We Stopped Having Sex–and Here’s What I Learned

We Stopped Having Sex--what it did to our marriage, and why I'm glad we started again“We stopped having sex.”

A woman wrote her story on my Facebook Page yesterday, and I thought it was worth sharing with you, and could help clarify perhaps my thinking around the post yesterday–”Should you have sex even if you don’t feel like it?”

I’ll share her comment in just a moment, but first a few quick things!

I’ve been camping for a week so I wasn’t active in the comments, but I’m thrilled you all liked my post about what to do with your wedding dress so much. Boy, did that get shared! That post meant a lot to me, so I’m glad it touched you all, too.

Now, a few things about yesterday’s post.

I totally get what some people were saying about the word “duty”. As soon as we make sex into a duty, we make it EXTREMELY unsexy. I don’t think that’s the way Lindsay meant it, though, but I’ve actually written about how unsexy obligation sex is before, too.

We’re not arguing you should let your husband use you!

Neither Lindsay nor I was arguing that you should just say to your husband, “you can if you want to”, especially if you really don’t want to. That’s not really making love. That’s letting him use you. And that’s rather unsettling.

What we were saying was this:

If this is something your husband really wants (and some could argue needs on a regular basis), then why not just jump in? It’s our attitude that is the key. If we say to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this, and I hate doing this, but I’ll just get through it,” you will hate it. If you say to yourself, “what a great chance to bond when I feel rather icky. Maybe this can change the whole dynamic,” you’ll likely enjoy it.

It all depends on how you think about it!

Let’s do a Thought Experiment: What if you stop having sex?

What would happen to your marriage? Here’s what one of my readers wrote on Facebook:

I have to be honest and I’ve never told anyone this.

I have been married almost 10 years and we did not have sex before marriage. I expected it to be great, especially since we waited like God had asked of us.

Life went on and it really wasn’t a priority for me. Wasn’t that it was bad, I just had too much on my plate in my mind. We worked different shifts at our jobs (worked for same company) but enjoyed each other when we had time to spend together–usually out to dinner or a movie.

Then after 3 years we got pregnant. My husband was just convinced we shouldn’t have sex during pregnancy…And I was okay with this. What a dummy I was! We were not intimate at all for almost a year.

Then after our son came, it didn’t pick up immediately. I was over tired and was NOT in the mood what soever. I was not too excited about the extra weight from my pregnancy and I became a stay at home mother stuck in the frump that can often come with it.

Shockingly (sarcasm), we started to really go through rough patches. Sex was still not a priority for me and I couldn’t figure out why he just wasn’t listening to me! I was his wife. I thought he was my best friend. What had happened to us?!

We had another child almost 2 1/2 years after our son. Obviously we did have sex a few times during that time but to be honest it was a chore now. Then after our daughter and son turned 3 and 5, I had had enough. He works 6 days a week and is tired to do too much on the one day off he has. I stay home all day with the kids and about to start homeschooling….I need some time alone! So when we did have any time together, I just preferred to not be touched, loved on and pretty soon I didn’t even like him to kiss me.

One day I finally got on my knees and poured my heart to God. I surrendered myself and everything to Him and asked what could I do to bring my husband and I back to what we once had….really, better than ever. One thing was to start praying for a heart for my husband again. I wanted to work on me for once and not pray that he would change like I had for years before. I prayed I would enjoy his touch again, etc. Then one day I read a blog (maybe this one) that talked about stop saying no! Take a challenge to stop saying no to your husband no matter what.

Sounds primitive to most but I was willing to give it a try. What could it hurt?

But I didn’t even get a chance to it in action…the more I was praying, the more I was wanting him more than I ever had! Even times that I was so exhausted and got in the shower (where I do a lot of my praying), I was anxious to get out and spend time with him. Sometimes that led into sex but sometimes it was just being together and NOT him on the sofa and me in the chair across the room…like it had been for years.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I didn’t feel like it but I just knew it would be better in the long run if I did because it brought us closer than I could ever explain. My husband is a very personal person and still has a hard time opening up to me, even after all these years, but started to almost immediately. I’m not saying it was all me during all these years but I can honestly say that when I stopped taking the focus off myself and what I deserved, I started seeing my husband and our sex life very differently. I am not saying sex is the answer to everything but it should does bring a closeness that you may otherwise never get–especially with spouses that have a hard time communicating. I hope this some how helps with the conversation and even a situation someone is dealing with today. I’ve never told a soul but I felt led to take to speak up after reading this.

Thank you for sharing that comment! I do believe that that story will resonate with a lot of women. Most of us have been there. We stop making love for a variety of reasons–we’re tired, there are babies, maybe a few health concerns–and then we find our marriage drifting and we don’t know why.

Let’s make sex back into a priority!

And so here are a few other posts that can help you do that, that may apply to your specific situation:

Good Girls Guide My SiteBut what if sex actually hurts? Do I still have to?

No–you have to figure out why it hurts! This post on vaginismus may help. I also have quite the section in The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex for women struggling with this.

But why should I have to fake it? So what if he needs sex–aren’t my needs important, too?

Yes, absolutely. And that’s why I believe that sex should be mutual. But here’s the thing–you, as a woman, actually control your sex drive. He doesn’t. That’s because our sex drives are almost entirely in our heads. So we have to get our heads in the game and start anticipating sex ourselves.

What about other problems–like porn, or sex not feeling good, or past abuse issues?

Many of us have reasons that sex isn’t really happening, and I’ve written so much on this subject it’s hard to point to every possible relevant post. We’re all coming from different places. But I do have a round-up post of different marriage and sex advice that talks about all of these different issues. Chances are you can find a link to your own obstacle there.

31 Days to Great SexAnd almost all of the obstacles I can think of are dealt with in 31 Days to Great Sex. It’s a great one to work through with your hubby!

So please understand–I am not saying that we should let ourselves become some sort of receptacle for our husbands. Absolutely not! But sex was created to be something beautiful between you and your husband. It binds you together. It helps you sleep better! It helps you feel closer and helps you communicate. And it was meant to be fun. If it isn’t doing those things in your marriage, then take the initiative to do something about it. Don’t just stop having sex–figure out what the problem is and throw your energy into fixing it. Your marriage is worth more than just a hum-drum existence. When we prioritize sex again, we can find that marriage becomes so much more invigorating!

Don’t miss out on that. Please.

 

Should You Have Sex Even if You Don’t Feel Like It?

WifeyWednesday175It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! Recently I noticed a great post linked up in the comments by one of my frequent readers–Lindsay Harold from Lindsay’s Logic, answering the question “what should you do if you don’t feel like having sex?”

She was responding to some major controversy she started on the Matt Walsh Blog in the comments section, leaving a comment about sex which generated over 1,300 likes and dozens of comments in the first 24 hours. So she turned it into a post, and then said I could feel free to post it, too.  Here’s Lindsay:

I wrote on Matt Walsh’s blog comments:

“Feminism told them that it’s degrading to be a stay-at-home mom or to submit to a husband or to want a lot of children. They should never have sex with their husbands unless they feel like it. They should never let a man make decisions for their family.”


Specifically, a lot of people had a problem with the second sentence in that quote. They objected to the idea that a woman should ever have sex with her husband when she doesn’t feel like it.

But I absolutely stand by that statement. I think it’s perfectly normal and right for a woman to have sex with her husband even when she doesn’t feel like having sex.

In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that a woman ought to have sex with her husband even when she doesn’t feel like it - at least sometimes.

Should You Have Sex with Your Hubby--even if you don't feel like it?

That sounds like a radical idea, I know. Our society has become so feminized that this idea is actually considered crazy or weird or somehow the same as saying women should be raped. It’s not.

You see, there are lots of things we do that we don’t feel like doing.

