Dear Young Bride,
Sex isn’t that important, it takes up less than 1% of your time, pops up in your thoughts occasionally and pops up in conversation rarely. Unless you are unhappy with the quantity or quantity of sex in your marriage, in which case it is in your thoughts constantly and is hanging over you like a destructive cloud of anger and misery. So here is a list of tips and hints for those of you who want some advice from my gorgeous and glamorous self…
If you are unhappy with your sex life then please tell someone, but choose wisely who you who you speak to. Unless they have been in the same situation that you are in now, or are exceptionally wise, they just will not understand and may do more harm than good. A torrent of feelings may pour from your pals, based on their own limited experiences, memories of films they enjoy (“dance like that woman in Dirty Dancing and take up pottery like the Demi Moore character in Ghost“). Instead look for someone who is wise, empathic and able to give unbiased, realistic perspectives on what is happening.
Next I must warn you: Do not fake anything in bed because you will be stuck with it forever. If you OOOOH and AAAAH in pretend ecstasy when your husband decides to experiment a little by biting your knee cap, bear in mind he will bite your knee caps for the rest of your life. But exaggerate the OOOHing and AAAHing when he does things you enjoy. The strange thing about sex is that you may not get the same pleasure from the same things – so while you are having the time of your life he may be unmoved. Most men in a committed long term relationship want to feel red hot in bed and a little enthusiasm from you will make him feel great and should give him inspiration on how to make you feel great – so he really does become your tailor made red hot lover.
Add some spice, because after years and years together sex can become a little – well dull if you let it. Attractive lingerie, perfume, candles, clothes he likes, new positions – anything to break the predictability of your routine (you do A then I do B then C happens and we move onto D…. year in, year out until the grave *horrified shudders*).
Do not lose yourself in your attempts to keep your man happy in bed. It is your body, your life and your soul. In an age where the ideas of normal are shifting on a daily basis you have to stay true to your own standards. If you believe that sex before marriage is wrong then you will feel guilty and bad, your self respect will be dented and it could take ages for you to forgive yourself if you go ahead – even though society as a whole is shrieking “go for it! Have fun, it’s great!”. I have read books and advice columns where the message is “go ahead, fulfil his fantasies, don’t be a prude!”. Well I am a prude, a bit of spice is ok but there are things I just will not do for the sake of myself. My husband knows what my limits are and respects them, full stop.
Say “YES!”. After nearly ten years of marriage – children, sleepless nights and breastfeeding included – you know what? I have never ever refused to sleep with my husband when he has requested sex. Men want to feel attractive, appreciated and important, and being accepted sexually is vital to marriage. You know what else? I have never approached the bed like it is a duty, like I am doing him a favour or like this is my final chore of the day “now the bins have been put out“. If you feel so tired and drained that you cannot show any enthusiasm or joy during your lovemaking then work out why and change. Are you doing too much housework? Get a cleaner or lower your standards. Were you making delicious meals for your 10 children? Get take-out, ready meals or get a really good system going with your deepfreeze. Are you doing the work of 5 people? Delegate or at least refuse to do the work of 4 of the 5 people. Take a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement, get plenty of fresh air and exercise, eat healthily and relax enough so you can be energetic in bed. It is important, make it a priority.
If you have psychological reasons for disliking sex (a history of abuse for example) then you MUST go to a qualified counsellor to help you over your issues. It doesn’t have to be full scale rape. When I was a teenager my father used to make inappropriate comments about my breasts, with the consequence that I hated my husband staring at my body when we got married. I went for counselling and now I have not one qualm about dressing up for him.
Great sex, fantastic toe curling sex, will not solve the problems in your marriage so keep it in perspective. You will have to deal with those issues outside the bedroom and try to keep them there while you are inside having fun.
If you are unsatisfied with your sex life then talk to your partner about it. I know it is a hard topic to broach, that you are shy, it is not part of your culture, that you went to convent school and your husband freezes when you talk about sex – but you will have to find a way or you will go mad. You have to be clear, tactful, kind, have impeccable timing and speak up. There are other ways of course; you can dress up and buy new lingerie and then sit around disappointed when your husband doesn’t take the hint. Or you can make lots of sexy comments and jokes and wonder why he doesn’t understand you. You can book a night in a hotel and then feel rejected when he goes to sleep early. This is not the time for indirect communication and subtle hints, especially as there may be underlying causes he hasn’t discussed with you because he is too shy, it isn’t part of his culture, he went to a convent school and you freeze up whenever the topic is raised…
Let him be in charge. That doesn’t mean he will only make himself happy, it means he will decide what happens in bed. It all returns to the idea than men want to feel they are great in bed, he should want to feel the earth is moving for you and will probably let you take over when you need to. If you snatch the driving seat off him, he may feel emasculated or intimidated. There is a world of difference between him suggesting you use a position that gives you pleasure and you telling him that he has no choice.
You are unique and so is your marriage, so do not compare the frequency, duration or mechanics of your lovemaking with the frequency, duration or mechanics of other couples lovemaking. For some couples once a month really is enough and as long as you are both satisfied that is fine. For other couples every morning is normal and as long as they don’t drop dead from exhaustion that is fine too. The point is that as long as the two of you are contented then you have a winning formula.
Just one last point dearest; wave goodbye to all those over-romantic ideas you have picked up from magazines, TV, films, books and Disney cartoons. It is normal to have lulls in your sex life, normal to have problems and difficulties – heck, cavemen probably had issues! If you have your hopes pinned on a marriage of non-stop, spontaneous, mutually satisfying, romantic sexual joys for the next 60 years then guess again. You can overcome problems, you can resolve issues, you can find mutual satisfaction, but you will have to work at it.
Have fun practising!