Category: authentic

clean sheets
February 8th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

clean sheetsEvery now and then, I receive comments or emails from husbands that read like a laundry list of the worst excuses their wife has ever given for not wanting to have sex.

Sometimes I laugh.

Most often, though, I'm sad.

Yes, I know, I'm hearing only one side of the story when these husband reach out.

But even if I were to hear both sides of the story, we would still arrive at the same picture -- marriages struggling sexually.

Until a comment I received recently, it had been awhile since I had heard the "clean sheets" excuse, meaning, "I just changed the bed and the last thing I want to do is mess up these clean sheets with sex."

Some of you have said it.

Some of you have heard it.

Ultimately, though, God longs for us to ask what our marriage means to us.

By what should a marriage be recognized?

I sure hope it's not clean linen.  Sweet baby Jesus, help us if it's clean linen, because that would be sad commentary.

"Well, their marriage was nothing special.  But did you see the sheets?  Phenomenal. 1,200-thread count Egyptian cotton, and I swear it looked like they'd never been used, if you know what I mean."

Joking aside, this is one of those "ya gotta count the costs" sorta things in a relationship.

What if the "clean sheets" excuse really isn't the reason.  What's the story behind the story, so to speak?

Is it possible that "clean sheets" is just code for some deeper struggle in your sexual relationship with your spouse (especially if it's one of many excuses on the laundry list. No pun intended)?

Whenever I speak to women's groups, I always try to at some point to bring the conversation to a "count the costs" focal point.  I'm annoying that way, but some of them actually tell me afterward they appreciate this kind of candid transparency.

If there is something you and your spouse could do to heal sexual brokenness and better nurture sexual intimacy, isn't your marriage worth that kind of effort?

I think it is.

Yes, it takes courage and humility and possibly even the trusted resource of a professional Christian counselor to start digging yourself out of sexual disconnect.  But there are many couples who have done it.

And along the way, they've discovered that sex is never just about sex.  it's about a oneness and strengthening to a marriage that can't quite be described.  Intimate and exclusive sexual intimacy is one of the main things that God designed to set marriage apart from any other human relationship.

So, when we ask the question, by what should a marriage be recognized, most Christians who have studied God's heart and word would indeed have "sex" in their answer.

If there is more to your "clean sheets" excuse than "clean sheets," I encourage you to hunger for God's truth and redemption in this tender area of your marriage.

And if there really is nothing more behind your "clean sheets" excuse?  I mean, if your sexual intimacy is actually quite great, except when you've just changed the sheets?

Well, there are these crazy contraptions called towels.  With a little planning, it's amazing the way they can protect clean sheets.

See, I do care.  About your marriage. And your sheets.

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Posted in authentic, marriage problems, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

surprised-by-the-healer
February 2nd, 2016 by Julie Sibert

surprised-by-the-healerWhenever I speak to women's groups on sexual intimacy, I know that within the group there are some women who have experienced sexual pain.

Maybe it is their husband's pornography addiction.

Maybe it is their own past or current promiscuity.

Maybe it is abortion or sexual abuse or infidelity.

And maybe it's confusion about the vision they had for sex in their lives -- or the shame about being careless with sex.

Whatever the unique circumstances of the pain, it's there -- and often these women think they are the only one.

And this isn't just true when I speak before a group.  The same could be said whenever I sit in church or at my kid's baseball game or in a restaurant.

If we could glimpse into the heartache of countless women's pasts and presents, we'd see sexual brokenness that seems insurmountable, even for an all-powerful and faithful God.

But -- and this is an important revelation -- there are true stories of redemption and healing that give us hope.

We can claim hope that sexual tragedy, whatever its form, does not have the final say about anyone's identity and future.  God wants to meet everyone at their point of sadness and loss.

Surprised by the Healer, a new book by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery, gives us nine of those true stories -- women who found God's heart and faithfulness were stronger than the devastation of sexual disillusionment and scars.

I was invited to be part of the launch team for this book, which I think will become a tender resource to help any woman on her path toward sexual healing and wholeness.

An aspect I greatly appreciated about Surprised by the Healer is that while not all of the stories have fairytale endings, each is rich with evidence that God's hand is on more than our earthly circumstances.

The authors share this with us:

"God has not promised to heal our temporary brokenness, although He can and sometimes does. What He does promise is to redeem completely those things that are everlasting: our hearts, souls, and spirits."

I admit, these women's stories are not easy to read.

But they are sacred reminders that no matter the details of someone's path, God longs to permeate with His truths and love.  He longs to coax anyone who is hurting out of the shadows of their sexual regret, abuse and heartache.

Throughout their book, Linda and Juli offer insights and encouragement as well, including a 10-week Bible study at the back that would be ideal for a women's small group, support group or individually.

(My suggestion would be go through the Bible study with at least a few other trusted women, as I think it's good to have comrades when we're looking at our deepest hurts).

