How Do You Grieve the Honeymoon Years You Never Had?

by | Oct 7, 2019 | Marriage | 49 comments

What if Your Honeymoon Years Were Awful? Can you grieve missing out on great sex?
Orgasm Course

What if the honeymoon years passed you by, and sex was never good?

How do you come to terms with the fact that you’ve missed out on something you can never get back?

Over the month of October I’m going to be talking about the different stages of sex in marriage, and we started this month with the “figuring things out” stage of sex–those first few years when things are new, and you’re getting adjusted to sex. Even if you had sex before you were married, things are still different now. Sex means something different. And often it changes.

I’m gearing up to talk about the years when life gets busy with little kids this Wednesday, but before we move on to that, I want to address a few more things about this early stage. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at 10 tips if she has never had an orgasm yet, but today I want to turn to this one: How can you process grief if you feel like you’ve lost time you’ll never get back?

On the comments to last week’s post, this theme came up several times. Here are just a few:

I grieve it daily it seems! It’s SUPER hard for me to get over (aka I’m nowhere close). I’ve been trying to pray about it and release it and give it to the Lord, but that deep deep feeling of mourning and loss just won’t go away. And me feeling like I’m getting old really quickly and like babies have just totally destroyed my body/shape isn’t helping. And the worst part is that I feel such resentment over it towards my husband…I blame him for being fat and not trying to attract/woo his new bride, and I also blame him for doing no research about why I wasn’t orgasming and thinking to himself “hmm, how can I become a better lover?” Instead, he basically thought “that sucks that she’s not orgasming. I wish she would. But there’s nothing I can do. Oh well, at least I am. I guess that’s just the way it’ll be”….I also find myself thinking that time is running out. If there’s no marriage and no sex in heaven, then this is our only chance to experience it!…But just knowing that this is our only chance to make sex great / the only time we’ll physically be young (& that lessens with each passing year and day) gives me serious FOMO!


Married for a few years, never learning how to make sex feel that great

I know that for me, two of the things that I struggle with the most in this is resentment and losing hope. It’s hard to not resent the fact that my husband has such an easy time with this, and honestly, not resenting that God made this so hard for women. And even though I know that I’ve made progress, I can’t help thinking that I should have beat this by now. It’s hard to keep hoping that sex will ever feel good for me, or that by the time I figure it out, my husband will have given up on it. 


Married for a few years, struggling with vaginismus (pain during sex)

I’m now a mid 40’s loving faithful husband craving for affection and connection. We never made those fun memories you write about. Getaway weekends, marathons, exploring each other. Let alone just plain good ole’ sex. Where we should be right now is totally comfortable around each other and hitting those good old years of understanding each other. Yet we aren’t even close. Hope? Gone…Its not just about grieving the past and what we missed out on but knowing that with with every passing day…more time is lost. Grieving for the future is hard too. 


Married for a few decades, in a sexless marriage

There’s a very real feeling that you have lost something precious when sex during the newlywed period isn’t that great.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. When you’re young, you tend to be in better shape. Health problems haven’t impacted sex yet for most people. You have more energy and fewer responsibilities, so you’re in the best position to have those “sex marathons”. You look the best you likely ever will. Neither of you has put on the weight that’s likely to come over the next few years. In many ways, this is the ideal time to enjoy sex.

And yet, for so many of us (even most of us), the honeymoon stage is not that wonderful when it comes to sex. As I’ve said repeatedly, when I did the surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, the best years for sex in marriage are years 16-24. Yet our expectation that the early years of sex should be great can lead to such disappointment when they’re not.

It’s okay to grieve what you’ve lost–especially if the loss is significant.

I remember, about 10 years after I had married, sitting in the basement inside an empty house and just screaming. Like for Becky, sex had been so painful for me when I was first married, but I had been taught that my husband wouldn’t feel love and that I would be a failure if we didn’t have sex. So I forced myself through the pain, even though Keith told me I didn’t have to, because I was so scared of losing him and so scared of failing. And that set up a whole host of horrible repercussions with how Keith felt about sex and how I felt about sex. It took  years to disentangle them. And when things finally were working well–every now and then that anger and rejection would creep back up, and I couldn’t get rid of it.

So I screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

I still feel so sad for young Sheila. And that’s one reason why I talk so much about vaginismus, or pain during intercourse. I want women to know that God does not expect you to endure pain just so your husband can feel loved. I want you to know that there are treatments. I don’t want anyone yelling in a basement, 10 years into their marriage, feeling so unimportant, as if you’re just a receptacle. Because that’s what it felt like for me, and that made the recovery so much harder.

