Tuesday, September 11, 2007

when ignorance is fearful

WARNING: may be controversial but definitely worth thinking about. (Male readers may find this post uncomfortable.)

I love my husband.

Before I married him I knew that it was important for me to go see a doctor. (At this point some men [if they are reading] may break out into a cold sweat and close the window.) I was blissfully ignorant of sexual intimacy and yet looked forward to that new expression of love that Mike and I would soon share. The doctor, a kind Christian man, asked me if I was afraid.


Afraid of what?

Hundreds and thousands of women underwent this sort of examination on a yearly basis. Surely, there was nothing to be afraid of.

But women are afraid.

And many of them blissfully ignorant.

Sexual intimacy for a virgin often contains a fantastic world of unknowns. But this fantasy world has its ogres. There are tales of pain, blood, tears, embarrassment.

After an unsuccessful attempt to examine my body, my doctor was very frank with me.

Christine, do you love your fiance? Do you wish to express that love to him on your honeymoon?

Yes, of course I do!

Then listen to me. If you remain as you are you will be miserable on your honeymoon. You will not enjoy sexual intimacy and nor will your husband. As things are now, you will not even experience penetration. Even if you did, it would bring both you AND your husband pain. But it doesn't have to be that way.

He began to explain to me what I could do months in advance so that I could enjoy wonderful intimacy with my husband. Did he explain various sexual positions that Mike and I could try to keep the romance alive? No. But he did instruct me very honestly concerning various exercises I could do so that there would be little or no pain and much enjoyment for both Mike and me.

I took his admonition very seriously. I was not afraid of sex because I knew that it did not have to involve tears or a great amount of pain. I love Mike. And to selfishly hold back sex from him when it was in my power to make it a joyful experience was not an option. So everyday for two weeks I did as the doctor told me, and returned to his office to hear the glad news that I could now expect a blissful honeymoon (which we did).

My friend Sherrin recently posted about the joys of being ignorant concerning things sexual. A commmentor shared about her own experience at the doctor:
[My doctor] had offered to have an honest conversation with me about s*x and give me some info about methods that would make it easier for me. I was of the opinion that this stuff was wrong and refused it. . Then I had a horrific honeymoon and wish I had taken her advice. I did a lot of book reading an internet serfing to try to figure out what in the world my problem was only to find that this was very normal for virgins.

My husband and I are sad that we never really had a honeymoon. I am still very upset that that time was stolen from me.

Sherrin follows up this post with When Ignorance Is Not Bliss in which she discusses the importance of open communication between the soon-to-be-married couple and a couple they trust to counsel them on what lies ahead.

Some might think, "Oh, I'm willing to put up with a month or two of discomfort in order to avoid seeing a doctor. I intend to go into the honeymoon with both a virgin mind and body."

You can keep your thoughts from lust and yet still understand the biology and ability of your body. Holding onto your ignorance in the name of purity is depriving your husband (and yourself) of a great joy meant to be experienced in matrimony. Beware, your ignorance may inadvertently breed frustration and discontent in the man who loves you more than anyone else and desires to show you that love with his body.

Take for example the anonymous comment on Mike's post (one of the many) about his pet peeve.

UPDATE: Sherrin linked to this excellent article on Boundless titled Prep for the Wedding Night.



mark said...

hmm.. could all this be due to over-expectation built thru over-emphasis given to sex by both church and media? Or is that devaluing sex too far? what if love actually meant self-sacrifice as well as unity? why the demand for full-on sex the FIRST night anyways? you've got the rest of your lives for goodness sake. it sounds more like a mutual decision of whether or not you both have and wish to fulfill the cultural push for mind-blowing sex instead of letting it be what it is- a part of life, not life itself. a random thought from a few days ago: "if sex is THAT good (like media portrays it) then there wouldn't be so much divorce!"

Jonny said...

