intimacy when parenting young children
March 25th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

intimacy when parenting young childrenAs many of you know, some other wives and I did a day retreat recently for engaged and newly-married Christian women.

Our goal was to give them a solid and exciting foundation for building great sexual intimacy in their marriage earlier rather than later.

One of the questions that came up during the Q/A period was, "How do I nurture intimacy while my children are young?  It seems really difficult to find the time and energy."

If you are a mom of littles, you know what we're talking about here.

For all the strides we've made with dual parenting, the reality is that in most homes, the bulk of caring for babies and small children falls to the mamas.

For one, if a mother is nursing, her body literally is not her own, but rather is a feeding trough for the little tyke (yes, I know it is a bonding experience, but it can be hard to view your breasts as an arousal point when they are a hot commodity as a food source).

And even if you aren't nursing, but have monkeys children under the age of 5, you spend a great deal of your time as a makeshift jungle gym -- holding, cuddling, reading, soothing, zipping, snapping, washing, wiping, dressing, playing, and so forth.

By the end of the day, the thought of being touched, even by the man you married, doesn't sound near as appealing as falling asleep beneath your sheets or slipping into a hot bath.

But.

(You knew I would have a disclaimer).

Here's the thing.

If you don't figure out how to have sex (and have it often) when they are little, you may be shocked to discover that you have less time and motivation when they turn into annoying inquisitive middle-schoolers or rebellious independent high-schoolers.

If you don't nurture sex now, then when?

Every season of parenting has its time constraints and energy depletion. Every. Season.

I kid you not.

I remember when my children were small, a friend of mine with older children essentially said to me, "Brace yourself. If you think your life is crazy now, you haven't seen anything yet."

Sure, the little tykes turn into big tykes who no longer paw at you (or want to be seen with you), BUT your parenting responsibilities tend to double, triple and quadruple (like rabbits, but less adorable).

And on a more serious note, one of the more common times of divorce in a marriage is between years 20 and 25 (depending on which source you read).

Why?

Because by that time, if a couple hasn't nurtured their intimacy and marriage, there's no compelling reason to stay together.  The kids are grown and gone (or at least on their way out).  More often than not, finances are more stable, making living separate lives seem more doable.

And one or both spouses finds themselves looking at the other and thinking, "I just don't know you anymore. And I really don't want to stay."

Don't shoot the messenger.

Remember, I'm here to give you hope that you don't have to be like those couples who get 20 years in, only to realize they really want out.

If you are a parent of babies or littles, intimacy in your marriage doesn't have to be put on hold until that youngest child is heading out the door.

Here are 5 tips for nurturing hot sex in your marriage NOW, rather than LATER:

1. Put the kids in their own room.

I know, I know.

Some of you are big on the whole family bed concept.  Sadly, what I think happens in too many houses isn't family bed at all, but rather "mom and kid" bed, while dad sleeps elsewhere.

Regardless of whether you're all sharing a bed or if you've told yourself "just while they are little,"  I'm going to challenge you to reclaim some marital ground.

Personally, I think your bed should be the one place in the house that is just about the two of you.  Much easier to teach those kids that they have their own space in their room, rather than fight the battle of getting them out of your bed after they've been sleeping in it for 6 years.

2.  Lower your standards on what doesn't matter.

About 85% of it doesn't matter.  Pour most of your heart into what does matter -- your relationships.

If you have to push the unfolded laundry off the bed or leave the dishes till morning or constantly have a family room that looks like Toys R Us just blew up, so be it.

There's something profound about drawing a line in the sand.

The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait.  Put those kids to bed, take your spouse's hand, go into your bedroom, and shut the door.

Shut the door. And open your heart and arms.

3.  Be sexually suggestive throughout the day.

Our bodies tend to follow the lead of our thoughts and words.  Be sexually playful with each other, through your phone calls, an occasional note in the brief case or lunch box, creative texts, "I can't wait till we can be alone" glances.

You get the idea. I don't have to paint you a picture.  But if I did, it would have a lot of sexual innuendo in it.

4. Don't wait for perfect moments.

A lot of great sex can be had in 20 minutes. Sure, we'd all like an ideal setting and a leisurely hour, but are you really going to build anything solid on the rare occasions when the stars align and everything is perfect?

Nope.

A better approach is to adapt.  You're in a season of having little kids, so you have no choice but to get creative. If you don't, your intimacy will suffer.

5.  Don't just go through the motions.

Sadly, a lie that a lot of women tell themselves is, "I'll give him what he wants and then he'll stop asking."

Have you entertained such thought?

If so, not only have your shortchanged your husband (who likely doesn't want obligatory sex), you've also shortchanged yourself.  Orgasm and sexual closeness are great stress relievers and help us keep things in perspective.

