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You may be looking forward to your wedding night with as much feverish excitement as you do your wedding day. But while society still suggests that every couple should have super-hot sex after a long day of planning and partying, the reality is that "most couples are lucky if they manage to kiss goodnight before falling asleep," warns Katherine Ellin, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist.
If you think that sucks, take note: when it comes to your wedding night, our experts say the key is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Here we share tips to help you manage your wedding night expectations while preparing for a memorable and intimate evening — whether it leads to sex or not.
Redefine what the night should be.
You may not be able to control whether or not your new spouse get hot-and-heavy in your hotel room, but you can temper your expectations so that you don't experience disappointment. "Wedding night sex falls short because history and Hollywood have created unrealistic expectations of what that sex should be," commiserates Rob Peach, psychotherapist and sex therapist. "In short, we hold ourselves to unfair and unattainable standards about what wedding night sex should be based on stories we've been told by others."
So rather than think of your wedding night as the opportunity to have the best sex of your lives, Peach suggests seeing the evening as an opportunity for an intimate rather than sexual encounter. "Sharing a bath, giving one another a massage, or using sensual touching creates intimacy and results in partners feeling connected to one another," he says. "Connection and intimacy create desire, and desire is what is truly necessary for satisfying sex."
If you're hell-bent on having sex on your wedding night, Ellin suggests setting yourself up for what she's dubbed, "tired people sex." As she explains, this kind of sex is "nothing fancy — just lazy kind of sex." By knowing fireworks don't have to fly, you may be able to have your physical needs met without jumping through hoops for which you have zero energy.
Talk it out.
When it comes to the wedding night, it's imperative you and your partner get on the same page. "Have a conversation with your spouse about your wedding night and make a decision together about what kind of connection you want to have on that night," says Peach. "Chances are, if you are having worries, he or she may be too. And sharing your worries helps you manage both your expectations and any anxiety you might have."
Additionally, Ellin says, it's smart to sit down and talk out how you anticipate your mind and body will feel after a non-stop and emotional day. "It makes sense for couples to talk over together how they might feel after their wedding, and have some ideas about what might feel good for them sexually," she says. But your conversation doesn't have to stop there. "When the time comes the couple can talk about what they're in the mood for," Ellin says.
Concentrate on having good sex before your big day.
It's one thing if you're waiting for marriage. But if you and your partner have already knocked boots, "have sex as often as you like before the wedding," Peach encourages. "Couples who 'hold off' having sex immediately before their wedding night create anxiety and unfair expectations, ultimately putting more pressure on themselves to have spectacular wedding night sex. Anxiety and expectations do not create desire or promote arousal."
With managed expectations and memories of mind-blowing sex fresh in your minds, you'll be more likely to give yourself and your spouse a break if the wedding night falls short of amazing sex. At the end of such a long day, "it's reasonable to simply want to crawl into bed with your spouse and get some sleep at the end of a day where you've been the center of attention," Peach says. "Don't be hard on yourself if things don't go as planned."