What does every young woman want? To find true love. To find someone to spend their life with, someone who makes their heart jump and who shares similar visions of a joint future. They want to find someone who loves them, someone who respects them and someone who is a true friend.
Whether they realize it or not, what women also want is someone who can physically pleasure them. Someone who makes them feel as good physically as they do emotionally. Someone who makes them feel desired and sexy and who knows exactly what to say and what spots to touch.
But sadly (or luckily) being a skilled lover is not something innate and inborn. Being a skilled lover requires practice, experimentation and most of all communication.
Everyone matures at a different pace. I’m not talking about the physical maturity of adolescence. I’m referring to emotional maturity. In the long run, emotional maturity is a lot more important for the long term health of a relationship. Emotional maturity brings with it the ability to be vulnerable with your spouse, the ability to express your feelings to a person you love. It also brings with it the ability to be honest about what things you like or don’t like in regard to physical and sexual contact.
The problem as I see it, especially among the Jewish Orthodox crowd (and I’m not even referring to the Hareidi crowd where couples sometimes only meet briefly before getting married), is the fact that sex is not really spoken about. Obviously people are having sex because pregnancy abounds but there is little or no talk about the act the led to the pregnancy. The Talmud talks about sex in detail, even going so far as to say that it’s a man’s duty to satisfy his wife. According to the Talmud a wife’s three basic rights are food, clothing and sex. So why don’t we in the Jewish Orthodox crowd talk about sex? If it’s important enough to be in the Talmud is it not important enough to talk about?
Most young religious couples wait until they are married to have sex. The ones who don’t would never tell you about it as it is viewed as something sinful and shameful. Even among those who do wait for marriage, there are many levels of what they do or don’t do. There are some who are completely Shomer Negiyah and don’t touch at all. There are those who touch, there are those who make out, and there are those who do everything but actually have sex.
Whether you waited for marriage or not, think back to the first time you got naked in front of someone you loved. Unless you’re extremely comfortable with your body or are an exhibitionist, you probably squirmed a bit. Obviously I’m not a man, so I’m of course writing from a woman’s perspective and I will just say that most women, especially those brought up religiously, at least initially need some time to adjust to all of this.
So let’s take the toughest scenario for a new bride or groom. Let’s say they have never touched each other. My gosh, what a lot of pressure on their wedding night. Not only do they finally get to touch each other and kiss each other but all of a sudden they have to be comfortable getting naked in front of each other and then figure out how to have sex.
If they’re lucky, they have friends or siblings who are open enough with them to give them some pointers and “how to’s”. If not, maybe the Rabbi or Rebbetzin they met with for Taharat Mishpacha classes were open enough with them and did not just teach them the letter of the law. (All I know is that if my class 25 years ago is anything to go by, I was told that I would go blind if I had oral sex. Way to relieve my anxiety levels Rebbetzin.)
So what do I think? I think that we, as a community, need to start opening up about sex. Sex in the right context between two loving and caring people is an expression of holiness. It is a pleasure derived from a unique connection between two people, a relationship of give and take and of respect. It is making love.
And as for the practical aspects, if you’re new at sex, it would probably be a good idea to find someone whom you are comfortable talking to and who is open to talking to you about “sex how to’s”. I actually think that both the new bride and groom should speak to someone. Having sex for the first time is vulnerability at it’s highest. You are nervous and unsure yet you are expected to give yourself wholly to someone you love while trying to enjoy this experience that the TV and movies have glamorized. The first time you have sex will definitely not resemble the way TV and movie producers portray sexual encounters so don’t have expectations like that. That said, even with all the awkwardness, it can be a beautiful moment between two loving people.
Mostly, I think that it’s not such a big deal NOT to have sex on your wedding night. Especially if you are Shomer Negiya and have never touched before, why not take some time getting physically comfortable with your spouse. Babies learn to crawl before they walk or run. Why shouldn’t you learn to touch, kiss and caress before you move onto sex?
A relationship takes love, respect, experimentation and communication in order to make it work. The same goes for sex.
What advice would you give a new bride or groom who have never had sex before?