I shared the book with a couple of friends who I know have faced sexual struggles.  One of my friends immediately told me she knew of other women who could benefit from the book.

And isn't that what God longs for us to do -- shine light into dark places and offer encouragement where it is needed most?

Whether you have faced sexual regret or pain of any sort, pick up a copy of this book.  And even if you don't think you can identify with the women's stories, I guarantee Surprised by the Healer will help build your empathy for women who are hurting.

I'm tremendously grateful for the work Linda and Juli are doing. We need more voices like theirs in the arena, particularly in the body of believers.  We need voices that courageously speak up when others prefer silence, and courageously paint a framework of God's love, His truths about sex, and His vision for sexual redemption.

You all know I'm a fan of voices like that!

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Posted in authentic, body image, intimacy, marriage problems, promiscuity, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , ,

February 2nd, 2016 by Julie Sibert

Over the years of speaking and writing about sex, I've noticed common themes in the sexual struggles -- what they are, when they started, what it takes to face them and overcome them.

One tendency that is particularly prevalent (and troubling) in the Christian community is we haven't equipped young marrieds in how to talk about sex.

I mean, really talk.

And that's probably because we don't do a stellar job in teaching engaged people how to talk about sex.

And that's probably because we are afraid.

We as a body of believers are afraid that any mention of sex beyond vague not-so-helpful generalities is going to ignite uncontrollable passion between these two people who are madly in love and picking out tux colors.

Here is my problem -- my heart's cry, you might say -- with this fear-based line of thinking.

It presumes temptation is inherently stronger than self-control.  And it presumes that silence is less detrimental than specific godly information.

(I won't event throw in the irony of the church being so vague about a topic that young engaged folks are already exposed to, seeing how we live in a overtly-sexualized society.  The church withholding its voice from the arena really hasn't done these young people any service.)

Back to those common themes I hear in the sexual struggles people vulnerably share with me in emails and comments.

So many Christian couples go into marriage with either a skewed lens or NO lens on how to build healthy sexual intimacy.  It's no shocker that sex often then becomes a source of contention, confusion and conflict.

And those struggles can go on for years, leaving in their wake more collateral damage than we could really qualify.  Sometimes even landing marriages in divorce courts.

Making any kind of dent in limiting the tragic impact of sexual struggle has to include some kind of proactive plan, right?

I mean, we can continue pouring nearly all our effort into mending marriages after the fact --  you know, 10, 15, 20 years in, when sexual apathy and struggle have become the engrained habit.

Or.

We could start devoting some of that attention to setting the sexual foundation right from the get go.

Should we try to fix the gaping chest wound?

Or should we teach people how to stay healthy and occasionally use Snoopy bandages?

Sure, we need both.

But wouldn't it be refreshingly biblical to have the church on the frontline of encouraging and equipping newly-married couples to not only build passionate intimacy, but also to heal sexual stumbling blocks before they become major roadblocks?

I am so passionate about this topic (I'm guessing hoping you gathered that by now, what with all my subtle writing and haphazard use of words like "tragic" and "sexual struggle").

It's just that I know -- genuinely know -- that many of the struggling marriages I hear about could have benefitted tremendously from better sexual information and encouragement at the start of their covenant.

"But Julie, you do realize a lot of these engaged Christian couples are already having sex, right?  I mean, what's the point of trying to talk to them about sex in marriage?"

I'm not naive and I know that countless engaged Christian couples are already having sex.

But here's the deal. Whether a couple is already having sex or they have maintained their sexual purity, the REALITY is they still need God's vision for sex in marriage.

The church is in the BEST position to talk about sex, because we have the truth.

We have the relationship with the One who created it.  The One who could have designed marriage any way He wanted, and CHOSE to intertwine sexual oneness into that design.

Sexual unity, passion, emotional and physical vulnerability, orgasm -- all His handiwork, right?

I cannot fathom that He would forge into marriage the mystery and power of sex without also wanting us as a body of believers to share His vision of sexual intimacy.

So, if you are engaged, I want you to talk about sex with a heart to seek after God's Word and truth, to listen to mature Christian counsel, and to invest in solid Christian resources.  A big reason I co-authored the book Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage is because I want married couples better equipped!

And if you know of couples who are engaged, what could you say to them to help them understand what it will take to build healthy and long-lasting sexual intimacy in their marriage?

Pursuit of Passion ResizeSome other Christian wives and I are so passionate about this topic that we are offering an event March 5 in Omaha, Nebraska, for engaged and newly-married women.

This is an amazing opportunity and step toward a beautiful and biblical foundation of nurtured sexual intimacy.

Will you please SHARE this post? In so doing, it just may land on the computer or phone of someone who needs to hear what it has to say.

 

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Still life of martini mixed drink with raspberry fruit agaisnt white background.
February 1st, 2016 by Julie Sibert

I can feel some of you tensing up even just reading that question.

