Derek and Samantha are just 2 weeks from their wedding day. They’ve had some pretty good premarital counseling. They’ve discussed finances. Children. Their childhood. Their hopes and dreams for their future family. They’ve even discussed their hopes for their sexual relationship. But even though they’ve talked through all of these things, they both have very different ideas as to how all of these things will play out, especially their sex lives.
Derek is thinking, “Samantha is a terrific and beautiful woman. She can’t wait to connect with me, and I’m sure she’s going to be an amazing sexual partner. Not only that, but I’m sure we’ll always ‘just know’ when it’s time to have sex. It’s going to be amazing.”
Meanwhile, Samantha is thinking, “Derek is such a gentle, sweet man. I can’t wait to connect with him, but I’m sure he’s going to take things nice and slow. I’m sure he’ll only want to have sex when I truly feel ready. Not only that, but I’m certain it’s going to feel amazing every single time.”
Unfortunately, their preconceived ideas couldn’t have been further from reality. Over the first few months of marriage, Samantha felt awkward about their sexual relationship. It felt good, at least some of the times. But it also hurt a little bit, and orgasm never came easily. She wondered why TV and Movies made this look so amazing, because she never really felt amazed by this part of their relationship. After just a few months, she desired sex much less frequently than Derek. She quietly began to take up some hobbies, and spent much time wrestling through what was wrong with her.
As Samantha began wrestling through these doubts, Derek was left feeling very frustrated as well. He enjoyed sex every time, but he knew something felt off. He knew she wasn’t nearly as pleased and excited as he was. After these first few months, he was feeling much less like a man, because he wasn’t able to please his wife like he thought he would. Before marriage, he thought they would both ‘just know’ when it was time to have sex. Now, he’s beginning to question not only their sex lives, but their entire relationship. He never shares these doubts, but facts are facts, and their sex life wasn’t going anywhere. Not only that, but it’s slowly beginning to impact other parts of their relationship as well.
Whether we’re willing to admit it to our spouse or not, we all have some preconceived ideas as to what our sex lives will be like. Sometimes we have these ideas before marriage, and like Derek and Samantha, we think it’s always going to be some earth-shattering experience. But we soon discover that not only is it not earth-shattering, but it’s difficult, frustrating, and doesn’t really even feel very good all the time.
Other times we get married and have a great sex life! Both of us want it all the time. Orgasm comes pretty naturally. Pleasing one another is fun. But then children come along…or career changes, or something else. And over a period of 3 months, or even 3 years, one spouse has a dramatic change in libido. Maybe it’s for a medical reason. Maybe it’s because there’s a lack of trust in the relationship. Maybe it’s for some other reason. Whatever it is, sex becomes something neither spouse ever expected it to be.
Before things get too far out of hand, one spouse comes up with a master plan. Out of nowhere, they begin a dinner conversation:
“My love, I want the best for our sex life. What can we do to make it more fulfilling and enjoyable for both of us?”
Nah. Let’s be honest. There was no master plan. Conversations like this are too confrontational. Who wants to hear something is wrong with their sex life? What does happen, more often than naught, is that the couple goes on thinking this is normal. They remain silent, or at best, they find friends who are in a similar situation. In the end they’re both left thinking to themselves, “This is just the way marriage is.” They begin to lie to themselves, admitting their preconceived notions of sex and marriage must have been wrong. They never really discuss it, because if they do it turns into an argument. So, instead of pointing fingers, they point the remote toward the television. Or maybe they focus their energy on important things, like children. Sex fades away. Eye contact fades away. In essence, hopes and dreams of a great marriage, everything, it all fades away. They appear “fine” to their friends and family, but on the inside, they’re slowing dying a painful death.
If your experience in marriage is different, then good for you! Unfortunately, our experience shows us that many couples choose to NOT talk about their sex lives. And when their sex life sucks or is not what they expected, it often results in emotional shutdown, withdrawal, frustration, anger and pain. Problems that occur within the sexual relationship often linger and cause a rift to occur in what would otherwise be a wonderful marriage. Days turn into weeks. Weeks to months. Months to years. Laughs occur when sharing stories of their children, but never stories of their marriage. There may be sexual excitement once or twice a year, but that’s normal, right?
This may not describe your marriage to a T. But, if there’s any reality in any of this within your marriage, we want to tell you that it’s not the way God created marriage. Your relationship with your spouse was meant to be something special. And sex was designed to be a crucial aspect of your marriage!
Answers your doubts.
Rids your fears.
Sex makes a couple close. When sex isn’t good….it affects every area of the relationship. When it is good…it affects every area of the relationship. It’s just the way God designed it to be.
Over the next few posts we want to address the most typical unmet expectations that occur within the sexual relationship.
Maybe you will see your own marriage in some of these areas.
Maybe as you read through this series, you will stop placing blame on your spouse.
Maybe you will stop feeling shame.
Maybe you will stop feeling guilt.
Maybe you will stop thinking your marriage is ‘normal’.
Maybe you will begin to change your perspective about sex.
Maybe you will be willing to discuss it, not dismiss it.
Maybe you will begin to put your spouse’s desires ahead of yours.
Maybe you will begin to put your marriage ahead of your children.
Maybe you will begin to serve your spouse instead of yourself.
Maybe your marriage will go to the next level.
Maybe this will be hard.
Maybe this will be worth it.
This is our first post in a series on Unmet Expectations. Read additional posts here: