***Disclaimer: This post is for adults who are married, thinking of marriage and pastors/ leaders.
When we get a rare chance to watch a movie together, my wife always wants to watch a lighthearted chick flick, while I am drawn more towards the action thrillers with some blood and guts. Unfortunately, she usually wins. Despite my low desire to munch popcorn to Nicholas Sparks movies, however, I do actually enjoy a good love story…and being part of one is even better.
One of the best parts of being a pastor is being able to officiate a wedding especially for a friend. I’ve had the privilege of officiating eight weddings, and it is always such an honor to be part of a couple’s love story in this way. But the part I enjoy the most is the part that is not publicly visible: premarital counseling.
We’ve all heard the depressing statistics on divorce rates – with some stats even showing a painful 75% divorce rate in California. Given this powerful trend, I believe premarital counseling is more important than ever – perhaps even more important than the actual wedding day, since a healthy and life-giving marriage is more essential than a one-day ceremony.
So to set these couples up for martial success, I meet with them for 4-5 sessions of counseling. The last session focuses on the topic of sex. Most couples get very uneasy when I bring up this topic because they think I will ask about their own personal sex history. I quickly reassure them that I will do no such thing. This session is a time to discuss any unspoken assumptions about sex that they haven’t shared with each other, work through any misperceptions, and set the foundation for an awesome, steamy sex life they are about to embark on as a married couple.
Here are three myths about sex that we’ve discussed in these sessions, drawn from the courses I took while getting my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I believe debunking these myths can help couples have more realistic expectations about sex, feel more freedom to express their needs/desires, and view sex as a way to serve and bless each other rather than just being self-serving… all ultimately leading to a more satisfying sex (and emotional) life together in holy matrimony.
MYTH #1: Your best sex life is in your 20s.
REALITY: Your best sex life is likely to be in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.
You’re probably shaking your head in disbelief. “A 60 year old grandpa is having better sex than a hot-blooded 20 year old? Come on.” Most of us usually just equate our physical peak to our sexual peak. Dr. David Snarch, however, the marital sex therapy guru, shares that older couples are having better sex not because they are in better shape and have more drive, but because they are more comfortable with their bodies, their sexuality and are generally more accepting of who they are. Younger couples, on the other hand, are still navigating through their own identity, insecurities, and sexuality, which can interfere with the enjoyment of sex.
Younger couples early on in their marriage may be frustrated by the quality of their sex life or hide how they really feel about it, especially if they believe the myth that they should be having their best sex of their lives during this early stage. With this myth hanging over their shoulders, they may feel less inclined to admit their frustrations or insecurities and sex can start to become more of a chore or routine. The truth that your best sex is much later in life should bring a measure of peace and comfort for all couples. It really helps couples understand that their sex life is a journey that requires communication, growth and maturity. It gets better as trust grows, insecurities dissipate, and communication is strengthened. This can give courage to couples to be honest with themselves and each other so that they can have their best sex together both now and in the future.
MYTH #2: Men want sex more than women.
REALITY: High sexual desire is not only in men
This is a common myth that may inhibit the honesty of women with higher sexual desires or for men who have a lower sex desires than the stereotypes – each feeling abnormal compared to what they think is the norm. This can cause tension and conflict, especially if the couples apply these stereotypes on each other, causing confused or broken expectations..
According to Dr. Snarch, levels of sexual desire is not gender based. His take is that there is an even split between the men and women with regards to the level of sexual desire. The freedom that a woman might have more sex drive than the man, or vice versa, can help open the door for better communication, understanding, and acceptance of their partner’s sexual needs and how to navigate through those different levels so that both parties can be on the same page.
MYTH #3: All woman should reach climax through intercourse
REALITY: Only a third of women reach climax through intercourse itself
The movies typically show women and men having sex that always ends with mutual orgasms, so it makes sense that we have the same expectation in our marriage beds. The reality, however, is that only a third of women actually have orgasms through intercourse. Recognizing this can free up couples to set more realistic expectations about the outcome of sex and also open up conversations for the couple to be more creative in mutually satisfying each other.
So to wrap it up… sex in marriage is a lot like learning to ballroom dance. None of us are great at it when we first start especially me – my wife had a heck of a time trying to teach move the moves for our first wedding dance. But when we communicate and practice the dance routine – the footwork, the spacing, the body movement – we get to a place where our two left feet start waltzing around.
Our God is a God of pleasure and intimacy, and sex is a beautiful gift from God that was meant to deepen intimacy between husband and wife – physically, emotionally and spiritually. This requires honest communication and vulnerability, which can be scary or awkward, but when you take those steps together, you will have the most beautiful Cha-Cha or tango!0