My husband and I had been married for a year when a well-meaning middle aged couple who were active in our church invited us newlyweds out to have lunch to “talk marriage” with them.
We were simultaneously thankful and nervous about what that vague statement could mean. The thought of talking honestly about our relationship with a couple we didn’t really know seemed awkward, especially since we didn’t even feel entirely comfortable sharing so much of our lives with our parents. Yet we also recognized marriage mentors are hard to come by. Our relationship was pretty good but certainly not perfect. My husband and I both felt we could use some mature wisdom, so we accepted this couple’s invitation readily.
We met the couple at a local diner. We all shared our marital joys and struggles in a friendly conversation that lasted for almost an hour. They alternated between listening and offering their seasoned perspective when they saw fit.
The conversation had actually been helpful, and really not awkward at all! Whew, what a relief, I thought to myself. But then they asked us about sex. Were we both satisfied? Did we talk openly about how we felt during our times of intimacy? What did we wish was better, or easier?
It was mortifying. I thought I might die of embarrassment right there in our booth. But they had earned our trust over the past hour, so we found ourselves answering their questions honestly and openly.
The conversation was awkward, but we knew the advice of long-married couples was exactly what we needed. They assured us that our experience of “okay” sexual intimacy was completely normal for newlyweds and nothing to be embarrassed about. Even more encouraging, they promised that as we learned to communicated with each other more and became more united as a couple over time, married sex would become the most amazing experience in the world.
The conversation came to a close and we said our goodbyes. My husband and I climbed into our car, looked at each other, and started laughing. We had just shared the most intimate part of our lives with people we had barely talked to before. Were we crazy?
But as the days and weeks went by, we started putting into practice some of this older couple’s advice. We talked about what each of our expectations were in sex and how to compromise in the areas where they differed. We became more comfortable indicating the things we liked and didn’t like. It felt really healthy to be able to be honest about our preferences.
Eventually I realized that simply talking together with a long-married couple about our sexual relationship was more important and beneficial than I had expected. Sex didn’t have to be perfect immediately; getting to know each other more intimately was it’s own reward. Their advice made our experience seem normal and alleviated some of the unnecessary pressure to perform.
Hearing fifty-year-olds talk about sex like the very natural part of married life that it is shifted our perspective. Sex became less a race to perfection and more a part of the long journey of marriage that we would be on for the rest of our lives. Ten years later, I can honestly say their advice was right: The longer we’ve been together, the more fun sex has become.