[blockquote] Over the next few weeks, as a church, we will be examining 1 Corinthians 7 and specifically focusing on Sex, Singleness and Divorce/Remarriage in our sermon series #RelationshipStatus. This past Sunday, we looked at SEX: A Spiritual Battle; with that in mind, this week's posts will provide more personal reflections/experiences from others on this topic. [/blockquote]
Six years ago, my husband and I struggled with sexual intimacy. As a woman and wife, I was devastated. Doctors weren’t sure what was going on until a year into our marriage. They gave me several medical diagnoses due to painful intercourse. Three years and 60 lbs later, I was told I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is a life-long disease causing: cysts on the ovaries, an increase in testosterone, weight gain, excessive hair growth, and infertility due to an irregular menstrual and ovulation cycle. Ahhhhh!! Deep breaths. So many times I would tell myself that, but I never knew whom I was talking to because in the midst of all of this myself was fading. Can you imagine the stress and communication breakdown our marriage endured? My testosterone levels were so high, I often felt out of control. I mean overly aggressive, moody and sometimes abusive.
While I was trapped in my broken reality, my husband was suffering from his own—pornography. We were rarely having sex, due to my pain, his addiction and all of our other mess! The stress and turmoil grew, and at times one or both of us emotionally disengaged from the relationship. It felt safer, because we were no help to each other; it was as if we were on opposing teams. My faulty expectations told me that if he were more of a man and I was more of a woman, then maybe we could be a couple. I felt so helpless as a wife and abandoned as a child of God.
Though the pain of our struggle was remarkable, we have learned that we were not nearly as alone as we felt. In fact, the Lord was indeed using that experience to refine our relationship and draw us into a deeper dependance on Him. He has stirred in our hearts a deep compassion for couples who struggle in similar areas, and has given us great opportunity to minister to marriages that resemble our own.
Sex is a Gift from God and it is good
Gary Collins wrote, “When sexual problems appear, some couples simply ‘give up’ and don’t try to resolve their difficulties. They may fear discussing the frustrations or believe that things will never get better. Others develop headaches, abdominal pain, fatigue, emotional distress, or other symptoms that hide the sexual problem and can provide an excuse for abstinence.” In addition, couples may have major effects such as: lowered self-esteem, the selection of substitute activities (explicit novels, porn, extramarital sex, etc.,), anger, impatience, and communication breakdown. Ahhh… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV). Marriage is definitely a covenant that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. And within the covenant of marriage, sex can be enjoyed freely and passionately. “Sex is a gift from God and it is good” (Debra Taylor, MA). Togetherness with your spouse is a picture of our relationship with each other and with God. The Bible tells us that God created everything in our bodies and all of their functions; this includes genitals, sexual response, and even orgasms (Gen. 1:27,31). So sexual responses/drives and urges are natural functions given to us by God. But used outside their design, these functions can feel strong and uncontrollable. The enemy will do everything within his power to get you to have sex before marriage and everything possible to keep you from having sex while married.
Our world doesn’t help the encouragement of moral and Biblical sex and sexuality. In fact, we’ve been desensitized and influenced by media and cultural norms that influence and imprint unrealistic and unhealthy views of sex and sexuality. Take Abercrombie and Fitch, in their ads, what immediately grabs your attention the most? Is it the jeans? Or is it something else? What types of images get imprinted into your brain? Sex is everywhere in our culture, and it has become more and more readily available with no questions asked, no commitments made, and no thought as to why.
Education and Prevention Plan
I want premarital and marital couples to know that although sexual urges and desires come naturally, the art of making love is something that is pursued and learned in your covenant relationships with your spouse, as you grow closer and closer in oneness. Psych education is so important in premarital relationships. It creates a strong foundation by stripping away myths and unrealistic expectations about marriage and sex in marriage. For instance:
1. Women don't enjoy sex as much as men. 2. Men should know how to feel and think. 3. I should always desire an orgasm. 4. Women's sexual desire should be like men's sexual desire. 5. Our first time will be magical and romantic. 6. I have pain during sex because God is punishing me.
1. Men know all about sex. 2. The size of the penis determines manliness and your ability as a lover. 3. Men are always horny and erections come instantly. 4. Sex equals intimacy. 5. Women have low sex drives. 6. I must always be the best performer sexually.
These myths may be your reality, but having the correct knowledge can be a bridge leading to wholeness and sexual fulfillment in your current or future marital relationship. When sexual issues are discussed, as a part of premarital counseling, there can be more realistic expectations and a clearer understanding of physiology or lovemaking techniques, as a result, sexual problems are less likely to evolve in the marriage. And if for whatever reason problems do develop, having established a good relationship with your premarital counselor can encourage you to seek help from them.
A strong foundation or prevention plan is important in eliminating the devastating effects of sexual problems in your marriage. If you are reading this and can relate in many areas the following is available:
- Counseling (Marital, Premarital, and help for the abused or struggles with sexuality and gender)
- Sex education to help prevent sexual problems in the marriage
- An understanding of what the Bible teaches about sex
- Basic facts about male and female anatomy and physiological reactions
- New information about types of intimacy
- Healthy sexual attitudes
- Skills for abstinence and sexual retraining for abuse victims
I personally don’t want to see marriages struggle due to a lack of knowledge. As His workmanship, he has more in store for us then our expectations.