Category: sexual intimacy struggles

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.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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

xes cover
January 23rd, 2016 by Julie Sibert

 

xes coverI was digging through my email inbox not long ago, and (embarrassingly) came across an email to which I hadn't responded in more than a year.

Yup. A year. Ugh.

It was from Joy McMillan, author of XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get It Backwards... and How to Get it Right.

In her email she was complimenting me for a guest blog post I wrote on another site.

I humbly responded to Joy, tripping over myself with apologies for not responding sooner.

Boy am I glad I didn't let my embarrassment stop me from hitting the reply button!

We ended up exchanging posts for each other's sites.  You can see her post at this link, and my post at this link.

Here's the deal.

This woman is a crazy good writer.

Cra. Zy. Good.

Which is why you should have on your nightstand XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get It Backwards... and How to Get it Right.

At first I couldn't tell if this is a sex book masquerading as a marriage book or a marriage book masquerading as a sex book. But by the time I reached the end, I decided.

It's both a sex book and a marriage book, and a delightfully authentic one at that.

What I like about this book is what always draws me to good writing:  Joy doesn't hold back in being transparent about how hard marriage is (let alone trying to build authentic sexual intimacy in the midst of it).

She is real about her own marriage and what nurtures or destroys sex between a husband and a wife.  I found myself nodding a lot and saying "yes" to her many great insights about passionately pursuing and enjoying sex in the oneness of a marriage covenant.

All of that would be enough, but she goes further and lets us in on the story behind the story, so to speak.  (We really don't see most of this till we near the end of the book, but it's worth the wait).

She courageously bares her soul about what it took for her to shed light on and heal from the devastation in her past, including promiscuity, sexual abuse and criminal activity.

That kind of authenticity is so attractive.

It equips and encourages women to trust in the forgiveness and redemption of the Lord.

And it reminds all of us that through the ups and downs and in-betweens of doing life as a married couple, anything profound is always found on the other side of intentional heart (and hard) work.

Joy loves the Lord and loves her husband, and she shares with humor, heart and humility the reality of a faith refined and rekindled in the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Each chapter includes questions at the end to compel you to dig deeper.

I believe there's no sense reading something if you aren't going to glean from it and apply to your own situation the nuggets of gold that are transformational.

And this book is definitely one from which you can glean.

It's not a quick read. And it's not an easy read.  But it's a rich read.

Joy McMillan is a crazy good writer.  Personally, I'm glad she didn't keep it all inside.

I think you will be glad too.

"It's easy to wait until your marriage experiences a crisis to spring into action, but having a thriving marriage means doing the work, consistently, and often behind the scenes, on a daily basis.  It means little by little putting things into place before they're ever needed.

"It's choosing to intentionally stock your marital tool belt with effective tools, carve out time for each other daily, and prioritize your intimacy -- spiritual, emotional and sexual -- when things are going well so that when things aren't, you're prepared."

Joy McMillan in XES: Why Church Girls Tend to Get it Backwards... and How to Get it Right.

Thank you Joy!  The marital landscape is a better place with Christian books like yours.

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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

The word hope and females hands showing black board against bright blue sky with clouds
January 18th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

 

Occasionally, I hear from women who have struggled tremendously with vaginismus, a condition that causes the vagina to tighten, making sexual intercourse extremely painful.

So you can imagine how grateful I was to open up my email and see an alert about a new post from my fellow writer and pal Sheila Gregoire.

Sheila recently did a series on vaginismus, and highly recommend you read the series!

Profound and needed information in these posts. (I included the links further down, so keep scrolling).

Not only did Sheila suffer from this condition early in her marriage, she also has heard from countless other women.

Some of these women are bravely sharing their stories in an effort to shed more light.

Even if you have never suffered from vaginismus, reading the posts could help us all build good empathy for women who do.

A big thank you to Sheila and the women who have shared for this series. Here are the links:

A Story of Vaginismus: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known
The Voices of Women with Vaginismus
Overcoming Vaginismus: 9 Steps Towards Recovery

 

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

Posted in sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , ,

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.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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

sexual-intimacy-struggles
January 11th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

 

sexual-intimacy-strugglesI hear many stories about marriages struggling sexually.

The circumstances are as varied and vast as stars in the sky, as cliche as it may sound.

And there is legitimate and heart-wrenching pain within every scenario, where behind closed doors, the true character (or lack thereof) of a marriage is forged and revealed.

