We continue our discussion this week on expectations vs reality. We are going to branch off into the area of sexual expectations that we will call “Great Sexpectations”. I know all too well that this is a taboo subject in our culture (Christian America). The varying opinions concerning the sexual topic are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Though we do our best to not be offensive, we will not apologize for speaking the truth. We will be speaking very openly to ensure that we are clear in our message. Let’s get started.
How do we develop our sexual expectations before we get married?
There is no doubt that everyone has some kind of expectation, as they enter marriage, about what the sex life should be like. There seems to be some natural phenomenon built into human nature to attract to a partner sexually that begins with puberty. Certain body parts begin developing in a new way and our hormones start driving themselves. Obviously, the experience differs between males and females and also varies within the same gender role. But, something is certainly changing in our bodies in this period of our life.
Perhaps you grew up in a home with parents who talked openly about our sexuality. Maybe you even had meaningful conversations about what a marital sex life should look like. It could possibly be that they even told you about God’s expectations concerning healthy relationships and respect for your own body. If that is your situation, consider yourself blessed beyond measure because it is NOT the normal situation. In fact, what we are mostly told by our parents is “do not have sex outside of marriage because it’s a sin”. If you got much beyond that information, you are very fortunate.
Let me (Tim) walk you through growing up in my house and perhaps it will bring clarity to what we are talking about. My parents had an active sexual relationship when I was a child. We never talked about it but the “sounds of love” were in the house, after bedtime, on a regular basis. (I’m smiling as I write) I wondered, for a long time, what all the noise was about but never quite had the nerve to ask about it. Then, out of nowhere one evening, at the dinner table, I blurted out
“What are y’all doing in bed at night making all that noise?”
I was probably 10-11 years old, at the time. Well, that didn’t go over well and I didn’t get an answer either. My mother ran out of the room and into her bedroom, closing the door. My older sister chuckles while not wanting to look up from her plate and my dad is smiling from ear to ear but saying nothing. I then said, “Well, I want to know”. Dad calmly told me to hush, while still grinning and red-faced, and that was the end of my questioning.
Reflecting now, I think my timing was a little off for getting answers and the situation wasn’t optimal for the conversation. However, the answer never came from my parents. That was the last question about sex that came from me to them. I got my information, after that, from friends, Playboy, and Hustler. I didn’t feel like I needed anything more from them on the subject. In fact, I knew way too much after the introduction to porn magazines.
That being said, I developed my sexual expectations about marriage from locker room chats, pre-marital relationships, and pornography. I was set up for a huge reality check after we got married.
My (Heather) situation was very different. My mother was a nurse, there was no topic she would not discuss. At times,she became very embarrassing. My dad, on the other hand, did not talk about it. My mom told me about sex, what she thought about it, what God thought about it, and the choice was mine. We all knew they did it; I walked in on it a few times but learned when the door was shut, walk away. It wasn’t a big taboo at our house. It was just a part of life. Perhaps, if she had told me that I couldn’t do it, things might have been very different for me. When Tim and I began dating, before we left the driveway on our first date, I told him that if he expected more than a hug and kiss while we were dating, he would have to go somewhere else. He was okay with this, so we went out that night.
Heather set the stage for our relationship.
I remember her telling me that and I also remember that being a quality in which I liked about her. I had never had anyone tell me that so bluntly and be so established in their values. I wanted to get to know this lady because she had tapped into something that I had never seen before.
I don’t recall us ever bringing up the subject again, while we were dating. She never had to remind me. That boundary was established and I honored her for it. Needless to say, it did not prepare me for the variance that we would find in our “sexpectations” after we were married. No, I wish there had been someone in my life, at the time, that was willing to expose themselves and tell me the honest truth like we are doing here now.
There is a rhythm to marriage and sexual fulfillment.
Heather and I were unequally yoked in our sexual expectations when we got married. I will admit it, I was ignorant about sexual reality. I falsely believed that she was immediately available to every sexual desire I could imagine and on-demand. Boy, was I introduced to an alternate reality real quick. Listen, we are not here to describe our sexuality in minute detail. We are trying to show you a distinction between expectations and reality. The honeymoon was a great experience for me and not so great for Heather (I found out years later). It was several years before we found a true rhythm in our marriage and an understanding that has lead us to have a great intimate marital relationship. But we are not alone in our venture.
It has been our experience, in talking with couples and conducting research, that most couples usually have one partner that is way more aggressive sexually than is the other. Meaning, one partner prefers 4 or more intimate encounters per week while the other partner would be okay with 1 encounter per week or less. There are extremes in the frequency on both ends of the spectrum where one partner wants daily or multiple times per day and another person, prefers no sexual relationship at all or only for procreation.
Let’s wade out a little further, into the deeper waters.
Our cultural taboos and silence about real sexual intimacy have left the doors open for every form of perversion and depravity to grow secretly. Each person is left to figure things out for themselves. The internet brought us pornography on-demand and freely available to anyone seeking to spice up their sex life or falsely seek to educate themselves about sexuality. People enter marriage with wildly unrealistic expectations about intimacy and how things will be. It often leads to unhappiness, isolation, violence, shame, brutality, divorce, or some other horrible and unhealthy marital situation. Some people, usually women, get trapped in horrible marital relationships that they were totally unprepared for and have no idea on how to get out of. And they can’t talk about it because it’s taboo and God hates divorce.
It is time that we break the silence and talk about sexuality in a godly manner. Everyone knows, or most know, that God expects us to remain sexually pure until marriage. What they don’t know is why. It is an abstract concept in our culture today. Regardless, we need to speak the truth and share the reality for others to follow. The good, the bad, and the ugly. If our story can save even one marriage, it’s worth sharing.
Next week, we will explore this topic even further. God bless and pray for marriages around the world.
Tim & Heather