What is Messed Up About Your Sex Life?

Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2011

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Seriously, woman-to-woman, I'm asking.

What is messed up about your sex life?

If your answer is nothing -- if you and your husband love and savor sex -- then this post probably will not resonate with you.

But if you are like many of the wives -- and husbands -- I hear from, the sexual intimacy in your marriage is a source of contention, maybe even a battle ground strewn with misunderstandings, unspoken resentment and unmet desires.

I don't have easy answers. (Sorry.  Wish I did).

What I lack in quick fixes, though, I make up for in a deep-seated passion of wanting to speak hope and encouragement into broken desperate places.

I lost my naivety long ago about the complexity of what can go wrong sexually in a marriage.

Nothing on the spectrum really surprises me anymore.  What I have not lost, though, is my hope that God is indeed a restorative and redemptive God and that whatever is messed up about your sex life, He wants to come along side you in that -- to comfort, to clarify, to consecrate.

When you stare directly into the question, "What is messed up about your sex life?", where do you arrive?

Recently during a sermon, I heard a pastor boldly ask, "Are you a participant in the truth? Are you a participant in the truth of the Gospel? Are you are participant in the truth of God's Word?"

For those of you whose sexual intimacy is a source of pain in your marriage, rather than a source of oneness and Holy goodness, I wonder if the questions are all connected.

The answer to "What is messed up about your sex life?" likely is found within the answer to "Are you a participant in the truth of God's Word?"

It's one thing to stand at an altar and vow that you do indeed agree with the truth of God's Word that your body is now not your own. At least, in a rhetorical sort of way, anyone really can stand and agree with that truth.

It's another thing to be a regular participant in that truth -- year after year -- long after the wedding pictures have lost their glow.

Lest you think I sound all preachy and condescending, I beg of you to hear my heart.

See, I've lived both sides.

I've lived the marriage of being careless with sex, of thinking that there would always be "someday" down the road to pay close attention to sexual intimacy.  To be brutally honest, I spent more time than I care to admit thinking that sex didn't even really matter.

I now live within a marriage where I see first hand the enormous positive impact of sex -- and not just sex for sex's sake, but vulnerable and enjoyable and soul-drenching sex with the man I married.

But hey, I'm not blind to the realities out there on the marital landscape.  I know that there are plenty of people who marry, not realizing in that moment that they not only are agreeing to sex, but they also are agreeing that if sex becomes a struggle, they will do what they can to figure that out.

Does that make sense?

When you stood before the judge, pastor or priest, you committed to looking closely at the difficulties that may arise in your marriage.  (I know the variety of difficulties is vast, but I blog about sex, so that's where my line of sight usually is drawn).

For a lot of couples, sex is indeed a big difficulty.

If that describes you, what is messed up about your sex life?  Do you know -- do you really know -- and, more importantly, are you willing to do what you can to bring about positive change?

Do you simply have no desire for sex?

Lack of desire happens for a whole slew of reasons, whether they be physical, emotional, relational and so forth.  If that describes you, don't get stuck there.  Be a participant in the truth that God designed sex to be mutually beneficial for a husband, a wife and their marriage as a whole.  So if you have no desire, is it not worth it to figure out why you have no desire -- and then go about rectifying that low desire?  Visit a physician. Visit a counselor.  Read a book.  Do something.

Are you punishing him?

Withholding sex is one of the easiest ways to punish a spouse -- because it is the one thing that your husband truly can't go get someplace else (assuming he will be faithful).

But withholding sex has tragic consequences.  Grown up marriage requires us to do the courageous grown up thing -- if he has wronged you or disappointed you, be a participant in the truth and shed light on what you are feeling.  Seek a way to extend grace, to grow in better communication and to re-connect with the man you love.

Is your husband committing adultery?

If your husband is engaging in illicit behavior, such as adultery or pornography, then understandably this is taking a huge toll on your sexual intimacy.  You are wise to set boundaries and to refuse to put yourself at risk.

You are wise to do all you can to encourage him toward health and healing.

I would add, though, that you are equally wise to get support for yourself.   Be a participant in the truth and press into the Lord and safe people.  Seek a Godly perspective on how to navigate when sexual intimacy and trust are suffering under the weight of tremendous betrayal.

Do you struggle with body image?

I get that nearly everything in our media sabotages our ability as women to gain an accurate perspective on beauty.

