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Let’s face it gals – we enjoy our time with our friends. And I will be the first to sing the importance of having close relationships with safe female Christian confidantes. All that being said, it’s worthwhile to dig a little deeper into this question: “Is it okay to talk with your friends about your sexual intimacy?”
Some people would say that you should never discuss anything about your sexual intimacy with anyone without your spouse’s permission. I don’t really hang out in that particular camp (even though I’m sure they have yummy marshmallows and make cool campfires). I completely respect that some Christians are really adamant about the “need permission” rule. I’m just not one of those Christians (more on that later).
Here’s my take (for what’s it worth):
We need safe people with whom we can be real. Life is too confusing, hard and downright painful to isolate ourselves and go at it alone when the terrain becomes treacherous. I truly believe God created us for relationship and that He shows us what authentic friendship is. Throughout the Bible, we see example after example of people bearing their hearts to each other – not because they like to hear themselves talk, but because they are trying to make sense of bewildering circumstances they find themselves in.
So, if I believe it’s okay for you to talk to some of your closest friends about sexual intimacy, does that mean it’s a free-for-all? Do you just toss sexual intimacy comments around the same way you lament about the lousy customer service at Wal-Mart? Uh… No.
Some discernment is needed. Here are five tips to consider:
1. Do not talk to a man about your sexual intimacy (or his for that matter). When you start confiding in a man about the struggles – especially sexual struggles – you and your husband are having, you are literally inviting a whole slew of dangerous consequences. I don’t care if he has been your best friend since third grade. I don’t care if he is happily married and the godfather of your children. I don't care if he is in your couples small group.
Sexual intimacy is such a vulnerable part of life, and it is too easy for comments to be misconstrued if you discuss this topic with a man. The only exception I would make is if the man is a professional Christian counselor or pastor you are seeing in the context of a counseling session (even then, I think good boundaries are needed to guard against temptation).
2. Do not participate in justification by camaraderie. Here’s what I mean… If your friends do not like having sex with their husbands and they casually comment about this, it is tempting to get caught up in such conversations, even justifying your own indifference about your sexual intimacy. It’s the argument that goes like this: “Well, my friends don’t really like sex with their husbands, so I guess it is okay that I don’t like it either. Look how normal I am.” What’s a girl to do if you find yourself surrounded by derogatory and negative banter about sex? Be courageous to either remain silent and/or to speak up positively. You may be the only one in the room doing so, but do it anyway.
3. Choose wisely with whom you share. You are a discerning woman, so use your past track record with your closest female friends to determine with whom you could discuss your sexual intimacy struggles. Initiate such discussions with women who have shown repeatedly over time that they care deeply for you, can keep discussions confidential, love and trust the Lord and His Word, view marriage as sacred, and have the ability to listen without judging you or your husband. Those are high standards, which is why you will probably have only one or two close confidantes with whom you can be this vulnerable.
4. Bathe everything in prayer. The more we go before the Lord with our confusion, questions and pain, the more room we give Him to reveal himself.
5. Trust your Lord and trust your gut. When you take stock of your interactions with your girlfriends, you will begin to intuitively know if any of them are actually hurting your sexual intimacy. I’m not saying you can’t be friends with those people – I’m just saying you probably shouldn’t discuss sex with them.
As for the “need permission” rule – well, the reason I’m not so adamant about this is because if you want to discuss sexual intimacy with someone other than your spouse, it’s probably because you and your spouse are experiencing struggles. Call me crazy, but I don’t know too many husbands (or wives for that matter) who will grant permission in this scenario. And yet, the genuine need still remains for you to have safe people with whom you can “think out loud.”
So what do you think? Are your friends hurting -- or helping -- your sexual intimacy?