Once the bird seed and bubbles of newlywed bliss settle, most marriages discover that a husband and wife don’t quite agree on the frequency of love-making.
Then arguments build, and pretty soon you have a full-blown battle.
A shiny new marriage usually has plenty of physical urgency coming from both spouses.
So, what happens?
Biochemically, the tingles of first romance putter out after 24 months and one spouse is less motivated to be sexual than the other.
Low sex drive can affect both wives AND husbands.
The low-drive spouse no longer can rely on the lust cocktail of brain chemicals to trigger physical urgency to connect in the bedroom.
The high-drive spouse starts to feel short-changed. Their need, which at first was vigorously met, is slowly brushed to the side and finally lands low on the priority list.
The low-drive spouse starts to feel objectified as the high-drive spouse tries to persuade, cajole and convince their mate to meet them in the bedroom.
Low-sex drive can absolutely destroy sex in marriage.
Having a sexless marriage (sexual encounters less than 10 times per year) can lead to destruction of the entire relationship through adultery. And yes, the straying spouse bears much blame for their wrong choice. However, a low-libido spouse must take the higher-drive needs of their mate seriously.That’s part of selflessly loving like Christ.
I’m here to tell you low-libido is not a permanent condition.
It just takes finding what replenishes the desire for sexual intimacy outside of the physical "gotta have you now."
A low-libido spouse has to more fully rely on the spiritual and emotional nature of intimacy in order to desire to connect through sexual intimacy.
This is the blessing of the low-libido challenge. To improve low-libido, it usually involves growing as a couple.
Here are three basics that helped change me from, “No way!” to “Okay!”
God placed resources in our path to improve other aspects of our marriage. I came to see that my low-drive was partly from a physical place, but it also had emotional reasons.
Pray for wisdom to know how to connect more fully with your spouse. When you figure out how to connect emotionally with your spouse, you will both feel more "heard." Feeling understood will help a low-drive spouse tap into another libido, the emotional libido.
Sexual intimacy has been compared to the type of relationship God wants to have with us through Christ (Ephesians 3:8-12, Ephesians 5:32), an earthly symbol of a heavenly reality. Pray that you both grow in spiritual maturity to understand this as you walk with the Lord.
And finally, work towards praying with your spouse about your marriage bed. This will help the low-drive spouse tap into the third and most important dimension of libido, spiritual.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
It only takes one little decision.
Decide to try meeting your high-drive spouse in the bedroom. That one little decision will spark a change in the entire atmosphere of your marriage. I can 98% guarantee it.
When I finally made my decision to go "all in," I began to do a little studying. At the time, blogs weren’t on the radar and there were only a few books on sexual intimacy written by Christian authors.
One little decision led to another little decision to visit the doctor. Which led to other little decisions about medical and scientific research. Which led to another little decision about being actively engaged during each rendezvous.
God’s path for your rejuvenated libido may not look exactly like mine. However, if you make the decision to start seeking. He will answer.
Spend Most of Your Non-Work Hours Together
If a marriage is spiraling downward, some spouses run away from each other. I get it. You’ve been hurting each other with words and you want to avoid being hurt. If you’re not in your spouse’s presence, you can’t be hurt.
However, the answer is to run toward each other when things get tough. Don’t look outside of your marriage, especially with a person of the opposite sex, for any kind of emotional validation.
A low-libido spouse must connect emotionally and spiritually with their spouse. Emotional and spiritual libido substitute for the lack of physical urgency.
The way to connect is simple. Spend lots of time with your spouse outside of the bedroom doing fun stuff and having conversations. Optimally, 2 hours a day with just the two of you. But, I realize with young families, that’s not easy.
In whatever way you spend time together, avoid being snarky, disrespectful, sarcastic, demanding, threatening and angry.
Author Michele Weiner Davis states, “A more loving marriage may be the only aphrodisiac your marriage needs.”
It is possible to regain the birdseed and bubbles of newlywed sexual craving. It just might be in a way you hadn’t contemplated before.
Pray for resources to help you through the maze of low-libido. Decide to see your marriage as a relationship worth fighting for. Spend more time with your spouse being the person your spouse married; fun, happy, and friendly.
If you do all these things, not only will your libido come out of hiding, but your spouse will probably return all the love you are investing.
I’d like to place a resource in your view right now.
Written for the low-libido Christian wife, Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation, will help you uncover little known aspects of her lost inner sensuality. Ramping up lagging libido doesn’t happen by magic. However, it can be an easy journey with profound results by following along with this 52-Week guide.
Although not a Bible study, its foundation is God’s Word. Based upon a 2012 French study, the blend of science and scripture helps wives re-discover their sensual hidden nature, covering not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual aspects of libido.
