There’s a danger in turning to movies and novels as examples of how romance and sex work in the marital bedroom. I’ve written about the myths of romance novels and the problems of films in how they depict this intimate act.
However, I’m a fiction reader mostly. While there are plenty of great nonfiction titles I’ve read and want to read, I tend to gravitate toward a great story.* Recently, I was reading an historical novel in which a love — okay, okay, sex — scene appeared. (Let me be clear this is was not erotica, but sex does appear in many mainstream titles and this was one scene in a long book.) And I started wondering why women eat this stuff up. Why do romance novels appeal to us gals so much? Are there common threads in these love and sex scenes that reveal something deeper about our desires?
So while I’m not encouraging you to pick up steamy romance novels, and certainly never erotica, I want to talk about what you can learn from love scenes — about what we women tend to value when it comes to sexual intimacy.
The couple shares amazing kisses. The emphasis on kissing in many romance novels is unmistakable. A curl-your-toes kiss can take up paragraphs or even pages of description, as something both the character and the reader savor.
All too often, when it comes to our marriages, we push kissing aside. We might trade pecks or soft kisses, but do we engage in passionate make-out sessions like we used to? Perhaps your husband views kissing as a pit stop on the way the real destination of sex. Which can leave a gal longing for that sweet sensation of a sexy, sexy kiss. The sort romance writers describe so well.
Oddly enough, after many years of marriage, we should actually be better at this than any fictional characters who stumble into that first kiss. We should have it down pat. But maybe it’s neglected in your marriage. And maybe that’s one reason why women crave reading about intense kisses — because we want to experience that again. And yes, with our husband.
He’s in charge. Whoa, whoa! Before I flub this all up, let me explain what I mean by “in charge.” The hero of a romance novel is typically in charge of the situation and of himself. He comes across as confident and capable. He knows how to pleasure a woman (although this is one of those rather silly expectations in fiction, since the character doesn’t know this woman and we’re not all cookie-cutter, thank you very much). He is in control of his passions, releasing them freely when she is receptive and waiting patiently when she needs more time. He gauges how his actions come across and adapts readily to what she desires. He takes the lead yet makes her feel safe and valued.
Romance heroes are masculine. Whatever you want to do with that word, I can tell you I have writer friends who have been flat out instructed by editors to make their hero taller, to lose the “nerdy glasses,” to change his occupation to a more manly pursuit, etc. before the novel is published. Because, by and large, female readers want a confident, masculine love interest.
And maybe that’s what you want from your husband too — for him to be confident and capable in lovemaking. For him to be a leader when it comes to sexual intimacy, though certainly not aggressive or demanding. Indeed, the husband who is constantly begging and pressing may appear even less in charge, of his emotions and desires and relationship. But do we encourage our husbands to live up to this masculine standard? Do we build him up into the man God wants him to be? Do we encourage his leadership, confidence, and capability? Do we help stay in control of his passions and direct them appropriately in the marriage bed?
She climaxes. It’s sort of a joke how easily women climax in novels and movies. Even first-time-out virgins readily hit the peak of passion — oh, and in perfect synchronicity with their sexual partner. It’s rather ridiculous, since most women have a learning curve when it comes to climax. It’s not quite the given that it is for men. So while you can safely ignore how easy fiction makes it look, one interesting takeaway remains.
Her climax is seen as important. Almost every romance novel and chick flick approaches the sex scene from her perspective. And you know what? In this scenario, her pleasure matters. Wives want to feel that height of passion, to reach the pinnacle of lovemaking, to feel their bodies melt into that moment and find complete satisfaction in the marriage bed. Indeed, many wives who don’t want to have sex have never felt that excitement, so they don’t get what the big deal is. Even stranger, some of these women read romance novels and have never made the connection: Sex is also for you, sweetie!
Now of course, your husband isn’t merely there to send you up to the rafters in an orgasm that leaves you floating for hours. This is a mutual, one-flesh thing in marriage. However, there’s something to be said for making sure you enjoy it — that you make your pleasure a priority as well. You may not care about climaxing every time, but learning what arouses and excites you can go a long way toward helping you feel more engaged and eager about lovemaking with your husband. God wants you to enjoy this gift He gave — thus, the clitoris and the orgasm.
So here are three takeaways from romance novels: kissing, his capability, and your pleasure. But of course, the best news is that with commitment, communication, and sure, practice, our Christian covenant marriages should enjoy far better than any make-believe romance. We can have the full range of intimacy with our husbands. What are we doing to encourage exactly that?
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— For your love is better than wine.” Song of Songs 1:2
*By the way, best love story ever? Jesus.