Many, many sexual struggles.

But do you know the one reason at the root of almost all of them?

One person in the marriage wants nurtured healthy sexually intimacy.  And the other person does not.

Another (yet less frequent) version of this scenario is the two people do want to heal, but they can't agree on what healing looks like.  So they stay stuck in their corners.

Lack of mutual resolve on doing something -- anything -- about the sexual disconnect sets the foundation for more of the same.  Sexual struggle becomes their normal.

"Oh. My. God. How did we get here?!" you could hear at least one of them (maybe both of them) screaming from the pit of their soul.

Sexual struggle may even become so normal that it seems completely counterintuitive and cumbersome for the couple to climb their way to a better healthier sexual normal.

It's tenacious and tender work to create something better, isn't it?

And you know what?

Without even hearing all the details about such a marriage, if I would arrive on the scene, I would bet my last dollar I would find one person who genuinely and humbly wants to walk in the direction of healthy intimacy.

And one who does not.

RELATED POST: Sexual Intimacy and Marriage: I Didn't Know What I Didn't Know

I was talking to a great friend of mine the other day and we were musing about feeling excited about the new year.

Quite the segue I'm making here, huh?!

Any. Way.

My friend and I were talking about the new year, and she said her word for the year is "intentionality."

"I love that!" I said.

Being intentional about anything takes effort, which is probably why the word doesn't inspire waves of action among the vast majority of people.

Being intentional means having to fight against your natural tendency of taking the path of least resistance.

And it means having to baby step and big step your way out of longstanding unhealthy normals.

Hard. Tiring. Frustrating. Overwhelming.

And yet.

Something better at the other end of all that intentionality, if you stick with it.

There's a lot of psychology behind why we as the masses suck at this whole thing of being intentional and pursuing healthiness as our normal.

But come on. You don't want to hear a psychology lesson right now.

You don't really want to hear why you like the cheese curls and chocolate better than the chicken and cauliflower.

We generally, though, know what's healthy and what isn't.  You'd be hard pressed to find someone who would say "the cheese curls are DEFINITELY healthier than the cauliflower."

And you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would say that sexual disconnect in a marriage is healthier than authentic sexual intimacy in a marriage.

Nearly all of the people who read my blog land here because nurtured sexual intimacy is far from their reality.  Their norm is sexual disconnect, discouragement and, for some, desperation.

If you are reading this, either you are the one in the marriage who wants to work on healthier sexual intimacy.  Or you are the one satisfied with the status quo.

Which one are you?

Regardless of which one you are, I'm wondering if you are willing to do a courageously intentional thing.

Could this blog post open the door to some dialogue with your spouse about sexual intimacy?

Psychology lesson aside, it all circles back to the truth that you gotta do something if you want something to look differently.

I don't know your circumstances, but my hope is that you have not lost hope for healthy sexual intimacy in your marriage.

I can't give you guarantees that if you move in the direction of healthy sexual intimacy that your spouse will want to move in that direction with you.

But it's worth a shot to at least try.

Because I doubt more of the same -- an unhealthy sexual normal -- is the marriage you both envisioned way back in the day.

Right?

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

PURSUIT OF PASSION:  Now Available in PRINT and Ebook!

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

Posted in marriage problems, sexual intimacy, 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.

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

Posted in authentic, intimacy, marriage problems, sexual intimacy struggles, 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.

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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

sex
November 14th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

Confusion. Pleasure. Frustration. Life. Pain. Excitement. Shame. Fun. Apprehension. Oneness. Betrayal. Connection. Angst. Glory. Crime. Righteousness. Sin. Confidence. Division. Unity. Emptiness. Fullness. Regret. Reassurance. Doubt. Clarity.

sexWhy?

Why does sex cause so much of the above?

Well, my short answer is that God designed sex, so in its right context, it's a gift; and because God designed it, Satan hates it, so in its wrong context, it's a burden and sin.

But let's face it.

The short answer has rarely wrapped up the conversation for us.  If it had, we'd have sex all figured out, always celebrating it in its right context and always avoiding it in its wrong context.

Generally speaking, we are easily confused by the things of God -- until we aren't confused and we discover and decide God's way is indeed the best way (even if the larger society tells us otherwise).

I hear from many people who reach a point where they get it -- they get that God designed sex to be a blessing, not a burden.

