Honeymoon Problems

By: Mormon Heretic
December 3, 2012

Samira and Firas

Samira and Firas are a Muslim couple married in August 2009.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been watching the TLC program, Strange Sex (also available on Netflix.)  For Firas and Samira, it was love at first sight.  One week after meeting, Firas asked Samira’s father for permission to marry.  Muslims have even stronger prohibitions about premarital sex than Mormons.  Samira stated that

“In the craziness of the wedding planning, I knew that I had to go to an OB-GYN to get a birth control prescription because me and Firas didn’t want to get pregnant right away.  I didn’t tell my mom only because she told me that if I went to an OB-GYN they ‘d do a PAP smear, and a PAP smear makes you lose your virginity.”

Muslims also believe that tampons destroy a woman’s virginity.  What happened at the doctor’s office surprised both her and the doctor.

When the doctor tried to insert a speculum for a pap smear, Samira’s vagina reflexively tightened up and wouldn’t allow penetration.  The doctor tried for 20 minutes, to no avail.  Concerned that it was some sort of psychological issue, the doctor referred her for counseling.  It appeared to be a condition called vaginismus, an involuntary panic attack in the vagina.  Samira and Firas were married for nearly a year, but were not able to consummate their marriage.  Samira was devastated.  “This is what you get for being such a good girl”, she cried emotionally.  “Why did I go through all of that trouble?”  She considered suicide and offered her husband a divorce.

As she did some research on the condition, she learned about a possible treatment with a sex therapist, but it was expensive.  Without the money for treatment, she went to her father.  She asked , “how do you talk to your family about sex?  It was my last resort.”  She told her father that “We’re not married” despite the ceremony.  Her father agreed to pay for the treatments.

Her therapist said “Our treatment will be direct hands on, hands in, if you may.”  During therapy, I was astonished to hear that she had never looked at her vagina or touched it.  It took several months of therapy, but she and her husband made a breakthrough the following May.  The credits showed that she was pregnant.

While I think Samira’s reaction is definitely extreme, I think that many Mormon women can have a similar reaction because we don’t talk about sex openly, and don’t discuss problems that can occur on the wedding night.  I remember talking with a few newlywed women, and they explained to me that sex was so uncomfortable for them on their wedding night, that they would have preferred to have waited a few days instead of consummating the marriage on her wedding night.  I’ve also talked with others that had very uncomfortable wedding nights (one women even ended up at the doctor, concerned she had some sort of cancer.)  In another case, the man was so rough that she was injured, and they couldn’t have sex for a few weeks until she healed.

I would consider Samara and Firas as much more moderate Muslims than we often stereotype.  (What other Muslims would even appear on a show like this?)  Still, I was interested in her final comments.  “There is a phrase in Islam that there is no shame in knowledge.  Now I understand that.  I shouldn’t have been ashamed.  I should ask questions.  When I raise a child, I’ll share my experience with them, and I want to help them because they shouldn’t be afraid of something that is so natural.”

If you’re a woman, was sex uncomfortable/painful for you on your wedding night (or the first time)?

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Would you have preferred to go slower than your husband did?

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8 Responses to Honeymoon Problems

  1. jmb275 on December 3, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    A very probing post MH. I think there’s a lot of validity to your point. Obviously, as you say, this is an extreme case, but I think it’s fairly clear that, on average, there is some sexual dysfunction among Mormon women (mostly psychological). And to be fair, I’d say there’s plenty among Mormon men on average as well (though I don’t know of a PhD dissertation to back that up like there is for women).

    I’ve said for years that I don’t see how Mormon marriages can be as successful as they *appear* to be given the lack of ability to ascertain sexual compatibility prior to marriage. In my next marriage, to a Mormon or not, I’ll definitely be sure to ascertain that to the extent possible.

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  2. Hawkgrrrl on December 4, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    I see the church as mostly sex positive. As one of my high school friends summed up Mormonism: so if you’re good, you get to have cosmic sex for eternity?

    I have encountered some oddballs in my day, though, like a girl who was afraid sex would hurt her (her words) doo-doo hole. I’m pretty sure she didn’t know she had a vagina or what it was. But she was a total outlier. And that was before the internet and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

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  3. Stephen R. Marsh on December 4, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    Not much in this post for a guy to respond to.

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  4. mh on December 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    I guess I should have asked how many men think their wives have thus problem.

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  5. j on December 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    In addition to discomfort for me, my husband had a premature ejaculation problem for the first year or so of our marriage, and I attribute that to the same sort of ignorance of sex that causes problems for women in the church.

    Needless to say there was a steep learning curve for both of us. But because we were willing to seek outside sources of help (mostly books and articles), we were able to overcome the rocky start and discover a very fulfilling physical relationship together.

    My fear is that the deeply dysfunctional will be too prudish or shy to seek help, when they are the ones that might need it the most.

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  6. JR on December 5, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    My husband also had premature ejaculation, and he refused to seek help. Frustrating! But forced me to get treatment for my personality (strong and passionate). It would have been nice to know if we were sexually compatible before marriage, because we were not and are not to this day. We are going through a trial separation ( I waited until the kids were grown). Yeah, I put up with crap in the bedroom and with his family for 25 years. It is sad to think of young couples going through these types of problems and not seeking help because of religion. Hopefully some will see this article and seek help.

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  7. FireTag on December 5, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Most marriages (I am sorely tempted to say “all”) involve discovery of incompatibility in some areas of marriage, whether sexual or some other issue. I think it is important that the law of chastity be interpreted in a way that builds toward a “soft landing” at the point of marriage. As the relationship moves toward marriage, the couple need to be exploring at appropriate (to their permanent commitment to each other) depths attitudes and desires toward ALL of the major issues in a marriage. My wife was not the one who was most awkward in the bedroom at first.

    Of course, you’re still going to have nasty surprises, and that’s where my wife and I have found it essential that the marriage was a covenant with the ACTIVE participation of the Heavenly Father as well as the husband and wife.

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  8. Juliathepoet on December 6, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I am not sure how to answer the questions, as someone who did not choose my first sexual experiences. I think that many abuse survivors don’t know how to talk about sexual experiences when they don’t have the same references.

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