First Time Here?
I want to tell you more about me and this blog. Click HERE.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you harboring unforgiveness toward your spouse? More than likely, you are paying a bigger price for that unforgiveness than you may realize.
Cassie Celestain of True Agape explores what unforgiveness can do to sexual intimacy. Cassie's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.
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.
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.
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.
Start communicating about tough topics before they build up into something else.
Remember that as amazing as your spouse is, they are human and not a perfect being.
It is not our job to judge our mates action, but instead love them unconditionally.
Pray for your heart to be changed. Pray for God to mold your spouse into who He wants them to be.
When a negative thought comes to mind about your spouse, replace it with a positive one.
Begin rebuilding connection and intimacy with these physical touch ideas.
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.
You can get her free 6 page report The Secret to Making your Husband Feel Loved when you sign up for True Agape’s monthly newsletter. She also recently released a children's book titled Running is Totally for Me.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For many women, perimenopause and menopause can take a significant toll on sexual intimacy in marriage.
In today's post, Debi Walter of The Romantic Vineyard shares authentically about her own journey, as well as information I think you will find helpful no matter your age. Debi's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.
Before I begin, may I encourage all of you who are in your 20s and 30s to not check out of reading this because you think it doesn't apply to you.
When Julie asked us to contribute to her guest blog series on things that take a toll on sex in marriage, I knew I had to approach the topic of Sex and Menopause and Perimenopause (PM).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be aware and prepare.
Debi Walter blogs regularly at The Romantic Vineyard. She and her husband, Tom, are true champions of marriage. They live in Florida and have three grown children.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
It's hard to argue that society doesn't impact marriages. A busy and sometimes expensive lifestyle can spell doom for a couple's intimacy.
Lori Lowe of Marriage Gems shares sound wisdom on nurturing our marriages, despite society's standards that rail against margin. Lori's post is part of my ongoing guest blog series on things that destroy sex in marriage.
I recently read about a family's decision to leave an expensive city lifestyle and move to a rural, laid back community to reduce stress and have more time together.
It was a reminder that our lives are full of choices, and that our lifestyle is not a permanent decision.
I'm convinced the societal standards for most Americans are putting an immense strain on families and marriages; so much so, that many couples are too exhausted for physical and emotional intimacy.
For couples just getting by financially, the pressures are even greater to make ends meet, putting the marriage on the back burner.
The pressure to live in a large home filled with expensive furniture, to wear fashionable clothes, to send children to the best schools with private lessons, to take nice vacations, and to drive new cars contributes to a perceived need to work longer hours and attain promotions.
Many couples believe they can't live on one salary, even when one of the salaries is quite high.
These desires are promoted by the culture (through advertising, movies, Facebook, etc.) and lead to either debt or the need to earn more.
Families with children have to face additional societal pressures to join artistic, educational, and athletic teams and activities.
A generation ago, a baseball team would practice perhaps one day a week in addition to a weekend game. Today's sports teams often require daily practices and most of the weekend. Many kids I know practice before and after school every day, plus weekends.
Ballet, piano, swim, choir, band, soccer—the options are endless and costly, and the pressure to join starts very early. Family time suffers, and budgets are strained. Parents often divide on weekends to cover all the activities, making weekends as much work as the weekday.
Frankly, it's difficult to be in the mood when you haven't had time to connect during the week or the weekend. You're both tired and trying to catch up on household chores. There may even be resentment when one or both spouses feel they are doing more (of the childcare, of the chores, or earning the money).
If only one spouse is working, he or she may feel compelled to focus on work to fulfill the family's needs and wants. A lack of connection can develop if not enough time is spent with one's spouse and family, hurting the relationship and getting in the way of a good sex life.
Millennials are starting to pave the way with prioritizing work/life balance above climbing the corporate ladder. Building balance into our lives allows us to nurture our relationships.
There's nothing wrong with living in a nice home, driving a nice car, and taking your kids to soccer practice.
Are you willing to live in a smaller house to have more time together?
Could you drop out of some activities and have more free time together?
Is it possible to live on one salary or for one partner to go part-time?
How can you carve out time for daily/weekly connection?
When my family found ourselves spread too thin and separating for sporting activities on the weekend, we dropped my son out of the travel soccer team. Instead, we found ourselves enjoying relaxing Saturdays as a family, and able to go to church at our regular time on Sunday.
We adjusted our lives so that I could work part-time. The extra time allows me to have much of the shopping, laundry and chores done during the workday. Evenings and weekends aren't overwhelmed with these tasks.
I don’t think we have won the battle against all of society’s expectations.
One struggle we often have is the high volume of homework, studying, and projects our kids complete each night, sometimes requiring our support. The pressure to help our kids succeed is high and time consuming. This stress can also bleed into the marriage relationship and keep us from having time to relax as a couple.
Now that our children are teens/tweens, we sometimes have to force ourselves to leave them to do their work, and take time for ourselves as a couple. We go out to dinner and allow them the practice of cooking and cleaning up after themselves.
We plan for long-term goals, including trips and college, but we try not to succumb to many of the pressures that would take too much time from our marriage and family. We are blessed to have our children at home, and we also look forward to different phases of our lives.
To be successful and have a happy marriage once our children are gone, we need to make time and space for one another now. We make frequent changes to try to achieve better balance, and at least question the activities in which we are involved. Balance is a moving target.
Lori Lowe writes research-based marriage tips at MarriageGems.com. Her book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is available on Amazon.com and in all e-book formats. Lori has been married to her high school sweetheart for 20 years this fall. They live in Indianapolis with their two children.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Today is part 1 of a guest blog series on what destroys sex in marriage and what we can do about it.
We are fortunate today to have my friend J Parker from Hot Holy Humorous digging into this issue of body image and how it impacts sexual intimacy in marriage...
What are two words most wives never want to hear in the same sentence? Naked and mirror.
If you shuddered just then, you’re not alone. Body image is one major reason wives cite for not feeling comfortable getting naked and engaging in sexual intimacy with their husbands.
Whenever I write on how we feel about our bodies, I receive comments and concerns from wives struggling with this issue. Understandably, their deeply-felt concerns about their bodies interfere with wanting to make love.
If only God had made sex where you didn’t have to get naked…
Actually, I believe “get naked” is a good provision from God. But before you can feel that way, you have to adopt His perspective about your beauty.
Don’t feel pretty enough to pare down to your barely theres, much less your bare necessities?
Why do you feel bad about yourself?
Although I don’t know you, I’ll tell you why: You’re believing lies. I don’t know your specific situation, so I can’t say which lies you’re believing. Yet I feel confident you have messages running through your brain about your appearance, your worth, your beauty that don’t comport with how your Heavenly Father made and sees you.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
Maybe you’ve read this scripture, perhaps many times, but do you believe it about yourself?
God knit you, right? In your mama’s tummy? Then yep, you’re “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The real question is…do you know that full well?
Begin today by replacing the wrong messages looping through your head with God’s truth. Place this scripture on your mirror, recite it daily, memorize it. Plant it deep in your heart.
What’s so great about you?
A lot actually. But unfortunately we get stuck in recounting our flaws more than our assets. What always fascinates me is talking to a gorgeous woman—you know, that gal everyone agrees has been kissed by good genes and the fickle Fairy of Fabulous Fortune—and discovering she hates her thunder thighs. Or whatever it is.
I’m not expecting you to send sympathy gifts to that woman, but realize we all do ourselves a vast disservice and don’t represent the truth when we focus on those aspects we don’t like. Everyone has stuff they don’t like, but what matters is what you emphasize.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, clothed or naked, start pointing out your goodies, girlfriend! Everyone has those too.
If you can’t name three things off the top of your head or while staring in the mirror you like about yourself, try harder or ask a good friend for help. Repeat those three beauty traits to yourself like a mantra, and eventually add another trait, then another, and so on and so on.
Make a habit of being good to yourself when you look in the mirror. Be your own Fabulous Fairy of Fortune. You don’t even need a magic wand.
What about your husband?
Another certainty when I blog about body image is hubbies defending their wives. Most husbands are protective of their wives already, but it’s weird that when it comes to our beauty, our men are often defending us against, well, us.
Time and time again, I hear from husbands who say, in spite of whatever flaws his wife concentrates on, he married a "make-my-heart-thump" hottie. And he hates it when you won’t share your body with him because you’ve decided it’s not good enough.
