Advice: Nervous About SexPosted: October 3, 2013
Salam Love InshAllah,
I will be getting married next month and I will move from the stage of not being allowed to be alone with my future husband to being allowed to be intimate with him and I must say I am feeling nervous. My question is about my wedding night or any night that we choose to be intimate. I grew up in a conservative community and attended a Muslim school so my knowledge about sex and intimacy is limited to that which may pop up in a conversation of inexperienced, virgin girls.
The truth is I am nervous that due to my lack of experience or knowledge I will be either repulsed by any act of intimacy (kissing and sex) or be so put off it that it will be something I dread. How do I prepare myself for taking the step towards being confident? I have low self esteem with regards to my body so the thought of being naked in front of my future husband is not a pleasant thought. Being a bad kisser or generally bad in bed is what scares me the most. I don’t want my nerves and setbacks to affect him or send the wrong signals. I don’t want him to feel like he is trying hard to please me in bed but I am not reciprocating simply because I don’t know or am too embarrassed.
All this is playing havoc with my nerves. I’d like to know how I can prepare myself and perhaps find out what men like so I can please him and perhaps put to bed my worries of my lack of experience effecting performance etc. Any advice and information would be greatly appreciated.
Nervous about Sex
Miss Sunshine replies:
Worries about your own desire are perfectly legitimate, but sex takes more than one person. It is not up to you alone to prepare for this event. You need to have some frank discussions with your fiance about your fears. It’s likely he shares many of your concerns, and talking about them honestly can build intimacy and affection, two things that contribute to sexual attraction. Good communication is also the foundation of great marriages, so beginning early starts you on a path toward a happier marriage.
I believe that we do our youth a huge disservice by expecting them to move easily from ignoring or suppressing their sexuality into full-blown intercourse. For all of the controversy around pre-nikkah sexual activity, there is something to be said for a time to explore your sexuality at your own pace. The pressures on virgin newlyweds can lead to long lasting sexual, psychological, and marital problems.
I know that many Muslims have found ways to allow some sexual exploration before the big day. In my husband’s ethnic community, it’s common for the bride and groom to contract the nikkah during a small ceremony in the presence of the sheikh, and the immediate families of the bride and groom. Culturally, the couple is only regarded as engaged, but religiously they are now married, and sexual exploration becomes legal for them. Culturally, it is acknowledged that the couple can now spend time alone, kiss, hold hands and engage in other activities short of intercourse– which is expected to be reserved for the wedding night. Since they are seen as an engaged couple, a divorce due to incompatibility doesn’t have the same social stigma as it would had intercourse taken place. The marriage is not considered official in the eyes of the community until the public ceremony involving friends, family, and community members has concluded.
This solution isn’t without problems. The stigma of divorce is based on the belief that women are less valuable after they’ve had sex. In that way, this custom reinforces sexist and oppressive ideas and practices. Also, some feel that this type of arrangement makes light of the seriousness of divorce by decreasing the stigma.
People who feel this solution is religiously problematic due to the divorce issue may contract a mut’a (fixed-term marriage) that explicitly states that no intercourse take place. Contracting a mut’a gives the couple a fiqh-compliant means of spending time alone, and engaging in limited sexual exploration. The problem here is that mut’a is only considered permissible by a small percentage of the ummah, and it also carries social stigma in many communities.
While fairly common, neither of these methods is without drawbacks. If you, your fiancé, and your families and/or communities are open to either, I’d recommend discussing them despite their imperfections. They can offer you a way to develop some trust around intimate issues, speak frankly to one another, and engage in the kind of foreplay and flirtation that can make the first few tries at intercourse much more relaxed and fun.
Shy Desi Boy replies:
When I had sex for the first time I was incredibly nervous. I worried that I would be so lousy in bed that the person I was with would no longer want to be with me. But at some point in the middle of it, I realized — my partner is just as nervous as I am. That gave me, and her, immense comfort. We had lousy sex for a few times and then we began to communicate about what we like and dislike and we began to please each other.
Being nervous is normal. It is a good thing. Sometimes it is possible to have awful sex with someone at first and to later have incredible sex with that same person because you learned each others pleasures.
As for the wedding night, my advice in our previous column, Clueless About My Wedding Night, still stands: consider not doing it. Weddings are so insanely stressful and, for a lack of a better word, unsexy. You are wearing such heavy wedding clothes and everyone is staring at you and you have pretend to know that creepy aunty who swears she saw you when you were just three days old. For me, this just do not get me in the mood for sex.
If you and your partner are up for having sex, I agree with the prior advice of my fellow columnist Ms. Sunshine — sometimes it is good to begin with gentle touching, a massage perhaps, and see where that leads. Many guys (and yes it is most often the guys) will just get on top of a women and grind so hard it is like the woman does not even exist. If this happens or if anything else happens that you do not like, it is important to say so. Of course it can be difficult; you might want to say, “perhaps you could do this instead” or “perhaps you can try this way?”
Also consider buying lubricant and condoms, in case your partner is too clueless to bring this himself. Lubricants can make sex much more pleasurable, especially on your first time. I also believe it is important to have someone to speak with — a girlfriend, a sister, a therapist — someone who you can trust and confide to should more questions arise after you have sex for the first time. Sex can and should be a wonderful experience and it is all the more meaningful when you know what it is that makes you most comfortable and pleased.