A over-emphasis given by the male brain I think, never mind church or media. lol

Marriage is about love and all that but the secret truth is that divorce often comes after infidelity, or a period of no sex. Which is why the bible says, "he who is in the doghouse should be let back inside after only a short time." I forgot what verse, it's in there.

Bron said...

Thanks for the post :) This is kind of a related issue rather than a direct response...

I'm not advocating ignorance, by any means, but I reckon that the issue has more to do with expectations than ignorance. It's good for women to be aware that it is possible to prepare (somewhat!) But I would also caution against wives feeling like they have to be perfect, or perfectly prepared.

Women are a bit crazy when it comes to expectations. We impose them on ourselves, think other people are imposing expectations on us and when they aren't we invent them! We try to be perfect, and then we realise we can't be and then we fall in a heap.

I think that the desire to be a good wife is a very noble one. But being a good wife doesn't equal being perfect. And trying to be perfect in every way just means you'll end up a crazy mess. The good spouse is one who loves God, loves their partner and tries (with the strength God provides) to be better - not perfect.

How does this relate to what you said about sex? Well firstly, it's good to have realistic expectations about what it's going to be like.

Sure, if you're inexperienced things aren't going to be perfect. They may be difficult, embarrasing, painful etc. But part of the enjoyment of learning how to do something is just that - learning! I think that if you approach like that you'll figure out how to make it enjoyable along the way.

Secondly, I reckon that we've got to be really careful about the expectations we place on ourselves (especially women!) or, by giving an impression to others, we inadvertently place expectations on others too.

Expectations backfire. The harder you try and stick to a diet, the more likely you'll end up comfort eating! The more you want to make sex the perfect gift for your husband, the more likely you are to end up in a crying mess.

I guess I agree with what Mark said too. Sure, be prepared (especially if you're worried it will hurt) but don't feel like you have to make it perfect before you've even learnt how to do it! Learning something together is, in itself, an enjoyable experience. If you place expectations on yourself that it's your responsibility to make sure it's perfect then you take away from the joy of that shared experience.

Anyway, just my 2 cents! Thanks for the post Christine - it's good to make people aware of.

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

I appreciate this post.

I was definitely not prepared for how painful it was. I had been told to do "exercises", but I was lazy and didn't. I didn't realize how much they would help! I think that part of the problem is that Hollywood portrays women as being able to have wonderful passion... the very first time. Which is NOT true.

I echo Mark, why the pressure of "the wedding night"? I felt so overwhelmed - with the wedding, seeing all my friends and family then presenting my body to my husband, and being on my period all at the same time. I thought we were the only ones in the world who weren't able to consummate our marriage until a few days later, but a few of my friends told me that it happened to them too. I wish I had been more focused on taking it slowly, enjoying each other, instead of being so concerned with needing to preform an act.

I think if I had advice to offer a soon-to-be-wed bride, I'd say "It's okay if you don't do it your first night. More important is to get used to your husband and vice versa. You have your whole lives to work on the other stuff!"

gina said...

We thought (as an afterthought)that it might have been nice to have saved the big honeymoon trip for about six months after the wedding, so as to make it less awkward and more enjoyable. Not that it wasn't fun, but it might have been more so if we were used to each other and in more "familiar" territory.

Angus said...

I really appreciate your honesty Christine. Your posts are always well thought out and interesting (whether I'm interested in the topic or not! In this case - umm yes, I think all guys are interested! ;).

It's funny about the expectations we place on ourselves. I don't think anyone doing anything for the first time is ever going to be good at it straight away. But society (and ourselves) put expectations on us to be completely confident and knowledgeable straight up.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but women who have sexual experience prior to marriage wont have these problems.

Instead, their problems will be emotional. What advice do you have for these women?

Anonymous said...

I disagree anonymous - I, unfortunately was experienced before marriage and I have struggled with similar problems- only within this year have I realised what it was and sought help.

( partly due to miseducation and being misused in my other experiences)

In terms of emotionally, I am much more healed than I am physcially. I think how these things are healed depends on the woman's relationship with their husbands ( some husbands find it too hard to know their wive's previous experiences).

