I have this nightmare scenario that sometimes goes through my head. Lori and I are doing premarital counselling for a couple. We ask them both to write out their sexual expectations for their marriage. When they each start reading what the other has written it gets ugly. She cries, he turns red and seems on the verge of screaming. They call the wedding off. She becomes a nun and he becomes a gigolo.
Okay, enough of a look at my imagination, an admittedly odd and scary place. My point is men and women usually come into marriage with extremely different “sexpectations”. This is true even if both have been sexual and even if they have sex together before the wedding.
Part of this is based on gender differences, but I think the bigger issue is the two cultural stories we hear about married sex. Men get the male story while women get the female story. While both versions have some contact with truth and reality, both stray from those things in major ways. Most couples run into these differences shortly after marriage; usually, they ignore them thinking it will get better if they just keep going.
If this wasn’t your experience you’re in the blessed minority. The exact mismatch varies from couple to couple, but most find they desire very different sex lives with little common ground and no easy compromises. The norm is for the lower drive and/or more limited spouse to set the agenda by what s/he allows.
Dr. David Schnarch says sex is always made up of leftovers – you both decide what you don’t want to do, then you do whatever’s left over. While this is certainly what most couples experience, I don’t think it has to be this way. In fact, in a Christian marriage, I think it shouldn’t be this way.
I realise some of you are married to men who want to do all manner of weird or wrong things. I realise some of you can’t get half as much sex as you want while others think their husband would do it a dozen times a day if he could. Regardless of how your sexpectations clash with his sexpectations, what can you do to move closer together? In particular, what can you put back on the table? I’m not suggesting you indulge sin or do things that cause pain or make you want to throw up. What I am suggesting is you might be able to improve things a bit. Maybe he will react by doing something to improve things in your marriage bed or some other area of your marriage. Who knows, it might become a habit for both of you!
~ Paul – I’m XY, and I don’t usually let my imagination off its very short leash!