Sometimes it's a light bulb moment, but more often it's something for which they had to fight hard, on their knees in prayer, at their fingertips through God's Word, and with their ears and heart in dialogue that is more often painful and awkward than easy.

So, let's dig into the long answer.

Marriage is a covenant relationship God designed (a relationship that, not ironically, is what He uses to remind us of His love and oneness with His body of believers).

"This is where you are starting the long answer, Julie? Marriage is a covenant relationship?"

It's vital to the discussion.

When we see a marriage that is strong and healthy (not perfect, mind you, but overall marked by mutual love, compassion, faithfulness, forgiveness, gratitude, honor, intimacy, companionship, etc.), we usually find two people who individually and together recognize that marriage is a covenant.

It's different from all other human relationships.  The stakes are higher.  The investments greater.  The payout -- or fallout -- significantly different than other relationships.

Interestingly, even in a marriage where the two people are not Christians -- but they hold to the covenant attributes I listed above --  we will find a marriage that looks strikingly similar to a strong Christian marriage.

(Regardless of whether two people acknowledge Christ, I still think we are God-designed, and as such, intuitively we long for identity that reflects Him. This sometimes plays itself out in actions, even if the person doesn't claim God as the source.  It's how someone can be moral without necessarily being Christian).

Obviously, having Christ at the center of our lives and our marriages is what God desires. BUT do you see how sometimes there is evidence of God's covenant design of marriage where we don't necessarily see evidence of Christian faith?

I think that alone further confirms that marriage is divinely different from any other human relationship.  It's like how the Word tells us God's fingerprints are all over the place, leaving us without excuse  (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20, Luke 19:40).

Anyway. I kind of digressed there.

But it's still vital to my point.

Why does sex cause so much pain and so much joy (and every other thing I listed at the top of this post)?

Because we simply can't escape the undeniable truth that sex is not merely a human issue; it's a God issue.

I think we will never fully wrap our heads and hearts around the depth of the joy or the depth of the pain until we wrestle with the truth that sex is a God issue.  What we do sexually matters to God, not in an abstract removed sort of way, but in an intricately connected sort of way.

So where does Satan fit in?

Well, like I mentioned at the beginning, God designed marriage, and that fact alone makes Satan loathe it.  He'll do whatever he can to sabotage it.

I don't really want to give the enemy too much air time here, but I encourage you to consider that whenever sex happens outside of marriage or is mishandled within marriage, Satan is within close proximity, pouring lies and confusion into the mix.

Word to the wise, one of the best things you can do for your marriage and your sexual intimacy in marriage is to renounce Satan in the name of Christ.  Kick Satan out of your bed.  Tell him he's gotta go.

I'm convinced that whether we are trying to heal from sexual pain and injustice or we are trying to thoroughly enjoy sex in its right context, we are best equipped to do that with God.

I know.  This post doesn't exactly make for light reading.  Or light reflecting.  Does it?

Maybe a better way to make it all relevant is to ask you this, "What does sex cause in your heart and in your marriage?"

Take a moment.

Think before you answer.

Yes, I know, many marriages face huge challenges sexually because of monumental betrayals of abuse, adulterous affairs, pornography use.  And maybe your marriage is one of those.

I also know many other marriages suffer sexually for no other reason than sexual apathy by one or both spouses.

And, of course, there are marriages where sex is mutually valued, passionately pursued and ravenously enjoyed.

Where you fall on the spectrum with your answer is not near as important as what you do going forward.

My hope is that if sex is a healthy and enjoyed aspect of your marriage, you'll keep heading in that direction.

And if it's not? My hope is you'll do all you can to seek God's heart on how things can get better. Probably not easy, but definitely worth it.

What is sex causing in your marriage?

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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

25 Questions Cover
November 10th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

25 Questions CoverI have great news!

Author and speaker Dr. Juli Slattery has released a book I believe will become a vital "go to" guide for any woman wanting to better understand love, sex and intimacy.

The book is 25 Questions You're Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex and Intimacy, and Juli asked if I would read it and get the word out about it.

She sent me a copy and offered an additional one I could give away (because honestly, I'm not giving up my copy!)

Here are three things that are astonishingly profound and beautiful about this book:

It's comprehensive without being cumbersome.

Seriously, this is what first caught my attention by the time I was 2-3 chapters in.  Juli tackles tough questions and strikes the right chord between saying too much and not saying enough.