Keith and Sheila soon after we bought our house

Yes, there was a lot to grieve. There was anger to work through towards God, based not on what God said, but on bad teachings that I had heard growing up. Those teachings, combined with my physical pain, hurt me. They stole years of my life. If I had just gotten treatment properly, and if we had handled things properly, we would have been much further ahead much faster.

Nevertheless, I was still a fortunate one. For me, vaginismus did resolve once I was able to get over my trust issues with Keith, and once I was able to learn to control those muscles (I think it was primarily ballet that messed up my pelvic floor). For many of my readers, Becky, included, it has not resolved as quickly. So what would I say to you?

Separate the grief over losing your honeymoon years from the anger at God

Things don’t always go as we had planned. But sometimes the things that we have been taught as Christians make the honeymoon years even worse, and make us feel even worse, because we project onto God things that He never said. This anger can be due to two things:

Thinking that God was asking you to do something that was hurting you, even though God wasn’t

In my case, I thought the important thing was that I have intercourse, no matter what my experience. I didn’t understand that God didn’t want the act of intercourse; He wanted intimacy. For more on that, please read:

But then there’s something even more common. I hear from so many women who have sex and it feels lousy, but they keep doing because they think it’s their duty. They don’t realize that it’s actually good for them to speak up and say, “you know, this should be good for me, too, and having one-sided sex is not what God intended, nor is it pleasing to God.”

It’s much harder to process the honeymoon grief if we think that God contributed to it by asking us to endure being used. Understanding that this is not His will at all can help you move forward.

Thinking that God was promising you great sex if you did everything right

Here’s something slightly different we may need to work through: Many churches and youth groups have taught young people that if they just do everything right, and if they wait for marriage for sex, then sex will be awesome. Then they get married and they feel cheated. They did their part of the bargain; why didn’t God do His?

However, God never promises that sex will be awesome right off the bat if you do things right. He asks us to wait for our own good (and I explain this in detail in The Good Girl’s Guide), but He doesn’t promise that. If we let go of this idea that God has cheated us out of something, it can be easier to deal with our disappointment, too.

It’s easier to grieve what was lost if you’re making progress.

One of the most common ways of emotionally derailing yourself is to develop black-and-white thinking: “It’s been terrible so far, so it will always be terrible. It will never get any better.”

On the contrary, if you can take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and tell yourself the truth, you can move forward.

My first few years were disappointing sexually, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of my marriage needs to be. I can still move forward. The future is not written yet.

Work through 31 Days to Great Sex together, which helps you talk about sex; figure out what feels good; deal with sexual baggage and other problems; build your emotional closeness; and so much more. Or, if you’re struggling to process trauma, seek out a licensed therapist. Get help and accountability for porn use. See a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Just don’t give up!

Are you and your spouse sexually disconnected?

31 Days to Great Sex helps you flirt, be more affectionate, talk–and especially spice things up!

No blaming. Just solutions–and a whole lot of fun!

Let’s rethink the honeymoon years: Many people feel more confident, and more themselves, at 45 than they do at 25.

My biggest piece of advice, though, would be this: Do not assume that because the 20s have passed you by that  your best years are behind you.

Believe me–most women especially feel far more confident and sexually themselves at 38 or 45 or 50 than they do at 25. Your body may not be as good as it was then, but confidence counts for so much more! I feel more myself now. I feel as if Keith and I have grown into the type of people we were meant to be. We didn’t know yet who we were back then. To think that sex is going to be the best when you’re still relatively immature; when you don’t know each other as well; when you aren’t as confident in yourself–well, it’s not realistic. It’s okay if sex gets better later!

Let’s be great sex ambassadors and help others.

And now, one more word of encouragement. Tell others who are just getting married now that sex does not have to be amazing right off the bat. But also tell them that it likely won’t be amazing if they don’t speak up for what they want. It won’t be amazing if they don’t stress their own pleasure (if they’re women). It’s going to be a learning curve, so be sure to make it into a fun research project! Suggest that engaged people get The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex or take my Honeymoon Course to learn how to start off well (and hopefully prevent a lot of these problems).

Are you ready for the honeymoon you always dreamed of?

The Honeymoon Course is here to help you plan the perfect honeymoon and start your marriage (and your sex life!) off with laughter, joy and fun!