Each week, a commentary sets the theme. The key is consistent thought and prayer revolving around the theme. It only takes 5 minutes a day.
Bonny Logsdon Burns writes to encourage the low libido wife at www.OysterBed7.com. She and her husband, David, are candid about their struggles and victories revolving around sexual intimacy. She is passionate about empowering and equipping hurting women through God’s Word and practical tools. They have three sons, like to try new foods, laugh at corny jokes, and dance to their own music. (You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.)
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Things are getting nice and steamy when suddenly, out of nowhere, the thought pops into your head: "I think we're out of vacuum bags."
And then you start wondering what else you need at the store.
And the mood is gone.
Most of us women are by our very nature multi-taskers, probably more so by necessity than by choice.
At any given time, a woman must mentally and sometimes physically keep tabs on a barrage of specifics.
You could be making the grocery list AND preparing a proposal for work AND checking on the child’s homework. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in your world.
Now, to be fair to the men, I think they too juggle quite a few details. It seems, though, the tasks many women must focus upon have daily urgency, especially if you are in charge of the calendar and anything associated with the children.
After awhile, all that multi-tasking can take a toll! And maybe it’s taking too big of a toll on sex with your husband.
It’s just hard to step back from a relentless “to do” list and gain perspective, because honestly, sex feels like one more thing on the list.
It’s not that you don’t want to offer your body and your undivided heart and mind. It just feels impossible to give him the whole package on any given day.
If that describes how you feel, what can you do to stop the negative impact multi-tasking is having on sex in your marriage?
Here are 4 ideas:
1. Recognize it’s an issue.
Nothing will dig you deeper into a hole than denial. We like to tell ourselves we can do it all well, but truth is that some things suffer.
You have to start counting the costs. Maybe instead of juggling so many balls, let a few fall – the ones that don’t have big consequences.
The health of your marriage is vital, so that’s one you don’t want to leave to chance.
Take an honest look at what you have expected from yourself as a mother, homemaker, volunteer and employee. If you have set the bar unreasonably high (maybe even bordering on perfection) in some of those areas, decide to give on a few things.
The energy and focus you will have for intimacy with your husband is worth it.
2. Enlist the help of your man.
You may think I’m going to say get him more involved in wrangling some of those details, so they are on his plate and not yours. Well, that’s not a bad idea, but that’s not exactly where I’m going.
What I really mean by “enlist” his help is be frank with him about what you need to de-program and reset your mind for getting busy beneath the sheets.
If you know that a hot shower or a hot bath will relax you, then tell him that’s what you need – and ask him to help you make room for that.
If you need more foreplay to redirect your mind toward sex, then tell him you need more foreplay.
If you need to go for a walk after dinner so you can just vent all the things that are on your mind and get them out, then tell him! I explain it to my husband like this:
"Inside my head are all of these different pinballs, just like on a pinball machine, going back and forth, rattling around in my brain. If I'm going to be able to enjoy sex tonight, I've got to get those pinballs out first!"
Sure, your brain's default is to multitask. But that doesn't mean it HAS to multitask. You just have to fight back!
And the way to do that is to get out of your brain and start focusing on your body. When you're making love, ask yourself, "What feels good right now?" Or "Where do I want him to touch right now?"
That may sound clinical, but here's what often happens to us women:
We start making love, and nothing feels that great because we're thinking of a thousand different things. We figure that if our husbands do just the right thing and are perfect lovers, they'll get us out of our heads and they'll make us feel good. So until we feel good, we'll just make a grocery list.
But your body can't feel good -- no matter what your husband does -- until you concentrate on it, because our sex drives are almost entirely in our brains. If our brains aren't engaged, our bodies won't follow.
So the answer is not for our husbands to be perfect lovers (though that can't hurt!); it's for us to fight against the grocery list and start thinking about our bodies.
That gets our brains thinking below our necks, and helps our bodies to engage. When you ask yourself, "What feels good right now?", you may just realize that something does!
And then you can go with that feeling.
Oh, and if you do figure out that something wants to be touched -- tell him!
4. Stop thinking sex is just for him.
One last thing: as busy as we are as wives and mothers and workers, sometimes we think that sex is “just for him.” As long as you show up, all is good, right? Wrong.
Sex is for you too. And beyond the obvious benefit of strengthening your marriage, it also has other awesome effects.
It helps relieve stress, contributes to your general sense of well-being, and releases healthy endorphins into your system.
And besides all that -- it helps you sleep! How many times did I say, "Not tonight, honey. I'm just exhausted," only to lie there and toss and turn because I know I've disappointed him, I'm ticked because he's ticked, and we're both not sleeping?!
