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6 Things I Wish I Had Known About Sex (Before I Got Married)

Note: I may earn money or products from the companies, products, or links mentioned in this post.

Imagine with me, three Christian friends all talking about their experiences growing up and how those experiences affected the most intimate parts of their marriage: sex.

Just a few weeks ago, that was me, Aprille, and Katie. I’m not sure how the topic started, but we all agreed it’s something that should and needs to be spoken about more often. We didn’t tell each other the private workings of our marriages, but more discussed how what we were taught growing up affected our sex lives as newlyweds and maybe even now.

Out of that discussion came this post. Aprille is a wonderful writer and she put together what the rest of us just couldn’t put to words. I hope that whether you are married or not, that you find this post encouraging and can glean something from the tips!

Things I Wish I had Known About Sex

Things I Wish I had Known About Sex:

1. Most Christian sex advice is full of gender stereotypes that are often not true.
If I could summarize typical sex advice, it would go something like this:

Women, your man will want sex a lot, frequently, all. the. time. Make sure you are always available. Make sure to look attractive for him all the time. Sex is how you show him you respect him, so give it to him a lot, because he NEEDS it. (Oh, and don’t forget the lingerie!)

Men, your woman needs AFFECTION and ROMANCE. The sex isn’t that important for her. She needs dating, cuddles, talking, and foreplay. She needs LOVE.

But in a lot of relationships, this simply isn’t true. Some men don’t need or want sex as much as their wives do. Some men dislike lingerie. Some men actually *gasp* NEED cuddling to help them get in the mood. Some women would rather have sex than go on a date.

  • Tip: Instead of reading a book of sex advice, try talking to your spouse about what HE wants – and be honest with him about your needs and desires.

2. Marriage is a game-changer.
I write this from the perspective of someone who was a virgin on her wedding day. Before I married my husband we were hungry for each other, and it was torture to not “be together.” We tried to be good but it was oh. so. hard to keep our hands to ourselves.

After the vows were said, things changed. Suddenly we realized just how involved sex is, emotionally and physically, and we underestimated how it would make both of us feel.

Sex is an experience, and not one you are going to be able to have all the time, no matter how sex-crazed you feel when you are dating. You are building a life together, and you start to realize that sex is just one of the bricks you use to do it. There’s more to marriage than sex, and that realization can hit hard if your expectations are misguided.

  • Tip: If you aren’t married, let me assure you. Sex probably won’t happen nearly as much as you think it will. This doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong or that your marriage is doomed. It’s just a part of life.

3. Sex is not that great at the beginning.
Sex is a learned skill…and even harder in that it is a learned TEAM skill. It takes practice, patience, frustration, fumbling, feeling clueless, and learning how to work together. Things aren’t going to feel wonderful all the time. It might even be painful at first. (And later on, when you start getting adventurous, new positions will be just as awkward and painful). At some point you will probably both find yourself saying Ow! or No, not like that! You’ll bonk heads (figuratively and literally), you’ll disagree, you’ll miscommunicate – and if you are human, you’ll probably fight about it.

  • Tip: If are newly married and you don’t think your sex life is that great, don’t worry. The frustration you feel is normal. Don’t beat yourself up if sex is a little awkward. It can get better in time.

4. Stress kills libido {yes, even in men}.
After we got married, we immediately started preparing for a year-long deployment. There were exercises for him to attend, bags to pack, stuff to buy, check-lists to pour over, a wife to leave behind – and the dangerous, scary, and unknown waiting for him. And when he said he was too tired, not in the mood, didn’t feel like it – I thought there was something wrong with me. Now, six years later, I realize that he was just really really stressed, and stress really can kill your sex drive.

I’ve heard the same thing from other wives. “When he’s stressed out, he doesn’t want it.” Maybe your spouse is going through college, maybe you are having a baby, maybe you experienced a miscarriage, maybe it’s his job. There are so many things on a man’s plate and if any of it is stressing him, it could be the cause of his lack of interest.

