Nervous For Wedding Night

How does past rape, molesting, or other sexual abuse effect future marriage?
autumnleaves
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Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby autumnleaves » Thu May 28, 2015 8:34 pm

Hi everyone!

I am blessed to be getting married to a wonderful man this July. My FH is so kind and patient, and truly has a heart for the Lord. I am very much looking forward to the day in which we become one, and am very excited!

However, I am also a bit nervous- not only in ways that most people are nervous, but in ways that are related to past sexual abuse that I suffered.

My FH knows about the abuse, and I have been to therapy. I've come a long way, and the Lord had been so faithful to me. Much of this wound has been healed- or as much as it can be until I see Jesus face to face.

However, I realize that it makes it all the more important for me (and my FH) to be especially intentional with regards to how we approach this new gift.

Does anyone have any advice as to how to approach this or any wisdom from having perhaps dealt with this or something similar?

I think my biggest fear is disappointing him, such as by having a strange reaction from flashbacks or something. While I have been able to learn to ease the flashbacks some, I can not control them. I want to make our wedding night (and our whole marriage bed) pleasing to him. I want him to feel accepted and loved. I want to show him that I really am very excited, and that I truly am very invested in our sex life; that I do want him sexually.

Thanks.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Bear » Fri May 29, 2015 6:01 am

Hi autumnleaves. Welcome.

If it applies to your situation I might recommend the book:
Dawn Scott Jones
When a Woman You Love Was Abused: A Husband's Guide to Helping Her Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation

This may help your DH with a bit of a window into things from your perspective.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Whatever the process, I really believe that this can and will be a path to healing and restoration in your life.
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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Wolfy » Fri May 29, 2015 11:28 am

Hi autumnleaves. You have a pretty username!  Welcome to TMB. (:

First, congrats on your upcoming wedding!  I think it is a HUGE step that you and your husband-to-be have already discussed the abuse and incurring trauma. My advice would be to keep that conversation available, because things don't just disappear once you're married.

Second, therapy goes a long way!  I'm glad to hear you got counseling for the abuse! Never be afraid to reenter treatment if you're noticing those wounds you thought well and healed come unravelled from time to time. Recovery ebbs and flows...time helps, but there are days when I still struggle with my past stuff, too.

I suffered the same nervousness of the possibility of having a flashback during lovemaking on our wedding night. The thought plagued me, really. 

All I can say is, go slow and communicate. Communication is key!  Ask him to ask questions. ("Can I undress you?" "Can I touch you/fondle you/play with you?" and "Can I enter you?" were all questions my husband asked along the way, among others.) If something seems off or you become anxious at any time, let him know. Take it at your pace, and relax. The mindfulness practice of deep breathing taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy is extremely helpful in this sort of situation. One technique that helps me is "square breathing" - breathing in, counting to four, holding for four, breathing out, counting to four, holding for four, repeat until calm settles back in.

Please know that while I did NOT flash back that night, there have been other times when I have or I've dissociated or broken down in the middle of sex. The only thing hubby can do is immediately pull out gently, hold me close, whisper he loves me, that I'm safe, pray for me, encourage me, and wait it out.

He reminds me it's never a disappointment to have to "deal with my past" - he is patient with the reality that I have PTSD. Sometimes we can continue back to making love. Other times, we simply cuddle up and talk.  It doesn't happen often, but it does happen, so there has to be room for grace within the marriage bed.

You said your future husband is patient and kind. I hope the same will be true for you, especially because you said that though you have eased the flashbacks, you cannot control them.

Our marriage bed is incredible. We feel at home with one another. We feel safe, accepted, one; as the Lord intended sex between a married couple to be -- GOOD. :D It just...takes time to accept that sometimes this trauma likes to sneak in, and it has to be dealt with when it happens.

May God bless your marriage. He provides for us in our weakness, for His grace is sufficient.

Grace and peace to you,
Wolfy
Standing beside Kuma, my beloved bear and husband! (:

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby mamame » Fri May 29, 2015 1:00 pm

One technique to consider is painting your husband as your hero. He's the one that is strong enough to walk with you through this. He's man enough to handle it. Man enough to WANT to handle it. Kind of like those fairy tales where the prince rescues the princess.
-
(now I have a lot of issues with the prince/princess/damsel in distress idea, but it works for me here)

I had to learn that hiding bits from DH was sending the message that I didn't think he was REALLY strong enough to handle it. Sometimes that meant I had to ask him to stop. Sometimes it meant telling him I want to continue even if there was a flashback or he noticed me mentally pulling away.
Now my flashbacks are often super brief (just a few seconds) and I banish them without any real emotional hit. I don't tell him about those because that's just maintenance. If there is an emotional hit that goes with it - he probably needs to know.

