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Common Misconceptions About Sex & Marriage

Common Misconceptions About Sex & Marriage

By Jessica Leith & Fiona O'Farrell

Aaah, Spring. The season of cherry blossoms, tulips, pollen, flowers, and intense allergies to all of these wondrous things. However, the best part of Spring time is reserved for wedding planning. 

According to The Knot, 80% of all weddings happen between May and October, which means most people are putting the finishing touches together for the big day right about now. When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get bogged down with table settings, playlists, and finalizing guest lists, and subsequently put the erotic energy many couples have for intimacy on the back burner. 

Keeping passions alive while managing guest lists can be tricky for any relationship type, from those who are abstaining before marriage to those who have explored one another and unlocked a great sex life. Whatever the status, managing expectations for the wedding night, honeymoon and the long-term commitment of marriage can lead to some misguided assumptions and beliefs that might end up making things more difficult. 

Never fear, Pepper is here. Our Relationship Sexperts identify a few common myths and misconceptions about sex and marriage that couples often fall into leading up to (and after) the big day, as well as how couples can calm their pre-wedding jitters.

Sex During Marriage Myth #1 - “It’s all or nothing” in a marriage.

The modern concept of marriage is that of choice–we are no longer bound to the Bridgerton-esque dilemma of marrying to save our family fortune or maintaining high societal status; instead we choose partners that we believe will add to our life and create more fulfillment. The drawback of this is that there is more pressure than ever to choose the “right” partner—someone who can be the ultimate spouse in all arenas: the perfect companion, co-parent, financial partner, and expert lover. It sets us up to have what relationship therapists call the “all-or-nothing marriage”, one where partnerships must add to the fullness of our lives in every sector. 

This also sets up very high expectations for a fulfilling marital sex life. Given that most Americans receive little to no comprehensive sexuality education, it is unlikely that either partner entering into marital bliss will be a wizard in the bedroom. Our Pepper Sexperts encourage newlyweds to think about their marriage as a long term commitment to learn about one another and explore and develop together as co-conspirators of an awesome sex life, rather than a transaction in which your partner is there to fulfill you. 

We encourage you and your partner to understand that mind-blowing sex often comes when all parties can shed expectation and discover one another’s turn ons (or what we Sexperts like to call arousal templates). Finally, remember that we grow and change over time - if you are lucky enough to have found your ideal partner who does indeed add to your life in all arenas, keep in mind that people change, and our job as a spouse is to keep discovering the person your partner is becoming, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Read our better sex tips if you need some help here.

Need a little help? Our recommended Pepper products for kicking the ”all or nothing” marriage mindset are: Ohnut and Connect Couples Ring.

Sex During Marriage Myth #2 - Putting a pause on sex before the wedding will make it even better!

Not so fast. While it makes sense that refraining from sex throughout your engagement may build desire and as a result, make sex more satisfying on the wedding night, the consequences of this could be more negative than positive. Sexual intimacy is a great way to nurture the emotional connection in relationships and an orgasm or two could be exactly the thing you both need to help with the stressful weeks leading up to the wedding. 

A poll conducted in 2016 found that more than half of the couples surveyed skipped wedding night sex altogether due to utter exhaustion or drinking too much. Instead, our Sexperts suggest that partners who have established sexual intimacy before tying the knot should carry on as usual. This will likely increase excitement and anticipation for one another while soothing the typical anxiety that goes along with planning any major life event. 

Finally, plan small ways to engage in intimacy leading up to and on the wedding night: touch one another under the table at your cake tasting, leave little sexy love notes about what you are looking forward to doing to each other as wedded partners, and prioritize one another over the many obligations that come with planning and having a wedding. Your future married self will thank you for it.

Sex During Marriage Myth #3 - Sex is important to us, which means we’ll always find time for sex.

If you are a couple who is able to communicate about your sexual wants and needs with one another without conflict, congratulations! This is an enviable skill that has the ability to reinforce a happy and satisfying marriage. However, for many, this won’t always be the case because, well, life happens. 

Relationship Therapists note that many issues in a relationship coincide with major life transitions such as moving, buying a house, caring for elderly parents, a change in job or financial standing, one partner going to graduate school, dealing with health concerns or experiencing a major loss. Your sex life is not immune to those transitions and if you are one of the 37% of American couples who choose to build on your union with children, those sexual communication skills are going to get even more stretched when balancing the needs of work, parenting, friends, and most importantly, one another. 

The key to navigating life’s challenges while balancing your sexual relationship is by embracing the ups and downs that come with living your shared life. Couples who maintain a strong sexual connection over their marriage are the ones that use those communication skills to connect, understand what their partner is experiencing and face the ups and downs together. 

Using a “quality over quantity” mindset can help couples weather life and still want to get frisky with one another. Maybe you haven’t had the careless three times a week sex you enjoyed when you were first together, but redefining sex will help you notice all the ways you still engage with one another and when you do carve out the time to have sex you know it’s special and a symbol of your dedication to one another. 