I don’t always feel like getting up in the morning, making breakfast, feeding my kids, cleaning the house, changing diapers, going to the store, or a million other things I do. But I do them because they need to be done and because I love my family. My feelings don’t rule me. I make decisions based on love for my family and what needs to be done to care for their needs.

It should be the same in for caring for my husband’s needs, including his need for sex.

Of course, the usual response at this point is to ask whether I consider sex some painful, unpleasant duty. I get people saying my sex life must be horrible. On the contrary.

It is a modern and erroneous notion that “duty” is a bad word and the opposite of “pleasant.”

But that is a false dichotomy. There is no inherent reason that duties cannot be pleasant. Nor does doing something out of duty mean that one cannot enjoy it. Of course, not all duties are fun, but they don’t have to be unpleasant simply because we have a duty to do them.

For example, I may not feel, at the moment, like taking my girls outside to play. It’s hot. I’m tired. I have dishes to do. But they want to play outside and the fresh air and sunshine will do them good. So I go because I love them and have a duty to care for their needs. One of their needs is play time and time with mommy. But once we’re outside, we have a great time and I’m glad I did it. Duty, in this case, was not preventing me from having fun. In fact, duty helped me overcome laziness, lower priority tasks, and distractions that would have prevented me from having fun with my girls.

There are many other things which work similarly. I have a duty to read and study the Bible, and I enjoy it. I have a duty to feed my family, and I also enjoy it. I have a duty to vote and participate in my government, and I don’t find that duty horrid or burdensome. I have a duty to be a witness to those around me, and I find that duty agreeable.  I have a duty to clean my house…ok, maybe I don’t necessarily enjoy that one, but it isn’t some horrible thing I do just because I have to either. I do it because I love my family. And having a clean home is certainly enjoyable.

In the same way, I have a duty to have sex with my husband, and I also enjoy it greatly. There is no contradiction there.

Another thing to consider is the design of female sexuality. Women are less likely than men to be aroused out of the blue. We women often need touch, closeness, and the right mindset to get us in the mood for sex. If a wife is waiting for the mood to strike her before she says yes, it may be a long time and it will take a toll on their marital intimacy. Thus, women who go ahead and engage (not just laying there, but actively participating), even if they weren’t initially in the mood, will often find that they warm up as they go along and end up enjoying it. And the emotional intimacy that comes from physical intimacy will strengthen the marriage and bring husband and wife closer together.

So, if duties aren’t necessarily unpleasant or a hardship and women can often enjoy sex if they will choose to engage, then pointing out the duty to have sex within marriage doesn’t mean that sex becomes unpleasant or forced. Sure, it could be that way if you let it. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have the right mindset, recognizing the duty to have sex can help you overcome laziness, lower priorities, and distractions that would prevent you from having the vibrant, intimate, and fun sex life that God intended you to have in your marriage.

I appreciate the flak that Lindsay took for this, because I had to write a post defending something I said in similar vein a few years ago–when I had some feminist groups saying I advocated rape when I said that wives should try to have sex if their husbands wanted it, even if they didn’t always feel like it. My response to their criticism is here–being selfless in marriage. I wish people could see that marriage isn’t a trap; it’s a chance where both spouses can give!

 

LindsayHaroldLindsay Harold is a preacher’s daughter and a former homeschooler with a Master’s degree in Biology. Until recently, she taught college biology courses (including General Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology). She is now a blogger and stay at home mom of two little girls, ages 2-1/2 and 1. She and her husband, Doug, live on a small farm in the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia.

Lindsay writes about Biblical worldview, marriage and family, inalienable rights, politics, creation/evolution, and a variety of other topics on her blog, Lindsay’s Logic. She and her husband also write a blog together called The Rational Abolitionist where they make a logical and scientific case for ending legal abortion.

Wifey Wednesday: Why Massage Can SuperCharge a Marriage

WifeyWednesday175It’s Wednesday, the day when I always talk marriage! And today I thought I’d share about one of my favourite parts about being married: massages.

I carry stress in my shoulders and back, and I’ve actually thrown out my lower back four times in the last two years–to the extent that I have to lie flat on my back for several days. My husband has dutifully stepped up to the plate and gives me an awesome massage several times a week, and it’s starting to prevent the back spasms.

But even more lovely, it sends my nerves a-firing! And that’s good, because I’m one of those type-A personalities who focuses intensely at whatever it is I’m doing, so I find it very hard to transition the the “next” thing. That’s probably why I write so much about how to prepare for sex earlier in the day, or how to get your head in the game. It’s challenging for me.

I’ve found that massage helps me immensely, though, because I start focusing on how my body feels. And when I’m focusing on my body, rather than my to-do list, my libido often kicks in!

My next goal is to start massaging my husband.

I’ve only done it a few times because, to be honest, he finds other physical things more relaxing. :) But I figure–why not prolong the contact? Why not massage for a while first before we move on to the main event–wouldn’t that be more intimate, more relaxing, and more fun? So I’m going to suggest it.

But I don’t just mean I’ll rub his back for five minutes. I mean I want to learn how to stretch those 5 minutes into a 10, 15… 20 minute massage. Because then we have this lovely experience to build trust, supercharge your intimacy and leave the two of us relaxed and bonded.

Massage in Marriage

1. Massaging each other is an opportunity to slow down together

High-speed internet. 24 hour email access. Real-time status updates. We live in a fast-paced world. It can be hard to switch off and slow down when our brains are accustomed to multi-tasking at a hundred miles an hour, all day, every day.

Sitting down to a decadent massage together provides a rare opportunity to stop and be together, focused entirely on each other. For just 30 minutes, you can dim the lights, play some soft music and treat each other to a muscle-melting massage.

Everything else can just fade away and the two of you can just breathe, and be.

2. Massage in marriage will bring you deliciously closer together

There’s a slew of research to show that giving your spouse a massage enhances your intimate connection and builds trust in your marriage.

Intimacy is a requirement for healthy relationships, but it doesn’t always come automatically. We need to make space and time to foster our intimate connections, and massaging each other is one very simple way to do that.

On top of the time you spend together, you very literally have your hands on each other, helping to reinforce the intimate bond. As you start to work knots from aching muscles and your partner falls back into you, you can take that as a sign of complete trust. Keith really likes the sounds I make, too! :)

The entire experience is seriously incredible. And, if you are both so inclined, it can lead to a wonderfully intimate and steamy sex session, too.

3. Massage will make your spouse feel appreciated

We don’t mean to take our nearest and dearest for granted, but sometimes after years in a marriage, we might slip up on that front every now and then.

Treating your husband to a massage is a beautiful way to show him that he’s very much appreciated and loved. In fact it hits almost every Love Language, if you think about it.

Massage very clearly speaks to the Physical Touch love language, of course. But if you think about it, it’s also Quality Time spent together, it’s an Act of Service (especially if you don’t ask for one in return!) and if you play your cards right it can make for a gorgeous gift… just package up some massage oil and a scented candle in a big bow and then go on to actually massage your husband and watch him melt with joy.

One thing I’ve realized after several treatments by Registered Massage Therapists over this last year, though, is that you can do massage wrong. And when you do it right, it doesn’t hurt the person doing the massaging (how often have you tried to massage and ended up with a sore hand or a sore thumb?). Massaging properly is easier than you think!

When Denis Merkas, a Registered Massage Therapist, contacted me about the MELT: Massage for Couples video series  he did with his wife Emma, I was really excited (and not just because I got to watch the videos, too!). I really do think this can lead to closer marriages, and can help to reduce stress for both of you. If you’re worried that your husband will never understand how much you need massage, asking him to watch these with you and practice what you’ve learned together is a great way to bring something that most of us sorely need into our marriage.

webresnobrainer

Here are a few things I loved about the MELT series:

1. Denis keeps things PG-rated.

Sure, there’s romantic music and the couple is massaging each other, but clothes stay on, and the focus is on learning how to give a massage. (yes, she’s wearing a strapless top, but that’s so you can see the proper technique on her shoulders). As Denis says, if things lead somewhere else, that’s fine–but that’s not what his video series is trying to teach you. So you don’t have to worry that this is pornographic in nature! It isn’t–it really is just about learning technique.

2. I learned that I was seriously overemphasizing the Deep Tissue stuff–so I was massaging wrong

Because I usually beg Keith to give me a massage when I’m in agony, he usually plunges right to deep tissue stuff. But what I’ve learned is that the LO-O-O-NG strokes (Denis calls them “Long Sexy Strokes”!) are so important first. Now when I’m massaging my girls (my oldest daughter especially carries a ton of tension in her shoulders and upper back, too), I’m going to start with these long strokes. It’s so much more effective.

3. The videos are short to watch together

It’s not like you have to sit through an hour long video or anything. Each video is under 5 minutes, and focuses on learning one technique. About 6 videos form a series, and there are 3 series altogether: The Basic Strokes, the Highlights, and the Deep Tissue stuff.

webres-traintracks

The Basic Strokes Series teaches you how to actually move your hands to achieve maximum impact–and maximum ooohs and aaaahs. You watch 7 short videos and learn a new technique with each one, and then at the end there’s a 15 minute video that features a routine using all your new techniques.

The Highlights Series is my favourite one. It features special massage techniques for special places–the neck, the arms, the forehead, the rotator cuff. We were actually pretty good at the Deep Tissue massage, but I found some places I didn’t even know I hurt that probably have never been relaxed my whole life. Again, after you watch the nine short videos in this series, there’s a 15 minute massage routine you can do that incorporates all the things you’ve learned.

The Deep Tissue Series focuses on how to use your thumbs to really work out knots. It’s so helpful–and at the end is a 30 minute routine that you can use on each other.

4. Everything builds on each other

The routines at the end of each series incorporate everything you’ve already learned, and so it all builds. Each night you can feel like you’ve learned something new, but at the end of the series you’ll feel as if you’ve really mastered something.

5. They’re easy to watch together and do together.

You just watch one of the short ones a night and then practice on each other. Because you’re watching the technique, it’s easy to say, “I’ll go first, then you try it.” Or, to make it more enticing for him, let him massage you first. That way you can’t fall asleep because you have to massage him afterwards–so he won’t worry that if he massages you the night will be over because you’ll be in dreamland.

I’ve been saying a lot on this blog that it is so important to start going to bed together at the same time so that you have opportunity to connect. Instead of watching one more show on Netflix, or browsing Pinterest, or playing one more video game, this gives you a reason to head to bed. You watch a video, pull out some massage oil, and then do it! And as you touch, it does help nerves to fire. If that leads to something else, woo hoo!

As someone who does carry a lot of stress physically, massage is such a service to me and helps me feel closer to my husband. So many men carry stress on their backs and necks, too, and if we can learn to release that, we can actually change the dynamic in the marriage.

I really encourage you to check out MELT: Massage for Couples.

 

A special promotion has been organised for readers of To Love, Honor and Vacuum, with 60% off retail price for LIFETIME video access to some incredible massage techniques. Visit MELT: Massage for Couples.

Because, as Denis and Emma, the creators of MELT say, every couple deserves a little massage.

Click Here Button

 I’m actually buying a few of these video series myself to give as wedding presents! I like helping people get their marriages off to a good start, so I’ll put an envelope with instructions on how to access the video series in a basket, along with some massage oil, some candles, and a CD with really relaxing music. I think it’ll make a unique and awesome wedding gift! Buy it now as a gift you can give, too.

And now let me get a little more personal. Today is one of the hardest days in a long time for me. Today would have been my son’s eighteenth birthday. I’ll tell you more about him tomorrow, but I’ve been feeling out of sorts for a while now. But what I find is that when we’re going through grief, having someone actually touch you is so incredibly healing, even if you’re tearing up through it. I find massage to be an act of love, and maybe if we included more acts of love in our marriages, we’d find the day to day stresses so much easier to deal with.

Now let me know: do you incorporate massage into your marriage? How does it work for you?

Wifey Wednesday: 5 Reasons Women Need Help from a Tube!

It's okay to get help from a tube! Why lubricants can be helpful (it's a clean post!)

Living as a Northern Gal, never-ending winter isn’t just a source of annoyance. It’s a source of extreme itchiness. I get such dry skin! Every morning, after my shower, I take a few minutes to enjoy the luscious feeling of rubbing moisturizer onto my legs and my torso.

If my hubby wants to make me melt, all he has to do is pull the massage oil out of the drawer and start kneading my back. The oil, combined with the pressure, makes the tension float away–and makes me far more interested in other kinds of slippery pursuits!

Plenty of times I turn to “moisture” to give me a hand at relaxing and feeling wonderful.

And yet somehow we women feel like it would be cheating to turn to some helpful lubricants when it comes to the bedroom. Dry skin? Sure. Sore muscles? But of course! Yet we feel we should be able to defeat hormonal fluctuations or menopause or stress, all of which can cause “dryness” sexually, on our own.

Today, on Wifey Wednesday, I want to sound the freedom beacon to all you women:

It’s okay to grab the tube if you need some extra lube!

Women Naturally Fluctuate in the Amount of Lubrication Our Bodies Produce

Certain times of the month we’ll find that we get “wet” fairly easily–often right in the middle of our cycle (and for some women right after their periods). But other times of the month, especially right before the next period, our bodies don’t tend to cooperate as much.

What’s our reaction?

We often berate ourselves, thinking, “why am I not in the mood tonight?” Or we start getting mad at our husbands: “He’s just not doing it right!” Maybe it’s got nothing to do with either of you!

And don’t forget that nursing, pregnancy, menopause, or even perimenopause can often cause a woman to have trouble with lubrication. Just like once you hit 40 most of us start to need reading glasses, so once you hit menopause most of us have a harder time with natural lubrication. You could be perfectly “turned on”–mentally, emotionally, even physically–but you’re just not lubricated.

Lubrication Helps Us Get Aroused More Easily

My husband Keith can massage me without using massage oil, and it still feels fine. But when he uses oil it feels heavenly! It’s the difference between pressure and friction. Pressure is wonderful, but friction can be annoying.

Sexually, we women tend to work the same way. We like the pressure; but friction doesn’t feel as good. Lubrication helps us just feel the pressure, and not the friction. And when that happens, it’s often easier to get even more aroused. So lube jumpstarts you!

Lubrication Helps You Be More Adventurous

Let’s face it–quickies are fun! Sometimes you want to put those kids in front of a video and head upstairs and play beat the clock. But that’s easier if you don’t need a ton of foreplay to be ready.

And sometimes we just want to try something that’s a tad adventurous, but may not be as comfortable as what you usually do. Lubrication can help new positions feel much better.

Commercial Lubricants Have Gotten Much Better!


Remember the days of KY jelly, when everything felt like thick vaseline? Lubrication was more like a visit to the gynecologist than something fun.

But today’s lubes are much less vaseline-like. And they don’t need to be purchased at an “adult” shop at all! Most drug stores have a great selection. Astro-Glide works well; and many women swear by coconut oil.

So remember, ladies–you are not a failure if you need lube! If you want to have more fun tonight, don’t be afraid to reach for the tube!

Bringing Sexy Back smallEvery Wednesday we talk marriage here at To Love, Honor and Vacuum–and I don’t beat around the bush. But don’t forget that if you want more more marriage info, you can sign up for my marriage newsletter, and get my free ebook, 36 Ways to Bring Sexy Back to Your Marriage!

