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Marriage Workbook

By Craig Caster

APPENDIX O

PHYSICAL INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE - EXAMINATION FOR WOMEN

The Bible teaches that there are two specific purposes for human sexual activity in marriage:  procreation (Gen. 1:28, Deut. 7:13-14) and pleasure, or recreation(The Song of Solomon 4:10-12, Prov. 5:18-19).

Do you view sex as a gift from God, to be enjoyed only with your spouse?

Sex is a gift from God to humanity, created by Him to be enjoyed only within the union of marriage. He designed us, male and female, with the ability to both produce children and experience physical and emotional pleasure during sexual intercourse. Through the sexual relationship, as husband and wife, we have an opportunity to mutually present ourselves as a gift to one another, to intimately become what God calls “one” as we share our bodies.

This is God's plan for sex, but the sin of man and the deception of Satan have tainted His gift to us. Many have fallen under worldly influences which have perverted the purity of sex and made it sinful, sometimes even thought of as something dirty, or a tiresome duty. Attitudes toward sex are also affected by the teaching of our parents, or personal experience which can range from childhood curiosity and information gained from friends to pornography, molestation, rape and experimental sexual choices. Remember, it is Satan's plan to destroy, or make bad, the things God has created for good, including sex.

When two people join in a marriage relationship and are ignorant of God's will, have selfish expectations, or maybe a negative view of sex, they will have difficulty establishing and maintaining a fulfilling sexual relationship.

A healthy sexual relationship is based on the following:

  1. A belief that sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed and practiced only within the marriage relationship.
  2. A commitment to give and receive sex within the context of biblical love, which is selfless, not selfish.
  3. The practice of honest and open communication between husband and wife, learning how to bring physical pleasure to one another.
  4. A basic understanding of human sexual anatomy as it relates to sexual pleasure.

If you had loving parents in a great relationship who taught you a biblical perspective on sexuality, then it follows that you should have good expectations and be excited about having a sexual relationship with your husband. In fact, even if this was not your exact history, a normally adjusted bride usually looks forward to a life of mutual sexual satisfaction and pleasure in marriage. But, as time passes, all too often hopes and expectations change for a variety of reasons. Perhaps repeated unsatisfying sexual experiences with your husband, his unwillingness to receive any instruction from you, pregnancies, raising children and other relationship challenges have quenched your sexual pleasure and changed your attitude to discouragement and a desire to avoid sex.

If you have a negative attitude toward sex and/or the sexual relationship with your spouse, it is import to discover why. If God made something and said it is to be part of our relationship in marriage, then we need to see it as good and be willing to learn how to give it in the best way. It needs to be treated with the same importance as communication or any other companionship need.

Sadly, many Christian couples are experiencing unfulfilled sexual relations and don't know how to make it better. There are medical and physiological issues that can affect either husband or wife but, in most cases, it is ignorance, selfishness and/or resentment that negatively affects this area in a marriage. Over the course of any marriage relationship there are seasons when we must deny ourselves and exercise patience due to medical reasons, pregnancies, life traumas, etc.; however, if the condition is not terminal, we are to work toward keeping our sexual relationship fulfilling.

As a wife, if you are not initiating, or participating in sex on a regular basis, then you need to find out why and work toward change. The most common reason that women do not desire or initiate sex is not physical, but it is a “HEART” issue. Generally, the frequency of sexual intercourse and the need to have an orgasm every time is not the same for women and men; men usually requiring greater frequency in both. So which sex drive is the determining factor for sexual intimacy? Neither, as sacrifice and self-denial must be practiced by each at different times to maintain a balanced and mutually loving relationship. Examining the following issues can help resolve problems that affect a woman’s sexual relationship to her husband.

Hurts that affect the heart:

  1. Does your spouse show an interest in learning how to love and prioritize you in the manner of a godly husband?
  1. Do you feel he faithfully takesresponsibility when he speaks to you harshly?
  1. Do you feel he has been willing and/or interested in learning how to nurture and cherish you?
  1. Do you feel that the family is his greatest earthly possession by the way he has prioritized his time and his attitude when home?
  1. Do you feel he is willing to lovingly lead in the area of parenting the children?
  1. Do you feel he uses excuses and/or is unwilling to apologize when he uses anger and harsh discipline toward the children?
  1. Do you feel he takes seriously his responsibility to provide for the family?
  1. Do you feel he has been willing to lovingly discuss and receive input from you on how, and how often, to have sex?
  1. Do you feel he is attracted to you?
  1. Do you feel he has shown spiritual leadership in the home?

