Let’s talk about…the importance of, ahem, sex

love pinned to my love board, via freshly picked

 

Updated editorial note: Please understand, I know that sex can be a complicated, difficult issue even if both you & your spouse are both entirely loving, selfless people in love. I get that. And my heart truly goes out to those who struggle for one reason or another, be it due to past abuses, health problems, or what not. This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad, nor to say it’s as easy as: just jump into bed with your spouse, darn it! Rather, my intention is to share some of my thoughts & experiences, & hopefully motivate other women to open themselves to the idea that sex is not a chore, but a blessing.

 

This is one of those posts where I’m blushing.

Because, as a Mormon (ie. socially conservative), you just don’t talk about sex.

But I’m going to.

Because it’s IMPORTANT. Sex, that is.

Call me old-fashioned, but the thing is, I absolutely believe in the power of monogamy & fidelity (which is why this article in the NY Times made me very very sad). That when those two are combined with a relationship based on love, trust, equality, communication, & commitment, sex can be the most amazing thing on earth. Really.

The other day I was in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, reading one of the many women’s mags strewn about, & one article caught my eye.

The author had been married for 25 years & was “tired of sex.”  Yes, it was fun & magical when they were first married, but now, she’d rather sleep.

Her whole schpeel was that she thought for so many years that once the kids were older, once she had more energy, then she’d make time for sex, & like it. Her discovery, as she put it, is that, that didn’t happen. She didn’t like sex, and “that was okay.”

What??! (Girl, you are missing out.)

Here’s the truth: sex is “hard” when you don’t make time for it. When you think it’s hard.

If at the end of day you’ve spent every last drop of energy so that that there is nothing left for that person who is supposed to be the most important person in the world, it is hard.

It’s hard if you don’t make time to talk, to make daily & frequent positive deposits into your relationship bank. Because there is no fire in the bedroom, there’s no love & compassion outside the bedroom.

On the other hand, it’s easy if: you make time to serve each other in ways that you know would make your spouse happy & delighted. Simple, thoughtful things that only you know would make your spouse feel loved & appreciated.

For example, I know Joseph likes to be warned before I’m going to turn on the Blendtec to make a smoothie, so I try & always give him a heads up. He likes to have plenty of warning before we do things (he’s not into my “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” approach to life). He appreciates when I’m cheerful & happy when he comes home. These are small but significant things I can do to show love.

As for Joseph, he makes it a point to do the dishes whenever he’s able (which, we all know is one of the sexiest things a guy can do). He makes sure to always connect with me & give me a kiss before he leaves. We call each other throughout the day, even if it’s just a minute or two.

It’s easy when there’s open communication, respect. When you see sex as a way to have fun (yes, FUN!), to connect, to show your spouse how much you love him.

I don’t want to oversimplify things here–I know each marriage, each partner is unique, with their own set of health issues, emotional/mental struggles. And of course, if there’s baggage, addiction, infidelity, or if one or both spouses is just plain narcissistic & self-centered–sure all those things are going to muddle things.

Those things aside, sex doesn’t have to be the “chore” that many women see it as.

I’ve had friends over the years confide in me that they don’t “like” sex.  At first, I would try hard to mask my surprise–what??! Sex is one of the funnest, best ways to connect with your spouse and, by golly, it’s FREE–why, oh why are you missing out on this, dear friend? But now I’ve realized that I don’t think this apathy of women towards sex is all that uncommon, sadly.

The lady of said article has been married for 25 years.

I’ve only been married just shy of 10, so what do I know.

joseph-&-me

But hey, I feel like if I, someone who:

1) married young (which, according to the “experts” put me in a special category of “high-risk for divorce”) & quick at that (5 week engagement)

2) have had 5 pregnancies during this time (I don’t think I need to go into detail what sort of obstacles may put a damper on the “sexy” mood–diapers, breastfeeding, morning sickness, stretch marks, sags & bags due to gaining/losing, gaining/losing)

and

3) have had to support a student-husband for years while I worked & managed babies & home & everything else AND all the while found it absolutely possible to have an awesome sex life, well then, I’m confident you can too.

