Monday, July 9, 2007

Physical intimacy in marriage

[Not for very young readers]

Jess, over at Making Home, wrote a wonderful post about intimacy in marriage. I love the way Jess discusses this topic, with tact and dignity. You can also check out her previous posts about this subject.

As I'm not married yet, I often write about the incredible importance of chaste, modest, pure behavior prior to marriage. This is something I believe in with all my heart. However, as we prepare for marriage, I think we should also study the issue of physical intimacy. Don't get me wrong – I'm not talking about the horrible sex education lessons that are given in schools. A young lady can discuss this with an older, wiser woman who can be her mentor, for example her mother or older married sister. Someone who can explain that modesty and chastity should not be confused with body shame or being embarrassed by our sexuality. Sexuality is a wonderful, beautiful gift – and it belongs in marriage alone.

The secular view is that sexual inexperience can lead to problems in marriage, and therefore we need 'practice'. That's bollocks. Our bodies and souls are not cars and we don't need a test drive. Meaningless relationships – and most of the so-called 'innocent' dating are just that – have a dangerous potential to destroy this beautiful gift of intimacy that should be saved for our future husbands. Don't you think that's one of the reasons divorce rates are so high?

Physical intimacy can be especially difficult for women who had to go through abuse and/or heartbreak in the past. I'm precisely one of those women. I was exploited and verbally and physically abused by one of my boyfriends, and there was a stage in my life when I thought I would never get married because I simply couldn't bear the very idea of being intimate with someone. By God's grace, I'm past this stage now, but I'm still struggling with the issue. As I thought about this more and more, I came to the conclusion that being chaste until marriage might actually be less of a challenge to me than becoming intimate after marriage.

What can I say? This is disturbing. I want to get married and I want to build a good, strong, godly marriage, which can't happen without a healthy attitude towards intimacy. I expressed these concerns over at Jess's blog, and started thinking that maybe I should get counseling, to make sure these issues are worked out, for the sake of my future marriage.

Can anyone, perhaps, suggest good books and/or websites that might be helpful?


Coffee Wife said...

It always infuriated me when a guy would say, "Wouldn't you test drive a car before bying it?" when I'd tell him there'd be no sex before marriage. I'd cross HIM right off my list of potential husbands. There is NO SUCH THING as "sexual inexperience" - that's just a silly myth! I was *just* talking about this with DH the other day, how I believe that "sexual experience" amounts to a man or woman being able to put on a good *performance* - if you get what I mean. The sex isn't any better on a physical level - but the performance that goes on is what we call "sexual experience." (This performance now takes place even in broad daylight on busy streets - just look at how women dress and act and listen to the popular music!!) I think that we get flooded with sex scenes on the screen that make us *think* we know what love-making is supposed to be like and then men and women expect this of their partners. I told DH that "inexperienced" sex was the truest form of love-making because no one is putting on a show. It's just pure beautiful love-making without all the bells and whistles. Our cattle and sheep mate every single year - sometimes twice a year for the cows! And you don't see THEM putting on a wild show like in the movies after several seasons. We don't say, "Oh, now THERE is an experienced cow! Look at her go!" This "experienced" love-making is yet another shallow showman-style approach to God's gift of procreation. Just another way to turn it into a recreation that is based purely on satisfying the lusts of our flesh and stroking our egos. Ladies, we are NOT cars to be test driven before marriage!! We should demand better then this.

Coffee Wife said...

I wanted to comment about this separately. I'll try my best to put thoughts into words.

