Why Everyone Should Read Marriage Be Hard - The Pelvic PT Perspective

Updated: Oct 11

If you haven't heard, Kev On Stage and Mrs. Kev On Stage just released their new book Marriage Be Hard - and I'm OBSESSED. This book sheds light on so many aspects of marriage that are not often publicly talked about in a real and raw way, but what inspired this post was their chapter on sex. Yes, SEX. Why? Because their stories and struggles triggered me and mirror what I often hear from my patients when they're struggling with vaginismus or painful sex. Let me explain.

I'll start by talking about me. I grew up in the church, and the messaging around sex was that I was supposed to wait until marriage, I was to remain pure, and my virginity was my value. While this messaging had good intentions, it often left me feeling guilty and shameful for my curiosity and desires. Real talks about sex weren't really a thing in my household, and I learned a lot on my own (I DON'T recommend this). I went through high school and college struggling with reconciling my sexuality with what I was always taught (and believed). It was a horrible mental and emotional back and forth that often left me confused and defeated.

I thought that when (it was more of an "if" back then - a different story for a different day) I got married that it would all be fine. I'd be able to have sex guilt and shame free because it's honorable, even worship in this context. I thought all my negative thoughts and feelings would just disappear with the presence of a husband. I. WAS. WRONG. Here I am, a married woman and STILL dealing with deep rooted guilt and shame around my body and my sexuality. UGH.

I'm going to be honest. I did not do everything right according to the purity movement. And a LOT of my guilt and shame was rooted in that fact. Too often I told myself that if I did it all the right way that things would be different and I would be sexual without worry in marriage. But after treating a NUMBER of soon-to-be married or newly-married patients and hearing Melissa's story in Marriage Be Hard, I fully understand that this is not the case.

Spoiler Alert! Melissa reveals in the book that she was fully subscribed to the purity movement. She did everything right. She not only didn't have sex until she was married, she didn't really talk or even THINK about sex. She, like me and countless other women, assumed that because she did it the right way, sex would just "work" when she got married because - the church basically promised that would be the case. To her dismay, she struggled with guilt and shame as well - not because she did anything wrong, but because she was programmed to see sex as wrong for so many years. She had to do real work to unlearn this harmful messaging and relearn healthy messaging about sex and sexuality - and no one really talks about that part. I'm so thankful she did.

Hearing her story did two things for me. 1. It confirmed that even if I did everything right, without a healthy mindset about sex - I would never be free. And 2. It reminded me of my patients that were virgins with vaginismus and high anxiety around sex. These women were so adamant about avoiding sex that when the time came for them to partake in a way that was acceptable to them, they couldn't. Years of unhealthy messaging caught up to them. It was devastating and took a lot of mental, emotional, and physical work to get them to a place where they were able to have successful sex. Church, we have to do better.

Don't get me wrong - I love God. I identify as a Christian, and I do believe that God created sex for marriage. BUT, I don't believe that you should never know, think, or talk about sex until you're married. I don't believe we should shame women into suppressing their sexuality - whether single or married. We should be having healthy conversations around sex and sexuality in a way that is loving, encouraging, and realistic. Since we believe God created sex, why isn't the Church leading on healthy conversations around it?

This conversation is not limited to Christianity or to married women. A good number of the aforementioned patients were part of other religious communities. And some patients I've seen with painful sex revealed having mental and emotional trauma around sexuality caused by messaging from either their religious community, their family, or their culture. This is a global issue. We need to correct the way we talk about sex - especially to women.

As a Christian, married, female pelvic health physical therapist here's what I want you to know:

  • Sex is not bad. Period.

  • Regardless of your religious beliefs you NEED to have a healthy understanding about your body, sex, and your sexuality.

  • NO ONE has the right to guilt or shame you for your sexuality.

  • If you struggle with sex, there is hope and there is help.

If this post resonates with you and you want to learn more, my favorite book on women's sexuality is Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski. The link to her book is on my Pelvic Health Resources page under "Readings." If you need 1:1 support, book a discovery call with me so we can create a plan for your success.

Lastly, do me a favor and share this with your girlfriends. Let's keep this conversation going.

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