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lack-of-orgasm
August 15th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

Orgasmic pleasure in a marriage can elude many couples.  The causes behind the struggle can vary.

In today's post, Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo of One Extraordinary Marriage share about the impact orgasm has not only on sexual intimacy, but marriage as a whole. The DiLorenzos' post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

I so appreciate them sharing as part of this series.  Tony and Alisa were some of the first bloggers I met in the internet world of speaking encouragement into the lives of married couples trying to nurture their intimacy.

 

lack-of-orgasmIs lack of orgasm destroying your marriage? The short answer is yes AND no.

Well, that cleared things up for each of you, didn't it?

The truth is that marriages are destroyed by many things and there are two sides to this particular question.

Let's explore this in more detail.

First, let me be very clear, I am able to have an orgasm and I do enjoy them.

I do not have an orgasm every time that I have sex.

Sometimes that is by choice and sometimes that is by circumstances.

I know that not everyone is able to have an orgasm. There can be medical reasons for lack of orgasm. There can be emotional reasons for lack of orgasm. There can even be knowledge reasons for lack of orgasm.

Let's start with that last point -- the fact that you have to know how your body works.

You have to know what feels good for you in order to be able to share that with your spouse. If you don't know what works, how can you expect your spouse to figure it out?

Your spouse does not have ESP.

Am I referring to self-exploration? Yes! Mutual self-exploration.

When you were in school, did you have a  Sex Ed class?

Well…

...now, you get to participate in the grown-up, married version, and it's SO much better than what was in any textbook.

You have the opportunity to explore and learn with your spouse in a loving and creating environment. So what are you waiting for?

Now, back to the original question:

Is Lack of Orgasm Destroying Your Marriage? YES

For a person to experience orgasm, especially a woman, there has to be a combination of factors:

  • emotional connection
  • vulnerability
  • trust
  • communication

To fully let go in a sexual experience, to be willing to throw all caution to the wind, to be fully present in the moment, you have to let go of everything else around you.

You have to be willing to be caught up in the experiences, to surrender your body, mind, and soul to another person.

In the busyness of our world, that is a hard thing to do.  It takes a combination of willpower and desire to "flip the switch" to decide to be vulnerable, to decide to be fully present.

When these factors are not present, the chances for an orgasm are greatly diminished.

It's more than just the orgasm though.

When these particular factors are not present, there are greater problems in the marriage.

The lack of orgasm, and more likely the lack of sex, becomes a symptom of something else going on in the relationship.

So yes, if a lack of orgasm is due to the factors listed above, it could be indicative that your marriage is being destroyed.

Is Lack of Orgasm Destroying Your Marriage? NO

On the other hand, there are those times when the two of you are engaged in sexual activity with no orgasm. It happens and it's OK, as long as the two of you are able to communicate what's going on.

You won't always come to orgasm when you are having a quickie or when you are in a different place.

Many times there is a medical or situational lack of orgasm, and the two of you are aware of it.

You know that something is going on with the health of your spouse. You know that you only have 5 minutes before a child is going to come and knock on the door.

It's no surprise that due to stress, one of you might not be able to orgasm…

...and yet, the two of you are making the time to connect with one another, to be physical with each other.

To do what you can, with what you have, allows the two of you to be able to grow your marriage, no matter what the circumstances are.

The orgasm can be a barometer of what's going on the relationship, but not the only measure.

The most important thing in your marriage is that the two of you making time for one another and making each other a priority.

If you would like to read more posts about orgasm, check out this page.

Tony & Alisa equip couples struggling with a lack of time, communication or intimacy with specific tools and strategies to create the extraordinary relationship they desire. One quick tool is their 6 Questions To Get The Conversation Started This Week (And Keep It Going).

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

Sorrowful couple after having an argument
August 6th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

… show up?

Do you make your body available, but never your heart and soul?

While "lack of sex" is a common storyline that sadly shows up in many marriages, equally discouraging is accommodation sex -- whereby one spouse merely goes through the motions, but never really shows up.

We can try to argue it otherwise (and trust me, many people have), but God truly designed sex to be a profound encounter between a husband and wife.

A oneness.

A reaffirmation of what is good and holy and right in the covenant of marriage.

A physical playing out of marriage vows.

It's no wonder that we intuitively and quickly recognize when such experience is reduced to nothing more than duty or "going through the motions."

We know when our spouse is begrudgingly doing something, rather than vulnerably offering their whole self.

I've heard from some people (mostly husbands, but some wives as well) who say they can't decide which would be worse -- no sex at all or sex that is done only out of obligation.

Ask yourself these questions:

Has accommodation sex become the standard in my marriage?

Is it the pattern from which we never deviate?

Does it define all (or nearly all) of the sexual encounters between me and my spouse?

