Whenever I speak to a group, I always ask what they think skews our perceptions of sex. Lots of answers pop up, of course, but for Christians in particular, I find that there are some threads that ring universally.
I thought everything would happen naturally. But really it’s been awkward.
I thought having an orgasm would be easier.
I don’t know what God is okay with sexually. What can we do in bed?
I had no idea our drives would be so different.
We have such a hard time talking about sex.
I thought God would just instantly bless us with great sex.
These just confirm how far we have to go as Christians in helping marriages build authentic sexual intimacy.
We haven’t done a stellar job of equipping couples in what it takes to enjoy sex. Too often they are left baffled, frustrated, scared and disappointed… and on a fast-track to years of sexual struggles.
We can do better starting early with age-appropriate ways to teach kids and teens that the best sex is possible in marriage and that a husband and wife together can learn how to enjoy intimacy in a way that is not only passionate, but also holy and honoring to God.
And if I could sit with every soon-to-be married couple, especially young couples, I would tell them THIS about sex in marriage:
1. Real sex isn’t movie sex.
There is a Pink Floyd song that has a line, “Was it love or was it the idea of being in love?” This same sort of thinking can be applied to how we look at romance and what we see in movies. They call them make believe for a reason, because we are “made” to “believe” something that isn’t an accurate depiction of real life.
Movie sex looks flawless and drenched in romance and perfectly-placed pillows. Movie sex shows a lot of mutual arousal and pleasure with little effort. Even in the tamest of romantic movies, we get this idea that what is going on in that bed is all super easy. Never awkward or messy.
When depicted sexual romance doesn’t mirror real life sex, we conclude real life sex is boring. Women especially can find themselves feeling let down, maybe even shocked that sex didn’t start off instantly wonderful in their marriage.
The good news, though, is that real sex is better than movie sex — when a husband and wife are intentional about learning how to enjoy sex! That’s the caveat. That’s the fine print. If newly-married couples knew going in that the payoff comes the more they learn each other sexually, they would likely be more motivated to actually do that learning.
Which brings me to point two…
2. Be specific about what feels good.
If I asked you to name three specific things that you know turn your spouse on, could you do it? I mean super specific, not broadly specific like, “He enjoys it when I touch his back.” That would be too broad. Super specific would be, “He is incredibly aroused when I lightly run my fingernails across his back when he is thrusting within me.”
If I asked your spouse to name three specific things that turn you on, could your spouse name three things?
Suffice to say, there is much value in being specific in our communication. So I would tell newly-married couples that they need to verbally share with each other what feels good and what they find most arousing.
Sometimes you don’t discover these things until you try different techniques and touches.
Which brings me to point three…
3. Try different techniques and touches.
If you have restricted your sexual connection to only missionary position and you have established a predictable routine to what a sexual encounter looks like, then you are robbing yourself of the potential for profound sexual pleasure.
The great thing about sex happening in private is that you can experiment with different touches, techniques and positions to see what you each find arousing. No one in your Bible study or mom’s group or workplace or small group is going to know, so don’t get hung up on thinking “good girls don’t do this” or “what would people think if they knew we do this when we make love.”
Yes, you need to keep your sexual connection exclusive between the two of you (no porn, no third parties involved, no fantasizing about other people). But within that exclusivity, you mutually can discover what you both enjoy sexually. You mutually can learn each other’s bodies and talk about what feels good. There is freedom in enjoying God’s gift of sex to the fullest.
Which brings me to point four…
4. A wife’s orgasm is worth figuring out.
Too many couples assume that penetration via missionary position is all that is needed for a wife to experience incredible sexual pleasure. (I blame movies for this one, too). But as most women will admit, it’s going to take more than that to get them over the edge.
The clitoris serves no other purpose in a woman than sexual pleasure, yet it can be one of the most difficult parts of our bodies to figure out — for us and for our husbands. But here’s the thing… it is worth figuring out!
I would tell newly-married couples that the clitoris may need more stimulation than they realize, and they won’t be able to figure this out without communicating and trying. I know some people may disagree with me, but I think it can be incredibly helpful if a wife explores her clitoris and vagina with her hand and stimulates herself to understand how much stimulation it will take.
Husbands, if your wife is having difficulty experiencing an orgasm, don’t take it personally. Reassure her and suggest that you try different touches, techniques and positions. Don’t rule out using a lubricant, which may be helpful, especially for wives who have never had intercourse before marriage.
Encourage her to stimulate herself so you both can learn what kind of stimulation she needs. Extend foreplay so her body is better ready for sex. Most women need more foreplay than men. As a wife, consider placing your hand on top of his and showing him how to use his hand and fingers to arouse you. Oral sex too can be incredible during foreplay and during lovemaking.
