When Jim and I married we weren’t exactly clueless about sex. We had already crossed many lines. Even though we understood the physical aspects of sex, we knew little about God’s design. We had no idea how to talk about sex, or how lies would impact our marriage bed. I wish someone had sat us down and not only shared the truth, but modeled comfortable conversations. What if we didn’t wait until couples had years of bad habits and hurts? What advice would you give to engaged couples?
Twice a year Jim and I teach the engaged class at church and we often wrestle with what to teach about sex. How much do I tell them and what should they discover on their own? Where is the line between setting reasonable expectations and creating self-fulfilling prophecies? How personal do I get and how much do I get into their business?
I have found most engaged couples are thrilled to even have the topic of sex addressed. Few pastors talk about sex during pre-marital counseling. Most of them just gloss over it or recommend a book to read. This summer, Jim and I are excited to record a pre-marital video class couples that pastors can use or that couples can view on their own. I am excited to offer engaged couples a tool to get off on the right foot.
As we prepare for recording, I want to share what we teach in class and ask, “What else do you wish you knew about sex before you got married?”
Open Up Conversation and Create Self Awareness
After introductions, I dive right in by opening conversation with a few questions….
- What did you hear about sex from your family?
- What messages about sex do you remember from the church?
- How does media portray sex in marriage?
- How about sex outside of marriage?
- What does the world tell you about men and sex?
- What does the world tell you about women and sex?
Couples need to get comfortable talking about sex, and learn to create a safe place for their spouse to share. But even more than that, they need to start realizing that we don’t start with a clean slate when we marry. We come with all kinds of expectations for sex. We also have preconceived ideas about how our spouse will act and their motivations. Unless we grew up in a family that openly shared how awesome sex was in marriage, the twisted messages from the world far outweigh the positive ideas about sex. Before we can hear God’s truth we need an awareness that we view sex through a distorted lens. We need to start with a clean slate so we can hear God’s truth.
God’s designed sex to create life, but also to make us into one. God intended that we spend a life time getting to know each other through sex. He wants us to experience pleasure, and comfort through sex. When we are completely captivated with each other, sex creates a defense from other temptations. But more than anything else, sex helps us understand the depth of intimacy God wants with us. When we aren’t sure what is true about sex, then we can compare it to our relationship with Christ.
Couples need to understand how God’s design tends to play out between husband and wife. What comes easily to one and requires trust and growth from the other. They also need to understand the drastic contrast between God’s design and what the world says about sex, especially for wives.
Within the confines of one man and one woman, God gives us much freedom. We have to remember that ultimately God designed sex as a way to love each other. As we make choices about what we enjoy, we must constantly ask ourselves, “Are we both comfortable with this?”, and if not, “why?” Baggage impacts us and working through baggage will help us to know each other in a deeper way. We also ask the question, “Does our choice create intimacy between the two of us?”
I want to equip couples to talk through differences, and to discern what God wants for their sex life. I don’t have the answer, God does.
We also spend time talking to couples about pornography and make it very clear that getting married will not fix their struggle with lust. The best thing they can do is commit to start getting clean before marriage – by disclosure, accountability partners, smart choices about technology and going after deeper issues. Having an understanding of what porn is and opening up the conversation will help couples battle together.
Then we help them understand each other.
Men, you need to know that she ….
- Is aroused by non-sexual touch throughout the day, and by words
- Must be relaxed, feel loved, and safe
- Needs on average 20 minutes of stimulation to orgasm
- Most likely will need clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Use lubrication and clean hands
- Needs you to slow down your movements. Feel – don’t Rub.
- Feels very vulnerable sharing her body. Affirm her beauty. Guard your eyes
Women, you need to know that he ….
- Is aroused by sight.
- Can be ready at the drop of a hat – or not. Some men are impacted by stress, anxiety or whether they feel emotionally connected.
- Needs an average of 2 minutes of stimulation to orgasm.
- May have a hard time lasting as long as he wants, and feel like a failure if he doesn’t. Take the pressure off by communicating, and providing other pathways.
- He wants you to enjoy sex as much as does. Take the time to figure things out for yourself. Show him what you like. Share initiation.
- Erections are not always under his control. They just happen because he thinks you’re beautiful.
I also touch on vibrators and advise taking at least a year to get to know each other before they consider incorporating one.
The Wedding Night
We encourage couples to talk through their wedding night in advance. How late will it be? What will you wear? How much do you want to see? What would be a good way to relax and transition from the wedding events? What kind of lubrication will you use?
We challenge couples that have not waited to abstain for a period before their wedding. Maybe from now until their wedding night, to say to God, “I am going to trust you in this”. To say to their spouse, “You can trust me to be faithful.” And to say to themselves, “God made me sexual and that is a good thing. But my sexuality does not control me.” Abstaining will help them get off on the right foot and create anticipation for the big night.
So, if you were getting married in a couple of months, what do you wish someone had taught you before your wedding night? What do wish you had discussed with your fiancé beforehand? What resources would have been helpful?