I don't take this lightly.  Entire industries (from skin care to exercise videos to fashion) are built around this idea that we can somehow negate the toll that time and life take on a woman's body and looks.

But can you instead be a participant in the truth about how God sees you?  Additionally, nearly all husbands admit that they are not nearly as hung up on what their wives see as physical shortcomings.

I wish society and media would get it right.

But we can't allow our marriages to suffer while we wait for that moment when the world out there gets a better grasp on what beauty really is.

Do you have past issues from which you have not healed?

There are some things that are so destructive to a right and Godly perspective on sexual intimacy.

Possibly the most horrendous is sexual abuse, which so many men and women have experienced at the hands of others, maybe even the hands of people who they once trusted.  The tragedy in all of this is huge.  What adds to it, though, is what happens within a marriage where spouses who have experienced abuse are never able to embrace a good perspective on marital sexual intimacy.

Be a participant of the truth and seek the professional help and healing you and your marriage need.  Too much is at stake.

Another past issue that can thwart sexual intimacy in a marriage is past promiscuity.  I hear from married Christians who truly believe their sex life is so horrible because they are being punished by God for past promiscuity.  Be a participant of the truth and accept that there is no sin beyond the reach of Jesus' blood-stained hands. Not one sin.

Do you live as if there will be plenty of time later to nurture your sex life?

This is possibly the biggest culprit in so many marriages.

Life gets busy and full.  Kids come on the scene and literally commandeer their parents' time and energy -- and their marriage.

Be a participant in the truth and recognize that there may not be time later -- and even if there is, what kind of marriage are you going to have when you arrive there?

I've long believed that the most stable and enriching gift married people can give their kids is a healthy marriage.  And call me crazy, but I don't think a healthy marriage can exist as God intended it without nurtured sexual intimacy (barring, of course, situations where sexual intimacy is not possible, such as prolonged physical ailments or separation due to military deployment).

For the vast majority of us, making love to our spouse is one of the best decisions we can make for our family's well-being.

I know that many of you reading this have indeed gone above and beyond in trying to instill healthier sexual intimacy in your marriage -- to no avail, because the other person you need participating in that truth, your spouse, is unwilling.

My heart breaks for you.

I don't want to minimize your pain.  And I cling to the truth that God sees every tear and some day your spouse will have to give an account for their careless actions.

But for those of you who are reading this and know not only what is messed up about your sex life, but also that you could be doing something to make it better, what is stopping you?

Do all you can to be a participant in the truth.

Do you like this blog?  You can vote for Intimacy in Marriage in Stu Gray’s annual Top 10 Marriage Blog competition!  I’ll receive your praise with grace and humble appreciation.

Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert, Intimacy in Marriage.


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10 Responses to
“What is Messed Up About Your Sex Life?”

  • J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) says: December 1st, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Amen. That's all I have to add.

  • Sheila Wray Gregoire says: December 2nd, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Amen! I agree. But I also want to say that my sex life was seriously messed up for years--and it isn't anymore. MOST people's sex lives are seriously messed up when we first marry, or after a baby comes, because sex tends to be the thermostat that measures how everything else is going in a marriage.

    I say that not to excuse sex being messed up, but just to offer hope. If you and your husband are Christians, you know you're in this for the long haul. That means that you can start to see sex as a research project, a journey, a long term investment. It may take a while to get over childhood trauma. It may take a while to deal with his erectile dysfunction. It may take a while to deal with your own pain. But it can, and will get better---IF you dedicate yourself to God's Word and God's truth about sex (that it's a beautiful and important thing) and throw yourself into the process of healing your sex life.

    I'm living proof of that, and it really can get better!

    But it's not going to get better miraculously without you doing something about it!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

  • JulieSibert says: December 2nd, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Thank Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous and Sheila Gregoire... you both are the best! Such wise insights Sheila!

    Thank you to both of you for stopping by and commenting!!

  • Greg says: December 2nd, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Julie, thanks for sharing this! Sheila, it's very encouraging that God changed your perspective and motives, and restored intimacy to your marriage. May God bring about this same renewal to so many couples who have lost hope!

  • HMT says: December 3rd, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I agree with every word of this post. When marriage is going well--I have a 40 year perspective and a wonderful wife--you do take physical intimacy for granted. Even so, sometimes, I needed more than was offered or given. Sadly now, I wish I had pushed more for reconcilliation of our two temperaments, rather than sulking off. Now, with full blown ED, I fear it is too late. I have so much to express to my wife, and some of it is physical. When it's gone, it's too late, so I agree, take heed and prioritize your marriage--all of it: spiritual--pray for your spouse and pray with them; emotional: listen to each other and don't take them for granted; and of course, the subject of this blog--be physically intimate with your spouse. When it's gone, it's gone.

  • Shannon says: December 3rd, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I understand the importance of sex but honestly the thought of it hurts me & angers me right now!! I love Jesus w/ all that I have but my marriage sucks & I've had enough of trying to make thibgs work. It seems as if all my hubby wants is sex! Theres no affection at all & after 7yrs of marriage I don't know how much more I can take! Theres no chemistry everything is so awkward & forced! When he hugs me I have to ask & it feels as if Im hugging someone from church! My heart hurts so badly! Ive tried having sex even when I dont want to hoping thibgs will change but they havent. He says that if wehave more sex he will be more affectionate but that has yet to happen! I feel so empty inside & sex os the last thing on my mind!

  • JulieSibert says: December 3rd, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you for your comment Shannon... I am so sorry to hear about the struggles in your marriage. Would you and your husband consider going to counseling? I know that sounds easier said than done and the thought of it may not appeal to you, but it sounds like you are at a crossroads.

    When you think back to why you and your husband got married, what do you think about? What first attracted you to each other?

    I don't have easy answers and I am saddened by your pain. What have the two of you already tried with regard to growing closer, not just sexually but in your overall relationship as well?

  • Wondering Too Loud says: December 4th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Shannon: As a husband in the exact opposite situation, I'd ask you what his love languages are, and what evidence is there that you're meeting him there? I trust you know and are meeting those needs (beyond fulfilling his sexual needs). I'd try to talk to him or write him a note saying that you understand his love language(s) to be (a and b) and describe how you try to meet those (the evidence). Listen to any ways where he says you're not, being open and receptive. Then say that you'd like to talk about your love languages. When he agrees, then tell them what they are and any ways that he IS meeting those love needs. Then talk about what he can do different (not what he's doing "wrong") in order to meet your other needs for love. Then tell him something along the lines of how when you are loved the way you need to be loved, it fuels your ability and desire to love him the way he needs to be loved. Not that it's conditional, but that you're both loving each other all the time at the same time, and it's a win-win situation.

    As for me, my wife hates it when I touch her, hug her, and especially kiss her partly because for the first few years of our marriage (over 21 years ago!) When she does give in to a kiss it's a few notches below when I had to kiss my aunts when I was 8 years old. But when we were newlyweds I was a former virgin male acting out but over time I backed off alot. She repeatedly refuses counseling because "our marriage is fine" though we only have sex about twice a month. I lovingly told her that while the ways we do love keep us connected, that I'm hurting over the lack of intimacy. I'm trying to understand what the real issue is but I fear that she just plain does not love me to that extent anymore. It's strange how I know for a fact that I speak her love languages and she knows mine, but we are so alienated in sex. I know this seems to fly in the face of my advice, but I think my situation is the exception since so many wives report not getting affection and tenderness and a listening, empathetic ear from their husband. I provide that but I guess it's not enough to draw my wife into a closer expression of love. I hope your husband will see and appreciate your selflessness and have a listening, responsive heart.

  • KV says: January 8th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    One thing that holds me back is personal hygiene. I'm all for having sex but not when my husband thinks it's okay not to take a bath for a week or two. That to me is a big turn off. I've mentioned it to him several times and have prayed a lot about it and it hasn't changed. He just keeps telling me that he knows he's lazy about bathing and he needs to change that. We probably have sex about once or twice in a month.

    I'm to the point now that it's not worth it for me anymore to keep mentioning it. If you don't want to have sex with me then I won't force you. I do know that it's nothing wrong with him as far as not being able to have sex.

  • BPennington says: August 19th, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Julie,

    I posted this on my wall the other day and just received a call from a dear friend who (paraphrasing) said, "What this woman wrote is exactly what my wife and I have been going through...thanks for being bold and posting this. Keep up the good work."

    Truly, it isn't always easy to post sex issues on my wall, but I realize how many marriages we DON'T know that are in trouble because of things like this. Anyway, thanks, Julie, for your amazing work as a godly woman tackling these issues.

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