Why is accommodation sex so devastating? If you are the one going through the motions, you may actually be asking this question with contempt, rather than contemplation.

Many wives have argued, "He is getting what he wants -- sex. What does it matter if I'm really into it or not?  Why is he disappointed? He got what he wanted! He got his release."

Well, that's not what he truly wanted.

He wanted the woman he married to desire him sexually.

He wanted the woman he loves and does life with to value sex not simply for the physical release, but for the indescribable connection it creates.

He wanted his wife to crave his touch and his mouth and his body.

He wanted her to show up.  Really show up.

The good news is that if accommodation sex is all that you have ever offered, you don't have to stay stuck in that pattern.

Change is hard and awkward and sometimes overwhelming. I get that.  But it is possible.

And if it is the kind of change that can strengthen your marriage, why wouldn't you walk in the direction of change?

Not sure where to start?  How about getting real with your spouse about wanting sex to look different in your marriage.   How about a humble, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I've treated sex as duty rather than a gift."

Maybe the hardest part will be digging into why you feel the way you do about sex.  As bewildering and overwhelming as that can be, it is so worth the heart work.  You're worth it.  Your marriage is worth it.

Sure, you could just sit back and hope things will improve on their own.  But why gamble with something as precious as the relationship with the person you fell in love with and married?

For more reading along these lines, check out Why the Excuse "Sex Isn't a Need" Doesn't Hold Water.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

August 4th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

It's hard to argue that society doesn't impact marriages. A busy and sometimes expensive lifestyle can spell doom for a couple's intimacy.

Lori Lowe of Marriage Gems shares sound wisdom on nurturing our marriages, despite society's standards that rail against margin. Lori's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

 

Fuel gaugeI recently read about a family's decision to leave an expensive city lifestyle and move to a rural, laid back community to reduce stress and have more time together.

It was a reminder that our lives are full of choices, and that our lifestyle is not a permanent decision.

I'm convinced the societal standards for most Americans are putting an immense strain on families and marriages; so much so, that many couples are too exhausted for physical and emotional intimacy.

For couples just getting by financially, the pressures are even greater to make ends meet, putting the marriage on the back burner.

The pressure to live in a large home filled with expensive furniture, to wear fashionable clothes, to send children to the best schools with private lessons, to take nice vacations, and to drive new cars contributes to a perceived need to work longer hours and attain promotions.

Many couples believe they can't live on one salary, even when one of the salaries is quite high.

These desires are promoted by the culture (through advertising, movies, Facebook, etc.) and lead to either debt or the need to earn more.

The result: Increased stress and less time, both of which contribute to a poor sex life.

Families with children have to face additional societal pressures to join artistic, educational, and athletic teams and activities.

A generation ago, a baseball team would practice perhaps one day a week in addition to a weekend game. Today's sports teams often require daily practices and most of the weekend. Many kids I know practice before and after school every day, plus weekends.

Ballet, piano, swim, choir, band, soccer—the options are endless and costly, and the pressure to join starts very early. Family time suffers, and budgets are strained. Parents often divide on weekends to cover all the activities, making weekends as much work as the weekday.

Where does sex fit into the schedule?

Frankly, it's difficult to be in the mood when you haven't had time to connect during the week or the weekend. You're both tired and trying to catch up on household chores. There may even be resentment when one or both spouses feel they are doing more (of the childcare, of the chores, or earning the money).

If only one spouse is working, he or she may feel compelled to focus on work to fulfill the family's needs and wants. A lack of connection can develop if not enough time is spent with one's spouse and family, hurting the relationship and getting in the way of a good sex life.

Millennials are starting to pave the way with prioritizing work/life balance above climbing the corporate ladder. Building balance into our lives allows us to nurture our relationships.

There's nothing wrong with living in a nice home, driving a nice car, and taking your kids to soccer practice.

However, if societal pressures are preventing a quality family life, consider what changes could be made.

Are you willing to live in a smaller house to have more time together?

Could you drop out of some activities and have more free time together?

Is it possible to live on one salary or for one partner to go part-time?

How can you carve out time for daily/weekly connection?

When my family found ourselves spread too thin and separating for sporting activities on the weekend, we dropped my son out of the travel soccer team. Instead, we found ourselves enjoying relaxing Saturdays as a family, and able to go to church at our regular time on Sunday.

We adjusted our lives so that I could work part-time. The extra time allows me to have much of the shopping, laundry and chores done during the workday. Evenings and weekends aren't overwhelmed with these tasks.

I don’t think we have won the battle against all of society’s expectations.

One struggle we often have is the high volume of homework, studying, and projects our kids complete each night, sometimes requiring our support. The pressure to help our kids succeed is high and time consuming. This stress can also bleed into the marriage relationship and keep us from having time to relax as a couple.