But when we have sex, I sleep like a rock! So now when I'm tired I say, "Come put me to sleep, baby!"
Plain and simple, nurtured sexual intimacy can help you have a better outlook on your crazy busy life. Sex isn’t just good for your marriage. It’s good for you. And you’re worth that kind of investment.
Looking back on some of the above ideas, what are you inspired to do differently going forward?
Google defines skew as "make biased or distorted in a way that is regarded as inaccurate, unfair, or misleading."
We’re surrounded by skewed sexuality.
Porn skews the thinking of men and a growing number of women. Various non-porn magazines teach all kinds of inaccurate things about sex.
We get sexual messages from TV, our friends, church, and our culture in general.
So many sexual messages, and virtually all of them are inaccurate, unfair or misleading.
As a part of our modern culture, you’ve had a number of skewed sexual beliefs piled on you. Even worse, it started long before you were interested in sex.
Your thinking about sex was skewed before you were really thinking about sex. We’re like fish who have no idea we are in water because it's always been there.
Are those skewed beliefs destroying sex in your marriage? They certainly are not making sex great!
More than a decade ago, a missionary to China told my wife and me a very sad story. Western-style porn had become available in China, and those who watched it tended to decide what they saw was how sex is supposed to happen. Husband and wife would watch porn, and then try to emulate what they watched.
Unable to do what they saw, they blamed each other. At best this led to frustration and anger; at worst, it led to divorce. Skewed sexual beliefs destroyed not only their sex lives, but also sometimes ended their marriages!
We tell ourselves we're more sophisticated than those folks in China seeing porn for the first time. We tell ourselves we're less easily influenced by skewed sex messages. Perhaps both of these are true, but only to a degree.
Some of the most dangerous skewed sexual beliefs are the negative things we get from our family of origin and the church.
These range from subtle hints that sex is overrated to blatant proclamations sex is just for men. Mothers "warn" their daughters to protect themselves from their husbands, rather than encouraging them to enjoy sex with abandon. They pass their disappointment and frustration on to the next generation, setting up another marriage for sexual problems.
God says sex is good.
He says both men and women should greatly want and wildly enjoy sex.
In the Song of Songs and elsewhere in the Bible, several passages talk about sexual abandon using words normally applied to being intoxicated with alcohol.
God is not calling us to limited, orderly sex; He’s calling us to wild, uninhibited enjoyment of His gift of sex in marriage.
Any beliefs at odds with what God says are skewed beliefs. If you want a better sex life, root out skewed beliefs and reject them the way you would reject any other kind of posion!
“Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” [SS 5:1b ESV]
Paul has been blogging about marriage since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. He blogs to men on The Generous Husband, to women on The XY Code, and writes about all things sexual with his wife Lori on The Marriage Bed. He and Lori recently set out on an adventure to become full-time RVers.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
I'm probably going to frustrate a few people with this post.
Or maybe not. I'm not sure.
At any rate, soldier on in reading, even if you are tempted to stop. Where I am going may surprise you.
Sometimes I hear from husbands who are not interested in sex because their wife has "let herself go" -- not shown interest in being healthy, wearing attractive clothing or embracing her femininity.
Sometimes it is wives who are emailing me about their husband who has put on some extra pounds, not paid attention to his grooming like he did when they were first married and stopped embracing his manliness.
And sometimes the emails are from people lamenting not about their spouse, but about themselves, claiming they "let themselves go" and this is the reason for the intimacy woes that are plaguing the marriage.
Whether someone is complaining about their spouse or complaining about themselves, I think this whole "let yourself go" issue is not really the issue.
Because let's be honest. For the vast majority of people, your body at 40 or 50 is not going to look like your body at 20.
It's just not, what with that thing called aging (not to mention carrying and birthing and nursing the little tykes for us women).
That's not to say you can't aim toward being physically healthy, dressing in appropriately fitting and attractive clothing, and so forth. Yes, this is all well and good.
BUT, the real issue, in my opinion, is your attitude about sexual intimacy and your willingness to have healthy confidence in yourself (not just in your body).
Do you want to know something about those scenarios I shared at the beginning of this post? The ones where I hear from people complaining about their spouse "letting themselves go"?
Those emails by far are a tiny percentage compared to the number of emails and comments I receive, particularly from husbands, who actually have a different quandary.
What torments these guys is their wife has let go of her sexual confidence, despite the husband's repeated encouragement and affirmation.
You see, these men don't care about the extra pounds their wife has put on. And they don't care that she doesn't look like she did when they first married.