You’re exceptional, you say. Sure, maybe (It’s true, I admit I think we’re pretty freakin’ fabulous), but I don’t think what we have is something that is just out of reach for everyone else.

I’d also even argue that one of the reasons why our marriage has stayed so strong over the years through babies, school, & financial uncertainty is because we made our intimate life an absolute priority.

Sex is an attitude.

If you see it as a chore, well it’s a chore. If you see it as a way to connect with your spouse in the most intimate of ways, that’s what it will be for you.

“But I just don’t want to!” or “I just don’t like it” you may say.

Consider this. What if your husband told you: “But I just don’t want to talk to you.” or “I just don’t like talking to you.” You would have a strong desire to smack him &/or call him any number of less than polite words, right?

But talking is not the same as sex, you say.

Well, for guys, it kinda is.

It’s not that they’re a bunch of pervs. This is how they bond, how they show love. We like to talk, they like to touch. I’m confident a marriage of the two makes for a highly satisfying sex life.

I know, it takes two to tango, but lady friends, let me tell you, unless your husband is addicted to porn (which, I’m sorry to say often ruins the sex lives of so many couples), or a complete deadbeat, it’s mostly in your ballpark to get the game going because, if you haven’t figured this important life lesson yet: men LOVE sex. It doesn’t take much convincing to get them to want to take their clothes off.

And for those of us who are from time to time insecure about our extra flesh, stretch marks, or concerned about overly curvaceous curves (or lack thereof), remember: men LOVE sex.

They are not looking at all your so-called “imperfections.”

They want YOU–all of you. When they see your unclothed body, they are absolutely not honing in on the stretch marks, the cellulite, the saggy breasts. They are thinking–woot-woot! SCORE!

Through the years of gaining/losing, gaining/losing, Joseph has never once made a comment about my weight. NEVER. And when I lost all my baby weight, did he say–I love you more now that you’re thin? Absolutely not. When I do lose all the weight, he’s only happy because I’m happy. He wants me to be healthy & to be active, but beyond that, he could care less about my size.

He has never commented on my body other than to say: you are crazy sexy.

He says that to me when I’m 140 lbs., or when I’m 9 months pregnant & 200 lbs. He says that after I’ve had the baby & my belly is saggy & stretch marks abound. Yes he’s the best husband in the world, but he’s also a guy. And when our men love us, they love US, not our bodies.

Too many of us are missing out on the best things of life–not just the actual pleasure of intimate, thoughtful sex, but of all the benefits that go with it. It’s a stress reliever. It’s one of the glues that keeps couples together. It’s a lubricant–easing so many of the frictions of life.

Is it all about the actual “act” itself?

Heaven’s no. Touching, hugging, kissing, cuddling–all of these things are so important. But don’t dismiss the importance (for YOU and HIM) of going “all the way” on a frequent basis.

(And just in case you’re wondering, I’m still blushing.)

Further reading: 
Meg’s Good Girl Guide to Great Sex & Even Better Intimacy & 5 Reasons You Should Have Sex with Your Husband Every Day
I also recommend Dr. Laura’s The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands–a MUST read (I try to read it at least annually)

♥♥

What do you find most challenging about having a fulfilling sex life? Other thoughts…Please share!


Comments


  1. Linda
    on May 24, 2014 at 1:36 am said:

    Your post reminds me of an important aspect of marriage that is sadly missing in my relationship. Unfortunately not all men love sex. I’ve been married to a lovely man for 13 years whose low sex drive has been non-existent for the past 5 years. On several occasions I’ve opened up the conversation about wanting to bring back our sexual relationship, but it never happens. He recently admitted that he could happily forego sex forever. It’s a very distressing thing to feel unwanted sexually in an otherwise great marriage. I’m very envious of the relationship that you and your husband enjoy.

