Intimacy in Marriage Pt. 1: Sex and Emotions


About six months before our wedding, a friend asked my fiancée and me what we were most looking forward to about marriage. I said I couldn’t wait to wake up next to him, never having to say goodbye at the end of the night. He answered quite plainly: sex.

It was true. In fact, we were both very much looking forward to sex. We were crazy about each other, and couldn’t wait to share that passion in the bedroom. I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding night. Sure, as I was warned by my married girlfriends, that first intercourse definitely had painful moments, but mainly I just remember how we took it all slow, exploring each other’s bodies and reveling in this new, unexplored territory of each other. I knew it was how wedding nights should be.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were still enjoying being newlyweds. Sex was frequent, though I still hadn’t figured out how to climax. My husband was patient and loving. We tried new positions, more foreplay, and I talked to those same girlfriends. I knew it could take time for me to figure out how to orgasm and that as a woman it may not even happen every time. I even had some friends who after a year into their marriages still hadn’t reached climax. But surely, I told myself, that wouldn’t be me.

Still, I was growing impatient. Was something wrong with me? Am I doing this all wrong? Is my husband doing something wrong? Those questions rolled around in my head and pretty soon those weeks dragged on into months. I stopped talking to my friends about it, too embarrassed to admit that not everything about marriage was blissful. I did find sex often fun and pleasurable, but it wasn’t everything I imagined it would be or knew it should be. Eventually, those months turned into our first anniversary, then our second. Added to our regular frustrations in the bedroom, we dealt with the challenges that pregnancy, babies, and breastfeeding bring to intimacy. It felt like we were fighting an uphill battle.

All through that time, my husband would very generously ask during love-making, “What can I do for you?” But most often I would reply, “I don’t know” – partly because I truly didn’t know and also because I figured whatever he did wouldn’t help anyway and it was a waste of time. I felt defeated. My husband felt defeated. We talked about it a lot, brainstorming possible solutions to our sex life. But honestly, part of me was just resigned to accept that this was one aspect of our otherwise great marriage that we would just have to sacrifice.

Truth be told, it wasn’t myself that I felt most sorry for. During a couple of our most frustrating moments of intimacy my husband and I lied in each other’s arms and just cried. Seeing the tears fall from his eyes and hearing the pain in his voice made my heart break for him. I wanted to be able to orgasm for him. I wanted to give that part of myself to him. He’d explain to me that his inability to help me reach climax made him feel inadequate, like a failure.

As a woman, I didn’t fully understand his thinking, since that was not how I looked at the situation at all. But as each anniversary rolled around, I realized more deeply that while our sexual intimacy affected both of us deeply, it still affected us in different ways and was very much linked to our womanhood and manhood.

One thing was for sure, our sex life wasn’t what either of us hoped for. And as more time went on, I began to realize that our lack of success in the bedroom wasn’t just based solely on any physical issues we were having. Instead, it was a manifestation that something was separating us emotionally.


Flickr/ Massimiliano Giani

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