Lights On or Lights Off? Sex and Comfort

So you’re newly married–and with marriage comes a fantastic sense of freedom. Finally, the two of you get to cultivate the intimacy you’ve been dreaming about during all these months and years of dating and engagement. It should feel liberating for both of you…but what if it doesn’t?

Oftentimes, the introduction of physical intimacy in a new marriage can feel sudden and invasive, especially if you’re a new wife. For many women, exposing themselves completely to their husbands–no matter how long they’ve been married–is an uncomfortable, tense experience.

In today’s blog post, we’re sharing tips to help you increase physical intimacy while honoring the specific needs that each of you have.

To the Wives

For most women, sex is about the experience you’re immersed in. You want to feel completely comfortable, but that’s hard to pull off when you’re feeling self-conscious about your physical appearance. Naturally, you might find that you’re most comfortable when the two of you are plunged into complete darkness–easy, right? You can’t see each other, and now you don’t have to worry about what your body looks like.

Unfortunately, this is probably going to be a letdown for your husband (and for you, even if you don’t realize it yet!). Men are hard-wired to be visual, and he wants to be able to see you in all your beauty.

If he’s asking to see your body, that means he is attracted to you. He isn’t going to be looking for physical flaws; he wants to appreciate you fully. Gifting him with a generous visual is just going to add another dimension to his pleasure. And you may not realize it at first, but it’s going to add to yours, as well.

Of course, when it comes to fully revealing yourself to your husband, you can work together to compromise. Let him know what is comfortable for you, and gradually take steps in the direction of being more intimate and less guarded. Don’t feel like you have to take the plunge in a way that makes you tense, anxious, uncomfortable, or more self-conscious.

Meet in the middle and set the mood. You don’t have to turn on all the lights…but maybe you can dim them or light some candles. Create a romantic atmosphere where you can be relaxed, laugh together, and allow him to love you completely. The payoff will be huge for both of you, and before you know it, you won’t feel this anxiety any more.

To the Husbands

If you’re a new husband, maybe you’re chomping at the bit to start your marriage off with a bang…but your bride is feeling uncomfortable and ashamed of her body. What gives?

First, know that it’s totally normal (and common) for your wife to feel this way. The two of you can work through this together, and soon you’ll both be much more comfortable with physical intimacy.

It’s important not to pressure your wife, because this situation is very delicate. The two of you can definitely reach a balance that works for both of you, when it comes to the lighting and atmosphere during your times of intimacy. If you’re feeling impatient, just remind yourself that it may take her some time to become fully comfortable with being naked in front of you…but when she finally is, the wait will have been worth it. Plus, she’ll remember and appreciate your patience and understanding (which could definitely help your case).

To help your wife gradually become more comfortable with physical intimacy, prime her with a little romance every day. Let her know she is beautiful, and that you truly cherish her. Become intimately familiar with her on other wavelengths, besides sexual intimacy–get in tune with her interests, the things she loves, and little details about her. Let her know how much you appreciate who she is.

Prize her uniqueness, continue to court her, and shower her with romance. Putting forth the effort to help her feel truly loved for her entire being could help her feel more comfortable with physical intimacy.

For Both of You

Remember to keep your lines of communication open as you work together to heighten the physical intimacy in your marriage. Check in with each other regularly about where you’re at in your sex life, and where you’d each like to be. Continue to patiently compromise with one another, maintaining a generous spirit as you give and take on both sides.

Be honest about each of your needs and enjoy the journey. If you need professional counseling to help you deconstruct limiting or unhealthy beliefs about sex in marriage, seek it out. The investments you make in your marital health and intimacy are worth every bit of time and effort, and you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your lives.




  • Prov5:18-19 says:

    Very glad to be a Proverbs 5:18-19 man married to a Genesis 2:25 woman

  • Dee says:

    And because ‘men are visual’ they see better in the dark,be right??? LOL. If you want to try go that route, then really all that’s needed is one little candle burning somewhere in the room. Ladies, surely we can handle a single little candle, right? Otherwise go with both men and women are visual, studies have shown this, but women have better self control when it comes to lustful thoughts. Also men are trained from watching pornography to ‘zero in’ on one specific body part that is shown under bright camera lights. So don’t fall for that. What is needed in a loving, commented relationship is mutuality and compromise. Men don’t need to have sex in the light and women don’t need to have sex in the dark. Compromise with candles or dim lighting. Have making love be more about touch, smell, feel, and soft words spoken.

  • Sarah says:

    Okay, for starters, I realize that blog posts such as these typically represent more of a “soundbite” than a deep delving into the issues. With that said, this is an issue that requires an understanding of greater context – cultural context, individual context, etc. I encourage anyone who is doing premarital counseling, or couples counseling in general, to dig deeper into this issue. There are parts of this post that seem balanced, but other parts can come off as victim-blaming (saying that when wives cannot have the lights on it is “a let down” to the husband). There are so many issues that affect women’s ability to be vulnerable in this way – consider the enormous toll that our society places on women regarding being “perfect” (weight! hair! skin! makeup! a perceived pressure of living up to pornographic images,…and just a general “do it all and look perfect while you’re at it!”) – this type of pressure contributes to body image issues and even eating disorders, which are more common in women than men. Then we have the issue of past sexual abuse and the way in which this can impact a women’s comfort in the bedroom (while sexual abuse affects both sexes, it is an issue that affects more women than men). So saying that a couple should “work together to compromise” as this blog post says, doesn’t fully address many of the issues that may be going on; it certainly doesn’t give that much-needed context. A woman for whom these issues have taken place may not be able to, or may not be ready to, “meet in the middle”.

    I really love Drs Les and Leslie, but wish they did a more thorough job on explaining these issues and therefore training the users of their assessment to act in a way that first does no harm.

  • Christine says:

    I think being comfortable naked in front of your husband is important, or I think there are other insecurities in your marriage than your body. Maybe from the past? But if your husband really truly loves you and makes you feel safe you should be able to have sex anywhere. I’ve heard be comfortable with yourself being naked by being naked when your by yourself, and good diet and exercise is important for mentally feeling good and physically feeling good which are important in relationships anyhow, and the benefit is looking better naked and with clothes on… when we’re constantly judging ourselves we’re gonna be judgmental in our relationship and that’s not healthy… being uncomfortable naked with the one we love means there are deeper issues that need felt with. I believe just being naked with them and healing that area can actually heal other insecurities and vice versa… and yes men can feel this way too.

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