What’s the next step if you’ve learned everything you can about how to have great sex, but your body isn’t getting with the program?
Yesterday I shared the first half of a post that a reader sent me (who wishes to remain anonymous) about her journey to figure out what sex was meant to be. She talked about her frustration with all the typical advice and when her breakthrough really happened.
And today she’s getting into the practical things she did that helped. It’s a long one today, but it’s important. Here we go:
It had been 26 years of sexual failure and I was at an all time low.
I was frustrated with sex. I felt like I was the only one who was a failure at it. I was angry at God because He had chosen to make me broken. I wanted to know what I had done to Him to deserve this. I was angry and jealous of my husband because he liked sex. He got everything out of it and I got nothing. Never mind hard to orgasm I felt NOTHING from beginning to end, it didn’t matter what I did physically or mentally that never changed. It was so bad that every time my husband saw me I was crying or angry.
In desperation I remembered years ago reading a blog about sex and so went to see if I could find it. I found Sheila’s blog around eight months ago and I secretly bought The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and read it over a couple of days. I was ASTONISHED to discover that I had this sex thing all wrong from the beginning. A seed of hope had been planted. As it sprouted hope once again was birthed but I was too afraid to water it as I had already been down that path numerous times and been disappointed.
I took time to really soak in the heart of Sheila’s message that sex is not about genitals and we had plenty of missing ingredients in our marriage, and as a result were in survival mode. It’s about the hearts of two people. It’s about emotional intimacy. That meant I had to get real with my husband. I had to be honest and say what it was really like for me. That was an extremely difficult conversation to have. The most amazing thing was that it was so liberating. This shameful secret was now out in the open and no longer had the power to hold me captive.
I spent hours surfing To Love, Honor and Vacuum and some other Christian women sex blogs about orgasm. I wanted good sound advice. I needed a new foundation. I became afraid that I had missed the boat because I was now post menopausal and every where I read that sexual satisfaction is almost zero. My goal was pleasure and orgasm. I would be happy and so would my husband. By now sex had become all about me and causing my husband anxiety and the ripple effect of that was causing problems in his own sexual performance.
I bought Sheila’s book 31 Days to great Sex. My husband was such a trooper. Every day we would read and try out things, but I was still struggling. The old resentment was coming back. Why bother with all this stuff? It’s getting better for him. What about me? I would have a nice feeling on an erogenous zone for two seconds and it would disappear and the old familiar deadness would return. We persevered but when I got to the day about orgasm for her and how to get there, I hid the book away. I just could not face that task. Arousal was still a problem and here Sheila was encouraging orgasm. I felt like I was back at square one. Where to next?
Replacing the Lies with Truth
Scripture gave me three mandates: First I needed to find the truth because knowing the TRUTH will set me free to experience the fullness of the gift God had blessed marriage with, secondly I knew I needed to take every thought captive and third but equally important I needed to think on GOOD things and my thoughts were not good about sex. I knew from reading Switch on Your Brain that I needed to find the truth. I needed something concrete to confront the lies in my thinking.
Confront your mental baggage and the causes of dysfunction
I needed help. I found a this great book: The Elusive Orgasm by Vivienne Cass PhD. Vivienne is a sexual therapist and her book was an amazing read. I learnt about five main types of orgasm difficulty’s and the twenty five causes of those difficulty’s. Each chapter gave me a key to unlock and set me free from the bondage of guilt, shame, frustration and anger. It was like she was reading my secret thoughts, my heart ache, she knew all about my dashed hopes and empty body and it was really alright. I felt safe. I felt like here was somebody who truly understood the emptiness of sex and not only that, she assured me it would be okay. The book ends with great practical advice for you as a woman and for you and your spouse.
Here are a couple to get you started:
- I don’t have the time for this it takes too long. WRONG. You are having sex so make the time to hyper focus, it’s time to break the vicious cycle and retrain your brain to acknowledge what your body is automatically feeling..
- Orgasm is the Goal. WRONG. The goal of sexuality is INTIMACY. It’s about enjoying one another wholeheartedly.
Sexual feelings are a bit like a tropical flower. They need tender loving care if they’re to blossom. Being relaxed (and awake) is an important ingredient in our sexual blossoming. – Vivienne Cass PhD. (Page 57 The Elusive Orgasm)
Confront your Church and Social Cultural Foundations
I did not realise the implications of my cultural perceptions of sex. Some of these were subtly taught and some were taught at school and at church.
- Remain pure until marriage – the Purity Culture have had an enormously negative impact on woman’s healthy sexual perceptions.
- Woman must remain pure (Men are the sexual ones) – Culture made abstinence (which involved any and all types of sexuality) solely my responsibility when in fact it is both a man and a woman’s responsibility. We are both created with a sexual side, that is healthy and God given.
- Avoid All Sexual Discovery – Sexual discovery is normal and healthy part of growing up and is not sinful, lust is. I had to now own my sexuality and start learning about it.
