My middle daughter, Kyra, and I are continuing our commitment to blog all the way through the alphabet. Rather than lasting 26 days, we're going on almost a year now, but we're gonna get it done.
I predict almost no one is going to care about how long this post is. It contains my best sex advice for premarital couples.
1. Some research has shown that married couples report better sex lives than non-married couples. The lesson? If you’re already having sex before you’re married (and let’s face it, the overwhelming percentage of couples are), it’ll probably just keep getting better. If you’re not having sex before you’re married, you’re almost definitely not missing the best part of it. [update: though the above research has been legitimately called into question, we do know that sex does not necessarily declines after marriage.)
2. George Michael said it best — “Sex is natural, sex is fun, sex is best when it’s one on one.” All of that is true. If you experience sex as unnatural, or not fun, get help. It’s not natural to experience sex as unnatural! You may have picked up some fears or inhibitions along the way that you need to shed. Most importantly, keep sex one on one — between you and your partner. Don’t bring third parties into it; not in real life, and not by means of pornography. The reason for this is that,
3. Sex should remain rooted not in fantasy, but in reality. The temptation in all of life is to always be trying to escape the present moment (either actually or in our imaginations) to get to some perceived other and more pleasant moment. But the key to lasting happiness in all of life, including sex, is to resist this “grass is always greener” flight into other moments, and learn to invest yourself fully in whatever moment you are in. Spend way less energy fantasizing that you are having sex with Ryan Gosling or Mila Kunis, and way more energy on appreciating the awesomeness of the being you are actually with. Focus fully on that person — sight, smell, taste, touch, sound — breathe them in. Allow the real-life person in bed with you to BE your fantasy — the one you are thinking about and seeing yourself with.
4. Lust between married people does not exist. Lust is illicit desire. Illicit means not allowed, or inappropriate, or unlawful. Once you are in a life-long committed relationship, there is no amount of desire that is not allowed, or inappropriate, or unlawful. So fan the flames of desire!
5. Don’t divide sex up in ways that are not natural. Some well-meaning people (often virgins, usually women, sometimes with religious backgrounds but not always) will say things like, “My spouse and I are never going to have sex. We’re always going to ‘make love.'” Good luck with that.
[Whenever someone says that, think of it the same as someone saying, “When I get married we’re never going to talk. We’re always going to share.” Whatever. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Just do it.]
Couples who get a real bang (pun not intended — but rather enjoyed) out of their sex lives accept it fully for whatever it is in that moment. Sometimes it’s two people who are both extremely horny, but also very busy, and just wish to not feel horny anymore. (I mean let’s face it, does anyone get married believing that they will continue feeling horny most of the time?) This might mean a couple of minutes in a locked bathroom while the kids sit in front of a video. Other times it will be two people who have set aside a lot of time for each other — candles may get lit, negligees and lotions may go on, and other specific efforts may be made. This all has to do with how critical it is that you…
6. Allow sex, like everything else in your life, to exist in the real world. In pornographic movies, sex nearly always exists outside of reality. Many people might all have sex together. Sometimes they are gymnasts or contortionists! Certainly in pornography you will usually see perfect or nearly perfect bodies. Obviously, most people are not this way. Most people are a pretty mixed bag physically, and that’s probably putting it mildly. Sex scenes in movies, like fight scenes, are choreographed out. When they switch positions, both people always know just what to do. All the uncertainty is removed. A man never pulls a woman’s hair on accident so that they both get distracted and lose their mojo for a while and have to try to pick up where they left off. A woman never balks because she finds something a man wants to do a little intimidating or embarrassing. There is never the slightest awkwardness. A terrible fight never breaks out right in the middle of the act, totally blowing the mood and the rest of the evening, because he said or did something she found insensitive. In movies, everything flows with a naturalness that is completely unnatural, and finishes with earth-shaking orgasms all around and everyone is perfectly fulfilled.