Personally I have been blessed with a husband who has prayed with me and made a concerted and loving effort to help me to heal by being patient, gentle and understanding. I also recommend the book "Intimacy Issues" ( published 2005/2006) by Linda Dillow for a more detailed treatment of this issue.

The Borg said...

Kind of like what Bron said, figuring things out together, and laughing together through the embarrassments, and supporting each other through any pain, is what relationships are about. Intimacy is going to be messy, intimacy is never going to be perfect, but that's part of what makes intimacy interesting and exciting.

And above all, it's the other person who is the focus. You don't care about messiness and pain and embarrassment and imperfection when you're totally rapt in the other person.

ckjolly said...

Right on, Shy. The more I think about my husband the less I think about insignificant things like body-image, etc. and the more relaxed I am and the more I actually enjoy myself.

These are not the technical exercises my Dr. gave me but some fabulous advice:

A couple of really important things:

1. laugh - not AT your husband, but WITH. it is SO important to have a good sense of humor and not to take the new experience too seriously. Even if you find yourself unable to perform the act YOU LOVE EACH OTHER and that love is more than sex. Enjoy each other in other ways. But laugh!

2. relax and be patient - embarrassment or shame should have no place in a marriage relationship. you ought to feel free and comfortable to allow your husband to take his time to explore your body and you his. your husband loves you unconditionally, let him. this part of you is so new and wonderful to him. at first you may find it awkward, but so is playing the piano for the first time. relax

3. be there - do NOT let your mind get distracted. be there in the moment and focus your mind on your husband and the sensations.

Dr. William Cutrer, OBGYN and pastor, wrote the book
Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

Highly recommended! Read the reviews.

ckjolly said...

Dr. Cutrer was my OBGYN.

The Borg said...

That is good advice, but it sounds kind of like the advice suitable for a couple in an arranged marriage. I mean no disrespect.

It's just that if you're in a relationship and in love, then you should already have a level of intimacy and communication where sexual intimacy is natural and any of it's messiness is irrelevant to enjoying each other. It's almost as if "honeymoon books" aren't really necessary if you're entering a marriage on good foundations.

What books are necessary, on the other hand, are those that teach you how to communicate and love one another. Hey, I think I know a book that fits the bill...

ckjolly said...

i wish that was the case, Shy. but i know of WAY too many couples whose marriages were NOT arranged who find intimacy difficult.

Many Christian wives still feel dirty when being intimate because they've been told for so long that sex is BAD.

Even if they don't feel dirty, many still think that sex is not something that they are meant to enjoy (whether they are able to perform the act or not).

but yes, emotional intimacy and communication and TRUST are vital.

CraigS said...

Christine, I appreciate your honesty so much on this issue. This is just so *real*.

I think a big part of the problem is the concept of the "honeymoon". The expectation is that it will be 3 or 4 weeks of sexual and intimate bliss. It's just not realistic. I've heard of *so many* couples who have had miserable honeymoons, that I'm beginning to think it is the norm.

I liked the suggestion given before that you should save the "honeymoon" for about 6 months after the wedding.

It's just that if you're in a relationship and in love, then you should already have a level of intimacy and communication where sexual intimacy is natural and any of it's messiness is irrelevant to enjoying each other.

I'm sorry Shiloh, but that is a bit naive. It's not just messiness we are talking about, it's actual pain.

But different women have different physiologies too - some will not have the same trouble as others.

I rather suspect in traditional communities, these sort of things would have been communicated by the older women to the younger ones before marriage. Our society is not functioning properly in that respect.

zan said...

Hey, I'm the one who wrote the comment featured in this post. I guess I'll say something.

The pain WAS really bad. I had no idea how bad it could be.

I wish I had seen my dr and talked with her. I had no idea there were excercises to do.

