Sex Q + A (part one)

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We have done a lot of talking this week about sex and covered topics how:

Now it's your turn to ask the questions!

Below are some of your questions that were submitted anonymously on the topic of sex:

Sex Question #1a: Sex just hasn't been the same for me since having a baby. Part of the problem is I'm always tired and I typically go to bed earlier now, since I'm usually the one getting up during the night. There just never seems to be a good time for it and before baby, sex was something that happened naturally and we never had to carve out time for it. (Just doesn't seem very romantic when it's something you need to schedule!) And also, my sex drive just hasn't been what it used to be; I don't really put much effort into trying to make it happen. I miss the intimacy of it...but it just seems like so much work! Any tips?
Sex Question #1b: Especially now with a child, sex is left for when he is sleeping and the house is put back together. So pretty much the last thing before our bed time. Im exhausted! Im always thankful and reunited with my husband when we do have sex, but how can I keep myself in the mood more often? I also struggle with reaching the big o during sex, so sometimes I just don't feel its worth the extra energy as much as I want to be close with my husband and provide the pleasure he desires. Any advice would be great. Thank you.

We were asked questions like this multiple times. As you can see, you are not alone. Everyone's sex life goes though changes and adjustments during and after having children. The danger here is letting Satan get a foothold in your marriage. The last thing he wants is for you and your husband to be thriving in the bedroom. He loves to take a God-pleasing thing like having children and use it as a wedge between the intimacy of a husband and wife.

It's easy as moms to see the constant needs around us like the kids, the messy kitchen and unfolded laundry. Being intimate with our husbands can feel like an optional extra when the time is right, when we have energy or when the mood finally hits. But the truth is, it's not an extra and it IS important. Sex is a powerful bonding, unifying and stress relieving blessing for both husband and WIFE.

That being said, staying connected in your sex life is no easy task, especially for the burned out, tired, mama! However, if we have the mindset that sex is actually one of the important aspects of our marriage, then it will help to make some adjustments of less important things in your day to allow more time/energy for it.

Here are some practical tips:

Take a nap when the kids do. If you can do this, you might find that you have a bit more energy at the end of the night for your husband. Yes, the dishes might not get done or you might have to clear the laundry off of the bed in order to use it, but I'm pretty sure your husband won't mind :-)

Take some less important things out of your day. As moms we can start to feel that every task we do during the day is of utmost importance. While they all matter, the truth is some things that feel important can actually be put lower on the priority list. Take a genuine look all the things you do during the week and see if you can cut back on some less crucial things in order to have a bit more time and energy for you marriage.

Flirt and initiate. It's way to easy to fall into our mom roll and forget the flirting and fun of sex. Communicating to your husband after work in the evening what your "plans" are once the kids are asleep can go a long way. As woman we love being desired. Teasing your husband by flirting and getting him thinking about sex before you are able to have it will often lead him to continue the flirting and get both he and you thinking about the evening activities before hand.

Talk through and be open about your struggles with sex. Please don't say silent about how sex has changed for you after kids. Your body went through a huge physical change and it's ok to have to re-learn what pleases one another and what doesn't. I'm guessing your husband realizes that the physical end of sex isn't as easy for you anymore. As long as you approach it with grace and gentleness, it's very likely he would love to be able to talk through and learn what pleases you.

Don't leave sex for the last thing before bed. Start your evening (or afternoon on the days you may have that opportunity) with your husband before bedtime rolls around.

And finally, pray for God to give passion to your sex life. 

Sex can take time and effort, but so do many other things we do every single day for our husband and kids, that doesn't mean they aren't worth doing. Keep working at it! The lie is that having to give more effort takes away the romance. It's not true. Lots of great things in our lives are things we have to work at.

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Sex Question #2: My husband has struggled with an addiction to pornography for most of his teen and adult years. He's been clean for about a year now and I've forgiven him. When we're intimate, sometimes I fear that he's still thinking about the pornographic things instead of me. How do I get past that?