Don’t make the same mistakes other couples have–get it right from the beginning! 

We surveyed our email list (are you on it yet?) a month or so ago to see what people wanted to hear more about. And one thing that came out of that survey was that people who bought The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex were 1.3 times likely to be satisfied in their sex life, and 1.5 times more likely to be satisfied in their marriage, than those who had not. It seems to have a protective effect, especially on newlyweds (which makes me feel amazing!). So encourage people to get good information!

I know when sex doesn’t go as planned in the first few years it can feel like you’ve lost something you can never get back.

But maybe if we keep things in better perspective, seeing sex as a journey that you take together, that’s a decades-long adventure, we’ll be further ahead. I get the disappointment. I do. But don’t give up! God wants you to have great intimacy, and I do believe that most couples, with the right attitudes, can eventually get there.


What do you think? Did you have anything to grieve over with your honeymoon years? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Alex

    Another wonderful article thanks Sheila.

    After 25yrs of marriage we have a great sex life. The type of sex life I kinda expected to start on our honeymoon, but which took decades to form, and TBH, I have resentment issues I still need to work through.

    I had done a LOT of reading before marriage, I love to research topics that interest me, but was shocked to discover on our honeymoon that none of the advice I’d read about what women wanted sexually, applied to my wonderful new wife.

    She didn’t want to be touched below the waist, oral was never going to happen, most positions were disgusting or degrading, foreplay wasn’t wanted, and PIV was painful, regardless of how much lube was used.

    After a week of marriage Margo essentially forced me to complete the ‘act’, which was horrible for both of us. That was the first time either of us had any form of sex with another person. It couldn’t get much worse.

    Anyways, things slooowwwwly improved over the decades until I had my first ever bout of ED (erectile dysfunction) at 22yrs married. All of a sudden with PIV off the table, Margo found she loved all sorts of sexual stimulation, and positions. Overnight she completely changed, and so did our sex life.

    Interestingly my ED also disappeared when our sex life was more than PIV.

    Now if only I could have had ED at 21, on our Honeymoon 😉

    Like you, we should have sought professional help for our relationship and sex issues. We were too proud & stupid to do so. We figured things weren’t so bad, why would we get counseling, when others seem far worse off.

    – Alex.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for sharing your story, Alex. And I’m so glad that things are going so well now! It does take a lot of time for some people. I hope that I can help others avoid that kind of decades-long disappointment and fast-forward to the good years.

      • Lacey

        I feel this in my soul. I grew up in one of those traditional conservative Christian homes. The teachings I got about sex were very stereotypical. But I was still so excited to get married & when I did marry, I ended up loving sex in every form and detail and having a very high libido.

        But I married someone who had a lower libido, and one that was incredibly easily influenced by stress, tiredness, emotional mood etc etc. Also someone who wasn’t a fan of giving oral.

        I was devastated. It felt like everything taught to me about sex in marriage was a lie. I felt like we were freaks, as neither of us fit the traditional roles. I struggled a lot with bitterness and grief. Still do some days. My husband is a good lover and I have an orgasm every time. But it’s still so vastly different than what I’d expected. Been married 3 years and I still grieve. Hard some days.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m sorry, Lacey. I’m glad that sex actually feels great for you, though. And you may find that after a few years his libido does go up. If he grew up in a traditional home like you did, he may also have some residual guilt or negative feelings about sex, which can make stress affect his libido even more. It could be that as you relax with each other and enjoy marriage more he may relax, too.

        • Sophia

          Thank you for sharing! You are SO not the only one. Honestly it’s really frustrating and saddening sometimes coming across so much literature geared towards helping women “get in the mood” more to match their husband’s desires. I am BY FAR the more desiring and adventurous one and feel like I have to constantly restrain myself from him. My husband and I are the opposite of almost every gender stereotype. (Libido, emotional, talking, etc).

          Even when his desire is high, it’s been a struggle for me still because he doesn’t understand the need for foreplay and is really grossed out by sex for the most part, so it’s usually like a minute of kissing and then straight to PIV. My friend has encouraged me to ask him for oral stimulation and to just sit on his face (lol) but honestly I don’t dare to because he already gets grossed out by less “spicy” things and hardly takes his time manually.

          I’m being patient as he is learning and I know he loves me and cares about me, and we have only recently started the conversation about how disappointing our sex life turned out to be and we were both pretty shocked by the honeymoon letdown nearly 5 years ago.

