Will living together really make our wedding night less special?

Guest post by Tessa Bailey

Cross stitch from Naughty Needlepoint
Cross stitch from Naughty Needlepoint
Just like many, many, many men/women/unaligned-and-loving-it folks on Offbeat Bride, I've been living with my partner for several years now. We've been dating for four years, moved across the country together — hell, we've even adopted a one-eyed kitten together. We're so used to being together that when he went to SXSW for five days I literally couldn't get a night's sleep because the bed felt too weird without him.

Basically, issues of co-dependency aside, I think it's safe to say that we're living much more like a married couple already than most engaged people have throughout the vast majority of history. And possibly some married couples too — hey, I'm not here to judge.

Personally, I think this situation is awesome. I can go into my wedding day absolutely sure that this is a man that I'm not only head over heels for, but also a man that I can share a bathroom with without wanting to stab him. These things matter when you're 75, wearing dentures, and contemplating the slow but inevitable decline into wearing nothing but muumuus. (I plan to be as eccentric as possible in my elderly years.)

So it's been interesting to find out how many people think that living together pre-marriage seems to somehow make it “less special.”

The first indication I had was when my future husband looked at me whilst in post-coital bliss. “Should we, like, not have sex for two weeks before the wedding? You know, to make the wedding night special?”

Now, if self-denial turns you on then I'm all for this plan leading to stupid-hot sex, but I'm kind of a “more-is-more” girl myself. So I thought, if anything, we should be practicing pre-wedding — you know, to make sure we get it right.

He seemed relieved with my answer, but it didn't stop there. Since then my Mom has suggested that we “maybe hold off on some things to make it special,” (ew, Mooooooooom!) and I've read repeatedly about couples who even forgo kissing in order to make that First Kiss extra-special.

There's that word again. “Special.”

What's so un-special about the deep love we have? The commitment we're entering into? The fact that we know each other so well and are so happy to be spending the rest of our lives together?

Love is in the air © by Tobias FIdelis, used and remixed under Creative Commons license.
It's not that our sex life is unimportant, but damnit people: marriage isn't about sex in this day and age! We've become liberated! We've got The Pill! The majority of people don't enter into the Sacred Covenant Of Marriage without having been around the block a few times, if you know what I mean (go ask your mother).

Damnit, my wedding is going to be special because it's MINE. My whole marriage is going to be special, even on the boring days when we have to do our taxes, or the bad days when we get in a fight over what kind of milk to buy. For that matter, every time we have sex it's special, because it's us and it's an expression of love and because it's REALLY HOT. I don't need a wedding night to be turned on.

I don't believe you have to recreate some sort of pseudo-temporary virgin-hood in order for your wedding to be Special. I'm glad we're entering into this adventure with the knowledge and experience we have, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Comments on Will living together really make our wedding night less special?

  1. There is so much “THIS!” in this post it’s bursting at the seams with it! Thank you for reminding everyone that their wedding, wedding night, and marriage feels special whether or not they lived together before getting hitched, and there is no reason for people to feel like they have to pretend or deny anything* (No sexytime? No cuddles? No kissing? No way!) to have those feelings of “specialness.”

    *Unless, of course, that is what both parties in the relationship want, then by all means, do what is right for you!

  2. To be honest, I thought that it wouldn’t be that special either, so my husband and I agreed to abstain for a time before hand… with all the stress, this did not last too long. Plus, we were exhausted our wedding night. I’m sure if we’d never had relations before, it’d’ve been a different story, but its not. So no, living together doesn’t ruin it because it helps you understand that your marriage can weather a night of tired relations or a lack of when tired.

  3. To be honest, I wish more people lived together before getting married. I lived with my husband a few years before we were married, and not one day has gone by where a moment with him is “less special.”……I think living together and even being sexually active with your partner before marriage is very, very important. It comes down to the whole “You might love someone, but that doesn’t mean you can live with them” saying, with a dose of avoiding “We don’t even connect romantically.” ….So Bravo Tessa! I loved reading this.

  4. We did it…. and yes it is less special… It’s not a matter of being turned on, it’s a matter of there is no sense of surprise or newness…. I regret it…

    • Maybe it’s not less special, just a different kind of special. (Also, I think it’s great if people want to wait and do. Even though that wasn’t for me, I respect people who do wait).

      We’ve been living together a while, so I won’t know, but I know that the first time we had sex, it was less than great. It had been a while for me and he’s rather more “well-endowed” than my previous limited experience, and it hurt and I bled (far more so than I did the very first time ever). So for me, if I built up the FIRST TIME so much and waited until the wedding night only to have it be that uncomfortable, I think it would have been a let down. It still would have been exciting, I guess but I know I would have had these high expectations that wouldn’t have been met.