Even though I was madly in love with Erlend and I thought he was the most handsomest person in the world, I would go cold at the thought of being intimate with him. I didn't let him near me on our wedding night! I was ice cold and shaking in my wedding shoes!! But I didn't stress it: I realized that this was the normal reaction of a woman who was about to be physically intimate with a man that she had never allowed to "cross the line" before!! Erlend and I just took it in stride. It was a good sign that I was nervous and shy and not leaping into bed like a harlot!! It takes *time* to get used to a person enough so that you can let them have possession of your body (to put it bluntly). It doesn't happen over night! Even after months of being intimate with Erlend I was still feeling like I wasn't totally into it yet. But that's because Erlend and I did not sleep around with each other or shack up for years before getting married - which is what seems to happen these days. We weren't used to each other on that level yet. I wonder how many "shacked up" women who are sexually active with their boyfriends are as "into it" as they seem?? We women are extremely emotional creatures compared with men. Something like sex is a HUGE issue for us - no matter how much you love him and admire his handsome body, no matter how sweet and kind he is, it still takes a HUGE amount of submission to allow ANYONE to cross certain lines that you've spent so much time protecting and guarding. Even if a woman was sexually active before leading a chaste life it doesn't get any easier just because. I can't help but think that you are feeling just like a woman should feel: a natrual reluctance, even a bit of fear and intimidation about letting a man do things that men normally he is not allowed to do. It's like hitting a switch: the day before the wedding, "hands OFF, buddy!" and then all of a sudden on the wedding night you are supposed to leap into his arms??????? Yeah right, we women don't work that way. We can't just "hit a switch" and go from chaste maiden to tigress!! It takes time to make that mental adjustment *even as we are intimate for months with our husbands* I believe that God gave us this natural reluctance in order to help us guard our chastity - but modern society has told us to ignore this, that it is not natural, that we need counseling etc to release our sexual oppression. Oh brother!!! There's NOTHING wrong with a good dose of ice-queen reluctance! It keeps us under control! And fine, it takes *time* to melt that reluctance away - no problem: when you get married there's no rush!! It's not like God expects a chaste woman to instantly turn into a wild woman in bed! (And if your Fiance expects this then that is a BAD sign!) It wouldn't be very good if we all ran around feeling totally willing to jump in bed with our man before we married him. You think you are abnormal but that's just what society has taught you. We are expected to be wild harlots when instead we are *supposed* to be shy and reluctant maidens! On July 21st I'll have been married an entire year - and I *still* have some of that reluctance - I'd say half of me is still like, "Ugh...I'm not sure if I want to do this..." I'm not stressing it. It takes *time* to get used to your husband on that level. It's no big deal. Some women get used to sex quickly and others it takes years before they are relaxed and familiar with being intimate with their husbands. Be greatful that even in the midst of bombardment from today's pop culture you've been able to maintain your natural, God-given maiden qualities regarding sex! Don't resist them. Work with them. Honor them. Appreciate them!

Hedi said...

Today I found these really terrific articles about Scriptual betrothal what I would like to call Biblical betrothal!!! There are alltogether 5 of those, or to precise 4 and one chart. I was so wonderfully suprised and also blessed by those. I´t like somethimes you have some thought, that you really can´t believe, because nobody you know lives like that and you haven´t heard from anywere it is so, so you block it out. And then sometimes you can find blessing like these, that the things really are so. I hope you understand me! :)

Anyway, I think you might be encouraged by these articles of you not know these already!

List of those is here§ionid=2&id=7&Itemid=25

And the first one (it has next links under the page) is here

Hope you enjoy!

Anna S said...


Thank you for sharing your experience!! It's good to know I'm not the only one having doubts, fears and trepidations. I know that feelings of modesty and chastity are natural and positive, and not some sort of outdated patriarchal myth (no matter what the media and culture might try to sell us *rolls eyes*). The thing is, I DID have an absolutely horrible experience before, and I feel some of my problems are because of that. I'm afraid it might interfere with building a healthy and good physical connection when I get married, and so I was wondering if this is something that should be worked on. My fiance is totally understanding about this, as we have been friends for years and he knows exactly what I've been through. We have discussed this (in a chaste and respectful manner of course), and indeed, once we get married we have all the time in the world and there's no hurry. I'm so grateful for being engaged to such a man!!


I'll check out these links! Thanks!

Anna S said...


What a great article! Unfortunately, I don't really need to hear this anymore, because I've already been through all the bumps and bruises and I know it all from experience. If I'm ever blessed with children, I'm definitely going to share this with them. Protect their hearts.

Buffy said...

I hope you don't mind my giving you advice on this issue, you can just ignore it if you want.

It seems to me that the key thing for you will be to feel safe, to trust your husband and to feel you have control over the intimacy that occurs between you (to start with).