          But Now we have a clingy active 1 year old that sleeps in our room, and I can’t help but grieve the years of freedom we had to explore and take our time with each other, have fun, experiment, etc. We are taking steps to move forward and get better but I still feel resentment sometimes that he wasn’t bothered by our stale sex or his prudishness all these years until I bawled my eyes out to him over it. And even now the only thing changing is frequency. But he’s so good to me otherwise and I love him so much and have so much compassion for his shortcomings and struggles. It just physically and even emotionally gets frustrating and draining sometimes.

  2. Wendell

    My wife and I have been married for 47 years, and for a lot of those years I did not have much interest in sex. Once I found out what the Word had to say about it I changed my mind and began to read more about it. One thing I have prayed over our entire marriage is Joel 2:25. God has and is continuing to restore the years. Don’t ever give up.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Wendell!

  3. A

    Thank you for covering this! These feelings of grief have been incredibly confusing for me. I would like to work through them and feel free to embrace the present and future. I think one thing that is still an issue for me is that my husband doesn’t seem to understand this grief. He is absolutely a loving, good willed husband that is trying to learn and please me me now, but there were several years that neither of us did any research and we both had almost no sex ed before marriage so we were naive and missing a lot. Now that we are learning and growing, he is just excited about the present and future. If I try to explain these feelings of grief about the past, he thinks I’m implying that he was mistreating me or being selfish or that I didn’t enjoy any part of those years (I’m not). I’m not sure what I’m looking for from him, maybe just true empathy. I hope we can have success communicating about this soon.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I was talking to my daughter Rebecca yesterday about something different, but one thing she said which may be relevant here is that we tend to think that if someone’s sad, that’s bad and we have to talk them out of it. Sometimes we just have to let people be sad. You can be sad without being angry or without feeling like anyone it to blame. You can just be sad about how things have unfolded. And it’s okay to sit in sadness for a little bit, and then move on. Maybe if you try to say that to your husband? I just need to give myself permission to be sad for the years lost. That doesn’t mean you’re mad; it doesn’t mean you’re not looking forward to what’s ahead of you or that you’re not committed to it; it just means you’re a little bit sad, and if you can sit in that sadness for a bit, it’s actually easier to put it behind you. But when we keep telling ourselves that we have no reason to be sad, and that being sad is bad, it actually can make that sadness last longer.

      • Anon

        This post is where we are at right now. In the last year, we have had our eyes opened to so much in our marriage (some from wrong teaching during the purity culture, my trust issues with men, etc) and then grieved the loss of our honeymoon years, once we realized the freedom we now have. We have cried so many tears about time lost. It has hit my husband more than me. I can move on a little sad, but he can’t seem to move on. In the last month though, he has opened up to me about childhood trauma, and a few smaller scale secrets he had that weighed on him. I am glad he is opening up to me, but i def think he needs therapy. It’s hard for me to see him stuck in not getting over the time lost when I don’t want to waste today.

  4. Nathan

    Sheila, I believe that Rebecca made a very good point. Sadness is a feeling, too, and sometimes we feel it and need to process it and the experience that causes it.

    I wasn’t around then, but in TV and movies, people say that in the 40s and 50s, people (especially girls and women) were never “allowed” to be sad. You had to be happy and smiling all the time, or else there was something wrong with you.

    In a perfect world? Perhaps, but in this world we’re just sad sometimes. Long, prolonged sadness may indicate something else, but a little bit of sadness now and then is just part of living in the world, and it’s okay

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely! I know I’ve read studies that say that people who cry 2-3 times a month are healthier than those who don’t (I really should try to find those studies). Like, more than that isn’t healthy, but less than that isn’t, either. That actually would make a good post, wouldn’t it?

      • Lindsey

        I am an INFJ- and I recently had to tell my husband “you don’t understand, sadness is not for me what it is for you. Yes, it can be a little painful, but it’s also authentic, beautiful, and it helps me live in the present. I don’t want you to try to get rid of all my sadness, I just want you to see it and be okay sitting with me in it.”

        I’ve always loved movies that make your cry – it’s my gold standard. And as a writer, if it didn’t bring a tear to people’s eyes, I didn’t think my work was that good.

        My point it, I think sadness is different for different personalities.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s likely very true, Lindsey!

