Perfectly Imperfect

Planning a wedding can be stressful. Sometimes the bride doesn’t think of every little thing she is going to need until a couple of weeks before the ceremony and she ends up running around frantically trying to find wedding bonbonnieres / favours, and organising to have her leg hairs waxed, hair dyed and nails done before flying out of the country for a destination wedding ceremony. Or, at least, that’s my experience. I’ve been rather anxious the last couple of weeks preparing for my celebration wedding this month.

My perfectionism got the best of me a few nights ago and I cried because I realised that my wedding is not going to be “perfect.” In fact nothing in life is truly “perfect” in my mind. I’ve ordered flowers, makeup and cake, from a distance and will not see them until the big day. My shoes make me at least 2 inches taller than my husband–not exactly ideal. The photo slide show has photos of photos–they look less than perfect. The wedding music will be playing from an iPhone speaker. My mother (RIP) will miss our wedding by 4 years and 6 months…

My husband held me and said that our celebration wedding will be “Perfectly imperfect.” He loves that phrase and I’m starting to love it too.

The truth is, we will have been married for exactly 9 months on our wedding day. We have organised a celebration-wedding in Hawaii so that our families, coming from Australia and America, can meet in person, watch me walk down a sandy aisle in a traditional, white, wedding gown, exchange vows with my husband a second time, take photographs and have our reception dinner on the beach. We called our marriage in February an elopement day although it wasn’t actually a secret. We went to the court house in Parramatta, exchanged vows in front of our parents, two of whom were skyped in, and signed our marriage certificate. We will celebrate our wedding anniversary on February 20th because it’s not only when we legally married, but also the day we “became one flesh,” to use a biblical term, and it just so happens that we first met–through facebook–on February 21st 2013. But no doubt we will remember November 20th as well.

Our elopement day was another perfectly-imperfect day. We forgot our wedding rings and had to drive back home after the signing to get them. We did not have all our family members there to celebrate with us, just as we won’t have a lot of extended family in Hawaii and those were difficult decisions to make and somewhat sad. Definitely not “perfect.”

My husband and I were intercourse-virgins on our wedding night. I was 32 and my husband, 30, when we got married. Most people in general have experienced sex long before age 30-32 and if you think about the body of a teenager or adult in their twenties, they are generally a lot more flexible than adults in their thirties. They can also adapt to different positions and strenuous activities more quickly and easily than older adults. My husband and I have both experienced exhaustion before reaching climax, back pain and even leg muscle spasms during orgasm! Suffice-it to say, our sex life is also perfectly-imperfect.

Abstaining from sex for so many years not only affected our ability to perform sexually, but resulted in both of us placing some unrealistic expectations on our sex-life. When my husband and I had sex for the first time on our elopement night, I expected that I would feel a spiritual bond being solidified between me and my husband, a sense of awe and wonder, of unity and passion, of love and nurture. To my surprise, I didn’t feel any different after sex than I had before sex. I hadn’t changed. I was waiting for something to change, something magical to happen–no, something supernatural–but it didn’t feel supernatural to me.

I broached the subject with my husband a day or two later and he also agreed that sex felt surprisingly natural. It was a relief to know that he felt the same, but I was much more baffled by it than he was. It took me months to accept that sex was not a supernaturally mind-blowing, spiritually climactic, soul-tying experience for the two of us. I have struggled to orgasm (more than I expected to struggle) because of the expectations I placed on sex and how disappointed I felt in those early months of married life.

More recently I’ve let go of my disappointment and come to see sex being natural as a positive thing. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I would have to say that it was, in some respects, a relief that sex felt very natural and normal. If I had felt the supernatural feelings I was expecting, it might have scared me. I may have gone back to feeling insecure about whether what we were doing was wrong or right and I may have felt guilty and dirty. I’m glad it felt natural, I was simply surprised it didn’t feel more bonding, instantaneously.

However, over time (albeit we’ve only been married for 8 and a half months) I have observed that my bond with my husband has deepened, and I do believe this is linked to sex. My experience–and I can only speak for myself–is that when I first married my husband, he was my best friend, we had a lot in common, he ticked all my boxes, so I loved him and I chose him to be my partner in life. Now, I feel more of a family bond. He belongs in my life and nothing can ever replace him. It’s almost as though we’ve always known each other, always been together and will always be together, spiritually if not in body. Perhaps this is a soul-tie or perhaps this is a result of oxytocin, or both, but it’s a beautiful feeling of safety, security, love and family.

Before marriage, I did not feel safe to orgasm in front of any man. For me personally, I wanted to know that I was loved and felt secure before my body would even relax enough to experience an orgasm. For all the fooling around I did for four years leading up to marriage, I never orgasmed in the presence of any man other than my husband. For me, this is one of the beautiful things about sex inside of marriage, or a relationship in which you feel loved and secure. It creates an environment of security in which one can fully express oneself.

Within this context, we are creating a perfectly-imperfect sex-life that works for us. Not every position is going to work. We’ve never made love all night long or even achieved having sex more than four times in twenty-four hours. I read an excellent book before I got married called “Sexual Intelligence,” by Marty Klein. This book talks about re-inventing your sex life at any age or stage in life. It throws out rules like “I have to orgasm in order to enjoy sex,” or “Sex has to be spontaneous not planned” and suggests we have sex without so many rules and expectations. In fact we need to accept the things we can’t do, the expectations or circumstances that aren’t met, and we need to find out what works for us where we are at.

My sex-life is never going to be perfect or ideal in every way. Nor is my celebration-wedding when it happens later this month. But I am determined to love and enjoy them for what they are. There is something freeing about acceptance. Acceptance lets go of judgement, expectation, disappointment, idealism and perfectionism, and creates something realistically beautiful in its place. That’s why my husband and I use the term “perfectly-imperfect.” It may not be ideal or the way you thought you wanted things to be, but it can still be amazing and special and have its own kind of perfection (i.e. perfect for us / perfect in these circumstances) in its reality.