Sex in the real world – your world – doesn’t look like your favorite romantic movie, does it? When you and your husband make love, the lighting isn’t perfect and there’s no carefully-crafted sound overlay of “When a Man Loves a Woman” playing in the background. And I bet not once when you envisioned what sex would be like with your husband did it include things like awkwardness, miscommunication and an occasional leg cramp.
I talk to enough wives to know that we are so wired for the “sweep me off my feet” kind of feeling. Good Lord, we design our entire weddings while peering through that lens – the romance, the perfect moments, the tender touches, and the beauty of love played out so completely.
Then we are married. And marriage doesn’t look anything like the wedding. Or the romantic movie. Or the magazine spread in Real Simple or Good Housekeeping. Marriage is hard (not sweltering-in-the-hot-sun-on-a-construction-crew hard, but hard nonetheless).
For most of us married folk, the journey of marriage is complex – a bewildering journey that on some days resonates with more regret than romance. At the same time, God designed marriage as a journey rich with unfathomable blessings. When we enter into it, we are agreeing with His blueprint.
We stood before Him and didn’t just say “yes to the dress,” we said “yes” to a whole bunch of stuff that isn’t really spelled out in the marriage vows. We said yes to mind-boggling negotiating, to not being derailed by minor annoyances, and to not being sabotaged by major struggles. We said “yes” to tedious little things like who is going to clean up the dog puke and do we pay the electric bill or the phone bill? If we eventually are raising children within that marriage, we said “yes” to parenting together and to figuring out how to function amidst perpetual tiredness.
And we said “yes” to sex – not just on special occasions, but often. We said “yes” to sex, not as mere obligation, but as an opportunity to literally and lovingly live out “one flesh.” Sadly, sex in a lot of marriages isn’t just on the back burner; it’s buried in the back of the cupboard (like expired packets of Kool-Aid and extra cans of pumpkin from last Thanksgiving).
Personally, I love sex. (Women either loathe me for this or flock to me, like I’ve discovered the Holy Grail of matrimonial harmony). Honestly, I didn’t always like sex, but I have come to realize that a marriage void of that kind of vulnerable intimacy is dangerously shaky (a first failed marriage will do that to a person. I’m just saying).
If you really struggle with sex in your marriage, I encourage you to ask yourself “why?” Not in a rhetorical way, but with a heart that hungers to get at the root of what the heck is going on in your marriage.
Let go of the Hollywood version of romance and love – and replace it with God’s description of love and friendship.
It’s not that romance doesn’t have its place in fantastic sexual intimacy. Hey, I like to be wined and dined and gazed at adoringly. But we have too often held up society’s standards of love as the real deal, when in fact, they are simply empty vessels with a pretty exterior. Do you want to have amazing sex? Then stop thinking it is about the clothes or the body or the hair or the bedroom decorations or the lighting. Stop comparing your sexual encounters to those fabricated ones involving Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon. The best sex isn’t depicted on TV. The best sex is lived out vulnerably, deeply and intentionally in the marriage bed.
If you have past issues, particularly sexual abuse or promiscuity experiences, then give yourself the gift of getting help.
It takes courage to look closely at devastating pain, and to recognize how its path of devastation continues if left buried. There are professional counselors and ministries that want to help. Your marriage is worth it. You are worth it.
If you have never had an orgasm or have extreme difficulty experiencing orgasm, don’t resign yourself to a marriage of sexual intimacy without pleasure.
I know many women who do that, by the way, even faking orgasm, much to the detriment of their marriage. Why is it so detrimental (besides the obvious fact of harboring a lie in your bed)? Sex without orgasmic pleasure quickly becomes chore-like. I am not saying you have to climax every time. I can recall some encounters with my current husband that were incredibly satisfying that didn’t involve me climaxing. But to never have an orgasm? Not a good idea. Many Christian books and websites (including this one!) explore ways that a couple can better understand her body to make orgasm more probable.
Count the costs.
Sure, you could go your whole marriage with neglected or non-existent sexual intimacy. Doing so, though, would come at a tremendous cost – to your relationship with your husband, with God and with yourself. Cha-ching. Those are some mighty high prices. This is the man with whom you fell in love and to whom you pledge your whole self. And while I don’t know him personally, if he is like the majority of husbands out there, he wants to make love with his wife. He wants to feel himself inside you and with you. He wants the kind of security, reassurance and pleasure that he can only find with the woman he married. That’s you. (And honestly, he wants you to want it too.)
Sex in the real world? That’s what you’re really trying to figure out, right? How to have great sexual intimacy amidst a messy, messy life? Well, the solution is to do something. Take even one brave tiny step toward nurtured intimacy. Your marriage is precious – too precious, in fact, to do nothing. Take it from me – the gal who used to be pretty indifferent to sex. And now loves it.
© 2010 by Julie Sibert.
Julie Sibert writes the Intimacy in Marriage blog. It’s the call on her heart to come alongside women, find ways to strengthen and nurture marriage, and shed light on the great Christian resources available.
Available by Julie Sibert
Pursuit of Passion (co-authored with her husband Randall and Jeff & Glynis Murphy)
awkward couple © Antonioguillem / Adobe Stock
exhausted couple © Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock
Randall & Julie © Julie Sibert
book image courtesy of © Amazon.com