It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!
I know I promised a lot in the title of this post, but I'm excited by it (if you'll pardon the pun). My husband and I are talking at the end of this month at a marriage conference in Ottawa, Ontario, and next month I'm talking about sex at the Woman Inspired marriage online conference, and I have finally figured out something totally revolutionary that I want to share.
Let me present to you first the problem, and then the solution.
We think of sex the wrong way. We think have so many expectations of how it will work, and how wonderfully it will be physically and emotionally, that inevitably we're going to be disappointed. I've talked to thousands of women about this aspect of their marriage, and I'd say that a minority of those who have opened up about it actually enjoyed their honeymoons. That's true whether they were already sexually experienced or not, though often especially for those who were not experienced, the honeymoon was a bit of a letdown. You're anticipating something for so long, and then it comes along and it's not as mind blowing as it's supposed to be. It's awkward, it's messy, and it seems more for him than it does for you.
And because we often dream of how great sex is going to be, it's all too easy to settle into a rut when it doesn't live up to its hype. We think "is this all there is?", and we're depressed about it. Our husbands perhaps think there's something wrong because we don't enjoy it as much. Or maybe it's the other way around, and we wonder why he's happy with so little--so little time, so little intimacy, so little emotional engagement in it.
We start to question whether we've been fed a big line. Sure it's okay, but it's not earth shattering or anything. And then sex becomes something you do because you have to, not something you necessarily get that excited about.
The other problem that can come with the way we think about sex is that we become very goal oriented. For women this is especially a problem, since (excuse me for getting a little graphic, but I do want this to be a place where Christian women can talk honestly and openly), we don't necessarily have to enjoy it in order for sex to be "complete". It's his orgasm that ends it, not ours. And so the goal of us reaching that point becomes so intense that often sex becomes like a chore or a final exam we have to study for, rather than something we enjoy as a couple.
Because we hear about this possibility (a woman reaching climax) forever, and all the marriage books talk about it, we think we're supposed to be able to accomplish this right off the bat. And if we don't, there's something wrong with us. Or with him. Or maybe with sex itself.
That's the problem. We're focused on the act and achieving some level of bliss right away. We have these expectations and goals, and when we fail to meet them, we often give up or get cynical.
So perhaps it's time to take a whole different view of sex. Couples would be so much better off if everyone started their honeymoon saying, "let's begin now this 10-year process of learning how to have great sex!". See it as a process, not as an event.
You're likely going to be married for decades. You don't have to get everything right all at once. And indeed if we assumed that we wouldn't--that the beginning years are just for learning and experimenting and researching and trying and enjoying rather than for achieving--I think we'd be a lot less stressed. Studies show that the women who enjoy sex most tend to be married women in their 40s and 50s, not young women in their 20s who are still getting used to the whole thing. But when we sell ourselves this bill of goods--"Just wait until the honeymoon! It will be so wonderful!", many of us come away jaded.
Besides, many women are going to need several years to get over past hurts and traumas. Our sexuality is very linked to childhood pain and abuse, and sex isn't easy. We have to feel free to be vulnerable, and I know in my marriage that didn't happen overnight. If I had felt like the first ten years were just our time to get acquainted and try stuff and get to know our bodies intimately; that this was a journey, not a destination; things would have been much better.
If you take the long-term view, too, then you're far more focused on getting to know your husband and what works for him. And he's more focused on you. You don't have to feel guilty or ashamed if it doesn't work one day, or even for a month or a year. You're a work in progress.
And then couples could jump in with both feet! Even if things were good, they still know that they have more years before they hit that ten year mark, so they need to figure out how to make it even better: more spiritually intimate, more emotional, more fun. They can learn how not to just be concerned with the physical, but with other aspects of sex, too.
When we think that we'll automatically know how to do it, and then it does actually work, we can get in a rut because we think we've arrived. But when it's a ten year learning process, then we're always being challenged to learn more about our husbands, and our husbands are challenged to learn more about us. If it isn't working after the baby is born, that's okay, because you've got lots more years to grow. You're focused on the long-term, and you've made that commitment to learn over the course of a decade how to make it better. You can even take periodic weekends away to catch up on what you've discovered, what you've enjoyed, how you want to stretch yourself. You can read good books about it (Christian ones, please), so that you do keep learning.
Maybe you're in a rut right now. Your libido is low. Maybe his is low. You're tired all the time. Why not have a talk with him and tell him that you want the next ten years to be years of exploration for you? Years where you will learn how to enhance this part of your marriage (and he will learn, too). You may not be able to picture that right now, but take the long term view and it's easier.
And what happens at the end of the ten years? Chances are you have to start again. We're always changing. As soon as peri-menopause starts, you have to learn all over again what works and what doesn't. When the kids leave home you have to learn new ways of relating to each other. Health concerns can kick in.
So instead of viewing each sexual experience you have with your husband as a test, or as indicative of the health of your relationship, take the longer term view that you are learning together. It takes the pressure off, and it encourages you to keep growing. Maybe then we'd focus less on the honeymoon and less on reaching certain milestones, and more on just getting to truly know and enjoy one another, with laughter first and foremost in our relationships.
Now, what advice do you have for us today? How was your honeymoon (if you're brave enough to share?) Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Or just leave a comment! Thanks!
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.