It's really bumming me out that the majority of us have no Christian married women to go to when they need to ask "am I alone in this? Am I crazy? How do I deal with ______ in the bedroom?" We need to stop waiting for the church to "take care of sex" for us, and we need to start talking about it amongst ourselves. WE are the church. If you are married, initiate an open conversation about sex with a married friend this week.
It's also really bumming me out that it seems hardly any couples having serious issues in the bedroom are getting marriage counseling. My husband and I started marriage counseling on a weekly basis 4 months into our marriage - and literally every aspect of our life (including our sex life) has improved 23481230 times in only 7 or 8 sessions. Marriage counseling is not for people who are abnormally screwed up, or as a last resort attempt to stop a divorce. Counseling is like taking your vitamins, or working out. Do it before you get sick. Please.
I understand that most of us "just marrieds" are broke, or pretty close to it. We still don't have a sofa, and we don't pay for cable (or have a tv), and we don't go see movies - but I'm indescribably grateful for a husband who views our relationship as more valuable than a sofa and a coffee table.
If you can't afford counseling, seek it out anyway. It isn't unreasonable to find a great marital therapist, and go to your church saying: "We really need marriage counseling because of _______ and we can only afford __% of it for the next month. Can you help us?" This is what church and community is for. And even if your church can't help, ask God - and act on faith. God loves when we prioritize our marriages. (Sidenote: By "getting counseling" you don't need to commit to attend every single week for the rest of your life. Go for a month, and then re-assess.)
Moving forward. These are ten things I've learned about sex in 6 months of being married:
1 - It isn't what you're doing or not doing - it's about how you and your spouse feel.
2 - Sex drives aren't identical. Up to 40% of the time, women have higher sex drives. If you want sex more than your husband, there's nothing wrong with you - and if your husband wants sex more often than you do, there's still nothing wrong with you. Be slow to jump to the conclusion that there's "something wrong" when sex drives don't match up. There's nothing wrong with us when we don't get hungry at the same time or don't naturally wake up or fall asleep at the same time, so why should sex be viewed any differently?
3 - Expectations are a bitch. I'm pretty sure it was Christine Hassler who coined the phrase "Expectation Hangover," but it's a real thing, y'all. Some of us expect sex to be perfect, to be terrible, to want sex all the time, to want it less than we do, etc. Let go of your expectations. Every human being is different, so every marriage is different. Pressure kills creativity, love, and fun - and you cannot have great sex without creativity, love, or fun. I've been noticing that our expectations not aligning with reality that are causing more pain and heartbreak in our marriages than our "problems" actually are.
4 - The first year isn't perfect. Unfortunately, I was told from a very early age that the first year of marriage is pure bliss. This is hilarious, but also responsible for a lot of my crying. Have you ever had a "perfect" year of life? I didn't think so. But hey, our imperfect years are the years we grow the most - and growing together with someone doesn't kill love - it strengthens it.
5 - Love is better than sex. I will admit that I've had sex on a pedestal my whole life. Maybe it comes from a conservative upbringing where sex is taboo, maybe from living in society that literally worships sex, or maybe both - I don't know. I also had sex before marriage, and sex seemed like the best part of my relationships, so it made sense to me to chase it with everything I had. But after 6 months with my husband, I've realized that our relationship - the affection, the best-friend-forever, the support, the encouragement, the always-comfortable-around-you - is infinitely more valuable to me than sex is. I never experienced this kind of love from any of my boyfriends, so sex > relationship. But now, the love I receive and give with Max far surpasses even the most awesome sex we have - which ironically makes sex even better. Hah.
6 - The way it is now isn't the way it's always going to be. Sex seems to hold more weight than most other things in our lives. If something goes wrong in the bedroom, it's so easy to feel like the world is ending - and that it will be like this forever. In this moment, ask yourself what you know of God. God is faithful to change, faithful to give hope, faithful to heal, and faithful to move us forward. Take a deep breath and choose to believe that whatever issue you're having with sex, God is totally capable of fixing it - and that it WILL change. Don't let yourself get sucked into panic and despair.
7 - Marriage counseling is more important than eating vegetables. I could write a book on why marriage counseling is so necessary, but please just take this one bulletpoint and run with it.
8 - Your daily life affects your sex life. Often we have "regular life" and then "sex!" They affect each other, and sometimes we forget. The other day I got a super achy, lonely feeling in my chest and my default thought was, "maybe it's because we haven't had sex in the last 48 hours." And then I started freaking out about sex. (Just being totally honest, you guys.) I checked myself, and realized I was just straight up feeling lonely as a result of not having any alone time to spend with Jesus. Sure, sometimes sex is what's on your mind and you want it and want it now - but if there are sad/negative feelings involved, you might just identify that sex has been a coping mechanism. Pay attention to how you feel.
9 - Don't compare your sex life to anyone else's. Everyone has a different sex life, depending on the two people within a relationship - and depending on what's going on their life. Don't ever judge another couple or the health of your own marriage because someone is having more or less sex. And don't freak out because you're having more or less sex than someone else. Use YOUR feelings to judge the health of your relationship, not someone else's.
10 - The bedroom is the last place in the world you should be trying to "impress" your spouse. I've been hearing that some of you men want to prove how awesome you are by getting her off multiple times, and from you women that you feel like you need to be dressing like a porn star to get your husband's attention or fulfilling all his fantasies. No. :( Sex is for giving, not for proving. For enjoying, not for working. For accepting, not for being insecure. TELL your spouse that they are enough, that they are sexy, that they are hot, that you love them no matter what. Man or woman, we all need to hear it.
11 - Never keep things to yourself. If you're upset, hurt, scared, afraid, or worried about something regarding sex - don't keep it from your spouse. I have been all of these things (and so has my husband) and simply getting the courage to tell one another what we are thinking and feeling has "fixed" a lot of our fears. Feeling ashamed, guilty or hurt and not communicating it to your spouse is never the way to go. Let your significant other love you.