Did you ever see the movie or read the book “Charly” by Jack Weyland? Do you remember when she is sitting in church and they ask “What activities do you enjoy doing with your husband?” and she answers “We like to make love!” Everyone chuckles and as a teen I remember feeling a sense of embarrassment for her in publicly talking about her sexual relationship with her husband. But that isn’t how it should be.
Sex should not be taboo in our marriages and should be something to celebrate, enjoy, and look forward to!
Now, that being said, we have had our ups and downs in our marriage, everyone does. But I wanted to share my journey from “feeling embarrassed for someone talking about sex in the open” to “enjoying and embracing and strengthening my own sexuality and my sexual relationship with my husband.”
This article may be specifically helpful to women who feel like there should be more in their sexual relationship but just don’t know what to do about it. I want to share my own journey and also share some links to resources that we have found helpful for our relationship.
I thought life was pretty good. We were a power couple. We had 5 kids. I was a stay at home mom, he was thriving in his work at a start-up tech company. We had a house. We had a solid lifestyle. We had sex every week and amid everything else in our lives, I thought that was good. I knew Ryan would enjoy it more often but once a week was “impressive” to me because we had so many other things going on in our lives. We were exhausted every night with all the good happening to us.
Things were just fine.
But then we were in a class on marriage and they started talking about sex (Imagine that!) … and I don’t even remember what they were saying, but all the pressure, exhaustion, and stress hit me and came out in tears. Poor Ryan just sat gaping at me and wondering what in the world was going on! I was so embarrassed and had no idea why I was a crumbling mess.
We drove home after and talked through the night about my reaction. I felt like I liked sex fine. I knew it was important. What was wrong with me? Why was I feeling such yucky feelings when they started to talk about sex in the class? Why was I feeling so pressured? Why did I have such a low desire for sex at times?
I have since learned that I’m not the only woman who has felt this way. Since that class a few years ago, I have come on a journey from “bursting into tears in conversations about sex” to “Sex is worth my time and I have desires and connections I want to share with my husband privately and voice publicly”.
Why can sex be difficult?
Looking back now, three reasons stand out that made sex a lot harder.
I had too many “More important” things to worry about. Things like: Kids. Work. Life. Household. Church. Church service. School. Homework. Sports practices. Sports games. Competitions. Meals. Meal prep. Kid church meetings. Piano lessons. Taekwondo. Swimming lessons. Visiting family. Playdates. Date nights. Scripture study. Exercising. etc. Phew! While all these things are definitely GOOD, I was not giving Sex a chance to even be on the list of “important things”. Of course, it felt stressful when I felt pressure to “squeeze it in” if I ever even thought about it.
When we made love, I was in it for him, not for me. I was told the story a million times “Men like sex more than women.” And while it’s common for men to be the higher desire partner, the implication that “Women don’t enjoy sex” is incorrect. It was easy to have sex for him and enjoy it “ok” along the way. But I didn’t realize that it could be more if I actually thought about what I wanted from our sexual relationship.
His perspective of my attitude toward sex lacked understanding of what actually happens to women in a sexual relationship. After learning together, we realized that he thought his job was to just be patient and I’d “catch up” to where he was. He wasn’t upset with me but couldn’t understand where I was coming from and felt helpless in any attempt to have a sexual relationship with me.
Resources & What We Learned
We decided we needed to learn together. We pushed outside our comfort zones by reading books, listening to podcasts, having more intentional conversations about sex, and praying for understanding. We did all this with the goal to improve our sexual relationship. I was VERY reluctant at first, giving every excuse that “I didn’t have time”, or “what we had was good enough”, or “there’s no way we can have more sexual connection with little kids. Maybe when they are older.” Ryan was very patient with me and continued to lovingly listen and learn. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to improve–was just fearful of the unknown and of failure. But as I put forth effort, the Lord heard the prayers of my heart and answered them. He is still answering them as we are learning and growing together.
Some resources we have found helpful in our journey to a healthier sexual relationship include And They Were Not Ashamed and Knowing Her Intimately. We also follow some Sex therapists on Instagram and Spotify. Some of our favorites are Laura Brotherson and Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife and Amanda Louder.
Some of the most impactful concepts we’ve learned over the last couple years:
- “Sexuality” is not just the act of having sex. It is your relationship and confidence with yourself and your body.
- All things, including a sexual relationship, should be approached with moderation and wisdom.
- The messages around us about sex are hard to combat. It is important to recognize the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies, our spouses, our partners, and our roles. The messages we hear or read about sex are often very extreme and impact us more than we realize.
- Female sexual wiring is different than Male sexual wiring. When you understand that, you can approach sex in a way that is much more mutually satisfying and better understand differences.
- God created sex and our bodies. He intends for us to enjoy sex.
- Timing, talking, and non-sexual touch are all key components for many women to get in an emotional and physical place to have sex.
- Physical intimacy is a decision for many women just like emotional intimacy is a decision for many men.
- Learning to talk openly about sex is critical for fulfillment in a sexual relationship.
- Scheduling sex may seem to kill the romance, but it is a great way to keep it at the forefront of our lives.
- What you exercise improves. When you exercise your body, you get stronger. When you exercise your mind, you learn. You can and should exercise your sexuality.
Why am I sharing this with you?
I’m sharing my story in hopes that this message and mindset can help couples find joy in their sexual relationships. That couples, and especially women, who have had doubts, fears, uncertainties when it comes to sex, will feel empowered to do something about it.
God made the sexual relationship with our spouse on purpose. It can be good and wholesome for men and women. And is the essence of complete unity and oneness that is only to be found in marriage. We become more like the Savior as we learn and thrive in a whole relationship within marriage.
Make Sex a Priority this week. Take time to think about your sexual relationship and have a conversation about what you can do to start or keep exercising your sexuality.