There will also be times that he pulls back from hurt, anger, fear, etc. That's OK too. This is his challenge as well. This is what makes him stronger. This is part of what God has planned for him to learn.

This will take a crazy amount of seeking God and seeking each other as you navigate this. But those are the things that knit you together.

God knows exactly what challenges you face and He will stand with you and equip you.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby autumnleaves » Sun May 31, 2015 1:50 pm

Thank you everyone for your kind words, warm welcome, and advice.

Bear, thank you for the book recommendation. My FH is quite concerned about making sure I'm okay and trying to understand the challenges that I may face. I think he's quite nervous about triggering me, even though I've explained to him that it would not be his fault- simply something that happens as a result of the abuse.

Wolfy, thank you for your kind words and sharing your own personal experience/advice. It is much appreciated. I really like the square breathing technique- I think that could be helpful. As far as having him ask questions, I plan on asking him to do this- he's done this throughout the time we've dated, such as when he wanted to kiss me for the first time (which is the most intimate physical contact we are planning on having until we are married) or simply checking in on me when I seem a bit jumpy.

However, while we've had one or two very broad, short conversations about sex/in relation to this, at what point (or in what way) would it be advisable/appropriate to have a more in depth conversation about these things in preparation for the wedding night and our marriage bed in general? (We are getting married on July 18th of this year.)
Wolfy wrote:Our marriage bed is incredible. We feel at home with one another. We feel safe, accepted, one; as the Lord intended sex between a married couple to be -- GOOD. :D It just...takes time to accept that sometimes this trauma likes to sneak in, and it has to be dealt with when it happens.

This was very encouraging to hear. How very happy I am for you. This is simply beautiful.
mamame wrote:One technique to consider is painting your husband as your hero. He's the one that is strong enough to walk with you through this. He's man enough to handle it. Man enough to WANT to handle it. Kind of like those fairy tales where the prince rescues the princess.

Mamame, thank you for you kind words and for sharing. I really like this idea. Your post gave a lot of insight.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby God's Geek » Sun May 31, 2015 3:40 pm

autumnleaves wrote:However, while we've had one or two very broad, short conversations about sex/in relation to this, at what point (or in what way) would it be advisable/appropriate to have a more in depth conversation about these things in preparation for the wedding night and our marriage bed in general? (We are getting married on July 18th of this year.)

Autumnleaves,
Typically we would recommend starting a series of conversations at 3 months prior to the wedding, so the short answer is start talking NOW! About EVERYTHING. The reason we recommend 3 months is so there is time to make arrangements or plans as you decide on things such as birth control, honeymoon activities (or restrictions), etc…

Starting a habit now, and building on it, of talking frankly about sexual things will also set the stage for conversations in the future. It does not become "natural" or "second-nature" just because you get married. Many people have difficulties talking openly about sex with their spouse for a myriad of reasons. It's personal, private, easy to offend, embarrassing, etc… For it to become an open topic that you are always able to have, you need to practice it as much as anything else.

GG
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Lets follow our leader, into the great unknown; This is a life like no other, this is the GREAT ADVENTURE!
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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Wolfy » Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:48 pm

autumnleaves wrote:Wolfy, thank you for your kind words and sharing your own personal experience/advice. It is much appreciated.

You are very welcome! I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone... Having control over breathing is one of the biggest ways of focusing, I've found, alongside positive affirmations - "this is my husband. He is safe. He loves me. He does not want to hurt me"...things such as those to repeat mentally if I feel that anxiety rising as I continue to work on my breathing.

Good plan on asking questions!  It was truly one of the most memorable things that night for me...seeing that respect, honor, and care for me as a whole person (physical/mental/spiritual)!
However, while we've had one or two very broad, short conversations about sex/in relation to this, at what point (or in what way) would it be advisable/appropriate to have a more in depth conversation about these things in preparation for the wedding night and our marriage bed in general? (We are getting married on July 18th of this year.)

I agree with God's Geek here!!  Start talking in-depth as soon as possible.

