As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. And though we can’t go back to when we were newly-married, I wonder if there is anything we can learn from what we would tell our newly-married selves about sex.
Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your newly-married self about sex?
Sometimes just recognizing what you wish you would have known then can help you grow now. Not always, but sometimes. And for those of you reading this who are newly-married (or about to be married), your sexual intimacy in marriage may get off to a much better start if you read this post.
Some of us who are further down the road know a thing or two about this marriage gig, and we may have some wisdom worth considering. I am in the position of having had a failed first marriage where we had quite a few sexual struggles—and a second marriage where I began with a more intentional attitude about nurturing sex.
But even after nearly 17 years into my second marriage, my husband and I are still learning. Thank God. I wrote about that in the post I’m Not the Woman He Married. Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your newly-married self about sex?
5 Things I Would Tell My Newly-Married Self about Sex
1. Build your own sexual story together
I realize that many people, including many Christians, come into marriage having already had sex, whether it is because they were married previously or had sex outside of marriage. (I would fall into both those categories, by the way.)
And even if you didn’t have a sexual history, you maybe heard a lot of negative messages from other people about sex. That it’s just duty. Or that it’s gross. Or that it is a burden rather than a blessing. Sadly, Christians have been some of the worst offenders when it comes to spreading negative messages about sex in marriage. I especially hear from women whose Christian mothers and aunts were culprits in tarnishing God’s design of sex. They never held it up as something beautiful, edifying and enjoyable.
Needless to say, I get that you and your spouse each may have brought to the union some sexual baggage and/or skewed messages that you have yet to unpack. The greater tragedy is when all that muck sabotages the profound intimacy that a couple can build. If you are struggling with unresolved issues or skewed ideas rooted in your past, seek help and healing and move on from those.
Knowing what I know now, I would tell my newly-married self that previous sexual experiences and/or messed up messages about sex don’t have to dictate the script of what’s going to happen going forward. You and your spouse can build your own intimate sexual story. With the right attitude, heart and intention, it will be one that is positive and passionate and reflects God—regardless of what happened in your past.
2. Embrace holy sexual freedom
God is so generous with sexual arousal, pleasure and oneness. Crazy generous. But we have to be willing to embrace it. So embrace it, okay? Run to it if you have to!
Embrace that modesty that glorifies God on the street may not glorify Him in your bed. And embrace that sexual arousal and pleasure is a tapestry that you can thoroughly enjoy through different touches and techniques. Missionary position is not the only way to have God-honoring sex. Sexual desire and orgasm are gifts for the marriage bed. When they are rooted in exclusivity (just the two of you!) and in love, the wow factor is within reach. It is amplified big time.
Knowing what I know now, I would tell my newly-married self that there is immense freedom to pursue and enjoy sex with holy abandon in the marriage bed.
3. Be willing to learn
Sex is probably the only marriage skill whereby we can’t ethically have someone physically there to coach us. Skills like managing finances, communicating, resolving conflict, and parenting are all ones where we can take classes or meet with professionals who can give us hands-on help and guidance, even leading us in communication exercises, role playing and so on.
But sex is a bit different.
More than any other skill and marriage essential, sex is one where we truly have to be willing to do all the practice only with each other. Yes, you can read books and websites and attend seminars, which are all fabulous resources. But then in the privacy and exclusivity of your lovemaking, you have to figure out how to enjoy sexual pleasure and oneness with each other.
You have to apply what you’ve learned—without anyone right there giving you pointers along the way. Knowing what I know now, I would tell my newly-married self that sex is something you have to learn. It’s not instant. And it’s not simply intuitive, despite what the romantic movies would lead us to believe.
There has to be a willingness to give and receive feedback, to listen, to try. And then try again. There has to be a willingness to value the process, to appreciate all the nuances of foreplay and orgasm, and to give each other grace as you stumble and get back up. There is quite the learning curve to two bodies and hearts figuring out how to sexually play and grow together. But you speed up the learning curve exponentially if you are willing to keep learning.
4. Trust that sex will get better (if you pay attention to 1, 2 and 3)
Often I hear people imply that honeymoon sex is some of the best sex ever. And maybe that is true for some couples. But for most? Yeah, I kind of doubt it. I think we need to treat honeymoon sex the same way we should treat the entire honeymoon. It’s just a start.
And more than anything, it’s a time to begin acquainting with each other as husband and wife, which is a different ball game all together than dating or being engaged. Knowing what I know now, I would tell my newly-married self that sex will get better. If you have a heart for building a sexual story together, embracing holy sexual freedom and being willing to learn, then sex will get better.
5. Remember that time may not always on your side
I once asked a friend who had been married quite a while what she wishes she had realized about sex when she was first married. She said that she wishes she and her husband would have tried more positions when they still had the hips and knees that would accommodate such creativity! This is one of the undeniable realities.
While you can always be growing in your sexual confidence and sense of sexual adventure, your body may become less and less cooperative with such aspirations as you age. Whether it’s weight gain, health issues or natural wear and tear on the body, our sexual stamina may eventually wane. Contrary to late night TV promises, there are no miracle drugs that can fix every inevitable decline.
This is not to say that you can’t get creative on how to give and receive sexual pleasure. And yes, I know there are 60-, 70- and 80-year-olds with sizzling sexual intimacy. But for most people? Yeah, the flexibility and endurance to do some things might not be there as youth and health fade. And in tragic instances, time is not always on our side because of sudden deaths, accidents or terminal illnesses.
I know people who have lost their spouses long before old age. We should never get too comfortable assuming we have many days and years ahead. We should not wait to nurture intimacy. Seriously, we just shouldn’t.
Knowing what I know now, I would tell my newly-married self to make the most of sex now, because time may not always be on my side. So there you have it. Those are 5 things I would tell my newly-married self about sex. I’m curious what all you would say? Feel free to comment so we can all learn and grow and pick up some wisdom.
Whether you are just starting out in marriage or you have been married awhile, consider what it means to genuinely nurture sexual intimacy with the person you love.
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