What the husband hungers for is a wife who wants to make love, wants to be close and wants to give him the privilege of seeing her naked body.
But she is resistant, even belligerently self-defeating when it comes to nurtured sexual intimacy and sexual passion in the marriage.
The husband isn't hung up on what she perceives as having "let herself go."
If you are still reading, this may well be your come to Jesus moment as far as what has truly been sabotaging intimacy in your marriage bed.
Maybe you have. And maybe it has nothing to do with your body.
I hear from countless guys who say that what they find incredibly sexy is sexual confidence.
Given the choice, they would be more excited about a wife who maybe has put on some extra weight and has a few wrinkles YET still has interest and enthusiasm in bed than a wife who looks like a Victoria Secret model YET has zero interest in sexual passion with her husband.
I could do a "man on the street" survey (because, honestly, that sounds like fun). You know where I would arrive with that survey?
That a wife's sexual confidence is sacred ground -- thoroughly enjoyed by husbands whose wives exhibit it -- and coveted by countless husbands whose wives don't have it (and have no interest in having it).
I'm just not so sure this "let yourself go" argument is really about what we have too often made it about.
I think the deeper issue is about sexual confidence. Not the extra baby weight.
If you're going to let go of anything, let go of this idea that you first have to lose the extra weight or get in better shape before you build sexual confidence.
A better approach just might be to build sexual confidence now.
What do you think?
And for more reading, check out my favorite post on "body image" at this link.
And I might catch some grief for sharing the below video, but it has an incredibly powerful message (warning though, especially for guys, it does contain subtle nudity).
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Today, Nebraska legislators will hear testimony "for" and "against" comprehensive sex education.
The resolution being discussed is aimed at understanding the "integral link between academic achievement and risky health behaviors."
According to the resolution, the effort is to find "strategies in schools proven to simultaneously address and improve academic achievement and health outcomes."
So what's that have to do with comprehensive sex education?
Sadly, quite a bit -- at least in regard to what comprehensive sex education has come to mean.
Comprehensive sex education across the country is a broad initiative to teach students not only about abstinence and contraception (such as condoms and other birth control methods), but also about abortion, sexual identity, masturbation, etc.
Planned Parenthood, no surprise, is intent on seeing comprehensive sex education become the standard in schools.
Clearly, I'm not a big fan of comprehensive sex education, at least how it is commonly defined right now.
And I am grateful there are voices on the state and national level who are trying to slow the relentless momentum of the liberal agenda.
BUT equally important is that you as a parent recognize that you have great influence in your own home.
Regardless of what happens in school curriculum, you have to be willing in your own home to look intentionally at this question: "Who is teaching my kids about sex?"
I have a 17-year-old and a 10-year-old, and the reality is that their generations are growing up in (and will eventually be adults in) a society that is increasingly accepting of a more liberal sexual agenda.
By this point, none of this should surprise us (evil constantly comes masquerading as light). It certainly does not surprise God.
My children and your children will go to school among, work among, live among and possibly go to church with people who are homosexual, transgender, cohabitating with partners, having sex outside of marriage, viewing pornography, etc.
There never has been a more vital time to teach young people how to exhibit Christ's love AND simultaneously hold to a biblical framework that God designed sexual intimacy as an exclusive gift only for a husband and wife.
That's. Not. Easy.
Our children are exposed to more sexual images, references, innuendos and discussions than any previous generations.
It can feel scary and confusing to talk with your kids about sex, sexual identity, gay marriage, abortion and so forth. But having those discussions, against a backdrop of God's truth and Word, is vital.
And you are better equipped than you realize.
You can give them a solid foundation and vision of God's design for sex.
At the same time, you can equip them to feel confident that "loving their neighbor" (or coworker, classmate, etc.) does not mean they have to agree with everything that person does.
You can teach them that God offers hope and forgiveness for anyone (including ourselves) who repents of their sins and seeks God's truth.
Abortion, homosexuality, and sex outside of marriage are no greater or smaller sins than gossip or theft or idolatry. Sin is sin, which is both a humbling and an encouraging reality drenched in God's relentless pursuit of us.
You can help your kids be kind and Christ-like toward people who are gay, transgender, are cohabitating, support gay marriage, have had abortions -- and still know that it is fine to not agree with those choices.
Probably one of the best places to start is to talk to your kids about sex as God designed it. It's not a "one time" talk, but rather a lifetime of age appropriate conversations.
You have to be intentional, though. These conversations don't just materialize out of thin air.
How do you do that?
Below are three blog posts I've written on talking to your kids about sex. Whether your kids are little or almost on their way out of your home, I highly encourage you to read all of these posts.
