If you had sex with someone else (or multiple people) before you and your spouse married and images of those sexual encounters occasionally still pop into your head when you are having sex now, don’t panic.
Instead, be intentional at unpacking the why behind what’s happening, as well as what you can do to eliminate those images from hijacking intimacy with your spouse.
If there are unresolved issues as to why you are thinking about a former lover, you need to deal with those deep issues. I’m a firm believer that God works in the light, so you need to shed light on such thought struggles.
Only you know if this is a conversation you can first initiate with your spouse. For some people, this would be a first step. For other people, it would not.
If you can’t begin this first conversation with your spouse, then you need to start with a mature and wise Christian confidante. You need someone who will listen without judgment and give you solid insight on how to deal with any unresolved issues you are having. (Men should have male confidantes and women should have female confidantes).
The Bible tells us to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. The entire verse reads this way:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
Dwell upon this verse and, at the same time, seek the support of a mature and wise Christian confidante. I believe this tandem approach can be monumentally effective.
And definitely if you find your thought life is progressing to a place where you want to try to contact the former lover or any behavior along those lines, you need accountability to not do this. Again, this is where a mature and wise Christian confidante is imperative.
By now I imagine you can see I am a fan of Christian counsel and accountability. We need people in our life who give us the safety and room to shed light on our dark struggles.
If the images coming to your mind are random and don’t seem to find their root in deeper issues (e.g., you truly don’t still have feelings for the person), then what are some good tips on dissipating these random images?
Again, some good old intentionality goes a long way.
The below tips work well for random images of former lovers. The tips also work well for random images of people who possibly weren’t your former lovers, but are still provoking elicit thoughts when you and your spouse are having sex.
3 Helpful Tips to Eliminate Unwanted Mental Images
1. Have sex with the lights on (or at least some light in the room)
The more you can associate sexual intimacy with the visuals of your spouse’s body, the less of a grip mental images of other people will have in the moment.
I understand you may not want the overhead light on. But what about a closet light shining into the room? Or candles? Or a nightstand lamp?
The added bonus is that being able to see your spouse’s body and the lovemaking you are experiencing can fuel sexual passion and desire. Sex is a multi-sensory experience, so heighten the encounter by using all your senses—including your sense of sight.
2. Open your eyes more during sex
Again, this is about the visual cues. I know it is awkward to have your eyes open the entire time you and your spouse make love, but if mental images of other people are tripping you up, then you will do yourself and your marriage a world of good to keep your eyes open at least a little more.
Look at your spouse. Gaze upon their body. Look into their eyes. These are healthy ways to strengthen the bond with the person to whom you’ve committed your life. They also are effective ways to weaken any lingering bonds conjured up by sensual mental snapshots of other people.
3. Talk more during sex
Silence makes it easier for our minds to wander. When we include some verbal exchanges in our lovemaking, it allows us to connect the moment with our spouse. We are better able to focus on our spouse. Even better is if you each can occasionally say each other’s name.
You don’t need constant banter, of course, but lovemaking affords a married couple space and motivation to verbally express how they feel. The sound of your spouse’s voice and your own voice during lovemaking is powerful.
Images of former lovers or other people don’t have to sabotage intimacy with your spouse or hold you captive. They don’t have to make you question your commitment to the person you married. And they certainly don’t have to rob you of authentic vulnerability in your lovemaking.
Choose this day to keep unwanted mental images out of your head—and out of your bed.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.