    • Sarah
      on March 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm said:

      I’m in the same boat. It breaks my heart…

      And to read “all men love sex” hurts me even more, as, even though I know its not about me… it makes me feel like it is.

  2. Gena
    on December 15, 2013 at 6:58 am said:

    I appreciate this whole post, Janae, but I especially appreciate that, in spite of the fact that within your community sex isn’t typically spoken of candidly, you did. That’s so healthy, so frank and honest, and ultimately says so much about your marriage. All the love.

  3. K
    on December 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm said:

    This might be a too bold for a blog comment, but I feel like we need to be aware and acknowledge that a lot of women struggle to have an orgasm. It took me almost five years to figure out how my body works, but once I did, sex has completely changed for my husband and I. It is no longer a chore, but a wonderful act that my husband and I use to express our deepest love.

    So, to you women out there who can’t figure “it” out, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until I opened up to a friend and asked her a bunch of questions that I was able to figure things out for myself. I don’t know if you have a safe person to talk to, and I know it is personal and sacred, but it changed sex from being a chore to being something wonderful.

    • Janae Wise
      on December 15, 2013 at 6:22 am said:

      “It changed sex from being a chore to being something wonderful.”
      Awesome! &,
      No, not too bold–a very important aspect of a woman’s experience–thank you for bring this up! Guys are REALLY straightforward, & I’m pretty sure they don’t need to come with an instruction manual.

      But the female species–it’s not as cut & dried, & each woman is a little bit different. I think the biggest difference is that while men are visual, women need multi-dimensions & it’s not a simple formula every time to get to that “place”–lots of talking, LOTS of touching, more talking (which is often uncomfortable, especially for newlyweds or men/women who don’t like to talk about sex). Even things like the scent of cologne can be a huge turn on or turn off.

      I think the differences between men & women, & our varied needs is what makes sex such an awesome tool for growth in a marriage. We have to talk, we have to learn to put our partner’s needs ahead of our own. And I totally agree–I think a lot of young women don’t like “it” because they haven’t quite figured out what makes them tick (while I think guys have known since they were about 12 or 13). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding a trusted source in whom you can confide–though it’s a different story if you’re getting together with girlfriends on a weekly basis to chat about your bedroom life, which could be borderline betrayal of your spouse’s trust & the sacredness of that aspect of your relationship with him.

      Thanks for being brave enough to share K.

  4. Sherri
    on December 14, 2013 at 12:51 am said:

    I just want to thank you for writing this. You are so right and I needed to read this to remind me how grateful I am for my husband and how I have neglected that part of our relationship. I am a woman in my late forties going through menopause. We only have one child left in the house as the rest are grown and have moved out, so now that we have the privacy I so desired in the past I no longer have the strong libido. But I love this man and am still so in love with him and he deserves for me to take that extra effort and show him. So, yes it might be hard at first but he is worth it and our relationship is worth it. So thank you for your post I think I know what I need to do this weekend.

    • Janae Wise
      on December 15, 2013 at 6:30 am said:

      “But I love this man and am still so in love with him and he deserves for me to take that extra effort and show him.”
      YES! I’m sure he will appreciate & cherish you even more as you make extra efforts to revive that aspect of your marriage, though hard as it may be for you.

      Have you ever read Dr. Laura’s “Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands”? She really hits home the point that it’s about love, & loving our spouse in the way that they need & feel love the most (which for 99% of men is through physical intimacy). Not saying that the other aspects of a relationship are less important, but as I said in the post, men LOVE sex. Not because of the sex per se, but this is how they know that they are loved & accepted & it gives them an opportunity to make you happy, in a way that only they can. Which is why tragically, so often, if men aren’t getting this variety of love from their wife, after awhile they’re going to go elsewhere to find it.

      Thanks Sherri, for sharing.

