Monday, March 5, 2012

10 Things I've Learned About Sex In 6 Months Of Marriage

I decided this morning that I needed to blog about being married, since I still haven't talked about it much. And since getting married six months ago, I'm hearing a LOT from you sweet married women who are having a crisis in your sex life.

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.

Whoops, that's eleven.

The end!

And hey husband? I love you so much it's stupid. I love that we act like 5th graders sometimes, and I love that you take care of me too. I love that you always tell me I'm beautiful. That you've known from day one that you cared more about who I am, and who we could be together, than about having sex with me. I love that you've handled our budget, and that you've prioritized our relationship over everything else. I love that you care about how I feel, always. That you've never made me feel bad for my awesome emotional rollercoaster rides. I love that you recognize when we're low on quality time, and that you take me on adventures to fix it. Oh, and that you're super hot.

You are my favorite, still.


Sarah said...

Lauren, thank you for your honesty. Women need to be told that your love life is so, so so much bigger than your sex life. Amen, friend. Thank you for your boldness in sharing this.

Bethany said...

This is such an awesome post on so many levels. You admit so many things that struck me in the "hey, me too!" department. Bravo, lady.

Anonymous said...

great post!

Alaythea said...

I don't agree with #9 to be honest. No, it's not all about "proving" but doing those things isn't wrong. Dressing sexy for your husband or his ability to get you off multiply times is simply for the pleasure of both of you. I'm 25 and I've been married almost 7 years. We've never been to counseling once because most of us know what we need to do we just don't do it. Having a counselor tell you what you already know or can glean from the Bible isn't always necessary. I'm not saying it's wrong but too many people push for counseling when what they really need to do is talk to each other and start acting like they want to be treated. Sex is amazing, and our sex life has only gotten better over the years and I hope it continues that way! said...

@Alaytha - Oh absolutely, those things aren't wrong. Do them because you want to do them, just don't do them because you feel like you have to. That was my point.

Misty Dawn said...

good one lauren. you always help put my thoughts into words . . .

Haley said...

Christians need more of this. Like. Seriously.

Nics Cahill said...

Lauren - absolutely brilliant, as always. Thoroughly enjoy all your posts. Thank you for them. Be blessed. N

monique said...

I so needed to hear this! I just wish I could have heard last week when I really struggling and questioning everything.

Laurel Zaffini said...

Lauren i really like this alot! i think its great you wrote about this.

Sarah M. said...

I LOVE THIS! As a marriage therapist I could not agree more with all your points. It's really healthy to incorporate marriage counseling BEFORE there are major problems. Every could use a good check-up. Relationships are important so let's put in the effort to maintain them and make them wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these words. They're wonderful!

SheDan said...

Yes! Everything in this. Yes.
My favorites are 3, 5, 6 and 11.
Communication is vital.

Anonymous said...

Great, now me just wants sex! And me not getting any sex for a while. Haha, seriously though, great post. I'm happy for you and Max's fantastic love life.


Alex Headrick said...

Brilliant! I loved every one of those points! Thanks for being real and sharing your heart.

K said...

Great post. Just had our 9th anniversary (together 12 yrs) and we are right now going through a phase of learning and stretching. In our marriage AND our sex life. And actually, it was brought about by our sex life, unmet needs, and being forced to talk about them, even though it was HIGHLY uncomfortable.

I will disagree with Alaythea, and say that often people Don't know what to do, what the bible says or how to glean from it, or how to communicate. There is definitely a learning curve on that and counseling can provide some good instruction in that area, as well as being a time set aside to actually DO the communicating, or at least get it started.

I loved #4's "have you ever had a perfect yr of your life?" SO TRUE! Our expectations can kill so much for us.

We also recently found some good practical information on the nuts and bolts ;) of sex (neither of us is inexperienced and it was still good to read) on a website called Christian Nymphos (.org). Be warned, it's very... descriptive, so your ears might burn a bit if you're sensitive. And maybe if you're not. The Marriage Bed (.com), another Christian site, is also referenced by many as being helpful. Christians don't talk about sex, (heck my own Christian mom never had any sort of sex talk with me, not even to tell me why I shouldn't have premarital sex) and anything/anywhere that does talk about sex is usually in porn or otherwise inappropriate. While this CN site is sorta explicit, it IS an open conversation about sex. While it can be ok to sometimes talk to friends about stuff, I am a habitual overshare-er and I'm pretty sure my hubs would be super embarassed if he found out I was talking about certain things with people who he sees at preschool drop off. kwim? So the anonymity of something online, or the confidentiality of a counselor, can be important.
Thanks for talking about it.

Anonymous said...

Lauren the hey husband part = floodgate tears. Its so beautiful how you appreciate each other. Much love caroline

Sabirah said...

thanks for this post! it's amazing!