A little sexual perspective can do wonders for the chaos of parenting littles.

I get that you're in a demanding time of life.  And it's messy.  But here's the deal.  Life is messy.

If you don't nurture sex now, then when?

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

February 16th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

I received an email from a young husband who was struggling with his thought life that was wandering to a woman who was not his wife.

It all started with a dream he had (obviously dreams are beyond our control), but then he found himself while he was awake occasionally drifting back to the images in the dream.

He felt horrible.  Didn't know what to do.

Admittedly, he loves his wife tremendously, so he wondered why his thought life was such a struggle.

Before we tag this sort of problem as just being a male tendency, let's be honest.

We all are prone to our hearts and thoughts wandering, even if we wouldn't act upon such thoughts.  Wandering thoughts are a human issue, not just a guy issue.

Have you ever thought sexy thoughts about someone other than your spouse?  I don't think it's uncommon, whether it be someone we actually know or someone in the media and entertainment.

That being said, I don't think thoughts are automatically cause for alarm. We have to be wise to hold them up to God's truths and promises.

And that means we have to be disciplined to actually seek God's truths and promises -- always, but especially when we feel confused or overwhelmed.

The Lord will not disappoint.  He is faithful to reveal to us, teach us and grow us beyond thoughts that are less than honorable.

Here are 3 things to remember:

1. Don't stay stuck.

If you find yourself thinking romantic or elicit thoughts about someone other than your spouse, don't dwell on those thoughts. Easier said than done? Well sure, but not as hard as you think if you look for strength in the right place.

Immediately, find a scripture verse that holds God's promise AND ask God for help and wisdom.

Some verses that are extremely helpful and clear:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

See what I'm talking about? God is for you. Satan is against you. Make sure you are aligning yourself with the One who is for you.

Another wise decision is to put some accountability in place. At the minimum, find a mature Christian who you trust to keep things in confidence and tell them about your struggle with your thought life.

Ask this person to hold you accountable, both in direct questions to you, as well as you having the freedom to call them when you are struggling.

Men should have male accountability partners and women should have female accountability partners. (This should be obvious, but sadly too many people don't follow this wisdom and just end up worse off than they were with their original struggle, if you know what I mean).

Should you share your struggle with your spouse?

Well, I think this is ideal, but you will have to discern if and when this is appropriate.  As scary as it may seem to admit to your spouse your area of struggle, I think many couples, if they are mature and have a heart for God, will find the battle easier to fight if they are fighting it together.

God works in the light; Satan works in the dark.

When you and your spouse get to a point where you can share vulnerably about your deepest struggles, you're better able to pray for each other and strengthen your marriage against temptation.

2. Don't put yourself in a position where temptation is more likely to progress to sin.

Temptation is not a sin.  Even Jesus was tempted.

But simply knowing we won't act on thoughts is sometimes not enough to guard our hearts.

We need to be proactive to not put ourselves in situations where it is more likely we could sin or even stir up more thoughts about the person who is not our spouse.

So you might have to make some tough choices.

If the person you have had sexy thoughts about is someone you see regularly (such at work, at church or in your circle of friends), strive to limit those times you will see them and/or make sure there are plenty of other people around.

I recognize that we can't always cut off all contact with the person.  Sometimes this is reasonable, but life often is messier than that.

For example, if you work with the person, it probably isn't realistic that you quit your job or ask your boss to make accommodations and put you on a different project, etc.  (Although, I have heard of situations where indeed someone did find a different job rather than face what felt like unbearable temptation, so for some people, quitting is the best choice).

Regardless of the circumstances, I do think we can at least limit our time with the person. Be a grown up and figure out what you need to do.

3. Be intentional about nurturing your marriage.

A good defense is a strong offense.  Be proactive about nurturing your marriage.  Spend the time and sometimes the money to enjoy each other.

Go on those walks you say you're going to take, but never do.

Schedule the weekend getaway.

Find a mutual hobby.

Talk.

Pray together specifically for your relationship.

Make love more often and with greater passion.

Read a marriage book together.

Get involved in a small group with other married couples.

Find an older, more mature Christian couple, who can mentor you and your spouse.

Send each other sexy love notes and texts.

Exercise together. Join a gym.

Address the hard issues that have taken a toll on your marriage. Learn how to heal and grow.

Back each other up.

Hold hands more.

Touch each other more affectionately, particularly in public (while shopping, at church, etc.)

Make a list of reasons you fell in love with each other.

Do something spontaneous with each other.

Make your marriage a priority over the kids.

Believe in your vows enough to live them.

When it comes right down to it, the more we pour our hearts, thoughts, and actions into loving the person we married, the less room we have in our hearts, thoughts, and actions for someone else.

