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If there is one thing I have learned in all the years of speaking and writing about sex, it is that sexual struggles in marriage are often painfully complex.
Sometimes the reasons are painfully simple and easy to overcome.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum with sexual intimacy struggles in your marriage, consider the below 10 ideas on what you may need to do.
Do any of these cause your heart to pause? If so, my guess is that is where you will find profound answers.
I know full well that some of you reading this suffered greatly at the hands of others who sexually abused you in your past.
Or possibly abuse wasn't your pain, but rather your pain came from your own choices of sexual promiscuity. Too many lovers for all the wrong reasons.
Or maybe just one lover, but you have difficulty moving past that you lost your virginity before your wedding day.
Or maybe you are struggling with regrets and grief about a past unplanned pregnancy.
I don't know your story of past sexual pain, but I do know God wants to speak into that pain with healing and compassion and grace.
He hungers for you to not allow that past pain to destroy sex in its right and holy context of your marriage.
It is heartbreaking that you have suffered, but it is equally heartbreaking if such devastation is still laying claim to your heart and bed -- wreaking havoc on the sexual oneness you could be having with the person you love.
Did you ever hear things when you were growing like "sex is wrong" or "sex is gross" or "sex is bad" or "sex is just for making babies" ?
For so many Christian women, going from maintaining sexual purity in singleness to pursuing sexual passion in marriage is just too big of a leap.
All they ever heard was they should say "no" to sex and now they are in a situation where God (and their husband) wants to hear an enthusiastic "yes" to sex.
If you are struggling seeing sex as good because all you ever heard was that it was bad, then I encourage you to dig into God's Word and heart, as well as other helpful Christian resources, to help you embrace a more truthful perspective on sex.
God designed orgasm for both husbands and wives. The clitoris serves no other purpose than your sexual pleasure. None.
And yet, so many wives downplay or disregard all together the importance of their climax.
Do you see value in your sexual pleasure? If you don't, you probably aren't overly enthusiastic about sex. Ever.
Suffice to say, your sexual pleasure matters to building healthy sexual intimacy in your marriage.
You can't do it all. You are not an endless reservoir of energy. Are you giving all the energy you have to everything but your marriage?
Hey, I'm not saying prioritizing is easy. But it is worthwhile, especially when the health of your marriage is at stake.
Don't commit to quite so many volunteer opportunities. Have more reasonable expectations about how clean and organized your house really needs to be.
At some point, you have to put your marriage near the top of the list, rather than consistently on the bottom of it. Say "no" once in awhile (maybe even often) to the things that are overcrowding your schedule.
Check out this post I wrote on margin.
Don't like the idea of "planned" or "scheduled" intimacy? Think it will rob you of the spontaneity of the moment?
You gotta get over that.
Spontaneity is not the hallmark of amazing sex. Intention is the hallmark of amazing sex.
For most married couples who have healthy sexual intimacy, their sexual encounters are a good mix of "planned" and "spontaneous."
There is nothing wrong with you and your husband intentionally blocking out some calendar space so you can have sex.
Put those kids to bed early and go make love to your husband. Everyone will be happier in the morning.
Do you need more foreplay? Do you need more kissing? Do you need a back rub? Do you need more caressing? Do you need his hands and mouth as much as you need the rest of his body?
What do you need sexually?
Don't make him guess. Don't assume he knows. Ask for what you need sexually.
And while you're at it, ask him what he needs as well.
There is a quote hanging on my fridge that says, "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." (Theodore Hesburgh)
If I could, I would add to the quote that the most important thing a mother can do for her children is love their father.
I know a quote on a fridge doesn't wrap everything up in a bow. Life is messy, and it is especially messy when you are coordinating it with another person.
BUT. In too many homes, when children arrive on the scene, sex takes a hike. It becomes an occasional "luxury" at best, and an outright forgotten privilege at worse.
Those kiddos you are pouring every ounce into? Well, they need a mama and daddy in love way more than they need homemade snacks for every school gathering or gleaming white baseball pants for every game.
Be intentional about nurturing your marriage and your sexual intimacy. You'll be giving those kids a foundation that is difficult to replicate any other way.
Some sexual struggles are indeed physical issues that a health care professional can help you navigate and sometimes even eliminate.
And in the same regard, a professional counselor can play a vital role in your mental wellbeing and outlook.
If health struggles (mental or physical) are sabotaging your sexual intimacy, be proactive and do what you can to tame or alleviate those struggles.
I am not saying you need to succumb to sexual demands that fall outside God's boundaries for healthy intimacy.
What I am saying is that God does give you and your husband a lot of freedom within the exclusivity of your sexual relationship to thoroughly enjoy sex. Maybe try some different positions or techniques or touches.
If you find you and your husband are struggling sexually, it could be because your sexual encounters always look the same. Add some variety. Pursue each other in new ways.
I write and read a lot about sex, and people are curious what I think is the "secret" to amazing sex in a marriage.
They tend to be surprised when I say "a strong friendship."
It's true, though. Authentic friendship trumps just about everything else when it comes to building passion with the person you married.
But authentic friendship doesn't happen on its own. You have to head in that direction.
How you spend time together and treat each other when your clothes are on will reveal a lot about what is going to happen when the clothes come off.
More often than not, couples can overcome their sexual struggles. You will have to DO something though.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.