My husband and I have been married for three short months. We’re new to the sex game. We never realized it could be so difficult.

Masturbation almost ruined our honeymoon.

Before that, though, the wedding was a beautiful blur. We woke up way too early, said our vows, paid too much for everything, and it was worth it!

We tolerated the photos and festivities, but when the night closed, we literally ran out of the reception hall and punched our hotel address into Google Maps. We were going to have actual sex! Finally!

That first time was special, however…over the course of the honeymoon, we found something wasn’t quite right.

Sex was disappointing, frustrating and not nearly as orgasmic as we both expected. We realised our histories with masturbation had negatively impacted our sex life.

Masturbation taught us to expect great sex and great orgasms every time.

After ten or so years of consistent masturbation, whether that was accompanied by porn, fantasy or ‘lustless thoughts’, I’d say we both had a pretty good grip on the act. It was quick, pleasurable and consistent. It was often an escape from the discomforts of life. It was reliably good.

Of course, when it came to real sex, we expected the same thing.

Effectively pleasuring ourselves, along with the influence of Hollywood, hook-up culture and porn taught us sex would be easy. Every encounter would result in great sex and great orgasms, for both of us…every time. Wasn’t it supposed to be like super-charged masturbation?

We were ready for the fireworks show.

Alas, it never came.

Masturbation taught our bodies to respond to one thing only.

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It was not for lack of love, affection or effort that our intimacy struggled on the honeymoon. It was our bodies listening to what we’d taught them.

We had both set ourselves up for specific stimulation, in a specific time frame. It was all about ‘my pleasure’ in ‘my time’.

By virtue, I could never please him like he’d learned for ten years. And likewise. Sex is different when there’s two of you. Our hands and bodies felt different, they worked differently, moved differently. We had access to body parts foreign to us until we said our vows. It was entirely different to self-stimulation. And in many cases, not as good. Whatever we were doing to each other, it just didn’t feel right.

We were like two Atlantic salmon flailing about on top of each other, trying to find the right spot. We gave up many times, exhausted and disappointed.

It was frustrating that we’d both accustomed our bodies to respond to XYZ and the other was doing ABC.

It was worse than trying to direct someone to scratch an itch on your back, in juuust the right spot.

There is not much more dangerous for intimacy than thinking ‘I can do this better’ when your spouse is trying to serve you.

The result of this was confusion and disappointment. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I questioned why he didn’t want to have sex all the time, and why he didn’t seem to love it when we did.

[shortcode-variables slug=”30-day-challenge-inline”]Then came the most intimate experience of our honeymoon.

One evening, we sat together on the lounge, wearing track pants and eating dip. With a B-grade movie playing in the background, we looked at each other and cried. It was overwhelming. We felt so prepared and excited, but sex just didn’t live up to the fantasy.

We prayed about it together, through tears. We realised then, that sex was sacred and beautiful. It was the act of sharing intimacy with your spouse, rather than just a means to an orgasm. If we got both out of an experience, that was great! But, if we didn’t have mind-blowing sex, that was still okay. We were learning to move together, understand the other and become one. It was sacred.

We’re still learning, but from that moment onward, sex became so much better for both of us. Ditching the pressure and expectation of having amazing sex every time truly brought peace and understanding. In this environment, we could communicate and learn.

It’s funny how losing the expectation of an orgasm actually results in more of them.

Everyone brings baggage to the marriage bed. Ours just happened to be a long history of masturbation and self-indulgence. Let this be a warning to you, whether single, engaged or married. When you masturbate, you take your spouse (or future spouse) out of the equation. How you live your life now, is setting a pattern for your future sex life.

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Masturbation is a grey area in the Christian world. It brings out the fire in people. I’ve wavered in my opinion over the years, but this new stage of life has confirmed to me, that regular masturbation can really mess with your future. Choose for yourself, but consider this reflection from a newlywed who wishes to save you the strife of frustrating, confused sex that makes you wonder if it’s even worth it at all (psst, yes. It is).