"Julie, if you're about to vilify me for kicking back with a few brewskis or a glass of wine before getting crazy beneath the sheets, I don't want to hear it."

I'm not about to vilify you. Relax.

But don't tune me out either.

I like an occasional glass of wine or beer as much as many people, but as someone who blogs about sexual intimacy in marriage, I would be careless to not devote a blog post to this topic of alcohol and sex.

And I'm not talking about alcohol addiction, because obviously if someone is addicted to alcohol, that's creating all kinds of problems in their life (sloppy sex is probably the least of those, but no doubt it's in the mix. No pun intended).

You may not be addicted to alcohol (as addiction is generally defined), yet you may still rely on a drink or two to "get you in the mood" for sex -- to the point that nearly all of your sexual encounters don't happen unless you've had something to drink first.

And for some of you, it's really not about getting in the mood -- as much as it is about numbing pain.  You use a drink or two to keep at bay the emotional pain that sex triggers in you.

The pain of past sexual abuse or sexual indiscretions is too much, and you believe you're better able to manage it with a little alcohol.

Whatever the reasons, some people simply believe alcohol makes them a better lover.

Maybe you think it makes you a better lover.

But alcohol is a depressant, so its calling cards are hardly more coordination or more alertness.  If anything, too much alcohol quickly will cascade you into one chaotic sexual mess.

Sure, it may be memorable.

But for all the wrong reasons.

And as far as numbing emotional pain, alcohol will never usher you into authentic and long-lasting healing.  That's found only through learning from the one true Healer -- Jesus Christ -- and trusting Him as you walk a journey toward authentic healing.

I know.

This post is getting heavy, right?

And some of you are saying right now that you don't have deep issues. You just like the way alcohol helps you feel less inhibited sexually.

"Julie, after I have a drink, I loosen up!" you may say. "I feel more relaxed. I  feel more sexually confident."

Your spouse may even echo that sentiment.  They are totally on board with you having a drink before crawling into seduction.  "The sex is better!  It's like they are someone else --  a sexier version of themselves!"

So where have we arrived, now that I've painted all the above scenarios?

My hope is you are starting to see where all the circumstances start to drift into one huge underlying problem.

If you rely on alcohol to numb you or boost your sexual confidence or make you a sexier version of yourself, you likely are robbing yourself of authentic sexual freedom, in my humble opinion.

What?!

Yeah. It's true.

You may think all that alcohol-induced sexual passion is the real deal, when all the while, the real deal is just beneath the surface, waiting for you to discover it -- without alcohol as your admission ticket.

When we let go of the training-wheels alcohol appears to give us, we make room for something better.

Genuine relaxation.

Rich communication about sex.

True transparency between a husband and a wife.

Vulnerable nakedness that feels safe, not overwhelming.

There is nothing quite like experiencing sexual freedom and oneness in the exclusivity of your marriage bed without relying on alcohol to get you there.

So hear my heart when I say that if you enjoy a drink every now and then before sex, that in and of itself is not wrong.

But if you know you're using alcohol as a mask to protect yourself from true vulnerability or as a counterfeit way to build passion quickly, then I believe God has something better in store for you and your spouse.

Do you believe God has something better in store?

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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navigaging-singleness-and-sexuality
January 30th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

 

navigaging-singleness-and-sexualitySure, we know that the Bible is clear that sex is for married people, not for singles.

But that doesn't mean single people don't experience sexual desire.

By God's very design, He wired us for sexual attraction, thoughts, longings and curiosity.

Those things aren't simply flipped on once someone sports a wedding ring.  More often than not, they are on the scene long before a wedding.

Some of you struggle with sexual desires, yet haven't acted upon them.

And some of you may be struggling with shame because of ways you haven't maintain your purity -- and you're wondering how to do things God's way going forward.

If you have never been married, or if you are divorced, how do you navigate sexual feelings and singleness?

While exploring sexual intimacy as a single person is not a Godly reaction, trying to pretend those feelings don't exist isn't a solution either.

No matter our situation, God wants to grow us through self-control, teach us intimate truths about His love and strength and forgiveness, and equip us for righteousness in all areas of our life.

I've pulled together some links to posts from various marriage bloggers that address singleness and sexuality.

My hope is that if you are single, you will glean from these posts encouragement and insights for the journey.

Every post does not apply to every situation, but I guarantee there are nuggets of gold in here:

What to Do With Sexual Desire Before Marriage

Coming to Terms With Sexual Desire as a Single Woman

A Letter to Those Who Feel They Have Lost Their Purity

How to Handle Your Sexual Desires as a Single Girl

How Do I Defeat Sexual Temptation?

