Waited until marriage... but sex isn't working out.

I feel a little weird asking this here because I'm 26 but I was waiting til marriage before sex so this is new to me, and everyone my age seems to have been having sex for years and I'm embarrased to talk about this stuff. This site has been a great resource for me so far - it has saved me so much embarassment of not knowing what's going on (especially embarrasing at my 'old' age!) So I just got married about a month ago and have started having sex with my husband but it has been disappointingly unenjoyable. My expectations weren't super high because I know it takes awhile to get used to things. But before we were married we did other activities that I really enjoyed and I'd get turned on a lot. Now, however, those same things don't even turn me on anymore. From reading articles here I've realized that sex isn't going to be pleasant if I'm not turned on and it's not about me being 'too tight' or anything. My husband is making a lot of effort to be patient with me and to engage in a lot of foreplay, but it's not doing anything for me. I used to get really aroused by him stroking my nipples/clit areas, and he still is trying that beforehand. But I keep finding that I am not enjoying him touching me at all, and I just want him to stop. He tried oral sex too and I just did not like it, it felt so weird. I feel so horrible because he was so great about waiting til we were married (he has had sex before with his previous girlfriends) and I really want to share this with him now, and he is trying so hard but it's not doing anything. And I'm also really sad that I don't feel turned on because it felt so good and I don't want to have lost that! We are both frustrated, and I feel especially bad because he's had experience and I haven't, and he said he's never had issues like this with any other girls. Any advice as to how I can get more turned on, so that we can actually have sex? We've realized that we shouldn't attempt intercourse when I'm not getting into things, so I also tried pleasuring him in other ways but I'm finding that difficult too... it takes awhile and honestly my mouth/jaw get tired, and I'm worried about how to finish things (the spit/swallow debate). Right now I'm feeling like a terrible wife for not being able to pleasure my husband and also really missing the sexual pleasure I used to get. I don't regret waiting at all... but I'm impatient for things to improve and any advice would be hugely appreciated. Even just letting me know what's a normal amount of time that it takes for this to start being fun instead of stressful. Thanks!
Heather Corinna replies:

Just so you know, while certainly, it's more common to begin some sexual activity before your age (which you had), there still are plenty of people who have not had sexual intercourse at your age. And given that the age of first marriage has been increasing, in terms of folks waiting for all sex or some kinds of sex until marriage, you're in pretty good company in terms of hardly being alone. So, if you need other avenues to talk about this stuff in, and your reasons for waiting for intercourse until marriage were religious, you might try seeking out some other women in your religious community as support, too.

But it's also fine to ask about it here, and there's no need to be ashamed.

I can't tell you what a "normal" amount of time is for any kind of sex to become fun, because not everyone enjoys every sexual activity, not all sexual partners DO have "fun" together or find that sex is right for them, and to boot, it's very normal for everyone to have periods of time where sex, overall, isn't that interesting or exciting.

In your case, it wouldn't surprise me that you'd have a period of time like this because the lead-up to sex when it comes to waiting for marriage is SO huge, and to boot, things (sex, but life, overall) are generally stressful -- in terms of both positive and negative stress -- for newlyweds for a while, anyway. And if there's a lot of pressure to perform certain roles -- to be a "good" wife or a "good" husband -- in a marriage, that adds even more stress to the picture. In terms of sex, if sex is seen as some sort of duty to a partner, you can flop more stress on top of that.

You say that there are times where you don't attempt intercourse because you know you're not in the mood, but then, instead -- it sounds like -- engage in oral sex for him. When that's going on, are you in the mood for THAT, either? In other words, if you're having ANY kind of sex out of obligation, or motivated by concerns that it's your job to take care of all your husband's sexual needs, that's going to be a buzzkill and create a sexual environment which is unlikely to be beneficial to or satisfying for you.

Here's my advice: if any of the sex either of you is having is about obligation, knock it off. I don't know if the idea that you're responsible for his pleasure is something you've got in your head, or is coming from him, or both, but whatever the situation, that's just got to change to have healthy, mutually beneficial sex. In any sexual partnership, no partner is responsible for meeting all of their partner's sexual needs, or being sexually available every time that partner wants sex. This is one of the many benefits of mastubration: when your husband is in the mood and you're not, the man's got hands, honey. He can use them just like YOU can use them (and mutual masturbation, by the by, is another good option here).

