{se} x marks the spot part II

sex marks the spot

After drafting much of this post, I thought it was really important to provide some context for my perspective on sex, which is why this is part II and not the original post for the How To Maintain Your High Maintenance Marriage series. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, I’d start there and come back over here when you’ve caught up on the nitty gritty (not super gritty…).

Sex: The Newlywed Perspective

Sex as a newlywed is much like being a newlywed – It requires adjustment and time to get acclimated. Physical and emotional desire definitely do a good job at propelling you into a natural display of your love, but I would absolutely argue with anyone who said sex was like riding a bike or tying a shoe (people say that, right?).

Those people are implying that sex is easy, that it’s innate. I guess that’s partly true, but what about the hours you spent with training wheels on before you graduated to a proper two-wheeler, or the countless rhymes you came up with to remember that the right string goes under the bridge when tying your shoes?

Yes, sex is an instinctive, organic response to physiological and psychological prompts, but it takes work. There is definitely a learning curve and, from what I hear, the learning doesn’t really stop. Or at least it shouldn’t.

I spent the first few months of marriage distracted by perfectionism. I wanted to do it right.

The temptation when you first enter the realm of sexual intimacy is to hurry past all the awkward newness and fumbling. But, the goal is not to hurry it or rush just so you feel comfortable or, at least, average. The goal is to learn right alongside your partner and have fun in the process.

I learned that this was more easily achieved when I checked my pride at the bedroom door. I so desperately wanted to live up to Tim’s expectations which were really my own expectations. It felt like a sure sign of womanhood failure that I wasn’t the perfect, as-seen-on-tv lover for my husband.

After a couple post-sex moping sessions, I had to explain to Tim why I wasn’t basking in the afterglow of love making. This meant I had to actually verbalize all my fears about not being good enough and my disappointment with not being perfect at the whole sex thing. It was a bit awkward and uncomfortable to say those things out loud, but the learning and having fun part of sexual intimacy can only happen if you are totally OPEN with your spouse. 

OPEN – that means talking about the physical, emotional, and spiritual (how you view this in light of God’s purpose and plan) aspects of your sexual relationship. A willingness to broach these potentially painful, embarrassing, confusing topics may not come easily – it certainly didn’t for me – but the more you push past any awkwardness, the better it gets (the conversation and the sex).

While you’re being open and honest, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek help/advice. Mothers are a wonderful resource, but if you don’t feel comfortable talking with your parent about sex, find a trusted friend who will give you Christ-centered counsel. (If no one comes to mind, pray that God would show you the right person and right time to ask.)

I had several “Aha!” moments talking with my mom. She was the one that helped me see that it’s not going to be perfect. The less pressure I put on myself, the more enjoyable the experience will be. She was 100% right.

Books are also good resources. You don’t have to see someone face to face as they talk to you about sex. Admittedly, I was a know-the-basics type of gal. I didn’t take Sex Ed in high school (not for religious reasons, but because I already had enough credits and only wanted 5 periods), so my knowledge of specifics was based on educational videos I watched in fifth grade. Yeah, the kind where you were instructed to put your head between your knees if you felt embarrassed or laughter coming on.

I really appreciated these written resources that were recommended by friends and family:

  • Sheet Music by Kevin Leman – great for when you’re actually married
  • Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, MD – demystifies the whole process, perfect for the pre-married stage

I mentioned yesterday that I wondered if talking or reading about sex crossed the line of purity. No, I don’t believe it does. Having phone sex with your fiance would absolutely cross the line, but having an open and honest discussion about the past, future expectations, and any other concerns would be doing yourself a favor.

Two more thoughts about newlywed sex:

  1. Have a sense of humor! Sex doesn’t always go smoothly, which doesn’t always mean it goes awry, but it definitely means laughter is in order. That learning curve I mentioned earlier? It means that sex won’t always go how you planned and it’s best to just smile and embrace the imperfection.
  2. Sex is messy – physically and emotionally. Sex is so intimate, it can spark insecurities and past hurts as well as love and joy. I was rather shocked at the intensity of some of my feelings when sex became a part of our relationship. This is just another reason to have an open communication policy about sex.

Whether newlywed or 50 years down the road, sex binds two people together with an intimacy impossible to find elsewhere. It is a beautiful gift to enjoy with your spouse and everyone is different. Don’t judge your sex life on what you see in the media or hear from your friends.  Allow the uniqueness of your relationship to mold your physical intimacy as well.

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6 thoughts on “{se} x marks the spot part II

  1. Awesome follow up post! Loved it, and I so identified with the newly-wed in you. I was similar to you in that phase – awkward, worried about expectations, not knowing what to do, worrying about his old girlfriends. You nailed it! Great two posts!

  2. Emily… I’m late in commenting this week {paper-writing mania}, but not in reading. I thought this series/s{ex} posts was/were so thoughtful and SO appreciated your open, candid thoughts, and the way you handled something so important {and sensitive} with such grace and class. That speaks highly of you…and is encouraging to me.

  3. Great books. If you haven’t already, check out A Celebration of Sex by Rosenau. It’s a really good compliment to the two you included. As a public high school health teacher (on hiatus to raise a family), I wish more people would talk candidly about how sex is messy. I would let my kids ask ANYTHING they wanted and every class someone would ask if sex hurt. I would always start by asking if just someone’s body was involved in sex or if other parts of them were as well. That got them to thinking that even if the physical part didn’t hurt their emotional (and spiritual, but I couldn’t talk about that) side could be damaged. Thanks for being candid and honest! I wish more Christian women were in their everyday conversations with other gals… (in the correct context of course)

    1. I will definitely check it out. I love book recommendations! I love your approach to that question, Rachel – really opens up potential for great discussion.

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