Now that our children are teens/tweens, we sometimes have to force ourselves to leave them to do their work, and take time for ourselves as a couple. We go out to dinner and allow them the practice of cooking and cleaning up after themselves.

It's important for us to prioritize the marriage; a strong marriage is a great gift for our children.

We plan for long-term goals, including trips and college, but we try not to succumb to many of the pressures that would take too much time from our marriage and family. We are blessed to have our children at home, and we also look forward to different phases of our lives.

To be successful and have a happy marriage once our children are gone, we need to make time and space for one another now. We make frequent changes to try to achieve better balance, and at least question the activities in which we are involved. Balance is a moving target.

If you think your marriage and sex life is getting put on the back burner, sit down individually, as a couple and as a family to determine what changes are possible to give you more of the life you want.

Lori_LOWE Red_Dress_50Lori Lowe writes research-based marriage tips at MarriageGems.com. Her book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is available on Amazon.com and in all e-book formats. Lori has been married to her high school sweetheart for 20 years this fall. They live in Indianapolis with their two children.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

July 24th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

Many married Christians have unintentionally let their sexual intimacy suffer, all because they were busy doing ministry.

Kevin Bullard of Marriage Works! is sharing today as part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

I so appreciate Kevin and his wife Cetelia, and the great wisdom Kevin offers in this post.

churchIf you are in ministry as a pastor, teacher, elder, deacon, worship leader, administrator or any other position that requires significant time, you need to read this blog to ensure ministry doesn't destroy sex in your marriage.

Although it may seem weird, the truth is that out-of-control ministry can destroy sex in your marriage, because true sexual intimacy is built on genuine intimacy -- not just physical actions.

That said, heed the following 3 strategies to ensure you're building intimacy in your marriage so you’re not destroying sex:

Strategy 1: Beware the Sprinkler effect

As leaders we're ready to serve and reach the world. What happens all too often, however, is the sprinkler effect.

Have you ever noticed that the grass closest to the sprinkler is always dry? It's because the water always shoots to the far edges of the yard while missing the grass closest to it. This can happen in marriage if we're not careful.

Everyone else will get fed while our spouse is malnourished (and perhaps becoming bitter).

I've seen this happen too many times, and it's unfortunate. Understand there's nothing wrong with serving the Lord. You just need to ensure you're ALSO serving the one you entered into holy covenant with.

Strategy 2: Save the Preaching for the Pulpit

To the spouse who preaches at church and at home, let me tell you that you're not alone. I've done it to my wife Cetelia more than once, and I've seen how damaging it is.

I'll always remember one occasion before marriage when I preached a pretty lengthy sermon on the virtues of money management. It sounded and felt good to me, until I realized that I had demoralized Cetelia, and made her feel like a little kid. Ouch!

I'd like to say that I have not given her some sermons (another name for a lecture) since then, but that would not be genuine. The only way I know to keep from preaching to her (and my kids for that matter) is to first of all LISTEN without offering a solution.

It's not easy, but it's doable. When Cetelia wants to share heart, she wants my ears, not my mouth, which requires empathy.

Strategy 3: Spend Time Together

Perhaps this should have been number one (or perhaps this is a good spot for it, now that your mind is being stirred up).

The simple fact is this: If you don't spend time with your spouse, you're going to grow apart. We get distracted by ministry responsibilities and opportunities, and lose sight of the one we committed to spending our forever with.

Get this: If all your time is spent going to church, and you're not spending time with your spouse outside of church, the two of you are going to move further and further apart until you either become roommates who occasionally have sex or yet another couple who can't find a reason to stay together.

I've been zinged for making that assertion, but I stand by it.

Couples must spend time together outside of church where they can focus on one another, rather than the business of the church.

Strategy 4: Ensure Your Church Respects You as a Leader and a Spouse

If given the opportunity, people at church will drain you dry, then leave your carcass lying at the altar for Jesus to resurrect.

While folks don't mean to be parasites, sometimes they are. They will call on you day and night until you're stretched thinly, worn out, and have no more energy to give to your spouse (and family).

The answer is to guard feverishly against this by setting boundaries for your time and availability. This is easier said than done, I know.

As ministry leaders, we have this incorrect attitude that says, "If I don't, it won't." Viz., if I don't do this, it won't get done. This is a double booby trap, and here's why:

(1) We can become full of ourselves thinking that we're God's gift to the world, and

(2) We handicap everyone around us and stymie them from becoming leaders in their own right, because we're doing everything (been there, done that).

When we ensure that people respect us as leaders and as spouses, we send an important message that says, "I am your leader, yes, but I am also my mate's spouse."

From my experience, we must teach people this principle because they do not intuitively get it. The best ways to successfully teach this is to continually say it then live it.

Conclusion

Blending marriage and ministry is NOT easy. There is a lot of pressure from both sides to do everything well and without error.

First, free yourself from that unfair and unrealistic expectation.

Second, know that when you build intimacy in your marriage, you set yourself up to have a loving and successful sex life.

Make ministry a part of your life and marriage, not the master of your life and marriage.

Kevin and Cetelia Bullard encourage marriages through their Marriage Works! blog and their countless marriage resources.  They are true champions of marriage, hosting conferences, mentoring other couples, and speaking hope and biblical encouragement into broken places.

They live in Texas with their children.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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July 22nd, 2015 by Julie Sibert

A young married couple emailed me recently, admitting that they were both aroused by using  certain obscene and/or slang language during sex.

They wondered if I thought this was okay.

Some of you may think the couple's quandary is a rare exception among Christian couples.

I would argue otherwise, though.

If more married couples were candid about this, I think we would discover that many face the same dilemma.

As Christians, they would never use the F word or other "cuss" words in their public conversations or even in private casual conversations in their own home.

Yet when it comes to being in the throes of passion in their marriage bed, they find the use of such language surprisingly arousing.

Hey, don't shoot the messenger.

I'm simply shedding light on something that is worthy of discussion, especially if a married couple is feeling angst about whether something is right or wrong in their marriage bed.

I mean, it's kind of my wheelhouse to talk out loud about these things rather than allow silence and darkness to fuel uncertainty and struggle.

Just for clarification, I'm not talking about using language that is done with the intention of berating the other spouse or when one spouse has clearly said they are not comfortable with it.  I think we can all agree those scenarios do not exemplify love.

Nope.

I'm talking about when both of the spouses find the use of vulgar language arousing. They are not turned off by it, but are incredibly turned on by it and find it heightens the intensity of the sexual encounter.

What is a couple to do?

Below is what I told the young couple (Spoiler alert, you probably aren't going to like my answer).

I told them I could argue it both ways -- that it's okay and that it's not okay.

In one regard, I believe we must consider the spirit and context of such conversations.

When a word -- even what most people generally consider is an obscene word -- is used within the context of mutual, exclusive and passionate sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife, in the privacy of their lovemaking, some would argue this isn't damaging to anyone or anything.

In another regard, though, when we hold everything up to scripture, some would argue that an obscene word could never, in any context, meet the standard of...

"whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." (Philippians 4:8); or

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

Of course, we could take this deeper and cause all kinds of theological debate by posing the question:

"Is obscenity that is mutually enjoyed by a married couple in the privacy of their lovemaking actually an example of the above scriptures being upheld -- rather than an example of the scriptures being violated?"

Ornery of me, I know, to try to come at this from all angles.  I'm mischievous that way.  I'm just trying to get you to think.

And suffice to say, I can't answer these questions for you.

They are "wrestling with God" matters.  If you and your spouse are struggling with this issue of certain obscene words being a turn on during sex, then I encourage you to seek God on it.

The Holy Spirit is faithful.  And He will reveal direction for you.

I will say this, though:

Don't beat yourself up if you have used obscene words during sex and found it arousing.  It's wise to seek discernment, yes. But it's not helpful at all to wallow and get stuck in self defeat.

If you want to stop using certain obscene words, then find other expressions and words that can be equally arousing.

Honestly, I think the more descriptive a husband and wife can become in telling each other what they like sexually, the better.

You don't have to use the F word.

You and your husband may be surprised you both are just as turned on when you say to your husband, "I need you in me" or "I like when you ________ with the head of your penis."

You both may be turned on when he tells you in vivid detail what he likes you to do with your breasts or your hands or your mouth.

Anyway. You get the idea.

If you and/or your spouse are not used to talking or making any sound of ecstasy during sex, then becoming more descriptive may seem awkward or distracting, especially at first.

But I think this is a great aspect of lovemaking to explore.

I think staying completely silent during sex is frustrating (and, in my case, almost impossible. Not gonna lie.)  But I have had to, at times, stay quiet in certain circumstances so that the exclusivity of our lovemaking wouldn't be compromised.

I'm guessing that's a topic for another blog, though.  Quiet Lovemaking When There Is No Other Option.  (I can assure you it will be a short post. I have so little practical experience to write a post like that).

Your turn to chime in.  Have you and your husband struggled with wondering if it is okay to use obscene language during your lovemaking?

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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July 12th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

Dustin Riechmann of Engaged Marriage is sharing today as part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

For many of us, parenting does take a toll on sexual intimacy!  Dustin offers great insights...

When we become parents, it's super easy to put our kids at the center of our lives.