Christian Marriage Advice

Usually on Wifey Wednesday I provide links to other great blogs with posts on similar subjects. I was just running behind this week and didn’t have time to get some! I’ll be sure to next week. I used to run a linky party, but I found that, unfortunately, a small percentage of the posts being linked really weren’t things I wanted to send people to, and I don’t have time to screen everything. I’m sorry that I can’t run it anymore; I did like you all linking up. It just got too difficult to manage and weed through, and I didn’t want to send people to bad posts. I guess that’s the problem with running a Christian “sex” blog!

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


Lizard Instincts: How Sexually We’re Going Backwards

Lizard InstinctsMy lizard is either gay or extremely stupid.

We bought him a few years ago as a birthday present for my daughter, and as my luck would have it, my girls decided it would be fun to have baby Spotty’s. Once he reached sexual maturity (don’t even ask how we figured that out), we dutifully borrowed a female leopard gecko from a friend and put them in the same cage.

It was then that Spotty’s lack of normal lizard instincts became apparent. Lizards don’t have much of a brain, but there are two things they’re supposed to be able to do: catch live crickets and mate. He seemed more interested in hiding. In desperation we consulted a lizard specialist (yes, there is such a thing) who suggested that we borrow another male gecko and put him in the cage, too. If Spotty felt the competition, he would perform. That wasn’t exactly the lesson on reproduction I wanted to teach my daughters, so we just told them that the lizards weren’t in love and left it at that.

It occurred to me afterwards, though, that our society increasingly treats sex as if we’re lizards. The wonderful thing about human beings is that sexual intimacy takes place within relationship. For women, especially, that feeling of closeness is necessary before anything else is attempted.

It’s one of the things that separates us from the animal kingdom: the fact that sex is not purely instinctual, but imbued with relational and spiritual components.

Yet on the covers of Cosmopolitan, on reality TV shows, and all over the media women are depicted trying to attract men, with most of their thoughts going towards biceps and other physical traits rather than character or personality. Pornography, of course, takes this to the extreme, but it’s all part of the same continuum. When this is how we frame sex, though, sex becomes something purely physical, rather than relational. We lose out on all the wonder that it can embody. And when our kids get this message, even if it’s inadvertently, it’s even more dangerous.

When we were young, if we wanted to have a glimpse of pornography we had to find our dad’s—or our friend’s dad’s—stash of Playboys. That’s not the case anymore. You just need to know how to use a computer or rent a video. However, to put it mildly, it is not good for a young teen to have his or her first experience with sexuality to be pornographic. It can be very, very harmful. When kids are exposed to pornography at the same time as they are just starting to experience sexual feelings, they’re going to associate those feelings with pornography, rather than with a relationship. They actually can wire their brains to think of the paper image or the computer screen as sexy, rather than relationship, making it more difficult to become attracted later on to your chosen life partner. Relationship isn’t sexy; anonymous stuff is.

As parents, then, we need to keep control of the computer, especially in children’s vulnerable years in their early teens. Put it in the kitchen, rather than a bedroom. Install parental control software. And, perhaps most importantly, be careful where your children hang out. Make your house the preferred hang out by providing lots of snacks and fun, or your kids may gravitate to someone else’s house where the computer is far more accessible.

Finally, let’s make sure we, too, don’t rewire our brains inappropriately. One of the best things in life is feeling that closeness to one’s spouse that derives from true intimacy.

If we need to distance ourselves mentally to feel sexy, then it’s as if we’re not interested in our spouse, but just in a body. The whole relationship is threatened, because it’s clear you’re more interested in a paper image than in the person we’re supposed to love. That kind of rejection can devastate a relationship.

The sexual revolution was supposed to free us by allowing us to explore. I think it actually made us go backwards. Don’t throw something precious away with pornography. Love your spouse, the one relationship where you can be yourself, make mistakes, and have years and years to work on intimacy.

Don’t be a lizard. The crickets are gross, and the sex isn’t much better.

Reader Question: How Do I Defeat Sexual Temptation?

Reader Question of the WeekSexual temptation. We often talk about it in relation to teenagers and young adults who are dating, but they’re not the only ones who face it.

Every Monday I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it, and here’s an important one:

My friend at work told me about your website. I’m in desperate need of some help! My husband and I have been separated for over a year now. I don’t want a divorce, but that’s beside the point at the moment. We have been married for 7 years and since we’ve been separated I still crave sex. I want it. I need it. But he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. He is openly having relationships with other women. So I’m basically on my own. But I struggle with masturbation. It’s becoming very difficult for me. Obviously it would be wrong to engage in that sort of thing with another person, but I can’t help but think about wanting to do that because I’m so desperate. I feel weird talking to my friends about this sort of thing. Can you help me?

I often think that the people who struggle with sexual temptation the most are those who have already been married and know what it’s like to be able to have sex when you want it. When that suddenly comes to a halt–because of separation, divorce, or widowhood–how do you deal with the sexual feelings you have that won’t go away?

When I’m speaking in churches about sex, there’s always at least one woman who comes up and asks me that question. It will go something like: “I was in a bad marriage/bad relationship, and I want to do the next one right. But what do I do now–there’s nothing about how women older than 40 should handle sexual urges.”

I really feel for these women, and so I’ll give just a few thoughts.

Sexual Temptation: It can be worse as an adult after a failed relationship. How do you stay pure then?1. There is No Magic Answer That Ends Sexual Temptation

I really wish there were something easy to tell you, but I can’t. This is a struggle you’re going to deal with, and it likely isn’t going away. I hope I can give you some tips to make it easier to manage, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to end. Sexual temptation is serious; it’s a drive that all of us have, and when you know how great sex can be, and you go for several years or more having sex quite frequently, and all of a sudden you have to quit cold turkey? That’s not easy. And it’s likely even harder than for that 19-year-old who is waiting to get married in the first place.

2. That “Sublimation” Thing Works

Have you ever heard of “sublimation”? Basically it’s a psychological term that means this:

You take the sexual energy that you have, and you “sublimate” it, or push it under the surface but then let it pop up somewhere else. So you take that energy you have for sex, and you divert it into something else.

Some of the best geniuses in history, the most creative people ever, the most active for God–were single who “sublimated” their sexual energy into something else. Michaelangelo painted the Sistine chapel. Single missionaries preached their whole lives. Paul conducted three missionary journeys and founded the church we now share. Sublimation is real.

I know several middle-aged and senior single women who have done so much for God. Many have organized missions trips, or have headed volunteer drives, or have started new ministries altogether. Others have launched businesses. Some have taken up a hobby, like watercolor painting.

When you have something that can consume your creative and mental energy, then the sexual temptation often doesn’t hit as hard.

So pray for passion in your lives. Find something else that you can be passionate about–something that matches your giftings and your heart. When you’re lying in bed, and you’re drifting off to sleep, but your mind is playing over and over some more ideas on how you can expand your business or on how you can grow your ministry, it will be so much easier than if you have nothing else to think about and sexual thoughts enter.

I know I preach often about not being too busy, but there is a time for busy-ness, if it’s simply taking our energy and putting it into something we feel passionately about. It can be one of the best ways to defeat temptation. And the added bonus? The busier you become with a ministry/business, the more likely you’ll run into people who share your values and your dreams–even men.

3. Stay Away from Things That Get Your Mind Going in That Direction

Now take a good hard look at yourself and ask, “what activities tend to make me face more temptation than others?” Is it watching certain types of movies? Reading certain types of books? Being home alone on a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do?

Take a look at your last few weeks and figure out when the temptation has been the worst. What had you just done before that? Can you see a pattern?

If there’s something that sets you off, then as much as possible, stop doing it. If certain media make it hard for you, stop watching that. If being alone is difficult, plan activities or invite people over. Know your own weaknesses.

