Continuing on from Sex masha'Allah Role-Playing and VulnerbilityCommon 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 ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) 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 Allah? It is by making one's sex life more than simple physical gratification; it is the thought of pleasing Allah 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.

Alhamdulillah, 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.

4. Exercise

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.

27 Responses

  1. Abez

    You know, there’s a problem with articles about sex and marriage- we appreciate them but we’re too shy to comment or admit how many of them are relevant to us, whether out of modesty or shame. People don’t want to give feedback like “Oh yeah, had the same problem. Lube is great,” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    However, I want to thank you for writing and posting this, because as an “old married woman” (9 years) I’ve had my share of shy younger sisters calling or texting me to ask what were embarrassing questions either days before or days after they were married.

    Incidentally, more than one was answered with lube.

    In any case, we really need more practical advice for married Muslims about the physical aspect of their relationship. We live in a world where sex has been taken out of the realm of private, sacred, personal and made into a public, perfectly choreographed montage set to saxophone music. Healthy expectations of what sex is and how it works have been replaced with myths that even Muslims end up believing.

    Sex is a team effort. It is an act of sadaqa. Muslim women- and men- can and should learn as much as they can about pleasing Allah and pleasing their spouses in what is a crucial part of any married relationship. JazakAllahuKheiran for posting this here.

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  2. Fritz

    “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”

    Its a nice contrast to the feminist poison we see in the West that sees sex as a weapon to extract more from a marraige relationship. As if the other spouse must be goaded by a dangled carrot to run around fulfilling the whims of the other before he/she has any chance of having any intimacy in the bedroom. The hadiths stating the importance of mutual fulfillment are well known but it would be nice to see an article discusses the harms and psychological damage that this can do to a marraige aswell.

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  3. Sumiyah

    Another useful book to read on this subject is, Islamic guide to sexual relations, written by Muhammad ibn Adam al Kawthri.

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  4. Mustafa Mujahid

    This post in a very beautiful and honest manner is addressing a very beautiful subject. Allah in His Mercy has given us intimacy/sex to benefit from, to enjoy and to perfect as well. Muhammed the Prophet (saw) taught us to seek to perfect our endeavours, all of our endeavours. I must say that after reading this excellent post, I am very happy and enriched. This post is clearly respecting and obeying the instructions of The Prophet.
    InshaAllah, I’m looking forward to reading more from this and other gifted muslim writers. Alhamdulilaah

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  5. RR

    Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi Sister…ma shaa Allaah, wonderful article and it’s long overdue! I have been waiting for it and dreaming of one day writing an article about it too but at the same time I have my worries that I may not word things appropriately. Most Muslim women I know have this “intimacy” problem; they’re even shy or afraid to say “sex” and “orgasm” because they do not want to be judged. Alhamdulillaah, as I was reading your article…I noticed that it is carefully thought and written so as not to offend anybody and I really felt that it would help a lot of couple to understand how important it is to have a “healthy and pleasurable intimacy” without crossing the limits.

    Baraka Allaahu fik
    May Allaah be pleased with you. Ameen.

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  6. Mahmud

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Muhammad

    Growing up in this culture I used to see my friends around the age of 11-12 have their first kiss with a girl. Then at 14-15 they had their first date and at 16-18 be intimate with her partner. As a Muslim at age 25 I have not been able to comprehend that on the FIRST night of the marriage I am expected to go straight to intimacy!! I have never been on a date nor have i ever kissed a girl. Im not sure if sisters are aware but guys are as nervous, scared (if not more) than them. Nervous or scared in the sense that I would hate to be the one who disappoints my wife in any of this. This article was refreshing to read because it reminded me alhamdulilah there are good sisters out there who do not want to engage in this stuff before marriage but still look forward to it.
    If I could give just one advice to my sisters (feel free to reject it) I would say stay away from engaging in sex or dating before marriage, you have no idea how happy your husband would be knowing that. All the best you all. May Allah grant you pious spouses or keep you happy with your current ones.

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    • Mahmud

      “If I could give just one advice to my sisters (feel free to reject it) I would say stay away from engaging in sex or dating before marriage, you have no idea how happy your husband would be knowing that.”

      Isn’t that supposed to be the expectation? I want to be intimate with a virgin not a woman who did zina or dating before marriage.