My husband and I still struggle to talk openly sometimes about sex, and we've almost been married six months!  It is certainly not a natural habit and does not come easily. It is awkward, there is fumbling and embarrassment, but questions need to be asked and details need to be shared.

A few of the various things we found important to talk about and continue to discuss include: "Would you be comfortable trying this position/variant of sex?" "how do you feel about using toys?" "what are we going to do for contraceptives?"  "what's our timeline for having children?/how are we going to parent them?/are we even going to have kids?" "what expectations do you have for our marriage bed?" etc. etc. The list is endless...but I hope that gives you a sample of maybe areas to begin with... :D
This was very encouraging to hear. How very happy I am for you. This is simply beautiful.

(: I hope the same can be the true for you too, Autumnleaves!
Standing beside Kuma, my beloved bear and husband! (:

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby autumnleaves » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:57 pm

God's Geek wrote:Typically we would recommend starting a series of conversations at 3 months prior to the wedding, so the short answer is start talking NOW! About EVERYTHING. The reason we recommend 3 months is so there is time to make arrangements or plans as you decide on things such as birth control, honeymoon activities (or restrictions), etc…

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply! I really appreciate it. Good to know that it is appropriate for us to begin talking in depth about this.
Wolfy wrote: You are very welcome! I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone... Having control over breathing is one of the biggest ways of focusing, I've found, alongside positive affirmations - "this is my husband. He is safe. He loves me. He does not want to hurt me"...things such as those to repeat mentally if I feel that anxiety rising as I continue to work on my breathing.

Positive affirmations have been huge for me, and I'm sure they will be even more critical/helpful in regards to the marriage bed. It is SO encouraging to hear that you have overcome what happened to you and that you have a healthy, beautiful marriage bed. It's something I sometimes feared would no longer be possible for me, but your words give me hope.
Wolfy wrote: Good plan on asking questions! It was truly one of the most memorable things that night for me...seeing that respect, honor, and care for me as a whole person (physical/mental/spiritual)!

I can't wait for our night- and for all the nights after. He has been so patient and understanding throughout our whole relationship, and it really has helped me in my healing more than I think he knows. I think our wedding night/marriage will only increase this healing as we head into this new level of intimacy and beauty of marriage.
Wolfy wrote:I agree with God's Geek here!! Start talking in-depth as soon as possible.

Thanks for helping clear that up!

We've talked a lot about children/parenting and even some about contraception. It's been something very important to me as my family is not exactly a peaceful one- though my abuse was not from a family member. It's been the more detailed/explicit sexual stuff that we have held back on for the reasons of modesty and guarding against temptation. But I know we will be having many of those conversations very soon now.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Wolfy » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:48 am

autumnleaves wrote: It is SO encouraging to hear that you have overcome what happened to you and that you have a healthy, beautiful marriage bed. It's something I sometimes feared would no longer be possible for me, but your words give me hope.

I'm so glad to hear my words have given you hope!  The trauma is not entirely overcome yet, but God provides and my marriage is thriving in all seasons. Healing, and marriage, is a journey you get to embark on together!  :D
I can't wait for our night- and for all the nights after. He has been so patient and understanding throughout our whole relationship, and it really has helped me in my healing more than I think he knows. I think our wedding night/marriage will only increase this healing as we head into this new level of intimacy and beauty of marriage.

That is beautiful, autumnleaves.  :mrgreen:
We've talked a lot about children/parenting and even some about contraception.

Good!  Those are definitely starting points!  And honestly...good for you for making modesty and guarding yourselves a priority!  Make a mental note that having these conversations is not about tearing down those walls. It is shifting your sexuality so that these conversations become easier and easier to have as you make the transition from single to married. It is keeping the marriage bed pure in all things.

I was asking Kuma (my husband) for some advice on how to respond here (sometimes he knows what I'm trying to say better than I do!) and a big point he had mentioned was how you're discussing the more detailed/explicit sexual content.  There are ways to discuss intimacy without being explicit (as is often found here on TMB)...but if you're not sure how or where to begin in doing so, discussing in a clinical manner is a safe choice....There are definitely ways to avoid temptation in these serious discussions!  (:

Feel free to send me a PM if you'd like!
Standing beside Kuma, my beloved bear and husband! (:

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Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby God's Geek » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:56 pm

autumnleaves wrote:Good to know that it is appropriate for us to begin talking in depth about this.