4. Have a “Go To” Activity When You Face Sexual Temptation

When you do find yourself restless and really fighting sexual temptation, have something that you’ll do. First, of course, pray. And a simple, “God, help me be strong,” is fine. You don’t have to pray something long and elaborate. Just invite God in. That gives Him permission to use His power, but it also reminds you that He is there.

Now have some activity that you’ll do. Maybe it’s doing the dishes, or picking up a rag and starting to dust something. Maybe it’s going and doing 15 minutes on the treadmill or bike. Maybe it’s a C.S. Lewis book beside your bed that you’ll try to read to help your mind go in a different direction when you need to sleep.

Just have a plan–or even several–for what you will do when it hits the hardest.

5. Turn a Bad Day into Good Data

You’re going to mess up. We all do. None of us is perfect. When we do mess up, we often feel so badly. We’re disgusted with ourselves. We cry. We fret. We feel, “I’ll never defeat this.”

But I heard some great advice on a TED Talk recently, and it went like this: “Turn a bad day into good data.”

When you do mess up, remember that this gives you great information on what your triggers are and what your weaknesses are. So you can study that day and ask, “what was different about today than days that I didn’t mess up? Was I more stressed? Was I bored? Was I alone for a longer period of time? Did I watch too many movies?”

If you can figure out what was different, then it gives you strategies so that you can avoid recreating those circumstances later. Look on the times you mess up as research that can help you grow.

6. God Does Want to Help You With This

Remember, you aren’t alone. God does understand, and He does want to help you. When you pray about this, and you’re honest with Him, He will start to give you power to fight back.

Often when we’re feeling sexual temptation, too, it’s tied up in all kinds of other emotions. For widows it’s grief. For this letter writer, it’s rejection and feelings of loneliness. This man that she loved has already moved on with other women. For many of us, it’s also a realization that we’ve made poor choices and we may feel like we’ve now “lost” important years of our lives.

That’s a lot to process.

If you can start working through some of those other emotional and spiritual issues, you may find the sexual temptation lessens a bit. Just as we can “sublimate” sexual energy into creative energy, other things can be “sublimated” into sexual energy. So if you’re lonely, that can manifest itself by sexual temptation, even if the main need is just for human companionship. Working through some of your feelings with a trusted friend, a counselor, or even a Christian self-help book can start you on the road to healing.

But it won’t stop the sexual temptation altogether because sex is a fundamental part of who you are. And balancing fighting sexual temptation with still being a sexual being is tough. You are made to be sexual, whether you’re married or not. It’s just that right now you don’t have an outlet.

God understands. And so I just want to leave you with a few verses that I have found helpful when dealing with temptation. (Two of them are part of my 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize!). Commit these to memory, and recite when necessary.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

 No temptationhas overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15, 16).

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married

Thinking back, there are so many things I wish I knew before I got married. I loved my husband, but lots still came as a surprise. So today, for top 10 Tuesday, I thought I’d share some of the biggies. And thanks to everyone on my Facebook Page who chimed in with what they wish they knew before they were married, too!

And so, in no particular order, here we go:

1. Sharing Finances is Hard–so Talk About it Early

Don’t wait until you get married to develop a budget, talk about saving, or make financial plans. Start doing this right after you get engaged, so that you’re on the same page. Figure out how you’ll budget and how you’ll decide what to spend money on. Money is one of the hardest things to learn how to share, and it’s so much easier if you talk it through first.

What if one of you has debt and one of you doesn’t? Then you both have to start working hard at paying off debt! And you need to have those serious conversations BEFORE you marry about setting a plan in motion to become debt free.

These things are not easy, and most people don’t know how to do them. So ask whoever is doing your premarital counseling (likely a pastor) if there is someone smart with money that you can sit down with who can help you work through basic budgeting and make some of these plans. Get some help now–before you walk down the aisle!

Oh, and here’s another gem: once the debt is paid off, live on one income. ALWAYS live on one income. If you expect that one parent will eventually stay at home with kids, then you need to learn how to live on one income now. Take the second income and save it for the house, or a car, or whatever. But live within your means early, and it will put you on such better ground moving forward.

2. In-laws matter more than you think. Get along with them now!

When we’re dating and engaged we’re so focused on the person we’re marrying. But, as one Facebook reader said,

You marry a whole family, not just one man.

Once you’re married, that family will be a part of your life, whether you like it or not. So make an effort to be friendly and get along with them as much as possible. You don’t have to be best friends, but it is so much easier if you have goodwill between you. Often when you’re dating you live away from in-laws, so they don’t seem like a factor in your life. But that changes. So Skype with them now. Go with his sister out to get your nails done. Do a craft with your mother-in-law, or ask her to help you cook a turkey dinner. Reach out. Don’t wait for them to make the first move, and pout at home because they’re not. You make that first move and build that relationship.

3. Great sex isn’t automatic–but that’s okay. You have decades to get it right!

We start marriage with such “great sexpectations”. We figure it will be just like the movies, where it works perfectly and it’s always amazingly passionate. But it’s often not.

One reader wrote,

I wish I knew that things in the bedroom would not just happen as spontaneously as we thought and communicating about intimacy and our expectations of it would be much harder than I expected.

Good Girls Guide My SiteI wrote The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex to help women transition to great sex once they’re married–but it does take time. And here’s one neat thing I found: if you take the women who had lousy wedding nights, and then you take the women who had great wedding nights, and look at how they rate their sex lives ten years later–it makes absolutely no difference. No matter how great or awful your wedding night was, ten years later it will be good. So don’t fret the early stuff! Just relax and have fun getting to know each other. And if you’re wondering how to do that, get the book!

But once you do get married, one big piece of advice: I know you’re shy, but tell him what feels good and what doesn’t. Tell him early. If you don’t speak up on the honeymoon, it gets harder and harder to say anything. So try to talk about it then.

Oh, and another thing about sex:

I wish I had known that the man is not always the one with the greater sex drive.

In about 24% of marriages, according to my surveys, SHE has the higher sex drive. If that’s you, you are not a freak. And with good communication and lots of grace, you can still have a great sex life.

4. Marriage Isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100.

Don’t go into marriage thinking, “we’ll each do our share”. If you start marriage measuring who does more work, you’ll always find that he doesn’t measure up. That’s because all of us have unrealistic expectations, and all of us expect our husbands to do things our way. At the same time, he expects us to do things his way. So since we’re expecting what is virtually impossible, we’ll find that he never does enough.

We have to get over this idea that we each put in half the effort, and think of marriage more like 100/100. We each jump in and dedicate ourselves to making the marriage great. The more you do that, the more benefits you’ll receive. One woman wrote:

Marriage isn’t always a 50/50 deal. Most days it is 60/40 or even 80/20. It all depends. BUT being married means meeting that other person wherever they are at that time. The more you tend your marriage the more it will flourish. You absolutely need to be totally selfless at times for it to work. It took me awhile to realize this and now that I do my marriage is the best it has ever been.

5. Marriage doesn’t necessarily change everything–especially him

Here’s an important one to understand, that has both a warning and a reassurance. First the warning.

One woman writes:

Pay attention to “habits” and don’t overlook them so easily just because you’re a starry-eyed girl in love. Sometimes, that habit is really an addiction and no matter how hard you try or how much you think they love you, you can’t and won’t make them stop. Please heed addictions (to anything) and give them time to get help and get healed before you marry them. I can’t stress that enough.

That is so true! The number of women who write to me saying, “he used porn before we were married but he said he’d stop”, or “he’s on video games six hours a day still, just like he was before we were married” is so sad. Before you’re married, don’t just date. Do life so you can see how he actually lives. Do errands together. Do mundane things together. Hang out. If you find there’s a major habit he has that annoys you, remember: this will only be magnified tenfold when we marry. It won’t go away. Marriage will not change that habit. So keep your eyes open.