Allow your husband to reassure you of your beauty. Let him see you naked and proclaim, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!”
It’s not about perfection to him—and newsflash, he ain’t perfect either—but rather your femininity, openness, confidence, and connection. He adores that this woman’s body is his—his to view, his to appreciate, his to pleasure, his to satisfy.
Yes, it’s your body, but it also belongs to your husband.
“The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:4).
Let go of worries about your body’s imperfections and let your husband reassure you of your beauty.
Will you accomplish all of this tomorrow? No, of course not. This is a journey from feeling inadequate to feeling beautiful. But if you don’t feel good about your body, your marriage’s sexual intimacy is suffering. And you are suffering—not experiencing fully what God wants you to have.
Take a first step. Recognize the importance of embracing your self-worth and the unique beauty God knitted into you.
Walk confidently into the marital bedroom, reveal all your beauty and imperfections, and make something that’s also beautiful—make love with your husband.
“For your royal husband delights in your beauty” Psalm 45:11 (NLT).
J. Parker is the author of two books on sex in marriage, Sex Savvy and Intimacy Revealed, and most recently a collection of marriage stories, Behind Closed Doors. She writes the Hot, Holy & Humorous blog, where she uses a biblical perspective and blunt sense of humor to foster Christian sexuality in marriage. You can read more of her thoughts at www.hotholyhumorous.com.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
How did you arrive at this place where intimacy is anything but intimate -- and maybe isn't even happening at all?
I am kicking off a guest blog series on the things that destroy sex in marriage and what we can do about it.
There are so many passionate Christian bloggers who want to speak hope to couples struggling with their sexual intimacy.
In the coming days and weeks, as part of this series, I will be sharing posts from Dustin Riechmann, Kevin Bullard, Cassie Celestain, Lori Lowe, Belah Rose, Sheila Gregoire, Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo, Kate Aldrich, Gaye Groover Christmus, Paul Byerly, J Parker, Jen Smith, Bonny Burns, Chris Taylor, Debi Walter, Stu Gray and more!
They'll each share on a specific struggle. More exciting is they'll be giving insights on what you can do to stop that struggle from sabotaging sexual intimacy in your marriage.
I mean seriously, they'll be rocking it out with insights that you can use to nurture better intimacy in your marriage.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
I'm not talking about situations where the sexual disrepair is shackled to deep and sometimes painful roadblocks (Lack of repentance about infidelity and pornography use. Medical diagnoses or injuries that make sex difficult or impossible. Or a handful of other situations).
And I'm not talking about occasional dry spells or slight miscommunications about sexual frequency.
No, I'm talking about sexual refusal -- blatant and ongoing -- for no other reason beyond that you don't like sex or simply don't think it's vital to the relationship.
Honestly, you may not consider yourself a "sexual refuser," but I'm guessing at the minimum you would admit you are "sexually uninterested."
And that sits fine with you.
But not with your spouse.
Yet, you still do life together (well, sort of together. At least together enough that you doubt the absence of sex is going to cause any real problems).
You navigate the mirage of carpools, kid activities, bedtime routines, trips to the grocery store, family functions, the ever-rising cell bill, that volunteer commitment at church, the "I need 3 dozen cupcakes for school tomorrow," the overbearing bosses and work demands, sticky kitchen floors, empty milk jugs, piles of laundry, errands to pick up poster board, the obnoxious "low gas" indicator, and the ever present, but never quite complete, to-do list.
"Sex? Who has time or energy or longing for sex amidst all that?!"
And you ease your conscience with an occasional reminder that "this is just what happens in a marriage." Sex fades. It's a non-issue. (to you, at least).
I get that you likely don't want to hear me say that there may be some costs to your sexual refusal.
But these costs will blindside you when you least expect it, and I'm trying to spare you that kind of wake-up call.
This is a tough one.
And this may be the one that blindsides you the most. You may think your spouse is "just fine" with the lack of sex because they still have skin in the game, so to speak.
They still participate in paying the bills, carting the kids around, mowing the yard and going to your mom's for Sunday dinner.
You feel confident they would never bail on the marriage (they are a Christian, after all). And you may be right. They may not bail physically, but I know plenty of people who have bailed emotionally.
The pain of sexual refusal is just too much. And instead of having a "come to Jesus" moment with you to address that pain, they instead start closing doors in their heart.
