Having sex for the first time can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you have choosen to wait for marriage. In this situation, it can feel like going 0 to 100 real fast and can make sex seem hard. I want to share a few tips to making newlywed sex great.
Hi, I’m Amanda Severson. I’m new here. I am a graduate student studying to become a Marriage and Family Therapist who like fantasy novels, cheesy movies, and eating my dessert WITH my dinner. I have been married to Cameron for an entire year now and have loved every minute of it. But we have had a sharp learning curve when it comes to sex. We’ve had plenty of disappointments and frustrations on both sides. I want to share with you a few of the things we have learned about sex this first year.
My wedding turned out exactly as I had pictured it. The castle, the dress, the tiara. I was on cloud nine as the love of my life and I ran through the tunnel of sparklers and drove into our forever.
My wedding night, however, was not what I had pictured. As an aspiring marriage therapist, I had done my research. I had read books and taken classes. I thought if anyone knew about sex, it was me. And still there I was, completely befuddled on my honeymoon on what to do.
A Patch of Dirt with Potential
In many ways, building a sexual relationship is like growing a garden. At first, a garden is just a patch of dirt with potential. Anything worth doing takes practice, and you get better at it with continued effort. Likewise, your honeymoon (especially if this is your first-time having sex) is more likely than not going to be some of the worst sex of your life. Just like with the first time you get on a bike or try to talk to your crush, a first attempt at anything usually goes pretty poorly. Following that logic, newlywed sex (in comparison to later on) may be some of the worst sex of your life. That’s not a bad thing! Tt just means you have a lot of potential as a couple to learn and grow sexually. A garden grows slowly, but under the right conditions it blooms into something wonderful.
Protection from Pests: Anxiety in Newlywed Sex
One of the biggest threats to a garden is pests eating the plants before they get a chance to blossom. With sex (especially newlywed sex), the biggest pest is anxiety. A lot of people, especially those who have waited until marriage to have intercourse, feel very anxious about sex. Newlywed sex is often clouded by worrying about doing it “right”, about looking sexy, about pleasing their partner etc. This anxiety eats away at sexual desire and can make it really hard to perform or to let go and enjoy the moment.
Many studies have looked at how to reduce anxiety in an intimate relationship (for example; see this 2019 study on Attachment Styles and Marital Quality) . The 4 best pesticides for anxiety are gratitude, accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement.
- Gratitude: Although it doesn’t sound very sexy, thanking your partner for what they do for you is the number one way to reduce anxiety in your relationship. Let your partner know when they do something you particularly like. Say thank you for the flowers, for the unexpected kiss, or whenever they put themselves out there to try and please you. Gratitude will make your partner less anxious, and will help you be happier. It’s a win-win.
- Accessibility: Let your partner know you are here for them. Be a resource on bad days, not just another factor they need to take care of. Sex is not an individual sport, and your partner needs to know they have a teammate and not a competitor.
- Responsiveness: When your partner acts, respond. It can be very disheartening to put yourself out there to initiate sex and to have your partner not respond. Even if you are not in the mood for sex, try to find a way to respond and let your partner know you see their effort. Let them know they haven’t done something wrong.
- Engagement: Sex is not just about you and your feelings. Engage with your partner. Talk, laugh, hug, do whatever it takes to feel emotionally aware of your partner. Engage with them at every level; emotionally, spiritually, physically.
These four principles will help you protect your sexual relationship from that pest of anxiety.
Fertilizer: Communication is Key
A garden needs a lot of nutrients to grow properly. Fertilizer, although it smells, provides necessary nourishment to a garden. Similarly, a thriving sexual relationship needs communication. It is so important to talk with your partner. Let them know what you like and what you don’t. Talk about your fantasies, even if you never actually act them out. It is also helpful to learn together. Read books and other resources (or follow our Get Your Marriage On! podcast) and talk about them together. I know it doesn’t sound very sexy to sit around and talk, but having the space to explore without judgement will nourish a growing sexual relationship.
Biodiversity: Mixing it Up
Once a couple has “figured it out”, there’s a temptation to rinse and repeat. If you like something, shouldn’t you just keep doing it?
Just like with a garden, a sexual relationship becomes longer lasting with biodiversity. A garden thrives with a variety of plants growing next to each other. These various plants take different nutrients from the soil, blossom in different seasons, and can support each other. Mixing it up in the bedroom can protect against boredom. It can help you and your partner explore your relationship in new and exciting ways. If nothing else, it can just be fun and silly to try something different. Being open to new ideas in the bedroom is a great way to maintain your sexual relationship long term. And don’t think you have to wait until later to start trying new and exciting things! Even though you are just beginning, newlywed sex can be some of the best chances you will have to live out your fantasies.
If it’s done right, a garden can sustain you your whole life. Instead of worrying about losing the spark or wondering if you’re “sexually compatible” with your spouse, I believe that we can build a thriving sexual relationship with our chosen partner. With these tools in hand, I hope any newly-weds reading this can look forward with excitement to the many years they have ahead of them to reap the rewards from their own sexual relationship.
Written by Amanda Severson with Get Your Marriage On!
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