I've been thinking about sex. Specifically, I've been thinking about how, for me, sex was disastrous.
I didn't grow up on a steady diet of TV; in fact, it was monitored by my parents. But once I was out of the house and on my own, I watched a whole lot of TV. I've seen tons of sex scenes in tons of movies and TV shows. And as a virgin, my only experience for what sex would be like or should be like was what I saw on TV.
Yes, my Kallah teacher warned me that it was likely to be messy and even somewhat uncomfortable or unpleasant the first time. She also made sure to explain to me about the importance of foreplay (but I had read plenty of books on the topic, so I knew about that). My big problem was that I was held captive by my expectations, expectations that didn't pertain to my husband and what he was supposed to do for me, but rather, expectations that pertained to me and what I was supposed to do for him.
In my mind, the perfect wife needed to walk a line between the angelic ingenue and the sexy vamp. She should be able to dress up in a lacy white teddy or vamp it up in spiky black sandals and some lowcut black lace. She should be able to give off airs of both innocence and experience. She should make sure to be vocal and make her husband feel like he knows exactly how to please her. She should focus on her moves and do everything she can to appear enticing.
In sum, she should be so busy thinking about what she is doing that she isn't experiencing it.
Obviously, struggling with sexual dysfunction threw a huge wrench into the works. I couldn't pretend to enjoy something that caused me excruciating pain. But it was my therapist who helped me to discover what I was doing wrong with sex: I was layering so many expectations onto myself that I ended up burying myself in them. I was focusing so much on how I appeared to my husband (physically, verbally, with my moves etc) and not on whether or not I was enjoying what we were doing.
My therapist pointed out that I certainly wouldn't enjoy sex if I didn't engage with my husband and tell him what I liked and what I didn't. So what I discovered was that if I left it all behind- abandoned the pretense of being the innocent good girl or the vamp, and just focused on being me- intimacy could be a lot sweeter, even sexier. And when I wanted to dress up as the good girl or the bad girl, I could, but that would come from my desire, not from my feeling like this was the expectation, and that I existed only to please.
We hear so much on TV about the importance of being "good in bed" that we are terrified and worried that we might not be. We put pressure on ourselves to fake it, to pretend we are just as knowledgeable, just as experienced, but in truth...especially if we waited to have sex....this is all new to us. And the goal shouldn't be whether or not some other person thinks we're good in bed. The question is: are we having fun? are we being honest with each other? is this enjoyable? If those things are in place, we're in a good situation.
Once I shed all the skins of trying to fit into the images of sexuality that I had, consciously or not, been provided with, things got better. No, I can't have penetrative sex. But that doesn't mean I can't be intimate with my husband. Or that I can't enjoy it. There's more than one way to have a happy intimate life.