Therefore I would suggest you are totally honest with him before you get married about your feelings and your fears. Tell him how vitally important it is to you that you overcome the damage your previous experience has caused and how you want this part of your marriage to be fulfilling for both of you. Then ask him if he would mind taking it slowly to start with. I know you are not planning on bringing sex into the relationship until you are married and it is quite a big leap from nothing to everything overnight! Maybe you will feel happier starting with holding hands and kissing and move on towards greater intimacy as you feel ready. I am sure that if he can wait 2 years to have a physical relationship with you he would be prepared to give you some extra time to move into intimacy at your own pace.

I hope you don't mind me talking about intimate matters on your blog. He sounds like a really great guy and I am sure you'll be able to work things out between you.

Buffy said...

I think I posted my comment as you posted yours! I see you have done/are doing what I was suggesting anyway!

Having read what coffee wife wrote (and living in a society where women do not wait until they are married to become physically intimate with their husband), I think that most women do not find that their first experiences are up to much. There seems to be a lot of pressure for women to enjoy sex immediately as much as men do, but for most women it takes time with the right man. I dread to think what it must be like to be intimate with a man who doesn't love you.

Coffee Wife said...

I didn't realize my comment was so LONG!!!! Sorry to be so windy hahaha!

AnneK said...

Anna, my 2 cents is that you will be ok once you find yourself married to NP. From everything I read, NP seems like an exceptional person and with him holding your hand, your fears would disappear like morning mist in the sunshine. Right now unfortunately you have had such a bad experience of physical intimacy, it is understandable that you feel this way. Maybe talking will help, but I feel that it will be best resolved when you experience the beauty of the intimacy in the way God meant it to be, in the way God created it in Eden-within the gentle bounds of marriage.

On a personal level, it was very hard for me too in the beginning (I shared it with you), but the good thing about it being hard in the beginning is that it gets better everyday :) Unlike people who are living together for whom marriage would be like "Yeah Whatever"

Sheri said...

First I am praying for you dear Anna. I’ praying that the intimacy in your future marriage will be beautiful, captivating, and heavenly. Yes, you do have issues in your past, but you are a new creation!

My first suggestion would be to read Song of Solomon several times. The love story between Solomon and his bride is truly beautiful and God believed it was important enough to be allowed in the Bible. However, I might suggest that you don’t study it to far out from your wedding. “Don’t awaken love…”

A friend of mine who had sexual struggles in her past read a book called “Intimate Issues.” I haven’t read it, and can’t give a total green light, but I respect the friend who mentioned it to me. May be something to check into? Also, in Debi Pearl’s book, “Created To Be His Help Meet”, she spends a good amount of time talking about the sexual relationship in marriage. I believe she did a great job of showing that sex is meant to be pure, holy, and absolutely wonderful within the Christian’s marriage bed.

Lastly, I totally agree with finding a godly mother or mentor who can pray with you and walk with you through this issue.

melian said...

Anna, I didn't have the negative experiences you mention going into my marriage. My husband and I never even dated anyone but each other, and we were pure until the wedding night. Still, counseling can be incredibly helpful. I often joke that I was taught in Sunday School "Sex is dirty and bad, and you should save it for the one you love." Even that can cause a wife to need to rethink some things.

I think that finding a good, Christian counselor with whom you and N.P. (separately at first, together nearer to or after marriage) can honestly and openly discuss physical intimacy could do a world of good. I am all for premarital counseling, but I believe in counseling in the first few months of marriage as well. Some things just don't become issues until you are living together and having sex. I know of an excellent book to recommend, but I need to track down the title for you. It was very helpful to my husband and me when we were engaged and married. I'll post it when I find it.

Emily said...

What a fantastic post, Anna, and thank you for being so honest with us. I wish I had more time to comment, but I'm afraid I have hardly any free time today so this will have to be quick unfortunately. Here is a link to some amazing video messages from John Piper's 'Sex and the Supremacy of Christ' - the one called 'Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken' I think will really help you. I've watched it and it really helped me get over my impurity from the past. You can find them here - Praying for you dear sister! I hope this helps :)

magda said...

