When I was newly engaged (and long before that), I expected sex would be the easy part of marriage. Expectations cause so much trouble, don’t they?
I wonder if I’m the only one who had this idea. For me, sex was a giant mystery, and I loved mysteries. In our marriage preparation, I read tons of books about marriage, some of them which dealt with lovemaking. Most, though, dealt with getting used to the idea, not the issues that would come once the wedding cake dried out.
True to life, my expectations were not met. First, many of my friends married in their early twenties. Fascinated, I listened to their little innuendos and even the occasional bemoaning that their husbands were quite interested in … spending time together.
So, when I FINALLY married in my later twenties, I expected things would be the same as my other friends. But they weren’t. We were older, my husband older than myself. Second, we moved several times in the first year and both changed jobs. And we did not have the energy of people fresh out of their adolescence. And I had expectations not based on reality brought from movies, books, and the things I had heard. This left me with hurt feelings and bitterness.
One year into our marriage, I was told I would be infertile. Yet … the news had barely begun to sink in when I found myself ragingly ill. And pregnant. While I know not many people get to have this kind of turnout, it took me for a spin, especially when I was very sick all the time, feeling the worst at night. Any movement of the bed sent me stumbling into the bathroom. You can imagine how all these changes and issues affected our love life.
After that came bed rest. Then birth. Then nursing, constantly having another demanding human attached to me in some form or fashion. And the sleep deprivation. I began to think about soldiers in enemy camps, awakened every few hours as a form of torture. I would pray and cry during the day, begging God to help my libido. I would get so worked up that by nighttime I would jump at the slightest touch, afraid of what was to come. Performance anxiety, hubby called it.
Then I found out I was pregnant again. (Obviously once or twice those prayers worked…) This time I was more than ill. I was sick as a dog. And I miscarried one of the twins I was carrying. This meant months of bedrest. Combined with my issues staying pregnant the last time, I spent most of the pregnancy on major restrictions, including sex.
After Rachel was born, I began to wonder if bad guys got the idea of sleep deprivation punishment from having a baby of their own. Between my two little generals and their sleep protests, I was a walking zombie. No matter how I prayed, I could hardly work my libido into more than a simmer. I remember being mystified at couples who showed any sort of attraction to each other, as though they spoke a foreign language. All I wanted to do in a bed was sleep. I couldn’t even remember what being attractive or attracted felt like.
After I weaned Rachel, things got easier, but then I started having more issues with self-esteem. Child birth, bedrest and sleep deprivation had softened my body. I had no self-confidence. This, combined with the bitterness of our early marriage I still held onto, made sex an internal battleground. I shed many tears.
Still, I tried to fix myself. I read more books, spoke to mentors, prayed more, listened to other wives, and searched out how to fix my problem. More life changes assaulted us. We moved to a new state and I suffered a string of illnesses, including cancer. Again, I thought, wasn’t libido supposed to come easily? Is there any part of marriage that is easy?
Today, at the moment I type this, life is on a bit more of an even keel, although dealing with a special needs daughter who has autism and still dislikes sleep challenges us daily. We’ve had issues where any time our door is shut, she would come running and bang on the door… That makes things easy. Not! And the constant messes around the house are unsettling to me. Add onto that the medication I now take for anxiety that flattens every emotion, including libido, and you can see the problems.
Yet, recently I realized at least half of my problems are internal and emotional. They all go back to expectations. Yes, life throws curve balls all the time, but the biggest roadblock I have is my early-on expectations, brought out of reading too many junky romance novels in my teens and having a Hollywood ideal of the bedroom. I EXPECTED things to be easy and cinematic. And guess what: life isn’t edited. I don’t have a script. There is no director and edit crew. There is only what I imagine in my head, and that causes more problems than anything else.
So, I have begun praying to let go of those early expectations and the bitterness I allowed to take root in my heart. I still struggle often, but I have seen a change in my anxiety toward all things sex as I let go of what I thought was supposed to be and the past I was still angry about. Constant searching of my heart has helped me see that I create a lot of problems in my head, which affects more than just my emotions. It affects me physically, too.
Bravo! I know this post probably wasn’t the easiest to write and share, but I think it is SO important and I admire your courage and openness. Not sure what else to say, except thank you, and you are not alone.
Thanks, Kacie! I did get red in the face while writing it, that’s for sure!