Now for the reassurance. Another woman writes:

I wish I knew that marriage doesn’t always start a new chapter in your lives. Sometimes you continue in the chapter you are in and have to learn to grow together and be content where you are. For some reason, I just expected that getting married would bring us new and exciting things.

We had been together for almost 4 years before we finally got married. I just thought that marriage would be something new. It would close the old chapter, and we’d walk hand-in-hand under a rainbow into this new and glorious chapter filled with prosperity and travel and babies and a super clean house. But it just didn’t happen. Life kept going as it had been going. We both had our individual struggles and had to learn to grow together…and we have!

I’m thankful that it wasn’t as I imagined it. I’ve grown so much these three years. Above all I’ve learned that marriage–and life– is hard work, but with Jesus, it is made light. I love my husband and I’m so thankful that God kept certain doors closed and let us grow and know each other first! Now we are ready for that next chapter!

If you’re super close before you’re married, it’s not always that you develop an extra level of closeness once you’re married. Sometimes life just continues. And that’s okay.

6. It’s not easy sharing toothpaste

Sharing a life isn’t natural. Sharing a bed and sharing a bathroom sink is even harder–especially the older you are. When you’re entrenched in your own home and you’re used to having your own space and your own way of doing things, marriage is a hard adjustment.

One woman wrote:

I wish I knew that the move in together part of a marriage doesn’t just happen smoothly and automatically– How to share space, split household duties and manage joint time and money is something you should think and talk about before the wedding.

So true!

7. Plans don’t always work

Friends of mine had a ten year plan when they were married. They married in university, and planned to both get their graduate degrees and start teaching for one or two years before starting to have kids around age 29. That way they could have a downpayment on a house, and school would be done before the kids came.

But she got pregnant six months after the wedding.

Another friend of mine, within a year of getting married, was all of a sudden caring for a mother-in-law who had had a stroke out of nowhere.

It’s wonderful to plan and dream, but never invest all of your joy into any one plan. Remember that life happens, and the neat thing about being married is now you have someone to have it happen with.

My own girls have always said that they want 3-4 years with their future husbands before they have kids, and I completely agree with that. But when you’re walking down the aisle, you need to know that there is never any guarantee, and you need to be able to go with the flow.

8. Conflict can make you stronger. Don’t run from it; work through it.

Your first fight when you’re married may scare you. But that’s okay. Conflict isn’t always bad as long as you handle it well. One woman wrote:

Marriage is like two rough rocks being thrown in a tumbler. You smooth each other out as you bang and hit against each other.

Talk through your conflict. Tell him about what you’re thinking. Keep communication open, even if it’s hard. Before you’re married, develop a plan on how you’ll have these difficult talks. Maybe every Thursday after dinner you’ll go for a walk to “check in”, and that will give both of you time to bring up anything you want to. Maybe you’ll have breakfast Saturday mornings and plan through the next week and talk about these things. Plan beforehand, and arrange natural times to talk, knowing that there will always be something to talk about, and life is smoother.

And don’t shy away from conflict! One woman writes:

I wish I had known too, that trying to please him in every way possible, even going against my beliefs, to placate and prevent arguments is not the solution.

Conflict is always either a win/win or a lose/lose. Don’t aim to win an argument, because if you defeat your husband and he loses, you lose, too. You lose intimacy. Instead, find the win/win in everything. When you do that, conflict doesn’t seem so scary.

9. Listen to the little things

Don’t focus on yourself; before you’re married, practice focusing on him and what he’s thinking and feeling. Let those things matter to you.

One woman writes:

I wish I had known to really listen to the little things your husband says; I’ve found if I pay attention to the little things, the “big” things are fewer and far between.

When you pay attention to the little things he wants, he feels important. And that makes big conflicts less likely to happen.

Another woman says,

Un-met expectations are likely unknown expectations, speak up!

Don’t expect him to be a mind reader; ask for help in the little things. You may just find he’s more than happy to oblige, but he just didn’t know you needed anything.

10. It’s wonderful to go through life with somebody else.

Finally, we hear so much negative stuff about marriage. Marriage is hard. So many people divorce. You’ll never work harder at anything in your life.

I suppose that’s partially true, but overall, what I’ve found after 23 years of marriage is that it is such an amazing privilege to have someone else to walk through life with–someone who knows me inside and out, someone who has been there for everything, and someone who is always sticking around. That joy makes up for so much.

Let me end with this woman’s words:

It doesn’t have to be hard! If you are willing to learn and show grace, marriage will be such a joy. 3.5 years in and my husband and I have only had one minor fight because we have this perspective

It doesn’t have to be hard. Love in the little things; do 100/100; know that there will be transitions–and you just may find marriage is one of the best rides of your life!

31 Days to Great Sex
31 Days to Great Sex is here (only $4.99!) It's the best $5 you'll ever spend on your marriage!

Learn to talk more, flirt more, and even explore more! You'll work on how to connect emotionally, spiritually, AND physically.

Find out more here.


Wifey Wednesday: Confessions of a Tired Wife

Today’s guest post is from Abigail Allemann. Abigail tells how she found Sheila’s book, 31 Days to Great Sex, and how it transformed her marriage in her confessions of a tired wife.


Confessions of a Tired Wife
Missionary Life Snapshot –Why I Was Tired

My husband and I are missionaries who have been serving overseas in Budapest, Hungary for the last two years.  I have only recently started to take offense at the classic boring sexual position named for people like us, because, well, if the shoe fits…

You see, I feel like I can re-phrase a portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians like this:

If anyone else thinks they have reason to be tired, I have more: Two years of living with in-laws while raising missionary support; five years and three babies born in Pennsylvania, Florida and Hungary respectively; 24 hour drives through blizzards while using a nebulizer for a three month-old with RSV; two summers of overseas travel with babies and toddlers; three months with 5000 miles in cross-country travel, 3 hotels and 3 more homes for overnights, 5 different places to call home (i.e. contained our family and all unpacked wordly goods); full-time language-learning, cultural adjustment and a baby born a few months after moving overseas…

You get the point. (Actually my tired is one many missionary wives can claim!)

I have lived tired.  And, in the times when I was pretending I wasn’t between babies, moves and languages, a simple conversation chronicling our lives over the past 7 years could take me right back.

By the Grace of God, my husband and I survived all of this craziness. More than survived. We thrived in faith and service to one another, our kids and God and knew a love that was warm, honest and exciting as we lived the adventure of God’s calling on our lives in a way few are privileged to experience.

Something Was Missing –Searching for Hope

But something was desperately missing.

I think you know where this is going.

Like so many women, sex had become duty for me. My husband has always been patient, sacrificial and desires to give me pleasure. Yet, this too, had become predictable and just not very fun.  We had our moments, but, the sad truth was we were living the adventure in big ways and yet it was missing from the most intimate space between us.

I knew things would have been different as far as frequency in our sex life if I could get over my tiredness which, of course, made me feel more guilty and, in turn, more tired. Why couldn’t I give more? Why didn’t I want to? What was wrong with me?

It was an evening last fall when I somehow (can you say divine inspiration?) found Sheila’s book 31 Days to Great Sex. Much to my husband’s delight we began to read it together that night. The next morning I woke up with a profound sense of hope in my spirit.

It was a strange thought to me, yet I knew it was from God. You see, I had been meditating on hope and seeking answers through His Word. But I just couldn’t grasp it. I was body, mind, soul weary. That fall was full of intense spiritual warfare as the Enemy of souls, marriage and ministry was gunning hard for me to give up.

So many things were coming together in our new life, but I was dying inside. And at the depth of my struggle, I was crying out for hope.

God’s Surprising AnswerHoly Sex Embodies Hope

So, just how does spicing up my sex life give me hope?