Several of us writers at Holy Hen House have gone through this struggle in our marriages as well. I recommend praying during sex. It has helped me have sex with my husband when it was the last thing I wanted to do and even helped me enjoy it more. Our minds and bodies are a unit. If I have stressful thoughts I will have tension throughout my body which will become rigid and sex will be more painful. Through prayer, the tension in my heart fades away and so does the tension throughout my body which makes sex more pleasureful.

While having sex with my husband and fearing that he is thinking about pornography I repeat several things to myself and pray through the difficult time:

- God, you are always faithful. You are my Rock. - Satan is the enemy. Not my husband. - Lord, make my thoughts your thoughts and take these images far away from my husband and I. - Sex is not disgusting. We are married and our sex is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. (Philippians 4:8) - My husband is mine and I am his. Even now I am his helper.

- Sex is also for me to enjoy. Lord, help me find joy with my husband right now.

Following prayer during sex, I find an overwhelming feeling within my heart to love my husband more and show him physically. Our sex life is better than ever before! There is hope and our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2), the one who designed sex. As Katy mentioned yesterday, Sex + Intimacy with God is a must to having a great sex life.

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Your response to ask questions about sex was so well we decided to add extra days of Q+A!  Sex Q&A (Part Two) - How did your religious education affect your view of sex? - What did your mom tell you or what do you wish she would have told you about your wedding night?

Sex Q&A (Part Three) - Is it normal for your husband to desire sex more than you? - I struggle with the sin of masturbation. I think there MUST be another woman or two struggling with this out there, and would like for them to not feel as isolated as I do. But how does one simply bring it up in conversation...? 

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Sex + Barriers

God&SexSeries2.jpg I picture the garden of Eden and all of its beauty and perfection. It really was good. God said it was! Adam and Eve were in complete peace with our Father. Adam and Eve were both naked, and they felt no shame. Yesterday, Mel and Becky discussed sex being a taboo topic among Christians and I believe there is a reason why we want to hide the topic. The same reason Adam and Eve were hiding. Sin + Shame.

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." Genesis 3:7-8

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How has something that was good become so shameful? Sin. Whenever I look at our wedding pictures of me just shy of turning 20, I can't help but smile and shake my head at how naive I was. My future husband and I had been dating for five years and felt we had waited and waited and struggled and persevered for this special day - "my beloved is mine and I am his" - to be united! We had gone through the mad years of early infatuation, tempted by the adolescent mind that feeling trumps reason. We were under so much pressure to "don't have sex" that we thought once we were married all the physical aspects of sex that we were waiting for would just happen naturally. How couldn't they? That was our expectation. Was it realistic? We fell for the lie that we wouldn't have to work at our sex life. ever. It didn't take long after our honeymoon baby was miscarried that a wall of barriers were built to make me want to hide under the covers. I felt hurt, angry, and shameful. I certainly didn't want to get hurt again.

Sin has invaded all the good that God has created, including sex.

Can it be talked about in a positive way - absolutely! And please let's do. But today I will share some common barriers that separate us from this gift of sex that can be so good.

 1. Thinking that sex in marriage will come easily and does not take work or effort

The passionate letting 'one thing lead to another' kind of sex is great but will likely not happen every time (or most, sorry). With married adult life comes work, possible infertility, children, stress, postpartum depression, tired schedules, health concerns, distractions; all reasons that make physical intimacy difficult. You will likely have sex when you don't feel like it. If everything has to be perfect (shaved legs are nice but not a requirement ladies!) or a checked off list before you can open your heart to sex  - it will rarely happen.

Your husband may have a stronger desire to have sex than you OR you may have a stronger desire than they do. Learning how to communicate as a couple about your sex life in a positive way (without blame!) is essential for a healthy sex life. Words are powerful. Words can make another person feel secure to open up and be vulnerable or shut them down. Remembering that your spouse isn't there for your satisfaction alone but you also for them can bring you closer. There are some nights where we have to put what our spouse wants or needs before ourselves. This isn't whoever has the strongest feeling wins. Not at all. Does it take you awhile to get revved up for sex? Does a glass of wine, bath, text messages throughout the day, music, having sex at a certain time before you are exhausted help? Discuss this with your husband and see what helps him too.

