EG: The Dangers of a Long Engagement

I had been thinking about writing this post for awhile, but for various reasons I hadn’t gotten around to sitting down and writing it. Then Donal posted something similar on his blog talking about the Christian Marriage Script and how it doesn’t do anyone any favors. While many on the manosphere will agree that postponing marriage as long as most do is unwise and leads to sexual immorality, I haven’t seen anyone except Haley touch on long engagements. Since I’m a bit closer to the subject I wanted to go ahead and explore the possible risks more fully.

Let’s say we have a couple who have managed to get through the dating or courtship process without having sex. They get engaged and go to their church saying they want to get married. Their church congratulates them and promptly tells them they have to wait six months to a year to get married. They also have to complete some premarital counseling along the way, but that doesn’t requires six months to complete, let alone a year. They are given no reason for this time frame except scheduling. Still, they want to have a godly marriage performed in the church, so they agree.

Now they are in a strange situation. They are dedicated to one another and are continuing to establish the way their relationship will work. They are attracted to each other very, very strongly. They know they want to spend their lives together and maybe they even know that they want a biblical marriage, complete with headship and submission. However, because they aren’t married, they can’t live together, can’t have sex, maybe even have to avoid kino and excessive alone time. Both men and women have their innate needs for intimacy and sex, and depending on how long these two have waited before pursuing marriage, they may have been going without for longer than humans were meant to.

There are many ways that this couple could go from here, many of them are unhealthy for their future as a married couple. Here are some examples:

Scenario 1: Their frustration grows and grows until one of them can’t take it anymore and cheats. Whether or not their partner finds out, the relationship is essentially destroyed. If the woman is the one to cheat, which she is just as likely to,  if she was a virgin before she cheated, she’s now bonded to the other man. Additionally there is the possibility of cuckoldry. Regardless of who cheated, there is the possibility of dragging disease into the mix.

Scenario 2: One pesters or pressures the other into giving in. If the man pressured the woman, at best there is a loss of trust, since he obviously placed some emphasis on chastity in the past. At worst he opens himself up to a false rape accusation, because a woman in this situation is going to feel guilty even sooner than a less virtuous woman.  If the woman pressured the man, it plants the idea in her mind that sex is a way to successfully manipulate him. She will also lose respect for him since he just failed a massive shit test. He talked about chastity in the past, but when the chips were down he couldn’t resist.

Scenario 3: The woman’s interest fizzles because the man can no longer escalate past a certain point. This is fine if they decide not to get married, but is destructive if they carry on and get married anyway.

Scenario 4: They successfully stay chaste until marriage, after they get married they start having sex. The lower drive spouse suddenly feels very pressured to perform. They feel like all their spouse wants from them is sex and starts to long for the days of their engagement when they had a great relationship without sex. This leads the lower drive spouse to resent the higher drive spouse and they become frigid and deny sex. The downward spiral begins unless they can successfully communicate and the higher drive spouse can create enough desire in the other.

Scenario 5: They successfully remain chaste, but both are so high drive that they are both overhyped about sex. Their first few experiences fail to live up to their expectations and their relationship suddenly goes haywire.

Scenario 6: The couple becomes overly obsessed with chastity and forgets that sex is holy within marriage. They enter a sexless marriage because they believe that it is holy to do so.

Scenario 7: Sexual denial becomes ingrained in the relationship, this carries over into the marriage. While the marriage isn’t sexless, both spouses are so used to quashing their sexual urges that they act on them infrequently, leading to dissatisfaction.

These are not the only possibilities of course, but they are all very likely scenarios. So what is to be done about this? As a Christian I do not advocate or condone premarital sex, but at the same time I am painfully aware of how difficult it is to remain chaste while in a relationship. All that most of us are taught about self-control is: don’t have sex. The only practical strategy given is removing yourself from the situation. When you’re engaged you can’t remove yourself from the situation. Sexual desire is a key ingredient to a successful marriage, so you don’t want to avoid temptation by getting engaged to someone you don’t burn for.  So, again the question of what is to be done? Shorten the time between engagement and marriage? Return to strictly chaperoned courtship? Teach people more about controlling their sexual desire in a way that doesn’t encourage disgust of it?

Honestly I am very curious about what people have to say on this, because I want to avoid the above scenarios.

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11 responses to “EG: The Dangers of a Long Engagement

  • donalgraeme

    I was going to address engagements in the third post in the series, because as they stand now they have some serious problems. Personally I think that an engagement requirement of over 6 months is not simply destructive, but foolish. My current preference is a 3 to 6 month engagement. That is enough time to invite people, finish up any counseling, have the families meet and do proper vetting, and do the necessary medical and background checks.

  • Deep Strength

    One of my friends eloped because he was finishing up school and moving to a different state and he and his girlfriend would be living together since she was getting a job in the same area.

    Had the wedding celebration a year later. Had their first kid just last week.

    2-4 month engagement is pretty good. I don’t think it needs to be longer than 6 months like donal said, but I think shorter is much better. Much better.

  • C. M. Sturges

    Thanks much for the linkage, and I agree with you, if he engagement is too long, nothing good can come from it.

  • van Rooinek

    A friend of mine knew a young couple who got engaged, and dutifully went through all the premarital counseling their church prescribed. When they were done, the leaders told them, in effect, “We are satisfied that you know what you are doing, and that you are ready. You have our blessings to get married any time.”

    Taking them at their word, they hopped into a car, drove to Las Vegas (about 4-5 hour drive from here) and got married. They saved themselves months of frustrated waiting, and $30,000 of wedding expenses.

    The church leadership… congratulated them on their sexually wise and financially frugal choice… NOT…. Instead, they gave them all kinds of grief over it. WTF?

  • van Rooinek

    We dated 6 months, the I proposed.
    Our engagement was 6 months.
    From first email to first sex, 1 year and 6 days.

  • Lightning Round – 2013/08/07 | Free Northerner

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  • Ashley

    This is a really old post but…I’m in this situation with my significant other. Both of us are in professional school and in our twenties and the way our lives are scheduled, we couldn’t even get married until one of us graduates or after one of us takes our board exams for medical/dental school. But that’s like another 2-8 yrs and we would both be ~30 yrs old. And I want to have children so we’d have very limited time to enjoy each other sexually as a married couple. What is our solution? We don’t really have one. Either we push to get married early on or “foreplay” to relieve sexually tension. I know we aren’t suppose to “foreplay” but its very very unlikely going to lead to sex because besides the whole Christian ideal, an unwanted pregnancy is 100X feared with our schooling.

    • allamagoosa

      I would say shoot for sooner rather than later, but ultimately I can’t really give you specific advice. I’ve heard that for med students wanting a family the general advice is to get married and have kids during your residency.

      I would suggest that you examine your reasons for waiting until so long in the future, but I assume you’ve already done that.

      I’m sorry I can be of so little help.

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