Which leads us to something else: are YOU masturbating? Are you exploring your own sexuality, by yourself, too? If not, I'd suggest you start. Not only is it enjoyable (and a serious stress-reducer, which it seems clear you need), it's really helpful to be able to also get an idea for what you enjoy outside the context of what someone else does. That's not anything you should do out of obligation, either, but when you do feel in the mood, it's an avenue I'd suggest you be sure and explore at least every now and then, to find out what does feel best to you, and also to have some avenue of your sexuality where you don't feel any sort of performance pressure, or pressure to have everything someone else wants to do feel good.

Too? Feeling like it's your job to please someone when you're not pleased yourself is rarely a turn-on for anyone. Sure, we all have different defintions of what "sexy" is, and some people DO get turned on by sex-as-service, and as service only, but we can safely say that it's relatively uncommon.

I'd also suggest just taking a little time off from partnered sex right now so that you can get out of this cycle of stress and frustration. That shouldn't be a problem or a big drama: after all, everyone's libido has ebbs and flows, so in long-term relationships, there are almost always going to be times when each partner needs that, for any number of reasons. Explore other kinds of intimacy for a while, outside of sexual activities -- not just intercourse, but all the kinds of sex you're having. Much like it's hard to want to eat when we're not hungry, if one or both of you aren't coming to sex very strongly wanting to have sex (beyond feeling like it's something you have to do or should want to do), it's pretty tough for it to be anything but frustrating. So, taking a little time away to explore other kinds of intimacy and focus on other areas of your relationship can be helpful -- even just in terms of hyping things up by sustaining some time away so you both can "get hungry" again for whatever kinds of sex you do enjoy together.

I hope that you also realize that it's possible that intercourse just may not be your thing, just like you're saying that so far, oral sex isn't your thing. That may change over time, or it may not, and either way, that's okay. I'm sure there are plenty of things your husband doesn't enjoy doing which he could be doing, too: everyone has different preferences and likes. The idea that somehow vaginal intercourse -- despite being an activity which, by itself, even with foreplay, isn't that physiologically stimulating for women -- is something EVERYONE has to like or enjoy is really flawed (and that idea was never based in women experiencing pleasure from it, either), just like it'd be flawed to suggest that receptive anal sex is an activity everyone has to enjoy. I think it might take a little bit of the load off of you to recognize that IF this turns out to be an activity that just doesn't do much or anything for you (period, or just with this partner), that doesn't mean something is wrong with you or your partnership, and that it's okay for you, like anyone else, to have your own preferences.

There's no quick fix most of the time for things like this, because there are so many variables, but also because things getting better in a situation like this, in my experience, relies more on getting rid of all the pressures and stresses and obligations and frustrations before it can start to get better, and that is a lot harder to do sometimes than it is to just, say, try a new sexual position, or add a new sex activity to one's repetoire. If any of these pressures or obligations are part of your relationship model, you're going to need to work things out so that they are NOT for things to improve. I'd be sure you're both talking as honestly as possible about all of this, however difficult that can be: building a big wall of noncommunication is only going to make matter worse, too.

Because stress and depression are big libido-killers, do also be sure that you're taking care of yourself, reducing your stresses, and keeping an eye on how you're feeling -- all by yourself -- overall. You say you feel like your expectations for sex and marriage were realistic, but it does sound -- understandably -- like you're feeling pretty disappointed right now, so if that's got you super-stressed or depressed, be sure you're addressing that and caring for yourself, okay?

I'm going to leave you with some extra links -- if you've read them before, my apologies, but even if so, you might try glancing over them with all I've just said in mind.

The last suggestion I'd make for you if none of this seems helpful, or if, once you give some of these suggestions time, things don't get better for you overall, is to look into some couples sex counseling, or counseling just for yourself. You may even be able to find a counselor who has a lot of experience in dealing with couples who waited until marriage and now find sex is a struggle: there are certainly plenty of them out there -- this is hardly the first time I've been asked something like this, but it's also not my specialty, so you might benefit from someone whose it is.

I hope this was of some help, and I hope that you find things improve for you.

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