I didn’t have the same experience, but I feel like that is the last thing I want to do and I just can’t shake it. I have a lot of hangups, so I really need to focus better because my husband misses my spontaneous ways. Thanks for sharing!
Yes, I so hear that. I was watching a comedian the other night talk about the differences in the first year of marriage and the 21st. I think a lot of men miss that about their wives, but life takes a toll on us. I hope by talking about it we can all work on it, too! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for sharing your heart and for not hiding the parts that a lot of women don’t talk about! Many of us who grew up in a Christian home and “waited” for marriage, have a hard time with the sex part because all of a sudden after 20 years or more of “no” we are expected to naturally know how to feel, act, do and with abandon! I know it took me years to feel how I thought I should feel the first night! After 7 years of marriage, I can finally see how great it is and can be and am trusting advice I’ve heard that it gets even better the longer you’re married!
Thank you again…I think if more women talked openly about this, the expectations might not be so high!
Thanks, Sarah! You are too right! Even now I struggle with seeing how sex is treated by the media. It almost feels dirty in some aspects. I think it is another way we are tricked into thinking about God’s gifts in the wrong manner. Hugs to you! I hope more women will hear your words of wisdom!
Jenn, i loved your post. it was well written and your candor is needed. i can totally relate, though my circumstances were different, my kids slept through the night more easily than yours, still having 6 of them in 10 years kept me exhausted and struggling just as you explained. i believe the expectations of the culture that sex is the easiest part of marriage is such a trap.
So true, Barbara! Thanks for sharing that and all the other wisdom you share with us. I can see why you were a “bit” tired. LOL! I’m surprised you could make full sentences with all you juggled in the child bearing years.
Thanks for putting your marriage as a priority and being an example for the rest of us to learn from. I loved the story about changing roles you and Dennis wrote in, I think, Rekindling the Romance. http://shop.familylife.com/p-1489-rekindling-the-romance-loving-the-love.aspx
It was hilarious!
i just had a beautiful healthy baby boy exactly 4 weeks ago that i love oh so so much!…. when my husband and i first got together over a yr and a half ago, i had a PERFECT body. i was perfectly built and had perfect womanly features, he wanted me in the bedroom almost every single night!!!! now i feel so down and bad about the way i look… big huge purple stretchmarks practically cover my body and i have no more abs and muscle tone anymore…. none of my previous clothes fit the same and to beat it all my face is even breaking out… on top of all those things, im always gettin spit up on and my hair is always put up so my son doesnt rip it out… i just do not feel sexy anymore at all… its led me to believe my husband has no interest in me what so ever… and i just do not know what to do.
Hang in there girl. I felt the same way. I did not however look as good as you did starting out but, having a baby does do for your body what water does to a balloon lol. But it helps to look at it from God point of view. You are beautiful just because you’re you. No matter your size or shape. Tell your husband how you’re feeling mabe you can come up with a plan for him to tell you more often how pretty you still are in his eyes. (I know that really helped me) And give yourself a break!! You just had a baby! Sexy isn’t a “look” it’s a state of mind.
Thanks Jen for your post. I had the great “sex-pectation” that sex was like fireworks and just the greatest pleasureable experience ever! I had actually built up my expectations of sex so much that when I did have sex with my husband and didn’t have that experience I was very disappointed and for the first year of marriage secretly bitter and jealous of my husband because his experience was kinda like that. I actually….not trying to be hurtful to him and not knowing what to do; “faked” my way through sex that first year or so. All the time thinking there was something wrong with me for not feeling the pleasure I was sure was supposed to be there. No body told me some woman get their “pleasure” cirvixly and other clitorally. I thought I was broken. The bible doesn’t exactly explain these things. So only now 5 years later have my husband and I really started to enjoy our time together. And sometimes sex is spun so that the use of…..oh “toys” for lack of wording is “dirty” but I use one with my husband to get out of sex what I believe God intended for me so that my husband and I can reach that level of closenss and connection. (sorry if I was too explicite) I was just glad to see that the taboo of Christian sex was being discussed as it should be and thought i’d tell my lil’ story of my sex-pectaion as well. God bless!
Talk about SEX-pectations…all I will say is no one ever told me there were people that were “asexual” or what that meant …and don’t expect an “O” for it may never happen and that is sad and hurts more then those who can experience one will never know!!!