Have you struggled thinking sexy thoughts about someone else? Then do more that will give you reason to think sexy thoughts about your spouse.

Baby steps count. Take them. Today.

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Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

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January 12th, 2016 by Julie Sibert

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

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

But first, let me tell you about the fire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You won't when I'm done.

LESSON ONE: Pay Attention to Your Instincts

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

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

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

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

She trusted -- and followed -- her instincts.

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

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

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

LESSON TWO: Help Is Not Far Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help is not far away.

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

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

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

Isn't that always the case?

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

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

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

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

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

Before the fire.

And after the fire.

That's true with devastated marriages too.

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

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

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

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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

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

 

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

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

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

Many, many sexual struggles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you know what?

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

And one who does not.

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

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

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

Any. Way.

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

"I love that!" I said.

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

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

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

Hard. Tiring. Frustrating. Overwhelming.

And yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which one are you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right?

Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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December 28th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

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

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

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

Here's the deal though.

The vulnerable no holds barred deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's what I vividly remember telling myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I humbled myself.

Dug into God's Word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And. That. Breaks. My. Heart.

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

And sexually broken marriages redeemed.

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

But I do now.

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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November 27th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, God is totally in the forgiveness business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah you! Yeah God!

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

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

What?!

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

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

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

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

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

In individual marriages.  Maybe even in your marriage.

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

Yes. Years.

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

AND THEN...

Wait for it...

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

See what I mean?

Conniving jerk.

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

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

"Well, how do I do that?!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You and your spouse define the course.

And God.

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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begging for sex
October 21st, 2015 by JulieSibert

 

begging for sexAs someone who blogs about sex, I see common storylines revealed through the comments and emails I receive.

Yes. I know.

Every marriage is unique with its own details, history, circumstances, plots and perplexities.

But today I want to talk about marriages where there are no huge struggles -- except for sexual intimacy.

One spouse wants sex more often.  The other spouse couldn't care less about sex.

Maybe sex happens every now and then, but usually in these marriages, weeks or months will go by with no sex.  Obligatory sex makes its appearance occasionally, just to keep the peace.

But eh, not always.

What then?  Well, maybe you see your own marriage peek out from this sexual dynamic:

The refused spouse responds to the ongoing refusal by taking a practical approach. They logistically think that if they can just "win" their spouse over with good deeds and romantic gestures, the natural response from their disengaged spouse will be more sexual interest.

Sadly, that usually doesn't happen.

So then the refused spouse tries to address the issue in a more direct way through conversations or questions about "what may be wrong" or "why don't you want to have sex" and so forth.

This usually garners a bit of defensiveness from the spouse who is doing the refusing.

The spouse who doesn't see sex as a priority starts to throw into the arena questions like "Is that all you think about?" and "It's just about sex, isn't it?"

A back-and-forth battle ensues. it's intermittent, though, resulting in discouragement and anger, but rarely humility and hunger to draw close.

Classic passive aggressiveness from both sides may arrive on the scene too.  Silent treatment. Manipulation. Withholding sex as a way to punish a spouse.  Lack of respect.  Sabotaging things that are important to one another.

The emotional chasm is like a sleeping giant just below the surface. It begins to define their new normal of little or no sex.

And then, if all of that doesn't compel some positive change, they arrive at a crossroads.

I say "they," but what I really mean is that one of them -- the rejected spouse -- has arrived at the crossroads.  The spouse doing the refusing is oblivious that the crossroads is right beneath their feet (or right in the middle of their bed, as the case may be).

At this crossroads, the refused spouse makes a decision -- to either shut down completely sexually (setting up unspoken emotional distance and boundaries at the same time) OR to begin begging for sex.

Shutting down.  Or begging.

That's usually the decision happening at the crossroads.

So, my question to you is, if the above scenario feels painfully and eerily familiar (like I'm literally describing what's going on in your marriage right now), what is happening at that crossroads?

Is the refused spouse shutting down?  Or are they begging for sex?

Those two options are not good.  Like not good in a "huge red flag" sort of way.

None of us stands at an altar and imagines a day when we will shut down emotionally and physically to our spouse.  Or a day when we will have to beg -- literally beg -- for sex.

These are hard hard things.  I know.

You may be the spouse doing the refusing. Or you may be the spouse being refused.

Regardless, the status quo is unsustainable.

My hope is that somehow the two of you will move TOGETHER toward healing and strengthening your marriage, including your sexual intimacy.  This blog post may just be your wake up call.

So, wake up. Please wake up.

"A year from now what will you wish you had done today?" -- Liam Linisong

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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low sex drive
September 29th, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

Few things sabotage sex in a marriage more consistently than low sex drive of one of the spouses.

