In this counseling answer:
“Educate yourself, explore your fears, and change the way how you think of sex: it’s not an obligation, but a desire you also have inside you. Get to know your husband-to be well; consciously prepare for your marriage. On the wedding night, there is no rush. Take the time, talk to your husband about your feelings. Make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) that He makes your first, private moments with your husband joyful and exciting– with or without sex.”
As-Salamu ‘Aleikom sister,
Thank you for writing us. I am glad to hear that you found our article “13 Things You Should Know Before the Wedding Night” helpful. Although you did not mention your age, I assume you are quite young. Dear sister, fearing from first-time intimacy with your spouse is completely normal for young, virgin women as well as men (although they might fear from different aspects of it). So, don’t feel ashamed about this!
Unfortunately, in certain societies and religious/conservative families talking about sex is a big taboo. However, ma sha’ Allah, you are doing the right thing by trying to educate yourself. Learning about sex is the primary way to overcome your fears.
From the biological perspective, the primary function of having sex between a male and a female (which Islamically can only happen between a married couple) is to preserve the human race by giving life to a next generation. So, yes, the primary way you can get pregnant is through having sex with your husband. There are alternative ways for those couples who have difficulties having children by the natural way, but these cost lots of money and not all are considered halal Islamically. These alternatives are never used when conceiving in the normal way is possible.
And why would someone even think of alternatives when he/she have the opportunity to experience such an exciting, intimate moments with their spouse during sex?
Sex is much more than just a tool of reproduction. Sex is a special way to express love, romance, and passion. Because of this special way, among the humans, no one is as close to you as your spouse.
As Allah (swt) describes this beautifully in the Quran:
“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.” (2:187)
Sex is Not Reserved Only for Boys
Unfortunately, we live among many sex-based myths that influence the way we think about sexuality. The social environment tends to teach us indirectly that men think about sex all the time while for women sex is not really important as they care more about emotional satisfaction. Many girls might feel scared or ashamed of their own sexuality because they learn that only boys want sex. They regard sex rather an obligation. And because “only men want sex”, it might make some men also believe that they don’t have to make efforts so that their wife also enjoys the intercourse.
Psychologists and researchers still have hot debates on male-female sexuality. What’s for sure is that such claims plant false believes in people’s minds.
The truth is that sex can be just as important and enjoyable for women as for men, if not more!
One of Aboutislam’s writers, Zaynab bint Yunus argues:
“More accurate would be to state that what men and women find sexually appealing and arousing, how they react to such stimuli, and the levels at which they respond to such urges differ greatly – but do not take away from the inherent sexuality of women…
…In fact, the vagina – specifically the clitoris – has thousands of more nerve endings than the penis, which means that its orgasm can be correspondingly much, much more intense than the male orgasm, and contradicts the belief of those men who are convinced that women don’t really ‘feel it.’ (Not to mention that women are capable of different types of orgasm and multiple orgasms.)”
So, sex can be equally important for both men and women. How important? It really depends on the individual’s personal desire, gender, age, mood, circumstances, etc.
For a happy marriage, what matters is that the couple is able to openly talk about intimacy issues and decide together when they want to have sex. They can discuss what they like and dislike; they show empathy and care for the other’s needs. For such relationship to develop, the couple needs to have the love and trust the Quran describes: “and He placed between you affection and mercy.” (30:21)
Normal vs. Abnormal Fears
Although everyone feels anxious for the first time as it is something you have never experienced before, your fear seems to go beyond the normal anxiety. You write: “I am not open to the idea of letting someone touch me.” So not only you fear of sex itself, but you fear from any sort of intimacy with your husband. This is not usual for young people.
I am wondering whether you have been sexually harassed in any way before by a relative or stranger. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse and molestation happen to many women all around the world. This tragic experience can cause one to fear from intimacy with her husband later. If this happened to you also, I urge you to immediately seek counseling from a mental health professional and/or from support groups for adult victims of child sexual abuse.
Overcoming Fear around Sex
Dear sister, let me ask you: do you currently have or have ever had sexual feelings? At an age I assume you are in, “the sex hormones your body is producing may cause you to have sexual feelings. You may explore parts of your body that give you these feelings when you touch them, especially the genital area. Sexual feelings can make you want to be really close to someone who attracts you. Your body may feel excited and shivery or warm and tingly whenever you think about that person.”
Don’t feel ashamed of these feelings; they are totally normal. Instead, try getting in touch with those feelings and sensations and transfer your desires to your future husband when you are married. If you have never experienced such sexual feelings, you might have a minor hormone imbalance which can cause a lack of desire, thus, leading to a fear of sexual expectations. Try checking this with your physician.
Explore your fears. What exactly do you fear Write a list of 5 things you fear the most about sex and list under that what your husband could do to ease these fears. For example, “I fear sex will hurt.”- “I wish my husband knew of my fear and would hug me warmly and say, “It’s Ok honey, don’t be afraid.” The goal is to ensure both of your experience is a wonderful one.
Here are some more practical tips to overcome your fear:
Keep on educating yourself. There are many useful books about sex, even by Muslim authors. Read some!
The most important is get to know well your potential spouse and feel comfortable with him as your husband. Please do not let your parents choose someone you do not like or choose without your consent. It would be totally un-Islamic.
Here is a perfect 10-Step Pre-Marriage Checklist that will help you to get prepared for marriage. It would be even better if you and your husband-to-be went for Pre-Marital Counseling. Consciously preparing for marriage builds trust between you and equips you with techniques for challenging times – such as the wedding night.
Having sex on the wedding night is not a must. Talk to your husband about your fears. If he prepared himself for the marriage as well, he will already know of your feelings. Try relaxing and enjoying the moments. Make the mood: put candles around the room, some relaxing music at the background; talk about the wedding, crack some jokes,…etc. In the first night maybe all you want to do is just lying on the bed next to each other, touching each other’s body, kissing and hugging.
Before doing anything, pray together as husband and wife. Say this du’aa’:
“In the name of Allah, O Allah, keeps us away from the devil, and keep the devil away from that which You may grant us (ie. offspring).” (Abi Dawud)
Once you feel ready, remember the tips you read in the article: don’t skip the foreplay and use lube.
Dear sister, don’t worry. Educate yourself, explore your fears, and change the way how you think of sex: it’s not an obligation, but a desire you also have inside you. Get to know your husband-to be well; consciously prepare for your marriage. On the wedding night, there is no rush. Take the time, talk to your husband about your feelings. Make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) that He makes your first, private moments with your husband joyful and exciting– with or without sex.
Answer reviewed by Aisha Muhammad-Swan, PhD
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.