I will say that my husband was wonderful during this whole time. My husband was previously married and is 8 years older than me. He was well aware that virgins have difficulties. I realized that he really did love me after that year. Not only did it take three weeks to consumate the marriage, but I became pregnant after the first time. The pregnancy led to intense morning sickness which strained our bedroom relationship even further. Because of my husband's maturity, he was very patient and he never made me feel inadequate.

We're fine, now. For some reason, it gets better after children.

Those days are long past, but I will never forget how horrible it was. When you think you are broken, you can't just laugh everything off. It is devastating! I truly believed that my husband and I would never enjoy s*x because something was wrong with me.

Catherine said...

Thank God for you, for your honesty and openness, and for Dr. Cutrer. I intend to pass this to a friend who's getting married in less than two weeks. I'm a single girl, but I have several married friends who have come to me in tears, asking "what's wrong with me???" during their first month of marriage because they didn't have newlyweds like you (willing to share gracefully and appropriately without shame) or doctors like Dr. Cutrer (willing to go the extra mile to make sure their patients get the information they need) in their lives to let them know these things in advance.

I think you've blessed a lot of women with your candor here.

CraigS said...

I spoke to some friends at church about this today, and they were a bit concerned that you were saying to women "If you don't see a doctor about this, you are selfish".

I don't think that's what you are saying, though? I think couples need to be aware of all this stuff, and then decide what's appropriate for them.

It should be pointed out that, for some women, it doesn't appear to be an enormous problem. For others it is very difficult.

mark said...

One more follow up, this to "craigs" and all the others who may find offense in the summary statement of "If you don't see a doc about this then you're selfish."
1) This is a sensitive issue, with strong opinions on all sides
2) To hear the label "selfish" will stir up anyone's temper: "Them's fightin' words!" No one willingly accepts the label unless they live out Christ.
3) There's always more than the summary can contain.

I do find it interesting how there are a few sides to this issue:
1) "Must maintain the expectation of FABULOUS sex the first night!" (and so "de-virginize" your mind (such a poor misunderstanding on so many levels!))
2) "Relax and take your time and enjoy it."(no need for "exercises" or "de-virginizing")
3) and then the death-filled combination: "Go at it blind but BE PERFECT the FIRST time!" As noted: expectations kill.

So I'm not so concerned which (#1 or #2) you land on, just so long as we aren't walking around shooting ourselves or others in the foot. We're all about life, love & truth right?

Anonymous said...

Womens bodies are designed so that a special fluid is released when she is "turned on" by her lover, thus making intercourse enjoyable. If she's not enjoying sex its probably because her husband doesn't turn her on. So you've got to wonder why she married him?

ckjolly said...

many women have found, however (anonymous), that a side-effect of the "pill" is that their bodies are not as able to produce this fluid. For them, it may not be a matter of being "turned on".

However, there is something to be said that many women need for time to be warmed up than men. Does she lack attraction for her husband? Nope. Just needs more time to relax and feel his love before she's ready.

Anonymous said...

So that's how the pill works as a contraceptive then? ;)

mike said...

What's you point? We only ever marry someone who turns us on or we are "Sexually compatible" with?

Anonymous said...

No, I'm not talking about "test-running" someone, but I think we ought to marry people who turn us on. Why would you do otherwise?

CraigS said...

Ah, the perennial debate - how important should sexual attraction be for a Christian when considering a spouse?

Anonymous said...

I was really sexually attracted to my spouse. I just assumed sex would be fine. But when we got married there was still a vast difference in our libidos. It has probably been the most difficult issue in our marriage. Even though I really enjoy it, I just don't feel like it as often. That is of course, very hard for both of us to deal with (in different ways). It's not something you can just say 'get over it' or 'just do it' because it doesn't work like that. But also, you have to compromise because you'll ruin your marriage if he's feeling rejected all the time. It's an extremely hard issue to deal with. I'm sure there are others out there who have struggled with this. I recommend praying about it, and also taking advantage of the moment when you do feel like it. Whatever else it is you were doing can wait!

-- anonymous #2

CraigS said...

