This is Day 13 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
Growing up, I didn’t talk about sex much. It just wasn’t a topic of discussion. I don’t think my parents refused to talk about it on purpose, it’s just that the topic never arose, and at some point it became too awkward to mention it, I guess. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t a topic of fascination.
I still remember sitting in Mrs. Sebastian’s fifth grade class, in that square wooden desk with the armrest on one side—the kind of seat you can only sit in if you slide in from the left. The girls gathered in one room and the boys in another, and what started as a health presentation quickly became the most shocking information I’d heard.
After the traumatic news, about the bleeding and unioning I could expect in my future, I left with a booklet and giveaway bag of some free “items” for girls, all of which sent me into more silence about the topic. I must have read that Kimberly-Clarke brochure twenty times, trying to make sense of it all, and grew increasingly curious about this thing called sexuality. We are all created as sexual beings, and no amount of silence was going to change that.
At fourteen, I remember finding a question and answer book on my parent’s bookshelf, in a spot they thought was obscure. And that book single-handedly taught me all I needed to know. It had words like erection, orgasm, fellatio, cunnilingus, and all sorts of other fancy sex words and concepts to learn. My scientifically inclined mind was so happy to learn the detailed facts, and it gave me a confidence about the topic that extinguished my need to learn about sex through experience.
Besides, throughout my youth group days there were countless messages about abstinence and waiting for marriage. As a people-pleaser, I eagerly committed to that as my goal, as I would never want to disappoint my parents, and wanted God to be happy with me too.
So on my wedding day in 1992, I wore my white dress with pride, realizing I’d technically made it to the altar with virgin status, if only by a strict definition of the word. For years, as a Christian girl trying so hard “not to,” it was certainly a shock for my mind to transition to “get to,” when it came to sex. I had built up such lofty expectations for what I’d been waiting for—this beautiful gift of sex in marriage everyone promised it would be—and after marriage, my hopes were dashed when I realized sex was not an easy plug and play model.
Sex was relationship—intimate and messy, vulnerable and risky. It demanded I communicate about what I liked, and discover what I wanted, and then choose to be open, discuss it, and choose to give. It was this aspect of sex I was not prepared for at all, and so I refused to engage. I chose internal disappointment and silence. I hadn’t ever learned to talk about sex. And because of that, my foolish conclusion was to go through the motions and pretend everything was fine. After all, I was a good Christian girl. And if this was what I’d waited for all this time, I resigned to my disheartened reality.
In my resignation, I refused to share my struggle with my husband. It was embarrassing to admit my lack, and I refused to muster the courage to take the risk and tell him. I didn’t dare. And as a result I failed to experience the full goodness of a sexual relationship as God intended it to be—open, vulnerable, everything on the table, nothing off-limits.
We had sex less than I wanted, and I began to wonder if I was attractive or desirable at all. Looking back, I could weep over the young girl I was, making terrible choices. I was doing the best I could, but it wasn’t good enough. My heart longed for more.
I want you to know today, your thoughts about sex matter. How you learned about sex growing up, the information you processed as an adolescent, and your early sexual experiences have all shaped how you think about sex and choose to interact in your relationship today.
Not all of us grew up being open about this topic, which is so tragic since it is an integral part of who we are, and who God created us to be as human beings.
Sex is one of the riskiest experiences we can willingly choose.
Sex holds so many possibilities for disaster, and so many chances for pain. But also it holds the hope of the most intimate way of being known, the profoundness of trusting, and the relief of letting go and being free.
This is why our thoughts and expectations about sex absolutely matter, and it is so crucial to do the work–ridiculously scary, vulnerable work to fight for God’s design and not settle for a “less than” version. But to do that, we must spend time sorting through the messiness of our past experiences and beliefs about sex.
Being in denial, and suppressing our vulnerability will not serve us well at all. In fact, it will lead us to a place where we are at risk for relational disaster.
This I know by experience.
How did growing up shape your thoughts about sex?
How did that set your expectations?
How has it determined the way you choose to respond in your relationship?
Read Day 14 HERE
*While I realize the topic of sex can be complicated, especially in light of neglect and abuse, this post is intended to be a descriptive discussion, never prescriptive, and can not adequately take the place of professional help.
Throughout this series, if you have a question or a struggle and want me to address it or write on it in this series, please send me an email (jacque at jacquewatkins dot com) or a voicemail (green button on right sidebar) and I will do my best to incorporate it into this series. It will make me so happy to have feedback from you and to write what it is you might need. I can’t wait to hear from you.