Preparing for the Wedding Night: 4 Reasons Sex Often Goes Badly!

by | Jun 12, 2019 | Uncategorized | 23 comments

Your Christian Wedding Night: 4 mistakes to avoid for great wedding night sex!
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If you’re a Christian preparing for your wedding night, likely sex is the biggest thing on your mind.

I know it was for me.

Like, seriously. That’s the whole point, right?

For couples who are saving sex until marriage, your first time on your wedding night is a very, very big deal. In fact, it’s such a big deal that, if we’re not careful, the super-high expectations can actually set us off on a really bad trajectory. So I’d like to help reframe it a bit so that we can avoid some of these “first time with sex” problems!

In my Honeymoon Course, which launched this week, I’ve got two modules on sex, especially for newbies.

The first module is general sex ed–what sex involves and how fertility works (let’s make sure that people actually understand it!); how to decide on contraception or natural family planning; what medical tests or medical appointments you may need to get before you get married; and the two biggest pitfalls that often happen with sex, and how to avoid them. Then there’s another module specifically about honeymoon sex–how to make it the best it can be, and how to relax about it and manage your expectations. Plus I’ve got ONE big assignment for the guys, and ONE big assignment for the women. Together, it will make your sexual time much better!

Are you ready for the honeymoon you always dreamed of?

The Honeymoon Course is here to help you plan the perfect honeymoon and start your marriage (and your sex life!) off with laughter, joy and fun!

Don’t make the same mistakes other couples have–get it right from the beginning!

For this post, though, I thought I’d tackle some of the reasons that honeymoon sex can get off to a rough start!

Your Christian Wedding Night: 4 mistakes to avoid if you want great wedding night sex! Honeymoon tips for Christians.

1. We’re simply exhausted on the wedding night (and potentially a little bit tipsy).

We hear our whole lives that the wedding night is supposed to be the most blissful night of your life, but let’s be honest: It follows one of the most tiring days of your life. You likely haven’t slept much in the week running up to your wedding. And if you have an evening reception, it’s quite likely you don’t even get to the honeymoon suite, or the hotel room, or your apartment, or wherever you’re spending your honeymoon until after midnight. You’re just plain super tired!

What surprised me when I was doing the surveys for my book  The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, too, was how many women reported that the honeymoon night hadn’t gone well because one or both of them had had too much to drink at the reception (especially if they hadn’t been used to drinking that much). I didn’t even ask about it; many just volunteered the information, so it seems that it affects a lot of us.

There’s nothing wrong with being super tired on your wedding night (though I’d strongly recommend AGAINST being tipsy!), but you really have two choices. Are you going to forego a lot of the reception to get to the honeymoon suite earlier, or are you going to decide that it doesn’t matter if you’re super tired on the actual night, because you have the rest of your lives together?

Talk about it beforehand and come to an agreement (and the Honeymoon Course helps you do that!).

2. We feel pressured to “do the deed”

The expectation is that you’ll have sex on your wedding night–and by “sex”, I mean the standard definition of sex: he puts his penis into her vagina and moves until he reaches climax. Sorry for being so graphic, but I need to explain in order to make a larger point. The problem with this definition is that her experience is really secondary. They have “succeeded” in having sex if penetration has occurred, but the emphasis here is misplaced.

To start your sex life off well, the important thing is not to achieve penetration. The important thing is to enjoy being sexual together. 

And that’s the big teaching that’s in The Honeymoon Course: How can we enjoy being sexual? How can we make sure that she feels aroused? Because if you can accomplish that, then you will also accomplish penetrative sex (whether it’s that night or a few nights later). In the meantime, though, she’s associated being sexual with something that feels good to her, not with something that is awkward, fast, and distasteful. And if you want to set yourself up for a marriage of decades of great sex, that’s a far better way to start than just aiming to “complete the deed”.

Note: If penetration is too painful, even a few days or weeks later, please make an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist! There are people who can help. 