And I also encourage you to find out what your schools teach about puberty, sex, sexual choices, birth control and sexual identity.
You can seek to opt your children out of those courses (a friend of mine in Minnesota successfully did this with her children in public school, without it detrimentally impacting their school transcript) and/or you can have your children take the coursework -- and then use it as a springboard at home for discussion about ultimately following God as our authority.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Simply: Whenever you bring someone else into your marriage (even if it's just pixels), that leads to problems.
The Crazy Things Porn Does
Porn creates problems on many levels, not just in a sex life. If you struggle with porn, you may notice that you become emotionally distant, have unexplained rage, objectify people, have a lessened respect for marriage and family, sexual dissatisfaction, erectile disfunction or premature ejaculation (for husbands).
Maybe it has led to financial problems, emotional issues, infidelity, increased distress in your marriage, or a desire for more graphic images or movies.
Get this though: Porn also creates issues for spouses who don’t look at it! Things like loneliness, depression, isolation, and anger pop up. Not to mention many feel they "can’t measure up” to porn “standards."
It’s sad what happens when the powerful gift of sex that God has given to married couples is abused in an ungodly way, isn’t it?
Get Over the Porn Hump. Forgive the Pun. Let me encourage you, if porn is destroying your sex life, you CAN get past it, but it takes work from both spouses.
If you discover your spouse has a porn habit, be firm, yet loving, in regard to their struggle. Ask to see a real change of behavior and progress toward being porn free.
If there is no movement in that direction, or there is refusal, decisions need to be made about consequences for the struggling spouse. Unfortunately, many who have struggled with porn need to hit a metaphorical "wall" before changing directions.
Here are 5 Steps Back to Sexual Health in your marriage:
1. Get into a safe group.
The one who struggles with porn needs a place to be honest and deal with core pain they may not realize they have. Porn is a big problem, but it's just a symptom of other brokenness. That's what needs to be explored and healed.
I encourage the supportive spouse to get in a group too. Hurt feelings and anger don’t do well if they’re bottled up. It helps to have safe people with whom you can be accountable and who can link arms and share the burden.
2. Clear your devices.
If porn is always accessible, behavior is never going to change. Get images and websites off your devices. This resets your brain and also indicates to your spouse that you are serious about standing for your marriage.
If filters are needed, get them. If passwords have to be shared, do it. If computers need to be placed in a common area, humble yourself and take that step.
3. Battle porn through prayer.
Remember that you are on the same team with your spouse. You are …”not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Battle it together by praying with one another and leaning on God to bring health and reconciliation to your marriage.
4. Give up sex (for a season).
I know, this is a blog about sex. I’m not saying give it up forever! Perhaps several weeks. A person's mind and body have to readjust to a "new normal" without pornographic stimulation.
During this season, have some no sex dates where you work on communication and rebuild other areas of intimacy.
5. Rebuild trust.
If the hurt spouse needs reassurance, like checking in about your day, or where you have been on the internet, know that this season of building trust back is vital. Trust can be lost in an instant, yet takes time to earn once again.
What steps have you taken to battle porn in your marriage?
Stu Gray is a youth and family pastor in Middle Tennessee. He is the creator of StupendousMarriage.com, where he and his wife Lisa encourage challenge and inspire married couples!
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
I am so grateful for Cassie's willingness to be a part of this series. She offers great insights on the reality that it is often the small grievances that turn into huge roadblocks in our relationship.
When Ryan and I started dating. we made an agreement to deal with issues as they arose.
In past relationships, we hid our true feelings, pushed concerns back and dealt with problems once they became big enough that they couldn't be ignored. Those past relationships in part did not work out because of those reasons.
We wanted our relationship to be different, to be genuine.
We will soon celebrate our 4th anniversary. I feel like Ryan and I have done pretty well with our agreement. We have had very few big issues because lack of communication. But to be honest, it's the small things that I constantly have to check myself about.
I must be willing to forgive the little things or else they become big things. Big things that can start destroying our sex life.
How can unforgiveness destroy our sex life?
There are certainly big issues in marriages that cause unforgiveness. However, for me, and for others, they are typically small disappointments.
We weren't asked if he could help with dinner.
We wished they would have spent more time with us this weekend.
She didn't do something she said she was going to.
These are small disappointments that can easily be talked over and forgiven. But instead, if we focus on those unmet expectations, we can become angry. Our anger can turn into bitterness and then resentment.
In return, staying resentful then makes us come to a stage when we just don't care anymore.
When you "just don't care" anymore it is hard to connect in general, but even more so during sex.
Sex was created to be an intimate action to draw closer together as husband and wife. If we have walls build up from hurt, unmet expectations, anger and unforgiveness, we tend to either avoid sex or complete the act disconnected. Both of those will destroy our marriage sex life.
