By Alex Mesina-Lazaro
I always get different reactions from people whenever I'd tell them I was a virgin at 31. Different, but with the common denominator of "skeptic." I really see no surprise there, now that we live in this generation when condoms are distributed to high school students like free concert tickets on top of the fact that I was already at the prime of my reproductive years.
Last May, I just got married to my then-boyfriend of 10 years. Before that, with no BS, my chastity belt had remained fastened for a decade long. Like, fastened tight. Yes, I’m one of those (nowadays) rare breeds if I may call it. It was by choice that I preserved what for me was the best gift I could ever give to the man with whom I was going to spend the rest of my life. Trivia: I was his first partner and he was mine.
For background, I grew up in a fairly conservative Catholic family. My sisters and I studied in Catholic schools. We were raised by parents who would incessantly instill Christian values in their children. Basically, my parents often told us to prioritize school over matters of the heart. That was why—although I had all the freedom in the world as my parents have been based abroad for over half my life—I chose to obey them. I’ve always believed that they had my best interest in mind and that I owed them at least that for dedicating most of their lives working for our family.
My "ex-boyfriend" took a while to court me. We only officially got into a relationship right after college graduation. My man remained faithful all those years, I must say. Maybe I was lucky we shared the same upbringing; he also grew up having high respect for his parents and other people in general. I guess that was one of the main reasons why he never really had a hard time understanding my so-called boundaries.
Of course, we had our temptations then. I'd like to come clean and say we also had our share of it throughout our relationship—there had been moments during our early stages as boyfriend-girlfriend when a casual show of affection like a kiss or a tight hug would send shivers down both our spines. What pulled us out of the quicksand every time? It was my constant prayer for self-control and my dream to be a true embodiment of purity while in a white wedding dress, really.
Staying chaste for so long wasn't easy. It definitely entailed a lot of prayers, patience, and conscious effort on both ends. We had to make sure we steered clear of “awkward situations,” hence we had not traveled alone as a couple pre-marriage and even when we reached the point when we had become independent adults earning our own living. This, even in a place so far away from our family’s watchful eyes. We had mutually decided not to cohabitate.
But, of course, don’t get me wrong. I neither condemn or disapprove of those who have chosen the live-in set-up even before marriage. I see how it works for others, as they get to know their respective partners that way before venturing into something more serious. It’s just... it wasn’t for us.
As years passed, my now-husband and I could say that we have developed a bond stronger than the call of flesh and found our way around physical intimacy. As difficult it is to grasp and believe, there had been times when we would lie next to each other chatting and would end up falling asleep mid-sentence caught in an embrace. Talk about trust and self-control. As one of my main takeaways from our journey as a couple before our wedding day (which I know many would find cliché but it’s the truth as I speak from experience, so I’m sharing it anyway), there are a lot of other means by which people in a romantic relationship could consistently express and prove their love and devotio sans any sexual act. For me, if you are as sincere as your feelings, no matter how mushy or corny it may sound, even a simple whisper of "I love you" would suffice.
Up until today, I still couldn’t quite believe that I am now married to my first ever boyfriend and that we now live under one roof. I couldn’t find the perfect words to say how sweet and fulfilling it felt like walking down the aisle in a dream white dress, staring at my groom’s eyes filled with tears and excitement, knowing that we have something sacred to share with each other that would solidify our union. Not to mention, the joy we both experienced during our first unaccompanied trip together—our honeymoon on the beautiful island of Siargao.
And all we thought our wedding was the end of a difficult journey of incredible sacrifice and self-control, we are just about to start on a bigger, bolder trip in life.
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Photographs courtesy of the author