But sex in the real world often comes between poopy diapers and other poopy diapers. Sometimes it happens only after you’ve moved piles of clothing (“Is this stuff clean or dirty?”) off your still unmade bed from this morning. Sometimes it has already started when you realize the room is way too hot or way too cold. Or that you really should have gone to the bathroom first and now you’re distracted (“Yes – yes — this is perfect. Yes! I love this! This is so hot! I’m so – OMG I have to pee so bad!!!!!!”) It happens sometimes when one or both probably should have brushed their teeth first. Sex presents itself sometimes as an alternative to watching McGyver on TVLand, and to be honest, sometimes you’re both pretty torn over which way to go. Sex happens between imperfect people who are often exhausted, often not at their best, but who love each other, know it’s important to be together, and desire to invest in one another in that way. And thank God it happens in seasons when spouses have experienced devastation and loss in their lives that they could have never seen coming; when each of them is broken and feels like half a person, and they don’t know how to give voice to their fear and grief and their need to know they aren’t alone; and they realize this is a way to speak volumes without saying a word.
And you can never be sure. You never quite know when the sparks will fly like crazy during sex and the earth will move (sometimes even during McGyver or HaveToPee or heartbroken or quickie in the bathroom sex), and that’s what we all hope for, isn’t it? But give it some space to just be what it is — a powerful way of being deeply present with a person you love. If you can accomplish that most of the time, you’re doing pretty well.
7. Don’t play the numbers game. Who cares how often the “average” couple has sex? The question is how can you and your partner work out what is best for you, so no one feels put upon and no one feels ignored.
8. Dump your inhibitions as quickly as possible. Women, for you that means by all means do things you were taught good girls don’t do. Your husband is positively counting on it. Guys, for you that means do things that you may have been taught guys don’t do to girls they love and respect. That is, of course, if she wants you to (and you know you’re hoping she does). The point is, nothing in the bedroom is wrong between two married people. The only two exceptions I have to this are, 1) it’s wrong to involve anyone except the two of you (directly or through pornography); and 2) it’s wrong to do anything that leaves one of the partners feeling humiliated or exploited. Beyond that, have a great time. And have it as often as possible.
9. Make sex a priority. This is related to #6. Couples with small children, please read this carefully. There is NO excuse for you not to have sex. None. Women, I know many of you dream of a man who can love you for hours and hours into the night, but when you have little ones in the house, you’re both going to often be way too tired for this. But most men are more than happy (and quite capable) to do a quick sex romp that is 30 seconds to two minutes, start to finish! Sometimes women don’t allow this because it doesn’t meet their expectations of what a) is acceptable in order for sex to seem loving; and b) what is even fulfilling. All I can say here is that if you are open to having brief sex many times a week, you will end up having longer more fulfilling sex far more often than if you simply sit around hoping for earth-shattering, time-bending sex once or twice a week. That’s because very little of what we merely hope to do actually gets done, but 100% of everything we do gets done! Sometimes you’ll get into those quickies and you’ll both realize you’re super into it, and you’ll drop whatever else you had planned and just keep going. Other times that quickie will fire you up enough that you’ll think about it all day and it will become motivation to make roof-rattling sex happen later that evening. Overall you will both be much more fulfilled, and your relationship will be much more intimate and solid, if you are having more sex — period. Prioritize more of it, and the quality of it will often take care of itself. I know, not always, but first things first.
10. Did I mention that nothing between two married people is off limits? This is your time. Be creative. Take a few risks, often enough that you try a few things that definitely aren’t going to work for you! Work as hard at having good sex as you work at earning a paycheck, or taking care of your kids. Read a book about it. Spend money on things to make it more fun if you want to. You owe no apologies to anyone. Here you are accountable only to one another. You were made for this, my friends, and it is there for you to enjoy.
Question 1: At this moment, might there be anything more valuable you could be doing with your time than sitting and reading this post? Any ideas at all? If so, then get at it! 🙂
Question 2: Did you end up wishing this post had been 500 words or less? I didn’t think so.