Me Too: Why Sexual Freedom Isn’t Free

sexual freedom

I check my watch again: 3:45 am, and I’m wide awake. Exhausted, but awake.

Part of it is because I’m 8 months pregnant and my body hurts all over. (I think my body is practicing the no sleep thing for when the baby comes. 😛 )

But part of it is because I can’t stop thinking about my Facebook feed yesterday.

At first, I was confused by the two word status updates popping up everywhere: “Me too.” But then one friend wrote a little explanation along with it. She said, “If all the people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Please copy and paste if you feel so inclined.”

As more and more of my friends joined in with their “Me too,” my heart ached. I didn’t know whether to click like, love, or sad. I was so proud of these brave women for speaking out, but so sad that we live in a world full of so much sexual harassment.

Sexual Assault

While sexual violence has fallen significantly since 1993, it’s still a huge problem today. In fact, statistics show that every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And if you’re a woman, you have about a 1 in 5 chance of being raped at some point in your life.

Everyone is affected by sexual harassment or assault a little bit differently. But often there are both physical and mental consequences. In addition to the risk of STIs and pregnancy, victims of sexual assault often struggle with PTSD, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. It can also cause more general emotional challenges, like difficulty trusting others or feelings of fear and helplessness.

One month from today, our baby girl is due to come into this world. I can’t help but worrying, will she have to post “me too” one day? Will she end up being part of the almost 20% of women who get raped in their lifetime? Will she have to struggle with the fear and pain that comes from being a victim of sexual harassment or assault?

I sincerely hope not.

While I’m grateful for the many women and men who are fighting against this plague of sexual violence, there are some aspects of our society today that seem to contribute in a negative way.

Sexual Freedom

Many people are pushing back against sexual violence, but some of these same people are also advocating strongly for sexual exploration and freedom. This March while visiting the UN Commission on the Status of women, I heard many voices advocating for sexual rights of all kinds.

And to some extent, I’m grateful for the work that’s been done so far. I’m grateful that I can decide when I want to marry and have children, that I have control over my sex life.

On the other hand, it seems that the push for sexual freedom has had some unforeseen consequences. Dr. Leslie C. Bell explains it well:

“Today’s 20-something women have more freedom than their grandmothers could have imagined – educational, professional, and personal. But while this freedom has engendered a great deal of opportunity, it hasn’t necessarily resulted in women having good sex and satisfying relationships in their twenties.”

Much of the push for sexual freedom has placed an emphasis on our own personal fulfillment. Do whatever you want, whatever makes you feel good physically. Sex is about you, not about anyone else, today’s media seems to say.

Unfortunately, that emphasis on personal fulfillment may have had the opposite effect.

Sexual Fulfillment

With all this sexual freedom, pursuing whatever you want physically, you may think it would lead to better sex. But according to research from Dr. John Gottman, perhaps the biggest key to sexual fulfillment is your friendship. While casual sex can be fun and exciting, one survey found that the happiest couples are those who communicate and build up the intimacy that is foundational for fulfilling sex. When sex is about your relationship, not just about you, it becomes a whole lot better.

So in actuality, it turns out that sexual fulfillment isn’t just about the physical. And it certainly isn’t just about you.

Sexual Selfishness

If we aren’t careful, the way we promote sexual freedom can also promote sexual selfishness. This selfishness will not only lead to less fulfilling sex, but it also can be dangerous. This line of thinking that says “Sex is all about me” is one that ignores the other person involved.

I’m sure those who rape or sexually assault others are, in a twisted way, seeking their own sexual pleasure. They have decided to use their sexual freedom selfishly. And unfortunately, they do this at a great cost to those around them.

Sexual Freedom Isn’t Free

In teaching our kids about their sexuality, we must help them realize that sexuality isn’t just about them. Other people are involved, people who deserve to be loved and respected.

As we push not just for sexual freedom but for mutual love and respect, we can achieve sexual freedom without promoting sexual selfishness. We can help our kids see that sexual freedom isn’t really free, because with these rights come great responsibilities.

Getting ready to welcome our baby girl into the world has put this all in a new light for me. I hope the numbers of sexual harassment and assault can continue to decline. I hope sincerely that she doesn’t become a part of the statistics. And I hope that one day, nobody has to say “Me too.”

 

 

Elizabeth Warner is the content manager for Family Good Things and will graduate in December 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in marriage and family studies. For more articles by Elizabeth, Dr. Rob, or Dr. Tim, check out the rest of our blog and our Facebook page.

How the Sexual Mismatch Can Help Your Marriage

sexual mismatch

Generally speaking, husbands want to have sex more frequently than their wives. This probably doesn’t surprise you. But, you may be surprised to learn that this mismatch can actually strengthen your marriage.

But first…

Pop Quiz for You Wives:

Ladies, be honest, do you ever intentionally stay up later than your husband – under the guise of doing important stuff  – though you’re secretly giving hubby enough time to fall asleep before you get to bed?

