Saturday mornings have become a thrill for me. I sleep in, eat a warm breakfast, enjoy a little bit of yoga and then eagerly anticipate what’s ahead for the rest of the morning. I turn on my meticulously curated Spotify playlist, and my husband of more than two decades and I enjoy our intimate “date morning” activities. This date doesn’t need to appear on our calendar, it’s more written in stone. More than that, it is also written on our hearts. It’s just the two of us, foot loose and fancy free, enjoying each other as fully and intimately as we please. Skin to skin, no inhibitions. Sexual pleasure and the rush of oxytocin leave me feeling bonded with him, satisfied, and overwhelmed with gratitude for this gift.
Today, I am a sexually confident woman. However, it took me nearly 20 years to get here. When I first got married, having an orgasm during intercourse was impossible. I love my husband and he has always been the most caring, respectful and kind man. Wasn’t that supposed to be enough to enjoy sex? Many times, I could have an orgasm with direct clitoral stimulation, but I never saw that in the movies. I thought that was a second-best, second-rate way to have an orgasm, inferior to intercourse. Unfortunately, I just did not have the language or the skill to talk to my husband about my struggle. I had always assumed that sex would just work in marriage and we would both be happy and fulfilled. I quickly realized that this was not the case, but I didn’t understand why.
I came into marriage not completely inexperienced, but I had very unrealistic expectations about how fulfilling intercourse should be. Thinking that “sex” and “intercourse” were the same thing was a big part of my problem. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Jealousy. Confusion. These are only a few of the feelings I had about sex in the first 19 years marriage.
I also had many questions swirling in my head. Why in the world did I struggle to have an orgasm during intercourse? Was I just unlucky? Were other women struggling like me? Did I have a problem? Was I doing something wrong? Why could I not get the hang of it? This felt terribly unfair and cruel. I wondered if I should tell my doctor, but I was too embarrassed because what if she thought I was weird? My husband had no problem with climax. So, what in the world was wrong with me? I thought this was supposed to be so easy and fun. Because, according to movies and TV, most couples were having fabulous, mutually satisfying sex lives and doing so the old-fashioned way -- through intercourse alone. That was normal, right?
And there it was: my orgasm gap. Everyone else was frisky and frolicsome, but I struggled. Men had it easy, but I didn’t. I was broken. Sadly, this created temptations to turn to unhealthy ways of soothing my soul.
We sought the help of a Christian marriage counselor which was way overdue. She helped us begin to understand ourselves and each other better and, with God’s help, gave us new skills to grow into a healthier marriage. I learned how to communicate my thoughts, feelings and needs. I started learning how to be my most authentic self with him. A more enjoyable sex life very slowly began even though I often still struggled to have an orgasm. I was still believing that orgasms should just happen with intercourse alone.
Two years later, after suffering from several years of chronic pain in my feet and other areas of my body, plus anxiety and depression to boot, the pain became unbearable and I started my journey of pain management with non-opioid pain medications. While these helped lessen my symptoms, the side effects only further complicated my journey of improving my sex life. I felt absolutely defeated and hopeless. I prayed and asked, “God, please show me what to do. Who I can talk to?”
Within just a few days, I was reading a woman's magazine and saw a very tiny article about sex. There were a few quotes by a sex therapist which I thought were helpful. Even better, I noticed that she worked in New York City and I immediately scheduled an appointment. I had never spoken to anyone about my sexual difficulties, and it was super weird at first, (maybe you can imagine??!!) but I quickly got the hang of it after about five minutes. It was incredibly freeing to finally talk about my sexual difficulties and how they made me feel. She was able to help me even in just my first appointment. She was the answer to my prayer. I finally felt hopeful. I learned that I actually needed to address my biggest sex organ – my brain.
With her help in the following weeks and months, I started giving myself grace by redirecting my defeating thoughts and redefining what sex is. I began seeing the myriad of possibilities of what sex could be vs. just intercourse. I realized I can still be a “good Christian girl” while breaking out of my old-fashioned, erroneous and self-limiting ways of thinking. I was communicating better, and at long last I started enjoying our sex life in ways I never imagined possible. This was just the beginning of great things for my sexual health. Before things got better, however, they seemed to get worse…
In 2018 the right side of my body went numb to the touch. I had tingling and pain in my hands and incredible fatigue. After two scary months of tests and MRIs I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Again, this just added to my chronic pain and brought back my anxiety and depression. I returned to my sex therapist’s office for more counseling. Oddly enough, my sexual confidence started blossoming in spite of MS. I dug deep to learn how to be my most authentic self in my marriage relationship. I learned how to start taking responsibility for my own sexual enjoyment and orgasms. My husband and I got creative with sex, and I learned how to work around my MS symptoms and medication side effects. Orgasms are now more the norm for me rather than a rare, lucky occurrence. Yay!
I have learned that more than two-thirds of women cannot have an orgasm with intercourse alone. So, I fell into the same category as a majority of other women! Turns out, I was not alone at all. However, about 90% of men are able to achieve this feat with intercourse alone. Ergo, the orgasm gap!
As I look back now, I have learned where those years of confusion came from. Other than the covers of Cosmopolitan magazine in the grocery store checkout lines, no one was talking about women and sex. There was certainly no mention of women struggling with sex. The silence planted seeds of insecurity in me. American culture watered those seeds with unrealistic expectations about sex. And my ideas of what marriage should be caused embarrassment and disappointment to take root. It took years to weed out all of this misinformation, but as a result I’ve been able to blossom to my full potential.
All of this has led me to a much more intimate relationship with my husband in many areas, and I am happier and more confident than I ever was in my first two decades of marriage. I have learned how to become curious, not devastated, when sexual difficulties or any problems come up. I now believe that sex is the art and creativity of producing sexual connection and pleasure together. Today, I have bridged my orgasm gap and I am hoping to help other women do the same.
This confidence has carried over into other areas of my life. Previously I had been a nutrition and holistic health coach. However, experiencing such great challenges and victories in my health and sex life, I knew I had to change course. It wasn’t enough to talk to women about salads and smoothies anymore. My real passion had become talking to women about sex.
Each of my roadblocks have proven to be an opportunity to grow far beyond what I could have imagined. It is out of the wellspring of support I received from my counselors and coaches where I discovered this new direction. I feel called to come alongside frustrated and disappointed women as a Sex & Relationship Coach and give them hope. I want to make right the false narratives that women believe about themselves and their sexual relationship.
Just as I learned I was not alone in my struggles, other women need to know they are not alone, either. Through my story, I hope other women will embrace, express, and enjoy their sexuality -- whether on a lazy Saturday morning or any other day of the week!