I’ll never forget sitting in my pre-marital counseling sessions with my then-fiancé, Dan, when our counselors said something that made us both laugh out loud.
“The top three things that married couples fight about are in-laws, finances, and sex.”
We thought to ourselves, “HA! In-laws and finances, sure. That makes sense. But sex? How could any couple fight about sex?”
Then we got married and started fighting about sex. We were suddenly the couple that, we thought, did not exist.
The worst part about these fights was that, because of the intimate nature of sex, we didn’t feel comfortable bringing anyone else into those conversations. This left us more or less trapped in an endless cycle of our own respective feelings without the ability to come to any real resolutions.
We didn’t know whether we were normal or not. As a matter of fact, we mostly assumed that we weren’t normal, because, again, who fights about sex? So, instead of seeking outside counsel, we read books. We listened to marriage seminars. We even went to a marriage retreat. And we were still stuck in this never-ending circle of sexual frustration. Then we had two kids, and as many moms and dads will tell you, parenthood (especially the early days) comes with its own sexual tensions.
In a couple months we will celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary, and while I wish I could say that at this point we’ve resolved most of our issues, I can at least definitely say that we’ve made a lot of progress, particularly because of one reason.
We finally invited some other people into our conversations about our sex life.
It came up quite organically and not at all awkwardly, believe it or not. Dan and I are very close friends with a couple who have been together for a while and just got married. And for whatever reason, the big S started coming up in casual conversation about a year ago. Since then, we have been incredibly enlightened.
By opening up about our struggles with sex to another couple we have found that:
- Other couples fight about sex, too. As a matter of fact, maybe our pre-marital counselor was right. Maybe most couples fight about it. We’re not weird or in trouble. We’re pretty normal.
- Our struggles were (are?) not only not unique, but they also can be overcome. Our friends have been able to give us great perspective on our sex life and offer suggestions for ways to make it better and to come to compromise. They have been able to show us the ways in which they are similar to us, and the tactics they have used in the past to grow closer in this area.
I know it probably sounds crazy to some people, but being able to seek counsel from these sweet friends about our sex life has been really life giving to both my husband and me. Our marriage is arguably stronger than it ever has been, and I owe that to this couple, of course, but also our own courage for finally stepping out and asking for help.
If you’re understandably a bit gun-shy about chatting with other couple friends about the fights you and your partner have about sex (assuming you’re like most couples), here’s what I want you to know.
- Prioritizing your sex life not only strengthens your relationship; if you are a parent, it benefits your kids, too. I was once visiting a husband-wife duo on a play date, and when they kissed in front of their kids, their eldest daughter covered her eyes playfully. The wife responded quickly, “You better be glad your parents still kiss each other!” And I couldn’t agree more. A happy, healthy sexual relationship translates to a strong bond, which communicates security and safety to your kids.
- It’s only as awkward as you make it. Look around at your group of friends who have children. They’ve all had sex at least the number of times they have children. It’s totally normal, and the sooner we all treat it as such the better off we all will be.
- If you never ask for help, you’ll never get it. That was the hard lesson Dan and I had to learn over the past six years of our marriage. We needed some help, and we didn’t know how to ask for it. When we finally got to a point where we felt like we could reach out, we were so relieved and wondered why we didn’t do it years ago.
All that to say, I’m looking forward to the rest of my life with Dan, and getting better and better and closer and closer with each passing year. I’m excited about the prospect of our marriage getting stronger thanks to our willingness to be open and vulnerable about these struggles. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been so worth it. And I know it will be worth it to you, too.