From day one, my husband had done almost everything in his power to please me in every way. He was generous, compassionate, and honest to a fault. I loved him dearly and was eager to make him as happy as he made me; I wanted there to be no gap between what he wanted and what I gave. So I was both disconcerted and embarrassed when on our first night together, we couldn’t fully consummate our marriage because of the pain I felt.
It took a few tries before my husband could enter me fully, and even then my whole body reflexively clenched in pain. Just a few months into our marriage, during a loving but candid conversation, he confessed, “I thought I would want and enjoy sex more – but I don’t.” I can’t recall the exact exchange that took place thereafter, but I do remember becoming defensive and arguing with him. I didn’t doubt that he loved me and found me attractive—his frequent compliments and attentive behavior had proven that to me– but I was still so hurt. I felt utterly incompetent and although I knew in my mind that I was not at fault, my heart felt otherwise.
Despite the confusion and frustration in the bedroom, our new life together remained beautiful and happy. We worked through our intimacy issues and sometimes pleased each other in other ways. A year has passed and it seems time has improved our love life. Now when we are intimate, I am very rarely in pain, and even then it is only a slight pinched sensation. My husband’s body has also adjusted, in the sense that we can enjoy intimacy for longer periods of time. We already shared an emotional and spiritual connection, but now the last piece of the puzzle is in place and we feel the physical bond that had eluded us initially.
In hindsight, I am thankful for this experience. Although it created feelings of inadequacy and frustration, those emotions were temporary, while the lessons I learned will last a lifetime. A somewhat rocky start to our love life taught me the following:
First and foremost, I learned to focus on my pleasure in the bedroom just as much as my husband’s. Intimacy is not man-centric or woman-centric – it is for both genders to enjoy equally. I was so caught up in trying to please my husband that I unconsciously pushed my own pleasure to the side, which only further diminished my husband’s sense of satisfaction. Over time, I realized that when each of us pays just as much attention to our own needs as we do to the desires of our spouse, we both come away doubly content.
We live in a hyper-sexualized culture that sets impossible standards of how a woman who is capable of pleasing her man should look, speak and behave. Add to that glossy, idealistic portrayals of how our love life should play out and what else could you or I possibly feel but inadequate? Real-life sex is different – it is wonderful, but it is not a movie. It will most likely be painful in the beginning, and even when a couple finds their rhythm, they may not always orgasm at the exact same time and sometimes one partner may not orgasm at all. And that’s perfectly alright. One person may be in the mood when the other is not, or one person may think a particular position feels wonderful but the other thinks it is so-so. That’s perfectly alright. Despite all of this, it is possible to have a very pleasurable and fulfilling love life.
I shouldn’t have blamed myself for our unforeseen beginning. Our experience was not abnormal and, more importantly, I am more than just a physical entity that provides pleasure. My husband loves me for so much more than my physical flesh, and so should I. Life is more rewarding and marriage more enjoyable when I have confidence in myself, my husband and our marriage.
Open communication can hurt sometimes, but it is productive when done in an empathetic and gentle manner. It’s good to talk about issues with hopeful hearts, kind words and in a way that doesn’t give the other person the impression that that things may be coming to an end.
Understanding the society we live in is key. Recognizing that sometimes in trying to preserve our outward modesty (whether it is via maintaining our virginity or avoiding looking sexual in public) we may feel like we are going against what “is” sexy. My husband undoes this when he uses words and gestures that make me feel good – and I strive to do the same for him. When we are around each other, we make sure to touch each other affectionately and he constantly tells me I am gorgeous while I never stop letting him know how handsome he is and how much I adore him.
Praying to God was immensely soothing, especially in the beginning when I was surprised by our imperfect love life. When I felt worried that this bump might irreparably damage our marriage, I would make the following dua: “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort/coolness to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous” (Quran 25:74).
In a culture where people seem fickle and relationships fragile, it’s easy to panic when we reach a hurdle in the bedroom, but now I know that with time, patience and love, a couple can overcome nearly anything. Our honeymoon was not the romance novel scene I expected, but the world did not come to an end – and neither did our marriage. Things only got better with time.
(Photo Source: The Local)
Anonymous is a married American Muslim woman who works for a fortune 500 company, and enjoys writing in her free time.