How Intimate Can You Really Get and Still Remain Pure

I Chose Celibacy: 5 Reasons to Abstain

Sex Before Marriage: 6 Reasons Why and How to Prevent It

You Don't Want to Lose Him... But Maybe You Should

6 Signs He or She Isn't Marriage Material

7 Things I Would Tell My Single Self

Staying Sexually Pure When You're Divorced and Dating (Part 1)

Staying Sexually Pure When You're Divorced and Dating (Part 2)

Also, my friends Jamal and Natasha Miller -- along with several other speakers -- are hosting an online Christian conference specifically for singles.

The conference is March 11-12 and will feature great topics like "Stopping Your Past from Determining Your Future" and "God's Plan vs. Your Plan: When Your Future Spouse Doesn't Come When You Want" and many more!   Check out The Online Singles Conference 2016!

And Lee Warren, a Christian writer I know, has written a devotional for singles.  It is not specifically about sexuality, but I wanted to include it here because I think he offers some valuable insights, particularly for people who have never been married and are age 30+.

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Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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sexual-intimacy-in-marriage-curmbling
January 12th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

sexual-intimacy-in-marriage-curmblingAn accidental fire destroyed a treasured old building in Omaha's Historic Old Market District.

What happened before and after the fire started contains three lessons we can apply to marriages that are struggling sexually.

But first, let me tell you about the fire that happened Saturday.

Omaha's Old Market is a quaint mix of shops and restaurants, many housed in the brick buildings built in the 1800s and early 1900s in downtown Omaha.

This area is special not only for the people of Omaha, but also for anyone who visits Omaha annually for the Men's College World Series.

An eclectic collection of bars, gift shops, boutiques, galleries and eateries canvas about a 10 block area -- and in the upper level of many of the buildings, equally unique apartments and offices.

To say it's a gem would be an understatement.

It finds its past -- and its present -- securely anchored in an era that thankfully didn't know a thing about cookie cutter construction.  It has forged its footing deep, juxtaposed against the steel and glass and precisely-designed modern buildings that surround it.

The Old Market has offered itself up as the backdrop for countless wedding proposals, graduation photos, family dinners, farmers' markets, romantic carriage rides, street performers, college pizza runs and summer strolls.

It is believed the explosion happened Saturday afternoon below M's Pub, a beloved steady since 1973.  The pub sits in part of the main level of a massive brick building.

Investigations are still underway, but it is believed that a struck gas line possibly triggered a series of events that led to the explosion, which led to the fire, which destroyed the massive building.

It took firefighters more than 30 hours to consider the fire completely extinguished.

More. Than. 30. Hours.  Think about that for a moment.

Did I mention the temperature was frigid the entire time, turning water to ice, ultimately leaving the shell of the building -- and everything around it -- encased in ice?

So what lessons from this devastating event could we possibly apply to marriages struggling sexually?

I know. You think I'm stretching a bit.

You won't when I'm done.

LESSON ONE: Pay Attention to Your Instincts

It is believed a main reason NO ONE died in this fire is because an aware waitress at the pub took action as soon as she smelled gas.

She asked her coworkers if they smelled anything.  Even when they initially said they did not, she trusted her instincts and went outside to talk to a contractor working nearby.

She asked if they struck a gas line, and they told her they had.

She immediately went back into the restaurant to tell people to get out and to tell the kitchen crew to cut the gas to the stoves and equipment.

She trusted -- and followed -- her instincts.

The lesson for marriage? When it comes to something that doesn't seem right in your marriage, trust your instincts -- at least enough to investigate further if there is a serious problem or a minor problem.

How many serious sexual struggles could be prevented because we heeded the warning of initial struggles?

How many marriages could be saved because of paying close attention to fixing and healing what has gone askew as soon as (or relatively close to) when it has first gone askew?

LESSON TWO: Help Is Not Far Away

I was watching a press conference about the fire, and a fire department official -- nearly in tears -- said he couldn't express enough gratitude to the nearby businesses and restaurants that invited firefighters and other first responders into their establishments.

Food and coffee and floor space and tables and warmth and encouragement abundantly flowed throughout the duration of this wearisome and dangerous battle.

The fire department official also sang the praises of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, primarily made up of volunteers who head toward tragic events like this as vital on-the-scene support.

As if that wasn't enough generosity, strangers showed up with cases of Gatorade and food -- and many other businesses in the Omaha area contacted the owner of M's Pub to say they want to help however possible.

My point for a marriage struggling sexually? Help in time of need is often not far away at all.

You may be quick to think that sex is a topic that Christians shouldn't discuss, especially if there is sexual disconnect and discouragement in your marriage.

But there is no better time than now to find solid Christian resources on sexual intimacy and sexual healing.  There are numerous books, ministries, and resources -- specifically by Christians for Christians -- all about sex.

Help is not far away.

But you have to do your part and walk in the direction of help. You will find reassurance and renewed energy to tackle the struggle at hand (just like those firefighters found support when they needed it most).