These questions address hurts and wounds that you may have, experiences that can affect a wife's heart attitude toward sex with her husband. All these hurts can be healed through forgiveness. When a husband and wife are willing to ask forgiveness, to give and receive it, and then learn how to tend to each other biblically, this can heal the hurts and bring reconciliation to the relationship in all areas.

Sinful responses:

  1. Have you been denying sex to your husband as a way to get revenge, hurt or to manipulate him?
  1. Have you allowed the world's demonic, dirty image of sex to taint your attitude toward it?
  1. Have you allowed a negative self-image to prevent your husband from enjoying your body?
  1. Have you been withholding sex from your husband because he has not lived up to what you feel he should be doing as a father or spiritual leader?
  1. Have you been willing to cooperate with your husband in expressing how he can sexually please you, and are you willing to learn how to please him?

[Note: THE BIBLE DOES NOT CONDONE SELFISH ACTS THAT HURT OTHERS FOR SELF GRATIFICATION! ]

  1. Have you turned to romance novels or TV programs to meet your emotional needs rather than improving the relationship with your husband?
  1. Have you just given up trying to make it better?

If any of these answers are “yes”, you are vulnerable to problems including emotional and/or physical infidelity. For sure, these issues will drive a wedge between husband and wife, resulting in an unhappy cohabitation that is far from God’s will and plan for marriage.

It is a fact that you wives participate in marital sex without an orgasm more often than your husbands.  Have you wondered why it is accepted for a man to be sexually pleased with little or no pleasure for his wife but, when that is reversed, the outcome is considered abnormal, taboo, or unacceptable? A good wife should be willing to participate sexually with her husband when she is not “in the mood”, but likewise a good husband should desire to please his wife even without achieving orgasm himself. To reach this level of intimacy requires openly and honest communication about how to please one another, and willingness to mutually explore new avenues for pleasure possibly with lotions, lubrication, hands, mouth and positions.

Make a commitment to God and your spouse to go through the Forgiveness Workbook together and begin making necessary changes in your marriage. Trust God and His ways, and pray that He will heal and bless your marriage.

Possible physical problems:

As a final word, there are anatomical and physical differences between men and women that make medical considerations especially relevant to certain difficulties during sexual intercourse. Following is a discussion of some that can affect women, quoted directly from medical evidence.

“For two thirds of women, intercourse is painful at some point. These are some of the most common reason why.” Katharine O’Connell, M.D.

Women often suffer in silence because they’re too embarrassed to speak up, or because they assume there’s no remedy. But the truth is, if sex hurts, it’s usually pretty easy to find out why and, in most cases, to fix it. So I ask my patients these questions to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

 

1.  You may need more foreplay or have vaginal dryness.

Simply not being lubricated enough is the number-one reason for pain during sex. There are two parts to our body’s response to foreplay. The first is engorgement, a rushing of blood to the vagina that expands the vaginal walls—our version of an erection. The second is lubrication, a release of moisture from the glands that ring the vaginal opening. Both actions signal your readiness for sex, so starting before they take place can hurt. One patient told me, “A little friction feels good, but I think there’s too much friction happening.” The quick fix? Lubricant like Astroglide or K-Y. A better fix? More foreplay. If you’ve been taking an anti-allergy medication, that could be the culprit—antihistamines are one of several medications that can lead to dryness (others include antidepressants and, although it’s not common, the Pill). Talk to your doctor about it, or keep a water-based lube on hand.

2. It may be vulvodynia or herpes.

The word basically means “painful vulva.” It’s a condition up to 16 percent of women have, but we still don’t understand very well what causes it. Women often describe it as a burning, stinging, itching, irritating or raw feeling on their vulva and labia, and say it sometimes hurts even when they’re just sitting or walking around. If this sounds like you, get a referral to a vulvar-pain specialist (your doctor can find one at nva.org) or talk to your ob-gyn. Topical creams and oral medications (including antidepressants) have helped dozens of my patients. The other possibility here is genital herpes. Take a mirror and look for pimple-like bumps appearing as clear blisters on a red base. If you see anything suspicious, don’t google herpes pictures (it will just freak you out); head to your gynecologist.

3. You may have a yeast infection.

The dreaded overgrowth of the microscopic fungal candida often makes the vulva, vagina and cervix become irritated, inflamed and incredibly sensitive. (One of my patients told me sex during a yeast infection felt like her partner was “wearing a sandpaper condom.”) If you’re tender and itchy, and have clumpy discharge, an over-the-counter vaginal yeast infection treatment should fix you up within a few days to a week. If it doesn’t, see your gynecologist to rule out STDs and other infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV).