      Also, I’m glad I knew about his gross shaving gunk in the sink and that he knows I forget to wash my dishes before we made it legal. 🙂

  5. We had not slept together at all before we were married, and we didn’t for two days into our honeymoon either. I just didn’t want our first time together to be period sex. Frankly, having waited didn’t make our first time anything “special”. Would I do it the same way? Yes. But it was much more awkward and funny than anything magical or special. I say, do what you want to do! Do what you’re in the mood for!

  6. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this subject. I personally do want to wait until marriage before I have sex – I don’t care what other people do, but for me sex is such a uniquely intimate thing that I only want to have it with my future spouse. It’s not even a religious thing – although I am a Christian, I don’t regard pre-marital sex as sinful, this is just my own perspective on sex and marriage.

    I don’t even want to say that I would be OK with having sex with my future fiance(e), since it’s so much easier to break off an engagement than it is to end a marriage, and I can’t help but want to have sex with just one person (aside from a second marriage following widowhood).

    However, I see the advantage to living together before marriage – so I guess the ideal for me would be living together but not having sex, but is that even realistic? I suspect not. Anyone who waited to marry to have sex, how did you deal with living together?

    • My husband and I lived together for over two years before getting married, and did not have sex. (We did fool around I suppose, so some would consider out of bounds as well.) We are both atheists so religion was not part of the decision. It just felt right for us to wait. Waiting was hard sometimes, but we were able to be intimate with each other without having sex. We didn’t really do anything special to “deal with” living together and not having sex. We slept in the same bed. We saw each other nude all the time. We just chose not to do it. If you live together and aren’t having sex, don’t expect anyone to believe you! People will assume you are full of crap. Choose not to care.

      Of course anyone who knew we had waited (and believed us) assumed that immediately after our reception we’d be hopping right in the sack to consummate that ish! We had also spoken about this before hand. We, like many other posters, did wait until the next day. The reasons were practical. My family lives far away and were here for the wedding. So my wedding night we hung out with my parents and best friends. I very rarely get to see them and weddings are so exhausting I wasn’t ready to embark on a new sexual adventure! Plus, I’m a grown up, but my DAD was right across the hallway. So I just went to bed and cuddled with my husband. The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, sent our guests on their way, and then just spent the rest of the day in bed together. It was awesome.

      • This is amazing. I need to print off your post and show it to my mom. She is HIGHLY opposed to people living together (or doing anything “adult”) before marriage because of the high rate of children “born out of wedlock” these days. I keep pointing out that (a) in this day and age you don’t have to get pregnant if you don’t want to, and (b) living together doesn’t automatically mean sleeping together. Having sex is a conscious decision, so you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to (I keep getting this mental image that my mom must imagine that two people move in together than then suddenly they’ve lost control of their own bodies and they’ve having sex as if someone else is controlling their bodies with voodoo dolls). Anyway, I became sexually active LONG before moving in with anyone, so her reasoning was flawed to begin with.

        • “Born out of wedlock”? Oh puh-leeeze…in this day and age, that doesn’t matter!

  7. Haha, we’ve been together for 17 years and have lived together for 15, I think that particular boat has sailed! But I’m sure that our wedding will still be a special day.

  8. My husband and I got married on the five year anniversary of our moving in together (which was only two weeks after we met. We actually moved in together before sleeping together, but that’s another story). I was a little worried that after a half decade of sharing our lives, finances, buying a house, etc, marriage wouldn’t feel different. It does! Being married feels special and different and I love it. As for sex, any time my husband touches me it feels special, even when he just touches my hand. Sex is special because of the loving connection we’ve developed in our years together. Don’t worry. For me at least, being married makes sex even more special, even though we were together all this time. Though, we didn’t actually have sex on our wedding night. We were up to 4am the night before desperately going through our CDs and finding songs for our wedding playlist and I was just too exhausted. The delayed wedding sex was definitely special though.

    • This might be a little off-topic, but why did you move in together after two weeks? Not judging, I am genuinely curious about how and why this happens. I’ve heard of other people doing this too, and I’m interested in hearing about your experience.

      • I actually don’t know anyone else who did this, so it’s cool that you do.

        We met at Burning Man. Love at first sight. Had such a bizarre amount in common (to the point that we were in the middle of reading the same book) that we started calling each other Doppleganger. From that first day (and we met the last day and only spent 28 hours together) we KNEW this was the person we were going to spend the rest of our lives with. We lived 400 miles apart. So either one of us was moving or we were spending every weekend driving 800 miles. At hour 15 or so we agreed that we felt ready to move in together. It actually would have been less than two weeks except I already had a week vacation in New York planned. The second time I saw him I was pulling up at his (then ours) apartment with all of my possessions in my car. It was a tiny studio in a brand new city. We were such strangers he even changed in the hall at first. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. Moving to LA was incredibly difficult, but moving in with him was effortless. More than five years, a marriage and now pregnant with our first, everyone now realizes it was the right choice (as you can imagine there were a lot of upset family members at first). Oh, did I mention he had gotten out of a ten year relationship three weeks earlier? As my mom said in her wedding toast, “You guys were right, and we were wrong. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.”

        • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m very happy things worked out so well for you & your partner.

          My boyfriend recently moved in with me after we had been together for 4 months (which was a month ago) because he lost his apartment in a nearby city. At the time it felt way too quick and I was certain things would blow up, but so far it’s been wonderful and positive for both of us. As we originally agreed, he’s moving out to get his own place in a couple of months and now I’m kind of sad at his upcoming departure. Though we’ve talked about what will happen, I’m not sure if his moving out means a step backward in our relationship or if our temporary cohabitation was an unexpectedly positive detour and it’s a not a step back at all.

          Sorry for the threadjack 🙂

        • “We were such strangers he even changed in the hall at first.”

          that’s so sweet. very gentlemanly.

          • We still take turns getting dressed in the kitchen since we have different work hours and days off.

        • Your story makes me teary and giggly. 🙂 What a beautiful story of love. I hope your baby on the way finds inspiration in it!

  9. It’s going to be special to wake up together (we’re getting married today!) and special when you turn in for the night (we got married today!). Stick with what feels right to you as a couple and you will have plenty of special.

  10. I’m sort of in the opposite boat. I live in a very liberal city where living together before marriage has become the new normal. People are always asking me when I’m moving in with my fiancé. When I tell them that I’m not living with him before the wedding, I get all sorts of accusative and judgemental reactions from people. As a counterpoint to the whole “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” argument, I’m being told, “Why would you buy a car without test driving it first?” (Um, my fiancé is a human being, not a car!) Someone even said that I wouldn’t be ready for the way living together would “change our love” and that this decision would ultimately undermine my marriage.

    The thing is, I’m not against anybody who wants to live with their significant other before marriage. Couples need to decide what’s right for them. Co-habiting is not right for me, that’s all. I think maybe some people saw my decision as a condemnation of their own decisions to live with their partners, which it isn’t at all. I’m just doing what I feel is best for my own relationship and my own life. I wish everyone had the freedom to make the best decisions for themselves either way without being hassled about it!

    • I totally relate to this. No one has ever said the whole “test drive the car” to my face, but they’ve told my family members behind my back and such. I don’t know, I know it’s odd this day and age to be a virgin, but I feel like I have a right to be proud of how I do things the way others have a right to be proud of how they do things. And I feel like whenever it comes out in conversation that “No, I’m not living with him,” it leads to them asking why not, which leads to “yeah, actually I’m a virgin,” at which point the conversation stops awkwardly, because there are suddenly so many preconceived notions and feelings in the air, and you assuming what they think about you or you assuming what they think that you think about them, and uhgghhhh….hot mess!

      • I live in a city where, if you have been dating someone for more than a few months, everyone assumes you live together. Period. And it can be so awkward to say, “Well, no, we’re not living together… Yeah, I know it would save money, but we don’t have sex, and it would be pretty hard to live together and not have sex”. And then everyone’s all “But how will you know if you are compatible??” and I’m all… “Well, firstly, I spend loads of time in his house, I see how he lives, we have talked about what things bother us about how the other lives. And secondly, dude, there are ways to tell if you are sexually compatible without having sex! And if everything doesn’t line up PERFECTLY, well, we have plenty of time to practice.”

        I think part of the thing is that our culture really overemphasizes sex in relationships. Sex is important and fun and good, but it isn’t a dealbreaker, in my opinion. If I love someone to bits and pieces and it turns out we aren’t totally sexually compatible, that is okay! We will figure out how to compromise and make it work, and it will still be more awesome than any other sex, because it will be sex with the person I love hanging out with more than anything in the world.

        • The other thing is that it’s only now, in one very small part of the world, where it is socially acceptable to cohabit at all. I am not using this as an argument against cohabiting, as I said, because I think people should be able to make up their own minds. But I do think it serves as pretty good proof that married people can live happily together without cohabiting first. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years.

      • The virgin thing is a whole other kettle of fish! I was telling an acquaintance about several friends I have who are virgins in their 30s, and she was STUNNED. She then referred to them as “damaged goods,” which blows my mind because, well, how can something be damaged if it’s never been used?
        My fiancé and I do sleep together and I love it, but due to social pressure when I was younger, I had certain “adventures” that I now really wish I could undo.
        People need to be let to live as they choose.

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