LESSON THREE:  Sometimes We Don't Know What We've Lost Till It's Too Late

I cannot begin to tell you how devastating it is for Omaha -- and particularly Old Market regular patrons -- to lose M's Pub, not to mention the other businesses destroyed and the apartments on the building's upper levels.

Isn't that always the case?

When we lose something we treasure, we begin to deeply reflect on its significance to our lives.

When we can't go back to how it was.

When we can't take one more in-person glance at something that was etched in our memories.

It's hopeful that M's Pub and the other tenants affected by the fire will rebuild and again thrive in the Old Market.  If the shell of the building can be saved, maybe devastation of the interior won't sting as bad.

But you and I both know, there is now a dividing point.

Before the fire.

And after the fire.

That's true with devastated marriages too.

Some married couples never resolve their sexual struggles -- they either merely exist in a marriage void of authentic sexual intimacy OR they go their separate ways through a divorce.

But whether they stay together in an empty marriage or go their separate ways, they likely could look back on a time when their love was intense and rich -- and they'll grieve it may be too late to save what was lost.

Do any of these three lessons resonate with you?  Why?

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Posted in authentic, marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

sexual-intimacy-and-marriage
December 28th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

sexual-intimacy-and-marriageSometimes people wonder why I'm so passionate about this topic of sexual intimacy in marriage.

They think my confidence in speaking openly and authentically about sex has always been there.

With ease I transition between talking about orgasm and talking about the errands I need to run... talking about sexual positions and talking about my rogue calendar.

Here's the deal though.

The vulnerable no holds barred deal.

I write and speak about sex because years ago -- what feels like a lifetime ago -- I didn't know what I didn't know.

I was a young woman in a new marriage.  Any sex I had before that marriage was in the wrong context. For the wrong reasons. With the wrong men.

And here I was, a new wife, trying (or more often, not trying) to have sex in the right context.

And I didn't know what I didn't know.

I didn't know that authentic sexual intimacy was vital to the strength of our marriage -- any marriage, really.  I didn't know that it had to be nurtured.

I didn't know that my then husband and I had to figure out a way to talk about it, instead of rest in the assumptions that our sexual struggles would "work themselves out."

That's what I vividly remember telling myself.

"Someday we'll figure this out.  Someday this won't be so difficult."

Compounding the issue was that I was on hormonal birth control (the pill). And I had no clue it was sabotaging my sex drive, leveling out the natural peaks of desire that God designed into the physiology of a woman's cycle.

I didn't know what I didn't know.

That marriage ended nearly 8 years later for a variety of reasons. But I couldn't escape the truth that my indifferences about our sexual challenges didn't exactly have to claw their way to the top of the reason list.

Our lack of nurtured sexual intimacy easily could have been the not-so-subtle theme of our marriage and our divorce.

I didn't know what I didn't know.

It wasn't until after I was drowning in the pain of that divorce that I started to discover what I didn't know.   I took an honest look at those sexual struggles, held them up against God's heart and design of sex, and had my come to Jesus moment.

I humbled myself.

Dug into God's Word.

Asked God for forgiveness for my lack of sexual availability.  Even eventually, years later, asked for my ex-husband's forgiveness for the way I had been so careless with sex in our marriage.

I knew that if and when I ever re-married, I would be more intentional about this area of sex.  I would not wait for "someday" to address challenges. I would not be lackadaisical about what being a lover meant not only to a marriage, but what it meant to me.  And what it meant to any man I would be fortunate enough to call my husband.

When I did remarry, I gratefully discovered that I genuinely could learn and grow from what I didn't know all those years before.

All of that probably would have been enough redemption, right?  To learn from my past mistakes and use them to transform my current relationship.

Well, God (being Who he is and all) had additional vision for how I was to use my experience of "not knowing what I didn't know."

In vulnerable and heart-wrenching conversations with other women who were facing their own sexual struggles in their marriages, I discovered that more light -- Godly light -- needed to fall upon this whole topic of sex and marriage.

So when it appears I speak with such ease and confidence about sexual intimacy in marriage, please know that I fought hard for that confidence.

I fought through my self doubt.  I fought through the skeptic looks I would get when I said, "I started a blog. About sex. In marriage."

And with each opportunity to speak or opportunity to write, I heard more gut-level pain from women -- and honestly, more often from men -- about the sexual apathy and devastation going on behind closed doors in countless Christian marriages.

I knew full well what I didn't know so many years ago.  And I wanted to do my part to see something made better -- to obey the calling on my heart -- to shed more light into dark places.

I speak about sexual intimacy in marriage with less trepidation now.  Less inhibition about what people will think.

I listen respectfully to the naysayers that such a topic is "private" and "off limits" and "not the type of thing Christians should be discussing."   But I don't let any of that slow me down.

I know anyone's discomfort with the topic is often born out of their own sexual devastation, pain and unresolved struggles.

And. That. Breaks. My. Heart.

So if you wonder why I'm so passionate about sexual intimacy in marriage, it's because I want to see broken hearts healed.