Maybe you already don't know them. Maybe you already have this lingering suspicion that there is a distance between the two of you.
Well, ongoing sexual refusal is going to widen that chasm. I guarantee it.
You think those young people in your house don't know anything about the sexual relationship you have -- or don't have -- with your spouse. You think they are too little or too naive or too unobservant or too indifferent or too grossed out about sex.
But here's the deal.
Those little tykes you created are going to grow up (quicker than you realize), and word to the wise on this one -- they are likely going to get married. And have sex.
They are already getting a horribly skewed message about sex from society.
And the church isn't fairing much better with its overgeneralized messages that never venture beyond "DON'T DO IT! FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, STAY PURE!"
Your home should be the first and most significant place where your kids get the message that God designed sex in marriage to be amazing, passionate, soul-binding, extraordinary and pleasurable.
They are learning about marriage from you. What are you teaching them?
I'm not saying young married couples have the corner on great sex, because there is a lot of passionate sex to be had by married folk well into their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.
But. Some effects of time and age simply are unavoidable, at least for many people. Some conditions become more prevalent as we age, not to mention increased challenges with hormones.
So by the time you wake up to what nurtured sexual intimacy could have been to your marriage, it might be too late to really undo the damage. You may have already paid a heavy price, without even knowing it.
Here is the crux of it all. Do you love this person you married? (Some of you will answer "no" to that, so suffice to say, I'm speaking to those of you who would answer "yes").
Do you love this person? This person you chose to become one with -- figuratively, literally, spiritually, practically.
Love in marriage is expressed many ways, and God calls us to pay attention to all of those ways, including sex. He doesn't offer up "ways to love" as a smorgasbord from which you can choose at your whim, disregarding what doesn't suit you.
Sex is part of marriage in such an intricate way that when one person arbitrarily removes it, rare is the relationship that can survive such void (at least survive well, which I am guessing you want, right? A strong marriage. Not just one that exists).
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
If there is one thing I have learned in all the years of speaking and writing about sex, it is that sexual struggles in marriage are often painfully complex.
Sometimes the reasons are painfully simple and easy to overcome.
Wherever you fall on that spectrum with sexual intimacy struggles in your marriage, consider the below 10 ideas on what you may need to do.
Do any of these cause your heart to pause? If so, my guess is that is where you will find profound answers.
I know full well that some of you reading this suffered greatly at the hands of others who sexually abused you in your past.
Or possibly abuse wasn't your pain, but rather your pain came from your own choices of sexual promiscuity. Too many lovers for all the wrong reasons.
Or maybe just one lover, but you have difficulty moving past that you lost your virginity before your wedding day.
Or maybe you are struggling with regrets and grief about a past unplanned pregnancy.
I don't know your story of past sexual pain, but I do know God wants to speak into that pain with healing and compassion and grace.
He hungers for you to not allow that past pain to destroy sex in its right and holy context of your marriage.
It is heartbreaking that you have suffered, but it is equally heartbreaking if such devastation is still laying claim to your heart and bed -- wreaking havoc on the sexual oneness you could be having with the person you love.
Did you ever hear things when you were growing like "sex is wrong" or "sex is gross" or "sex is bad" or "sex is just for making babies" ?
For so many Christian women, going from maintaining sexual purity in singleness to pursuing sexual passion in marriage is just too big of a leap.
All they ever heard was they should say "no" to sex and now they are in a situation where God (and their husband) wants to hear an enthusiastic "yes" to sex.
If you are struggling seeing sex as good because all you ever heard was that it was bad, then I encourage you to dig into God's Word and heart, as well as other helpful Christian resources, to help you embrace a more truthful perspective on sex.
God designed orgasm for both husbands and wives. The clitoris serves no other purpose than your sexual pleasure. None.
And yet, so many wives downplay or disregard all together the importance of their climax.
Do you see value in your sexual pleasure? If you don't, you probably aren't overly enthusiastic about sex. Ever.
Suffice to say, your sexual pleasure matters to building healthy sexual intimacy in your marriage.
You can't do it all. You are not an endless reservoir of energy. Are you giving all the energy you have to everything but your marriage?
Hey, I'm not saying prioritizing is easy. But it is worthwhile, especially when the health of your marriage is at stake.