i have been married for six years to the most wonderful man. we have an incredibly fulfilling sex life. i was not a virgin when i got married, but this was not my choice- my virginity was taken from me against my will. it was horrible, and for a long time, i thought i would never be able to be intimate w/o having "flashbacks". i urge you to seek CHRISTIAN counseling to help you overcome the abuse you have suffered. it will be probably be difficult in the beginning of your marriage, and your husband will need to be patient. but you can overcome this, i promise. actually, God promises- "My grace is sufficient." sex in the context of marriage is so beautiful- after a while, it can be almost like a sacrament. there is a HUGE difference between "submission" and "her desire shall be for her husband." i love the way that jess talks about this, she is so right on. men really get a lot out of YOUR enjoyment. to be blunt, it's not going to be good for your husband if you're just performing your "wifely duty." AND to look on sex as a "duty" would be to undervalue this beautiful gift from God. (i read once that there is no medical reason for the female orgasm- God just loves us that much.) my best advice is to be honest with your husband about what feels good and what doesn't. encourage him to be honest with you, too. i don't know of any books or websites that can help with this- perhaps jess does? she seems to have read every christian book ever written :)

Anna S said...


Apart from the pressure on women to enjoy sex immediately, I think a lot of pressure is applied on girls to have sex too soon, and have no feelings about it. I should write about this sometime.


I'm pretty sure everything will be fine, too. I just want it to be not only fine - but great.


I love the Song of Solomon and read it about every few weeks :) Maybe this is a bit too early, but to me, it represents all the love in the world, not just physical, intimate love. I've been thinking about reading Created To Be His Helpmeet for a while, and have heard various opinions about this book. I think I will read it.


I was always against the 'sex is dirty' thing. I don't think sex is dirty anymore than food is - on our plates, food is wonderfully delicious, but on our floor, it's dirt! And similarly, sex within the holy union of marriage is a lovely, beautiful gift, while in today's perverse and promiscuous culture it's cheap and dirty.


I will definitely check this out, thanks!


I'm so sorry you had to go through this as well. I'm sorry for every woman who did. But you are right, healing is possible, like I have already experienced in all aspects of my life. I've been in the darkest pit of despair and now my life is full of light and love. I'm sure this, too, can be healed by God's grace.

Lydia said...

I want you to know that even though I can't imagine the gravity of your experiences, I know to a certain extent what you feel like. It seems like you and NP ought to have a long talk about everything, and from there you can decide if counseling is necessary.

My heart is with you.

Vicky said...

Hi Anna,

Great topic. It was something my husband and I struggled with in our relationship early on, and still go through some bumps in the road (especially lately with his mom passing away and the addition of our first child). Isn't it interesting how you go from a dating/courting relationship to a married state in 1 day, and you must do a complete 180 in terms of level of touch? It's definitely something that takes time - I read a quote somewhere (and forgive me if I do it no justice) about the act of 2 becoming 1 - becoming is a much different word than "are". If the Bible said "and the 2 are 1" then it would be instantaneous. This, however, is not the case. It is something that takes time and commitment, something I think many of today's marriages lack.

I say it was something my husband and I struggled with because he came into the marriage with prior sexual experience while I did not. It has been a huge hurdle for us, and I pray that my children won't have to go through this. It is something we continue to talk about and work on, and I believe that God is good, that He can use a not-so-perfect situation for His glory. :) He gives us His grace anew each day, for which I am thankful.

As far as books on the subject, a friend who recently got married highly recommends the book "The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love" by Tim LaHaye. We read "The Gift of Sex" by Clifford & Joyce Penner. I'm sure there are lots of others out there, as well. From what I read on Amazon (about the first book), however, both books are fairly explicit, just to warn you.

Anonymous said...

Neither my husband nor I were chaste before marriage (we were not even Christian), so we didn't have this situation to deal with. But when we became Christian, we started to follow all of the teachings of His Church and things in the marriage bed got less "racy". I'm going to be blunt here and perhaps a little too sharing, but I have not reached climax since that time. BUT, our intimate relationship has gotten soooo much deeper and therefore much more fullfilling and satifying. So all that "practice" nonsense is fooey, because there's nothing better than Godly sacramental unity with one's spouse.

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

PS I recommend "Theology of the Body" by John Paul II. It's a massive volume, and I haven't read much of it, but everything I have read is wonderful about the relations between men and women before and during marriage.
There is a "guidebook" that goes along with it, but I don't have it, so I don't know how good it is. That's why I like to look for the Imprimatur or the Nihil Obstat, the "stamps of approval" from the Church. They can be found on the same page as the copyright information.

Anonymous said...

I was raped at a party in college (I lost my virginity to a rapist... every girl's dream)-- and now I am married to an amazing Christian man. If anything, our intimacy in our marriage has helped drive all of those haunting memories out of my head. It's soooo different.

After I was raped, I slept around a little out of anger at God. What I had saved so carefully He had taken away so cheaply (that's what I thought). I went to therapy for about 2 months, which helped immensely. My husband knew my "history" before we got married, and I was apprehensive about our wedding night because being intimate other times had always brought back memories of my rape. Being with my husband is a whole different thing.

Best of luck to you. If you want to go to counseling, go. It really helped me a lot. I'll keep you in my prayers. If you are loved and supported, though, it'll be great.


Susie said...

I agree with Sheri, the first place to look at is Song of Solomon. The bible has answers to every one of life's questions. A bit of advice to you: We have "couple's" dinner once a month were the couples in the church (married and so-to-be) get together and have dinner and our pastor talks about relationship issues in the bible. Once he taught about how it is okay to pray before intimacy with your partner (either together or apart). Pray that your mind would be healed from your experiences, pray for purity in your mind, pray for purity in his mind, pray about children, pray that you are honoring your spouse, pray that you are honoring God, ect. I feel that the whole fact of being modest isn't about being a prude, it's about keeping yourself special for your husband. And as far as purity goes, we are to flee from sexual immorality. Thank you for your post and your openness on this topic that a lot of people shy away from.

Anna S said...

All of you are very encouraging. Thank you, ladies, for all the great ideas and suggestions, and thank you for bravely sharing your own experience. This means so much to me.

James said...


Dare I say this, but don't think that women are the only ones nervous and scared about sharing the conjugal bond of marriage. Plenty of guys are too. Of all the aspects of marriage, I feel like I could hand the responsiblities and the interpersonal elements. But procreation- sharing of the marital bond. It's as frightening as can be to me- and this is someone who has nothing other than thoughts and dreams out on the horizon.

My favorite book on these topics is John Paul II, Love and Responsibility. It is by farm, the msot comprehensive text on the subject. JPII, ever the mystic, speaks of te mystical natre fo the sacrament of marriage.

I do believe that the conjugal bond is part of wharing the blessigs of marriage.

The key to this realm is always remembering the virtues of purity and chastity. If what you do is out of a pure love, you are safe, otherwise you're not.

Its 2 AM here in the states and I need to get to bed sinc eI need to be up for work at 5:30. I will write more tomorrow. In the mean times, peace be with you.

James B.
Enfield, CT, USA

Anonymous said...

Perhaps God is allowing you to have a long engagement with your fiance to work through your feelings (a bit like Moses and the Israelites in the desert for 40 years :)).
The only thing that I could possibly recommend during this time is to pray, pray, pray. And remember that marriage is a sacrament and regardless of how you feel, that the marital act is still a holy one and pleasing to God.
God Bless,

Ways of Zion said...

did you get the title of the book i sent you? it was helpful as I had a problem that it was still wrong even though we were married. I struggled a bit with that because it was drilled into us in order to combate the world's view that we get every day.

Hope it helps

Anna S said...


Thank you!


I do hope I can use this time wisely and work out the problems I have right now.

Ways of Zion,

I'm afraid I didn't get it... could you please re-send it?

Ways of Zion said...

"Intended for Pleasure" by Ed Wheat M.D. and Gaye Wheat (a husband and wife team) is the book, it goes through God's design and some problems that might come up that are normal and ways to deal with them.

I would hughly recomend it. I've given it to all my SIL when they got married. It was one of thebooks we had to read (separately) during the month before our wedding for our marriage prep classes

Tracy said...


I pray that you will find a wonderful loving relationship within your marriage bed. This is how it should be.

I was molested/raped by my oldest brother from the ages of 4-15. It nearly ruined me. I slept with two different boyfriends before meeting my husband. It was all awful. I thought, "Well, I'm not a virgin anyway..."

My husband has been so patient and kind with me. At first, I would cry often during our lovemaking. He would stop, and just hold me. He showed me real love, and was concerned for my well being.

Anna, over time, our physical relationship has become so strong. I trust him with my very soul. I am past all of the feelings that I once had. God has healed me with my husband's touch.

I read all of the comments, and noticed that several women suggested counseling. I never had any. I'm GLAD. I know this sounds strange, but I didn't need a counselor to tell me that my feelings of hatred and bitterness were perfectly normal and fine. The LORD healed me.