And sexually broken marriages redeemed.

I didn't know what I didn't know.

But I do now.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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body image struggles
December 1st, 2015 by Julie Sibert

I am beyond honored that Joy McMillan of Simply Bloom is guest-posting for me today. Joy is the author of XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get it Backwards...And How to Get It Right.  I'll be reviewing the book soon, but didn't want to delay in sharing today's post.

If you struggle with body image and trying to feel sexy and comfortable in your own skin, you're going to want to read this. Thank you Joy...

body image strugglesI stood at the door feeling quite lovely in my summer dress, giddy at the thought of dancing the night away with an older boy.

As his car rolled up, every googly-eyed, toe-popping kiss scene I’d ever watched scrolled dreamily through my mind.

Surely this would be the most perfect night.

But somewhere between the gate and the front door he stopped, glanced up and, without missing a beat, declared, “Seriously?!? You’re wearing…that?”.

He needn’t have said anything, though. His face clearly communicated his disgust.

Illusion shattered, my shoulders sank as a hot flush flooded my cheeks. Apparently I had missed the “formal wear” memo and was ridiculously underdressed for the event. Or else this guy was just a total jerk. The jury is still out.

While this confidence-shattering event may have been just a small smudge on the big picture of my life, the shame I felt in that moment embedded itself deeply in my soul. It further cemented what I had already suspected; that something about me was unacceptable.

Repulsive, even.

On occasion this shame beast comes out to play. And you should know, it doesn’t play well with others.

The unkind and critical things others have said – even in complete ignorance – have a way of bleeding over onto the lens through which we see ourselves. We can hear 10 positive things spoken over us, and yet one single negative comment will seed itself so securely in our memories that it overshadows every positive.

We can go through the motions and flesh out our lives, but when our self-image is broken or buried under the weight of how society says we should look, everything in our world feels the ache.

This is especially true in our bedrooms, when our clothes come off.

Never has our confidence been so under attack. And nowhere is that deficit felt more than in the tender underbelly of our sexuality.

A few years ago, as I slipped into bed after a quick shower, my hubby confronted me. “So, umm…why can’t I see you naked? I’ve got a license, you know. Why not show me a little skin?” His observance caught me off guard.

I pulled the duvet closer in, feeling exposed by his acknowledgment of my routine. You know how it goes…woman slips out of clothes while simultaneously slipping behind the shower curtain. It’s seamless. Shower on, shower off. Hand slips out, grabs towel, curtain opens to woman tightly encased.

From there I’d slip into the closet where I’d get dressed in private. Like a secret agent, I had it down pat.

My husband, on the other hand, would walk around completely uninhibited in his birthday suit for entire minutes before the shower was even turned on, and would linger afterwards, sans fig leaf, while shaving, brushing his teeth, and faffing.

It would seem he actually liked being naked.

And it would seem, I did not.

No, his body isn’t perfect, but he’s comfortable, and that’s sexy. No, my body isn’t perfect, but he finds me ravishing. Shouldn’t that be enough?

He loves me - all of me, including the parts that have grown and stretched. But as long as my critical eye shreds my confidence by lingering on every stretch-mark, or zeroing in on anything that sags, I deny him the gift of myself.

It’s a gift I long to offer, but never feel adequate enough to extend to him.

I buy into the lie that perfection is the only gift worth giving, and so I withhold the beauty that is mine to give. And nobody wins.

When we feel uncomfortable in our bodies, remodeled compliments of our children, or ashamed of the stretchier skin we’re in…we run for cover. We bundle up, we push away, and we hide.

But the good news is that the opposite is also true.

As women we were created to appreciate beautiful things, and when we feel beautiful ourselves, we’re more apt to offer our beauty to others. More specifically, to our husbands.

We have a choice, sweet friend.

We can choose to hold onto shame, and allow it to destroy our confidence – and our sex lives along with it – or we can step into grace and the freedom it gives birth to.

Shame says, “You’ll never be enough. Don’t waste your time trying."

Grace says, “God gave that – all of that – to you…now enjoy it while you bless him with it."

Even sexier than our girly figure in the bedroom, is our Godly confidence in the bedroom. The gray matter that sits between our ears is our most powerful sex organ.   The way we see ourselves and then present ourselves hugely affects our ability to intimately engage at all.

It also gives us the power to choose.

May we choose well, wisely and often.

 

Joy McMillanJoy is a speaker, writer and coach.  She’s passionate about empowering women to embrace their stories, live out their passion with purpose, and leave a legacy of love.  The author of XES: Why Church Girls Tend To Get It Backwards…and How To Get It Right, Joy was raised in Southern Africa and now finds her home in Michigan with her handsome hubby and their two lovely loin-fruit. Find her online at www.simplybloom.org.

Posted in authentic, body image, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

sexual-positions
November 28th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

sexual-positionsSome wives and I were chatting about sex positions and came to the conclusion that there are about 5 that most of us can do.