It all starts when they're babies, and they legitimately require a major part of our time and attention.

toll of parenting on intimacyAs our kids get older, the tasks transition from diapers to baseball games to school projects and beyond, but the constant needs (and wants) of our children never cease.

It sounds innocent enough to pour everything you have into your kids, and you should rightfully be proud to be engaged and involved in the lives of your children.

But where does that leave your spouse in your list of priorities?

Put Your Kids Second…or Third!

The problem with putting your kids first is that it means you're putting two other MORE important people after them when it comes to how you spend your time and energy.

If you're a Christian like me, you should really strive to put God first and at the center of your life. When you do, prayer is a top priority and your faith is the rock from which you live and serve others.

Right after God should be your spouse – the one you vowed to love for life above all others. As a married couple, it's your job to serve your spouse and to help your husband or wife get to heaven.

It's no small task, and it requires that you put your marriage first…ahead of your role as a parent.

It may seem weird to say that your kids aren't your top priority, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider what comes ahead of them.

As Christians, we have no greater responsibility than to pass along our faith and love of God to our children. And the best thing we can do to help our kids live happy and healthy lives is love our spouse well and model God's love through our marriage.

How to Be a Great Parent and an Even Better Sexy Spouse

So, hopefully you can see now WHY you should put your vocation as husband or wife ahead of your role as parent.

But how do you put it into action?

Below are three simple actions you can take starting today to make it happen. It's all about quality:

Quality Affection

It's super easy to get into a "Romantic Rut" after a few years of marriage, especially after kids come along. That's why it's more vital than ever that you consciously and proactively do something special to show your spouse affection.

The best way I've found to accomplish this is through a simple, heartfelt romantic love letter. When's the last time you’'ve shared a love letter with your husband or wife?

To make it easy, we have a free Love Letter Checklist (click here to grab it) that hundreds of couples have used to reignite the romance. It only takes a few minutes and doesn't cost you a dime.

Quality Time

When I'm asked for my #1 tip for married couples, especially new parents, it's always to commit to 15 minutes each day of quality "Couple Time."

While it doesn't take much of your time (less than 1% of your day), the impact on your relationship will be profound!

If you're ready to get started or just learn more, don't miss this post on how to get your 15 Minutes of Couple Time each day – and what to do during this special time together.

Quality Sexual Expression

To this point, I've barely talked about the act of sex itself since so many aspects of "life" impact our sexual intimacy. However, I'm willing to bet that you and your spouse have faced some sexual challenges in your marriage. I haven't met a couple yet who has not.

Whether it's low libido, a lack of romance and anticipation, or a straight-up loss of passion between you, sexual challenges are real. But there is also help available to you!

Julie does an amazing job with many of these topics, so you can start your search right here on her blog.

At Engaged Marriage, our most popular program is called Intimacy Reignited. It's a complete step-by-step guide to rekindling the passion and romance in your marriage.

You really can have it all - even after kids bring about all the joys and chaos of parenthood.

Just remember that you'll be a better parent when you focus first and foremost on having great sex with your spouse!

Dustin and Bethany PhotoDustin Riechmann is the author of 15 Minute Marriage Makeover and creator of Engaged Marriage, a site devoted to helping other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen.

Dustin's passion is providing practical tools that you can use to keep your marriage fresh and fully "engaged" even when life gets hectic. He's been married for over 14 years to his best friend Bethany, and they are proud parents to three very energetic kids under the age of ten.

You deserve your dream marriage, and it's Dustin's mission to help you make it happen.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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July 11th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

The-Unveiled-WifeI recently finished reading Jennifer Smith's book "The Unveiled Wife," in which she chronicles with raw vulnerability the struggles she and her husband Aaron faced from the start of their young marriage.

With transparency and courage, she shares about her hopes for an amazing marriage, including profound sexual intimacy, once she became a bride -- only to encounter instead physical pain during sex that left both her and Aaron exasperated and confused.

Digging deeper, she peels back even more layers of emotional pain rooted in both of their pasts, and the horrendous impact such pain was taking on their fragile marriage.

Their difficulty in coping was compounded by denial, poor communication, selfishness, pride and an unwillingness to be honest about the depth of the struggles.

She at times contemplated divorce.  I have to be honest -- as I was reading the book, I was expecting at any moment that she would share they did indeed separate.

Through betrayal, disappointment, anger and anxiety, she and Aaron fought hard for their marriage (although not always at the same time).

They found comfort and truth in the Lord's Word and in the wisdom of other married couples who were safe haven for them as they sought to heal their marriage.

Jennifer and Aaron had begun their marriage steeped in her romanticized version of a Christ-centered relationship. They instead found themselves with no other alternative but to mature toward something even better and more reflective of God's provision.