  5. lfwfv
    on December 13, 2013 at 9:52 am said:

    What i find hard right now is just my fatigue in the evenings, co-sleeping with my son so morning sessions are not an option, my postpartum issues (a prolapse was leading to UTI’s every time we were intimate…blech, which made my husband feel terrible) and my suppressed hormone levels that really do lead do very low libido levels (even though i feel very loving towards my husband and he is very kind/helpful/thoughtful with me, so it’s not an issue of “I’m not turned on because of things happening the rest of the time).

    My husband is also fairly “undriven” for a guy. Even before kids, i’d want it more often than he did! He loves to cuddle and just hold me though. We talk a lot, we both do kind things for each other daily, we touch. We both always enjoy sex when we have it, and we talk about it a lot to make sure we are both satisfied, and make adjustments as needed. For us, if we can do it around once per week, we both really enjoy it, crave it, and feel satisfied. I agree we both feel it’s important for marriage, very fun (we both enjoy it and always have), and it is a special kind of connection that lightens up and strengthens the “mood” of our marriage.

    My body is continuing to heal and feel better during/after an “episode” which helps both of us, but we are definitely not driven to be intimate daily like we were when we were first married. We both do feel it is important for our marriage, but daily or even several times a week would honestly feel like a “job” to us right now. There are times when i’ll say i think we should be doing it more often because of something i read, and he will say “why? do you want it more? do i want it more? I think we should do it when we both want to, and at a frequency that is satisfying to both of us”. And i think he’s right.

    We want it to be that we both want it (and there are plenty of times when i offer and he says “i am really ok today, but i’d love to cuddle with you”, so it’s definitely not me saying “i don’t want it”. Conversely, if one of us comes to the other and says “i need this”, i can honestly say there is always generous giving to meet the need.).

    Anyway, i guess my point is, i do agree it’s very important. But “enough/satisfying” for one couple might be something different than it is for another couple. The importance i think is that there is a spirit of love, giving, connectedness, prioritizing your marriage etc., and not in what specific frequency is satisfying to each couple.

    Lastly, i soooo agree with sex being something we should talk about freely with our spouse and within safe/appropriate church settings. Sex is great! It was given to us by God for procreation and enjoyment and it is amazing when it takes place in a committed, monogamous marriage. I am so grateful for a faithful husband and that we were both virgins when we were married. I think it has contributed to a space where we can both feel comfortable being vulnerable, honest, and vocal about what we need.

    • Janae Wise
      on December 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm said:

      “But “enough/satisfying” for one couple might be something different than it is for another couple. The importance i think is that there is a spirit of love, giving, connectedness, prioritizing your marriage etc., and not in what specific frequency is satisfying to each couple.”

      Such a great point! Which is why communication between spouses is SO important. It’s a blessing you & your husband are on the same page (ie. you want it at about the same frequency). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone needing intimacy much more often than once a week, just as I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone needing it less. Which is why it’s an awful idea to compare your sex life to anything portrayed in the media (which is mostly hogwash) or with any other couple.

      The intimate behavior is much more than the act itself–talking, cuddling, touching, kissing–those sorts of things ought to happen daily (as you’ve shared does with you & your spouse). And the actual act, well, I think that’s up to every couple to decide. But I think it’s safe to say that most guys (& many women) would not be okay with going months & months without any all-the-way action. I think one of the blessings of sex, is that it requires a lot of communication, understanding, trust & compassion. If it were always easy, a piece of cake, there’d be no growth in the relationship.

      “I am so grateful for a faithful husband and that we were both virgins when we were married.”
      I agree! Both marrying as virgins is really rare these days, but quite a blessing. I love that Joseph & I have never known anyone else the way we know each other. It’s a gift, for sure.

  6. Hannah
    on December 13, 2013 at 9:16 am said:

    Another fantastic post by Janae! I love this.