          At the same time, I’m an ENTJ, a type that isn’t supposed to feel that much. But I have a very strong “shadow” side, and I do feel deeply. The difference is that when I feel, my shadow introvert also comes out, and I really need to be alone. That’s why when hymns trigger me in church I need to leave. I can’t be with a group of people and be sad. Even with my hubby, sometimes I just need to be alone. But I’m not angry at him, and it passes. Sometimes we all just need to be sad.

          • Lindsey

            For sure. And even though I consistently get an INFJ on tests, I am almost dead center on all of the areas. So I often act in other ways too. At the end of the day we are all unique individuals with unique ways of processing feelings that feel unique, but are in fact universal.

  5. EM

    Disappointing sex isn’t the only reason the honeymoon years can be tough. My family was going through a huge crisis when we got married and when I look back on those years, most of the memories are just sad. By the time life calmed down, the babies started coming. I wish we’d gotten to experience those carefree newlywed years that I had imagined, but I’m thankful now that it’s part of our story. It bonded us together in a lot of ways, and kept us from fighting about stupid things because we had perspective on what really matters. Unfortunately those years did contribute to some unhealthy patterns because we were both under so much stress and I was a bit traumatized, but since we’ve finally uncovered those issues we are on a much better path. I’m really looking forward to enjoying our empty nest years to finally enjoy having fun together just the two of us.

    • C

      This resonates with me so much! My husband and I experienced a lot of grief in our first year of marriage (loss of a parent, loss of a grandparent, appendicitis, burn out realigning careers with our values, residual grief from being a refuge for friends in crisis) which changed how we both were able to function. But I’ve noticed the same thing, EM- we have been bonded together all the more because we’ve gone through this period now. There’s much to untangle as we begin to understand that the ways we coped in order to function aren’t the best or most sustainable for our marriage, but we’re hopeful as we continue on and establish new patterns.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I honestly think that the loss of our son early in our marriage was one of the turning points that made us so strong. We got through it together. Sometimes God uses even the horrible things.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, absolutely, EM! Yes, there are many other issues. I know couples who got married and then a parent died of cancer within a year. So many things can steal those carefree years from us–but they really can come at another time. And sometimes life is just like that. I think the thing to be thankful for is that at least you had your spouse to walk through it with you!

  6. Natalie

    All good, true advice, Sheila. I know it’s easier to get over things when you’re already seeing progress. When you’re not and you’re in the thick of it, that’s when it’s hard. And that’s when faith and trust in God get your through. That’s what I struggle with most at the moment. I know God loves me and wants the best for me as He does all His children. And I somehow don’t “blame” God for my marriage’s current sexual dysfunction even though I was taught that I’d reap the rewards in marriage of the seeds of virtue and purity that were planted before marriage. I think feelings of shame and guilt still linger, since my husband and I did do some sexual stuff before marriage. I know it’s not right, but I still feel a little like I’m being punished for the sexual things I did premaritally… like my anorgasmia is my own fault and God is using it to punish me for being sexual before marriage. Even though I asked for forgiveness long ago and have still only been sexual with one man in my life, those are thoughts that still linger in my brain.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, He’s totally not punishing you, Natalie! Really and truly He’s not. He WANTS you to have a great time. He WANTS you guys to thrive. He’s not vindictive like that. Think about how you’d treat your own children. You wouldn’t do that to them, and God is an even better parent than we are. I understand the feeling; truly I do. But you must fight it, because God really isn’t like that!

  7. Natalie

    Also, to your point here:

    “When you’re young, you tend to be in better shape. Health problems haven’t impacted sex yet for most people. You have more energy and fewer responsibilities, so you’re in the best position to have those “sex marathons”. You look the best you likely ever will. Neither of you has put on the weight that’s likely to come over the next few years. In many ways, this is the ideal time to enjoy sex.”

    I bet a lot more people who expect sex to be great in their early years are experiencing the sentiments this article articulates, as 2/3 Americans are either overweight or obese, and health issues go along with that, even for overweight/obese young adults.

    PIV has been off the table the past month for my husband and I because he recently discovered a lump in his penis that becomes painful during stimulation, an erection, and during sex. After ignoring it for weeks and instead just saying no when I asked for sex, he finally made an appt for later this week. His 30th birthday is next month. 😑 Hopefully it’s nothing serious. But with his poor lifestyle choices even in the midst of me doing everything possible to foster a healthy home, I’m not surprised and not holding my breath for a simple outcome. Maybe this is the kick in the butt to get healthy that he’s needed for years, or maybe not.