Don't commit to quite so many volunteer opportunities. Have more reasonable expectations about how clean and organized your house really needs to be.
At some point, you have to put your marriage near the top of the list, rather than consistently on the bottom of it. Say "no" once in awhile (maybe even often) to the things that are overcrowding your schedule.
Check out this post I wrote on margin.
Don't like the idea of "planned" or "scheduled" intimacy? Think it will rob you of the spontaneity of the moment?
You gotta get over that.
Spontaneity is not the hallmark of amazing sex. Intention is the hallmark of amazing sex.
For most married couples who have healthy sexual intimacy, their sexual encounters are a good mix of "planned" and "spontaneous."
There is nothing wrong with you and your husband intentionally blocking out some calendar space so you can have sex.
Put those kids to bed early and go make love to your husband. Everyone will be happier in the morning.
Do you need more foreplay? Do you need more kissing? Do you need a back rub? Do you need more caressing? Do you need his hands and mouth as much as you need the rest of his body?
What do you need sexually?
Don't make him guess. Don't assume he knows. Ask for what you need sexually.
And while you're at it, ask him what he needs as well.
There is a quote hanging on my fridge that says, "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." (Theodore Hesburgh)
If I could, I would add to the quote that the most important thing a mother can do for her children is love their father.
I know a quote on a fridge doesn't wrap everything up in a bow. Life is messy, and it is especially messy when you are coordinating it with another person.
BUT. In too many homes, when children arrive on the scene, sex takes a hike. It becomes an occasional "luxury" at best, and an outright forgotten privilege at worse.
Those kiddos you are pouring every ounce into? Well, they need a mama and daddy in love way more than they need homemade snacks for every school gathering or gleaming white baseball pants for every game.
Be intentional about nurturing your marriage and your sexual intimacy. You'll be giving those kids a foundation that is difficult to replicate any other way.
Some sexual struggles are indeed physical issues that a health care professional can help you navigate and sometimes even eliminate.
And in the same regard, a professional counselor can play a vital role in your mental wellbeing and outlook.
If health struggles (mental or physical) are sabotaging your sexual intimacy, be proactive and do what you can to tame or alleviate those struggles.
I am not saying you need to succumb to sexual demands that fall outside God's boundaries for healthy intimacy.
What I am saying is that God does give you and your husband a lot of freedom within the exclusivity of your sexual relationship to thoroughly enjoy sex. Maybe try some different positions or techniques or touches.
If you find you and your husband are struggling sexually, it could be because your sexual encounters always look the same. Add some variety. Pursue each other in new ways.
I write and read a lot about sex, and people are curious what I think is the "secret" to amazing sex in a marriage.
They tend to be surprised when I say "a strong friendship."
It's true, though. Authentic friendship trumps just about everything else when it comes to building passion with the person you married.
But authentic friendship doesn't happen on its own. You have to head in that direction.
How you spend time together and treat each other when your clothes are on will reveal a lot about what is going to happen when the clothes come off.
More often than not, couples can overcome their sexual struggles. You will have to DO something though.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
Posted in authentic, marriage problems, sex, sexual intimacy, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles, Uncategorized Tagged with: sex in marriage, sexual intimacy in marriage, sexual intimacy struggles, sexual struggles
1. I read Cosmopolitan at my hairstylist's shop.
I admit it. I want to know if there are 25 ways to rock my husband's world tonight. Sadly, I never learn anything new.
2. I grow weary of people who are unwilling to do their part in nurturing sex in their marriage.
I know that some marriages are wrought with sexual difficulties that require a lot of work to overcome. Infidelity. Past sexual abuse. Betrayal upon betrayal.
In most marriages where sex is a struggle, one or both people just need to grow up and start mutually paying attention to their sexual intimacy. And if there are those big problems I just mentioned? Those are not insurmountable either.
There is no magic solution that can solve these struggles for you.
If you don't like sex, you have to put in the effort to figuring out why. If you are doing things to sabotage or destroy intimacy, stop it.
Don't just "wait for things to change." Waiting for things to change, or worse… denying there is even a problem… will undoubtedly take you directly (and ironically) to what you don't want -- a crappy marriage.
