Our wedding night signaled the reintroduction of sex in our relationship after three and a half years of celibacy. It took some time to get back on board, but muscle memory quickly got me back in the caboose. Over the next few months, we settled into our marriage and found a schedule that worked best for us.
Then out of nowhere, the train derailed. And I’m still trying to find the track.
Several of my married friends warned me that sex changes when you get married.
“You’re lucky if you get it once a week.”
“Enjoy it while you can.”
“Your wife is now in full control of your sex schedule.”
I quickly countered these points, explaining our sex life pre-celibacy was very healthy. We hardly, if ever, had a conversation about satisfying each other’s sexual appetite. I was confident our sexual chemistry would quickly return and our celibate ride would propel us into a different category. Right?
Sex within our marriage was no longer playful and adventurous. Those times back in college when we would sneak it in before class, or find creative places to check off the list, were nothing more than a distant memory. We fell into the routine of everyday life—wake up, walk the dogs, go to work, eat dinner, talk for a bit, go to sleep. Repeat.
When I would ask Joy to have sex, I was met with surprising resistance.
“Do we have to do it right now?”
“I’m really not in the mood.”
“I’ve had a long day.”
I fully understand that every time I asked wasn’t optimal, so I don’t blame her for every reaction, but again I was left puzzled on why we couldn’t figure it out. Was I the only one who assumed that once you get married, sex is a necessity in keeping and maintaining a healthy and happy marriage?
I brought my frustrations to Joy and she explained her stance...
Justin and I were celibate for three and a half years before marriage, but for four years before that time, we were very much sexually active. Back then, sex was the endgame. We were young and eager to explore each other’s bodies. Here I am almost 10 years in wondering where all my wild urges have gone.
At first, I thought I was warming up after celibacy. I figured maybe because I had conditioned myself to not depend on sex for connection that I didn’t crave it anymore. That’s simply not true. I love sex, so why had my appetite changed?
I no longer felt like I was in the mood for sex when he was in the mood. We were not in a sexless marriage, but Justin was making side comments about the frequency at which we were having sex, and that made me angry. Not angry with him for wanting more, but angry because I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want more.
It turns out, celibacy changed my relationship with sex, but not in the way I originally suspected.
Celibacy allowed me to connect with Justin in more intimate ways than sex could ever provide. In the beginning of our relationship, I only wanted physical foreplay and it was easy for Justin to meet those demands. I now require emotional foreplay: tell me about a time when you noticed I was brave, strong, beautiful, or gracious. Stroke my heart and caress my mind... as soon as you put in groundwork for my needs, you can get the cookie.
As we approach our two-year anniversary, it’s clear Joy’s sexual expectations have evolved and it’s time for me to go back to the drawing board. If there is anything I’ve learned about our marriage: it requires constant communication and a commitment to executing a shared goal.
I’ll make a commitment to providing Joy with the emotional foreplay she requires. In return, I ask for one thing—let’s have fun again!