Sex is supposed to be this wonderful, intimate thing that binds us together as a couple. But what do you do if sex doesn’t feel intimate to you?

Reader Question: Sex just doesn't feel intimate to me!Every Monday I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it, and today’s is one that a lot of women share. Here are two letters I’ve received that talk about a similar issue.

First, a woman writes that she just doesn’t understand what “making love” is:

Reader Question

I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now and just started reading “The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.” We’ve been married 20 years. Sex is one of the biggest wedges in our marriage. I’m only in chapter 3 of the book and cried as I read. I have no emotional attachment to sex at all. None! I don’t know that I can say that I feel like we have ever “made love.” But that would crush him to know. How do we fix that after 20 years?

Quick answer: Just wait until you get to chapters 7 & 8! Those should really help!

But let me give a few thoughts here, too (that are also in the book!).

Billions of people have had sex.

I don’t know how many have really made love.

I teach you how to do exactly that. I show how God intended sex to be intimate in three ways: spiritually, emotionally, AND physically. And I show you how to get there, too!

If you’ve struggled with figuring out what all the fuss is about, or you feel held back in marriage because you just can’t embrace your sexual side, then check it out!

You were meant for more.

Sometimes past experiences or shame makes us distance ourselves from sex

It’s hard to know what exactly is going on with this particular woman, but I know that many, many of you could have written that letter, for one simple reason.

It’s hard to see sex as intimate when you have a negative view of sex. And many of us have negative views of sex for very good reasons.

Maybe you were abused as a child. Maybe you grew up in the purity culture which talked about sex with such shameful language. Maybe you were promiscuous and you have sexual baggage that is tainting everything.

So how do we get beyond that? We have to see the true beauty in sex that is part of God’s design. Three posts that may help you with that:

There’s another aspect to this, though:

Sometimes we have such a hard time with vulnerability that we’re not able to let go during sex

And that’s really the key to passion! I’d suggest reading this post on why it’s often hard for women to give themselves over during sex. It’s part of the Sizzling Summer Sex Series, and if you click on the links there to other posts, I think you’ll find those really help you.

Other times the sex seems great, but we’re emotionally distancing ourselves

Here’s another phenomenon that might be happening in this woman’s marriage: The sex may SEEM great, but really she’s not emotionally present. She has to distance herself from her husband and fantasize in order to get aroused (I deal with this in chapters 7 & 8 too!). So he may think they have great sex, but really they’re missing out on the true connection.

That’s called dissociation, and I talk about how to not dissociate during sex here. As for what to tell your husband if this is the case, I’d say the main thing is to focus on how we can make sex more emotionally intimate and how you can make sure your brain is staying put (in other words, concentrating on your husband!). I’d talk to him about that, rather than saying something like “we’ve been doing it wrong for 20 years”. Instead, say something like, “I want to feel even closer to you. Can you help me with this?” (And again, the book talks about how).

What happens if we DON’T deal with this?

One thing I always say during my Girl Talk (the event where I come to a church or women’s group and talk about sex and marriage) is that while there’s nothing wrong with having issues with sex, there is a whole lot wrong with refusing to work on those issues. All of us have issues with something, and sex is a natural one to struggle with because it’s so highly personal and vulnerable.

So if you could have written that letter, please click through to the links that sound like they apply to you and start reading (you’ll likely find even more links and can go on a little bit of a rabbit trail!). Or even better, pick up The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex which covers all of this, and read it with excitement that you can start seeing sex differently. If God made something to be this amazing, you really don’t want to miss out on it! So don’t. Make it into the best research project you’ll ever do.

Check out The Good Girl’s Guide here!

Here’s why I’m so passionate about experiencing real intimacy during sex

If you’re still hesitating, and wondering if you could ever see sex as something good, here’s the sad truth: When we pull back from sex, we inevitably end up pulling back from our husbands, even if we love them more than anything.

I’d ask you to read this letter that I received from a husband of a wife who doesn’t see sex as important:

We’ve been married for over a decade, have amazing children and a great extended family. One thing that has always seemed to lack in our marriage (which has continued to decline even more since adding kids to the mix) is our sex life. While I understand that different people have different levels of drive, having sex once every 2-3 months leaves me feeling unsatisfied and alone. Additionally, when we actually do have sex, it often feels like it’s my wife just doing it out of duty, not really out of enjoyment. If I try to do it more “for her,” typically it ends up being me trying to do different things to give her pleasure, her telling me she doesn’t want that and trying to just move on – making me feel like she just wants to get it over with. Even the way she kisses me before and during feels less than romantic and passionate. All this leaves me feeling like either a) I’m not “good enough” to make it worth her time, b) I’m not attractive enough to interest her, or she just doesn’t have any interest period. She will tell me that none of those are the case, that her mind is often into it, her body isn’t, or the anti-anxiety medication she’s on just keeps her from getting in the mood. I have shown her some of your articles in the past and, at one point, she read one, said she spent some time thinking about it a lot, which did lead to us having a night we still discuss fondly. But, she hasn’t really read anything since then. The times I have brought things up in the past, it ends up becoming a, “Well, I’m like this because you do that.” The “that” is often that I am too timid or something similar, which stems from my feeling like she’s not interested and I’m asking her to do something she doesn’t want to. I feel it’s become a strain on our marriage and it makes me feel so distant from her – basically feeling like we’re roommates raising two kids together, instead of a married couple. What can I do to let her see how important this is?

Can you hear the pain in his letter? Can you understand how much this is hurting their marriage? Can you picture what the family life will be for those kids as they grow up (assuming that those kids’ welfare is her main priority?) Is she really getting what she ultimately wants out of life?

I have been in the place where sex is simply an obligation.

When we first got married, I had no drive, sex hurt, and it just was so awkward. The more Keith wanted sex, the more I felt like he didn’t really love me for me–only what I could do for him. It was a huge big mess.

And the only way out of that was this realization:

If God made sex to be amazing, and if sex is something that can make us feel super intimate, then why would I want to miss out on that? I had better figure this out!

So I want to try to help this man.

I do have two posts that men can show to their wives that can help wives understand how husbands feel.

I’d suggest showing her those posts! (And if you’re a woman reading this, those posts will help you understand his perspective, too!)

When Sex Doesn't Feel Intimate: There's lots of reasons we may not connect in marriage through sex. But it doesn't have to stay this way! Here's the key to great intimacy during sex:

 Ladies, most of us misunderstand our sex drives.

Because we may not have a physical need for sex in the same way as our husbands do, we assume that we just aren’t into it. We figure that he is somehow a lesser being because he needs it so much, rather than being able to concentrate on the really important things of life that have to get done (all the things that go into running a house; all the things that go into parenting). We care for everyone else; he’s just interested in getting his own needs met, and it’s all just a big hassle.

I get it. I know a lot of women feel that way.

But let me tell  you something: All you have to do to experience amazing passion is to STOP waiting for your body to be in the mood and to START telling your body that it’s time to be in the mood!

YOU hold the key to your libido. YOU can actually ramp up your libido by thinking of sex differently! YOU can make sex awesome in your marriage, if you decide to take that mental leap.

And it honestly is worth it.

If you can’t see how that can happen, I’d invite you to check out my Boost Your Libido course. This 10-video online course takes you step-by-step through the different aspects of libido for women, and even after the first lesson you’ll see some real changes!

You don’t want your husband to be able to write that letter, not when you were made for so much more! So if you’re having real difficulty ever picturing how sex can be intimate, check out the course. You really can get on the road to a better sex life–and to much more intimacy in your marriage!

Now let me know in the comments: Could you have written that woman’s letter? Or that husband’s letter? What were the big roadblocks to great sex for you?

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