Intimacy in Marriage

Encouraging Christian Women toward Healthy Sexual Intimacy

The Altar of the Past: Are You Sacrificing Your Sexual Intimacy?

For weeks now we've been looking at the different "altars" couples sacrifice their sexual intimacy on.

Some may sound painfully familiar in your own marriage, such as not enough time, wanting ideal conditions, feeling too inhibited, feeling too tired, not experiencing pleasure, thinking sex needs to always be serious, and simply being indifferent about sex.

We are fortunate to now have Michael and Wanda Collins of Christian Marriage Today sharing with us about how we sometimes sabotage sexual intimacy with our spouse because we refuse to heal from the past.

Listen up and see if you see your marriage in the below:

You can't quite put your finger on when it happened but the fact of the matter is – you’re just not as sexually attracted to your spouse as you used to be. There was a time when one look or touch was all it took to get you hot and bothered. But these days, your spouse's touch often feels like sand paper -- it makes you cringe.

It's not that you don't like sex anymore.

And although the two of you have had your share of problems, you still love your spouse. So then, what gives?

Well, it might be a long shot, but I'd like to offer you one possibility. If your spouse has ever done anything that hurt you deeply, whether it was last week, last month, or even last year, it is possible you may not have yet recovered emotionally.

In other words, you have not completely forgiven your spouse, which has caused you to view him or her with a whole new set of eyes. These new eyes don't respect your spouse the way you once did. These new eyes are full of resentment and bitterness. Sadly, these new eyes don't find your spouse as appealing as you used to.

Hopefully, you are unable to identify with this but if you can, you might be sacrificing your sex life on the altar of the past.

Unresolved issues from your past can have damaging effects on your sexual desire. The most obvious and common way this can happen is when you withhold forgiveness from your spouse.

But it can also occur when you fail to forgive yourself for past sins.  That's right! Not forgiving yourself for events in your past can have the same impact on your sex life as not forgiving your spouse.

Before we go deeper, let's define the word forgiveness to make sure you and I are on the same page. Imagine for a moment that you owed a creditor $10,000 but one day received a notice stating that your debt had been reduced to a zero balance.  Get a picture of that in your head, along with the emotions you would likely feel.

Liberating, isn't it?

Well, that is exactly what it is like to forgive. When you forgive your spouse, it means you completely erase his/her debt. Christ paints a vivid picture of this analogy using a parable in Matthew 18:24-27. I recommend you read this parable at your leisure.

The same parable also warns that you are required to forgive others if you want to receive forgiveness from Christ. (Also see Colossians 3:13). Further, because the pardon that Christ extends to you is in no way contingent upon the nature of your transgression, meaning He forgives you no matter what you do, His expectation is that you would extend the same forgiveness in your Christian marriage for cheating, lying, neglect and anything else you can think of --- Gulp!

That’s a big pill to swallow.

But that doesn't mean that there should not be consequences for your spouse's behavior. There should be, but your sex life can't be one of them.

So, having said all of that, let me push the pause button and allow you a moment to reflect and absorb what you just read. Take a minute right where you are and ask yourself if you have truly forgiven your spouse for ___________, or if you merely said that you had forgiven because intellectually you knew it was your "Christian duty." It's just you and the computer, so be completely honest. Besides, forgiving with your head and not with your heart isn't something you can hide from God. Your true feelings are visible to Him and will eventually show up in your behavior, or in this case, your bedroom.

Here are a few indicators that you may not have forgiven your spouse, or in some cases, yourself:

  • You continually replay the event in your head like a bad movie.
  • You withdraw from your spouse emotionally.
  • You withdraw from your spouse sexually.
  • You have unexplained mood swings
  • You are easily agitated.
  • You often experience feelings of shame, guilt or despair.

But let me make something clear. I am in no way condoning what your spouse did to you.

You have every right to feel whatever it is you feel. If your spouse committed adultery, that was wrong. If s/he abused or mistreated you in any other way, it's inexcusable. Likewise, I'm not suggesting that the act of forgiving is an easy process. In fact, I know from personal experience that extending forgiveness is often a long and painful road.

But trust me, taking that journey will increase the quality of your emotional, spiritual and sexual well-being.

So, are you ready to begin your journey to genuine forgiveness? Are you ready to loose the ropes that have tied your sex life to the sacrificial altar for so long?

Here is how you can get started:

  • Start by being honest with your spouse about your struggles.
  • Pray daily for your spouse and for your marriage. As Christians, we often minimize the power of prayer.
  • Pray the promises of God (that means pray the Word of God).
  • Stop replaying the event in your head and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ as the Word of God says in 2 Cor 10:5.
  • Remember ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
  • Also, remember that Christ will not forgive you if you do not forgive.
  • Recognize your need for additional assistance by seeking the help of a professional counselor.
  • Ask God to renew your mind and trust Him daily to do it.

The final thing you should know is that it is impossible to worship God in Spirit and in Truth if your heart is bound by unforgiveness.

Learning how to forgive your spouse and yourself for past mistakes is crucial, because if you remain in unforgiveness, it's like accepting a life sentence of spiritual bondage.

Being in bondage is just another way of saying you are a prisoner. In essence, you are unable to move forward freely in a progressive manner. And thus, you will not experience the fullness of God's joy and blessings in your marriage or sex life.

I don’t know about you but I don't want the fulfillment of God's best to be delayed in my life or in my bedroom.

I say, "It's time to genuinely forgive, not with your head but with your heart."

So, again, are you ready to loose the ropes that have kept your sex life bound to the sacrificial altar? Just like God provided a ram in the bush for Abraham when he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac, He has also provided a way of escape for you – it's called forgiveness.

If you're interested in learning how to have better sex and getting to the root of some issues that may be causing hindrances in your bedroom, check out our latest eBook "If You Only Knew."

We designed it to initiate conversation between you and your sweetheart and dissolve "sex busters" that perhaps you didn't even know existed.

A "Sex buster" can be anything in your Christian marriage that hinders the two of you from enjoying sexual intimacy to it's fullest.

Don’t miss the other posts in this on-going series!  Sign up with the RSS-thingy so you can catch what other great marriage bloggers will be saying about the Altars We Sacrifice Sexual Intimacy On.

PART 1: The Altar of Time by Dustin Riechmann

PART 2: The Altar of Ideal Conditions by Lori Lowe

PART 3: The Altar of Inhibition by Kate Aldrich

PART 4: The Altar of Tiredness by Paul Byerly

PART 5: The Altar of No Pleasure by Sheila Gregoire

PART 6: The Altar of Seriousness by Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous

PART 7: The Altar of Indifference by Jim and Carrie Gordon

July 23rd, 2011 by