If a wife is experiencing an orgasm every time (or nearly every time) she has sex with her husband, the two of them are likely going to enjoy sex more. Most husbands find it incredibly arousing seeing their wife have an orgasm and helping her have an orgasm.
And a note to wives — don’t assume intercourse is all he needs to experience great pleasure. There are different touches and techniques you can try to intensify his pleasure and orgasm. Intercourse may feel great for sure, but don’t underestimate what you can do with your mouth, tongue, hand and breasts to arouse him. You being on top can be an amazing sexual position for him and for you. He also may be incredibly aroused by undressing you or watching you undress.
Don’t skimp on learning. Ever.
Which brings me to point five…
5. Keep learning what you each need sexually.
God willing, a marriage is long. You have seasons and years and life experiences, some horrendously hard and some indescribably joyous and countless in-betweens. As we go through all of this and as we age, our sexual desires and needs change.
And the only way to nurture sexual connection through those changes is to be intentional — intentional about learning, communicating, and getting help when you need it.
Sadly, I hear from too many people who have either already given up on things improving sexually in their marriage… or they are biding time until they get out of the marriage (when the kids are grown is the most frequent gauge I hear).
I would tell newly-married couples to not ignore sexual disconnect as they go through life’s seasons and to not assume either that sex just naturally stays strong or naturally fades out of a marriage. The truth is that for most married people, they can have authentic passionate sexual connection throughout many decades, if they are intentional about it.
Keep learning what you each need sexually. Your marriage will be better for it. You will be better for it. As Christians, we have countless websites, books and resources specifically on sex in marriage.
I know this post seems geared only to what we should be telling newly-married couples, but I would say all the same things to anyone who is married, no matter how long they’ve been married.
So if you are reading this now, what in it speaks to you in regard to sex in your marriage?
For more reading, cruise through my list of past posts. as well as my page with a bunch of posts on orgasm.
Copyright 2019, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.
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5 thoughts on “THIS is What We Should be Saying About Sex in Marriage”
I would add one more to this list…lower your expectations. As a newly married man, I thought there would be lots of sex, perhaps 3 or 4 times a week. I did not realize that many women have a much lower sex drive than men. I was never told this. Or as my wife would say, “I do not have a low sex drive, it is just different”. And for most couples, the one with a lower sex drive controls the amount of sex in the relationship.
Beautiful post Julie. How many married persons wish they only had known some more helpful things about achieving healthy sexual intimacy with their spouse when they were first married? Likely, it is a very large number.
The best time to talk about sex and related needs and expectations is early on. Engaged couples and newlyweds need to be reached by your message. If both spouses truly commit to making loving sexual intimacy a priority, with the goal of it being a win-win proposition, then there is a much greater likelihood that a mutually fulfilling, loving sexual relationship can be achieved. It requires continuing effort and open, honest communication by both spouses. But, starting as soon as possible is best so the spouses do not fall into the bad habit of neglecting this area of their marriage.
Points 4 and 5 above are very important. Husbands need to invest the time and effort in learning what helps their wife to experience orgasm. And, both spouses benefit by being open to deepening their sexual connection over time by learning when and what adjustments to make in their lovemaking.
I think expressing your expectations of sexual intimacy to your intended spouse before you get married is vital! No pre-marriage counseling that we went through, or any of our friends have gone through, every mentioned this at all! However, I would gently say that often “lower and higher” drives doesn’t really do justice to describing you or your spouse’s actual desire for sexual intimacy. One of the lies that is often portrayed is that you are going to be ready to explode from sexual arousal (“high drive”) and then you have sex. Often, it’s not that you or your spouse aren’t technically up for sex, it’s that you aren’t already on fire (“low drive”) at that moment the other mentions it. Even having gotten married as 22-year-old homeschooled virgins nine years ago, we both learned pretty quickly what will get the other going. It doesn’t take long to get your spouse lit up if you’re a student of their body and how their sexual arousal works. It’s the idea of, if you can get me turned on let’s do this! Both spouses have to be willing (which is what you signed up for by getting married), and it takes practice (also what you signed up for by getting married), but it’s totally fun and worth it!
Great article Julie!
Communicate and it wouldn’t hurt to lower your expectations. I had hoped for a fulfilling sex life only to met with frequent verbal and non verbal rejection by the one I am to deny all others for. When asked how much sex would be enough, I said three nights a week but hoped for two and would settle for once. She laughed and said that wasn’t going to happen. For the last four years we’ve averaged less than once a month. The rejection has had a negative impact on me for sure. I don’t get as excited like I once did when she expresses any interest these days. The real kicker is how often I’ve heard after a sexual encounter; “why do we not do this more often?” Wives, please make sex with your husbands a priority. Find a frequency that works best for you both and vocalize your wants and needs.