Where there is a big discrepancy in your libidos, it is pretty disastrous for a marriage. I've known men whose wives are rarely "in the mood" and they are uniformly miserable about that aspect of their lives.

It is easier for a guy to be single than to be married to someone with a really low libido. These are some of the most depressing conversations I've had with guys. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

For situations where the husband and wife have different levels of desire, I recommend the book "The Sex Starved Marriage" by Michele Weiner-Davis. And I recommend if you are in this situation, you take it seriously, for as Craig has pointed out, it can be disastrous.

another anonymous said...

Interestingly I'm a guy and my wife has a higher sexual libido than I do. So I guess we have the opposite problem to what is outlined above.

It's not about being "sexually compatible" it's about lovingly being prepared to serve your wife (or husband) put their needs ahead of your own.

mike said...

Anonymous said "I think we ought to marry people who turn us on. Why would you do otherwise?"

Does the Bible ever say this?

Anonymous said...

'Does the Bible ever say this?' is such a cop out statement, does the Bible every say 'trinity'? A whole lot of doctrine and wisedom isnt totally explicitly explained.

Relationships need attraction relationship and most of all love. i hear it covers a multitide of sins...

ckjolly said...

Love covering sin rarely deals with attraction.

mike said...

A cop out you are kidding right? General statements like "Relationships need attraction relationship and most of all love" are a cop out.

Do you have to be attracted (sexually or otherwise) to the person you marry? Isn't marriage more than that?

The Borg said...

Okay, this totally goes against the "ignorance is bliss" thing, but here's an idea I got from Before Sunrise (or maybe it was Before Sunset?). Anyway, couples should do a little survey before marriage to check that their libidos were compatible. I'm kind of joking, but also kind of serious. It should at least be something people should discuss as part of marriage councelling? I don't know, I'm no expert. All I know is that if my (future) husband had a low libido, I think I'd be pretty disappointed. ;)

Anonymous said...

yeees but... i think that its more complicated than that. There are a lot of factors involved and things you simply cant predict. Psychological stuff like wanting what you cant have (beofre your married) also plays a part. And the stuff about difficulties with sex that was mentioned earlier. Also, feeling physical attraction for someone doesn't always translate into want to actually have sex. So, although I think its something you should cover in pre-marital counselling, its also can be complicated.

-- anonymous #2

CraigS said...

So anon#2, before you got married, did you think you'd be more "into sex" than you have been?

Also, I don't know if you are a Christian or not. But if you are, what do you do with 1 Corinthians 7 -

4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

I don't want to lay guilt on you, but it seems that biblically "being in the mood" is simply irrelevant. Both partners are obligated to satisfy the other's needs.

CraigS said...

Oh, and I fully acknowledge it's not always women who are low-libido in these situations.

Anonymous said...

One of the key things I took from the book I mentioned above (“The Sex Starved Marriage”) was the fact that usually, when one partner has a lower libido, whether it’s the man or the woman, it is their needs that dictate how often the couple has sex. So there’s always one person in the relationship who is not being sexually fulfilled. The lower libido person is basically saying “I am not prepared to give you what you need to be satisfied, but I expect you to remain faithful and not seek satisfaction elsewhere”. Which is pretty unfair. As the person in my marriage with the (much) lower desire levels, reading this was a big wake up call. Of course it will depend on the individual people how they are affected, and for some couples it might not be that big a deal, but when it is a problem for one half of a couple, it can strike at the heart of their sense of being loved and valued, which in turn has repercussions for other areas of the marriage.

CraigS said...

The lower libido person is basically saying “I am not prepared to give you what you need to be satisfied, but I expect you to remain faithful and not seek satisfaction elsewhere”. Which is pretty unfair.

That is exactly right. You've said just what I wanted to say.

David Castor said...

The lower libido person is basically saying “I am not prepared to give you what you need to be satisfied, but I expect you to remain faithful and not seek satisfaction elsewhere”. Which is pretty unfair.

