Growing up no one ever talked to me about sex. I didn’t get sex education in school, and while I went to Sunday school and church, no one ever taught me that you were just supposed to have sex with one person. I was never taught what sex really was: that it’s so much more than just sex, that it’s supposed to be something between a husband and wife—that it’s supposed to be about intimacy.
I was sexually abused as a child, which made things even more confusing. I concluded that “sex was just sex.” It was something physical, but didn’t have much meaning beyond that.
My husband was raised differently. He was taught that you are supposed to be with one person for life. I wasn’t really taught the same standards. In all reality, that was what I wanted, but I didn’t know that was what I wanted because I didn’t know that it was possible.
Because of my confusion about sex and the abuse, I came to see sex as a negative thing. I was abused before I even knew about sex—I didn’t know what was happening to me. But then when I started hearing my peers talk about sex, I put a name to what happened. So my first association of sex was the abuse I experienced. As I grew older, I came up with a new phrase—“being intimate”—and I used that instead of “sex” to help me separate the two in my mind. For me, sex was something horrible, but being intimate was something that was an act of love. Separating the two in my mind was my way of coping with what had happened to me.
I don’t want my kids to have to separate sex and intimacy in their minds. I want them to see sex as intimate, and as a good thing. I want them to see sex as the way that they can one day say to their spouse, “I love you and give you all of me, body and soul.”
Experiencing sex that way is something that my husband and I are working on, especially because of the way that sexual touch can trigger flashbacks of my abuse. I have to be in the right mindset and feel up to it to have a normal intimate relationship with my husband, but those moments can feel so few and far between.
That has made it all the more important for us to learn to love each other better and to make love in a way that is loving and tender and intimate, instead of robotic and just about physical pleasure. I know the romantic movies are not realistic for the normal married couple with children, but when my husband and I have sex I need to feel that I am more than an object; I need to feel loved. When he is patient and slow, going at my pace, I know that he is responding to me as a person and not just trying to make himself feel good. When we have alone time with one another it makes us feel close, and in those moments of closeness I feel like it’s just the two of us—without the horrible memory of the past acting as a third wheel in all of our alone time.
For sex to be a positive experience for us, it must be linked to intimacy. It must stem from the closeness and love we share as a couple.
Sex is more than just physical. It is emotional and psychological and even spiritual. In the years that I’ve spent with my husband, I’ve come to realize that sex is most amazing when it is shared with one person, instead of people. When you have that deep relationship and compatibility with someone, you can be truly intimate with that person, because you are more comfortable. You are like two puzzle pieces—you don’t fit with anyone else. You can try to shove two other pieces together, but it just doesn’t work the same way.
Flickr/Shaojin Alianto Tio