Paris Hilton has been quoted as saying that she is “sexy, but not sexual.” In The Paris Paradox: how sexualization replaces opportunity with obligation, Hugo Schwyzer says:
“Young women with the Paris Paradox were raised in a culture that promised sexual freedom, but what they ended up with looked a lot more like obligation than opportunity. It’s not hard to understand why the pressure to be sexy so often trumps the freedom to discover one’s authentic sexuality. As Levy and Martin and others have been pointing out for the past decade, we’ve begun to sexualize girls at ever earlier ages…”
I have seen this happening in the USofA since I was a teenager in the 70’s, and it’s only getting worse. Girls grow up being told they have to be “sexy” to be pretty, to be accepted, to be popular, to get a date, and to get a husband. Being sexy is like playing a character in a play – it’s a costume, words, and actions that may have nothing to do with how the actor feels or thinks. Beyond the public persona of sexiness, women are also expected to have some form of sex with any man with whom they become seriously involved.
Stop for a moment and think about that. Think about the pressure this puts on a woman. Think about the choices a woman has to make; doing things she does not like or want seem necessary to have a good future. Think about how difficult this is for a woman trying to follow Jesus; it must seem following Him is giving up so much.
I think all women suffer from this situation to some degree. Those who give in fully suffer, those who resist fully suffer, and those in-between the two extremes suffer. In particular, I think great harm is done to a woman’s desire for sex and her ability to enjoy sex. In the part she plays, desire and enjoyment are not important – only playing the role well matters. What a woman actually wants it irrelevant; it’s about what she is supposed to do, how she is supposed to do it, and what she is supposed to feel (or at least say she feels) when she does it. She is supposed to be a puppet with her strings being pulled by society, doing what she “should” regardless of what she feels or wants.
Your bride almost certainly came into marriage with some of this in her past. It doesn’t matter if she was a pure virgin, a total “slut”, or somewhere in-between, she had struggled with these issues and had a ton of wrong expectations in her head. She had been set up for sexual problems in marriage, and more than likely that is what happened.
What blame do you have for the sexual problems that showed up early in marriage? I would say virtually none. She was set up for problems, and it’s unlikely you could have prevented problems from happening. Sure, you were imperfect, and no doubt there are things you should have done differently, but what you did is like writing a few $5 to $20 checks on an account that is $10,000 overdrawn. The problems would have happened without your contribution, and you added a very small percentage to the problem. She had been building up sexual problems for years, ignoring the overdraft letters from the bank. When she married, it all caught up with her.
However, your bride probably did not see it this way. She likely saw things catching up with her at marriage as your fault. She was doing fine, then got married, and then it was horrible; it must be your fault. She can find a few little things you did less than perfectly and hang all of the problems on those things. This frees her from responsibility, and puts the blame on you. Don’t judge her too harshly, it’s human nature, and society has programmed her to see it as your fault.
So, you are not to blame; that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help your sex life. Telling her it’s not your fault is not likely to make things better, and trying to put it back on her is almost certainly not going to go over well. The best thing you can do it to try to see the big picture and then do what you can to show her that picture. See what society does to women sexually, and learn to hate it. Find ways to discuss this with your bride in situations beyond the two of you. Tell her you are sorry she grew up in a world that had such horrible sexual standards for women.
I would also encourage you to do all you can to avoid adding to the problem. Not because it’s your fault, but because her seeing you on her side requires you not adding to her problem.