After two-and-a-half years of dating, and a 10-month engagement, we were finally married. I was so happy I could hardly eat at the wedding reception–and since I was not yet 21, I couldn’t drink, either. And that was OK. All I wanted was to take a few turns around the dance floor with my new husband, kiss him in front of everyone we knew, and then rush out to our wedding night: The night we’d been waiting for.
We had almost entirely avoided sex, because he said it would be wrong unless we were officially married. Aside from a few brief moments (a few seconds at a time, separated by weeks of insults and recriminations from him because he was trying to be godly and I was making that difficult), we had kept our agreement. I was eager, as I assumed most newlyweds are, to get to it.
At the reception, he quickly made it clear to friends and family that clanking glasses with silver would not get him to kiss me–that was unseemly, and, he whispered to me, oversexualized an important, spiritual occasion.
After our first dance–a song he’d chosen at the last minute without my knowledge, because it was “more suitable” than the one we’d discussed before the wedding, he refused to spend much time with me at all. While I greeted our guests, he stood off in the corner with a group of his male, Christian friends, chanting, “Nuptuals, nuptuals, I’m gonna get me some nuptuals.”
He wanted to create the impression that after a sexless courtship he was eager for his honeymoon to start, but he wouldn’t hold my hand, or kiss me, or stand next to me, unless the photographer or a relative insisted.
He danced the limbo.
The reception seemed to drag. My mother pulled me aside to say, “All the older people from out of town want to go to bed. They can’t leave the reception until you do. Doesn’t he realize this?”
I told my brand-new husband, and he explained that we were only getting married once, and he wanted to enjoy every minute of it. We’d have the rest of our lives to be alone together. So, I kept mingling, and he kept mingling, and a second time my mother pointed out the bobbing heads of some of my elderly relatives.
“I don’t know why he won’t leave, Georgia. It’s inconsiderate.”
Eventually, he saw reason. We entered a limousine for a quick ride to our hotel, about 15 minutes away.
“Take us the long way. Let’s see the red light district! We’re gonna enjoy every minute!”
So, I sweltered in my voluminous gown, while he stood in the limo, his upper body outside the sunroof. He directed the driver to keep us on the road for the next 45 minutes, so he could watch the seedy, Baltimore street scene.
Back at the hotel, he took photos of me in my gown. He ordered room service. He drew a bath, and helped me undress, and pointed out how fat I looked, naked.
Eventually, we had sex. He mounted me from above, staring at the wall and making an odd, squeaking noise the whole time. I felt utterly alone. I felt like I’d been cheated out of a loving, first night with the man I loved. I felt confused.
I wasn’t happy, or treasured, or exploring a new sexuality with my new husband, at last.
I was just…married.
By Georgia Lynn Pine