3. We assume we’d know what the other person liked

Human beings feel sexual pleasure. And we tend to know, at least to a certain extent, what we like. Or at least we understand what sort of touch feels best (if you’ve never figured that out yet, and you’re already married, please get 31 Days to Great Sex!). Because we know what we like, though, we tend to assume that the other person prefers the same thing.

So if a guy likes intercourse, and doesn’t need foreplay, he won’t understand how much his wife needs it. Or if she likes being kissed and touched softly at first, he’ll assume that’s what he wants (and he’ll wonder what she’s doing and why she’s taking so long fiddling around).

For people who have had previous sexual partners, too, there may be an assumption, “Okay, I know what to do here!” But just because one person likes X does not mean that your spouse likes X. People tend to enjoy being touched in different ways. We’re not all the same.

4. We have a hard time communicating about what we do like sexually

Combine the previous point with this one, and you have a recipe for a rather unsatisfying wedding night. It’s difficult to tell someone, “that doesn’t feel quite right. Can you do it lighter/harder/a little to the left.” It’s vulnerable. You feel like you’re making demands or criticizing, and no one wants to criticize their spouse on the wedding night! Frequently we don’t even know what to suggest that we do want–we just know that what the person is doing is not exactly IT. But because we’re embarrassed or awkward, we don’t always say anything.

That can set up a dynamic where you have sex without it feeling very good. And the longer this goes on, the harder it becomes to speak up. But if you can speak up right away, then you don’t run into these problems! Our Honeymoon Course stresses the importance of communication, and gives couples an easy way to talk about this so that you don’t get into these ruts.

Wedding Night Sex can be wonderful–if you set the right expectations

If you’re super exhausted, it’s okay to just be sexual without “completing the deed”. On the wedding night, and throughout the honeymoon, aim for arousal, not just sex. Make it your mission to learn your spouse’s body, how it works, and how he or she likes to be touched. And learn to communicate about it.

Do those things, and you set yourself up for a marriage of sexual fireworks!

Set yourself up for a marriage of sexual fireworks!

If you want to start your marriage well like this, get our Honeymoon Course! It will help you have these conversations, get in the right frame of mind, have the right expectations, and give you tips for making the wedding night and the honeymoon as exciting as it can be–without pressure.

Have I missed anything? Why else may wedding night sex be a flop? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Amanda

    How would you seek to stop past trauma from wrecking the experience?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great question, Amanda! First, deal with the trauma as much as possible before the wedding. Get counseling from a trained trauma specialist who is licensed. However, no matter how much counseling you get, sex will likely trigger some trauma. In that case, concentrate on a LOT of holding each other. Go very slowly. What we say in the course, over and over again, is go at the speed of the least comfortable person. Also, allow the trauma survivor to take more of an active lead. When you’re the one doing something, you feel in control. It’s often easier than when someone else does something to you. And then have those conversations about what is most likely to be triggering and bring flashbacks, so that you can be open when it happens.

      One of the modules in our course is how to start with a fresh slate, which includes addressing sexual abuse both before the wedding and how to handle it once you are married. It also walks people through the process of disclosing to their fiance, if they have never disclosed before (and helps the fiance process what they heard and be supportive).

  2. Anonymous

    Don’t assume, “Your body will figure out how to do this on its own.” If there’s pain, SOMETHING IS WRONG. Stop whatever you’re doing and try something else. Don’t keep doing whatever is causing pain. If pain continues, go to a doctor, but do some research first on dyspareunia (the medical term for “painful sex”) and read about the different conditions that can cause it. Go into that doctor appointment with your research done, because you might have to fight for proper attention. So many obgyns will brush you off with “just have a glass of wine and relax.”

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is so true! I have written so much about vaginismus, and if the pain lasts for more than a few days, please get a referral to a pelvic floor physiotherapist!

    • Blessed Wife

      Great advice!

      Women are so used to being taught to expect it will hurt, we don’t seek help when it does!

      It’s so important that young girls and young men learn what to realistically expect!

