It seems to be the crux of most sexual struggles in marriage—different expectations.
If you’ve been married for even a day, you probably have already discovered there is no one-time conversation that is going to set the stage for sex for the rest of your marriage. The two of you will spend your married life managing sexual expectations.
So how do you do that?
3 Tips on Managing Sexual Expectations Throughout Your Marriage
1. Accept you’ll not always agree
Accept that managing sexual expectations is part of marriage. It just is. You’re not always going to agree about sex. The sooner you make peace with this reality, the better positioned you’ll be to actually manage this reality.
You are going to disagree (at least occasionally and probably more than occasionally) on such things as frequency, location, sexual variety, foreplay and timing.
Obviously, what can help mitigate disagreement from escalating is to make a habit of having open communication about sexual intimacy. If you have never done this, then there’s no better time than now to start.
Check in with each other. Talk about how things are going sexually in your marriage. Seek to understand each other and nurture intimacy rather than minimize or rationalize disagreements as “no big deal” or “not worth discussing.”
Your sexual intimacy is worth discussing regularly—what’s going well, what’s been a struggle, and what’s causing confusion.
2. Find middle ground when you disagree
Barring situations where a couple is in the throes of huge dysfunction, betrayal, medical challenges or long distance separation due to work or military deployment, it is unreasonable to say sexual intercourse is not going to be part of your marriage.
Yes, I know (as I just mentioned) there are marriages where sex isn’t happening right now and there is a reasonable explanation for that.
But most marriages? In the vast majority of marriages, sex should be happening on a somewhat regular basis. Sex is part of marriage. So if you are a spouse who has arbitrarily decided you rarely or never want to have sex, that’s not okay.
What is okay is that you and your spouse find middle ground on frequency. So if one of you wants sex three times a week and the other one wants sex once a month, you’ve got a lot of middle ground you could each move toward.
This point about middle ground also applies to managing sexual expectations on sexual variety. As I often have said, it is not loving or respectful to demand your spouse do certain sex acts. But on the flip side, it also is not loving or respectful to have a negative or indifferent attitude about sex.
If you are a spouse who is incredibly reserved and modest in the bedroom and have been unwilling to bring any variety into lovemaking, consider getting outside your comfort zone a bit.
No, I’m not saying compromise strongly-held principles or do something you have severe reservations about. But there is quite a bit of holy sexual freedom you can explore with touch, positions and arousal techniques that would strengthen the sexual connection between the two of you.
In the same regard, if you are the spouse who wants constant variety, consider toning down your expectations a bit. The goal is nurtured intimacy and oneness with your spouse. Don’t sacrifice the possibility of that on the throne of sexual variety that may be unreasonable or unhelpful.
The point is to enjoy each other sexually. I have faith that together through a lot of trial and error and willing hearts and open discussion, you can figure out how to do that.
3. Pursue often where you do agree
Throughout your marriage, you’ll discover that what you each find arousing and passionate will change. And that’s fine. What turns me on now 17 years into our marriage is different than what turned me on early in our marriage.
Some people may assume that over time, sexual desires and arousal become tamer or more conservative, but that’s not always the case. I am a fine example of someone whose sexual desires have become more adventurous over time.
If you are nurturing good communication about sex, you are figuring out the sweet spots, right? You’re figuring out what you both find sexually pleasurable. So do more of that. It’s a great way to manage expectations. Find the expectations that excite you.
Sexual intimacy shouldn’t be a battle ground in marriage. You can find common ground. The best way to do that is to manage your sexual expectations throughout your marriage, and to do it with an eye on oneness.
And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage! You can find out all about it at this link: Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.