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  • Stephanie M.

Reflections on sex, NFP, life: Expectations vs our reality

You’re asking ME to write about sex? Who am I?

Well, maybe I should start with my single years – because they definitely impacted my marriage. My mom was a unicorn mom who actually told me sex is good and fun. Praise God for that gift, because mostly everything else I learned about sex distorted its goodness.

For most of high school and into college, I walked a fine line of extreme (unhealthy, shame-filled) modesty and uptight rule following, while simultaneously wanting any male attention I could get. I played a game of yo-yo with myself and the guys I dated. Looking back on it, I was using them and they used me. Not so much in a sexual way, but I used guys to combat loneliness, as a status symbol, for a dose of oxytocin, and to just occupy my time.

When it inevitably didn’t work out, I told myself it was only because they didn’t reach my high standards. It took me a long time to realize that I had my own baggage I needed to sort through. It wasn’t until I took a deeper look into my motives (which stemmed from wounds I didn’t know I had) and understood Theology of the Body in a more tangible way that I finally broke up with that mindset. Just 6 months later, I began dating the man who would become my husband.

Although I’d experienced some personal growth before I met my husband, our dating relationship wasn’t all roses and daisies either. With God’s continued graces, we learned to grow both as a couple and in our individual relationships with God. I praise Him daily for those graces.

Even now, nearly five years into marriage – it’s a blessing to see our continued growth.

In our sex lives, we’ve finally reached a place where we get to experience each other in a way that’s deeply gratifying but not selfish. Through time, we’ve come to understand how sex really is the ultimate gift of self: free, total, faithful, and fruitful. I’m grateful for each time we come together. We’ve gotten here slowly because when we started off, there was a huge learning curve. That’s to be expected for any newlyweds, but the curve was bigger than I anticipated.

I had it in my head that once we were married, we could make love all the time/any time and that it’d be effortlessly excellent. I forgot to consider our humanness.

I am learning our sex life is impacted by things like: differences in our libido and energy levels, and the mental/emotional ups and downs that have come with different seasons of life: parenthood, job searching, moving, postpartum depression, anxiety, and breastfeeding - just to name a few.

We’ve also been challenged by using fertility awareness (NFP) and the constant discernment that comes with it. At first, this was a massive stressor for me because it felt like strictly “my responsibility.” I’d always assumed I’d be a mama with a hoard of kiddos closely spaced, so the reality is different than I’d expected. It’s taken lots of listening and learning to grasp that my walk toward holiness is not directly linked to the number of kids we have, so long as we remain open to life.

The cliché about roller coasters is fitting here, and though I’m grateful for the growing pains, there’s lots of things I wish I could have told my past self:

  • Yes, sex is good, and fun, and important, but marriage is so much bigger than “just” sex.

  • Get both of your hormones checked (thoroughly) and take care of that precarious balance consistently.

  • Find other ways to foster intimacy from day one, and not as a “compensation” for times of abstinence.

  • Don’t self-teach NFP!

  • YOU can fulfill some of your own (non-sexual) needs: stop putting the weight of the world on his shoulders.

  • Keep laughing with each other. Laughter can be a day saver, mood saver, and marriage saver.

  • Don’t be afraid to say what you like and don’t like in the bedroom.

  • Yes, he does like making you feel good.

  • Lingerie is not overrated, nor is it a “waste cause it winds up on the floor.”

  • Coconut oil (or safe lube) is your friend. Really. Also drink more water.

  • Learn your anatomy.

  • Get a babysitter on a regular basis: it’s worth the space in the budget.

  • Flirt more often even/especially if you’re in a period of abstinence.

Stephanie Mora resides in West Texas with her husband of almost 5 years and their two toddler sons, Paul and Peter. Her website is currently under construction, but you can find her musings on Instagram @still.just.striving_steph. You can also tune in to listen to her host the “Natural Misconceptions” podcast (on your favorite podcast app), where she and her guests share all the nitty gritty of Natural Family Planning.

This summer, Stephanie will begin coursework to become a FEMM instructor, and looks forward to serving women beginning their fertility awareness journey.


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