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When my sister-in-law was in the hospital in labor with my niece, I thought it would be an ideal time to show her (and everyone else in the room) the fabric I'd picked out for my bridesmaid dresses.
I. Kid. You. Not.
I literally laid the fabric across the foot of her hospital bed and asked for opinions.
Can you believe it?
As a 21-year-old soon-to-be bride, I was dripping with self-absorbed wedding enthusiasm. I was blind within my own tunnel vision of cake flavors, processional songs and flower bouquets.
And fabric choices for the bridesmaid dresses.
I wasn't even phased by the look upon my sister-in-law's face that seemed to scream (between contractions), "Seriously?! Now?! You want to show me this now?!"
I even went on to elaborate about a lace overlay that was going on the bodice of the dresses. It would have all been so comical at the time. If it hadn't, of course, been… well... so true. I mean, I was serious about this fabric. (Stunning shade of green, in case you were wondering).
Well, that baby niece just turned 21. Ironic how time passes. And I look back and laugh about my antics that day in the labor room. Someone else's labor room. Even my sister-in-law laughs about it.
If I'd known then what I know now, instead of spreading dress fabric across the foot of a hospital bed, I would have been more concerned with someone telling me a thing or two about marriage.
If I'd known then what I know now, I would have sought the words of wise mature married Christian women who would share with me. About grace. About growing up. About leaving and cleaving.
And about sex.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have been better able to brace myself for and seek solutions for the real struggles my first husband and I encountered with our sexual relationship.
I always figured we would sort those struggles out "someday," but I never really walked in the direction of someday. Our "someday" showed up in the form of divorce papers. And unrelenting emotional pain.
No, I can't go back. What I can do, though, is be the wiser woman and share with younger women what I have learned about marriage and sex.
When my co-author and I set out to write a book about sexual intimacy based in God's Word, we were thinking not only of the countless people who have been married for awhile, but also of people who are engaged and newly married.
If you are an engaged or newly-married woman, I want you to know that it is easier to build something strong from the start -- than to try to mend it after years of damage.
Authentic, vulnerable communication where you seek to understand each other is the difference maker.
Don't try to read your husband's mind and don't expect him to read yours. Talk about sex. Talk about what feels good and what doesn't. Learn each other's bodies. If you want to become more comfortable having sex and talking about it, do both of those things. Often.
If you and your husband do not take to heart the importance of you experiencing sexual pleasure, you will soon find sex to be a chore. You will resentfully endure it at best and outright avoid it at worst.
Sexual pleasure is not just for your husband; it's for you too.
God's design of your clitoris is part of His vision for profound intimacy between you and the love of your life. (Check out the orgasm page on my site for lots of great posts)
Real sex is often messy (I mean, literally messy).
Real sex is often awkward, especially until you get the hang of things.
You may think right now that you want sex to look like it does in your favorite movie, but truth be told, you don't.
Just like you thought what you most wanted was the perfect wedding… when deep down what you really want is a strong and loving marriage.
Don't let Hollywood fool you. Real sex is better than fabricated sex. (Check out my post: 5 Fabulous Truths About Sex that You Won't See in a Romantic Movie).
Don't let any one sexual encounter be your gauge of how things are going in your marriage.
Sometimes sex is "off-the-charts-leaving-me-speechless" amazing. If you are paying attention to points 1 and 2 above, you will have orgasms and soul-drenching connection that will be unlike anything you could have even imagined.
Other times, though, sex feels routine.
When you occasionally have sex that feels routine, don't slip into paranoia and start thinking things like "we've lost the magic" or "he must not be attracted to me" or "the best is behind us." That is destructive thinking that will lead to division and heartache. A better approach is to see point 1.
This is so hard to see right now, but you're going to have to take my word on it. If you are like most married couples, you will soon discover that along the way, life gets complicated.
There will be details.
Like mortgage payments. And babies. And car seats. And, "What are we doing for Christmas?" And, "You want to take a job where?!" And dog puke. And minor fender benders. And overtime at work. And, "We're out of milk. Again." And, "There is 2 inches of water on our basement floor."
Oh, there will be delight and joy and tender memories too.
But it's the hard stuff and daily grind of doing life that take the greatest toll on a marriage.
Sex helps you navigate all that crap, because it equips you to remember you're in it together. You will be better able to extend grace. To take a breath. To embrace a long-term perspective on short-term roadblocks.
You will see your husband more as your ally than your adversary.
Those are the 5 things I tell young wives about sex.
What about you? If you've been married awhile, share in the comment section what you would tell young wives about sex.
And for more insights on better intimacy in marriage, invest in yourself and your beloved with our book Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage. I genuinely believe you will be glad you did!
Oh, and if your friend, sister or relative is ever in labor, that's not a good time to ask her opinion on fabric samples.
I'm just saying.
For more reading, take the time to dig into Why God is So Thrilled When You and Your Husband Make Love and 4 Devastating Assumptions About Sex in Marriage.
Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.