One of the biggest destroyers of having great sex is anxiety. Worrying about sex prevents our body from naturally responding the way that God designed it to. Anxiety draws us into our head instead of letting ourselves enjoy what happens. Worry creates fear about performance that can cause us to avoid sex. Even a small amount of anxiety can impact connection and enjoyment during sex. Anxiety can make you feel like you are drowning with nothing to grab hold of.
When my husband and I weren’t having sex often, my body often felt nervous each time we engaged. I remember telling my husband, “I don’t know if I remember how to do this.” It took me a long time to relax and to warm up. Each time I felt like I was starting over during sex because I didn’t know my body well enough and trust it to respond. I felt anxious and worried.
What it Does
Anxiety causes our body to release stress hormones epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. The stress hormones narrow blood vessels which decreases blood flow which negatively impacts sexual responses.
Worrying about getting an erection becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wondering whether we will maintain an erection, leads to loosing an erection. Worrying about having an orgasm creates a barrier to finishing. But even beyond our body’s natural functions, worry creates disconnection during sex.
If you spend your time worrying about whether you can last long enough during intercourse, then do you actually enjoy what is going on? When your mind constantly wonders whether you will orgasm, then can you enjoy the moment? While worrying about loosing your erection, can you even feel your wife?
Worry gets in the way of enjoying the moment. Striving prevents being. Rather than looking forward to discovering new things our fear of failure keeps us trapped in a tiny box. Anxiety can even cause us to avoid sex because we dread messing up again. Ultimately, worry prevents us from creating intimacy during sex.
Causes of Anxiety
Expectations create anxiety during sex. Cultural messages can make a man feel like he needs to satisfy his wife with his penis, or that sex needs to look a certain way. Rather than a shared experience, sex becomes a burden of responsibility. Women worry that their body needs to look like the magazines, or that she needs to compete with porn. Men who have struggled with masturbation or pornography might worry that their body will not respond during intercourse with their wife. People that struggle to orgasm worry that their body will fail them one more time. Expectations create performance pressure, anxiety and prevent us from simply enjoying what happens.
Secret struggles or worries carry much more power than they should. Recognizing expectations that cause anxiety and vulnerably sharing with our spouse can be the first step towards freedom.
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Talk to your spouse about your expectations and worries. Rather than fear the unspoken, speak it out loud and pray about it. Let your spouse be part of the solution.
Take off the pressure and redefine sex to focus on connection rather than the finish line. Expand your definition of great sex as getting to know each other and discovering new things. Remove the pressure on your penis by learning new ways to create pleasure for your wife. If your wife doesn’t finish during intercourse, then offer to help her finish other ways.
When you start to worry, bring your self back to being present by focusing on one of your five sense – touch, taste, smell, sound, or sight. As your mind starts to worry again, breathe deeply and gently refocus again on the point of connection.
Sometimes it is easier to get out of your head when you are serving your spouse. Get lost in what you can do to create pleasure for them. Allow your body to get excited and aroused as you serve them.
Practice thankfulness by noticing the small steps of connection and growth.
If you really struggle with performance pressure or anxiety, then get help. Find a counselor to help you learn to stay present and regulate your emotions. It will not only impact your sex life, it will allow you to experience more of life in general.
Anxiety is the destroyer of sex. It will not only short circuit God’s design for our body to relax, respond and lean into pleasure, but it will create disconnection. Worry will keep you from experiencing intimacy and life to the fullest. Talk to your spouse about what creates anxiety for you and come up with ways to remove the pressure. Pray over your sex life, and ask for a new mindset of thankfulness and discovery.