It was there where they built genuine intimacy with each other and with God.

Jennifer writes the book primarily through her voice and lens, which I think makes it a book to which other women may easily relate.

While the physical pain Jennifer experienced during sex is a key thread throughout the book, the book definitely explores other marital struggles that are more universal.

Jennifer is quick to point out that her experiences may not mirror other women's experiences, but that her journey is abundant with lessons that can enlighten and encourage any marriage.

I couldn't agree more.

Throughout the pages, I easily sense Jennifer's hunger for deep abiding relationship with the Lord, amidst flawed and sometimes uncomfortable human frailties.  That, no doubt, is a lesson for all of us, regardless of the circumstances we face.

This is a good read, particularly because it feels unsettling at times -- to be so honest about disillusionment within marriage.

I appreciate anytime someone vulnerably shares their story and sheds light where light needs to be shed.  Thank you for that, Jen.   When we do this, especially as Christians, we empower others to be real about their own struggles.

Ultimately, as a body of Christ, we can then celebrate that authentic relationship -- with each other and with the Lord -- is a messy, messy endeavor.  And it is rich with potential.

To find out more about Jennifer and her books, check out her wildly successful blog The Unveiled Wife.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

July 8th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

As part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage and what we can do about those things, I today welcome Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past." -- Isaiah 43:18

When I married my husband, I brought a fair amount of baggage to our marriage bed.

Quite a lot it involved my sexual past – both with my husband and before I met him.

sexual pastInstead of enjoying marital intimacy with my husband, my marriage bed overflowed with stuff that got in the way:

Guilt and shame.

I felt so guilty and ashamed of the sex I’d had before marriage. These feelings made me feel unworthy of joyful sexual intimacy, so I avoided anything what would give me what I was convinced I didn’t deserve.

Negative views about sex.

Sex is for the man. Sex is something you need to keep secret and that you rush to finish. Sex was my only source of power or value to men. The only way to keep a boyfriend was to give him what he wanted sexually. All of these negative views were taking a toll on my intimacy with my husband.

Negative views about my husband.

As the man who wanted to have sex with me for the rest of our lives, my husband bore the burden of the lessons I'd learned about men. I thought he cared only about his own pleasure and not about my whole self or about my sexual pleasure. I thought he valued me only for sex.

Sadly, I am not alone.

A survey I conducted about the effect of premarital sex on women's marriages showed that two-thirds of the respondents thought their marriages had been negatively affected. This was the case even when the woman's only premarital sexual partner was the man she married.

The premarital sexual luggage is pretty full and includes the following:

  • The feeling that sex is dirty or bad
  • Expectations of husband based on previous partners
  • False perception of what intimacy is
  • The belief that sex is only for the man
  • A connection between sexual sensations and guilt or shame
  • The inability to trust husband because he pushed boundaries before marriage
  • Spiritual and emotional attachment to previous partners, leaving less left for husband
  • Not understanding that sex is a gift from God
  • Unwanted memories during some sexual acts

Many Christian wives have found that their premarital sexual activity follows them into the marital bedroom:

  • Sex feels wrong, so we avoid it.
  • We are unwilling to express our own sexual desires.
  • We dismiss a husband's sexual desire for us.
  • We are unable to embrace the role of sex in marriage and to address problems as they arise.

Fortunately, there is hope for moving past your past!

If your sexual past has overwhelmed your marriage bed, work to loosen the chains holding back your growth.

Focus on the truth.

Read what the bible says about marriage and intimacy. Especially read Song of Songs. Read Christian blogs about marriage and sex. Do a bible study about marital intimacy. Rebuild your beliefs based on truth, replacing the negative lessons that grew out of premarital sexual activity.

Some wonderful resources are Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage, Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?, and Intimacy Ignited.

Get support.

Talk with your pastor or a counselor if you're struggling to deal with your feelings and beliefs about your premarital sexual activity. If your sexual past includes trauma such as childhood sexual abuse or rape, this support is especially helpful.

Talk with close Christian girlfriends who will listen and give you a hug.

Communicate with your husband.

Share your struggles with him. Ask for his prayer. Read, study, and pray together. (Not only can this help your sexual intimacy, it can also strengthen your non-sexual intimacy.)

If you haven't been truthful with your husband about your sexual past, perhaps now is the time. If your personal sexual history is affecting your husband's sex life, he deserves to know.

Invite god into the healing of your marriage bed.

Repent and seek God's forgiveness—and accept that forgiveness. You are a new creation in Christ. Spend time in prayer specifically for your sex intimacy. God designed sex and wants you to enjoy sex with your husband—so ask Him to work on your heart.

When you bring sexual baggage in your marriage, letting it clutter up your marriage bed can destroy your sex life.