One suggestion I would make... When you have these conversations, find a publicly-private location. Obviously you will want this talk to just be between the two of you, but the topic matter WILL have an arousing effect on both of you, so find a quiet corner at a coffee shop, or a bench in the park. (See what I'm getting at?)
Avoid a closed room, or even a house with no one else around. That is the strategy for avoiding improper situations.

GG
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Lets follow our leader, into the great unknown; This is a life like no other, this is the GREAT ADVENTURE!
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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby autumnleaves » Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:10 pm

Wolfy wrote:There are ways to discuss intimacy without being explicit (as is often found here on TMB)...but if you're not sure how or where to begin in doing so, discussing in a clinical manner is a safe choice....There are definitely ways to avoid temptation in these serious discussions! (:

Wolfy, how very wise your words are. I absolutely agree that how these matters are discussed is very important. I find clinical vocabulary to not only be more appropriate considering our current relational status, but also more generally comfortable for me- perhaps this is because I am in the medical science field. I think the way you expressed the purpose of these conversations is beautiful and absolutely spot on. Thank you very much for your continued input and support.
God's Geek wrote:One suggestion I would make... When you have these conversations, find a publicly-private location.

God's Geek, thank you very much for your wise input. I think this is a very wise and very helpful- we will definitely be doing this.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night (Update)

Postby autumnleaves » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:32 pm

Hi everyone!

FH and I had a very long, nice talk last weekend. It was very helpful to talk through some things, and makes the fact that our wedding is next month seem so much more real! Getting even more excited.

Anyway, FH has been very sweet and is very much concerned about making me comfortable- both physically and otherwise. He is very considerate and respectful, and he truly listens with attention and an attentive heart when I talk. During our conversation, he repeatedly asked about how he could make our first night- and our whole marriage bed- a comfortable, safe, peaceful place for me, especially in regards to the mental aspect after having been assaulted.

I told him some general things that might trigger me, and that hearing his voice and the affirmation that it is him, that I'm safe, or the fact that it is ok to stop if I need to are all good ways to help me try to ground myself during a flashback. He took this in, but is understandingly still a bit nervous about this aspect. I tried to assure him that if I have flashbacks that it's not his fault, but he's still relatively nervous about this aspect.

The potential of having flashbacks is the part I am most nervous about- but not because they are simply unpleasant, but because I do not want my FH to have to deal with them too, though I understand they will happen and he will have to at some point in our marriage bed. I guess I was just wondering if any other couples had any advice about how to help the spouse of a survivor in this situation? I'm not sure if I'm articulating myself very well.

Thank you all so much for your wisdom and kind words. I really can not tell you how much I appreciate you all. I told FH about this lovely community during our talk. It is possible that he may join in the future :D

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Kuma » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:29 pm

Hey autumnleaves,
Wolfy's husband here!

First off, congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

Wolfy pointed me to your thread. After reading through, I know she has already made a few points on our behalf, but we figured it's a good idea to give my 2 cents on the concern at hand.

I'll admit, talking about our wedding night was a bit intimidating... More than anything, like your FH, I was afraid that my actions would trigger her pain... There's a certain weight that carries with this.

But I want to ask you a question here that I know you already know the answer to: If you are triggered during LM, would you blame your husband? Of course not. If anything, you might feel just as guilty as he would.

But there lies you answer. I know you've heard it many times before, but the abuse you suffered is NOT your fault. Your flashbacks are NOT your fault. And I know your FH will come to learn that the flashbacks are not his fault either.

If a flashback happens, it is his responsibility as your husband to care for you, to hold you, and to reassure you until you feel safe again. Blaming himself won't help him do that. If there was a specific action that triggered the flashback, then it's a learning point. Talk through it as thoroughly as the subject needs as you are ready to do so. Keep in mind that healing is a tricky process, and should never be rushed.

In all marriages, open and honest communication is key. Empathy plays a big role in this.

And as everyone here will remind you, when it comes to your first night as one flesh: take it slow, talk and listen to one another, and enjoy yourselves!

(Wolfy would also like to add that being here on TMB as a couple helps you to talk about the heavy stuff that our society seems to have an unhealthy stigma over.)

