When Jon and I got married, we thought we were the picture-perfect couple and having the best sex of our lives. The last part of that statement was true. We WERE having the best sex of our lives, but only because our sex-life prior to marriage was not healthy in the least! We both had pretty sketchy sexual histories, so when we finally settled down with the right person, we thought "we have arrived.”
That’s it, right? Find the right person and then happily ever after––passionate sex included. I was so happy to finally have a great husband, I was willing to do anything to keep him.
We learn how it’s supposed to be from TV, since parents don’t think this is something they can regularly discuss with us. You know what else we see on TV? Violent sex.
How often do we see a man on TV walk into a room, grab the girl, throw her up against the wall as she passionately responds to his aggression? He hasn’t even talked to her all day!
Not real! Oh, and it’s even sexier if the girl is the violent-aggressor.
This kind of stuff screws up our mind. We all talk about wanting our spouse to be sensitive and not objectify us. We want to be treated like a valued treasure, but then we pretend to like this kind of stuff. We think it will cause our spouse to desire us and love us more, but it leaves us feeling empty, used, confused, and bitter.
I often hear people say that what goes on in the bedroom is a good indicator of where your relationship is at. While there is some validity to this statement, I know plenty of couples, including myself at one point, who have great sex but not a great marriage.
This can happen because sex is such a brain thing. It is quite easy to go somewhere else in your mind during sex. Fantasy is powerful!
If we aren’t present with our spouse, then we aren’t really “there” connecting and bonding with them. We are bonding with the image that is playing in our mind during orgasm.
It’s not uncommon for men or women to fantasize about someone else during sex or even fantasize about their spouse doing something other than what’s actually happening. It’s still not reality.
Pornography and movies have made violence look sexy. The more we let it in our mind, the more it changes what we need. This is the kind of stuff that leads to imagining you're being pushed on a bed, pinned, or slapped in order to feel aroused. Maybe you imagine your spouse is more romantic than they really are. Maybe you set up an entire romantic scene in your mind of how you wish your spouse was treating you. This seems innocent enough but it will still leave you with incongruent feelings. You know it’s not real and you will still long to be treated that way. Good sex and good marriages don’t just happen!
Jon and I pour our heart, soul, and time into understanding and protecting what is sacred to us. It is seriously hard, and sometimes awkward work, but it’s the best thing you can do for your marriage.
Through that work, we’ve learned a few things:
EXPERIENCE WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING
Some of us were raised in homes where we were taught that to keep a happy husband is to always say “yes” to sex. I know, this sounds like great advice...it’s not. At one point, I believed this: while sex itself was great, if I was upset with Jon or we were disconnected during the day, I felt very used.
We have to be emotionally connected before sexual intimacy or we end up with conflicting feelings.
One time, when I was buzzing around the house, cleaning and avoiding going to bed, Jon noticed. Because Jon and I speak the same recovery language, he asked: “Why are you speeding up?” When he asked that question, I recognized that I was avoiding being with him in a quiet place. I felt emotionally and physically closed off to him.
I sat down and filled out a FASTER Scale. I realized that I was still feeling hurt from when he crossed one of our agreed upon boundaries with coworkers. We were able to talk about it, hear each other’s heart, and then make a plan going forward. I felt so much love and respect for him that great sex followed. But had we not figured out how to connect emotionally, the physical side would have been pretty empty, and I would have continued to be anxious and upset.
Makeup sex seems SO sexy on TV, but half the time, it’s borderline rape. If I was angry or crying and Jon pushed me back, covered my mouth, and tried to have sex with me, I’d be getting REAL ghetto, REAL fast. But the sad thing is, I fell into this trap of thinking.
Awesome makeup sex happens after the emotional makeup.
We need people to be truthful about healthy sex. Not enough people know what it is or want to talk about it.
A great marriage doesn’t have to be boring and plagued with a lot of conversations, but you do need to use your voice. At first, it can be a bit awkward and feel like it lacks romance.
We don’t just go into marriage knowing what our spouse wants and needs. We pretend to know and almost feel ashamed if we enter marriage not knowing how to please our spouse; and this can go on for years! It’s insane.
Sometimes it takes a while to get to the place where you both are having just as much fun inside and outside of the bedroom. Talk to each other about how you’re feeling. Talk about the best time of day to have sex, and what you do and don’t like—so it’s something that leaves you both feeling gooood and haaaapy throughout the following day.
Ashley is the International Women's Groups Coordinator for Pure Desire. She oversees all Women Regional Groups Leaders (RGL'S) and is a member of the Pure Desire Speaking Team.