Anna S said...

Ways of Zion,

Thank you! My marriage prep classes are still quite far, but I might want to read this anyway.


It breaks my heart to hear what you've been through. Somehow, because I knew you got married young, I didn't imagine anything so awful in your history prior to marriage (I know, I shouldn't have been so sure of that... after all I even knew 13-year-olds who had gone through abortions). I'm glad you were healed, with the help of God who sent you such a wonderful husband. I hope the same happens to me.

James said...

I wanted to respond to this in more depth. Especially the "test drive a car" comment made me mad. The methodology of economics is flawed when applied to marriage and relationships because the working of the soul cannot be objectively quanitifed or accounted for on paper.

It shows you how pervasive consumerism has become that folks would treat the sacrament of marriage like shopping for a car. Thankfully, God has given me the grace to preserve my chastity, and I am grateful for it. It has helped me to be more circumspect- to see how unchaste behavior corrupts people- how guys become slaves to lust and have respect for the dignity of the human person, especially women, eroded by unchaste heavior. Similarly girls use lusty and unchaste behavior to manipulate and control guys, often treating the like an ATM machine in a way that is equally dehumanizing.

So in the end I'm glad I've stayed away from that. I has helped to preserve the wonder and fear with which one enters the sacrament of marriage.

Sadly, I think that the experience of some of the women on this blog has been influenced by victimization- suffering different episodes of significant sexual misconduct, often by acqaintances and relatives.

What I say is look very carefully for a guy who is chaste and really does it, means it, and is committed to it. That's your best bet.

It is normal to be nervous and scared of this stuff. I always remember God's words to St. Paul, "My grace is sufficient to thee." Remember that grace perfects nature and makes possible in nature those things that are not possible on our own. God will guide in you in your marriages, especially if you pray often.

Please keep me in your prayers, especially family and job issues. I remain yours in Christ,

James B.

Anna S said...


Thank you for sharing!.. And yes you are right, it's not only women who are abused by men; men can also be exploited by women who treat them like trash. Devaluation of sex and the beautiful gift of intimacy goes both ways.

It's normal to feel somewhat anxious about it. It's not normal to be broken. But, we must remember that 'He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds'.

Ways of Zion said...

in a personal note you might want to recomend it to N but closer to the wedding date (so that it doesn't make him frustrated). My husband found it helpful in it explaining the woman's side of things.

God Bless!

Emily said...

I am so glad the video link I sent you was so helpful to you Anna. I pray that God will really help you in this area and lead you to full inward healing and recovery. Remember, Jesus makes all things new - He restores our brokenness and the messes we have made. He picks up the crumbs of our shattered pasts and declares, "Let not one piece be wasted." God bless you :)

Got another on the way! said...

For an excellent exploration of the Song of Solomon I'd highly recommend the lecture series by Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church. It is extremely helpful for those awaiting marriage and for the 30+ year veterans. For a more technical book from a Christian perspective, I recommend Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat. Also, Douglas Wilson's wife (Nancy, I'm pretty sure) has a very good lecture series on a wife's role, and one lecture deals humorously and frankly with sex (I listened on a CD-rom collection they sell). And for a generally delightful and inspiring read, pick up Pearl by Donita Dyer, the beautiful and true story of an ethnic Armenian girl (15 or 16 years old!)who travels halfway around the world to marry a man she never met. She trusted God and her parents to lead her. She also had a frightening experience before her marriage through no fault of her own. And she and her husband didn't even kiss at their wedding, as even that wasn't chaste to them! She describes their wedding night briefly, humorously, tactfully and affectionately. This really is a four or five star book. It may be hard to find, but worth the trouble. Also, I don't think a woman's eagerness or reluctance on her wedding night is any indication of her christian-ness or chastity. Those are more affected by her personality and her family/community's attitudes toward sex than anything. I had the blessing of having almost no exposure to the sex is bad/duty comments or attitude my entire life in my particular Christian community. Lastly, one lady here recommended pre and post marital counseling. I think that is a great idea! We had premarital counseling, which helped us immensly, but we got no post marital counseling. We've reached the 5 year mark succesfully, but still I think it would have been helpful.

Anna S said...

Thank you for your kind (and detailed!) advice!