    Those who are in good health whatever your age: continue to take care of yourself!!! Poor health and having it effect your sex life is not something that only happens to “old” people!!

    • Active Mom

      I am praying for you. Unhealthy choices by a spouse can be one of the hardest things to deal with. I hope that things improve and your spouse will make better life choices. My dear friend is fighting the same situation, it can be heartbreaking. May God grant you peace and strength.

      • Natalie

        Thank you Active Mom ❤️

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Natalie, I’ll pray for your husband! I’ll add him to our list. Yikes.

      • Natalie

        Thank you so much Sheila!! ❤️❤️

  8. John

    Years? Try decades.

  9. Amanda

    We married very young (I was 19, he 21). I was a virgin, he was not. We both thought sex would be amazing once we got married. Turns out, we were so wrong. We struggled for 5 years. Sex was painful and I hated it, but as many are taught to believe I thought it was my duty to just perform the act. So I did. My husband knew I hated sex and thought it was because I wasnt attracted to him. He struggled with porn and I honestly didn’t care. Finally, after 5 yrs and childbirth, sex no longer hurt for me, but the damage was already done. We struggled some more until I finally realized, I preferred him to “take control”. He always waited for me to initiate bc he didnt want to force me and that left me feeling unloved and unwanted. I had to learn what I liked and share it with him. We are now married 9 years and sex has never been better. We learned more about ourselves and each other. I got over my belief of sex talk being taboo and life got better. Sex got better. Talking and self discovery was all that was needed (and childbirth – that helped with the pain lol).

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Childbirth helped a lot with me, too! (For some people, unfortunately, it’s the opposite.) I’m glad you’re doing so well now! And you found the secret, too–you absolutely have to just talk about it and share what you want. You really do.

    • Natalie

      That gives me a lot of hope, Amanda. You basically wrote out my story too up to the point where both spouses are doing their parts to make sex great for themselves and the other spouse. But we’ve also been married 4 years less than you. Hopefully we’ll get there soon. I’m ready for the awesome sex years to start! But it is difficult with a toddler and infant to find the time to learn and explore like we could had if we’d come to where we are now during our honeymoon years. I’m trying to remind myself that the Lord allows everything to happen to us in the time it does for a reason.

    • Becky

      That gives me a little more hope too, Amanda. I think a major part of my ongoing issue is that I was already in my early 30s when I met my husband, so we didn’t feel like we could put off starting a family. We were only married for about a year before I got pregnant, and I’ve spent over half of our marriage since either being pregnant/too sick and/or in hip pain that kept us from doing much to work through my dysfunction, or recovering from childbirth. (And that’s not counting my time spent in PT for this, or time spent nursing.) So there’s been a lot stacked against me for our entire marriage. We’ve decided that the pregnancy that I’m currently recovering from is going to be the last, so I’m hoping that we can finally have a long enough stretch of time without those extra physical complications that we can finally figure out how to make this work for me.

  10. AspenP

    Sheila, your comment on grieving was spot on. Often I have found myself skipping over grief for the death of a real dream (in this case painful honeymoon years) to push on and either pretend it doesn’t matter or rationalize that other people have it worse….but it’s still a death.
    It should be grieved so that the Lord can help you process those feelings and put it all out on the table instead of keeping it locked up in your head.

  11. Lindsey

    I can say that sex was the one thing that consistently worked right at the beginning (although I did realize later that I had some insecurities that caused me to be more insistent on initiating because I was afraid of not “keeping him satisfied”). But my husband was always a patient, concerned lover who wanted me to feel good as much as he wanted that for himself – even at the very beginning when we weren’t sure how to get me to climax during intercourse. Through the years I have learned to enjoy more variety in foreplay, but overall we both have almost always had a good time.

    But, like the commenter above said, there are other problems that can come up. My husband’s temper and our upbringing as very southern “complementarins”(Although I never heard that term until I started reading your blog), coupled with my belief that you should not talk badly about your spouse to others and my tendency to do everything I can to avoid conflict/placate until I am too angry to care (at which point I lose it), made for some VERY tough first years. Not that my husband was truly abusive, but we were a long way from healthy. He did really love me though, and has changed so much since we first married. In fact, he is the ONLY person I have ever known who changed something that was fundamental to their character for the better and stayed better.