You cannot change the past, but you can loosen the chains it has cast on you.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." -- Ephesians 4:22-24

Be sure to check out the other posts in this series at this page!

Chris TaylorChris Taylor has been married to her husband Doug for 24 years. They live in southeastern Wisconsin and have three adult kids who are in various stages of leaving the nest. After a fulfilling career in higher education, Chris now writes at The Forgiven Wife, where she encourages women to tend to the sexual intimacy in their marriages. She draws on her own journey of healing to walk alongside other women trying to embrace full intimacy in their marriages. Chris thrives on coffee, knitting, and chocolate; the order of importance varies depending on the day. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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July 2nd, 2015 by JulieSibert

 

As part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage and what we can do about those things, I today welcome Gaye Groover Christmus of Calm Healthy Sexy.

Such great insights in this post...

Do you often feel too exhausted to be interested in sex? If so, you’re not alone.

A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 25% of spouses say they’re frequently too tired for sex, but I'd guess that the percentage is actually higher.

In fact, if I was a betting woman, I'd bet that exhaustion is causing more damage to sex in marriage than anything else. Not because it's the worst problem – clearly things like infidelity and childhood sexual abuse are much worse – but because it's so widespread.

exhaustion and sexIt pervades modern marriage and family life and, in some ways, has become a badge of honor. After all, if I'm so busy that I’m exhausted all the time, it must mean I’m important, I’m needed, or I’m busy doing God’s work. Right?

Well, maybe.

But if you're so tired all the time that sex in your marriage is suffering, something needs to change.

And the reality is that the culture we live in has set us up for this: It's created a perfect storm of busyness, stress, and overstimulation that is, frankly, exhausting.

And we’ve allowed it, by allowing unrealistic expectations, community commitments, electronic devices – even church activities – to rob us of joy, health, and peace of mind.

And then we wonder why we’re too tired to focus on our marriages and enjoy sex with our husbands or wives!

If you feel exhausted much of the time and find that you're frequently too tired for sex, here are 5 steps you can take to feel more rested and take better care of yourself and your marriage:

1. Make sex and intimacy a priority.

None of these steps will work if you haven't prioritized enjoying sex and intimacy with your spouse. If you're not sure it warrants that kind of priority, I encourage you to read (this blog is a great place to start!), think and pray about it.

Sex is the thing that sets your marriage apart from all of your other relationships. It's the thing God created to draw you closer to your spouse than any other person in your life. Without it, you and your husband or wife are just good friends who live together, which really isn't what most people want for their marriage.

2. Identify the source(s) of your exhaustion.

Before you can reduce exhaustion, you need to know its source. Extreme fatigue is normal at certain stages of life – settling in at home with a newborn, caring for a sick child, starting a new business. In those cases, it usually passes within a few months (although you can do things to get more rest and feel better until it does).

But much of our exhaustion is self-inflicted. We try to do too much, say “yes” too often, or work too hard to keep everyone happy. We don't ask for help, or maybe don't know how to accept help when it's offered.

Or maybe we just feel better about ourselves if we're always on the go. The source is different for each person, so it's important to figure out what’s driving your exhaustion. Only then can you begin working to reduce it.

3. Whether it’s you or your spouse who tends to be too exhausted for sex, talk about it.

Work together to figure out a way to prioritize sex and intimacy in your marriage. Figure out what you’re thinking and feeling, then share it with your spouse.

When our children were young, I had to figure out that I simply could not work all day and evening on child, house, and job responsibilities and then fall into bed and be interested in sex.

Then I had to communicate that to my husband.

And, honestly, I had to communicate it more than once, because I'm not that great at communication and the things I was saying were completely alien to him! So talk about it and keep on talking until you work it out.

4. Make time and save energy for sex.

On a very practical level, the spouse who is often too tired for sex needs to be proactive about managing his or her schedule and energy. If that's you, you probably need more sleep – at least 7 hours a night.

And you probably need to "schedule" sex a couple of times a week. (Although that sounds so unromantic, not having sex is even less romantic!) Make it a priority on those days, and don't allow other activities to crowd it out.

In addition, be sure to save some energy for it. Don't work yourself to the bone, then fall into bed at 10:00 pm and expect to be rarin’ to go! It just won’t happen.

Instead, structure your day and evening so that you can take time to relax, connect with your spouse, and focus on allowing your body to feel good. If your spouse is the one who tends to be too tired for sex, be proactive about helping him or her get more sleep, shed some responsibilities, and take time at the end of the day to relax and unwind.

5. Take it for a "test drive."

Once in a while, when you feel too tired for sex, consider taking it for a "test drive." Agree with your spouse to kiss, make out, or fool around for a few minutes. Often that will be enough to pique your interest and get things going in a sexy direction.

