Even though sexual intimacy is a huge part of life, we each reap messages of what it is and should be from various sources. Hollywood, family, religion, and personal experiences have shaped our limited perspective of sex, and, unfortunately, we all too often hesitate to talk about the realities with others. There are too many false messages to tackle at once, but we'll start with two profound and contradictory messages (and yes, this one is for the ladies):
"Sex is your wifely duty. You won't care for it so just grin and bear it."
"A healthy woman's response to sex is/should be similar to that of a man."
The pressure is on, women! Geesh! Some well meaning mothers and grandmothers offer tips to the younger generation on how to "tame the one-eyed snake" and may warn a young bride of her wifely duties. Loaded with a traditional gender role mentality, the message is loud and clear: "Sex is for men. In order to keep him, you'll need to keep him satisfied."
Like most things, our beliefs and our attitudes directly shape our experiences. Women who grew up hearing these overt or subvert messages enter a sexual relationship already resenting her responsibility, thus removing the opportunity to find enjoyment. Women who have heard these messages yet still experience sexual drive often feel that something is wrong with them. Either way, this message directly and negatively impacts the sexual enjoyment of many women.
It's also NOT TRUE. I spoke at an intimacy conference a couple years ago. The audience was largely a conservative, religious group. It broke my heart when after my presentation, two women approached me to tell me they had no idea that sex is for them too! These women had been married for several years and viewed sex as solely their marital responsibility. Imagine the lack of passion that must have existed in those relationships!
Sex is absolutely for you too! The reality that women can orgasm is proof enough. In fact, women are given a sexual organ, the clitoris, that has one purpose - PLEASURE. Where as the male orgasm serves an additional purpose of reproduction, the female orgasm serves no reproductive purpose, yet we are designed to receive pleasure from sex. So yes, sex is for you too. It is not your wifely duty, it is your relational privilege, and your sex life will absolutely improve if you believe that.
But what about the other side of the coin, the very contradictory message that a healthy woman's sex drive should be equal to a man's? Also FALSE...the majority of the time. Studies show that 80% of women in heterosexual relationships have less drive/desire than their spouses. Healthy is a relative term and therefore cannot be applied to everyone.
A woman should not be pressured to feel like she must be someone she isn't. If she assumes that she must be highly sexual or sensual and it does not come naturally, she may feel broken and frustrated. (Hear me, I do believe we should stretch ourselves to deeper levels of sexual enjoyment, but not when the effort leaves you feeling, disingenuious, defeated and frustrated.) If you have a high sex drive and you feel like a highly sexual person, great! If your sex drive does not match that of your spouse, that's fine too! Ultimately the couple needs to determine what works for them, as a unit, always following the criteria of mutual edification. Free yourself from the pressure of stated or unstated expectations that simply are not your reality. We are all unique.
Next week, we'll take a look at some sexual myths that apply to men.
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