  3. Phil

    Hey there Sheila and Becca and TLHV team – Congratulations on your new launch. What an awesome idea for planning your honeymoon and sex! It is kind of hard for me to weigh in on this subject as Grace and I were engaged in premarital sex and we lived together before we married. We planned our honeymoon together and we have no regrets but we never planned the sexual piece in grand detail and what was brought to light today was planning on drinking. I really like the idea of a course for planning the honeymoon and sex piece. Back then I was just too immature to understand what is written and taught here. Something we did plan for our wedding night was to limit our drinking (me more so than Grace) because back then I was a binge drinker and let me tell you getting married would have been a perfect excuse to get really hammered. Grace initiated the conversation that I control my drinking with regard to being able to perform sexually. So, I controlled my drinking although I would tell you that in God’s judgement (and mine) I was technically drunk. Obviously this alone can have impact on sex. So I would add/reconfirm to plan on controlling your drinking. More so to the definition that God speaks. Aka Be sober. However, even one drink can have effect on your body and if you are trying out sex for the first time I could definitely see how that could possibly run interference. Example – Grace found out that even one glass of wine gives her headaches for some reason. I would bet if you asked Grace about our wedding night sex she would say it was just meh. I don’t have any thing great to tell you about it or bad. It was just fine…maybe a little fun as I recall…as we had to be quiet cuz the hotel we were in had paper thin walls….so maybe also something to consider is making sure you are staying in a place where you can ensure good privacy. Unfortunately I don’t need your course after 19 years of marriage 😉 and there is currently no one on the radar to gift it too…..but It sure seems like a really great way to get acquainted with each other sexually over the course of your wedding night and honeymoon. I pray this product takes off for TLHV and I pray that it helps many many couples well into the future. Really great.

    • Micayla

      Due to a combination of factors (moderate vaginismus and unusual penile curvature), my husband and I didn’t have intercourse on our honeymoon… or for a full four months after! It took two doctor’s visits and lots of reading old TLHV posts to work up to actual intercourse. I had been soooo anxious before getting married that we would run into problems like this (esp. vaginismus! I’d heard horror stories!). And it ended up taking way more time and effort than I ever imagined.

      BUT… it was also nowhere near as miserable as I thought it would be. We honestly had the most sweet and precious wedding night and honeymoon. There were definitely moments of pain and frustration, but they were totally eclipsed by how amazing it was to just be together and learn to be intimate. And there’s so much more to sexual intimacy than just intercourse!

      I used to read articles about how to have amazing honeymoon sex and feel so much pressure to give my husband this mind-blowing experience on the first few tries. This is silly. Neither of us had done this before! Of course it was going to be non-intuitive and take some (a lot) of trial and error. In this regard, sex is just like conflict resolution or conversation or acts of service or ANY OTHER PART of a healthy relationship: it takes practice, sometimes you make mistakes, and a few missteps at first does not mean you can’t get wayyy better. Sex isn’t some magical thing that some people are just good at and some are bad at. You have to work with your unique bodies, emotions, and relationship.

      To all young brides, hear this: if your husband is a man of love, patience, and character, difficulty with intercourse is not the end of the world. It’s an opportunity to build a strong foundation of communication, patience, and selfless love in your sex life. It’s going to be ok. (I so needed someone to tell me that, at the time!)

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        AMEN! And let’s change the expectations, as I said in the course, so that we’re aiming for being SEXUAL rather than having sex. Two very different things! And if we can focus on how to be sexual together well, then the rest is so much easier.

        (And I’m so glad that you found some help here, too, by the way!)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Phil!

  4. Kristen

    We were given the book “Intended for Pleasure” upon our engagement, and after reading it myself I passed it on to my husband-to-be two weeks before our wedding day and begged that he read it also. I truly believe it made a huge difference in how our wedding night and honeymoon went in terms of our physical relationship. We’ve heard other Christians counsel engaged couples to not research sex until they’re already married and it breaks our heart because we’ve seen the effect on these couples! It is vital that both husband and wife have some knowledge, an understanding of expectations, and counsel from a trusted and more experienced couple or marriage counselor. We had our issues in our first year of marriage, but sex wasn’t really one of them (even though we had both come together as virgins). Lol!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So good! I think it’s important, too. We’ve got a module where I talk directly to the women and then the men about what to do on the honeymoon–not so that you’ll necessarily have sex, but so that you can be sexual together and feel good about it. We have to know what to do and what to expect!

