First off, a little background. I never once have felt like the LDS church teaches sex as dirty, bad, or wrong, but that it is something precious and sacred to be reserved for marriage and marriage only. So, I am glad I never had the "sex is bad" notion floating in my brain. However, beyond that it was all a mystery.
By Jr. High I knew it was sperm from men and eggs from women that created babies, but I couldn't figure out how the sperm got into the woman. All I knew about penises was that they were kind of floppy and that boys peed with them, so I didn't understand how it physically worked. I didn't know about erections or ejaculation. Even in High School I was a little hazy on the subject. Clear up through college I felt ignorant and embarrassed at my ignorance about sex. I found, however, that many of my LDS friends were in the same boat.
Some of my best learning experiences came from TAing for Child Development in college. We didn't discuss sex in that class, per se, but I did have to explain menstruation to many men over the course of 4 years, and I realized that other people were just as clueless as I about some things. I also learned to talk openly and unashamedly of "taboo topics". I'm very much an advocate for talking about sex openly because I felt so...in the dark. I resolved that once I knew something from my own experience, I would answer any questions ever asked me in a straightforward manner without shame, hush hush, or embarrassment. I'd give as much information as I could give without delving into too personal or sacred information.
So, on Th.'s blog, an anonymous commenter (Male, RM, BYUer, single) voiced a lot of legitimate concerns about sex, personal cleanliness, etc. His comment ended up being the meat of the most recent lds-eros post on Theric's blog. It was to some of his concerns that I was responding in my epistle of a response. His comments I am addressing are in italics.
I'm not an "expert". I was a virgin when I was married. I've only been married 6 years. However, I do feel like I have a satisfying and healthy love life. This is just my take on the subject. Feel free to ask questions, disagree, etc., but please do your best to do so without venom. I'm directing this to an LDS audience as well as those who believe in chastity before and after marriage.
"...what good is sex if i'm the only one enjoying it. "
It is a common and sad generalization that all women hate sex. It almost seems expected of women. I think some virgin women fear sex just because they've heard others complain about how it's all about the man. I just want to publicly state that not all women hate sex or only participate because it is their "duty" or merely to reproduce. While I know women who kind of dread sex, I also know plenty o' Mormon (and otherwise) women who enjoy it. It is a gift from God to help unite (literally and figuratively) a couple. It was instituted for both people, not just one. Does it sometimes take work, love, understanding, forgiveness, compassion, and time to enjoy? OF COURSE!
Is sex always as comfortable, as satisfying, or as enjoyable for both partners? No. Shared experiences rarely are. Sometimes I enjoy it more; sometimes he enjoys it more. But even if it's occasionally uncomfortable physically (for what ever reason), it can bring closeness and completeness to our relationship.
"if i can't pleasure my own woman i could just stay single and masturbate and feel like trash and go to hell."
Don't place your worth on the amount of pleasure she has during sex. Good heavens, each time we have intercourse is such a different experience with different feelings. Sometimes I don't feel like gettin' it on, but do anyway because I want to do what it takes to help him feel appreciated, loved and pleasured. I'm totally ok with that. He doesn't always feel like giving me back rubs or snuggling with me, but does it when I need that from him.
Masturbation will never leave a person feeling satisfied, content or happy. Pleasured, sure, but I don't know if anyone could convince me it was satisfying or that it makes them feel "whole" or "complete". It takes two people to achieve that feeling of wholeness. There will be ups and downs and happy moments and sad moments, but in the end if you both try to help make the other person happy, you'll end up achieving unity and love.
"give me your thoughts. speak to us singles. what is it we ought to know."
For singles not engaged nor close to engaged:
I'd just suggest being very direct and asking someone (or multiple someones since everyone has a different perspective and outlook on it) unruffled by such topics the specific questions that concern or mystify you. It's good to not feel ignorant. There are lots of people who have questions and are too embarrassed to ask. It's not just you. And just know, there are things you honestly can't know without experiencing, so you'll just have to be patient for some answers. Also, I strongly suggest not pushing the purity line (i.e. how close can you get to sex without actually having sex). I was somewhat of a temptress and was darn lucky I had a strong man who held boundaries.
For people engaged (even some marrieds need to do this):
Before you get married, talk with each other openly and honestly about your idea of what sex will/should be like. Talk about what makes you feel uncomfortable to imagine, scared or unsure. Talk about what you imagine is ok/not bedroom behavior (are you ok with oral sex? etc.) and foreplay. (I didn't really understand foreplay, so I was really glad we talked about it before we were married. I'd never really considered that touching and rubbing genitals could be kosher. I guess because I always thought that was "petting" and thus wrong. I was glad to get that notion out of my head.) Talk about your expectations for "the first time" so there is nothing majorly shocking. Talk about your feelings on lingerie. A sexual relationship is so personal that each couple has to know what their partner is thinking, worrying about, etc. Everyone has their own opinions and worries connected to sex.
Once you're married:
My advice here is this: do what is pleasurable for her and not what you think should be pleasurable (and hopefully she will do the same). That means to ask sincerely, listen, love, reassure, compliment, and then do what she finds pleasurable, even if it's something other than sex. Trust me, the way a woman is treated outside of intercourse can have a big influence on how she feels during intercourse.
While I can't speak for all women, I would have to say that sex is a lot more of an emotional experience for me than my husband, and when I feel appreciated and wanted, I enjoy sex a whole lot more. I think a lot of people's displeasure during sex stems from feeling inadequate, unloved, uncomfortable with their own bodies, etc. Be sensitive and loving and help your spouse overcome personal issues and it will eventually spill into that area of your relationship.
Specific things I want to address:
- The first time a woman has sex it can be bloody. Very bloody. In the book The Act of Marriage it addressed this, but they said that there was like 2 Tbsp of blood or something. I didn't find that to be an accurate or adequate warning. Have a towel or two underneath so you don't stain the sheets or bed. It's not like that for everyone, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.
- Have a wash cloth or Kleenex close so you can easily wipe your hands after using lubricant.
- Sex can be fairly awkward for two virgins who don't know what they're doing. It can take a little while to get used to each other's movements, bodies, etc., so don't feel like you're failing. Just take it as a chance to experiment and experience.
- You can read books about sex/intimacy together if you feel you need some direction. There are some LDS books, but there are other books as well. My sister gave us an explicit book called The Magic of Sex that talked about (and had pictures of) different positions. It was helpful to have some reference in the beginning. I wouldn't, however, recommend reading a book like that (especially illustrated) until after you're married because of the possible porn and arousal factor. Read those books together as a learning tool.