Of course, it works both ways. The person with the higher libido should take the interests of the other person into account. If the person with the lower libido is always expected to satisfy the ravenous desires of the other person, this is no less skewed. To expect sex on tap regardless of the desire of the other individual is selfish in the extreme.

Lara said...

I agree with David. I'd be very concerned if one person (the one with lower libido) always had to sacrifice for the other. Of course sacrifice and putting the other person's needs first is essential in marriage, but as David said, it works both ways.

Christine, I want to echo what a number of people have said and thank you for this amazingly open and courageous post. I'm not engaged (yet) but sexual intimacy is one of the things that scares me about marriage (though I'm looking forward to it at the same time!) I didn't know that there were exercises that could be done to make things easier and more enjoyable. you have definitely encouraged me to seek advice from my doctor before getting married. Thank you!

CraigS said...

To expect sex on tap regardless of the desire of the other individual is selfish in the extreme.

Would you also characterise denying sex to your (ravenous) partner as "selfish in the extreme"?

David Castor said...

I take it you don't view the behaviour I described as being selfish?

As for your question, it could be in certain circumstances, but this wouldn't necessarily be the case. Depends on the motivation, I guess. Besides, we are talking about fundamentally different principles. In the first case, someone is making (or guilting) someone to do something they may not necessarily wish to do. In the second case, we are talking about someone choosing not to do something to gratify the other person.

CraigS said...

I take it you don't view the behaviour I described as being selfish?

If there is no thought for the other party, it could be selfish. But in that case it can be equally selfish even if both parties are "in the mood", or not.

Ok, let's consider another common situation. Husband always comes home from work tired, he gets a beer out of the fridge and just wants to watch TV. His wife really wants to talk, but he's "not in the mood".

Is it "selfish" of her to desire his time and attention every evening. I would say "No, she has a right to his time and attention. His 'mood' is irrelevant".

It seems to me, David, that in order to be consistent you must say "Yes, the wife is being selfish. She has no right to ask him to do something he doesn't want to."

ckjolly said...

i don't think it's either/or.

i think that in your second example the wife can still be thoughtful and give her husband some time to himself to relax and then the husband can be rested and really listen to her.

as for intimacy: if the husband is constantly dead tired and unable to "satisfy" his wife sexually:
1. the wife needs to be understanding and not demand sex from him and realize his situation and not feel rejected
2. the husband needs to take certain steps to put off whatever is causing him to be exhausted (which may involve him taking time out to sit on the couch after the work).

it goes both ways

David Castor said...

Well, for a start, if a man always comes home from work tired and isn't capable of talking when he comes home, perhaps he should rethink he responsibilities. Perhaps in this case the husband might be better suited staying at home while the wife acts as the primary breadwinner.

To answer your question, the wife should take the feelings and needs of the husband into account. Perhaps sometimes he does need to relax. And sometimes talking will be more important than relaxing. Both parties need to be receptive to each others needs.

To bring my post back to the point of sex, of course there's nothing wrong with wanting sex with one's wife. But to believe that one should be able to have sex whenever one wants regardless of the feelings of the other person is (as I said before) selfish in the extreme.

CraigS said...

Ha - you ducked my question.

David Castor said...

No I didn't - I suggested that both parties need to be receptive to each other's needs. If a wife demands conversation irrespective of the needs of the husband, then she is being selfish. That said, I like Christine's solution. It's not necessarily a case of either/or - both parties can be accommodated.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts:
1. while both partners being loving and giving to the other is a great help, if one is really not in the mood but has sex anyway, it's not always going to be all that fulfilling for either of them, emotionally or physically.
2. having said that, for some people, they get in the mood once they've started so sometimes it's good to try anyway!
3. Even if both partners are trying their best to be accommodating, chances are that they will be having sex in line with the lower libido partner's desires rather than the higher libido (in terms of how often). And the risk there is that the higher libido partner feels unloved and dissatisfied. It's important to acknowledge this hurt and deal with it in some way to keep the relationship healthy.
4. It's easy to talk about what should be done in an ideal situation, without taking into account the strength of emotion involved in real life situations. Someone might really, really want to please their husband and fulfil his needs, but get so stressed about it all that they are unable to relax, and they end up feeling like a failure. Equally the husband or wife might really, really want to love their partner by not pestering them for sex, but at the same time struggle greatly with denying their own needs. the emotions involved in both cases are raw and deep.