- It’s the Man’s job to pursue – It’s his responsibility to make me feel good and bring us to orgasm. We learn this from the romance movies, the two minute sex scenes from Hollywood and the erotica we read in our romance novels. I discovered that I had trained my brain that is what sex is and did not realise that it had a similar effect on our brains that pornography has. We learn arousal from an image not a person.
- Orgasm is the Goal – Being goal focused means always thinking ahead and what should or maybe. You need to live and feel in the now. To become FULLY PRESENT in order to become aware of what’s happening right now and to enjoy what is happening. That is the only way to start building positive moments, and it’s building one small moment on the next through each encounter that retrains your brain to anticipate and enjoy touch, and this in turn builds sexual arousal and pleasure.
- Sex is Genitals and Orgasms – Sexuality encompasses so much more. When we focus on genital stimulation and orgasms it’s like trying to drive a parked car starting in fourth gear. Sex is the way we look at our spouse, it’s the gentle hug that says you’re important to me, it’s breathing in one another’s scent, holding hands. This is the first step, this is where sex starts for all of us. My husband was just as surprised when I passed on this information I was learning through reading Rekindling Desire. Just as a manual car has five gears the author compares physical touch in relationships to each gear and it’s by reclaiming the basics, the joy and thrill of him holding my hand that restarts the car engine after it stalls, after all I don’t hold hands with just any man I only hold his!
Confront Sexual Shame – Break the Cycle
I was trapped in the cycle of no sexual feelings. My sexual response had become cut off because I was dissociated to what was going on in my body. I finally realized that this bad habit started way back when I was discovering my sexuality. The purity culture taught me it was ALL my responsibility and I was not to be sexual. Some of the sexual shame I had to confront with truth were:
- I was afraid I may get pregnant
- Sex is a sin, sex will make me impure.
- I need to be constantly on alert to what was happening because I was responsible. If we went too far I’d be called a slut or give this guy the idea it was ok to go all the way
- I had to watch how I dressed because it is my responsibility to make sure men do not lust. Confronting this has given me the freedom to enjoy beautiful clothing.
- Sexual attraction before marriage is wrong
Looking back I now realize that during moments of sexual discovery I was only vaguely aware of my body because I had disconnected my mind from my physical response in order to be on alert, I needed to make sure that I was not leading this guy too far and I needed to detect if anyone else was around and to keep from being caught. I now know that I had conditioned my mind to be disconnected from my body and carried that into my marriage and then over the last 30 years reinforced this bad habit. I went into marriage knowing it was ok to have sex but I did not know how to reconnect my mind to feel what was happening in my body.
I had to face the fact that there is no pill that will change my negative thinking and bad attitude. There is no short cut to remove my feelings of resentment or a special device to magically fix my sexual habits. I need to own that. It’s my responsibility. Not my spouse. Not God. Me. It’s MY responsibility, and I need to make the changes MYSELF for myself.
1. Start by Being Honest with Your Mate
Sexuality is both a team and individual sport. In a gentle manner ask him to help you learn and commit to working towards what it can be. Most of us woman learn sexual technique from our husbands. We expect them to know what to do, because culturally it’s expected. However we are not men–our bodies are different. Men in general tend to use a rhythm/method with us based upon their own personal experience, and when it doesn’t work, we assume we are broken. This is simply not true. Different is not the same as broken. These differences give a fullness and expression to intimacy that is simply not possible without acknowledging that.
2. Give Yourself Permission to Feel
Tell your brain he is touching you and you want to feel the goodness of his touch. As woman we run away in our heads from our bodies when sex doesn’t work because it feels safer, but in essence we are disconnecting our brains from our bodies. The thing is our bodies know what to do, we need to learn to connect our brains to our bodies to feel what is really going on.
3. Give Your Sexual Needs and Feelings a Place
It is so easy to start making changes and then forget to keep them up. Old habits die hard. It only takes one or two days of loosing sight of your thought and you’ll be back to where you started. Prioritise working on regaining what has been lost to you. You need a minimum of three sessions a week to break the old cycle and build a new one.
4. Understand That Sex is Not a Spectator Sport
If you treat sex like a spectator sport, forget it–nothing works. Your brain needs to be involved. And it needs multiple levels of involvement. When you spectate you disconnect and begin critiquing and that kills feeling. Spectating is the opposite of being present and will undo all the healing in your journey. When you find yourself spectating grab your mind and focus. My habit was so bad I had to HYPER FOCUS on what was happening in order to be present. I had to ask my spouse to not speak to me at all during our encounters because it was too distracting. I needed all my focused attention to make my brain be aware in order to feel what was happening.
6. Have a Biology Lesson
For most of us sex education consisted mainly of reproductive biology. However our sexual biology is very different from reproductive biology. Our sexuality was so important to God that he separated out our reproductive and sexual anatomy and made them to complement each other. I was rather surprised to learn about just how complex (can you imagine 8,000 nerve endings with the sole purpose of giving a woman pleasure!) the clitoris and is far more complex and encompassing than simply a little nob that needs the right rubbing.