If it isn't, agree ahead of time to do something quick for your husband or wife, so he or she isn’t left feeling frustrated. This may be particularly helpful for women, who often can't transition easily from mom, homemaker, teacher or professional mode to lover mode without some sort of "bridge" activity.

Your marriage needs regular sex to keep it strong, and you and your spouse both need the fun, joy and connection that regular sex provides.

If exhaustion is ruining your sex life, begin taking steps today to reduce fatigue and reserve some of your time and energy for sex and intimacy.

For more great posts in this series, go to this page.

Gaye Groover ChristmusGaye Groover Christmus is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons. In her "day job" she works as a writer and editor in a health field. Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages. She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives. Gaye blogs at Calm Healthy Sexy.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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June 22nd, 2015 by JulieSibert

Awhile back I received an email from a reader, sharing that her husband doesn't find her sexy (and has actually said this to her, even though he says he does love her and thinks she is pretty -- just not sexy).

What's a wife to do with that?  What would you do with that?

I think this is what I would do...

1. Ask myself, "Does he understand the depth of pain such a statement causes me?"

I know it sounds like I'm just giving the husband the benefit of the doubt, and maybe I am, but I just have to wonder if he genuinely understands how hurtful he's being for even implying such a thing -- that he doesn't find his wife sexy.

If by all other accounts he is a fairly decent guy, then it's possible he has a blindspot in this one area about his words with regard to her sexiness.

So, that being the case, it's worthy of the question -- or rather, a statement -- to him in a clear, yet loving tone.  "When you say I am not sexy, it hurts me and makes me doubt your desire for me."

My hope would be such a statement would be a springboard into more conversation about ways to mutually build desire, affirmation, arousal and intimacy -- rather than chip away at it.

2. If I tried to generate conversation and share what hurts me, and he still downplays my pain, I would suggest counseling.

Yeah, I know.  Counseling seems to be the fall-back advice bloggers dole out.  But that's because a lot of marriages could be (and are) helped by it.

There is a reason professional marriage counseling is a huge field of practice. Counselors are schooled (literally and practically) in the idiosyncrasies of marriage. Because they are removed from the situation, they are able to see things that the couple likely can't see.

If your spouse won't go to counseling with you, go on your own.  It will give you a safe sounding board, help you gain ideas on how to address the situation, and demonstrate to your spouse that you are serious about doing what you can to strengthen the marriage.

3. I would dig into God's Word.

When we are feeling "less than" -- for whatever reason, be it at the words of another person or our own self-defeating chatter in our heart and mind -- the best way to get our feet on solid ground is God's truth.

God says you are enough -- that you are beautiful in His sight.  That's not cliche. That's love incarnate.  That's blood poured out. For you.

Any time is a good time to seek Him, but especially when we need to re-align our identity and worth with His truth.  He is faithful in lovingly affirming us and providing Holy Spirit heart conviction where needed.

4.  I would be accountable for me, rather than try to change him.

This is a tough one.  When all is said and done at the end of the day, we land at the reality once again that we can't change someone else.

We can try to influence and facilitate healthiness, but we can't make someone change.

That's true whether we are talking about health physically, emotionally, relationally or spiritually.

One thing we can always control, though, is our own attitude and approach.

There have been moments I have been really angry and disappointed with my husband (and him with me)  No, he has never said I wasn't sexy.  But we have been careless with each other's feelings in other ways.

And when I feel most hurt by him and when our conversation comes to a roadblock, I have learned to step back and take a deep breath.

Ultimately, as husbands and wives, we each will have to give account to the Lord for the ways we have treated each other.

If your husband thinks you are not sexy, speaks that out loud to you (or implies it) and fails to respond humbly when you point out your hurt, then such carelessness is ultimately his to own -- even if he won't own it this side of Heaven.

5.  I would lean on safe female confidantes.

I know there are some people who say you should never talk to your friends about your marriage struggles.  I'm just not one of those people.

I do think you need wise discretion about these conversations.  We all need safe havens where we can be real about the depth of our pain.

Just make sure those safe havens are other Christian women who will listen, pray with you and for your marriage, not bash your husband, and continue to point you to the truths of God's Word.

I know what it is like to occasionally feel alone in the frustrations of marriage. It is why I rely upon a few women friends who will let me be raw and real about my disappointment -- and at the same time remind me of the sanctity of my covenant with the man I married.

If you are like the reader who emailed me -- and your husband doesn't find you sexy -- that grieves my heart.  I am sad with you.

And while this post may spur in you ideas to reflect upon, in no way do I want to minimize your pain.  As wives, who among us doesn't deep down desire to be desired by the man we married?

It's such a reasonable and authentic desire.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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