"The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps 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." I Corinthians 7:3-5

Communicate to each other your needs, insecurities, hopes, and expectations. If you still feel conflicted or talking about sex with one another is uncomfortable, pray about it together and seek counseling. You are not alone in this fight and it is so worth fighting for! 

 

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2. How sex was talked about or depicted to you as a child/young adult

Hopefully your parents talked to you about sex before your grade school friends did. Some of us hens did not receive 'the birds and the bees' talk from our parents and we missed out. Trying to flip the switch from thinking that sex is wrong to believing sex is good in one day of getting married is not easy. I'll never forget that the morning after our wedding my aunt came up to me at gift opening and asked in a hush, "So now do you feel like a married woman?" with a little smirk that made me blush to my toes. I felt shame. Where was the sex conversation before we got married?

Please, don't just tell them "don't do it!" but fill in the why beyond "God says not to!" Simply telling our kids to not do something because we or God say so is equal to telling a toddler not to touch the hot pan with fragrant fresh cinnamon rolls on it. Without building a relationship of trust and respect with our children, they will likely reach out and get burned. Lead sons to be men that respect women as sisters in Christ and not as objects of  physical pleasure. Dads, your sons are watching your example - show them! Tell daughters that they are worthy of love and are loved regardless of their appearance or sex appeal. Moms, your daughters are watching and listening to your words about yourself!

If we do not speak to your children about sex, their perceptions will be formed by someone or something else. There are plenty of sitcoms, music videos, songs, magazines, movies and even children cartoons and characters that are becoming more sexualized that sell to our sons and daughters every day. Someone tell me what happened to "My Little Pony" please! Let's be alert! We can't place our kids in a bubble but making good choices within our control as a family is important. Let's talk sincerely with them about the blessings and pleasures of sex along with the real threats and consequences of sex. There are plenty of bible stories that show direct consequences related to sexual sin. We should consider sharing with them our own personal stories - they will remember these and it may allow them to open up more to the topic as well. One of the biggest ways to show our children the blessings of marriage is by letting them see us kiss, hug, argue, makeup, and prioritize our marriage by dating after saying "I do!"

 

 

3. Past relationships In Naomi Schmidt's "The Proverbs 31 Woman" bible study I remember her calling attention to Proverbs 31:12 - "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." Naomi makes the point that this passage isn't just talking about bringing good to our husbands once married but even before a woman is married we should consider our choices and how they may affect our future husband later on. Are my choices with this boyfriend honoring God? Will these choices honor my future husband? Even if the choice is to be physically intimate with your boyfriend that ends up being your husband there can be negative consequences. It can be more difficult to resist the temptation of sex and you may carry guilt into your marriage.

What if your spouse had several relationships before you that were sexual? How does that make you feel? Comparing yourself with the other women may affect your self-esteem and ability to focus only on your spouse during sex instead of his past. Let me encourage you to be honest about your past relationships with each other and remind each other that you are forgiven by Christ and by each other. Looking at each other through the eyes of forgiveness and love will create a better restart for your sex life. "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." I Peter 4:8

 

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4. Our health choices in eating and exercising

First let me say that talking about eating healthy and exercising in the context of sex is not to pressure women into stretching, running, or lifting weights to make themselves more attractive for their husbands. Not that it is wrong to be attractive to our spouses but that shouldn't be our sole motivation. Our identity isn't in what our husbands, media, or our mirrors tell us is beautiful but rather that God finds each of us beautiful in Jesus. We are daughters of the King!