Ways to overcome unforgiveness to benefit our marriage bed
It comes down to the simple, but not easy, fact that we have to forgive. Forgiveness is not an option, but a must. God forgave us for our sins; therefore, we are called to forgive others of theirs.
Here are some tips to help your heart to genuinely forgive:
Personally, staying focused on the fact that sin is sin can also be helpful. That all sin is equal. And all of my sins were forgiven by God who loves me unconditionally.
That is what helps me to forgive and love Ryan even when my human self doesn't think it is possible. It is not in my own strength that I am able to forgive, but with the strength of God.
Cassie Celestain is a wife, mom, runner and a marriage and family blogger at True Agape. She believes respect, trust, understanding and willingness creates happy marriages and families. She strives to keep those things the main focus in her daily life and wants to challenge others to do the same.
Occasionally, I receive an email from someone who is beyond frustration (and somewhat exasperated) by the fact that they have never had sex in their marriage.
Usually the person I hear from is the one being denied sex, and they don't know how to resolve this.
One husband who wrote to me said he and his wife had been married 7 years and never once had had sex. Seriously. 7 Years.
Most emails I get about this topic, though, are desperate cries for help from people who have been married less than a couple of years.
Regardless of how long a couple has been married -- a few months or a few years or even longer -- it is not okay that one person (or sadly, in some cases, both people) have completely avoided consummating the marriage.
Sex is part of marriage. No matter how anyone would try to argue or justify otherwise, God and His Word are not vague about this. Sex is intricately woven into the design of marriage.
Yes, in some instances, there are medical reasons that make it difficult for a woman in particular to have intercourse. She likely was a virgin when she married, and understandably didn't know these challenges even existed until she and her husband tried to have sex.
I'm not downplaying physical challenges.
In those instances, I know it takes courage for a woman to reach out to doctors, but that is what she needs to do. The impact of physical challenges, such as vaginismus, often can be eliminated or at least minimized through the right physical therapy and medical assistance.
If you think there is a physical challenge that is preventing you from having AND enjoying sex, please do not delay in seeing a gynecologist. If you have to, get second and third opinions. Don't give up.
If there is not a physical reason for sex being painful or extremely difficult, then what could be some of the other reasons sex hasn't happened?
If you are in a marriage that has not been consummated or if sex has happened only a few times, do any of the below resonate with you:
1 Do you have skewed views about sex?
Did you grow up hearing that sex is always wrong, dirty or gross? Sadly, Christians perpetuate these lies the most, particularly Christians who never saw the value of sex in their own marriages.
Or did you simply hear "don't do it" so often in your teen years and early 20s, that now it is difficult for you to see sex as permissible, even though you are married? Oh my, I hear from many married women who don't know how to "flip the switch" and now see sex as something to pursue rather than something to avoid.
I encourage you to dig into God's Word and reliable Christian resources that will help you see that sex is a totally good and needed experience in your marriage. God designed sexual pleasure and sexual oneness for a husband and a wife.
It's time to put lies and half-truths behind you and get down to the holy business of being married, including enjoying sex.
2 Are you scared that you don't know how to have sex?
If you and/or your spouse were virgins when you married, you may feel apprehensive about sex, because you aren't sure how to have sex.
There's a lot to be said for trial and error -- simply exploring each other's bodies and offering good feedback to each other about what feels good. Give yourself permission and room to learn and grow in your sexual confidence.
Don't rule out books, websites, etc., that give solid Christian guidance on enjoying sex.
3 Do you have relationship struggles outside of bed?
If you and your spouse are already having a hard time enjoying each other's friendship and company while you are clothed, it is no wonder that getting naked and vulnerable beneath the sheets feels impossible.
Don't ignore the disconnect and problems you are having in your relationship.
The more you shed light on those problems and seek to resolve them, the more likely your intimacy (sexual and otherwise) will grow.
4 Are you stuck in the "no sex" routine?
Sometimes when I hear from people who haven't had sex yet in their marriage, the scenario looks something like this:
The wedding was so exciting and exhausting and incredible. Then the honeymoon was eagerly anticipated, yet the couple was still exhausted from all the wedding festivities. Then they came home to settle into life together, go back to work, and write thank you notes.
And. Still. No. Sex.
Before long, they fell into a routine of "no sex," all the while thinking, "It will happen someday."
Someday never came. And then weeks and months (and sometimes years) passed, and someday still never came.
And now the two people are paralyzed (and possibly embarrassed) in knowing how to finally have sex.
