Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Marriage and intimacy - a question

If you are married, you may have read yesterday's post reviewing a number of books on intimacy in marriage.

I have a question - for those who are married and also for those who often talk to couples about their these things, either in marriage preparation or after marriage.

Do you think couples should be given more information about intimacy or less prior to the wedding and in the first few years?

My thoughts, random as they are, are as follows:

On the side of more information:
  • the more informed a couple are about how their and their spouse's body is likely to work, the less surprises in store
  • if couples are very inexperienced physically, the realities of sex can be a little overwhelming, and not always in a positive way
  • when problems arise, books are a great resource and detailed books which give suggestions as well as assurances that all is OK can be of great help and comfort, especially if the couple are unwilling to talk with others (which is sad but not surprising)
On the side of less information:
  • it's the surprises and the discoveries about each other that can make the first years of intimacy so much fun
  • the less information, the less you expect yourself or your spouse to fit in with an 'expected pattern'
  • it can be more fun to discover fun new things about each other on your own. For example, Sheet Music, which I reviewed yesterday, has some great suggestions for adding some fun and excitement into the bedroom when things may be a little stale. From our experience I would say we discovered almost all of these things ourselves with just a little thought, creativity and willingness over the last 10 years. It was nice to discover things ourselves, rather than rely on a book for ideas.

I ask this question because I sometimes wonder what we should do with pre-marriage couples:
  • should we give them a book with more information (eg. Sheet Music), but strongly suggest they only read certain chapters prior to marriage and save the rest for later (and would you have been able to do that?)
  • or, do we give them a book with a bit with more basic information (eg. One Flesh), saving the more detailed book recommendations for a bit later down the track, which could risk the first couple of months or year being less enjoyable than it could be.
In the end, we keep telling couples that intimacy in marriage needs attention, and when time and energy is put in (which really, can be a fun project!), it just keeps getting better.

So, what do you think?


Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy

I suspect that helping couples to work out how think about sex is more important than info about what to do.

This was what we liked about 'One Flesh'. It puts the emphasis on the couple's relationship and sex within that - so, for example, more about how to respond as a couple to surprises rather than the ins and outs of what to may or may not happen. That lays a foundation for the future that can be built on.

I suspect that on the discovery / imagination / creativity thing, each couple is different (as you say, depending on their personalities, backgrounds, etc.) The task of the marriage prepper would then be to provide the couple with resources (names of books, etc.) they could access to if they need / want them.

I guess the point, though, is not to discover new techniques (or whatever) so much as discovering your partner and how to love them. Before marriage, thinking through a framework for doing so is essential; after marriage, you can do that with or without a book depending on what works for you as a couple (which is a discovery in and of itself!)


Jenny Kemp said...

Hi Wendy

We often tell engaged couples of problems that people have had with sex in the early years of marriage. This is not to depress couples or freak them out (although I'm sure that's what sometimes happens!).

We do it because our world tells us that sex is easy, natural, a day-to-day event. So when Christians come into marriage they often have unrealistic expectations about how easily a good sex life will fall into place (and hey, the movies certainly don't give many indications that it might be otherwise). Many couples we've spoken to are totally surprised that anyone has problems. They've never heard about these problems because no-one ever talks about them.

So in early marriage I think some information can be really helpful. If there are problems, information can make it feel less lonely and isolating. And maybe encourage couples to seek help before it starts to damage their relationship.


Wendy said...

Thanks to both of you for commenting. Very helpful.