Recently, I took the opportunity to scroll through the Amazon Prime Video service to see if there happened to be any movies that would entertain Megan and I for an evening. As I scrolled through the listings, one movie in particular caught my attention. The movie was “North Face”. I knew nothing about the movie, nothing at all. It was easy to see from the picture that it would be about mountain climbing, but what caught my attention was the number of very high reviews. It seemed like nearly everyone who saw it gave it a full 5 stars. I quickly saw that it was in German and we would have to watch it with subtitles. But I didn’t care. “If a movie has these kinds of high reviews,” I thought to myself, “then it’s got to be a great one to watch!” Needless to say, my expectations were high, and I was really looking forward to relaxing while watching a great movie.
***Warning: For those of you who have never seen “North Face”, the below text will contain spoilers!!! Skip down a bit if you don’t wish to know what happens.***
So Megan and I started watching the movie – English subtitles and all – and soon became pretty engrossed in the film. We were mesmerized not only by the climbers desire to do it, but also by the gear they used way back in the 1930′s. Why would anybody desire to do such a thing? Anyway, (here come the spoilers) about 75-90 minutes into the film one of the non-lead characters died. We kind of saw it coming, but were still saddened to see him go. Not long after, 2 more died, including one of the 2 main characters. It was then that Megan looked over and said, “If this last guy dies, then this is going to be a really bad ending for a movie.”
Well, a rescue team was dispatched to save the final climber. It was here that Megan and I were on the edge of our seats, waiting for some moment of triumph in what had become a ‘downer’ of a movie. He was cold and his arm was frostbit, but they were going to make it. They had to. A dear friend of his stayed out on a ledge all night long to keep him awake so he wouldn’t die. And in the morning, the rescue team arrived. He began repelling himself to safety…but the rope was too short! Oh, no! Surely they were going to get to him in time, right? Nope. Before a second effort could be made, he froze to death. The End.
To say we were disappointed as we turned off the TV and headed to bed would be an understatement. Movies just aren’t supposed to end this way! Movies are entertaining. Fun. Joyful. While “North Face” was gripping, it didn’t seem to rise to our expectations.
***End of Spoilers***
Movies aren’t the only thing in life that disappoints us if it’s different than we expect. Late last year Megan and I wrote a series called “Unmet Expectations”, and we immediately realized that many couples go into marriage having very specific expectations as to what marriage will be like. Expectations about time together. Expectations about money. Even expectations about sex. And when these expectations aren’t met, it’s easy to be disappointed with the result.
Take sex, for example. You have certain expectations as to what your sex life will be like. You probably have expectations as to what your next sexual encounter with your spouse will be like. But what happens if those expectations aren’t met? What happens if the result is different than what you planned out in your mind?
What happens if he isn’t sexually fulfilled because he can’t stop thinking about the fling she had in college with another guy?
What happens if she doubts she pleases her husband sexually because she discovered some risque photos on his laptop?
What happens if it’s obvious he’s thinking about a deadline he has at work?
What happens if it’s obvious she’s thinking about the kids?
Even a best-case scenario: What if he’s hoping for a hard romp in the sack, while she’s hoping for a mild, long, slow, sensuous time together.
All of these “what if’s” can be answered with one of two options: disappointment, or appreciation. Focusing too much time thinking about the “what if’s” will lead to disappointment. Instead, taking the opportunity to think about “why” you’re taking the opportunity to connect will lead to appreciation. Not only appreciation for sex itself, but appreciation for your spouse. For example:
1) Remember that you chose each other
We write about old flings from high-school and college pretty often, and that’s because we’ve talked with many couples who wrestle deeply with their sexual past. They have a difficult time forgiving themselves or their spouse for something that happened years ago. While we can’t cover this subject too much in this post, always remember that you chose each other. Despite your past or hers, you chose to be with one another until death do you part. You chose to unite and connect with his/her body the rest of your life. If you need to, write this down and read it to yourself every day this week.
“I chose to live my life with my spouse, not my past.”
Good. Now, begin to put that thought in motion, both inside and outside the bedroom. Get under the sheets to be with your spouse, not your past. Enjoy sex just as an opportunity to be with your spouse, not your past. Use sex as an opportunity to avail yourself and to appreciate your spouse for doing the same. Use it as a way to see into your spouse and know them. Use it as a way to remember that you chose one another and that you want to live with, be with, and connect with one another. You may never completely forget your past (or theirs), but you can forgive it. And by doing so, you can appreciate not only your spouse, but your time together behind closed doors.
2) Remember that ‘different’ sex is better than no sex
You may be living in a situation right now where you’re choosing to not have sex because it’s ‘different’ than you expected it to be. Well, life is always going to be different than you expect it to be, too. But let me tell you a secret, having sex that’s ‘different’ than you expected it to be is a whole lot better than having no sex at all. Every single time you connect, you’re reminding your spouse that you choose him/her. Every time you connect, they’re reminded that they chose you, too. Your time together may be a little different than you expected it to be, but different isn’t always a bad thing.
3) Remember that ‘different’ isn’t a bad thing
I’m pretty sure that every person who experiences sex for the first time thinks to themself, “Well that was different than what I expected it to be.” Our culture gives us one indication of what a good romp looks like but reality paints a different picture. Similarly, one set of parents may educate their child in one way, and another completely different. So there will be times when you and your spouse have different expectations and desires.
But remember, sex being ‘different’ than what you expect isn’t always a bad thing. For example, “North Face” was much different than I expected. But the more I’ve thought about the movie, the more I’ve come to appreciate it. I appreciate it because it’s not the typical American-made movie. I appreciate it because it showed some qualities of human nature that we don’t always see in movies. I appreciate it because it was nothing like what I expected. In short, I appreciate it because it was different.
You can do this with your sex life as well.
You can appreciate that your spouse is willing to be completely availed for you.
You can appreciate that your spouse chose you, not your past.
You can appreciate that ‘slow and easy’ builds your orgasm even longer.
You can appreciate that sex is more enjoyable than any deadline.
You can appreciate that ‘different’ sex is better than no sex.
In the end, you can appreciate that sex simply brings you together.
Discuss with your spouse:
1. What would you say to a friend who is discouraged because their sex life is ‘different’ than they expected it to be?
2. Do you have any sexual desires that I’m not aware of? How can I work toward pleasing you in this way?
3. On average, how often have we had sex over the past few months? What can we do (or give up) to make more time for sex over the next month?
Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum