When Sex Isn’t What You Thought it Would Be



Let today be the day you open up and get honest with your spouse about how you feel.

Something that is not addressed enough when it comes to sexual issues in a marriage is when one or both spouses are dealing with guilt. This can result from many different decisions and incidents in a person’s life, and guilt can be a pervasive force within a marriage, both with a couple who waited to have sex until marriage and with those who came to the marriage with an active sexual past. To help illustrate how this affects a marriage, I will share one couple’s story with you.

Let me tell you about Griff and Cheri. These two lovebirds met in Chemistry class during their junior year of high school. They were each other’s first date and first kiss, and it didn’t take long for both of them to know that they wanted to marry each other someday. Everything was so new and exciting when they met, and as Christians who were very committed to their faith and the values of their youth group, they both decided to do whatever they could to save themselves for marriage.

Cheri had grown up in a mostly happy home with two extremely religious parents who loved the “rules” of the faith almost as much as they loved the Lord—at least, that’s how it seemed from Cheri’s perspective. As a pleaser by nature, she wanted to make her parents proud and meet all their expectations in behavior, school, relationships, etc. She saw how upset they were when her sister confessed that she had slept with her longtime boyfriend. Cheri witnessed the turmoil and fighting it caused to the point where her sister decided to move out at seventeen. To keep this situation from happening again, Cheri’s parents doubled down on their teaching that sex is forbidden before marriage and that people who choose to sleep with someone outside the covenant of marriage are doomed to have a terrible marriage and sex life in the future. Cheri promised herself that she would never let that happen.

Griff grew up in a home with parents who came to the Christian faith a little later in their lives. They weren’t aware of some of the “purity culture” rules that Cheri had grown up with in her youth group and family. When it came time to talk to Griff about sex, his parents sat him down and explained that sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed within the marriage covenant. They also told Griff that they had not understood this in their early dating years and had made some mistakes that they regretted. However, Griff’s parents reiterated that God is more significant than any sin, and he is always ready to forgive a repentant heart. They allowed Griff to ask questions and answered each of them freely. Griff’s parents wanted to ensure that Griff had a firm understanding of the consequences of sex outside of marriage and that sex is a tremendous gift to be prioritized and enjoyed within marriage. They continued to have honest and open, age-appropriate conversations about sex with Griff, and he watched his parents keep the spark alive in their marriage with flirtatious affection, laughter, and pursuit.  So, when Griff fell in love with Cheri, and the two of them got engaged, his mind immediately went to the wedding night. The two of them ensured they didn’t get carried away during their make-out sessions because they believed that as long as they saved themselves, their wedding night, marriage, and sex life would be everything they had ever wanted.

The minute their wedding reception was over, the two hopped into their limo and told the driver to get them to their hotel as fast as possible. They could both feel the anticipation building. Griff picked Cheri up, walked across the hotel room threshold, and took her straight to bed. Cheri excused herself to the bathroom to “freshen up,” When she closed the bathroom door, she began to panic. She put on her special wedding night lingerie and said a prayer. She wondered why she was so panicked. “Why can’t you just chill and enjoy this moment?” she asked herself. She felt guilty about what she was about to do—even though she was married. Griff knocked on the door and asked if she was okay. He was ready, and he thought Cheri was on the same page. He had no idea how anxious and guilty she felt.

When Cheri came out of the bathroom in her wedding lingerie, and the two of them began to make love for the first time, Cheri’s body began to shut down. Griff was so engrossed at the moment that he didn’t notice this right away. Finally, he opened his eyes, looked at Cheri, and realized something wasn’t right. Cheri looked sad, confused, and full of feelings of guilt. He knew she would probably have a little pain the first time, but this was more than physical pain. When Griff asked her about it, Cheri told him that she was tired from all the wedding festivities. In the days and months that followed, Cheri withdrew from Griff, and the two started having sex less and less. At first, Griff would try to talk to Cheri about it, but she felt embarrassed and ashamed of her waning desire and lack of physical response to Griff. Eventually, the two started fighting out of frustration, and finally, they decided to seek help from a biblical counselor. Throughout a few sessions, Cheri began to open up. She realized that she had shut down emotionally and physically because she couldn’t just flip a switch from saying “no” to sex to saying “yes” to sex and expect herself to become a sexual goddess of sorts suddenly. She needed to ease into it and give herself and Griff time to get to know each other’s bodies, likes, and dislikes. When the counselor explained this, Cheri felt a weight lift off her shoulders. Griff felt relieved, too. He thought he had completely turned Cheri off and that she didn’t love or want him anymore, but that was far from the truth. He knew he needed to be patient with her and lovingly navigate this together. Over time, the couple grew closer and more honest with one another, and sex became something they both looked forward to. It took time, effort, and commitment, but it was worth it.

Can you relate to Griff and Cheri’s story? Is sex not everything you had hoped it would be in your marriage? Let today be the day you open up and get honest with your spouse about how you feel. Be sure to use “I” statements to describe how you feel, instead of “you” statements and pointing the finger at your spouse and all you think they are doing wrong. Then, be willing to listen to what your spouse has to say. If you feel like you are struggling to communicate with one another in a healthy way, reach out to one of our XO marriage mediators for help at xomarriage.com/help. Also, grab your copy of our newest resource, The Counterfeit Climax, by going to thecounterfeitclimax.com. We have real stories like this one and practical tips on how to navigate and overcome various intimate hurdles throughout the book. We believe it has the power to revolutionize your marriage. God bless you!

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