If that describes your situation, time for a heart-to-heart with each other. Time to get real. This situation isn't going to fix itself.
The two of you are going to have to get outside your comfort zone, get outside your routine and start exploring a sexual relationship with each other.
You are husband and wife. You need to be having sex.
5 Were you sexually abused in your past?
Your hesitancy about sex could be rooted in the tragic experience of past sexual abuse.
Sometimes people know full well they were abused and other people have repressed these experiences, only to have them then resurface during intimate encounters during their marriage.
If you were sexually abused in any way, I hope and pray you know that those people who wronged you and committed the abuse are to blame, not you. While healing from and moving beyond past sexual abuse can be a difficult journey, that kind of healing is vital for the health of your marriage.
There are resources available to help you face and heal from that pain, including counseling, books, seminars, blogs, etc.
The reality is that as a married person, you are left with a choice. You can either continue to let that abuse wreak havoc and devastation in your life or you can find ways to embrace sex in its right context of marriage and enjoy it.
Don't let past sexual abuse continue to rob you and the person with whom you fell in love. Sexual abuse has already taken enough from you.
The above 5 reasons are not exhaustive, but they cover quite a bit of ground as to why a couple possibly hasn't had sex yet.
For some couples, this is a real issue. And they would never dream of talking about it, even to their closest friends or family, for fear of feeling like a failure or being seen as an oddity.
But I want to shed light into those dark places and speak hope into your discouragement and paralysis.
If there really is no reason you shouldn't be having sex (like illness, injury or extended separation because of military deployment or work commitments), then you need to be having sex -- and finding ways to fully enjoy it.
You are worth it. Your spouse is worth it. Your marriage is worth it.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Having gone through this myself (I’m 56), I only had my limited experience and a few friends I’ve talk to from which to glean. This is why I decided to ask readers through a 10-question survey about this apparently much-needed topic.
I also solicited the help from the CMBA marriage bloggers I know and asked them to alert their readers of the survey as well. I am pleased with the response. If you participated, thank you!
First, let me say, menopause is a mystery to most couples, even when you’re going through it.
Desires that once were a given, may no longer be on the radar screen. For those who have yet to experience it, you most likely don’t care to think about “that stage” of life. You’re too busy raising a family for goodness sakes.
I get that.
Second, everyone is different when it comes to how they’ll go through the “change of life,” as my parent’s generation called it.
After reading nearly 200 respondents answers to my survey, I understand why they gave it that name; It can change your life in ways you never thought would happen- - not to you anyway.
Finally, whatever difficulty you’ve had with your sexual intimacy and in your marriage for that matter, will be magnified during this season. This is why if you’re young and reading this, please, please work hard to keep the lines of communication open through all that you face together.
Holding back out of fear, shame or pride will only make things worse as the years pass. The pain you experience now in facing it won’t compare to the pain many of the couples shared who are facing menopause and unable to connect with their spouse in an understanding way.
If you’re not sure what the difference is between menopause and perimenopause or what any of it is, The Mayo Clinic provides this helpful definition:
“Perimenopause means 'around menopause' and refers to the time period during which a woman's body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition.
Women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice signs of progression toward menopause, such as menstrual irregularity, sometime in your 40s. But some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s.
The level of your estrogen — the main female hormone — rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. Your menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten, and you may begin having menstrual cycles in which your ovaries don't release an egg (ovulate). You may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. Treatments are available to help ease these symptoms.
Once you've gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, you've officially reached menopause, and the perimenopause period is over.”
My experience began overnight when we went through an unexpected stressful season in our life. I thought I was struggling with anger and moodiness because of our situation, but it wasn’t like me.
I’d always been very optimistic about life, but suddenly I was seeing things like a pessimist. Everything was a negative, and my husband was perplexed to say the least.
So was I.
About 6 months into it, I had my annual appointment scheduled with my doctor and this is when we discovered my moodiness wasn’t only a reaction to my circumstances. My hormone levels had bottomed out as if I were in menopause, yet I was still having regular menstrual cycles.
I was full blown in the perimenopausal stage. I was 50.
Thankfully, because my husband and I have worked hard through our marriage to keep the lines of communication open, and we have enjoyed a healthy sex life, we were able to navigate the moody waters of my hormones.
I believe we have weathered the worst of it now, nearly 6 years after it began. Sure, things are different. The physical desire isn’t as strong as it once was, but it’s still there. It just takes a little more time to get things going.
The emotional connection to my husband and the love we share makes sex worth pursuing. It may not occur as often as it used to, but when it does, I would say it’s better than it’s ever been.
That’s our story, and it’s only one among thousands that are unique to each couple. Everyone is writing the story of their sex life with each encounter that they share. You will experience things that will challenge your intimacy in ways others may not.
