Reader “AE” brings up a topic that we’ve received numerous emails about over the years but haven’t yet addressed.
My husband is an incredible and selfless man. I have zero complaints about him as a husband, and he has always been so willing to do anything to be the best husband he can be. He has a history of promiscuity before we were married as well as pornography. When he gave his life to the Lord before we were married, he surrendered all of that, and we both know he has been forgiven and absolutely redeemed.
However, our sex life is, as you call it, very vanilla. He has always been pretty closed to exploration, and when I have gotten adventurous, it seems to shut him down instead of turn him on (which has been tough on me). Your website has given us an incredible place to start from to dig into what’s holding each of us back in the bedroom. We’ve been using your articles to discuss things we’ve never even known we need to talk about. In one of those conversations, he realized that anything remotely risque triggers memories for him from those years before we were together. He is so determined to keep his focus on me and his mind pure, he’s shutting everything down mentally, including his own interest. I should note, he has never had any issues “rising” to the occasion. If I go all in, he’ll meet me there. But most foreplay is limited if not non existent.
We’ve realized, our bedroom is like a minefield for triggering his memories and it’s keeping us from enjoying the freedom the Lord has intended for us. We both believe there’s better for us and we’re both willing to work on it. Your site is already giving us ways to fight for that. But do you have any strategy for how we can explore together in the Lord’s favor the things he once explored inappropriately without triggering these thoughts and memories that take his mind off of me and the moment we’re in? Is there anything I can do to help him?
Thank you for any help! And thank you and SC for this safe place to find permission and strategy and FUN.
First off Mr. and Mrs. AE, don’t feel alone with this challenge! Many Christians fall short of God’s perfect standard that sex is intended for married couples only. Sexual sin can lead to serious, life-altering consequences — not to mention the harm it can do to your relationship with God. And yet, God is always eager to offer us forgiveness when we repent, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Even when we’re forgiven, however, it isn’t always easy (or possible) to be completely free from the natural consequences of our sin during our lives on earth. The difficulty Mr. and Mrs. AE are experiencing is a natural consequence of sexual sin. Memories can be stubborn.
Caveat: We’re not trained therapists, and it’s possible that a couple in the position AE describes would benefit from talking together or separately with an expert who can advise them based on their specific circumstances. Every person and every marriage is different. The advice we’re going to give here is connected to the Bible and based on our experience, but it may not be right for you. We offer this caveat because we can imagine a direct approach, like we’ll describe, doing more harm than good for some people.
Ok, try this: don’t think of an elephant.
Could you do it? Probably not. It’s basically impossible to pick a specific thing and not think about it. In the most well-known Bible passage about anxiety Paul writes:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:4-8
The bolded action words in the passage make our point: you can’t simply “do not be anxious” without replacing anxious thoughts with something else. Instead of merely commanding a negative, God teaches that the positive drives out the negative.
Mr. and Mrs. AE are dealing with a form of sexual anxiety and we think the principle from Philippians 4 can be applied. Instead of trying to banish distracting, undesired, harmful, or sinful memories by sheer force of will, we should work to replace them with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable”.
Application: replace negative sexual memories with new, positive sexual memories created with your spouse. Confront the negative memories head-on and create new memories that overwrite the old ones. This won’t happen all at once, but over months and years you’ll have sex with your spouse hundreds and thousands of times. When something “risque triggers memories” from your past, go straight at that memory and re-do it with your spouse. Your sex life with your spouse is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Even if that risque memory seems weird don’t shy away from it: face it and rewrite it.
Now, some prudence is in order. Sex that is non-consensual or involves people besides the married couple has no place in a Christian marriage — but just about anything else can be done in faith and can be part of a mutually satisfying sex life. Be patient and courageous with each other; your sex life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Don’t force your spouse to go faster, but don’t drag your feet either. Put some effort into it and you’ll both be rewarded.
After sharing these ideas with AE she wrote back:
Awesome!! This is the strategy we talked about trying. We both had a few concerns that it could backfire, so we reached out to you to hopefully confirm, which you did!
It is not hard to be patient with this man of mine. He is such a good man and husband and daddy. Besides, this problem stems from his desire to honor and respect his commitment to me, even with his thoughts, so how could I not respect that. I’m incredibly excited to find freedom together and get our sex life to the level of the rest of our marriage.
You are absolutely welcome to use our question. It is tough being one of the few women who have a higher sex drive than her husband. I relate more to men in the stereotypical sex conversations, and it’s a challenge to not feel like something is wrong with me. So if my question can make another woman like me feel less alone, that’s great.
Thanks again, you two!
It’s always extremely gratifying to hear that our ministry is edifying to peoples’ marriages! If you have any thoughts or ideas to share, please leave a comment below.
Please use the contact pages for Sexy Corte and El Fury to send us your questions. We will never reveal your name or any other identifying information. You can ask questions anonymously, or use a free anonymous email server like Mailinator.