Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sex Expectations - by Claire & Aaron

Editor's Note: Alright, women. We're talking about sex today. Claire volunteered to write this (and her husband Aaron helped!) to share with all of you. You can follow Claire at @lovliestweets & her blog at Glitter & Grunge. They are almost 10 years into marriage and crazy in love with each other, but they've had a hell of a time in the bedroom. If this hits home & you would like to speak with Claire, she has made herself available to you. Please send me an email at goodwomenproject[at]gmail.com & I will put you in touch with her. I don't need to say anything more. Go read.

My husband, Aaron and I are very different people. We always joke about what a free spirit I am, ready to drop everything for an adventure anytime any day, responsibility be damned. He will never take a sick day unless he is really sick regardless of what spontaneous adventure I have cooked up for us. I am a creative, always thinking of the next project I want to work on, even if it never gets done. My husband is logical, likes to plan and prepare, unfinished projects haunt him. I have a tendency to say and do what I think when I think them with little regard to those around me, while he carefully chooses his words and actions. I like things to always be rosy and happy, lets not talk about our problems! He likes to sit down and really hash out our issues and get those suckers resolved.

You can imagine how these attributes could lead to a little bit of friction in those first years of marriage, can’t you? Now imagine if one of your biggest issues after the wedding day is sex. For many of you that might be the case. Your past, unmet expectations, unvoiced worries or fears can and will collide in those first few months (sometimes years) of marriage and your sex life will probably be at the center of it.

For years I had heard women in my life complain about how often their husbands wanted to have sex with them and how annoying it was, when all they wanted was to sleep. I had always thought it sounded great to be wanted by your spouse every night and was determined not to be the wife who would say no. It never occurred to me to ask these women how often they were saying yes (that would be rude!), so I made a very unhealthy assumption that they “gave in” as often as they said no.

So I went into my marriage thinking A) my husband will want to have sex every night and B) I would be doing him a favor by wanting to have sex every single night. That is, after all, what all men want, right?

If he didn’t initiate sex I would feel unloved, unwanted, like something must be wrong with me or that something was wrong with him. I would lay awake mortified and humiliated, frequently crying, which would wake him up. He would be absolutely horrified that his wife, the woman he loved, was lying awake crying over something he did (or didn’t do). Half the time he had no idea I was interested in sex in the first place because I hadn’t said anything, I just expected that as a man he’d naturally want it every night. If he didn’t I would be devastated. It didn’t matter if I didn’t really want to either, I thought men wanted sex all the time.

The worst thing I did was compare our sex life to what I thought was normal without any real knowledge of what normal was. Normal for us and normal for someone else is NEVER going to be the same thing. In anything! Just because it’s normal for your spouse to mow the lawn in his boxers in February does not make it normal for every other husband to do that. How silly would it be for me to expect that in my marriage, and yet that was essentially what I was doing.

It was difficult to come to the place of humbleness required to talk about our sex life, but once we did Aaron assured me time and again how much he loved me, desired me and needed me. Sex was always fun and enjoyable, regardless of this hurdle we were trying to overcome. I always felt cared for and wanted sexually, so honestly it was as baffling to me as it was to him that I also felt that I wanted more, especially after we established that my original expectations about sex and marriage were unrealistic.

Later we went to a marriage conference and it was there that we learned about something called “love languages”. We all have a love language which is the way we best give and receive love. Mine, as it turns out, is physical touch. I am constantly hugging and kissing my kids and husband. I always want to cuddle on the couch with him or one of our kids. I love to sleep with my arms around my husband. I need to be touching the ones I love most. So, it really shouldn’t be much a surprise that I feel most loved when they are doing it back to me. Having physical touch for a love language really has little to do with sex (though it sure helps!) but about our daily physical interactions.

Once we learned that physical touch was one of the ways love needs to be communicated to me Aaron was much more intentional about showing me love in a way that I could more readily understand. He would sit next to me at a restaurant instead of across from me so we could sit closer together, he would kiss and hug me before leaving in the morning, or cuddle closer on the couch when we watch tv. For the record, physical touch ranked low on his list, they were not natural responses for him so to make the extra effort to show me love how I need it really does show how much he loves me.

Our issues with sex didn’t go away overnight. Even when we knew how to “fix” the problem a lot of communicating had to be done. A lot of sex talk had to happen and not always the fun kind. After a few years of learning how to communicate love (and anger) to each other we have reached a place where we can talk about anything, and I truly and honestly mean anything. There has, so far in our marriage been no taboo subject. Trust me it isn’t always easy, but we have learned that the problem ain’t going anywhere until you meet it head on.

We were patient with each other. We had to give one another time to understand our own feelings and then more time to figure out how to share them. We had to develop humility. A lot of humility. We needed to each be in a place where we were able to hear the other person’s point of view in a healthy and loving way and that took time. We obviously trusted each other, after all we did get married, but we needed to develop an even deeper trust and respect for one another that just can’t be manufactured outside of a marriage relationship. Out of all of these things, if I had to choose the most important I’d probably say humility. If both of you can’t lay aside your own feelings and desires in order to hear and understand your spouse’s then you will have an uphill battle when it comes to communication. It is the hardest one to figure out, and of course yields the greatest rewards.

Developing these skills in any relationship takes time and patience. Sometimes dating and marriage advice columns will lay out “5 simple steps to a happy marriage” which I always find somewhat maddening. It’s never simple and there always seems to be 5 to 100 more steps hidden in there that the author didn’t mention. We all know marriage is hard work, but it can also be fun even in the midst of challenge. Don’t lose heart and don’t be discouraged!

Those first few years were challenging, but as we near our tenth anniversary I find myself more attracted to and in love with my husband than I was the day we got married. It was worth every bit of heartache our issues caused us to be here with him today.

If you want to determine your love language go to www.5lovelanguages.com and take the assessment test. I'd love to know what your love language is in your marriage and if knowing it helps your husband!


Ari said...

I love this! Everything you wrote is so true. Why we compare our sex lives and marriages to TV and movies is beyond me, but as women we do! Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Just, thank you. You have encouraged me today. Importantly. Thanks for the hope.

Anonymous said...

Love this!! So true...

Claire said...

Thanks ladies! I am glad that this was encouraging for you. Feel free to email me if you want to talk further!

Post a Comment