  • Tip: If your husband isn’t in the mood, don’t automatically assume you are the problem. Look for other stressors in his life that could be killing his drive. See if there’s anything you can take off his plate, or simply be there to help support him through the stress.

5. Your sex appeal is about so much more than your body or appearance.
You don’t have to look like a Victoria’s Secret model – and chances are, he doesn’t want you to. He loves you because you are you. There’s nothing wrong with looking nice, dressing up, smelling good, or wearing something sexy. But you might find that it’s other things that turn him on. The way you work hard in the kitchen, the way you dance in the car to the songs on the radio, the cute way you say things, the way you rub his back when you are watching TV, or the way you are there for him when he’s scared. A clean house or his favorite root beer in the fridge might do more to attract his physical advances than prancing around in lingerie. He didn’t marry an object, he married a person. Be a beautiful person.

  • Tip: Talk with your spouse about what he appreciates the most about you and what turns him on. You might be surprised at his answers.

6. It gets better the longer you are together.
To follow up on #3, it really is true. You start to learn yourself and your partner. You learn what works and what doesn’t – for both of you. You find a rhythm and a schedule. And things just start to make sense. You start to enjoy it more and more. Less fumbling and more loving.

  • Tip: Be patient and relax in the learning. You’ll get the hang of this, and it will be good.

Are there things about sex you wish you knew about before you got married? What are they?

Aprille DonaldsonAprille is a twenty-something mom of one very active little boy and the wife of a combat veteran. She blogs at Beautiful In His Time, her personal chronicle about finding God’s beauty in her often messy life – her marriage, her mothering, and her personal relationship with God. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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  1. Ooh, loved this, ladies! You are so right about it not being talked about enough. I loved all the points, but I particularly liked number one about the gender stereotypes and in general, the odd way many of us were talked to about sex. 🙂 My biggest piece of advice for newlywed women is to do it for you. For years I just heard about how much he needs it, but then I found myself doing it out of guilt / obligation, and that sucked so much of the fun right out of it! Doing it for ME (which seems counterintuitive in an act that is also very giving) helped me re-engage and want to do it more, which in the end, helped us both tremendously. 🙂

    I’ve been planning for ages to write a post along those lines. Eventually it’s gonna happen! 🙂

    Pinning this tonight!

    1. I agree with everything Erica said. This is the biggest thing I have learned since being married for eleven years with five kids. Do it for YOU. Learn how this is one of your biggest stress relievers, anti-depressant, a way to feel like a woman again when motherhood sucks it all out of you. Great topic ladies!

  2. What a great post! You have elegantly presented a much needed perspective on a very sensitive topic.

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up at Messy Marriage!

  3. Found this post through the Messy Marriage linkup and I LOVE It. Number one is my favorite! I have always struggled with the stereotypes revolving around sex because, I often feel like the “microwave” and I used to think something was wrong with me! All you hear is that women are not wired to be instantly ready and so i always felt horrible because I am made that way. I’ve gotten a little less sensitive over the years, but as a whole, still really hate that stereotype! Ha. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a refreshing post, Aprille! I don’t often hear about the awkwardness of sex with our spouses. It’s truly an unexplored territory in the blogosphere! And thank you to you, Kathryn, for sharing Aprille’s words with all of us. I hope you and your family are doing well. I know it’s been a tumultuous season for you and you are in my prayers!

  5. I love your advice to ask your husband his preferences about things. It’s so important to talk about sex outside of the bedroom! Thanks for this very honest post. And, yes, we do often tout gender stereotypes and it is OK if you don’t fall into one of those stereotypes. Thanks for sharing Aprille’s message, Kathryn.

