Let’s Be Real About Sex in the Real World


sex-in-the-real-worldI have never made love on a movie set.

Even Hollywood actors aren’t actually having sex on mainstream movie sets. (I mean, for the movie that is. I guess I don’t know what they do with their down hours).

Isn’t it interesting that even though we know it’s not real sex depicted in shows and movies, so many people still long for sex in real life to look like movie sex.

Movie “sex” in your favorite romantic drama has all the advantages of a director, sound technician, make-up artist, hairstylist, lighting specialist, wardrobe assistant and props manager, not to mention about a bazillion takes and professional editing to get it all looking flawless.

On a side note, I have heard that if the COVID-19 virus continues to ramp up, purveyors of television and movie content will have to create love scenes using computer-generated imagery. What in the world? Two people in a love scene won’t actually be in the scene together. Time will tell if this technical wizardry pans out.

Yes. I know. A lot of sex portrayed in mainstream entertainment is between people who are not married. I’m not making light of out-of-wedlock sex.

I’m just using this as a backdrop to point out that the longing for picture-perfect sex is not simply a longing of non-believers. Countless young newly-in-love and newly-married Christians also imagine that sex in their bed will look strikingly similar to the romanticized well-lit orchestrated version portrayed on the screen, only to be a bit let down when they experience real sex in marriage.

And truth be told, a lot of older not-so-newly-in-love and not-so-newly-married Christians still find themselves disenchanted with real life sex.

That’s what happens when we aren’t comparing apples to apples. Same thing happens in marketing all the time. The thing portrayed in the ad doesn’t always measure up to what arrives on your doorstep or what you find on the shelf at the store. 

At their core, movies and TV shows are marketing. They are selling feelings. All the people behind the scenes and on the screens go to tremendous lengths to make us feel something—in love, scared, happy, sad, confused, aroused, humored, anxious, delighted, excited, disappointed.

There’s a reason it’s called “make believe.” We are “made” to “believe” something that probably isn’t an accurate depiction of real life. At the minimum, it’s a compartmentalized or skewed version of the real thing. And it’s not our life we are experiencing. It is someone else’s life being characterized.

Here’s the a-ha moment, though. Real life sex has the potential to be better than the depicted version. Yes, better.

Not better looking, mind you. A hairstylist, make-up artist and props manager are never going to be on hand when my husband and I make love. And who are we kidding? None of us probably looks sexy having sex. It would never occur to me to take video of my husband and me making love, because I think it would just confirm how un-sexy we would look. Certainly that’s not the only reason I wouldn’t want it captured, but it’s definitely near the top of the list.

No, real life sex is never going to look as good as portrayed sex. But it has the potential to be BETTER. Better feeling. More authentic. More transformational to our marriage.

We have to be willing, though, to let go of the residuals of flawless imagery rolling around in our heads from what we may have seen in entertainment.

Real sex has a fair amount of awkwardness and embarrassment and that-angle-seems-like-it-should-be-possible-but-clearly-it-is-not. A muscle cramp happens at the worst moment. Something you thought would be a turn on turns out to not be. And this isn’t just when you are getting to know each other sexually. This is throughout marriage. Bodies change. Attitudes change. Willingness to try new things changes. Dry spells and disconnect happen.

But what’s genuinely beautiful about real sex is that if a husband and wife want to learn and grow together sexually, they will.

Intermixed with the awkwardness and embarrassment and muscle cramps are discoveries of touches and techniques and positions that bring incredible pleasure. You find deep caverns of tender vulnerability. You physically find affirmation of your covenant. You learn to love.

The real experience becomes better than the depicted version. A real orgasm with the person you love far outshines the depicted faked orgasm on the screen. Real sexual connection is better than manufactured sexual connection.

I’ve made it sound so easy, right? Hardly. That’s the downside and upside all wrapped into one. The payoff is huge for a husband and wife who put in the effort to nurture sexual intimacy in marriage. But it’s a lot of work. At least for most couples, it’s a lot of work.

So if we are being real about sex in the real world, we can’t skirt the hard core truth that it takes some intentionality for it to be good. It’s no wonder that sex is such a huge struggle for so many married couples.

Sex is the perfect storm of all that could go right and all that could go horribly wrong. Kind of like those professional fireworks displays. The risk factor is huge. As is the wow factor.

I wish it were easy. I wish sex was consistently easy. In most marriages, it is not. But real sex in the real world in real marriage is a gold mine waiting to be discovered. It’s worth discovering. The hard work is worth it.

Don’t get distracted or fooled by what you see on the screen. Depicted sex will never measure up to authentic real sex in your marriage.

For more reading, you can cruise through my list of past posts, as well as my page with a bunch of posts on orgasm.

Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Be Real About Sex in the Real World

  1. Running Deeper says:

    I’m with you Julie, give me real life sex that is messy, complicated at times, and sometimes hard work any old day!

    The rewards are simply amazing!! The intimacy, the connection, the fun, the laughter, the flops, the vulnerability, the deepening of relationships… You just can’t “manufacture” this type of relationship.

  2. A says:

    Hollywood sex is mostly if not always forbidden. Forbidden sex seems more exciting more tantalizing. It has the cheap pleasure of sin. Now neither of us have had forbidden sex in that sense of the word. But we did have a lot of bad sex in our first 25 years of marriage. But then things changed. We started having sex for our partners pleasure. Then things got crazy and a heck of a lot more pleasurable.

  3. Roxanne says:

    My you pastor’s wife told me before getting married that sex was NOT like the TV shows. She told me it was messy, you gotta pee afterwards or you’ll end up with a UTI and there’s no lying there all cuddled up and panting until you fall off to sleep just after it’s ended. LOL! She was so right, of course. We celebrated 33 years of married sex on Saturday. I’ve always been grateful for her wisdom shared with me before the wedding night. Anyone that thinks everything is just like the movies needs to have their spouse roll over after waking in the morning and start kissing all over their face with their morning breath! Who would even be willing to do that in real life?

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