Continuing on from Sex māshā'Allāh , Role-Playing and Vulnerbility, Common Myths & Misconceptions, Tropes & Notions about Female Sexuality, Spirituality in the Bedroom, and Single & Looking.
Disclaimer: Mature Audience Only
Married 5 years, Live Your Fantasy
Raised in the 90s, before the internet, with an Eastern, conservative, immigrant upbringing in the US, I was clueless about sex. The only exception was the “Sex Ed” class in middle school, which briefly covered the anatomy and physiology of the body parts and then jumped right into STDs, methods of birth control, and attempted to convince hormone raging teenagers, who had no boundaries, to practice abstinence for the majority of the program. Even this class, my parents only angrily allowed me to partake in.
My mother NEVER spoke to me about this subject, [read Parenting series] and I dared not ask; we just didn't have that kind of relationship. I don't blame her; she was raised in a different society. When I got my period, she told me what a shameful thing it was, [read Muslimah's Guide to Puberty: How to talk to your daughter about Adolescence] and how I had to hide it from my whole family. To the point that I even woke up with my family for suḥūr while on my period, and essentially wouldn't eat while at home, afraid to get caught by them. I was so shy, or a “prude” as some people would like to call it, I refused to get a Pap smear done because I just couldn't imagine laying in such a position in front of ANYONE.
And then came the pre-marriage years, when my parents wanted me to like the guy, marry him, and move in with him – all in one weekend. My thoughts… “Over my dead body will I be stuck in the same room with a guy I don't really know that well emotionally.” And so, I came up with this crazy idea to have the nikāḥ first and then, a couple of months down the line, move in with him. So, we agreed. Still clueless on the 'birds and the bees' issue, I was petrified of that magical night. My expectations… none. As long as his needs are satisfied, I'm successful, right? Isn't that what's supposed to happen?
After our nikāḥ, in preparation for our wedding reception months later, my husband and I talked about this subject. I attempted to educate myself about sex from the Islamic perspective, but well, there wasn't much out there. I was too cautious – scared to look within other sources because I was afraid I'd come across “inappropriate information”. A friend of mine gave me the sage advice to just use lubrication, and everything else would be fine. Wow, thanks.
So, here's what I have learned:
In an article by Ruqayyah Waris Maqsood she writes:
God's Messenger said: `In the sexual act of each of you there is a sadaqa.' The Companions replied: `O Messenger of God! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?' And he said, `Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded.'
This hadith only makes sense if the sexual act is raised above the mere animal level. What is the magic ingredient that turns sex into sadaqa and that makes it a matter of reward or punishment from Allāh? It is by making one's sex life more than simple physical gratification; it is the thought of pleasing Allāh by unselfish care for one's partner. A husband that cannot understand this will never be fully respected by his wife.
The beauty of being newlyweds is that you have no baggage, barriers, or walls. You are bare-naked in terms of emotions. Bring that into the bedroom. A principle that we hoped would ground our relationship is being open, communicating with each other about everything, so there is no room for misinterpretation. So, with every step of intimacy, every subtle or not so subtle move, he would ask me, “Is this ok? Does this feel good?”
“Wow,” I thought, “He loves me so much that even in an act that he desires and lusts for, he is concerned about my thoughts and my feelings.”
And, in turn, I asked him with my every intimate action, “Is this right?”
This unselfish care from him is what empowered me to fulfill his fantasies. Does that mean we never disappointed one another? Of course not, we were just open about the disappointment afterwards.
Alḥamdulillāh, 5+ roller coaster-years later that open communication, regardless of the consequences, is what has gotten us through and helped us develop a deep, meaningful understanding of one another.
I explained my upbringing to him, and of course, being from the same upbringing, he understood. I told him that, ironically, when I said I do, because I was so terrified of sex and not wanting to appear amateur, I simply “x-ed” out the fact that he was male. In fact, I spoke to him as if it was a platonic relationship. However, I was willing to learn, willing to do what pleased him, while allowing him to explore with me as well. That willingness came with, during, and after the love and confidence I felt after he pleased me. Go beyond the stereotype. Have both expectations, to gain pleasure through intimacy, and to be a part of your spouse seeking pleasure from you.
And specifically to the men: if she is from a conservative background realize that it might not be that she doesn't want it, it might be that she doesn't know that this world of intimacy exists. So, it's in your interest to educate yourself on giving your wife pleasure. You will see that when you show her how important it is that she is pleased with you, then she, too, out of love, will fulfill your fantasies.
Newly Married, On Performance Anxiety
Some women are unable to or have difficulty in reaching climax via penetration but they can experience a 'clitoral' orgasm, or they need adequate clitoral stimulation before they are ready for intercourse. Some men do not know this and they do not stimulate their wives at the right place, and the women are ashamed or shy to bring this up, thinking that they are the problem.
This creates sexual frustration for both partners. Women may feel under pressure to have an orgasm and men also feel under pressure to give their partner an orgasm during penetration. As a result, instead of thinking erotically, you start to worry on what your partner will think of you, how less feminine you are, and how terrible it will be if you fail to perform. This sexual performance anxiety will inhibit a woman's arousal, as it is tied to emotions and a state of mind. Sex will be difficult to enjoy and no longer a pleasurable experience. It becomes worse when it leads to a perpetual cycle: you are unable to perform because you are anxious, and it leads to even more performance anxiety.
Like other forms of anxiety, getting over sexual performance anxiety needs work and dedication. The tips below may be helpful in overcoming this issue:
1. Talk to your partner about it
Discussing it with your partner can ease some worries. Understanding and reassurance by your partner will make you less anxious and more comfortable. Finding solutions together might actually bring you emotionally closer as a couple, and improve your sexual relationship. Express gratitude and compliment each other after you have had sex. Tell your partner that you had a good experience and acknowledge your partner's improvement in performance as it gets better and better. This is important to boost her self-confidence and inspire her to perform better next time.
2. Increase intimacy in other areas
Being intimate is not just about sex. Doing non-sexual activities together can bring you closer and increase your intimacy. Being more emotionally connected to your partner will definitely make you more comfortable in bed. In order to have good sexual life, you need to be vulnerable and let your defenses down. This is difficult to achieve if you are not feeling safe or you don't give yourself wholeheartedly.
3. Practice makes perfect
With more experience, trial and error, and patience, you will slowly learn to get it right and be 'in sync' with your partner.
It will make you feel better about your body and increase your stamina in bed.
5. Love yourself more
-Stop defining yourself with orgasm.
-Stop worrying about what others are going to think of you.
-Focus on what you can control – your erotic thoughts, fantasies, sensations, and feelings.
-It is OK not to achieve orgasm once in a while. Appreciate whatever pleasure you have.
-Stop obsessing about rating your sexual experience. Take it easy on yourself, but be brave enough to admit if there is a problem and seek help.
6. See a doctor or a therapist
This is to make sure that your anxiety is not caused by a health condition or medication. A professional sex therapist can help you to explore and understand more about your issues.