Or, notwithstanding persuasive evidence about the importance of marital kissing (see my article on the six second kiss) do you sometimes withhold your lips in fear that they may send an unintended message?

Maybe you routinely make not-so-subtle comments as you get into bed?

Monday – “Whew, I sure am tired tonight, that exciting Monday Night Football game drained me.”

Tuesday – “Those allergies seem to have returned in force, you really don’t want to kiss me right now.”

Wednesday – “I’ve got a busy day tomorrow, busy, busy, busy…need some solid REM”

Thursday – “I’m pretty sure I’m coming down with smallpox (if not something worse). I’ll understand if you want to sleep on the couch tonight.”

Friday – “…I’d love to, but I just ‘started’ this morning.”

Husbands, Quit Laughing – Your Turn for a Quiz:

Men, do you suddenly become quite a bit more helpful around the house when you are “in the mood”?

Do you find yourself frequently thinking about having sex with your wife, yet you forget other details about her – such as her birthday?

Are you surprised to find out that true intimacy includes much more than just sex? (If you don’t believe me, ask your wife.)

Supported By Research

These are clearly extreme stereotypes that likely don’t accurately describe your marriage. But, research does suggest that, generally, husbands desire sex more often (and often much more often) than wives.

Of course, your marriage may not follow the statistical “norm.” And, in some marriages, wives may want as much or more sex than their husbands. But for any couple with mismatched levels of sexual desire, what can be done? What should be done? And, how on earth can this actually strengthen a marriage?

Wouldn’t it be easier if men and women were created more equally with regard to sexual desire? Really, just think about the conflict and frustration that could be removed from marriage if both spouses were completely in-sync with regard to when and how often to have sex. In fact, wouldn’t marriage be easier if spouses were also hard-wired to spend money the same way, or if they preferred the same vacations, restaurants, and entertainment?

In short, yes, this would be easier. But on the other hand, we would be missing a fantastic opportunity for growth!

A Broader View of Marriage

If the purpose of marriage was individual and immediate gratification, then a sexual mismatch may seem disastrous. And, while I fear too many people see marriage with this “what’s in it for me” mentality, truly successful couples have a much broader view of marriage. These couples genuinely care about their spouse’s needs more than their own (inside and outside of the bedroom)!

Marriage, more than any other relationship, grants us the ongoing opportunity to overcome our selfishness by striving to put our spouse’s needs before our own. And the sexual aspect of marriage provides an ideal opportunity to be lovingly selfless.

Thus, in a very real way, couples that learn to bridge their “sexual mismatch” by openly communicating and tenderly compromising will become stronger as a couple!

Marriage is More Than Just Sex

While marriage consists of so much more than simply sexual satisfaction, I am convinced that a marriage cannot be truly happy if there is lingering frustration in this aspect of the relationship. I love this quote by Dr. Douglas Brinley:

Marriage is not just for sex, of course, but sex is a profound means of expressing love and commitment. It is designed to be a physical, emotional, and spiritual union; hence a high form of validation. Just as a good marriage increases sexual interest, so satisfactory sexual relations adds soul-binding emotional strength to marriage. There are few ways as powerful as the sexual union of a man and woman that are so expressive of mutual love.

How Healthy is Your Sexual Relationship?

The good news is that countless couples thoroughly enjoy their sexual relationship and view it as an important part of a healthy and happy marriage. The bad news is that, for too many couples, physical intimacy is a cause of stress, disappointment, and frustration.

So how are things going in your marriage? (This is rhetorical; please don’t email us with a response.)

I hope things are going well for you! However, some of you may be inadvertently guilty of sexual ignorance or sexual selfishness. For instance, do you know how often your spouse desires to have sex during a week or month? Likewise, do you know if your spouse is currently happy with the state of your sexual relationship? Do you two talk about this important aspect of your marriage? Are you genuinely concerned about your spouse’s needs and desires?

Remember, your sexual relationship has the potential to be a wonderful aspect of a healthy marriage. It can also be an area of disagreement, stress, and frustration. How we respond to the “sexual mismatch” can greatly influence our overall marital happiness!

Next Steps

I challenge you to sincerely ask yourself,  “How can I be more selfless and less selfish with regard to our sexual union?” For some of you it may mean seeking sex less often out of kindness and love for your spouse. For others it may be accepting a spouse’s advances more often (and even initiating love making periodically). Whatever it may be, have the courage and kindness to act on those thoughts! Your marriage will be stronger for it.

And, because there are so many couples who silently struggle in this area, please take a minute and share this article through email and your social media channels. Together, we can help strengthen marriages!

 

Please help us strengthen families by sharing this article with your friends and family! Likewise, to see more of Dr. Rob’s articles (as well as articles by Dr. Tim), please also check out the rest of our blog and our Facebook page.