4. He may be bumping your cervix.

It may sound strange, but getting your cervix bumped can hurt. About 20 percent of women have a retroverted uterus (meaning the organ tips back toward the tailbone, instead of forward toward the bladder), which makes it easy for the penis to brush up against your cervix. But the mishap can happen to any woman during sex positions with deeper penetration, like doggy style. So if it “feels like he’s pushing my uterus up into my stomach,” as one patient told me, try woman-on-top, where you can control how deeply, and quickly, your partner thrusts.

5. It may be an ovarian cyst or UTI.

If the pain is on only one side, you could have an ovarian cyst. Your ovaries make cysts for a living; each month a little one forms around the developing egg, then bursts to release it during ovulation. But if the cyst isn’t quickly reabsorbed like normal, it can swell up with fluid or blood and get very uncomfortable, especially during sex. Most cysts will go away within a few weeks or months on their own, but in rare cases, persistent cysts may need surgery. Ask your ob-gyn for an ultrasound to check your ovaries. Ibuprofen can ease the pain, and hormonal birth control can ward off cysts in the future. If it hurts more in the middle of your pelvis—especially if you’ve noticed that it burns when you pee or you have to go a lot—it could be a urinary tract infection (UTI), and you should see your doctor for antibiotics. (No, cranberry juice won’t cure it.)

6. You may have endometriosis, PID or interstitial cystitis.

This is a condition in which tissue that looks and acts like the lining of the uterus grows outside of it—on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or even the abdominal wall. Aside from uncomfortable sex, it can also cause constant pelvic pain and excruciating periods. The Pill, or other hormonal birth control, is the best treatment. Another possible culprit for your discomfort is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which usually results from an untreated infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea traveling into your uterus and fallopian tubes. (Until reaching this advanced stage, STDs aside from herpes almost never cause painful sex on their own.) Other symptoms of PID may be stomach pain, fever and smelly discharge. Sound like you? Get to your doctor ASAP—PID is usually curable with a simple two-week course of antibiotics, but it can harm your fertility if you don’t take care of it. The third possible cause for your pain is interstitial cystitis (IC), an inflammation of the bladder that causes a stinging sensation when you pee, and a frequent, urgent need to go. It’s often misdiagnosed as chronic UTI because of the similar symptoms. If you’re visiting the restroom hourly and are hurting during or after sex, see your doctor for an evaluation and ask about IC.

7. It may be pelvic congestion

No, this doesn’t mean your vagina has a cold. During foreplay and arousal, blood rushes to the pelvis; after sex, the muscles and blood vessels relax, allowing the blood to reenter the rest of the body. But if the muscles don’t unclench and the blood doesn’t dissipate, it can cause a dull pain. It’s not dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable. The best remedy is of course, orgasm. And if that doesn’t relieve your discomfort, consider “premedicating” before sex with 600 to 800 milligrams of ibuprofen to treat the pain.

 

An Honest Prayer About Intimacy

Lord, it’s hard to know what sex really is— is it some demon put in here to torment me? Or some delicious seducer from reality? It is neither of these, Lord. I know what sex is— it is body and spirit, it is passion and tenderness, it is strong embrace and gentle handholding, it is open nakedness and hidden mystery, it is joyful tears on honeymoon faces, and it is tears on wrinkled faces at a golden wedding anniversary. Sex is a quiet look across the room, a love note on a pillow, a rose laid on a breakfast plate, laughter in the night. Sex is life — not all of life — but wrapped up in the meaning of life. Sex is your good gift, O God, to enrich life, to continue the race, to communicate, to show me who I am, to reveal my mate, to cleanse through “one flesh”. Lord some people say sex and religion don’t mix; but your word says sex is good. Help me to keep it good in my life. Help me to be open about sex and still protect the mystery. Help me to see that sex is neither demon nor deity. Help me not to climb into a fantasy world of imaginary sexual partners; keep me in the real world to love the people you have created. Teach me that my soul does not have to frown at sex for me to be a Christian. It’s hard for many people to say, “Thank God for sex!” because for them sex is more a problem than a gift. They need to know that sex and gospel can be linked together again. They need to hear the good news about sex. Show me how I can help them. Thank you, Lord, for making me a sexual being. Thank you for showing me how to treat others with trust and love. Thank you for letting me talk to you about sex. Thank you that I feel free to say: “Thank you God for sex”.

-Dr. Ed Wheat

 

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