Note: This is a guest post by Julie Sibert of the excellent blog Intimacy In Marriage
Okay, maybe your wife doesn’t think sex is gross. And even if she does, hopefully she has never expressed it to you in this way. But I talk with enough women to know that many of them are somewhat disillusioned with the actual act of sex. It’s not that they don’t love their husbands and don’t value the marital commitment. It’s just… well… sex is messy and awkward and usually doesn’t look anything like the latest romantic chick flick.
I happen to be a wife who really enjoys sex (even if it is messy). Enjoying sex, of course, makes me an odd creature in the landscape of Christian wives. When most men and women hear me say that I truly enjoy sex, they generally look at me with disbelief and bewilderment. Like they have just seen a panda in the middle of the Serengeti. (“Gee, she sure is cute…but how strange…”)
Obviously, I am very passionate about speaking hope and encouragement about the gift of sex and the invaluable role it plays in marriage.
Speaking so frankly about sex, though, especially within Christian circles, takes a bit of nerve (even for me, an unabashed extrovert to the core). Honestly, I probably wouldn’t speak up about it so much – if there wasn’t such a need.
I imagine if you are a husband reading Paul’s fabulous blog, it’s because you value sexual intimacy and want to do all you can to nurture it within your marriage. I wouldn’t be surprised as well if you read his blog because you are frustrated that your wife does not share your enthusiasm about sex.
As for sexual struggles from a woman’s perspective, there are many complexities that run the gamut from unresolved past hurts to hormonal challenges to simple tiredness. While I do not have all the answers about your particular situation, I do have a few general insights.
Rarely is there one reason why some wives are indifferent about sex, but I will elaborate on three that may shed some light on what’s going on in your bed. (Mind you, there are no guarantees that these insights apply to your situation. I’m a writer, not a magician).
1. Sex is messy and awkward. Anything that involves various body fluids and positions that you don’t commonly find yourself in lacks the elegance that women tend to crave. As women, most of us romanticize the elegance and the feeling of “being in love.” I mean seriously, how else could we rationalize $2,000 wedding dresses? The actual act of sex – with all its physicality – feels far removed from the lace, flowers and sheer beauty depicted in bridal magazines.
And as much as I hate to call it like it is, we as women must deal with most of the actual mess of sex. We are the ones with semen running out of us – and on to the sheets that we will inevitably have to wash. We already are not overly thrilled with having to deal with the mess of our monthly period, so sometimes sex feels like just one more mess. Now, mind you, I’m not one of these women. But I get that women start to view it this way.
My tip to you: Don’t be lackadaisical about the mess and awkwardness. Maybe say to your wife, “Honey, I know sex is messy and somewhat awkward, but I really want us both to enjoy this time together. How can I help make this more special for you?” (Oh, and offer to help change the sheets and do the laundry).
2. Body image taunts a woman’s mind BIG TIME. Society bombards women with images of what “sexy” is. Rarely do those societal images come in any size larger than about 6 (by the way, most women are more in the 12-16 range). If your wife has had children, her body also likely bears the remnants of what it takes to carry, birth and breastfeed a baby. Hey, I love my kids, but they were relentless on my body. Your wife may need extra reassurance and specific compliments about parts of her body to help her feel more confident as your lover.
3. The clitoris is finicky. If your wife has never had an orgasm or has real difficulty experiencing orgasm, this can make sex feel boring, messy and unnecessary. As frustrating as it is for you that she is not coming (I know – you’ve patiently tried to help), imagine how frustrating it is for her? Not only does she now have the mess of sex, she doesn’t even have any pleasure to show for it. Yuck.
My tip? Try to engage her in a heart-to-heart discussion away from the bedroom. Express to her that her pleasure is of utmost importance to you and that you want the two of you to explore solutions together. There are several Christian sex books that address this (as well as The Marriage Bed site).
BONUS INSIGHT: If your wife was raised in a Christian environment, she more than likely heard this about sex: “Don’t do it.” She may have heard this message with added fervent commentary like, “It’s gross. It’s dirty. It’s disgusting.” Even if you were raised in a Christian home as well, it’s doubtful you received such damaging commentary.
It can be a huge mental challenge for a woman to go from years of hearing “don’t do it” to “Hey, now you get to do it. Enjoy!” Suggest to her that the two of you read together a Christian sex book that explores the richness of sex within marriage. At the minimum, try to have a conversation about the “false tapes” of the past that are sabotaging your intimacy.
Like I said, there are no guarantees, but hopefully some of the above helps you understand your wife’s lens. I truly believe the more a husband and a wife can genuinely try to understand each other’s lenses, the better positioned they are for hot vulnerable amazing sex. No pun intended. (Well, maybe just a little…)
Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage. You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer puppy.