Many women acknowledge that they have “control issues.” Maybe they were required to suppress their emotions in childhood. Maybe they grew up in a family with out-of-control behavior. Maybe they are in a season of life with a lot of struggles and they need to feel like the bottom isn’t falling out of everything. Maybe they just like to be in charge (that would be me).
Other women have learned to feel shame regarding their sexuality. Maybe they grew up in a family that treated female sexuality as something to be hidden rather than enjoyed. Or they learned to suppress their own sexual feelings as a way of avoiding unwanted attention from males while they were growing up. Instead of experiencing arousal and rejoicing that God designed their bodies to feel so sexy, they feel ashamed and slutty.
Restricting Your Sexuality
In a comment on a post several months ago, a husband said that is wife is “a gatekeeper of her own sexual desires. She has even expressed to me that she’s afraid of what might happen if she were to just let go.”
A wife who might be considered a “gate-keeper” typically is one who limits the position, activities, timing, and location. She is the one who determines what is allowed in the marriage bed.
We usually think of this in terms of restricting things that our husbands request: lighting, what kinds of lingerie is acceptable, oral sex, or a sexual position that isn’t face-to-face.
Sometimes, however, it is our own sexuality that we restrict.
Sexual arousal and ecstasy feel unlike other experiences in our lives. We are out of control. Our bodies tense in unusual ways. We may develop a sex flush. We produce vaginal lubrication. Our nipples get erect and sensitive. We make sounds we don’t make at any other time. We suddenly like a kind of sexual touch that we reject when we are more in control. We may experience female ejaculation. Our toes and facial muscles clench. We are flooded with feelings and sensations that seem to have a mind of their own. We lose mental contact with everything but what we are experiencing at that moment.
We are completely out of control.
When we have control or shame issues, the hardest thing to lose control of is ourselves—so we clamp down on anything that might send us into completely free sexual joy. This might mean that we restrict our own sexuality so much that we become inhibited. We fight our own sexual arousal and response so much that we become sexually cold (what used to be called frigid)
My husband’s biggest complaint about our sex life wasn’t the lack of frequency but the lack of my full participation when we did have sex.
Quite often, I was afraid to let my body do what it seemed to want to do. I just couldn’t let myself go.
Rather than allow myself to see what happened if I let loose, I began to pull my sexuality in so I could control it. When my sexuality tried to escape its bounds (in other words, if I found myself wanting to really let go), I would pull even harder so everything would be back in place where it belonged.
I was so busy concentrating on my body staying within certain bounds that I often was unable to enjoy even the sexual experiences within those bounds.
Concentrating to maintain control over certain physical responses to sexual arousal meant that I wasn’t relaxed enough to really enjoy sex at all.
In my effort to maintain sexual control, I had become my own worst enemy.
Women have shared some of their concerns about letting go and losing control.
- The kids might hear.
- My husband might think I’m slutty.
- My stomach will jiggle too much.
- My husband will see my orgasm face, which feels pretty ugly to me.
- I know female ejaculation is actually a thing, but I still feel like I’m peeing so I’d rather avoid it.
- I let go one time and it scared me how much I liked it. I didn’t seem like myself at all.
- My husband might expect me to be the same way next time, and I’m pretty sure I can’t make myself be like that very often. I’d just rather not set expectations that I can’t always meet.
- What if I like it too much?
- My husband might like it too much and he’ll finish too fast.
- I can’t imagine God seeing me like that.
- If I let myself go in physical terms, I might miss out on the emotional connection I need from sex.
When I was repressing my own sexuality, many of these things were going through my own mind.
I confess, though, that there was one other reason I wouldn’t let myself go: fear.
I was afraid to fully trust my husband. Sexually letting myself go required me to completely drop all the barriers between me and my husband. He would see me as I truly was.
Facing the Final Frontier
The Bible does lay sexual boundaries for us. (You can find a good treatment of this at The Marriage Bed.) Within those boundaries, though, we have total freedom with our husbands.
I worked on other aspects of sex for a long time. I participated in our sexual encounters and learned to relax enough to enjoy what we were doing a little. I got comfortable with an increased frequency. I learned to initiate. I began to experience some of the benefits of this effort to our marriage and to my own sense of contentment.
At some point, I realized that I still had one final barrier up: my unwillingness to experience full sexual freedom and release all my sexual inhibitions.
It was the final barrier to full intimacy with my husband.
If I truly let myself go, I would be naked and unashamed—and totally vulnerable.
I knew, though, that the only way to reach out toward this full intimacy was to let go of all the things holding me back.
The process of learning to let go was a slow one for me.
I began to share my thoughts, feelings, and concerns with my husband and ask him for reassurance—which he gave me. I talked with him about sex outside the bedroom to help us become more comfortable talking about it in the bedroom as well. I also decided to believe the things my husband said about what he thought and felt about my body’s reactions.
When the only thing I could think of was my jiggling tummy, he was surprised because he hadn’t even noticed it. (Apparently he was too distracted by some other jiggling going on.) My concern about sound was addressed by looking for opportunities when our kids weren’t home or were asleep (along with war documentaries on the tv to create a distracting sound).
I continued to use my prayer, self-talk, and deep breathing to retrain my mind and body away from closing up in order to relax instead.
I learned to say to my husband, “Honey, I just allowed myself to experience xyz. I’m feeling really vulnerable right now. Will you please let me know that you love me and that this was good?”
It took time and patience and a leap of faith, but my efforts paid off.
Over time, I lost every one of my sexual inhibitions with my husband. Every single one.
When I am in his arms, I am truly naked and unashamed—and it is very, very good.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:25
What about you?
Do you allow yourself to experience full sexual freedom with your husband, or do your responses reflect sexual inhibitions?
If you haven’t yet embraced your full sexuality, what is your next step?
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