  5. Jane Eyre

    Lingerie. You forgot to talk about lingerie.

    If you are marrying a very chaste man, he likely does not yet have opinions on what he likes, not having any experience upon which to base those opinions. You also don’t want to wear your holey sweats on the honeymoon, unless he’s really into that.

    It took me quite a while to figure it out. I ultimately bought a new (and on super sale) satin sleepshirt, figuring it would work if lingerie weren’t his thing, and a very lovely slip with some sexy but classy sheer panels. (BHLDN had it.)

    Sure, my husband thinks I look wonderful in flannel, but it’s precisely because he thinks so that I want to look nice for him.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! Lingerie is awesome! We certainly mention that in the course, too. I think it helps a lot of people feel more confident.

      • Natalie

        I know it does for me! I loooove lingerie! Jane, I looooved BHLDN for my wedding looks too. You have great taste. 😉

        I’m of the opinion that lingerie is primarily for the woman & amping up her self-esteem/confidence/feeling-sexy-factor in the bedroom. I’d venture to say the vast majority of husbands, no matter how chaste they were or were not before marriage, care more about getting their wife naked and enjoying her body than they do about enjoying the “packaging” she presents herself in, lol. At least I know that’s how my husband feels. He couldn’t care less about what type of pretty, sexy lingerie I put on. But it matters to me, so I do it.

        • Rebecca

          My husband loves it if I dress up in something sexy – as long as it’s easy to remove haha

        • Jane Eyre

          I just wanted something special for my husband, to show him that I put a bit of thought into that aspect of our wedding day/night and honeymoon.

      • Alice

        My husband’s sister in law told me that it will hurt to have sex for the first time but men need sex. She said i have to do it on the wedding night and whenever my husband wants it. That made me so scared and ruined my honeymoon.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, Alice, I’m so sorry. That’s a terrible message to give to engaged women! If it does hurt, it should only do so very briefly, and if he goes slowly and makes sure she’s aroused, it shouldn’t be a problem (and if it is, they should stop). And her desires and needs matter as much as his do. I’m sorry you were taught wrong, and I hope things are better now.

  6. KSM

    Great tips, especially #1! We planned our wedding/reception times to be certain that the party would end by 10pm, and it did! We weren’t exhausted when we got to our hotel room, and other than my husband icing my feet first (I insisted upon wearing heels and not changing into comfortable shoes-big mistake with bleeding blisters!) we had time to talk, have a glass of champagne, and take a bath prior to consummating our marriage AND we were asleep by 1am.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s awesome! I love it. (And I totally get you about the shoes. I told my girls to bring extra shoes to their receptions!)

      • KSM

        So did my mom & bridesmaids! I wish I would have listened-moms know best! 🙂

        • Rebecca

          I purposefully chose shoes that were relatively comfortable for my wedding – and even then I took them off for most of the reception! No one can see your feet under a long dress 😉

          At a wedding I went to a couple of years ago, the bride wore strappy, sparkly flats – and they looked lovely

  7. Rachel

    Hi – it would have been very helpful for me to know that for some wives (like me) it is physically impossible to have intercourses on their wedding night without previous intervention….. let me explain… my husband and I were both virgins when we married in our late 20s… it was virtually impossible for us to consummate on our wedding night… went to the doctor immediately after our honeymoon… long story short ended up using dilators I’d deferent sizes and the cucumbers covered in 5 condoms… too several weeks but eventually it worked!!! Wish I could have done my dilating beforehand though ha. I know I’m not the only one with this issue and it would have been helpful to know this can happen before getting to the wedding night.


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