With love in Christ,
Kuma
The happy husband of my beloved Wolfy.
May we all strive to display our Father's Love.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby autumnleaves » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:59 am

Hi Kuma,

Thank you so much for your reply. I am so sorry for my delayed reply- my life has been quite busy lately.

Your kind words meant a great deal to me- this community has been so welcoming and kind and is so full of wisdom. It was helpful for me to be able to have a glimpse into the perspective of a husband who has experience with a similar situation that my FH will be learning how to navigate.


Kuma wrote:
But I want to ask you a question here that I know you already know the answer to: If you are triggered during LM, would you blame your husband? Of course not. If anything, you might feel just as guilty as he would.

But there lies you answer. I know you've heard it many times before, but the abuse you suffered is NOT your fault. Your flashbacks are NOT your fault. And I know your FH will come to learn that the flashbacks are not his fault either.


These words in particular were very helpful. As you said, I've heard that sentence many times, especially from FH- but I still have to remind myself frequently, because it doesn't always feel that way, especially in regards to the flashback aspect.


Kuma wrote: Keep in mind that healing is a tricky process, and should never be rushed.


This was also very important for me to be reminded of. I feel like so many people wonder why this is still bothering me- this happened many years ago. I often feel like I am weak or somehow "wrong" in feeling how I feel about what happened or still exhibiting "symptoms" of the trauma, even though logically I know that it is not my fault and that it is reasonable for me to feel this way. It made my heart glad to see that you know this truth- thank you for reminding me of it. It is a truth that I know my FH knows well, though my flesh often doubts him in this and he has to remind me that he understands.

I'm sorry if this isn't making any sense- I'm having a bit of a difficult time putting my thoughts into words today.

Thank you, Kuma, and Wofly, and to all of you who have welcomed me to this site and taken time and energy to counsel me. I can not express how much it means to me or how grateful I am. Praise God.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby TheTigress » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:19 am

I am a survivor of sexual abuse. No details but I was a child. I was extremely nervous about sex in general and had not had much counseling. I went to counseling while we were engaged and I continue to go now.

I did not have flashbacks on our first night and when I did have a reaction it wasn't a total flashback more emotional than anything I just felt unsafe, rattled, scared but it didn't make sense. I had already practiced self talk and my DH was aware it was a possibility as we had many conversations about it. I was able to recover relatively easily. My DH is so open to helping me recover from those few instances however I need to whether it be stopping all activity or just taking a break. He talks to me and reminds me who he is etc.

Flashbacks may or may not happen. Having a "game plan" of sorts might be helpful. A way to alert your husband you need to stop whether it be a code word or certain number of taps with your hand against him whatever works for you. I think talking through that made me feel more safe knowing that we could stop whenever I needed to and helped me not to have as many issues.

As others have said it's not your fault or your husbands!

Praying for you guys as you prepare to become one!
Together or not at all- Amy Pond

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby autumnleaves » Tue Jul 21, 2015 5:30 pm

TheTrigress: thank you so much for your kind words! I'm sorry I'm just now replying to them. They really helped, and I can relate to a lot of what you said.

I am officially a wife! My DH and I got married this past Saturday. The wedding was beautiful. The wedding night was beautiful.

I'll probably write more when we get back from the honeymoon, but for now I just wanted to give a quick update, and say thank you again for all your wisdom and support.

My DH was really amazing, and was very slow, selfless, and in tune to my needs and body language. I didn't have full-blown flashbacks in terms of the kind that make me completely break down. I did have some flashes of fear, or sometimes a flash of the incident would pop up in my mind, but they weren't enough that they completely made me freak out. Between grounding techniques that I've learned from therapy, and my DH's awesome help, I was able to mostly stay in the moment. And it was incredible. Sex was finally something safe- something nice. I could be completely free in it, knowing it was now beautiful in God's eyes. Knowing that my voice and desires mattered and would be respected.

Sorry for rambling, or if that was TMI. (If so, mods please feel free to edit, or somebody let me know and I'll fix it.)

Thank you all again so much.

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Bear » Tue Jul 21, 2015 5:58 pm

Awesome update. :)
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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby Wolfy » Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:40 pm

Such an awesome update, indeed! :D

What wonderful blessings our God has given you and your husband. I pray your marital bed is a place of peace, safety, and healing!
Standing beside Kuma, my beloved bear and husband! (:

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Re: Nervous For Wedding Night

Postby TheTigress » Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:31 am

That's wonderful I'm so excited for you!
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