by Jessica Ciencin Henriquez
from AlterNet Website
I took an abstinence pledge
hoping it would ensure a strong marriage.
Instead, it led to a quick
My parents sent me off to Baptist youth
camp in Panama City Beach for the week, and I came home with a tan
and a purity ring. I sat with my legs crossed, cramped in a theater
with 200 sweaty, sobbing teens as our pastor described the
unwavering bonds of sex and why it should only be experienced within
the confines of marriage.
Cause I am waiting for you,
praying for you darling, wait for me too, wait for me as I wait for
you. One by one we each placed a ring on our fourth finger and made
vows to an apparently bi-curious Jesus who took teenage husbands and
wives by the dozen that night.
Silver and engraved with entwined hearts - everyone I knew was wearing one and I’d finally been given the opportunity to get my hands on it. And it wasn’t just the ring. This was a movement with T-shirts and hats and the added bonus of superiority over kids in school who couldn’t keep their clothes on, those sinners.
After an intense and very detailed sex talk with my mother , where she stuttered and I blushed and we both used the word “flower,” I was terrified of sex.
That and the slide show in sex didn’t
help one bit. So I scribbled Jesus + Jess on my Bible cover,
and I casually mentioned my virginity in daily conversations. I
committed to the idea hoping it would ensure a successful marriage.
Instead, it led to my divorce.
Over time, I’d watched my brothers and sisters in Christ lose sight of their celibacy around the time they felt the pull of raging hormones combined with slots of unsupervised co-ed time.
But I pressed on in stubbornness until
finally, the time had come to replace Jesus as my other half. Twenty
may sound early to get married, but tell that to the girl who had
her knees locked since puberty and the boy who spent years trying to
convince her that just the tip didn’t count.
So what was I supposed to do when my “aha moment” came as a dress was heaved over my head by seven bridesmaids?
Plus, my mother had mentioned no less than 400 times, this wedding was costing them a fortune; I was getting married, there was no way out.
I held onto his arm tighter, afraid my
legs might just take him up on that offer.
These are what red flags look like; my
rearview mirror is lined with them.
There is nothing that can kill a mood
faster than my Colombian grandfather knowingly winking at the man I
was about to sleep with. Except for maybe the dashboard covered in
condoms, a send-off gift from my new husband’s grooms boys.
Was I tired? Was I hungry? Shouldn’t we have been pouncing on each other? I slowly changed into an ivory silk nightgown.
When I came back into the bedroom, he was lying down, half undressed, completely hopeful.
Even then, I doubted that would be true.
Three minutes later when he finished he
appeared pleased with himself and I was glad that it was out of the
way. I smiled and asked if we could get something to eat. My wedding
day began with my face leaning over a toilet and ended in a Waffle
I sighed in relief when the doctor told me that I should not engage in any sexual activity until I had finished the antibiotics. Seven days later, my wifely duties resumed and almost every time our clothes came off, my mind seemed to check out.
I soon noticed that during those few-minute intervals of sex, my mind was focusing on something else, anything else.
This was not lovemaking. There was no
bond, no sanctity - this was not the amazing sex I was promised from
the pulpit. This was disappointment three to four times a week.
Our bodies wanted different things from one another, so what we ended up with was a horizontal battle.
I would hear married girlfriends talk
about the joys of make-up sex and continue to sip my coffee in
silence. We would fight, and then have bad sex and then fight some
more. Every flaw in our marriage and in him seemed much more
miserable when combined with the possibility of faking orgasms until
death did we part. There was no relief.
I needed assurance that some physical
aspect of our relationship was working. And when I didn’t get that
assurance I pinned it on myself. Maybe I was just that woman you
hear about, who doesn’t particularly care for sex. She just slowly
dries up until she dies alone. For months I believed that might be
me and rather than try something different, he began to believe it
With the failure of our sex life, I felt
like less of a woman, no longer a sexual creature but more of a
plant. Sitting there, day in, day out, wilting while I waited for
someone to take care of me.
I haven’t compiled a grocery list in bed in years, and I now know that sex can be amazing… with a bartender who only knows your first name, a pilot you meet on vacation in Costa Rica and yes, with the right guy - sex in a marriage can be beautiful.
The key is to figure that out before you find yourself walking down an aisle in a dress that costs more than the family car (my mother has since reminded me). It isn’t the most important thing when it comes to love.
But for me, I learned that sex is
important enough not to wait.