourself if you are willing to take this chance by having sex outside of marriage.

Other things to ponder: what kind of relationship do you want to have with someone? Do you want to have trust, empathy, and communication? Think about what you expect from a partner, what you want their role to be and what responsibilities will you have in the relationship. What do you bring to the relationship and what are your values? What are you willing to compromise on and what things are red flags or non-negotiables for you in the relationship?

These are important things to ask yourself and to figure out and research before including sex in the equation. Acting intentionally instead of on impulse is important when it comes to something like sex, which can have serious consequences and is also strongly biologically motivated. Once you have answered some of these questions and gotten clear on your values in a relationship, you might find that abstinence will best help you to meet your goals.

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