In response to Blissful Ignorance, Zan bravely shared her traumatic honeymoon experiences. She attributed these to a total lack of knowledge. As a result, I felt the need to write another post on this topic.
Ignorance is not bliss if it involves a total lack of knowledge about the way physical intimacy progresses. It is also not bliss if couples believe that first experience is likely to be one of unmitigated joy and pleasure.
The type of ignorance that can be good in many cases is the absence of the sort of detailed knowledge about physical intimacy that can be found in book like Intended for Pleasure or in the later part of One Flesh. This knowledge can much more happily be gained after marriage, much of it through experience and without the aid of books.
Couples preparing for marriage are wise to discuss their expectations with one another. They are also wise if they seek out godly counsel from people they respect. There needs to be much more open communication amongst people in the church about these matters, so that engaged men and women know whom they can turn to for answers to their questions.
One friend told me that in her former church each engaged couple was paired up with a married couple. The week before the wedding, the men and women met separately to discuss physical intimacy. This sounds like an excellent idea. In a one-on-one situation, knowledge can be catered to individual need. This is also a situation of accountability.
If godly, open people are completely unavailable, carefully choosing certain parts of books like One Flesh to read could be helpful. This should really be a last resort, however, since the option of learning through one-to-one relationship is a much better one. Christians who want to help engaged couples would do best to offer them their time and advice, rather than such books.
I don’t want to contribute to any false ideas about unmitigated honeymoon bliss through sharing how wonderful my honeymoon was. My perception that my honeymoon was fantastic is perhaps partly due to realistic expectations about it. I expected pain. In some ways the pain was worse than I expected, and in some ways it was better. If you are engaged and would like any more details about pain and how to manage it, please ask me personally.
We also probably enjoyed our honeymoon to the max because we were so physically restrained beforehand. When you haven’t even kissed before, it adds a dimension of wonder and delight that wouldn’t exist for couples who had pushed a lot of boundaries and only had one or two left to topple.
Communication was a key for us. Physical intimacy would have been much more difficult and perhaps even traumatic if we had struggled to communicate. We can imagine that without effective communication it would be easy for a honeymoon to turn into a nightmare.
The kinds of problems that crop up on honeymoons cannot be solved through saturating yourself with explicit knowledge that often leads to temptation or worry. They can be helped through godly counsel, realistic expectations, honest and tender communication, and virtues such as patience.