CraigS said...

It's important to acknowledge this hurt and deal with it in some way to keep the relationship healthy.

How can that be "dealt with"?

David Castor said...

3. Even if both partners are trying their best to be accommodating, chances are that they will be having sex in line with the lower libido partner's desires rather than the higher libido (in terms of how often). And the risk there is that the higher libido partner feels unloved and dissatisfied. It's important to acknowledge this hurt and deal with it in some way to keep the relationship healthy.

I think this is an interesting consideration. Perhaps the person with the lower libido can actively take steps to affirm their love for the other person in ways other than sex? That way, when they don't feel like sex, the other person might be reassured that this is not because they are less loved, but simply because of biological factors.

Anonymous said...

That's the million dollar question! I guess trying to find other ways for the person to know that they are loved and attractive to their spouse. I think it calls for honest conversations and real attempts by the other person to go some way towards meeting their partner's needs.

The danger is if the lower libido person downplays or ignores their partner's needs, or thinks their partner's desires are only physical and no big deal emotionally.

CraigS said...

Although saying "I really love you, I find you attractive" hugging them etc is probably going to make them more aroused rather than less.

Anon, do you think the lower libido partner is entitled to be upset/offended if their partner becomes an habitual masturbator?

Anonymous said...

I don't know Craig, it would depend on the people. It could be the most loving way to handle an imbalance of desire in a relationship, or it could be the death knell of the relationship as the people stop communicating and just focus on their own needs.

I think every effort should be made to have some form of sex life as a couple that both can live with and find satisfying to some degree - sex is the glue in a relationship and binds people together - to ignore its power and significance is dangerous and foolish.

ckjolly said...

CraigS and David Castor - shame on you. you've hijacked my blog and are being a bit uncivil about it.

habitual masturbators and partners who feel used have other issues that they need to settle and the prescription is not more sex.

Many times issues at stake are body-image concerns, fear of vulnerability, fear of pain, feeling used rather than cherished (in and out and good night!), etc. These need to be taken care of. Often there needs to be communication and repentance.

it's like a fight about what sort of dishwashing detergent to use, probably won't be just about the detergent.

Anonymous said...


CraigS said...

CraigS and David Castor - shame on you. you've hijacked my blog and are being a bit uncivil about it.

Christine, that comment is pretty uncivil. Bye.

Lara said...

Christine, I think that you are perfectly entitled to object to the hijacking of your blog. This comment thread did seem to turn into a useless discussion. What's the point in arguing about which partner should be doing the most sacrificing? Both people should be putting the needs of the other person first. End of story.

(Ok, I do realise that it's more complicated in practise, but still...)

Anonymous said...

It's just an area that can get really messy in a relationship and saying what things should be like doesn't always flow easily into practice.

ckjolly said...

No, it doesn't. It's definitely something that needs to be worked at.

Sherrin said...

Hello Christine,

I've finally got to come over to your blog. Thanks for your kind manner in disagreeing with me :).

I agree with everything Shiloh has said in this comments section :). I also love Bron's comment.

I am quite disturbed however, Christine, that you would call women who choose not to go to the doctor selfish. I chose not to go, despite your well-meant advice, and Dave and I have no regrets. I am sure there would be other women who would make similar decisions and be equally happy. I hope to talk to you about this in person, but I think that your comments on this may be one example of what I mentioned to you last night: women having a tendancy to think that what they did is what everyone should do.

