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As someone who speaks and writes about sex, I tend to be quite comfortable talking about the topic.
I know, though, it’s a topic many people do not find easy to discuss, especially if they are experiencing sexual struggles in their marriage.
If my husband and I are having sexual struggles and I need to think out loud, I have a few safe mature friends with whom I can do that. I am not in the camp that you can never talk with anyone about sexual struggles in your marriage. I just don’t think that’s realistic or healthy.
Marriage by its very nature is a place where struggles—including sexual struggles—are likely to happen, at least occasionally. We all need safe people with whom we can be transparent about life’s difficulties.
I will offer a few caveats, though.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to your spouse about the struggles. Clearly, I’m a huge advocate for healthy communication between a husband and wife, including on the issues that may be causing great angst and difficulty in the relationship. Whenever possible, you most definitely should be open with your spouse about any relationship concerns, including sexual concerns.
I recognize, though, that sometimes you have tried to address the struggles with your spouse, to no avail. Or you are trying to sort a few things out before you broach that conversation, and having a safe sounding board in a friend or mentor may help you gain clearer perspective on some of those thoughts and feelings.
I’m also not saying you shouldn’t take the matter to God in prayer. Of course you should be doing this. Dig into His Word and be transparent with Him about the messiness you are facing in your marriage. He knows already, but He still is always calling us to come to Him. Sometimes He will give you guidance without you ever having to confide in a friend or mentor. And sometimes He will give you guidance that includes confiding in a friend or mentor.
If you are going to confide in a friend or mentor, I believe it should be with the heart attitude that you are hungering for healthy insight. You aren’t seeking to gripe about your spouse, but rather you want to gain perspective and ideas on how to heal the struggles. I will humbly admit that I have not always gotten this right, but more often than not, I have. If my husband and I are struggling sexually, I have a few safe friends with whom I can unpack my heart. They know I’m looking for a comrade to be a champion for my marriage, not someone to degrade my marriage.
The person with whom you talk about your sexual struggles should be your same gender. Men should speak with men. Women should speak with women. I know some of you may disagree with me on this, and I am fine that we may see it differently. My observation, though, as someone who has spoken and written about sex for years is that sexual intimacy is such a vulnerable and sensitive topic that if we start revealing our marital sexual struggles to a friend of the opposite gender, there is just too much risk of someone misconstruing signals.
Comfort and understanding can start to drift into attraction and desire. It may not have been what either of them intended, but it’s where they eventually ended up. So I feel pretty strongly on this. If you are going to confide in someone about sexual struggles in your marriage, make sure that person is your same gender.
If you have any misgivings that the person with whom you are considering being so transparent is not trustworthy or mature, then don’t talk about your sexual struggles with that person. Just don’t do it. You need someone mature and who is going to keep things in confidence. You don’t need someone who is going to fuel division between you and your spouse or share your most intimate revelations with other people.
Limit your sharing to the details that are pertinent to the core struggles. Even your closest confidante doesn’t need to hear every specific detail about your sexual intimacy. You want to respect your spouse and your marriage.
It’s probably not a good idea to choose a friend or confidante who has a conflict of interest that is going to make the waters quite muddy. For example, let’s say you and your spouse are good friends with another couple. If one wife starts talking about her marital sexual struggles with the other wife, you can see where that may not bode well for the dynamics, right?
Or let’s say as a husband, you are tempted to open up to your wife’s brother about sexual struggles in your marriage. You can see where that could put him in an awkward position where he may feel like he has to choose sides (not to mention, he probably doesn’t want to think about anything sexual where his sister is concerned).
I’m not saying some of these conflicts of interest are always deal breakers. I just think it’s better if you can choose a confidante where there aren’t any conflicts of interest or questions of loyalty.
Do you keep circling back to talk about your sexual struggles with a particular confidante, even if you aren’t doing what you can to improve the struggles? Or are the struggles at a stagnant place whereby continuing to unpack them over and over with this confidante isn’t doing you any good? Either of those scenarios is probably a good prompt that you may benefit from individually digging deeper into what’s going on sexually and/or from the help of a professional counselor.
I know it sounds like all I gave was disclaimers, but hear my heart. I think it can be quite helpful to talk with a friend or confidante about your sexual struggles, and I think there is a wise way to approach such conversations.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.