Can you imagine how different your marriage would have been had someone laid it on the line and honestly told you what is normal to expect in the bedroom? What a disservice we do to engaged couples when we don’t honestly tell them about this central aspect of their marriage. Although we’ve certainly exploded the taboo around seeing sex portrayed in the media, very few sources speak explicitly and honestly about what average, everyday people are thinking about and doing in the bedroom.
What is Normal
Like love, romance, and marriage, sex is fraught with misconceptions and assumptions about what is normal. Thanks to Hollywood and mainstream media, most people develop an idea about what sex “should” be like (it would be helpful — possibly life-changing — to strike the word should from the English language — or any language, for that matter).
Here’s the common list of shoulds:
- I should always feel hot for my partner.
- I should always be attracted to my partner.
- I should always want to have sex with my partner.
- We should be having sex 2-3 times a week.
- I should never fantasize about anyone else.
- We should always know how to please each other.
- Sex doesn’t count unless we both have orgasms.
- Sex doesn’t count unless we have intercourse.
Here’s the reality:
- You won’t always be hot for your partner.
- Not only will you not always be attracted to your partner, you may, at times, feel turned off by your partner. Like love and hate, attraction and withdrawal exist on the same continuum. When you soften into withdrawal, you open the doorway to attraction.
- You and your partner decide what works for you in terms of frequency. If you’re both okay with once a month (or less), that’s fine. Like marriage, there’s no paradigm or model that you have to mold yourselves into. If it works for you, great. If not, you can work on changing it together. People have different levels of libido, and if you and your partner aren’t very sexual, that’s fine.
- It’s normal to fantasize about other people.
- It’s normal to fantasize about the same sex even if your preference is the opposite sex. This doesn’t mean that you’re gay or that there’s a problem with your sexuality.
- It’s okay to fantasize about the opposite sex even if your preference is the same sex. This doesn’t mean you’re with the wrong person.
- It’s normal for your mind to drift during sex.
- It’s normal not to enjoy it every time.
- It’s normal to be bored sometimes.
- It’s normal to want it to end sometimes.
Sex comes in many difference forms. You can make love without having intercourse. You can make love without having orgasms. We live in a culture that is outcome and achievement oriented which means we only value the end result: orgasm or intercourse. A healthy sex life includes all forms of connecting with your bodies, from kissing to intercourse and everything in between.
Many relationships have a high-desire and a low-desire partner. This can be challenging if your partner wants sex 4-5 times a week (or more) and you’re happy with 1-2 times a month. Challenging, yes; a deal breaker, no. Like any other difference in a relationship, you can work to find creative and respectful ways to handle differing needs. But it’s not a reason to walk away.
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