Lindsey Campbell said...

I have so enjoyed reading your blog. Your honesty is what draws me I strive for the same daily. There is so much in the "christian" circles which we steer clear of talking about for the fear of truly being known.
I have been married for coming up on 6 years and we only count 5, since our first year we were seperated and filing for divorce within 8 months. By God's grace, and some GOOD solid counseling...we found our way out of the pit. Sex was always a touchy subject in our house because of my sexual abuse as a child...but God can heal anything and 5 years after our first year we are finally experiencing true intimacy in this area.
Keep being honest and telling us truth. We all appreciate it.

Vonae Deyshawn said...

This is a great post. I'm so happy Jessica shared your page with me. I completely agree that counseling is a big part of marriage. I always tell people who are even talking about getting married to take a prep for marriage course. It truly changed me and my husband's life. You're also right when you say counseling isn't a last ditch effort. We should nurture our relationships daily, weekly, monthly, and forever. Never ever wait until things are going south to seek help. In my first year of marriage I would say it was 80% bliss 20% hard knocks but that is only because we took premarital counseling and I made it a point to seek God for my marriage. Thank God he is an active God. : ) A great book to read on sex is "The Language of Sex," by Smalley & Cunningham. It really gives a fresh perspective on sex and marriage. : )

Vonae Deyshawn

The Lost Goat said...

Whoever said that the first year of marriage is bliss is crazy. It was the worst year of my life and many other people that I have talked to as well (been married more than 8 years now).

Laura said...

Thank you for another honestly written post. You have learned in 6 months what took me a lot longer unfortunately. I'm going on 12 years and I can say honestly that given hard work, good counseling, and keeping Jesus at the center, marriage just keeps getting better and better - and so does the sex. And I agree about the counseling - SO not just for marriages on the brink of divorce.

Mrs. Eckelmann said...

I love how honestly and eloquently you wrote. My husband and I have been married for just over eight months now, and a lot of what you said speaks to me. So glad I came across your blog!

Greg said...

Lauren, great post! BTW, two Christian women who blog honestly and openly about sexual intimacy in marriage are:

"J" at Hot, Holy, and Humorous -


Julie at Intimacy in Marriage -

They both do an incredible job of speaking the truth.

Kelly Dingess said...

This is a great post! I have been so blessed in my life to have girlfriends and a mentor that are open and honest about Sex with me. So many times we do feel that we are the only ones thinking or feeling something, but then when we talk to people we know others have been there.

#5 is so true. My husband and I (married almost 4 years) are just learning this hard lesson. It is so important to be friends and loving and when that is going right other things fall in place!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Lauren! I've been a rude blog follower... I just peruse greedily and rarely (never) take the time to leave a comment.
That said, you are a talented writer. Your words make me feel boldness down to the depths of my soul. And I know you didn't want any [negative] comments on your last post, but I must say that that was such.a.true.word. No one ever says it! The onus for men's purity is always inappropriately thrust on women. Thank you for sharing your heart, your life, and your very Spirit-filled, well-spun-together words. You are a voice of truth and life for women. We need advocates, and we so often get bogged down by the admonition to submit and shut up. Seriously, I love your stuff. I've been following it for months. And I'm encouraged to be more proactive in my romantic relationship, to trust in my own God-given voice and feelings, and to let someone love me deeply (and to keep loving him back!). You're a blessing, you are beautiful, and you are God's beloved! Be encouraged, friend.

Jordana said...

yes counseling is like taking your vitamins. what a good point!

Christy said...

thankyouthankyouthankyou!! :)

Joy said...

I swear we were separated at birth!
Ok and in an effort to stop sounding like a creepy stalker, let me just say, I am so freakin' elated that I found your blog on "a deeper story."
I look forward to pouring a cup-a-joe and browsing.
Thank you for keepin' it real!

Besh N. said...

LOVE your honesty.

Anonymous said...

i have only just discovered your blog, and i am already blown away. your post from feb 21 was recommended as relevant to a conversation my church is about to have, regarding how 'modest is hottest' is hurting Christian women - objectifying; relating female image to shame, etc. i was deeply moved by your vulnerability, and could identify with many of your experiences. i am trying to treat my body with more care and respect, and hopefully i will be able to continue with that. so far i have been unable to have a dating relationship, but maybe that will eventually change too. thank you so much. - barb

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Unknown said...

Thank you so much. My husband have been married a little over three weeks, and this whole sex thing has been more difficult than we ever imagined, physically, mentally, emotionally. This article brought me so much peace that we aren't alone. I've also received the advice that therapy in general is just so incredibly helpful and healthy as an individual, but I love the idea of marriage counseling right off the bat. Thank you, so much.

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