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      • Essay

        Salamualikum warahmatullah,

        In the same vain, I would ask Muslim brothers to consider their future wives even before they have met her. It is so acceptable these days that the lady is a virgin but the guy is not. I think we need to stop and think about this. Allah’s order of abstinence before marriage is for ALL Muslims.

        Jazakallahu khairan for this article. I am very glad we are having conversations about this.

        Salam

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  8. MN

    A great article, sounds like the author had the perfect progression to intimacy, mashallah!

    There are extreme cases where the females may develop/be diagnosed with ‘vaginismus’, a condition where sex is either completely impossible or extremely painful. Lube alone does not do the work. Its relevant for this article because vaginismus is more common in religious women who don’t receive balanced sex education. If a woman always hears about first night being excruciating and bloody, its only natural that she won’t look forward to the experience and her body will never be ready for it. In most of the cases of vaginismus the couples may have unconsummated marriage for several years before doing anything about it. I know, sounds impossible, but it does happen!

    But there is help available. If a sex therapist is out of reach, this website has excellent resource mashallah: http://www.vaginismus.com

    In most cases its possible to completely cure vaginismus and have enjoyable intimacy alhamdulillah.

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    • Sisanon

      I recently found out vaginismus and think it may be what is stopping my husband and I from having fully had intercourse despite being almost three years into our marriage. Thank you for mentioning it, its not something that many women and couples are aware of.

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  9. Sarah

    Assalamu alaykum!

    I guess that I come from a strange position, and that is that of a GIRL who has never been taught to be afraid or ashamed of sex. I educated myself with regards to intimacy and marriage by practical Muslim articles such as these, and I was also surrounded by a LOT of sex education because I went to a very left-progressive school that provided a lot of info.

    What I’m scared of is that I’ll intimidate or plant suspicions in the mind of potential spouses after marriage, because I look forward to both emotional and physical intimacy and I have healthy expectations and knowledge of the opposite gender. Although I have never dated, and never been intimate with anyone before, I have lived amongst men, so that I am not half as clueless about them or as seemingly scared as the average Muslim girl.

    I want an honest answer – if a religious Muslim girl (practicing, conservative hijab, known religious family, very strong in deen and principles) appeared confident around men, and had been far away from her family and studied at a mixed university where she did extracurriculars and worked closely with guys – would her reputation be considered compromised? Would she be considered as ‘mixing with men’ and ‘loose’?

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    • Hussein

      Subhan Allah very common issue

      This is just one random brother’s opinion but no, not at all. Many brothers (some will admit it, others will not) want a woman to marry who is confident but chaste. However (key point) they have a perception that that is never the case. Therefore, it is your job to simply be honest about being confident and show that a woman can be BOTH confident and have chastity/humility/etc. There’s just a perception amongst brothers I have spoken to that it’s never like that…that a confident Muslimah is probably “loose” and one who mixes with men.

      Practical solution: When a brother proposes to you, be confident BUT tell him about your views on how it is wrong to mix with men, how you do not like when women are “loose”, and that you value chastity and being reserved with the opposite sex. That might really open his eyes.

      To be very honest with you, being confident might throw off some brothers from initially proposing in the first place…sad, but that is just how it is. However not everyone is like that.
      – random single brother

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  10. Hyde

    Hmm..very informative, but like growing up in the West, how does not one know most of that information being experienced or not ? The actual intricate intimacies are incumbent on each couple and their level of trust and attachment, but I think most folks would know enough, no ?
    I think most of the young generation may already have some sexual experience by the time they get married. And the general idea of being sexually satisfied is not really just for newly weds but for couples of any marriage duration.

    Sex is a powerful physical and emotional act, so naturally it is uniquely important in a person’s life, but I do not think it is the binding tool in a relationship.

    This articles was written by MuslimMatters the girl; wonder if there is a response by MuslimMatters the boy ? :)

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  11. A married woman

    Agree 100%. exactly the kind of attitude muslim women need to approach marriage and intimacy. I would highly recommend Ruqqiyah Waris Baig’s book titled ‘ the muslim marriage guide.’ it is thorough and offers a religious perspective on the subject. Having said that keep in mind first many times will be difficult but have patience and have mercy for each other. And you will achieve satisfaction in each other In sha Allah.

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  12. UMF

    Pls if someone can write an article how couples can move forward when one spouse was sexually abused before marriage….