  6. Awesome article! I sooo wish someone had helped me understand these things before I got married instead of me having to figure them out the hard way by myself. Thank you so much for your bold honesty. I’m sharing this post far and wide! 😀

  7. I chuckled at the tip for #1. How many times do we revert to those self-help books instead of simply talking with our spouse? Yes, some of those books have their time and place, but certainly not in place of good conversation with our spouses.
    And, yes, I agree, sex does get better as the years go by. But it doesn’t just magically happen either. Communication is key.
    Some things I wish I had known…there will be seasons – some more ‘active’ than others. Don’t be so hard on myself about my body – it hurts my hubby when I view my body negatively – he loves all of me. AND…keep flirting with each other!!
    Great post!!

  8. Great article. And so true. Marriage is a game changer. One thing for me is I realized sex is more than passion, as often portrayed in movies and TV, but about expressing love. When I thought sex always had to be an extremely passionate experience and I had to be totally “in the mood”, I found myself frustrated I wasn’t wanting sex as much as him. But as I realized it was more of a way to express how deeply I loved him, it was so much more enjoyable. At it wasn’t long until I felt “in the mood” once we got started.

  9. Aprille:

    What a great article! I was talking to a girlfriend of mine recently about this very topic. We really don’t share much in the church about sexual expectations. I think part of the reason for that is we are so quick to believe the stereotypes or love scenes in a movie that we think there is something wrong with us when we are “different” than expected. I think it leaves a lot of those “different” people feeling all alone.

    I’ll be pinning this and re-sharing on G+ and Facebook. Thanks for writing this!

  10. Great article. We are told “don’t have sex before marriage.” Then on the wedding day we are supposed to throw that thought out the window and have it figured out. Sex is a tool to being one. Sex is not the end all. My husband and I have been married 17 years and we are still figuring things out. Above all, don’t compare your sex life to anyone else’s. Especially the media.

  11. Amazing perspective .. In India .. Things r stereotypical here .. My husband and I have a not so good relationship.. Unfortunately I kept telling him for all 7 years that we r married that don’t control your desire for sex .. But he does .. Sad but true .. Working relentlessly on our relationship..
    P.S .. U r so pretty

  12. Ohh I really like this..it will definitley help in my future…!! And the tips was soo great..!! That brings soo much “Maturity” in you..!! Thank you guyzz for sharing your “Experiences”…!!


    #1 in particular is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine. I understand it may be true as a generality, but few people address it as the generality that it is: they make it out to be an _absolute_. It. Is. Not. An. Absolute. And when women don’t fit that stereotype, the church is still largely clueless about _how_ to handle it. Rawr.

    #3 and, especially #6, :), are also true.

    I write this as someone who had major trouble keeping my hormones in check during adolescence, wrestled with my faith for a time, ended up finding an attractive and charming, articulate guy I wanted to take to bed immediately, got into the situation of fornication, ended up growing very close with said person (who was, and is still not, a person of the faith), had to discuss with my family what to do, pray about it, read Scripture and see if it was okay to agree to marriage with said person, and take life from there. All this from 2004-present!

    Few people are familiar with this full story, even those in church. I will be honest and say I’ve only shared with them parts of the entire process because I know they can’t handle it. It is so, so difficult for them to grasp how anything like that could possibly occur, because they are so hung up on #1. ARGH.

    But again, after all of that confessing, THANK YOU AGAIN FOR SHARING THIS.


  14. Love all of these! Similarly we waited until our wedding night. Thankfully unlike most our first time and week together were slow and sweet. No awkward clunkyness yet lol! Just getting used to eacher before we got to that constant romping we knew would last forever… Until it never came! And the last night of our trip we … Watched TV!!! Still only 3 years or so into our marriage I crave that dating feeling where we wanted to tear eachother apart. But like you said, marriage is so much more than that!

    1. It can be tough! I think both men and women come into marriage with a lot of expectations. All I can say is that now after almost 9 years of marriage it’s only gotten better. We understand each other more and know what each other needs/wants and that area. It took years to get there. Hopefully you will find your groove too!

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