    Add to that a miscarriage and a baby in the first 18 months, and copious amounts of church and family related stress and grief – and yes, “honeymoon years” Are sort of not a thing for us. But I’m okay with that, as I am looking forward to the “all our kids are adults and we have a whole house to ourselves, plus money to travel and go on dates” years.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s amazing that you guys got through all that, and became healthier, too! I love that, Lindsey. And I hear you, too, about initiating so much because you were scared he wouldn’t be satisfied. That is something that is often drilled into women in the church–if you don’t have enough sex he’ll wander. So then we operate out of fear, which is not healthy.

      And, yes, the nice thing is that when you’re older, you do have more disposable income! It’s really nice to have the empty nest years when you’re relatively young.

      • Lindsey

        I’ll only be 45 when my youngest (of 4) turns 18, and my husband will be 52 – so yes, we will be pretty young still. Now, if only I can manage to lose all my extra weight and keep relatively healthy so as to enjoy those empty nest years…now that’s the challenge I’m facing.

  12. Steph

    We started w terrible habits that we still haven’t overcome. 16 yrs of marriage and this is still a struggle. The past 2 years my husband has started to attempt to help me enjoy sex. Still unable to orgasm. Early years we were clueless. My husband knew I never really enjoyed it so we quit having sex. Once or twice a year is what it became for most of our marriage. Somehow God gave us two children from those infrequent encounters. We still struggle making time and making it a priority. I schedule it so we do at least once or twice a month. He doesn’t initiate still, but we are trying together to make things better. I struggle with thoughts that it’ll just never feel good and hopelessness. Or that it’s too much work for him for me to enjoy sex. It’s very difficult to get your brain to think differently after that many years. Thank you for your blog Sheila! It really has helped as I try to change my thinking about this gift from God. I do still grieve all the years we’ve missed. Now it’s difficult to find time w a 10 year old and a 2 year old. I feel exhausted most days! Still praying that some day I will feel pleasure. Things are closer – I can feel a build up when aroused but there’s never fireworks at the end. Advice to break thru thus hurdle? I get down and depressed sometimes after sex when he tries so hard now w no results. I wish we could have all those beginning years back!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Steph, I’m sorry! I really am. I’d just say: keep at it. Seriously. Get a hotel for a weekend (if you have baby-sitters) and just keep at it. And don’t worry about taking too long. You are not broken. God made women so that we take longer. He just did. And now you guys have to figure it out, and that’s okay! I do want to make a course on this soon. I’m researching a ton on what goes into orgasm, and that is the next course I want to create. I hear you, Steph!

      • Steph

        Thanks Sheila. I’ll be on the lookout for that! A weekend away at a hotel isn’t really an option. We really don’t have babysitters for our kids and rarely get a date. The encouragement is helpful though! Thank you! This topic isn’t something you can talk to others about easily or I feel comfortable doing. I appreciate somewhere I can go to read and get encouragement from other people’s struggles to know I’m not utterly alone.

  13. Melanie

    This is where I think it is so important for God’s people to not be afraid to talk about sex but to open the conversation in a respectful but candid way. We are the body of Christ, and when one member hurts, the body hurts. There is no exception for sexual grief, heartache, or pain. Unfortunately so often it’s just too taboo and so everyone suffers in silence.

    Libido actually increases (for women at least) when they meet together to talk through their sexual struggles/ grief/challenges.

    I think the real issue is that we mix up privacy and secrecy. Privacy is good and protects what is good and holy. Secrecy hides shame, and that is exactly where the enemy wants us to stay. Hiding. Ashamed.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I love that–the difference between privacy and secrecy! I’m going to think on that.

      • Melanie

        Thanks! It’s something that struck me recently. I’ve mentioned it in a couple of posts on my own blog. I’ll link one of them in the url with my name if you want to see it. Delete this comment if that’s not allowed, I understand and it’s not my intent to overstep. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and appreciate your openness on the subject! We need more.

  14. Jo

    Thanks for addressing this topic, I always found it so painful when Christian marriage books would talk about returning to the sexual enthusiasm of the honeymoon years… and it would just make me feel even more broken, because I had never experienced that at all.

    Any thoughts on moving past the hurt of the past when it was really bad for you for a long time (10+ years), but your spouse doesn’t want to acknowledge it? It is hard to forgive and focus on the present (which still has a lot of silent sexual disappointment) when the pain is both private and unacknowledged by the only other person who knows the situation.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I get that, Jo. I think that’s when you have to have a real heart to heart, and say that things need to change. And part of that change is acknowledging where things have been one-sided and where you’ve been very hurt and disappointed. He does need to see that if things are going to go differently. Sometimes that means seeing a counselor together; sometimes it means taking the route that the woman did in the first comment when she said, “I want amazing sex with you, but it will no longer just be on your terms.” I don’t know your exact situation, but I will say that if something is important to you, it matters. You can’t have real intimacy, either emotional or spiritual, if big things are being ignored.