    When my hubby and I first got married, I was nervous about sex. I was concerned my hubby wouldn’t think I was sexy, that my stretch marks and pulled skin would turn him off, or that I would look/seem stupid. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that I was so focused on the wrong things! It affected our sex life, sadly. =( When my husband was gone 10 months for Marine Corps training, it gave me a lot of time to think. I realized I really, really loved my husband and I really, honestly missed the intimacy and connection that came from sex. And I wanted to fix it. We opened up to each other, talked about our fears, concerns, desires and wants and it was amazing. The result has been…epic! I love sex just as much as my hubby does now and it just KILLS me when there are days in between. I cannot fathom why people wouldn’t want to have sex or they dislike it.

    When it comes to talking about sex, I think people choose and have chosen not to talk about it very openly or keep it a ‘secret’ because it is something between husband and wife that needs protection. People get the wrong idea about sex because of the media, movies, pornography etc making it a casual and not-intimate thing between anyone and everyone. It’s hard to keep what’s important, good and simple separated from all the filth surrounding it at times, ya know? My hubby and I are very open with each other about it but we NEVER share it (the details) with others. Being in the Marine Corps, we run into that a lot (TMI!) and it’s disturbing and actually takes away from the pure and wonderful experiences that sex gives.

    Some people also have this weird idea that the Church (LDS) is prudish and tries to smother sex talk and intimacy and that’s not true. They are big advocates for intimacy inside marriage, to make marriages stronger and healthier. They know it is VERY important. (It may not be taught every Sunday but there are numerous talks, lessons, quotes, etc on the subject. People just choose not to look). A healthy sex life is very important in a marriage and it’s very important to always discuss it (and have it)with your spouse and, at the right times, to teach youth about the importance of chastity, fidelity and intimacy.

    So thank you for sharing this, Janae. I really enjoyed it.

    • Janae Wise
      on December 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm said:

      “My hubby and I are very open with each other about it but we NEVER share it (the details) with others. Being in the Marine Corps, we run into that a lot (TMI!) and it’s disturbing and actually takes away from the pure and wonderful experiences that sex gives.”

      We’re very much the same way. In fact, sharing this post is the most information I think I’ve ever shared–with anyone (haha, funny, because I shared it with the whole www, not just one person). I agree, it’s important to keep details about your sex life within the appropriate boundaries–a therapist, a religious leader, & of course your spouse. But even amongst girlfriends, I think talking about your own sex life, is well, let’s just say I’d be very careful about what deets to share & what not.

      “Some people also have this weird idea that the Church (LDS) is prudish and tries to smother sex talk and intimacy and that’s not true. They are big advocates for intimacy inside marriage, to make marriages stronger and healthier. They know it is VERY important. (It may not be taught every Sunday but there are numerous talks, lessons, quotes, etc on the subject. People just choose not to look). A healthy sex life is very important in a marriage and it’s very important to always discuss it (and have it)with your spouse and, at the right times.”

      Agreed! We’re all about sex, just within the bounds God has set for us (ie. marriage). (And sex just isn’t for making babies–although we’re pretty good at that.)

  7. Tiffany Nay
    on December 13, 2013 at 7:41 am said:

    I love this post! (Evan does, too as he’s the one who saw and read it first and was like “here! Read this!”)
    I actually JUST wrote in my journal this past week about how thankful I am for the many different aspects of sex between spouses, and how it’s such a blessing to have a way to connect like that with each other.
    I used to be one who thought I “just don’t like it”, but after some pretty significant things happening in my marriage this past year, I was able to really understand how great it can be. Thank you for writing this!

    • Janae Wise
      on December 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm said:

      I love that Evan read it first! What a great guy :).

      “How thankful I am for the many different aspects of sex between spouses, and how it’s such a blessing to have a way to connect like that with each other.”
      Yes! And the fun thing is, IMO, sex can get better & better as the years go by. It changes as your relationship deepens & evolves. Yes, there may be stretches of difficulty &/or separation (esp. in the military), but I’d like to think that intimacy is something that can get better & better all the way until death. And it’s not just about being hot & steamy, sexy & young. It goes way beyond that, which is why, I think intimacy most definitely doesn’t stop at menopause or in your 60’s or 70’s. Bodies do change of course, but the ultimate principle behind intimacy is the joining of two souls in a beautiful way & that can happen at nearly every stage of life.

