I’d venture to say that the vast majority of couples in the U.S. thoroughly probe the physical aspects of their relationship before getting married (pun… sort of intended). On average, people have sex on the eighth date, and after that, well, it’s only a quick hop, skip and a jump to ass-eating.
But some couples renounce large parts of their physical relationship until they officially tie the knot, such as this couple we spoke to last year who lost their virginity to each other on their wedding night. More often than not, the people who do this in the U.S. are Christians, encouraged by the Bible to eschew premarital sex. Some, however, take this challenge to further extremes, refusing to even kiss until the day of their marriage. Take this couple, for instance, whose first-ever smooch was captured on a TLC series that follows the lives of adult virgins:
Welp, that was uncomfortable.
For those of us who remain as far as possible from celibacy, this phenomenon can seem baffling, raising numerous questions: How can two people who are in a relationship get married before even knowing if either is a good kisser? If they aren’t making out, how exactly are they spending their time together? To answer all of these questions (and more), I reached out to Ngina and Tommy Otiende, a Christian couple who saved their first kiss for marriage (they dated for 14 months prior to the wedding). Here’s what they told me, over a series of jointly-written emails…
Why did you decide to wait until your wedding day to kiss?
We wanted to save our first real kiss until marriage because we wanted to get to know each other — emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually — without being diverted by the physical aspects [of a relationship]. We felt that getting that intimate with each other too early had the potential to blind us. For us, dating had a purpose (marriage), and therefore, the entire process was an examination. We wanted as few distractions as possible.
It also had the potential to be a slippery slope. For us, it wasn’t just the kissing — we were trying to save the entire physical relationship for marriage. We felt that kissing would slowly and surely get us off of that path.
Wasn’t it hard to resist the urge to kiss each other?
Yes and no. Yes, because we were physically attracted to each other… strongly. However, because we came into the relationship having made individual decisions not to kiss until our wedding, that made things easier. That personal choice mattered, because it then guided our thinking and habits as a couple.
Again, it wasn’t easy. But one of the ways we checked ourselves was through our faith — we leaned heavily on it to get us there. We also kept what we called “common sense” habits, like watching our environment and avoiding situations where we’d be most tempted to give into urges, and having good friends who would ask us how we were doing.
What would you do instead of kissing?
We talked a ton! It was a lot of fun learning to love a person that way. We had to get creative: We wrote each other poems, kept love journals, exchanged gifts and volunteered together. We hugged and held hands sometimes…
How was that first kiss on your wedding day?
Honestly — and this is going to sound awful — that wedding-day kiss is overrated, because it’s not the wedding-day kiss that matters most; it’s all the kisses and special moments that come after. While it was thrilling to be married and be able to express our love to each other fully, kissing for the first time in front of 300 guests had its blushing moment. It was beautiful, but it was nothing compared to our wedding night and the many special moments since then.
After waiting, how does it feel now, being able to kiss each other whenever, wherever?
We’re so glad that we saved the physical part of our relationship until marriage, because we learned how to communicate, wrestle through issues and develop self-control. If we got mad at each other, we didn’t have the option to “kiss and make up.” We had to talk and talk and talk. We had to appeal to the emotions, mind and spiritual parts of the person, and these things have come in handy in our marriage, because very often in marriage, you go through seasons of conflict, where you don’t even want to see the other person, let alone be touched. So if you never learned how to talk and connect at the mind, heart and spiritual level, then the marriage truly suffers, because most of your relationship depends on the physical.