If you have let unhealthy sexual patterns settle into your marriage (no sex, obligatory sex, going-through-the-motions sex), I'm not gonna lie -- digging yourself out of that mess may feel cumbersome. BUT, it is so worth it!!
Sadly, some people are just unwilling to do the necessary and life-changing work, even for the sake of their marriage. Heartbreaking.
Even more depressing are the marriages where one person IS trying. And the other person couldn't care less.
3. Too many churches (nearly all) have been tragically silent on the topic of sex.
Difficulties with sexual intimacy are a huge issue in many marriages.
Why are we not having more in-depth discussion and teaching about not only what the Bible says about sex, but also about the more common sexual struggles in marriage?
Everyone seems all enthused about bashing males and the use of pornography, but few people seem equally motivated to hold accountable Christians who are sexually refusing their spouse or being manipulative sexually. Pornography is sinful, yes. So is sexual refusal and sexual manipulation.
Sometimes sexual sin issues are intertwined and sometimes they are not. At any rate, there is much opportunity for churches to authentically speak into the struggles.
We as a body of believers have collectively become lackadaisical about the wide spectrum of sexual issues plaguing marriages. And, at the same time, we have not given enough voice to encouraging married couples to enjoy sex and have it often.
Something has got to give. This silence on sex is not helping anyone. I've written about this before in a post that not surprisingly got a lot of traffic: 5 Reasons the Church Won't Talk More Authentically About Sex.
4. I have wrestled a lot -- and I mean, a lot -- with whether sexual refusal is grounds for divorce.
And by "sexual refusal" I don't mean struggles about frequency (which is really the core of so many couples' sexual battles).
No, I'm not talking about couples digging their heels in on whether once a week or once a month is enough sex. And obviously I'm not talking about when there is no sex because of such things as illness, injury, physical separation due to work or military deployment, ongoing unrepentant adultery, etc.
By "sexual refusal," what I mean is outright refusal for literally years with no reasonable reason as to why.
I don't have all my thoughts and feelings sorted out about if and when separation and divorce seem like viable solutions when sexual refusal has become the steadfast standard in a marriage. But when I do, I will write a post.
Suffice to say, though, I do think blatant and on-going sexual refusal is a form of emotional abuse, and … well… God isn't too crazy about abuse. He longs for us to acknowledge it, address it and hold people accountable.
5. It is lazy and careless parenting to not have on-going and age appropriate talks about sex with your kids.
I'm not saying you are a horrible parent all the way around.
What I AM saying is that if you aren't having on-going age appropriate conversations with your kids about sexual intimacy, then you are being careless in this area.
If you are waiting for just the right moment to have these conversations with your kids -- yet you never seem to find that moment -- I've got some humbling news for you. The right moment is now.
You need to get over yourself and start talking.
And by talking, I don't mean reducing it all to a one-time "talk." That's not much better than saying nothing at all.
There are countless adults who have made a mess of sexual intimacy in their lives in part because their parents did not muster the courage and resolve to speak often and specifically about God's design for sex.
And if the only thing you are telling your pre-teen and teen children is "don't have sex" or "sex is wrong," then you are doing them a tremendous disservice.
The simplistic "don't have sex" message is incredibly short-sighted if it doesn't offer up healthy discussion about why premarital sex is not a good idea. It's not just about unplanned pregnancies and STDs. It also is about knitting your soul together with another person (who likely won't be your spouse).
It's about trying to handle the emotional idiosyncrasies of something that single people (particularly mere kiddos) do not have the maturity to handle.
While you are exploring with your kids the reasons sex outside of marriage is not a good idea, you owe it to them to also give them a balanced view. We tend to overemphasize "just don't have sex," but then we say nothing about how great sex is in marriage.
We make a big deal over purity rings and abstinence pledges, but say little about why sex feels so incredible with the person you love and with whom you share a covenant relationship.
I can already hear some of you saying, "Well, I can't tell them sex in marriage is great, because sex in my marriage sucks."
Sounds like this is your wake up call. To seek health and healing in your own sexual intimacy.
And to equip your kids to appreciate sex in their marriage some day.
For more on this, check out The Five Secrets to Talking to Your Kids About Sex and 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make When Talking to Your Kids About Sex.