Any positions beyond those are probably best tried and mastered by Cross Fit gurus or American Ninja Warriors.  (Of which I am neither. Insert sad face here).

Just for clarification, I'm talking about sexual intercourse positions.

Certainly a lot of sexual fun can be had without intercourse. For the love of God, I hope all your sex isn't only intercourse.

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Talking about sex positions for everyone except Cross Fit people and American Ninja Warriors.

If you and your husband have kept your sexual encounters to only one or maybe two positions, you might want to broaden the repertoire.

One of my most popular posts when I first started blogging was Hey I'm a Housewife, Not a Gymnast. And I also did a guest post for Stu and Lisa Gray titled I Think the Proverbs 31 Wife Liked Being on Top.

Even though I've written about positions before, certainly it's worth visiting again. You might even be inspired by the end of this post to try something new tonight.

Let's look at the 5 sex positions that nearly everyone can do:

1. Husband on Top Facing His Wife (a.k.a Missionary Position)

Everyone knows this position.  I don't need to explain it.  Has some great pros -- it's one of the easiest to do and there is face-to-face intimacy that can be incredibly bonding.

Probably the biggest con is for some couples it can be one of the worst positions for the wife to climax.

If you as a wife are having struggles reaching orgasm with missionary position, I have a few suggestions.  Have your husband move forward so that the shaft of his penis is in more direct contact with your clitoris.

This will put his chest more at your face level, but the difference in stimulation can be significant. The fancy name for this is coital alignment technique (CAT) and you can read a great post about it here.

If you aren't doing CAT, but want more stimulation, don't rule out simultaneously using your hand to stimulate your clitoris while he is thrusting.

This can help get you close to the edge enough that then his thrusting will bring you to climax. The nice bonus is your hand and fingertips will rub up against his penis, which he may find heightens his arousal.

2. Wife on Top Facing Her Husband (a.k.a. Cowgirl)

Again, this one is pretty self explanatory and obviously has the two same pros that you find with missionary (easy to do and lots of opportunity for eye contact, kissing, etc.).

It also has some pros that I think honestly make it a BETTER position than missionary.

For starters, the wife is in control, which some guys (and some wives) find incredibly arousing.  Also, she is able to better manage the stimulation of her clitoris and G-spot because she is able to control the rate of thrusting, the angle, etc.

And last but not least, it's quite the visual feast for the husband (wives, you can really work this quite seductively, which will likely drive him wild).

Bonus for both the husband and the wife is that his hands are free for more caressing of her breasts, hips, face, arms, etc.

Some husbands really like this position too because it shares the burden of the physical exertion necessary during sex.  Wives, if you only make love in missionary position, your husband is doing almost all of the work.  Wouldn't it be nice to share the workload... uh, I mean, playload?

3.  Wife on Top Facing AWAY from Her Husband (a.k.a. Reverse Cowgirl)

Basically, wife is on top but she turns around so her back is to her husband.

This one can be a little difficult to manage at first, but once you get the logistics figured out, this position can be incredible.  It's a different sensation for both of you and allows your husband to get a really clear visual of all the action.

Some guys love that view!

4.  Husband Behind His Wife (Vaginal Sex, Not Anal)

Sadly, many wives won't even consider intercourse where their husband enters her vagina from behind.

Some women find it degrading (Let's be honest, the slang name of "doggy style" doesn't exactly earn it any PR points).

Other wives are hesitant to try it because they think it will be too cumbersome to figure out.

But here's the thing.

With a bit of trial and error, many couples can find the right angle and approach to make this position work well.  And when they do make it work well, some women are pleasantly surprised at how arousing it can be.

The obvious arousal is that it stimulates the G-spot.  The not-so-obvious arousal some wives discover is it feels provocatively enticing to have her husband physically in charge.

It's unfortunate this position gets such a bad rap, because it could be rocking the sexual world of more married couples. If only they would give it a try.

5. Wife on Top, Both Sitting Up

Many people would have thought fifth in my lineup would be the "side" position, where the couple is laying on the bed side by side -- either facing each other or the husband behind the wife.

But I think the side position is challenging, because neither the husband nor the wife has tremendous mobility to thrust in this position.

Anyway, I'm not a fan of the side position.

I AM a fan of the wife on top with the couple in a sitting position.  Take extra pillows and prop them behind him sitting up in bed.

In this position, the wife is supporting her weight entirely with her knees and is able to do so with quite a bit of stability.

That stability and being upright leaves her hands free for countless other ways to arouse him and caress him.

You also can put your hands on the wall or headboard for more leverage, which he may find totally hot.

So, there you have it.  Sexual positions for those of us who are not Cross Fit gurus or American Ninja Warriors.