She doesn't gloss over tough topics, which makes me think she put a lot of thought into her word choices.  She makes every word count.  The end result is that in every chapter, she gives us deeply needed points and clarifications -- without drowning us in lengthy hard-to-follow paragraphs.

It's an "easy" read, so to speak, yet doesn't back down from the challenging questions where many women are hungering for solid feedback.

It's biblical.

Make no mistake, she drenches this book in God's love and in His indisputable Word.  Juli humbly recognizes that without God's wisdom, generosity and truth, we cannot frame sex and intimate love in its right context.  We simply can't do it.

If we want to follow His plan, we are left with no choice but to align ourselves with His heart and Word.  What we do with our bodies and our relationships matters.

She does a great job conveying all that with grace and love.

It's conversational.

The first two points I made are obviously deal-breakers for me if I'm going to recommend a book, but this last one is what really piques my interest.

Is the book conversational?  Do I read it and feel like I'm having coffee with this woman?

Yes!

This is why I think this will be a book that can spur great conversations across generations.

It would be easy to assume the book is geared only toward younger women, but I believe it also would be an ideal book for a women's book club or small group, no matter the ages of the women.

I also think it would be a great book for a couple of single female friends to go through together to help encourage each other and hold each other accountable.

And no doubt it has nuggets of insight for women who are engaged, as well as those who have been married for quite awhile.

So, all that being said, you want to read this book, right?

If you simply can't wait one minute longer, head on over to Amazon and buy it.

 

Juli Slattery

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker and host of the weekly radio program Java with Juli. She is also the cofounder of Authentic Intimacy, a ministry passionate about reclaiming God's design for intimacy.  Juli and her husband, Mike, have been married for over 20 years and are raising their three boys in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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

take sex drive away
October 31st, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

take sex drive awayI receive more emails and comments from men than I do from women.

This does not surprise me.

What did initially surprise me, though, when I began blogging is the depth of pain expressed in these emails from men who hunger for more sexual intimacy in their marriage.

Notice I just wrote "sexual intimacy," rather than using the word "sex."

Nearly all the communication I receive from husbands clearly shows that sex is not just sex to them (contrary to what popular culture and stereotyping would lead us to believe).

They aren't just looking for a release.

Because let's face it, they could get that from their own hand.  Sure, some resort to secret masturbation on a regular basis, because they see no other option afforded them. Yet most would gladly admit that what they really want is to make love to their wife.

Sex is never just about sex.  It's about wanting to feel connected, affirmed and one with the person to whom you've pledged your life.

Some marriages are high on conflict about sex and incredibly low on resolution and healing.  Two people slowly drift away from each other sexually, either because healing the disconnect is not a shared value or because one or both spouses believe the marriage is irretrievably broken sexually.

My God, marriage is hard, isn't it?  I get that. I know.

I don't minimize the challenge it is to build an intimate marriage. Being married is a high and holy calling and it is hard, hard work.  And so much impacts sexual intimacy, from hormonal and physical issues to relationship struggles to betrayal to life circumstances to skewed views about sex.

The list goes on.

But it is tragic commentary in a marriage when either spouse has prayed for God to take away something that is inherently woven into the very design of marriage.  God's design for marriage.

I am grieved any time I read an email or comment where a husband has resigned to defeat, thinking there is no longer any viable option but to pray -- even beg -- for God to take his sexual desire away.

The devastation of laying next to a woman who neither pursues him sexually nor responds lovingly to his initiation is just too much.  Too much.

To frame this in another perspective, consider if you as a wife are feeling emotionally neglected by your husband.

Do you pray that God remove your desire for emotional oneness with the man you fell in love with and married?

Some of you may pray this, but my guess is that most women in that situation do not wish for their desire for emotional connection to go away.

They would rather see the relationship healed and strengthened, right?

Deep down when a husband has prayed God take his sexual desire away, what he is really screaming from the caverns of his soul is that he desperately wants the relationship healed and strengthened.

He wants -- genuinely wants -- authentic sexual intimacy with the woman he married.

If there are struggles in your marriage about sexual frequency, do you ever wonder if your husband has prayed for God to take his sexual desire away?

Well, here's the deal.

God probably isn't going to answer that prayer with a yes.

And even if He did, would we really consider that a victory for your marriage?

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

Click on the below image for more about the book:

pursuit-of-passion

 

 

 

 

 

button_newsletter

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