Discover our recommended Pepper products to find time for connection: Connection Room & Linen Spray and the Intimacy Deck.

Sex During Marriage Myth #4 - Sex today, sex tomorrow.

Most couples who seek relationship and sex therapy prior to marriage fall into two camps: the “sex is great and there are no complaints” camp or the “sex is the area I would love to see improved before tying the knot” camp. Either way, a common misconception about sex and marriage is that whatever the sexual status quo is at the beginning of the relationship, it will be that way forever. This, we’re sorry to say, is not necessarily the truth.

The important thing to know is that sex, like all other things, will change and evolve throughout a relationship. This is a key concept we assist couples in embracing when they seek sex therapy. Once couples understand that there is always a way to change, they can spend time exploring new sexual experiences with one another instead of worrying about being stuck in a rut. 

This comes from a counseling approach called Possibility Therapy, where you focus on what is possible and look for new ways of understanding one another. When it comes to sex, being able to communicate about what you want, what you would love to explore with one another, and what is possible can set you on a path towards mutual fulfillment and satisfaction as you both grow and change in your relationship. 

Pepper Together can help encourage couples to find new possibilities. Spice things up with the Hintz Massage Candle, encourage connection with The Sex Journal, and experiment with the Indulge Rabbit Vibrator. Thank us later.

Sex During Marriage Myth #5 - Living together = sex 24/7.

Many couples already cohabitate before getting married; in fact, the Pew Research Foundation reports that 69% of US adults support unmarried adults are living together. However, if you think living with your significant other gives you 24 hour access to sexy time, think again. For those of you who already live with your soon-to-be spouse, this means that you may already have busted this myth just by living it. 

For those who are waiting to move-in until after you are married, know that there are some aspects of living separately that actually encourage more frequent sex. When couples seek sex therapy, one of the questions I ask is: what was sex like before and after moving in together? For many, they report more frequent and satisfying sex when living apart. 

So why is it that when couples have more access to one another, sex decreases? It’s simple, really: whether you know it or not, living separately means that there is an unspoken agreement about when sex is going to happen. Since you have limited time with one another, it goes without saying that when you are together, you’ll get some nookie in. However, when we are living with our partners, although the opportunity for sex is higher, the agreement is not as explicit and so cohabitating partners have to initiate or find times they are both in the mood. 

Luckily, there is a simple remedy for this: be intentional about when you want to have sex and let your partner know about it. Find ways to communicate your sexual cues to one another, let your partner know that you love sex in the morning or that you feel sexiest after you take a shower, take turns initiating with one another and don’t take it personally if it doesn’t always work out.

Our recommended Pepper products for intentional sex: Sandalwood Massage Oil, Pepper Condoms wand the Pamper Massage Wand.

Sex During Marriage Myth #6 - “Once we get married, the sex will become boring and eventually non-existent.”

Our culture is full of stereotypes about the sex lives of married people - most of which propel the negative belief that sex in most marriages fades or becomes non-existent over time. Thank you, Hollywood. If we all accept this as the norm, then we will play into it. Similar to our discussion about sex when living together, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your sex life will certainly change over your marriage, but it falling into complete decline just because you are married is total - excuse our French - bullshit.

Let’s unpack this a little further. The fate of a sexless marriage is attached to another common misconception we have in our society about sex and youth. Somehow, we have created the idea that young people are the only ones getting down and dirty. So inevitably the correlation is made that sex as we age declines, and therefore sex also becomes more infrequent the longer we are married. 

However, most data shows that the ability to experience sexual satisfaction stays consistent across a lifespan, and that many - cisgendered women in particular - report higher levels of sexual drive well into their forties and beyond. So how come many sex therapists will find couples coming in to their offices seeking help with a decrease in sex during their partnership? Well, most couples have fallen into the trap of believing this common sex myth and confirming it every time sex doesn’t happen. 

When we treat sex like a checkbox then we will start to notice when it doesn’t get checked.

This belief process is what psychologists refer to as confirmation bias, believing something to be true and then confirming that it is indeed true every time it does (or, in this case, does not) happen. We can do ourselves, our marriages, and our society a big favor by not falling into negative confirmation bias about sex and marriage. 

Instead, look for what we therapists call exceptions; examples that challenge your belief of something. Notice how often your partner gives you little signs of affection or foreplay as opposed to whether or not you had sex. The other trick is to think in ratios rather than all or nothings. Shift your perspective from “we haven’t had sex in three weeks” to “we had one really great sex session in the last three weeks.” 

Finally, examine your beliefs about what constitutes sex or not. If you only count penetrative sex that ends in simultaneous orgasms (which is very rare, btw) as real sex then you are missing all the other ways you could be having sex. Little touches, massage, hand and mouth play, and mutual masturbation are all ways to have sex. Pepper works hard to bring the most innovative sex toys to help you find ways to challenge your confirmation bias and find new ways to have sex and connect more. If you need a little more help here, discover how to make sex a bit more exciting.

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