6. I really want to ask everyone about their sexual intimacy.
I usually have good discernment about this, because duh -- I can't ask random strangers at Target about their sexual intimacy. I just can't. And I probably shouldn't haphazardly bring up the topic with my neighbors either.
My friends (and even a few acquaintances) are a different ball game. And most of them know that at some point, I'm probably going to steer the conversation toward sex. Not because I want to know intimate details, but more so because I care greatly about this area of marriage.
I know that when two people in a marriage could and should be having sex and both enjoying it, but aren't -- it's likely impacting the rest of the marriage as well. My heart is always to challenge people to look closely at this area of their marriage.
7. Ladies, invest in a good bra.
I know. This seems like a random comment. But stick with me here.
You may think I'm singing the praises of a good bra simply because of how it makes your breasts look (which a good bra will do, by the way), but I'm also encouraging you to feel comfortable and confident with your femininity.
Plus, it is a kind wifely thing to do to be sensitive to the fact that your husband likely is interested in looking at your breasts (whether your clothes are on or off).
Bras (like high heels) are not the most comfortable contraptions. But if you invest in a good one, you may find it to be more comfortable than you thought possible. I recommend the brand Soma (and they didn't even pay me to say that). Fabulous bras.
There's just a lot to be said for wearing a decent bra. Money. Well. Spent.
8. I'm a horrible recycler.
I know. This has NOTHING to do with sex.
But I have been harboring stupid guilt about this for too long and had to confess. Seriously. I only recycle if it is somewhat convenient for me. I'm trying to be better, though, so keep that in mind before you flee me completely in pursuit of a more eco-friendly sex blogger. I. am. trying.
9. Married Christians generally are too sexually inhibited.
If you are giving even a passing glance to movies, TV and other entertainment, you will find some common themes regarding sex...
Sex among singles is painted as exciting, adventurous, fun, amazing and thrilling. Sex within marriage is painted as boring, obligatory and nearly non-existent.
Why. Is. That?
In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, we have been bombarded with this idea that all the great sex is happening outside of marriage.
And that's just plain sad. The potential for the best sex is in marriage, because it is the only place where God is thrilled with your sexual oneness!
I think some married Christians are afraid to really enjoy sex. Or they have not learned how to enjoy it.
Or maybe they equate sexual pleasure with sin. Or possibly they have believed the lie that the only way to have sex is missionary position, in the bedroom, with the lights out. God forbid anyone utter a sound of ecstasy.
Many married Christians need to simply lighten up and enjoy making love with the person they married.
Sexual pleasure and sexual connection between a husband and wife was God's idea. Orgasm was God's idea. Orgasm is such an incredible experience, right?! And God designed it. If ever we wondered about His generosity, we married folk need to look no further than orgasm. I have entire page on my site with posts about orgasm, in case you are interested.
People often ask me what is "okay" Biblically to do sexually.
The rules are really rather simple, in my opinion:
(1) Exclusivity (no third parties… no sex with anyone other than your spouse, no one else watching the two of you have sex, no pornography and no fantasizing about people other than your spouse) AND...
(2) Neither you nor your spouse are getting hurt (physically, emotionally, spiritually).
In other words, you have a lot of freedom within the safe exclusivity of your marriage to thoroughly enjoy and explore sexual intimacy.
Want to try different positions? Great! Want to wear sexy lingerie? Go for it! Want to give and receive oral sex? Have fun! Want to tell each other exactly what you want to do to one another sexually? Revel in it!
If you've ever heard that saying (or some version of it)… he wants a lady on the street and a freak in bed… I think that is not too far off. And by freak, all I mean is sexually uninhibited, interested in sex, enthusiastic about pleasing her husband sexually, passionate about enjoying her own sexual pleasure.
I believe we would be a happier and more authentic body of believers if we took to heart what the gift of sex is to a marriage.
If we lived the gift and embraced it, rather than downplay it, we could more genuinely profess Christ and allow our lives to be an example of pursuing holiness for His namesake.
I'm just sayin. Just keeping it real.
There you have it. 9 things I would say about sex if I had no filter.
Aren't you glad I have a filter?
For more reading, check out Hot Holy Humorous post 8 Things I Would Say About Sex if I had No Filter and Paul Byerly's post Filter Down! (What I Really Think About Sex). I have started a filter-less revolution! Kind of.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.