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  13. Aisha

    At UMF – Megan Wyatt founder of Wives of Jannah has written material regarding your question :)

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  14. Umbreen

    Masha Allah, very good article, after reading this article I would also like to highlight one big problem of Muslim men here, they think it’s their right to do this, because they are not doing any wrong here but don’t care about their spouse emotions And desires. If she reluctant to do then they force her to do, they just wanted to fulfil their desire they don’t care about their spouse emotions and future problems. Instead of explaining the beauty of this, they explain you the punishment of Allah only for ladies. If girl still persist and not agree on his demands then they ask their and her elders too to force her for this otherwise they have the right of four marriages. Muslim men can’t understand that they can achieve this desire by mutual understanding, caring, and respecting each other.

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  15. Halima

    Wow I love this. I really admire how the sister wrote this so carefully and delicately.

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  16. Fatima Ariadne

    Really love this article! So gentle, honest, yet far from vulgar :).

    Trust me, as a newlywed too, the guy is equally nervous as the woman. Especially if both are virgins. You should really let go of unrealistic expectations. Just enjoy the whole process and don’t focus too much on seeking the O-word. Intercourse is expression of love, not just carnal desires (LOL perhaps I’m too naive on this but if your life outside the bed is bad, guaranteed your bed will be dry too! :)).

    Commenting on menses thing : I dont understand Why in some cultures menstruation should be shameful and dirty? Without menstruation cycle you cannot give birth to a human being in this world. Though it’s najjis, Allah doesn’t create menstruation to “shame” women, it’s a precursor to sacred link of motherhood. I remember a hadith when one female sahaba (Umayyah bint Qais) ride Rasulullah’s camel to Khaybar, and she got her first menses on the camel she was very anxious. Seeing the bloodstain, Rasulullah gently told her to attend herself then return to the camel. After the war of Khaybar, he gave a gift to her, a necklace from the spoils of war, and placed it into her neck with his own mubarak hand. Subhanallah how many cultures forgot this example.

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  17. neutrallyfair

    It is a tricky one as the topic is not discussed before it’s due. There are some people who can learn and teach eachother in this area, I admire them, and regard their method to be the most successful. People are different however, this does not work for everybody, its a fact which many people deny or judge. In my case, I feel that when a couple meet, it is the chemistry between the two that could reflect whether they are sexually compatible in the future (in my case, I pray that this will work). What worries me and what is definitely prevalent, is that some couples do not have happy sexual relationships and if they are to follow the teach and learn method, they could remain unsatisfied as what they have been waiting for can be seen as another learning curve that is not parralel to the belief of love and naseeb. If sexual activity is a form of practising love (love that happens through fate), is it wrong to say that sexual satisfaction/dissatisfaction could also be fate?

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  18. Rita Hassan

    Dear @Mohammed and @Mahmud. Salaamualeykum.
    I too like yourselves am very grateful for this type of discussion to be brought up in such a scholarly format. However, as a Muslim, convert, and divorced woman, I would like to stress a couple of points. While it is always an ideal situation for two married people to be virgins on their wedding night, there are many virgins both male and female that marry non-virgins. In fact, many of the early Muslim leaders married women that had previous marriages. Our beloved Prophet Mohammed, PBUH had several wives that had been previously married including his beloved first wife Khadija.
    As a note to any Muslim males reading this comment: the information given by the article can apply to any newly married couple whether the woman/man is a virgin or not. Any woman will appreciate her husband being gentle and considerate of her feelings and emotions during the sexual act. Whether a woman comes from a conservative culture or not, she will want to feel loved, respected, and appreciated by her spouse especially during intimacy. Also, please note that there are many non-Muslim women that come from families that believe strongly in abstinence, so, even if you marry a convert, you must not assume that just because she was raised in America, as a non-believer, that she has “been around”. I personally have cousins that are NOT Muslim that waited until their wedding night to have sex, and I know some female converts that married Muslim men that were virgins on their wedding night. I am divorced now, but I want you to know, the first encounter with a man that you have never been touched by is very special, and it should be. A woman that has been married before may still tremble on her first night with her new husband–believe me. She may be just as nervous or scared because it is a new experience with a different man, a man that she loves, a man that she wants to please, a man that she wants to spend the rest of her life with. So, keep that in mind brothers– we divorced women have feelings, and needs too and hopefully, Allah will put good people in our paths. InshaAllah.

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