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." I Corinthians 6:19-20

Honoring God with our daily choices when it comes to diet and exercise trickles over into a myriad of aspects of our life. Eating a healthy diet and exercising increases a women's energy and desire to have sex. When we overeat or eat foods that are not good for us a woman can experience physical bloat, moodiness, and guilt which make a girl feel less than desirable and NOT anywhere near sexy. Women FEEL sexuality - meaning it has everything to do with our sense of self-image and little to do with the words our husband tell us about her beauty. If we don't FEEL beautiful, we will not be convinced we are, regardless of what is said to us. But most of the time, this lack of self-beauty of low self-image is not communicated to our husbands. So our husbands think, "She doesn't want to be intimate with me because of something I did or didn't do." When it actuality it had NOTHING to do with him.

Talk to your husband about making exercise a priority for yourself and if he isn't already exercising this could be an area where you could encourage each other. Even if you spend just three days a week walking with a friend, having a dance party with the kids (bust a move!), participating in a gym membership, or exercising along with a DVD at home - find something that you enjoy to get started towards a more healthy and energetic couple!

 

5. Unresolved conflict or abuse

oh boy. Here's a big one. Remember how #1 is about sex in marriage taking work. This is where it gets even more difficult. What happens when there are deep wounds or conflicts that haven't been resolved? Not only does our sex life suffer but the entire future of our marriage is at risk. God warns us about this, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Ephesians 4:26  Did you catch that?... Do not give the devil a foothold. The devil wants to destroy our marriages. Watch out for conflicts that start to add up: money, quality time, parenting, major life decisions, health, faith, in-laws and so on. Over time holding on to resentment and bitterness will lead to rage that will be destructive to our marriage and our children. If you or your spouse have done something wrong to hurt the other begin the habit of not only saying you are sorry but confessing your sins to each other and asking for forgiveness. Again, pray together! Ask close friends and family to pray with you. At the end of the day he will need to hear you say “I forgive you” and mean it. You will need to hear this from him too. There is no greater gift that you can give each other than the reminder of Christ’s forgiveness. 

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16

For large threats to marriage such as pornography, adultery, abuse and addiction - seek professional help. If your husband does not agree to go to counseling with you go on your own. You will need support. Again, going to counseling does not mean that you are failing at something but rather that you are working hard so your marriage can thrive and hopefully be restored.

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Sin has invaded all the good that God has created, including sex. Conflicts and barriers to sex in marriage can be overcome with the Lord's help (John 16:33) and can still be a blessing. Sex is not something we need to hide. Sharing our own sex struggles may let another woman know she's not alone and can get the help her marriage needs. 

Read more from our Sex+God series below: Sex + Taboo by Mel & Becky

Sex + Intimacy With God - by Katy

Sex Q+A (Part One) - - Sex just hasn't been the same for me since having a baby. Any tips? - My husband has struggled with an addiction to pornography for most of his teen and adult years. How can I get past that?  Sex Q&A (Part Two) - How did your religious education affect your view of sex? - What did your mom tell you or what do you wish she would have told you about your wedding night?

Sex Q&A (Part Three) - Is it normal for your husband to desire sex more than you? - I struggle with the sin of masturbation. I think there MUST be another woman or two struggling with this out there, and would like for them to not feel as isolated as I do. But how does one simply bring it up in conversation...? 

 

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5 Ways to Build Your Marriage.

My husband and I met the first day of classes freshmen year in college. I, like any “cool” person, was sitting in theology class way earlier than needed. After the other "less cool" students started filtering in, my now hubby, Justin walked into the room and asked if he could sit next to me. I said yes and the rest is history. The past 10 years of my life (approaching 7 years of marriage) have been the most incredible adventure together. While I by no means claim to have this marriage thing perfect and I realize we have many years of growing left to do, God has taught us some awesome things through the joys and trials of our years together. I would love share some of them with you since they have been such a blessing to us and I pray that they may be a blessing to you as well.

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1. Serve God together.

