'The Bachelor' alum Ben Higgins explains how abstinence with Jessica Clarke changed things
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/08/2022
The Bachelor alum Ben Higgins has shared how waiting until marriage to sleep with Jessica Clarke changed their relationship.
Ben revealed how he and his wife "successfully accomplished" their "mission" to abstain from pre-marital sex, although Ben wasn't a virgin, during a recent appearance on the "Talking It Out with Bachelor Nation" podcast co-hosted by Bryan Abasolo and Mike Johnson.
"There's multiple angles to why that decision was made, right," explained Ben, who married Jessica in November 2021.
"I think people hear it from the outside and they assume it was strictly a faith decision, or a religious decision might be the better way to explain that. It wasn't solely that."
The Season 20The Bachelor star said while both he and his wife believe in Jesus, which is "something that is at the foundation [and] the corner" of their lives, there was more to their decision to not be intimate for so long.
"[Jesus] is what we try to have everything come out of. We also, because of that, do believe that sex is sacred," Ben said.
"We believe it is something very powerful, something very important to consider and hold dear, to talk about, to express. We also believe it's an awesome thing. It's a gift."
Ben confirmed that Jessica had "held sex dear" and "abstained from sex her whole life."
"So when I entered that relationship with her... we both talked it out and said, 'What is the wise thing to do here for us?'" Ben recalled, given he had sex before Jessica.
"It was, 'Hey, you've worked so hard to keep this moment special for you and I have had failed relationships where that has been a part of my life. And so, let's try. Like, let's see what happens there because we have a whole life together.'"
But Ben pointed out how the couple never anticipated the coronavirus pandemic would delay their plans when they got engaged in March 2020.
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"We didn't think COVID was going to shut down our wedding for a year-and-a-half," Ben explained. "So the big joke on us was, 'Hey, let's wait a year longer than you expected!'"
"So the question was what came of that? It wasn't easy. So it forced us to grow stronger together in our commitment to each other. It also got us really excited for when we did get married."
Ben revealed of his wedding night, "There was something very special there, something that we were going to work through as a married couple when we had already committed our lives to each other."
And because that physical part of a relationship was "not an option" while they were dating and engaged, Ben said, "It forced us and allowed us to communicate with our words a lot easier. And so we talked things out -- we talked the weird things out, the uncomfortable things out."
Ben reiterated how he and Jessica spent their time together talking or having experiences.
Ben, however, acknowledged that the way they went about their romance will not work for everybody and he's not pushing his beliefs on others.
"I would actually very much push against [doing] that and say, 'This is a decision you need to make if it is right for you.' But for us, it was right, and it feels right," Ben elaborated.
"It feels like it was a healthy decision and I'm really glad. I'm proud of myself that I was able to respect my wife and her decision... and I'm proud of her because now it's very healthy and we have that special bond that existed once we got married."
Ben concluded, "It wasn't the easiest of times," but he's clearly happy with how things turned out.
Ben got engaged to Lauren Bushnell during his The Bachelor season finale in 2016, and then the pair starred on a spinoff, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, which aired on Freeform and featured them planning a wedding.
But Ben came down with a case of cold feet, and he and Lauren called off their engagement and split in May 2017.
Following his breakup with Lauren, Ben also appeared on The Bachelor: Winter Games, which aired on ABC in 2018, but he quit the spinoff after admitting he was still struggling to get over his relationship with Lauren and wasn't ready to date again yet.
Ben and Jessica's relationship began in December 2018 when Ben apparently saw Jessica's photo from a hockey game she had gone to with her father and decided to direct message her on Instagram.
After chatting on FaceTime, the pair met in person and Ben asked her to be his girlfriend.