Surely the issue of virginity comes into this too? The Bible is very clear on the high value of virginity, including physical virginity. This is the case to the point where blood on the bedclothes was considered a positive sign of virginity. Why should someone be told that they are selfish, and should be ashamed, for wanting to retain their full virginity?

There are many other things a woman can do to assist her on her honeymoon, apart from going to the doctor. One of those is to realise that it may take time for her to become aroused, and another is to ensure that she has sufficient lubrication.

ckjolly said...

You're right, Sherrin.

I've come to realize through correspondence over the past week that "selfish" is the wrong word.

Every woman is unique and in a unique relationship.

My advice would do very little to help a woman who is a virgin, finds it very easy to communicate with her fiance, and looks forward to the journey (whatever that may be ... whether laughing the first night because they JUST can't figure it out or enjoying each other passionately).

On the other hand, many women are afraid of the unknown. Should the woman afraid of the penetration of needles much less the thought of her husband penetrating her remain in her fear? No, this would be an example of a woman who ought to speak with a woman she trusts and respects and visit a doctor to be assured that her body will survive a wedding night.

Is she selfish if she does not go to a doctor ... no, just fearfully ignorant. Not the bliss you described.

2 women, 2 expectations, neither selfish.

Those who are afraid do not need to remain in fear. They can speak frankly with their fiance about their fear and seek reassurance and understanding from him. They can speak to a trusted woman that can disciple them in placing their trust in God and his purpose for marriage and advise them on what to expect. And they can seek out medical advice about their own anatomy whether from a book or a physician.

Like I said above, in many situations just having sex is not the answer. But there are many underlying fears and expectations that need to be communicated (like Shiloh recommended above, as well) before being married.

Love and communication.


I would still recommend women visit a physician beforehand but from now on my advice would definitely lack the edge of pressure with the risk of labeling a friend "selfish" ... God forbid I harbour a mentality that communicates "If you don't do what I do, then you're wrong."

Greenly said...

Maybe I'm totally ignorant here, but I don't fully understand the stigma attached to examinations. In Aus (may be different in other countries), doctors will automatically put you through a pap-smear/breast-check before you can be prescribed the pill. I thought this was quite standard.

It can be scary if you're a virgin, but another good reason to get a check-up before starting a sexual relationship with your husband is to help pick up fertility issues and other things which are good to know before going into marriage. Maybe it doesn't make it easier, but there's more incentive, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Apparently exercise gets the mojo going. Happy healthy people are horny!

Sherrin said...

Thanks for acknowledging that women who do not go to the doctor are not necessarily selfish. I think we've both been learning a lot through posting on this topic! God must have a purpose in it all, to teach us both more about how to love our sisters in Christ.

ckjolly said...

greenly: not everyone decides to go on the pill

kath said...

i haven't been around for a few days and to find 65 comments! when once there were 4! wowsers.

can i just say that there are a few amazing married couples (both christian and nonchristian) and the common thread i find is that they're both constantly seeking to sacrifice to each other as much as they can.

it's almost a friendly battle! to be the most giving, selfless, and loving. and whilst i'm sure those couples still struggle with their different physiologies, they answer by 'how much can i sacrifice to my spouse', not 'how much should my spouse sacrifice to me'.

greenly: i've been on the pill for 4 years (not for contraception), and i've never had any examinations. i live in aus.

Alan said...

Christine, have you removed the offending occurrance of the word selfish from your original post?

The only (remaining?) instance that I see seems more of a personal conviction rather than to label all women who do not seek to understand such things as selfish.
The way it seems to read is that you felt that had you not gone through this process it would have caused you to be somewhat selfish in the way you interacted sexually.
Hopefully I am reading it correctly.
Similar to a comment in one of your higher post, was use of the word offensive? possibly.. was it offensive because it was insensitive or strong language? more likely but.. was it false use of the word? no.
Indeed it could be a selfish act if not tackled correctly.
Certainly such topics are incredibly personal and can be personal to the reader, but could people also respect the context in which you say such things, and also the conviction with which you say it?
Just a reflection..