Ask Professor Foxy: Working it out in Florida

Welcome to the first edition of our new series, Ask Professor Foxy. If you have questions, send them to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.
Hi Professor Foxy,
I’ve been married for about eighteen months now, and my husband and I have yet to have intercourse (there may have been a few times when he got in a quarter of an inch or so, but it really hurt and I’m not even sure, which is telling). Admittedly, I’m very ignorant about sex. No matter how much I read about it or how many diagrams I view, I still feel clueless and incompetent.
I don’t have any sexual trauma in my background (except maybe my first gynecological exam; they haven’t stopped being painful). But I guess you could say I was a typical abstinence fan. I was raised with the expectation that I wouldn’t have sex till I was married, and it never really occurred to me to seriously question it. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned on Feministing yet is how the abstinence movement gives you the impression that sex will be perfect if you can just wait till you’re married. Now, of course, I feel like a gullible idiot. My husband (also a virgin at marriage) has been completely supportive and understanding (and thinks it’s somehow his fault), and our marriage is great aside from this, but it’s incredibly frustrating, and it makes us both reluctant to even try. I don’t know if it’s just that we’re both clueless or if there’s something worse going on.
As much as I don’t “get” books about sex, I’d also appreciate any reading recommendations you may have for people like me.
–Not Doing It in Florida

Hey Florida –
I want you to stop thinking about having sex. Just stay with me here…one of the things that the abstinence-only movement, and frankly most of our culture teaches us, is that sex is VERY, VERY, VERY SERIOUS. And I am going to tell you a little secret – sex, really, really good sex is fun and funny and involves intimacy and laughing and oops moments and funny noises.
So this is what I want you and your husband to do. I want you to take the pressure of penetration off the table. First, learn how to enjoy each others’ bodies. Practice sex not being serious.
I want you to spend one week, a minimum of an hour a day, kissing and cuddling. Nothing more. Week two – I want you to have a week of nipples. His or yours or both. Enjoy them, see what you like, are either of you ticklish? Week three – keep up the kissing and exploring, but go below the belt line. And by below the belt line, I mean you for you: masturbation. You may have never touched yourself, but it is hard to tell someone what you like if you don’t know yourself. No need to penetrate, find your clitoris, look at it with a mirror, move in circles or back and forth. Find what feels right.
Then, if you feel ready, week four, below the belt with him but no penetration. Half an hour you, half an hour him. Play around, see what works. Do you see where I am going here? Stop worrying about penetration. Practice sex not being boiled down to penetration.
Once you feel relaxed being naked and touching him and maybe even yourself, I want one of you (which ever of you has the courage) to go out and buy some water-based lubricant. They sell lube at drugstores now. I want your husband to insert one, heavily lubed finger into your vagina. I want you to breathe deep and I want you to relax with that finger in you. Throughout this entire process, I want one of you to be playing with your clit. When you feel like nothing is in, I want him to go to two. And repeat until you are up to about four fingers. This may feel uncomfortable, but keep adding more lube, relax and breathe. When you are relaxed and comfortable with this level of penetration, try with his penis.
And you know what? If it doesn’t work, stop punishing yourself for it (same for him). Start again. Tickle each other, have another hour of nipples. Stop taking it so seriously and eventually, with the love that you clearly have, it will work. You’ve made a commitment to him and he to you and you have time to make this work and you can discover great things along the way.

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