Do you have intimate issues that pertain to sexual intimacy with your spouse that are causing problems in your lives together? If you do, you’re not alone. The media is filled with sex talk and many intimate problems that couples are encountering.
Unfortunately, Christian couples are not excluded from experiencing these problems. As a result, they’re getting drawn into trying to remedy these issues in the same way the world is attempting to work on them. Some of them are good. But many of them are harmful and sinful as well!
And this is causing enormous problems within homes, churches, communities, and our world at large. Plus, it has to be breaking God’s heart! He wants better from His children! We are to be a light, poking holes in the darkness —not helping the darkness to spread further! How we pray all of us within the church will wake up!
Marital Intimate Issues
One of the reasons we believe there is such an assault on this are of our lives is because:
“Sex is a type of worship. Did you know that? Even the heathen know it. That’s why orgies were a part of the worship ceremonies for pagan deities. But we need to remember that there is right worship and there is wrong worship. Wrong worship brought death to Aaron’s sons when they offered the wrong fire and incense before God. To look at this literally, you can say that sex outside of marriage brings about death to our spirits. It also brings death to our sense of well-being or esteem.” (Michelle McKinney Hammond)
Let’s face it, the enemy of our faith is all for disrupting, prostituting, and eliminating any type of worship that could draw us closer to God and to each other as a godly couple. So what about how you express yourself sexually within your marriage? That’s our concern in this message. And we would like to address these concerns from different angles. Cindy will be addressing wives and Steve will address husbands.
The concern that God has laid upon my heart is the misconceptions that women have allowed themselves to embrace in this area of marriage. I’ve been there and have done that myself. As a result, I’m the last one to throw stones. However, praise God, I eventually woke up! (And so has my husband.)
Sadly, when I speak on this topic of married sexuality at women’s groups, I find many women have been fooled just as I was. Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, authors of the book Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex write quite frankly about this matter. They said that in their travels they have found that “between 90 – 95 per cent of women don’t have God’s perspective” on this area of their marital relationship. I agree. The enemy of our faith has done too good of a job of snookering us!
Two Extremes to Marital Intimate Issues
Wives seem to go to two extremes. One is that many are inhibited in being very expressive sexually with their husbands. Whether their reasoning was influenced because of the way they were raised or because of a trauma they experienced, or whatever the reason —it isn’t scriptural.
The other extreme is that many wives expect their husbands to shut themselves down sexually to require less or literally nothing of them sexually. Both of these extremes are problematic.
The first extreme is dismissed by the example of the Shulammite woman in the book of Song of Songs. She was more than expressive in the way she made love to her husband. And yet God included it in the Bible. Why? It must be that He condoned her actions. Love like this, when it is expressed within marriage between a husband and wife, is “good.” It delights God’s heart because it unites us as “one” as we enjoy each other unashamedly in every way.
However, when we take that expression outside of marriage and involve other people, that is when it isn’t condoned by God. And it shouldn’t be something we allow ourselves to participate in or entertain.
Another View of Intimate Issues
The other extreme should be viewed in the way that God created us —as man and woman. We aren’t created the same physically (which is obvious), but also in our mental and emotional tendencies. Since we’re packaged differently on the outside, what makes us think we’re designed to be the same in the way we approach life emotionally, and sexually?
We are different in what sex means to us:
• “The male drive is generated by physical needs, accompanied by emotional needs. A woman’s drive stems from emotional needs along with physical needs.” (Jack Mayall)
• “Visual stimulation is not as strong for [most] women. But the emotional longings and cravings of our heart and soul for love, intimacy, affection and attention is just as difficult for us to deal with as the visual is for men.” (Shannon Ethridge)
That is why it is cruel for a man to continually deny his wife affection. But it is also cruel for a woman to continually deny her husband physically. Both are very important needs that shouldn’t be overlooked. However, it often disregarded because one or the other sees things differently.
Marital Intimate Issues That Need Help
If you’re conflicted in this area of your marriage, please, please, please get help! No matter what has been in your past, or is surrounding you in the present… seek to be whole and healthy to the glory of God. Get help even if your husband isn’t doing his part. You aren’t accountable to God for what your husband does, but you are accountable for what you do or won’t do.
“Sex is the physical confirmation of everything that is spiritually joined together during the wedding ceremony.” (Dr Walt Larimore, from the book “His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Marriages”)
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and like-wise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.“ (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
As Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus point out:
“If you’re ready to begin the metamorphosis and blossom into all God created you to be, the place to start enacting change is not in the bedroom but on your knees.”
I pray these will be your words (as they are mine):
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.“ (Psalm 139:23-24)
There is so much that needs to be said from a man’s standpoint. But I just want to give us men two quick thoughts to meditate on. And then I will elaborate on them in Marriage Message #35.
These come from what I believe to be the most powerful book (other than the Bible) addressing a man’s heart and mind when it comes to sexual issues, Every Man’s Battle, written by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. I highly recommend you get this book if you can. Its subtitle says a lot too: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time.
I’m going to ask every one of us as men a couple of questions. I want us to pray and ask God to reveal to us (men) what truth He wants us to come to terms with.
1) Do I look pure on the outside to everyone else? But in reality have I merely settled on a middle ground somewhere between the world’s standards and obedience to God’s standard?
2) Do I get any sexual gratification from anyone or anything other than my wife?
Please don’t minimize the importance of how you answer these questions. As hard as it may be to come face-to-face with the truth, ask God’s Holy Spirit to break through any defensive mechanisms you may have put up. Do this so that you can come to the place of beginning to “choose to be strong and courageous and to walk in purity.”
Standards Given to Us in God’s Word:
“I have set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate. They will not cling to me.“(Psalm 101:3)
“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.“(2 Corinthians 10:5).
On intimate issues, realize that:
“We have countless churches filled with countless men encumbered by sexual sin, weakened by low-grade sexual fevers. These are men who are happy enough to go to a Promise Keepers event, but too sickly to be promise keepers” (Fred Stoeker)
“The world has not yet seen what God can do with a man fully devoted to Him.” (D. L. Moody)
We pray you will put and keep God at the center of your marriage —especially concerning intimate issues. This is because the enemy of our faith is looking for a way to tempt you to stray away from being close to each other. Please make it your mission to shame the devil, not each other, and not God.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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13 responses to “Marital Intimate Issues – MM #34”
(USA) Thank you for the lovely article. I too have read the book Intimate Issues and found it to be very insightful and very biblically based and scripturally sound. After reading and re-reading the book and completing my own personal study, I am looking forward to hosting a ladies group to study the book together. I have had the opportunity to speak with several women of various ages and in varied stages of their marriage… some with children, some without… some happy… some not so happy. The common thread is that each woman has been able to voice that her marriage has the potential to be better if her sexual relationship with her husband were better.
As Christian women, we are excited to learn together what God has to say about sex. We are eager to learn how we can be both Godly and sensuous wives simply by following God’s plan!
We are willing to step out individually and collectively to grow in the knowledge of God and trust Him to teach us the joy of sexual intimacy with our own husbands. We are looking forward to having fun with our husbands and restoring our marriages!!! Thank you for your encouragement and wonderful articles!
(USA) Thank you for your comment. I am a happily married woman to an amazing Godly man and I am struggling with sexual sin…thoughts, etc. I want my walk with Christ to be pure and holy and I do not want to have these thoughts/images in my mind. I am currently 8 months pregnant with my first child and the majority of this started during my pregnancy and has intensified as it has gone on…I feel so alone and so ashamed.
I have a several Godly women in my life, but I feel I can’t discuss this with them…b/c it seems as though few women struggle with sexual sin. If I were a guy, I feel as if it would be understandable to discuss with other men, b/c they usually are the one’s who struggle in this area. So, I am not sure what I am doing, but I decided to just write this and send it off.
I know I serve a mighty God who can and WILL do greater things than I can ever know or fathom. If he made the world in 6 days, I know he can heal/restore me of this sin and bless my marriage.
(USA) Hi Lindsey. I am certain you are not alone with your struggles and I commend you for sharing openly. God can always work with an willing vessel. So often folks tend to think that it is "the norm" for a man to have issues with sexual sin, but unthinkable for a woman to struggle with the same.
Women often suffer in silence because they feel they have no where to go. They feel they will be judged or even rejected by their Christian women friends. It’s a very difficult situation. It sounds like you may have come upon a good place to share your fears, confusion and struggles safely. Hopefully many will be able to help you find your solid footing again. Just remember that your inner most thoughts and feelings may surprise you, but they do not take God off guard. He is already willing, ready and well prepared to help you through this difficult time. You can count on Him!
(SOUTH AFRICA) My husband and I had a wonderful sexual relationship in the beginning (Before I go on I am very ashamed to say that our relationship started many years ago as purely platonic friends – also we were both married to other people and both our marriages had been "on the rocks" for many years, and in both marriages divorce was about to happen).
Our friendship grew and our affair started … my husband came to me and said he was having wonderful sex with another woman and we should get divorced, and after much deliberation I agreed – (he started threatening me with divorce about 18 years earlier – we’d been married for 22 years when the divorce became final). Ron had filed for divorce before and decided that December that it was over. So even though we’d both separated from our partners we were still legally married at the time.
Anyway, Ron and I were also drinking heavily together -we got married after living together for two and a half years. Then I stopped drinking – about 5 years ago and since then our marriage has gone downhill. The "blame game" has been going on since then.
Whenever we have an fight (which is quite often) -no matter what the discussion is about he will say "I used to have a wife that came on to me" and I will reply "I had a husband who doted on me – I can’t make love out of nothing" There is just no "interaction" between us during the day and I really battle to "come on to" him at night – he still drinks heavily and comes home drunk many nights. Thanks for your wonderful messages. May God bless you as you continue.
(RSA) Hi, thank you for the timely message. I see that my sisters in Christ have also felt the impact of this message in their lives. God moves in strange ways but the outcome is always good.
Lindsay, I feel your pain but am the last person to offer advice as I am also in a rut. I am the extreme opposite of you. My husband and I have sexual relations maybe once in three months. I realise that this is wrong and he really wants to be intimate with me but I just don’t feel that way.
As a result our marriage is suffering and we are not as close as we used to be. I have also realised that I have limited God’s power because as much as I pray for everything else in my life, I have neglected to pray for this believing that God has better things to worry about. Sisters please pray with me and for my marriage.
(UGANDA) I am so thankful for the faithful ministry you carry out each week to the web, you are able to reach many many souls. Thank you particularly for this message, I was getting comfortable as a wife, and not being "outwardly’ available for my husband." And I realise, the more you don’t have it, the more you drift apart, and the more you have it, the more connected you become.
The aspect of worship, I truly agree, because, there is an atmosphere of peace, love, steadfastness, which you will not find anywhere else- (for the lack of expressing my self.)
So, ladies, every time, you don’t feel like doing it… do it! And see what happens.
(USA) Steve and Cindy, you have written a wonderful article. Based on the replies thus far, I appear to be the only husband. I trust other men will step up and comment.
My story is one of sex addiction that started long before I met my dear wife. I confessed my adulterous behavior to her after I was terminated by a Christian ministry. I did not blame her, but had little to say except that I was guilty of committing many sins against her and against a Holy God. We had been married 24 years up to that point and my wife chose to reconcile with me.
I got into a recovery program and a few years later started a support group for Christian men (like me) who struggle with sexual sin. My dear wife started a support group for the wives. We now facilitate 6 meetings per week with help from others. As full-time marriage missionaries, we minister to about 65 men and 15 wives.
If God can use a sexual sinner like me, he can restore anyone from the depravity of their situation, despite the consequences. By the way, we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary earlier this year.
(KENYA) It’s good to read all the comments and to know I am not alone in all these areas or deprivation or not being available as a wife. Nokwanda, I feel you and I would like to encourage you. Pray to God, and ask him for what you want, marital bliss… name it. He gives what our hearts desire.
I am 8 months pregnant and I have really been struggling to have sex with my my husband during this time. I have gone completely off. He complained a lot and told me that all else may be fine but if i don’t satisfy him, then he doesn’t know what, this being our first child. So I forced myself to get involved, for his own sake because I felt nothing nothing at all until I realised I was just resenting him more and I wouldn’t even let him touch me.
So I told him one night I just could do it, I couldn’t bring myself up to the game. He just kept quiet and that was even worse. I started thinking will he start seeing someone now? Will he stray and I also got scared thinking have I lost it forever? Will it resume after the baby is born? Then I turned and prayed to God. I asked him to see me through this situation, to bring back my feelings towards my husband and that I was not going to lose my husband over such an issue. It has only been two weeks but after staying apart for some time, we have now come back together and it is good. The pace is slower and for sure getting there by God’s grace. I believe after the baby arrives ill go back to my old self.
(SOUTH AFRICA) I thank my GOD so much for this ministry that blesses and uplifts our marriages. My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years now and we’ve had a wonderful relationship for which I give GOD all the glory. We also have been blessed with a wonderful baby boy who’s turning 2 this weekend.
I also remember that during my pregnancy, it was very difficult for me to make love to my husband as I just did not ‘feel’ it. However, I knew how important it is for my husband to be satisfied sexually. This became even worse after our son was born and there were times where I also thought that I had lost it and was never ever going to desire my husband again. Well, glory to GOD, my desire for my husband was restored and we’re now enjoying a fulfilling sexual relationship that glorifies GOD and it is such and honor for me to be ministering to my husband in that area and to know that I’m satisfying the servant of GOD.
I’d like to encourage my sisters Iva and Nokwanda to at least try. Get yourself the ‘right attire’ to feel good and a right attitude in this area and remember that doing the right thing does not always feel good but the results are always pleasant. Seeing your husband satisfied and your marriage pleasant is worth the sacrifice. Be blessed and thank you for your obedience to GOD and for a wonderful ministry.
(NIGERIA) Thank God for all of you folks. I was having a hard time with my wife even before she became pregnant and now that she is, it is somewhat tougher especially in the face of all these hell-sinking temptations. But what I just try to do is see how I can depend upon God and make her see reasons with me- alerting her that if she makes me (through her denying me) fall she is the one that will regret it the most( but of course life will just be miserable for both of us). I just depend upon God to help me at every twist and turn.
All these things -sexual intimacy at the prime makes me more home-sick and heavenward. If you do want it or you are active your spouse is not, thus, you are more prone to temptation. And if you do not want it or pray to God to deaden the passion (as I had one time done) 1. You are not doing the will of God ;"worshiping God" and 2. your wife will be dieing for it by her longing for emotional affection etc. So you see what I mean? Can anyone help me?
Please, pray for our wives and counsel our young girls and ladies to dress well, covering their nakedness.
(NIGERIA) I have been married for 15 years and have fallen into depression often. My husband has cheated on me several times. I forgive him but I hurt a lot and find it difficult to let him touch me sometimes. To make things worse, he insults and threatens me because of this. He has compared me to other women. I have switched off sex and my feeling for him are almost none. I have refused to be hurt again and again. It seems to give him pleasure when I hurt and he makes fun of me when I’m depressed. I find it difficult to pray. Someone please help. I feel like vanishing.
(USA) Dear Roli, I just wanted to encourage you in your struggle. I too have had the exact circumstances in my life. My husband has cheated on me as well, perhaps not in the same way but I understand the feeling of not really being married to him. He has so many times chosen something or someone else for sexual gratification instead of me. This has distanced me from him.
I understand the feelings of difficulty in letting him touch me as well. Off and on for 12 years, the hurt seems to take hold of me somehow and not let me decide to let him be involved in my life. I also have heard my husband make fun of me as well. This is an extremely hurtful action. Often I flip the listening switch when he is acting this way. I know that it is wrong for him to do this and have to remind myself that God does care and cares for what is going wrong.
Though I have at times vanished from my husband, please do not vanish from God. I have found that prayer has been my only source of hope, comfort as I know God hears me and is compassionate. Ultimately, it is God’s work to work out the bad behaviors and to change us into a couple who longs to serve Him.
My struggle is in being able to communicate effectively with my husband so that he understands the problem. He seems to expect our conversations to be like TV, switching quickly, etc. Because I enjoy the conversation and want the time with him, we are different like that.
Now, we are in a different phase of our marriage. He is working in a different city and we only see each other on the weekends (usually) so it has been better, believe it or not. I think the struggle has made us stronger as it will if we let it. He actually called me 2 nights ago while he was parked in a club -which is a huge struggle for him. He talked to me instead and went on his way. He almost succumbed but didn’t, thanks to God.
Pray for him lots though, as it has been 2 wks. and will be 5 more days til we see each other again. I know that Satan wants nothing more than to see our bond broken and crushed and it is a constant battle to keep it strong. I don’t know why our relationship is different now (other than that we are really thankful for each other as we don’t see each other often). Really, I cannot attribute any of the changes to anything but God. God alone is who we need for every issue of life. He is always there with us, giving us what we need. Please take hope in that.
Can we not look at this from a women’s point of view as well as a man’s?