Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Congratulations on Waiting Until Marriage!

As salaam alaikum,

About a year ago, before B and I were together, my mother did this strange thing. She congratulated me for having waited so long to have sex, for not having had sex...for having preserved myself for so long, something like that. To that, I said, "Uhh...thank you?"

I then told her that, really, the only reason I had is because I hadn't had the opportunity to do anything. I hadn't met a guy that I really liked. I couldn't say the story would have been the same if I had actually had even one suitor in the first 7 years of my adult life.

So then B happened...and while I did have my first kiss(+), I did not have sex.

And now, there's someone else...I'm not exactly seeing him, but he's trying to be in my life. I'll call him K (hehe, if I stayed true to the patter, B should have actually been O, but that's neither here nor there). And no, I still haven't.

And I know my fellow Muslimahs right now are all like, wait a second, of course you're not having sex with these men! You're Muslim, we've gone over this, you seem (semi-)dedicated to the deen and Ramadan is less than a week away. Are you even alone with these guys? Shaytan is the third!

Yes, I know...I'm just putting that out there...

If you can tell, I don't like using the term virginity. I'd like to prefer that the word didn't exist. I've disliked it since I was 15 years old. I feel like there's too much BS attached to it, too many false expectations, too much patronizing and too many antiquated ideas linked to it to use it.

And calling myself a virgin sounds dirty, sounds like I'm something to be exploited, sounds like I have something to give up.

It's overall a construction I dislike.


Most of my female friends in medical school are waiting until marriage to have sex (or waited...some of them are married). One of my friends in particular intended to not even kiss her then-fiance before marriage, or share any intimacies at all...

Haha, the kissing part, she did not succeed in doing. The rest, she actually avoided until she was married.

After which she was like...hmm, sex was not what I expected.

Haha, that's because she was told lies about the wedding night...like, it'll be more special if you wait, so she was expecting to fly amongst the clouds John Legend style...

"Ooooh, it feels so crazy. Owwww, this love is blazin'..."

I love that song, by the way.

She's really into me waiting until marriage. When I was dating B, she begged me to please, please wait. This was before she was married. I wonder what stock she has in it.

In fact, I was going to talk to her and see what her perspective, as a Christian woman, is.

Because honestly, I don't value beign a "virgin" at marriage as much as I value marrying a good man. Not saying I'd sacrifice the former for the latter, but I don't see virginity at marriage itself as the key to a successful marriage or even more security of Jannah. Chastity is important on several levels, yes, but say a woman has had sex before in life but she decides to wait with her next relationship until marriage. I don't see that as any less valuable.

Because you can be a virgin and end up marrying someone who wastes your time, get divorced and now you are not a virgin.

So what am I getting at?

I think, in the end, people attach meanings to waiting until marriage that are unnecessary, untrue and ultimately misleading. Am I saving sex for marriage? Insha'Allah. But it's not because I'm expecting it to be better, or more special as someone who has never had sex before. It's because sex is so important to me that I want it only to take place in a protected environment, and that protected environment can only be marriage, which is the only relationship between an unrelated man and woman recognized by God.

Without that paradigm, I feel naked, haha...pun intended.

No, it's not glamorous. As my friend's relatives told her the day of her wedding, don't be surprised if you are disappointed, be prepared for it to hurt, and if the guy also doesn't have any experience, expect that mess to last all of 5 minutes. And it'll take a while for it all to come together.

But I'm not going to be mad at people who wait for those reasons. It's like, whatever gets you there. For me, for a while, it was easy to avoid all questionable contacts with men. It's harder when you call yourself in a relationship with a man...they try to be sneaky, but since I'm home schooled in street smarts, I know most all the lines.

I do appreciate the ability of going into a marriage with a clean slate, not having the memory of random, undeserving men floating around your marriage bed. I appreciate not having baggage otherwise.

Now, I just have to have faith that Allah (swt) desires marriage for all of us, and that even in these times, it will be promised for those of us who want it. I have a hard time believing that it can work, but I have to hold out and have faith and pray yet another Ramadan for patience and strength...

But in the meantime and forever in the future, please do not congratulate me on being able to wait until marriage. Congratulate me instead on being able marry a wonderful, God-fearing man for the sake of Allah (swt). Don't think of me as a virgin bride, think of me as a dedicated Muslimah who struggled through life to stick to her standards and marry someone who is a worthy life partner, and congratulate the two of us on beginning our lives together and growing in our understanding of our Creator.

Congratulate us on finding each other and making it work in these times when it's so hard to find someone with similar values.

Because while sex is definitely important, it's significance is often distorted, and I think some of that has to do with what people tell themselves to justify waiting until marriage to have sex.

I also think that people need to approach marriage with a greater sense of duty and less of a sense of marriage as a source of happiness, because I think the latter encourages people to go out and look for that happiness elsewhere during the hard times of marriage, like cheating.

Marriage is protection, protection that is there whether we waited until marriage or not.

May Allah (swt) forgive us our transgressions in the course of this life!


  1. Because honestly, I don't value being a "virgin" at marriage as much as I value marrying a good man.

    Thank you for this! It irks me when I see people making such a huge fuss on women waiting till marriage. I just don't get why a woman's 'virginity' is such a big deal...okay I mean I sort of get it but it still boggles my mind. At secondary school we had to sign oaths that we would remain virgins till we got married and for a long time I had imbibed society's messages on how much a woman's worth is tied to her remaining a virgin till marriage.

    These days, I reject all of that. I agree with you when you say the emphasis should be on who a woman marries rather than the state of her virginity when she got married. Seriously though, I wonder how many men get congratulated for waiting until marriage.

  2. Hmm. If a marriage is solely out of a sense of duty, without serving as any source of happiness, it’s not an optimal situation either: two people resigned to be together but fundamentally unhappy.

  3. @Anonymous: Yes, I agree with you. I don't think I ever said that marriage should only be sought with a sense of duty and no happiness, but more duty and less happiness. Because quiet as it's kept, marriages do not yield the same level of happiness throughout their course. And while not all marriages are worth salvaging, I think we lose some richness in relationships if we err on the side of being too much about the pursuit of happiness.

    Then for some of us, fulfilling duties make us happy...if not happy, it validates us. So yes, I hope for marriage not so much for happiness but because I'm a nurturing spirit and want to be someone's supportive wife and some kids' super mom. I feel it's my duty to nurture a healthy family. And I feel like marriage with a little bit of that is stronger than one that's more we're head over heels in love and we think we'll be happy together.