  8. Stephanie Lonas
    on December 13, 2013 at 12:56 am said:

    Thanks for posting this Janae! Couldn’t agree with you more, though this post was a good reminder to me to make more time for what matters most. I’ve definitely been guilty of thinking when the kids are older and I’m sleeping more I’ll be wanting it more!

    • Janae Wise
      on December 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm said:

      Well, I don’t blame you!

      Two babies can be rough on a couples sex life–but with some creativity & a bit of sacrifice, it CAN happen, & be awesome. In fact, I think now is the time of life when you really need it most! I know many days I don’t feel very sexy (just kinda frumpy, to be honest), but something about intimate sex makes me feel appreciated, loved, feminine, & well, just lovely. Every young mom needs a good dose of that feeling on a frequent basis, in order to stay sane & grounded.

  9. michelle
    on December 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm said:

    Awesome post, thankyou, it’s great that people are being more open about what it takes to make relationships tick!

  10. Lisa C.
    on December 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm said:

    Great post!

  11. Kelly L.
    on December 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm said:

    Such a good reminder for this busy, overtired SAHM. I’m an introvert, so after a day of taking care of the kids, I really need space alone, and unfortunately, that often results in me falling asleep early and not spending intimate time with my husband (which we both always end up enjoying).

    I’m not sure how to get time alone otherwise though….

    • Janae Wise
      on December 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm said:

      “that often results in me falling asleep early and not spending intimate time with my husband (which we both always end up enjoying).”
      We often plan “morning dates” where we’ll both wake up early, take a shower, then have time some time together before kids get up. Night time is definitely hard for me too, whereas early mornings tend to be much better. It does require some creativity, it’s true. Another thing we’ll do is put on a movie for the kids, lock our door, & take 10-20 minutes to unwind 😉 The beauty of technology…

      (& the fact that I’m sharing this with the world, I have to say is a little forward of me, again, I’m blushing.)

  12. Erica { EricaDHouse.com }
    on December 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm said:

    I love this so much. I lecture on sexuality for a chapter in my Gen Psych class and it’s one of my favorites because it’s such a ‘taboo’ topic still (which is so absurd.) I wish people were more open about it as you are!

    • Janae Wise
      on December 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm said:

      “I wish people were more open about it as you are!”
      Haha, I’m not really that open about sex, but it is something I feel quite passionate about, especially the longer I’m married & I see/hear about women who are shunning sex like it’s something from 1999.

      We live in such a weird society were sex is flashed everywhere (advertising, movies, tv shows, & other media) yet when it comes to talking about it with our spouse/partner it’s just sort of swept under the rug. Though I admit I have a somewhat Victorian view of sex (ie. I’m appalled at the blatant & offensive displays of sexuality in much of our media), I don’t think sex should be seen as shameful, in any way. It’s shameful if it’s abused or used to gain power or authority over another, but in it’s purest forms, it’s a very special, other-worldly thing. It’s tragic, because sex has been so misused & abused (believe me, that’s at least 50% of Joseph’s job–prosecuting people in the military for sex abuse) so many people never really get to experience the true beauty of it.

      • Erica { EricaDHouse.com }
        on December 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm said:

        I could not agree more with everything you said.I stopped watching cable and reading most magazines years ago when I realized how much they were revolving around using sex to sell products/images.

        Potentially off topic, but your reference to Puritan Victorian views on sex reminded me of one of my favorite stories I love to share in class (and I’m also just totally obsessed with the Victorian era): http://mentalfloss.com/article/32042/corn-flakes-were-invented-part-anti-masturbation-crusade