Frequency of sexual intimacy becomes a battleground, where a husband and a wife have extreme difficulty finding common ground.

Bonny Logsdon Burns of Bonny's Oyster Bed does an amazing job today looking intimately and thoroughly at this issue of low sex drive.

Though the blog post is about low sex drive, I think the post is full of nuggets of relationship gold that you won't want to miss.

Bonny's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage

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.

low sex driveThen 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!”

Prayer

First of all you must know that it is absolutely OK to pray to God about your sexual relationship with your husband. Just because the church at large cringes at talking about sex, God gives it a big ol’ nod!

When I first started praying about my marriage’s sexual conflict, I prayed for God to increase my sex drive. That didn’t work. So, I prayed for God to decrease his. That didn’t work either.

Then, I simply prayed for understanding. This was the prayer God answered (Matthew 7:7, James 1:5, Daniel 2:21).

Love pours into me through conversation. I eventually understood that love-making was my husband’s most intimate conversation. For my high-drive spouse, touch said what words could not. Love pours into the high-drive spouse through sexual intimacy.

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.

I bought every one of them and spent a little time each night learning about God’s approval of "gettin’ busy." Studying God’s ideas about sexual intimacy helped me get rid of skewed ideas that remained from pre-marital baggage and understand that I could give myself permission to be a sensual creature.

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.”

Final Thoughts

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.

BonnyBonny 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.

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financial struggles impacting sex
September 3rd, 2015 by Julie Sibert

 

I think the vast majority of us know full well that financial struggles can cause all kinds of problems in a marriage, including a toll on sexual intimacy. 

In today's post, Jennifer Smith of The Unveiled Wife digs into what financial struggles can do to sex in a marriage and how a couple can try to lessen the impact of those struggles. Jennifer's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.

Jennifer also is author of the book The Unveiled Wife, which I reviewed here.

financial struggles impacting sexFinances are one of the greatest contributions to marital stress.

Many conversations and even arguments are held between couples regarding how money is spent. It is one of those necessities in life that influences and affects us in many ways, including our emotions and attitude.

I believe finances can be a source of contention in marriage because our expectations of how we experience life are dependant upon them.

When I became a wife, I desired a nice home with nice things. The reality of our situation was that we decided to put that kind of life on hold to travel as missionaries. However, in our second year of marriage, we returned to our hometown because we were low on funds and my husband’s debt came looking for payment.

We lived with my family for two years, as we put every penny we earned toward paying off my husband’s school loan. I did not always have a good attitude about how much money we were sending away.

Truth be told, I emotionally kicked and screamed, blaming my husband for his debt being the cause of misery in our marriage. I was angry that our financial situation was so bleak and I dwelt on all the things our money could buy instead of getting out of debt.

I harbored bitterness in my heart toward my husband, because we always seemed so low on funds. I was convinced I had made a mistake getting married and that the life we had together was not the life I wanted.

My attitude and the negative thoughts that stirred in my heart kept me from being intimate with my husband. We already had intimacy issues in the bedroom, but this was just one more reason as to why I never initiated sexual intimacy.

Our finances were destroying our sex life!

It was not until I grew in maturity and in my understanding of how important it was for our future to be debt free that I was able to embrace being a team with my husband to knock out the debt together.

It required that I changed my attitude and my perspective of our situation. It required that I sacrificed the things I desired during the time we were striving to get debt free, so that we would have the means to build the life we desired.

Once I was able to accept the responsibility of being one with my husband in the area of finances and agree to the budget we set up, I was better able to embrace true intimacy with him in other areas of our marriage, namely sex.

I believe there are many marriages where couples are so torn apart in an area such as finances, that they are hindered in their sexual intimacy. We need to recognize the importance of being a team with our spouse, especially in finances.

We need to be willing to communicate about the state of our money and keep each other accountable to reaching specific financial goals. As we do this, we will see the positive impact it has on our intimacy.

My challenge for you is to have a transparent conversation with your spouse about the state of your finances and make a plan of action that you both can keep each other accountable too as you strive to reach your goals.

Be open about how your finances and the way each of you spend money makes you feel. Also, be sure to listen just as you desire your spouse to listen. Be willing to come to agreement about your budget, including the sacrifices you may need to make now for the benefit of your future.

And lastly, encourage each other in the area of finances and communicate about your budget daily to avoid letting bitterness settle in your hearts.

The-Unveiled-WifeJennifer Smith blogs at The Unveiled Wife and wrote the book The Unveiled Wife: Embracing Intimacy with God and Your Husband.  You can follow her on Twitter @unveiledwife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

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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.

Click on the below image for more about the book:

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