For more reading on sexual positions, check out these posts:

Hey, I'm a Housewife, Not a Gymnast

I Think the Proverbs 31 Wife Liked Being on Top

Why Try More than One Sexual Position

Positions and Orgasm: A Survey

Six Best Sex Positions

Why Woman on Top

Positions and Movement

Vulnerability When Trying New Sexual Positions

Sexual Positions for Pregnancy, or "My Belly's in the Way!"

Sex on a Pillow

Hovering Crab and Clock Face Positions

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Posted in authentic, intimacy, orgasm, passion, sex, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

sex-before-marriage
November 27th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

This situation isn't exactly unique, right? A married Christian couple. Who slept with each other before marriage.

sex-before-marriageBut what is baffling for some couples is that the sex before the marriage was better than it is now.

"What's up with that?!!" they may ask quietly to themselves, not really wanting to dig through the rubble to look for the answers.

Yes, some couples may chock it up to "life is busier now" or "that was when we were younger."

Sometimes, though, I think couples land on a different answer -- sadly, one that is incredibly short-sighted.

It's one I hear particularly from women in these situations.

She knows they were out of God's will with the premarital sex, so when sex in the marriage begins to tank, she assumes it's punishment.

It's their lot in life now, she thinks. God's payback for doing things in the wrong order.

Consider, though, why that reasoning is short-sighted:

First, God is totally in the forgiveness business.

It's His main gig. His calling card. His neon sign. His love letter.

So if you think the sin of sexual promiscuity and premarital sex is worse than other sin -- some how beyond His reach of forgiveness -- I beg of you to adjust your lens and turn it toward His heart.

Why is this so hard? I'm not sure.  Probably has something to do with our innate struggle to humbly accept something we've come to believe we in no way deserve.

Any. Way. What I do know is this...

What He asks of you regarding your past sexual experience -- even if it was with the person to whom you eventually pledged your life -- is that you ask for forgiveness and repent of the sin.

The good news about that is the mere fact that your sexual activity is now in marriage shows that you do indeed know how to repent.  You have left your sexual promiscuity behind you. Any sex you are having now is in its right and holy context.

Yeah you! Yeah God!

But you have to believe and accept forgiveness for it to authentically transform your life, your marriage and your sexual intimacy.  Will you do that?

Second, when you get stuck thinking mediocre sex is God's punishment, you put a big smile on Satan's face.

What?!

Yeah, that enemy, he is a conniving, scheming, manipulative, sneaky jerk (and I'm saying that through my filter, so feel free to add any choice words that come to mind).

It delights Satan to no end to see your marriage suffer.

Satan hates marriage, something that is so drenched with God's heart and vision that Satan can't help but do whatever possible to sabotage it.

And here's the thing. Satan is kind of a grassroots sort of guy.

Sure, we see glimpses of him in the larger social realm where marriage is being re-defined and maligned.  BUT where does he really gain ground?

In individual marriages.  Maybe even in your marriage.

And he has become so adept at spinning one particular lie that we are often unaware of his presence until long after he has been snuggled up at the foot of our marriage bed, possibly for years.

Yes. Years.

The lie?  He tells singles to have sex because "Everyone is doing it!" and "It feels good and you deserve to feel good!" and "If something feels so good, how could it possibly be wrong?!"

AND THEN...

Wait for it...

He tells those EXACT SAME PEOPLE after they are married that "Sex is boring! sex is duty! Your spouse is selfish for wanting sex! You sinned before marriage! God won't let you have great sex now! You don't deserve it!"

See what I mean?

Conniving jerk.

Satan's "go to" strategy is always division. Always. So whatever he can do to cause division and disconnect in your marriage and in your sexual intimacy, he will do it by any means possible.

The good news is that you can take back the ground in your marriage Satan has said is his.  You can.  Tell him he has to go.

"Well, how do I do that?!"

Ask for God's help. And start shedding light on the pain and sexual disconnect and sexual lethargy between you and your spouse.

Satan works in the dark (a.k.a. silence, isolation, confusion, assumptions).  God, on the other hand, works in the light (a.k.a. humility, honesty, transparency, conversation, tenderness).

Talk to your spouse about how you want things to look different -- better -- healthier in your marriage bed than they look right now.

Take baby steps to undo mediocrity and replace it with authentic and frequent intimate connection.

Pray. Seek God's Word. Go after biblically sound resources that give you insights about sex.

Do all this enough and Satan will crawl right out of your bed, retreating to the shadows where his influence is nil.

If you had sex before you were married, even with the person who is now your spouse, those past sexual encounters do not define the course in your bed now.

You and your spouse define the course.

And God.

I don't know if you think the sex now isn't as hot because you've got a couple rugrats running around -- or you think it's not hot because you haven't allowed yourself to truly walk in God's truth.

What I DO know is that God's vision for your marriage is nurtured and passionate intimacy all the way around.

You, your spouse and God define what's happening sexually in your bed.

How about the three of you get together and come up with a plan?

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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Posted in authentic, marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,