The key is to be intentional together as you walk through difficulty.
Here are some facts that will help you know what it can be like for some women and the difficulty they have to enjoy their sexual encounters. (Source: The Mayo Clinic)
Physical Challenges of Perimenopause (PM):
Lack of libido (desire for sex)
Lack of sleep due to hot flashes and insomnia
Embarrassing sweating to the point of having to change clothes often
When touched the heat soars, which limits physical contact with husband
Thinning of vaginal walls causing bleeding and severe pain
Loss of bone density
Change in cholesterol levels
Vulnerable to urinary and vaginal infections
Menstrual irregularity - including skipping periods altogether or heavier, longer lasting periods.
I share all of this with you because it helps to be informed. Many women would rather not think about it. I know, because this is what I did.
I was afraid to hear of the nightmares other women had experienced. I didn’t want to think that that could be me one day. I totally ignored the wisdom and advice that could have prepared me more for this season, because I was too proud thinking that would never be me.
I don’t want you to go 6 months wondering what in the world is wrong with you, like I did. Burying your head in the sand will not make it go away. It will just ensure you’re not prepared when it comes.
Surprisingly, many menopausal couples no longer have sex or rarely do for various reasons. This is sad to me, and makes me grateful that we are still able to enjoy our sexual intimacy. But there are many couples whose sex life is still going strong, even if it’s not as often.
I want to close with this excellent advice from one of the survey respondents to all of you who are wondering what this season will hold for you. Don’t be fearful, instead prepare. Here is what they had to say:
“Let your husband be a priority in your life. He will be with you through all the ups and downs. Have date nights, do your best to keep romance alive. Put him before your girlfriends. Get away for the weekend if you can. I wish I would have trusted God more and worried less. My husband has taken good care of us and our kids. Have fun with your husband!!!”
To read the survey results, see the embedded graph further down in this post or go to this link.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,11 ESV holds new meaning when read in light of our subject.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace...
...He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Kind of sounds like those vows we said on our wedding day, doesn’t it?
For richer or poorer, for better or worse?
We hope this helps open the door of communication between you and your spouse. Let them read this post and see if they can relate to what has been shared.
Take time and read the responses in our survey (the survey results are below or at this link).
Set aside some time to talk about it. If menopause is far down the road, still plan a date night to discuss with your spouse how they would respond to some of the examples given.
I'm asking you to watch a video I've embedded in this post.
It has a powerful message of why it is so important to listen to the call God puts upon our hearts.
The video includes interviews with Pastor Ty Schenzel and his wife, Terri, who share authentically about what they did when God called them to pour themselves into desolate parts of Omaha, Nebraska.
It is a message that has resonated deeply the past few weeks in Omaha, where I live.
On the afternoon of August 20, Ty and Terri Schenzel, as well as their friend Ryan Hrubes, were killed in a horrific head-on collision with a man driving the wrong way on the interstate.
Ryan's wife, Emily, was the only survivor of the accident and continues to recover.
I did not know Ty and Terri well, but I did know them. Ty and I spoke together at a funeral three years ago, and his genuine love of Christ was undeniable.
So many people felt their loss in Omaha, where they had radically transformed lives by obeying the call God had put on their hearts.
The Schenzels were best known in Omaha for founding the Hope Center for Kids. Countless lives are different -- better -- today because of the Schenzels' relentless pursuit of being Jesus with skin on.
They also were true champions of marriage, as they mentored couples and spoke and wrote frequently on what it takes to build a Christ-centered marriage.
As I sat at their funeral August 26, my heart was wrecked -- and encouraged -- by their love of Jesus.
As I listened to their four grown children speak with such raw emotion, pain and admiration, I felt tremendously grateful for the impact Ty and Terri made.
So why am I sharing this all with you?
In the video, Ty talks about paying attention to the burden on your heart, whatever it is -- the problem God places in your life -- that you cannot ignore.
The Schenzels are dead.
But their legacy lives on.
Because they refused to ignore the problem God placed in their life.
"I think when the Lord puts His heart in your heart, it becomes your problem too," Ty said. "Yeah, I think everybody should have a problem, meaning a cause, a burden, an assignment, a mission."
Watch the video and you will better understand.
You will better understand why my "problem" -- the burden on my heart -- is to see marriages healed of their sexual struggles. I agree with Ty. Everybody needs a problem God puts in their life that they can't ignore.
God bless who the Schenzels and Ryan Hrubes were to the city of Omaha and, more importantly, to their closest family and friends. God bless Emily Hrubes.
Will you watch this video? Please.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.