The Bible calls hope an anchor of our soul. The hope in which we are saved is the redemption of our bodies as we bear the firstfruits of the Spirit, groaning with all of creation, yet set apart as image-bearers.

Through sex, as God’s very good gift in marriage, we experience tangible hope.

When my husband and I come together as one flesh, as a loving sacrifice of ourselves for the other, our minds, hearts and souls are bound and sealed in hope through our physical joining, and it is beautiful. We grasp the promise of Heaven; the restoration of all that was lost in the fall as together we restore God’s perfect design for sex.

Essentially, we see the redemption of our bodies in the most vulnerable way possible as we experience the truth of all that Jesus bought back; taking away our shame that puts all kinds of walls around us. We look into each other’s eyes, speak words of love, touch and taste our bodies given to one another. It all says, “Thank You Jesus.  It is all because of what you have done that we are naked, unashamed and full of love for one another.”

I may have believed words like these before I purposed to see my sex life renewed, but now I live them.

I also experienced the freedom of hope.

My faith says that, no matter what comes, God is bringing me Home.  It will happen One Day and all of my hopes are bound up in this promised consummation.

But that can all be hard to know while I struggle in the here and now.

In the thick of my overseas adjustment, I was grieving the loss of friends, family, basic competency, heart language and it was blinding me to everything else. I have learned to practice thanks yet the cathedral of my life was small, filled with the stale air of the forgetful. I just couldn’t get to the hope that is Christ in me–glory.

Enter sex. It wasn’t just that my hubby and I started having sex more, it was that it went from a duty to a beauty in my life. I started to let go and have fun. I lived like my eternity is secure and there’s an amazing way to bring Heaven here, right now. Because there is.

I have become a Proverbs 31 woman who laughs at the days to come. I live vibrantly, sure of who and whose I am and where I am ultimately going—so I can have fun and enjoy today. I can let go of to-do lists and send my husband a ‘come hither’ look. I’m not looking for the adventure on the screen or in the book, when there is hot, holy, hilarity with a best friend who is my one and only lover.

It is living free in hope when the kid in me plays with my husband and is re-charged to have fun with my kids. It is embracing true hope to know I am someone’s prize and to share the secret smile and wink of behind-the-bedroom-door love.  And it feels so good, right, true, lovely and honorable to know that God smiles on our unashamed, wild, free love.

I am still very much in process with all of this. We are finishing up two months of travel in the States on furlough. This is something that still greatly tires me and makes finding time to connect hard for my husband and me. BUT I have pushed through the weary to hope and vision and I won’t go back. This makes working through the hard and tired so much easier and so much more fun! My prayer is that you are uplifted, not weighed down, through what I shared today. We are in this together!

AbigailI am wife to a wonderful man, mama to three precious now-little-but-soon-will-not-be loves. Each born in a different place–two states {Pennsylvania & Florida} and two countries {U.S. & Hungary}. I can now claim fluency in 3 languages :: English;) Spanish & Hungarian. This combined with the all-too-true ‘mommy brain’ explains much regarding my mental state most days. I am a sojourner longing for Home. Yet, in my messy and broken, I embrace the moments given with all I have. For the past 2 months I have been writing about my journey in understanding sex and sexuality in a series called Pure Passion. You can check it out here!

 

31 Days to Great SexIf you long to make sex a positive thing in your marriage, check out Sheila’s book 31 Days to Great Sex, that Abigail talks about. It’s not 31 Days OF Great Sex (don’t worry!); it’s 31 Days of short challenges that can help you rediscover intimacy and fun in the bedroom!


WifeyWednesday175Want some other great links to help you if you’re a tired wife? Here are other marriage bloggers chiming in for our Wifey Wednesday round up:

Intentional Today: Productivity Apps that Help My Marriage!

Calm Healthy Sexy: 4 Reasons to Take a Summer Vacation (Where you don’t even have to leave home!)

Women Living Well: When You’ve Lost Your Joy for Marriage and Motherhood

Women Living Well: How Important is Date Night to your Marriage?

Club 31 Women: 9 Classy Reasons to Go on a Cheap Date

Intimacy in Marriage: 5 Ways to Find More Time for Sex

How Porn in the House Affects Kids

When dad (or mom) uses porn, what happens to the kids in the house?

Today’s guest poster is going to tell her story today. She’s a frequent reader and a blogger, but she wishes to remain anonymous to protect the family members mentioned in her story. But I know her story could be so many others, too:

How Porn in the House Affects KidsPorn’s version of paying it forward

Their eyes stared back at me each morning.  I tried to avoid looking at them by covering my face with my teddy bear or by looking down at my feet, but there was something strangely hypnotizing about them.  Stacks and stacks of magazines full of half-naked women piled just outside of reach, but not out of sight.  Odd really, considering that racier posters were in plain sight on the wall.

The word on the street that porn is harmless and that pin-up girl pictures never hurt anyone grieves my heart in the deepest way.   Not just because of the damage that porn is doing to marriages, but because of its effects on children.  Porn in the home pays forward dysfunctional attitudes and behaviours, passing on a heritage of sin and brokenness to the next generation.

Porn’s legacy in my life began with me feeling grossly unattractive and inadequate as a girl and eventually as a young woman.  It was the sentiment I experience now looking at a Cosmopolitan magazine in the grocery store multiplied by a thousand.  I didn’t know then that the images were not real.  My father was so captivated by these women, but I didn’t look anything like them.  Would any man ever want me?

The pictures also accelerated my sexual awareness.  I could sense when adults around me were attracted to each other and knew exactly what a locked door meant well before I had the emotional maturity to sort out how I felt about it.  I was confused, but I didn’t feel safe talking to anyone about it.  Sex was blatantly displayed around the house and yet I still felt a sense of shame about it.

Worst of all, these images distorted my view of myself as a woman.  I never saw pictures of men treating women with respect.  The women were always posed in such a way as to be “available for the man’s taking”.  The result in my young and impressionable mind was that the purpose of a woman was to be used by a man.  You’d think that this would be horrifying to a young girl, but it wasn’t.  I was actually petrified that I would never be “used” in that way by anyone.  I didn’t look like the women in the pictures, so I must not be desirable.  In my desperation to prove my own worthiness and desirability, I basically threw my virginity at the first guy I dated (who I didn’t even like!) because at least then I was desirable enough for someone to sleep with.

Hiding porn doesn’t erase its damage

In today’s world, grown-ups can hide their porn behind computer passwords, which I think provides a false sense of security. There’s no porn in the house; there’s only porn on the computer. It’s all tucked away, so it won’t hurt the kids, right?  Not so much.

Kids have a way of finding their parents’ secrets. My dad had movies, too.  They were at the back of the closet on a special shelf with a blanket on top of them.  I found them while looking for my game console, and knew exactly what they were.  I never watched one, but I easily could have.

Porn impaired my father’s parenting judgment.  If we are exposed to something over and over again, it becomes normal for us, and it takes more and more to produce a sense of shock.  While I was thankfully never in the room when the back-of-the-closet movies made their way onto the TV, I did see more than my fair share of inappropriate media content.  I spent countless hours watching shows with violent and sexual themes.  I was also taken to an R-rated movie at the tender age of 8.  Images of naked prostitutes from that film remain crystal clear in my mind more than 25 years later.  Worst of all, they have a habit of popping into my head when I’m making love to my husband.  Perfect.

Porn in the home compromised my stepmother’s parenting judgment.  I think that my stepmother was affected by desensitization as well.  Nudity was no big deal to her.  She would force me to change out of my swimsuit in public places in spite of my protests because she thought my objections were ridiculous.  During a group campout, the girls had to sponge-bathe outside while the boys watched.   This was no big deal for her, but it made me want to puke.  Could she have been so misguided without porn’s influence?  Perhaps.  But I’m guessing it didn’t help matters any.

