“Do we have to talk about this?” *giggles*
“Well what do you expect will happen on your wedding night if you don’t?”
“I’ll just close my eyes and hope for the best!”
As funny as it was to hear a friend try to avoid the topic of sex in this way, it also highlighted the reality of the mindset that many Christian women have towards discussing this topic. There are women who have waited until marriage to have sex that are often doing just that – hoping for the best!
The focus of this topic isn’t to say that men don’t face these issues also, but from a Christian context and from my experience growing up in church, sex is something that we don’t talk about enough as women compared to men. We have created a stereotype for men talking about sex, so much so that it can sometimes feel uncomfortable even in this day and age for a woman to be vocal about her sexual desires.
I believe that in the right context, sex is an incredible gift. The problem is that because it is such a taboo topic across churches regardless of denomination, we are getting into bed blind and damaging our relationship in the process. Married or not, you may not feel it when you are lost in the moment of sex, but believe me you will come to recognise the depth of what you are experiencing eventually.
I don’t remember having any in-depth conversations about sex with my own mother – not that I blame her as I don’t think her mum gave her much insight either. From one generation to next the cycle of silence seems to continue. We then go out and learn for ourselves, right or wrong, what sex is. This understanding is unbelievably important to the way we go on to shape the rest of our lives. Far too many of us fool ourselves into thinking that our past sexual experiences or existing compulsions will just go away when we decide to “settle down” and get married, or work on having “the right relationship”.
The right guidance can lead to a healthy perception of sex as God intended for it to be experienced – an incredible, new discovery experience of pleasure and an outpouring of love between a husband and a wife within the security of their marriage. The wrong guidance can lead to a twisted perception of sex, distorted by pornography, masturbation and promiscuity – and yes all of those aspects most definitely apply to women too, even though we don’t talk about it.
We can be our own worst enemy, and speaking from experience, discovering masturbation pre-marriage was a difficult battle for me that awakened my sexual desires long before I was ready to have sex. Once I was in the habit of satisfying these desires, it was easier for me to reason, “as long as you’re not having sex” when in relationships, and I would draw the line at intercourse while still allowing foreplay. Even though I felt bad after each experience, somehow I resolved that “at least I wasn’t going all the way…”
While at University, I had no issues telling my partner at the time who didn’t share my beliefs about the strength of my Christian morals (ironic I know), and that I was planning to wait until marriage to have sex. I was quietly confident, and this transparency had seemed to work for me before so why wouldn’t it work now?
The thing with compromise is that it tends to catch us when we start to blur the lines. When we choose to visit that person when we know they’re alone. When we find ourselves “cuddling” in bed with them, without intending for things to go any further…
I get it, it’s even harder when your love language is physical touch or quality time (or both!), but removing the potential for the lines to be blurred in the first place removes the chance for compromise to creep in. I can’t go back and change my decisions, but instead I can share my experiences with you in the hope that you will also recognise that your “mistakes” shouldn’t destroy the joy of your sexual experiences in the right context. Yet they do for so many of us, including so many women, which is why I am writing this post.
It all starts with the ability to learn from the right places. Don’t just tell me not to have sex until I am married, teach me why God wants me to wait. If only we were more vulnerable with each other in our churches, then we’d have far more compassion as to what a battleground this area can actually be, teamed with more insight on how to have the kind of sexually satisfying relationships that God always intended for us in marriage.
When I would attend church-led events for young people themed around relationships, the pornography and masturbation issues would always be aimed at the men, whereas the women would be encouraged to treasure their virginity like “fine china”. What about the women like me who struggled with masturbation? What about those women who turned to pornography out of curiosity, and found themselves hooked on viewing the explicit content?
Women want sex too – truly. Since getting married (now 3 years in) this has come to impact my relationship hugely. I realised at first that I was afraid to be the one who would initiate sex in case it put my husband off or made him feel like “less of a man”. I would lie next to him feeling sexually frustrated, just hoping that he would be the one to always make the first move. I soon realised that this was ridiculous and spoke to him about how I felt, but the fact is that I felt that way to begin with and that had to come from somewhere!
I also used to feel bad when it seemed that I was in the mood to have sex more often than he was. Contrary to popular belief, this is a very real issue! I would read about women who have higher sex drives and feel “trapped” in their marriages, and worry that I would end up in the same position without a way to meet my desire to have sex with my husband.
The truth is that so many of us don’t realise how the weight of our preconceived ideas affects us until we get married and are actually free to have sex! As Christians we spend so long telling ourselves “no”, that we don’t really know what to do with ourselves when all of a sudden we are free to explore this area that was previously off limits. Even in the right context when both have waited until marriage, there still needs to be an understanding of what each person’s expectations and desires are for sex.
I’ll cover more in future blog posts on this huge topic, but ultimately I just wanted to share some of my own experiences as a Christian woman who is still discovering sex with my husband in our marriage. Whether you’ve found yourself stuck in the same routine and eager to spice things up, or you struggle to talk openly about sex because it was always considered shameful in your home, I’ll do my best to shed a light on these current issues and hopefully encourage you in gaining a greater understanding.
God definitely intended for sex to be pleasurable and passionate, but He didn’t intend for it to be damaging or a source of further disconnect. My hope is that you will ask yourself those difficult questions instead of shying away from them, and that in discovering more about yourself, you will be able to experience sex exactly as God intended it to be experienced.
As women especially, let’s do our best to talk about this. I’m thankful that the cycle of silence will stop with me, as I intend to have these same conversations with my daughter when she is old enough. What legacy will you leave?
If you are feeling unhappy with your sex life, then the best thing you can do is to communicate. Yes it might feel awkward at first, but what you are experiencing right now won’t change if you don’t try to talk about any issues you have with your spouse. Use the following questions with your spouse to help get that conversation started:
- How happy are you with our sex life right now on a scale of 1-10?
- Do you feel like your needs are being met? Explain your answer.
- Is there anything relating to our sex life that you are uncomfortable with?
- If you could change one thing about the way we have sex now, what would it be?
- As your wife/husband, having sex with you makes me feel… (finish the sentence).