7. Learn to Enjoy Non-Demand Touch
In essence this is any physical contact that brings pleasure without the demand for intercourse. Ask your husband to do three things: (1) Slow down his touch and his rhythm, (2) lighten, the pressure of his touch, and (3) take longer. Investing in non sexual touch is the KEY to reawaken your mind to the sexual pleasure your body feels, loves and craves and you need to feel and acknowledge in your brain. We were both surprised at the places that felt good to touch.
Guilt and Orgasms do not go together if you have one you will not have the other. The truth is it’s time for me to enjoy my sexuality. I don’t have to feel guilt or shame and it’s okay for me to enjoy myself. God has given me this gift of pleasure to enjoy and I can do so guilt free. After all no gift should ever make the receiver feel guilty.
9. Stop Being Lazy
Jumping into sex at the end of the day or start for that matter by going straight to heavy petting and directly to genital stimulation (other than for a fun quickie) is LAZY. Sex is more than that; it’s an intimate physical conversation between you and your spouse. It’s about taking the time to say this is how much I love you and only you. You are the centre of my world and I appreciate all this about you. A word of caution this discovery takes time and oh my does it provide great benefits to both of you. Men too need to learn the benefits of receiving prolonged touch. Our culture teaches them to prime us for sex so they are unaware of just how much touch they too need. (We’ve both learnt things about each others pleasure that we had no idea existed even after nearly 30 years of a sexual relationship together!)
10. Coach yourself mentally.
Tell your brain he is touching you and you want to feel the goodness of his touch. As woman we tend to run away in our heads disconnecting from our bodies when sex doesn’t work. In essence we are disconnecting our brains from our bodies. The thing is our bodies know what to do, we however need to learn to connect our brains to our bodies in order to feel what is really going on. When I first started learning to feel I had to ask my husband not to talk because it took every ounce of my will to focus my brain and keep it in the game. It was hard work that took months of practise but slowly, ever so slowly the feelings came, at first they teased and flitted past but eventually they came and stayed. In the beginning those feelings would only appear for a second or two before disappearing. This is NOT a quick fix you will need to persevere because you have spent years training your brain to disconnect and it would rather follow the well trod path than forge a new one but I do promise that gradually your brain will learn how to catch those feelings and press into them.
11. Physical Response to Touch Takes Time to Learn
LEAN into what you feel with your mind. Think of it like the ripples in a pond when a pebble is tossed into it. Every nerve in your body is interconnected and is able to share positive feelings. This takes practise. Concentrate on the nice feeling and allow it to spread. Don’t expect to feel all over your body instantly.
12. Relax and allow your husband to touch you
This one sounds strange, I know. I was so wound up about not liking sex that every time my spouse touched me I would get so annoyed because I didn’t get anything out of it. A few months into my sexual reawakening I made a decision to relax and not fight him about where he wanted to touch me any longer. I had only one tiny area on my body that was not negotiable for me. It took a lot of practise to relax and train myself that this was okay and good. One day I was so very surprised to learn after a few weeks that wow I loved his touch on me and the most surprising aspect was that the places I enjoy having touched used to be the ‘banned’ areas from before… (Needless to say my husband is pleased too because he may touch and there are no more arguments over where his hands wonder 😉 )
13. Take the Time to Become Mentally and Physically Fit for Sexual Activity
The many years of sexual inactivity and neglect on my part came at a cost. When I first started working on reawakening love I discovered that within a few minutes I would be exhausted both physically and mentally. I learnt that it takes a few months to build up both the mental and physical effort needed for sexual activity. I had to learn that it was okay for me to be wholly involved for ten minutes to start with and then go along for the ride. Gradually my stamina grew and I could participate wholeheartedly till the end. It was and is worth this effort.
14. Most Importantly, Build Your Emotional Intimacy
Have an honest talk about your disappointment (remember to use I statements and do not blame shift) but do not dwell there, once you’ve talked it over set your focus on where you want to be and spend your time talking about the small victories (those tiny one and two second nice feelings), no matter how small. Focus on those; build on those. Give yourself permission to enjoy the slivers of good when they appear.You are worth it. It is there in you to enjoy.
Just as eating a healthy diet produces a healthy body what you choose to think about sex will produce the fruit of your experience. If you want to experience sexual pleasure and deep intimacy with your spouse it is important for you to consume the right information and meditate on healthy truth and choose a positive attitude. “I can’t” is a choice towards the negative. You will need to say YES to the things that will lead you towards your goal and no to all the negative thoughts and feelings.
It is no easy thing to reshape the negative you have right now in your life into something beautiful. I can tell you it is worth the effort because God is a God of redemption and He wants for me and you the fullness of His GIFT of INTIMACY in marriage.
You will need to make a firm decision to cut back on negative sexual thinking and actively increase your positive thought process towards sexuality. We tend to bring about what we think about. This is a scriptural principle: Proverbs 23:7 As a person thinks in his heart, so is he.
May you be radically and outrageously blessed on this journey to wholeness and redeeming love.
I’m so glad she shared her story, and I do hope some of her hints helped you. They really are so necessary. And I want to reiterate to every woman again: there is nothing wrong with your body. Like our reader said, there is just a disconnect between your body and your brain. You can do this–it just may take some time!
Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.