A better legacy

The issues that I’ve mentioned still affect me to varying degrees today.  They didn’t just disappear when I grew up and got married.  I have many of the symptoms of porn use even though I have never voluntarily looked at it!  By God’s grace I have a wonderful husband who is captivated by me and only me.   Together and by God’s strength, we are building healthy attitudes and behaviours, trying to pass on a heritage of faith and wholeness in God to our children.   Won’t you join us?

Sheila says, Thanks so much for writing this, Anonymous! I appreciate it.

If you are struggling with porn in your house, here are some posts that can help:

The Top 10 Effects of Porn on your Marriage and Your Sex Life

4 Things You Must Do if Your Husband Uses Porn

What to do if you Catch Your Child Using Porn

Soul Ties: How to Break Them and Live in Freedom

Soul Ties: How to Break Bonds with Past Lovers and Live in Freedom in Marriage

A New Season!  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says,There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”–so today I want to announce a new day here in our community.  With the desire to reach and teach as many as possible and with intention to promote Christ in all things–marriages, family and life, I am going to start using Wednesdays to promote and share some wonderful posts that you may not have read–and to give you some treasure troves of new bloggers to follow. So I will be discontinuing the linky from now on. I want to be sure that the posts that you read from here I can thoroughly agree with, and so I’m going to hand pick the ones I recommend. They will share on topics I have picked for each week.  This week’s topic talks about putting your past behind you and forgiving yourself.

Soul ties–or invisible bonds–wreak havoc on so many marriages. Today guest poster and author Danielle Tate explains what soul ties are, and how we can break them.

When I was 17, I naively thought the sexual behavior I partook in was harmless and momentary. I reconciled in my head that because we had intentions on getting married and because our hearts were “right” toward each other that sexual activity was somehow okay.

Two years later when we split, my heart literally ached. I remember standing in the grocery store parking lot where he worked just wanting him to hug me “one last time.” He was like a drug, a good drug that I needed. I was going through withdrawal over a silly boy but my body ached without him. Friends told me to move on but I could not get past the feeling that part of me had suddenly been ripped away. Recovery was slow and painful – filled with anger, rebellion and a new tattoo.

“The next time it will be different,” I told myself. Boy, was I right. It was all kinds of different. Seven years of hell ended with exposed lies, infidelity and abuse. Way different from my straight-A, Honor Society, college-bound beau. Yet the old familiar feeling of needing my fix still came even after I dumped his clothes in the driveway. I was addicted, but to what?

This time, unlike before, I initiated the break up. I knew he was a loser (though I see him differently now) and I knew it was a very unhealthy relationship. Yet for months, we had “conjugal visits.” It seemed I was the prisoner sentenced to a life of longing fulfilled only by someone I didn’t love and didn’t even want to be around.

Twisted isn’t it?

Yet this is what happens when we have sexual experiences outside the confines of marriage. Actually, it’s what happens when we have sexual experiences regardless of our marital status. Every time we have a sexual experience, we are creating deep-rooted bonds with the other individual. There are a few different terms used to describe these bonds but the most popular, and the one I use in my book is “soul ties.”

The Dynamics of Soul Ties

A soul tie is defined as “A spiritual connection between two people who have been physically intimate with each other or who have had an intense emotional or spiritual association or relationship.”* If you think of sex inside the confines of marriage this is a wonderful thing. God created us to have sexual relations with our spouse that in turn create deep-rooted bonds.

See, He knew that after the honeymoon, there’d be morning breath, bills to pay, kids to raise and dirty socks left on the floor. He knew life would happen and so He created us to be deeply bonded with our spouse so that during the crazy seasons of life when we sometimes don’t really like our spouse, we would still be deeply bonded to them.

Soul Ties, Drugs and Super Glue

When we have a sexual experience, our brains produce dopamine, the same chemical that feeds a gambling addiction, your chocolate cravings and the junkie’s need for another fix. Dopamine is often described as the “feel good” chemical of the brain and it plays a major role in our lives (good and bad). You see, our bodies don’t care if it’s cocaine, a cupcake or a sexual experience – dopamine will be produced and it will bind us. This is why my former boyfriends were like my drug of choice and why I could not see myself without them. I was addicted to the high. I had created soul ties when I had these feel- good, intimate experiences with guys I wasn’t married to. This is also why it literally hurt when I broke up.

Soul ties are like super glue. If you’ve had sexual encounters outside of marriage, consensual or forced, there is most like a lingering soul tie that needs to be dealt with otherwise you’ll forever be plagued with thoughts, feelings and even actions that are unwanted. I mention forced encounters because, although pleasure is not associated with abuse, our brains still produce chemical reactions and our soul can still be tied to someone who has abused us. Some symptoms of lingering soul ties include:

  • Someone whose voice you hear in your head
  • Obsessive day-time thought about someone
  • Dreaming or waking up at night thinking about someone on a regular basis
  • Someone you think of or “see” in your mind when you are intimate with your spouse

A Marriage in Crisis

Speaking of spouses, the hidden soul ties in my life deeply affected the first several years of my marriage. It gto so bad that my husband thought I was having an affair. I was distant, I disliked sex….I really disliked sex and I was not fulfilled. Unbeknownst to him, I would cry almost every.single.time we had sex. The guilt, shame and dirty feelings I had as a sexually active single woman carried right into my marriage. Those feelings didn’t go away just because we said “I do.” Ceremony alone was not enough to make my past sexual sins disappear. I needed healing. I needed forgiveness and I need a clean break.

Breaking Soul Ties

There are 4 Key steps to breaking soul ties:

  1. Acknowledge
  2. Confess and Repent
  3. Forgive
  4. Break and Remove

First, we need to acknowledge that there is a problem. Ask the Lord to show you who you have ungodly soul ties with. Make a list if you need to. Secondly, we need to confess and repent of our sins. This may involve finding a godly accountability partner that you can confess to and who can help you walk through the process. It maybe be a church counselor, pastor or elder or a family member.

Next, we need to find forgiveness. We need to accept God’s forgiveness, we need to forgive ourselves and lastly, we need to forgive our former partners or abusers. Remember, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

Finally, you need to verbalize a prayer to break off the soul ties. You need to speak it out! Life and death are in the power of the tongue so when you speak out you are declaring with your mouth the power of Christ to break the ties to your past. You must also do an inventory and remove any mementoes, gifts or souvenirs from those past relationships.

*Tim Stewart “Soul Ties (and Breaking Soul Ties)” http://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/soul-ties/

Restoring the Lost PetalFor more detailed help breaking soul ties and walking through the process of restoration, pick up a copy of Restoring the Lost Petal: A Journey Through the Loss and Restoration of Sexual Purity. It’s available now in my store as a .pdf download (you can read it on your computer or on any phone or ereader), or as a paperback here.

meet danielleDanielle Tate, founder of Thrive Ministries, is passionate about sharing her message or restoration with women of all ages. After 13 years in the corporate world, she became a stay at home wife and mother and began making natural beauty products and blogging. She is the author of Restoring the Lost Petal: A Journey Through the Loss and Restoration of Sexual Purity. You can find her blogging at More Than Four Walls where she writes about faith, food, and biblical stewardship. Danielle is married to Brad and they have a son, Wyatt.


Hi everybody! Welcome to the new format of Wifey Wednesday! Instead of doing a link up party, I’m going to link up a few posts from awesome marriage bloggers who have talked about the same subject, so that we can stick to a “theme for the week”! So here’s today’s theme: getting over your past.

The Generous Wife: The Tipping Point
Dayna Bickham: Breaking the Cycle of Unforgiveness
Women Living Well: Pursuing Purity (in an Opposite World)
Messy Marriage: Shame on You?
To Love, Honor and Vacuum: Getting over the Guilt of your Sexual Past