If there has been one HUGE  and unexpected blessing we’ve found in our marriage it is the joy of serving God together. When we volunteered to get involved with our church’s youth group 6 years ago, we did it because we both wanted to do more than just attend church, we wanted to serve others. Little did we know that working together on this joint mission would be one of the biggest blessings to our lives and marriage. The joy, companionship and unity we’ve found serving God together has brought so much more to our marriage than we could ever claim to have given to our church. We actually look forward to our weekly "date night" that just so happens to be with a bunch of teenagers.

It's too easy for  marriages to get inward focused. It can become all about our feelings, our kids, our finances and our future. Walking side by side with our faces and focus on God keeps all those other things in perspective and reminds us of the true reason we are here. We are to be partners in this journey to heaven. We are to prod and encourage each other on to the ultimate goal: eternity with Jesus. We aren't to live for ourselves or even just for each other, we are to live to tell as many people as we can about our savior, Jesus Christ.

2. Pray about your sex life TOGETHER.

This may sound weird, crazy and perhaps awkward, but it works. I remember an older woman telling me before our wedding that she and her husband got down on their knees next to their bed before their wedding night and prayed not only that God would bless their marriage, but their sex life as well. We decided to not only do this on our wedding night but to pray about our sex life together when needed. It seems strange at first, especially in our culture where sex has been dirt-ified, lust-ified and made self serving. To openly pray about sex seems almost, I don’t know... wrong. But when you remember that it is an amazing gift God designed to be enjoyed in marriage; when we remember that sex between a husband and wife is a good, God-pleasing thing, it only makes sense to pray that he would bless that part of our marriages. In addition, being able to pray through the struggles and bumps in the road regarding sex also builds a deeper intimacy with each other and with God. What an awesome way to invite God into the most intimate relationship we have this life.

3. Be friends and enjoy the everyday

It would be wonderful if life could be all romantic dates and amazing vacations. But the reality is that 99% of your married life will consist of chores, obligations and living out everyday life. However, if you can find joy in fulfilling life’s everyday tasks together, you have found a real treasure. Perhaps we are lucky to have met so young and so our lives have inevitably melded into one another, but we really enjoy doing simple things together: Getting a coffee and pretending we are on a date while driving to our parents house (and our kids are all strapped in the back seat), folding laundry while listening to sermons or Focus on the Family podcasts, dancing around the house like crazy people while cleaning Saturday afternoon, or just building a puzzle together after the kids are in bed. (I know... I’m giving away how exciting of a life we lead :-) )

The truth is that you’ll miss out on all the little joys and blessings each day holds if you wait until the ideal or perfect time to connect and enjoy each other’s friendship. Life is the little things. Let go of waiting for the “good” moments and enjoy the ones you have right now.

4. Read the Bible together each day.

I could go on and on and on about the blessings of being in God’s Word together, and I’m pretty sure I gave a few reasons in a previous post on HHH, 10 Reasons to Get in the Word With Your Spouse. Also, how will you and your spouse determine what is normal for your marriage, your parenting, and your daily lives if you don't find it in the truth of God's Word? All I can say is that this is the most important part of your marriage. Justin and I have learned that the truly BEST parts of our marriage are the times we experience God together. There is really nothing more important that getting into God's Word together.

5. Finally, turn off the TV.

I have never looked back at my life and regretted not watching more TV. I personally believe that TV is a time-consuming distraction. I’ve heard many people ask us things like: “How do you have time for sex with 3 kids? When do you find time to work on ACTS? When do you fit in getting in the Bible together, our days are so full?” We have no magic formula or perfect way to make time for God in our marriage, but I've learned that not turning on the TV for hours at night sure gives you back a whole lot of time. I'm not saying that we never watch the news, a favorite TV show or movie together, but we've worked hard to make those things the exception rather than our everyday "go to" when when we are bored or tired. Like many things in life, while TV can be the easy, relaxing end to a night, that doesn't mean it is the best option. Many times, the better option take a little more work and motivation, but usually have a much better return on the investment.

What things have you found bless and encourage your marriage? I would love to hear them!