      • Jo

        I guess what is hard is that he doesn’t remember things that I do, and he really doesn’t understand what it is like to be held back by things that happened in the past. In his mind, if it happened more than 24 hours ago, it’s in the past, and he gets upset by trying to discuss things that I should just “get over.” I think what is hard is that I am very verbal, while he is not. When I bring something up, his verbal reaction is very negative and feels harsh to me ( although by objective standards I am sure it’s not). Later I will notice him trying to change his behavior, but he never wants to discuss it verbally or communicate about it. Which would probably be 75% of the healing for me – just a verbal acknowledgement that he heard my negative feelings about his behavior or a situation and that they have some validity.

        At this point I feel like it is easier and less harmful to focus exclusively on improving my own thoughts rather than trying to communicate with him. Part of that is that I don’t feel like he is physically capable of controlling his sexual responses- he usually can’t physically contain his response after a few minutes of foreplay or a few seconds of intercourse. And I know he tries, but he’s not willing to recognize it as a real problem, let alone read a book or consult a doctor (I don’t even know what kind of doctor you would consult for that anyway) I struggle with regarding him as childlike in some areas. He is a great protector and provider and would shield me from any outside threat, but within the relationship I feel like he wants me to be a doting mom, never questioning his motives and just happy to be around him all the time. I do love him but I am discouraged.

        • Sarah

          Yes I find talking with my husband about our relationship very difficult- it ends up more of a monologue from me where he feels attacked and we get nowhere. Most relationship advice suggests talking is good but my husband (kind, faithful, dependable, extremely intelligent engineer) really doesn’t seem able to name his own feelings and I suspect he is actually on the autistic spectrum but he won’t explore that. Any changes that we have made to our sex lives have always been at my initiation from my research which I find myself resenting. Having said that though in the past I have enjoyed some awesome orgasms that he has patiently brought me to. Right now though sex has really dwindled as I am menopausal, stressed and life has changed a lot.

  15. Once Happy Wife

    I grieve sex because my husband died suddenly. No one talks about it but my body is aching, I’m screaming in pain, I can’t believe it’s been 9 months since we last were together and I can’t believe we’ll never have that again. I used to read your blog now I read widow blogs… But sometimes I come here and read your words and wish I could have my old life back. I didn’t know I would be a widow and single mom at 27…oh jesus help me!! 😭

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I am so, so sorry. That is tragic beyond anything. There really are no words. I have said a prayer for you. I know this is an awful, awful time. It’s okay to be sad. It really is. But if you’re absolutely desperate, please reach out to somebody and tell them. Often people do want to help but they feel lost, too. Don’t be afraid to ask for just what you need–even if it’s just “I need you come sleep in my house but not talk to me just stay in the other room.”

      I hope one day you can remember with smiles and not just with tears. That will be a blessing. But it’s okay if the tears are always there. This is a big thing to carry. A very, very big thing. I wish I could make it better.

  16. Laura

    Thank you so much for this post. I am still grieving our honeymoon, which was a complete disaster in terms of sex. My husband and I were unable to consummate our marriage on our wedding night, because I was so anxious that my muscles couldn’t relax and penetration was impossible. I had no idea what was wrong with me and I felt so scared and alone. I suffered in silence for two years with terrible painful sex, before I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I talked to my doctor, who referred me to a physical therapist, who turned out to be a complete Godsend. In four months, she just about cured my problem, and now, at year three of our marriage, our sex life is light years better than it used to be. We still have our struggles though, and it’s hard sometimes to get past the sadness of what we lost in those first two years. It was so wonderful to read your post though and remember that we are not alone! I will have to check out your book as well. Thank you!

  17. Laurie

    I so appreciate finding this, I have felt alone as other women I have talked to did not have issues. My husband told me on our honeymoon, I don’t know what’s wrong, I’m just not interested. It was 6 years before I had an orgasm and I was almost always the one to initiate. Things are better now, but I still feel the loss after 30 years. We have never had sex in the shower, on the kitchen floor, etc..and he would not seek help. It affected my self esteem and became self hatred. I don’t feel that way now, but I just don’t understand what happened…


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