Last week’s post was about combating loneliness by increasing your opportunities to connect with people. This week’s post, inspired by my friend Kristin’s post on purity before marriage and her decision to abstain from kissing, is on deepening connections with your significant other through none other than abstinence.
Abstinence may sound counterintuitive when it comes to deepening your connection with your significant other, but trust me it works. Reggie and I refrained from sex including kissing both before and for a brief time during our marriage. The results were the same on both occasions—a deeper connection.
Like Kristin, I committed to abstinence prior to meeting my future husband, but originally didn’t include kissing. I mean kissing isn’t sex, right? What harm is there in kissing? I thought.
Then, Reggie came into my life and challenged me to go a step further—for his sake. You see, for Reggie, it wasn’t just about being tempted to take action sexually. It was also about being tempted to have sexual thoughts. Not wanting to cause him to stumble, I agreed. We were still affectionate. We hugged, held hands, and touched in other non-sexual ways, but we did not kiss.
Also, prior to marrying, Reggie and I both participated in an annual corporate fast with our church every January. The December before our first fast as a married couple, Reggie received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.
His physician put him on a diet designed to regulate his blood sugar levels throughout the day. A key component was eating well-balanced meals at regular intervals. His doctor discouraged skipping meals and Reggie did not want to forgo a food group until he felt more comfortable with his new meal plan. So, Reggie suggested we fast from sex rather than food.
Since Reggie wished to balance his desire to seek God with his recent diabetes diagnosis, I agreed (1 Corinthians 7:5). I did not truly understand what I was giving up—almost all physical touch.
Over the next few days, Reggie explained the details of the fast. Like David, Reggie did not want to give something that cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). Since it was just two weeks abstaining from sexual intercourse alone would not be sufficient. To be sacrificial, Reggie wanted to limit our touching to holding hands when praying together.
That is when the magnitude of his choice began to hit me. During the fast, I would not kiss my husband, feel him caress my check, or feel his arms around me. Thankfully, it was only two weeks. Though the thought of more self-imposed celibacy so soon into marriage did not appeal to me at all, I thought to myself, “I can make it two weeks.” And I did. The experience wasn’t without its challenges, but I did it.
The experience also confirmed for me that abstinence before marriage and for short, agreed upon periods for fasting during marriage can be beneficial to your relationship.
Three Ways Abstinence Helped Deepen Our Connection
- Improved communication – When Reggie first approached me, he said, “I would like us to get to know each other, become friends first, with a view towards marriage.” The best way to get to know someone is by asking questions. So, I asked Reggie if it would be okay if every time we talked each of us brought a new question to ask the other. This led to some great conversations sharing our preferences, opinions, and ideas on various topics.
We also did activities together. This further increased our communication by forcing us to discuss what we were going to do, and our likes and dislikes about our various options. On those rare occasions when our likes and dislikes did not align, our increased communication afforded us opportunities to grow by embracing our differences and working through conflicts increasing intimacy. This allowed us to share more experiences, talk more, and grow closer in a non-sexual way.
- Built trust – Waiting to have sex is a sign a person values you, his/her relationship with you, and his/her relationship with God (if that is why s/he is doing it). This builds confidence and self-esteem because this person isn’t with you just for sex, or what they can get out of the relationship. Someone’s decision to wait to have sex makes it easier to trust s/he won’t go find someone else to have sex with if for some reason you are unavailable sexually (i.e. fasting, pregnancy, or geographical separation).
Furthermore, a person who feels this way cares about growing closer to you and closer to God, and for these reasons will take care in how they treat you in many ways, if not every way, because you are God’s property. This was definitely true for us. When Reggie raised the bar by excluding kissing prior to marriage and then suggested a sexual fast, it demonstrated Reggie’s commitment to God and His faith. His actions convinced me over and over that Reggie didn’t just talk the talk. No, that man walked the walk.
- Enhanced (future, if single) sex life – Because we abstained from all sexual touch, our touching was solely affectionate—an extension of our fondness and growing love for each other. Yes, sexual touch can be an expression of love, but often, especially early in a relationship, it isn’t. It is much more likely to be about lust, infatuation, or low self-esteem.
Each of these emotions is about pleasing you—physically, emotionally, and mentally respectively—not the other person. True love is about serving and pleasing the other person, so the focus is different. And being with someone whose focus is on pleasing you makes it that much more likely that s/he will please you.
Also, if the abstinence is spiritually motivated you have the opportunity to connect on all four levels (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), not just three (physically, emotionally, and mentally). This leads to a sex life that is more satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful.
Because of my experiences, I am convinced abstinence helped deepen our relationship by establishing our deep connection. This connection was re-established by our sexual fast. Afterwards, Reggie said that he was glad we fasted sexually, specifically because our conversations during the fast reminded him of the rich conversations that we had prior to marriage.
Fasting sexually added a spark to our sex life too, especially the anticipation the first night after the fast reminded me of the same anticipation we had of our wedding night. Fasting sexually had made our sex life special again.
These results made us both more intentional about maintaining this level of connection going forward, but we also moved forward with the knowledge that abstinence for even a couple of weeks had the power to reconnect us if we found our relationship falling short.
Until next time,
Questions: For singles, what is your plan for purity prior to marriage? For married folks, have you ever fasted sexually? If so, what were your results? Please respond by clicking on the Comment, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest buttons below.