You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Thinking of my blog’s tagline (learning to dance with desire), I was struck again by God’s healing in my life and marriage. I changed from a refusing and gate-keeping wife into a wife who enjoys sex and her sexuality. He turned my wailing into dancing.
How do you change from a refusing and gate-keeping wife into one who enjoys sex and her sexuality? Restricting your married sex life may have grown from any number of roots: sexual baggage, bad teaching, negative experiences with men, or relationship problems with your husband. Regardless of how you got there, you now face what seems to be a mountain of challenges. Your old thoughts and actions are familiar. They have seemed to serve you well enough. They are part of you. Launching a journey of sexual change involves saying goodbye to part of who you have become. You may even grieve the loss of the familiar, even as you know you are stepping away from something that has caused you grief, suffering, and wailing. How do you begin to climb this mountain of challenges? How do you . . .
- Learn what your desires are if all you’ve ever done is what your husband has wanted?
- Grow to enjoy sex for your own sake?
- Let go of fear?
- Become more comfortable with your body?
- Learn to accept your husband’s touch without tensing?
- Change your thinking?
- Accept your sexuality as a good thing?
- Stop feeling used?
How can you invite God to turn your wailing into dancing the dance of sexuality and desire?
How do you learn what you like? Even the best-intentioned wife can freeze when her husband asks, “What would you like me to do for you?” If all you’ve ever done is what your husband has wanted, and if your goal has usually been to get it done as quickly as possible, you may have absolutely no idea. You may know what does the job for your husband, but do you know what works for you? If your marriage has not included much physical exploration, you can tell your husband that you’re trying to get more comfortable sexually and ask him to spend time with you exploring your body.
Start with the timer set for five minutes and you wearing light clothing. Ask him to slowly explore your body with his hands or mouth—in places other than your sexual parts. Relax, and observe how you feel. If you notice that his touch somewhere makes you tingle, mention that to him for later reference. If you find yourself tensing up when he gets near a sexual area, take some deep breaths and calm down. Gradually, you can increase the amount of time and decrease the amount of clothing. Eventually, you may decide that you want to follow this up with sexual activity. At first, though, just explore. You might find it helpful to do the same with your husband’s body, paying attention to his responses.
Pay attention to what you’re experiencing during sexual activity. While you are being sexual with your husband (whether it’s full intercourse or one of you using hands or mouth on the other), simply focus on the sensations. If your husband nibbles on your ear, then pay attention to whether it gives you tingles anywhere else in your body. If you are touching him in some way, pay attention to his responses. Do you like what you do to him? Does it make you feel any tingles anywhere?
When you’ve been in a battle about sex for a long time, you just might be under the impression that sex is about your husband’s needs and not about yours. Cultural messages about sex add to this, too. So how do you learn that sex is about you? How do you get comfortable with your own sexual response? How do you go from feeling used to inviting pleasure? Ask your husband if he would be willing to do something just to help you have an orgasm once every week or two—a time when he does all the work, and it is all about your pleasure, not his. Pay attention to what you like. Ask him to try different things or touch different places.
It’s okay if you don’t like everything he does. You’re still learning what you like. If you don’t want to experience an orgasm, just allow yourself to fully experience your sexual feelings. Your husband has also learned that sex is about him and not you, and this will give him a chance to change his thinking as well.
Giving you sexual pleasure will most likely arouse your husband. It would be unkind to leave his arousal unattended. Agree ahead of time how you will deal with this. Perhaps you will be comfortable having quick intercourse after your “all about me” time is finished. Or you can agree to lie in bed with your head on his chest while he masturbates. The focus of the sexual encounter is about you, to help your mind learn to associate sexual feelings with receiving rather than obligation—but if your husband needs release, be sure he gets it.
When you need to learn new habits, it usually doesn’t just happen overnight. How can you change your responses to your husband’s requests for sex? Practice! I had a tendency to roll my eyes at an advance, and any request for a specific activity outside what I was comfortable with was frequently met with a disdainful “Seriously?” Breaking myself of these habits was incredibly hard—so I practiced. If you have sexual interaction habits you need to break, decide on the right responses and practice them when you aren’t emotionally involved. The thing that helped me the most was to take deep breaths before giving any response at all—so I practiced this with other things, too. “Honey,” he would ask, “Do I have any socks clean?” I would take a deep breath and only then respond.
By practicing when it wasn’t an emotionally charged situation, I began to build habits to draw on during the more difficult situations. This was how I altered my responses to Big Guy initiating sex—and when I messed up, I made myself go apologize, even if it was an hour later. You can also practice your sexual response. If you and your husband agree that masturbation is okay, consider taking some time to explore your body on your own. Agree that you will tell him about what you’ve learned.
Affirm godly beliefs about sex
If you are a survivor of bad teaching about sex or of childhood sexual abuse, you may be carrying around some difficult messages about sex. Even after we change our sexual interactions with our husbands, we may still have some serious work to do. How do you begin to change your thinking? You may believe that sex is dirty or embarrassing, that your own sexual response is shameful, that sex is unimportant, that your husband’s desire is ungodly, and so on. Make a written list of good beliefs. They might include the following:
- Sex is a gift from God.
- I am a child of God and deserve pleasure.
- My husband’s desire for me is from God. It is good.
- I am a sexual being.
- I am desirable. I am beautiful.
- Our marriage needs sex to thrive.
- Sex is important.
Write these good messages down and place them where you can see them. Say them to yourself—aloud, if possible—often. When you see your naked body in the bathroom mirror, tell yourself that you are desirable. When you find yourself thinking, “Oh, why can’t we wait until the weekend for sex?” remind yourself that your marriage needs sex. When you hear someone say that men want sex all the time, tell yourself that your husband’s sexual desire for you is from God and is good. Practice these good messages, over and over and over.
How can you find the courage to make all these changes? Remember that God is with you always. You are not in this alone, even if it feels like it at times. Ask God for the wisdom and courage to do what you can to improve the sexual relationship in your marriage. Pray during sex. Remember to thank him for the thinks you learn about yourself, even as you ask for His help in going forward. You can step away from refusing and gate-keeping. You can learn to enjoy sex and your sexuality.
Psalm 30:2 O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.
God will turn your wailing into dancing. And I’m pretty sure you will give thanks.
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Shared at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum