A Tender Touch

I got this from the library of emails from Dr. Gary Chapman, author of  Five Love Languages.  This is the one I need a lot of work on, so I thought I would pass it on in case there are other “SpicyNutmegs” out there needing help with this language….

Keeping emotional love alive in a marriage makes life much more enjoyable. How do we keep love alive after the “in-love” emotions have evaporated? I believe it is by learning to speak each other’s “love language.” This week we will focus on physical touch.

For some husbands, when they hear the words physical touch, they immediately think of sex. But sexual intercourse is only one of the dialects of this love language. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, back rubs, or an arm around the shoulder are all ways of expressing love by physical touch.

Physical touch can make or break a marital relationship. Do you know how to speak this love language? To the spouse whose primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than your tender touches. You may give them words of affirmation or gifts, but nothing communicates love like physical touch.

Touches may be explicit and call for your full attention, such as a back rub or sexual foreplay. They can be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee. Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination. Kiss when you get in the car. It may greatly enhance your travels. Give a hug before you go shopping. You may hear less griping when you return. Remember, you are learning to speak a new language.

When you reach out with tender touch, you create emotional closeness. This is especially true if the primary love language of your spouse is physical touch. You may say, “What if I’m just not a toucher? I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely family.” The good news is that you can learn to speak this love language. It can begin with a pat on the back, or putting your hand on their leg as you sit together on the couch.

Almost instinctively in a time of crisis, we hug one another. Why? During these times, we need to feel loved more than anything. All marriages will experience crises. Disappointments are a part of life. The most important thing you can do for your wife in a time of crisis is to love her. If her primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries. Your words may mean little, but your physical touch will communicate that you care. In a time of crisis, a hug is worth more than a thousand words. Physical touch is a powerful love language.

How to Discuss Sensitive Topics With Our Husbands

This article is going to need all of us ladies to band together and draw from our experiences in communication fails and triumphs. We can not avoid it. At times we are going to encounter problems in our marriages that we need to talk about openly with our husbands. And at times they are issues that could cause the conversation to turn south really fast if we are not mindful of some strategies for discussing sensitive topics in a way that encourage more talking rather than seeing us or our husbands shut down.

Maybe your husband needs to know that you need something particular in bed. Or that you need him to stop doing something particular in bed. Maybe there are issues in your finances or serious character issues that concern you. Whatever it is, there is a way that we as wives can do our part to bring these things up in a manner that is more likely to be well received. We can’t guarantee it of course. Our husbands are responsible for their own response, but there are some keys that make it work better.

The first thing I want to mention is the importance of picking your timing well. If he is in the middle of a project or watching something important to him on TV, that isn’t the time to bring up a problem. I used to be very unaware of this and have worked hard to be more intentional about when I bring things up that my husband and I need to discuss. My husband has taken the time to tell me how much he appreciates that I have grown in my discretion in this area so I know that it’s really meaningful to him.

The other thing that is very important is to take the time to think before you speak. We often end up reacting to problems the moment they pop up, but if we can train ourselves to hold our tongues, collect our thoughts and then speak, we often end up being able to respond more reasonably. I’ve found it really helpful to write out my thoughts ahead of time on very serious issues. It helps me process out a lot of the emotions so that when I talk to my husband I can focus more on the facts and present things in a way that makes more sense to him. I’ve noticed that so many of the movies I see which depict a romantic relationship are often missing this aspect of communication when the conflict in the movie meets the crisis point. Self control in conflict is completely disregarded, but I think controlling our tongue in conflict is incredibly important.

Without a doubt it is also important to take the time to pray for insight, especially if you need to bring up an issue that could be hurtful to him. We don’t want our words to tear him down and if we take time to pray I know that God gives us wisdom so that we can say things in ways that encourage him to consider how he can change. There was an issue a number of months ago that began concerning me about my husband so I began praying about it. God provided me a way to very gently mention it to my husband at just the right timing, when his heart was able to receive it. Since then I have seen God prompt people who knew nothing of the issue I was concerned about say something that reconfirms to my husband the importance of him paying attention to the problem I mentioned. Prayer makes a huge difference.

Our tone of voice is also very important. If we can remember to say things gently and with kindness, we will find that what we say is more readily received. Whether the issue is serious or mild, we have the choice to say things in a passive aggressive manner and rudely or we can choose to speak kindly. If in our hearts we already disrespect or despise our husband, that is going to come across in how we say things. We can’t expect him to receive what we are saying if underneath our words, our tone communicates a poor heart condition on our part. And we won’t be able to hide that so take the time to deal with issues of the heart as they come up.

And that brings me to my final point. If you have a habit of sweeping things under the rug because you have a hard time dealing with conflict, you can be sure that those bad roots of anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are going to cause bad fruit in our relationship. A lot of the time we will not even see the connection between a hurt we have in our hearts and a bad reaction we had to something external, but very often there are indeed connections between these kinds of things. So have courage and deal with the stuff in your heart. Bring your hurts to Jesus and let him begin healing the broken parts of your heart.

So how about you? These are my top suggestions for how to deal with sensitive issues with your husband. What have you found to be effective? I’d love to hear from you.

There’s an App for that…..

My dh and I both have Android phones.  I was amazed when he showed me how many different kinds of games and applications are on this phone!  So I started searching for some games at first….

My favorite games that I have downloaded are Angry Birds, Shoot Bubbles, iSpadez, & Jewels.  I downloaded Hangman and Mole Mole for my daughter and we also downloaded Air Hockey.  Helps keep us busy on those long doctor office waits or when we are on the road.

I started finding more and more….Business apps… Quickoffice, post it notes, calculators and alarms, banking apps, several email accounts, Adobe readers, etc.  Social networks like Facebook.  WordPress so I can keep up with my favorite blog on my phone 🙂  Goofy things, like Coin Flip to solve arguments between my two kids.   WebMD.  Kindles.  Amazon.com.   Flash Lights.  Navigation programs and Google maps.  Geico Brostache!  (HAHA…see above)

So once I got all these fun things, I got to thinking… I wonder if there is a menstrual calendar.  I am TERRIBLE about keeping one at home anymore and I hate putting it in my purse calendar (now, why do I need one in my purse when I can download one on my phone??)  So I did a search, and WOW, there was a menstrual calendar and calculator!  Awesome.  I can put in my menstrual dates in, and it gives me estimates of when I should ovulate and when I can expect my next cycle!  I can record temperatures in it for NFP if I so chose to do it.  I can notate when I ML to my hubby.  I can record doctor appointments…medications I am taking…. Record if and when I take an ovulation test or pregnancy test, moods, etc.   WOW!  All of this for FREE!  I am set!

But then it got me thinking more…. What else can I find on here related to sex?  So I head back to the Droid market and type in sex.   Paid and free apps … sex positions, sex offenders… sex dice…hmmm interesting….sex facts…. Cunnilingus 101…. Oh, a Magic sex ball…. Mobile vibrators (??) … sex stories… sex games….sex position of the day….explicit sex positions kinky foreplay….sexy texts… oh, my, there was SO MUCH.

Now here’s my question, though… my son also has a Droid phone.  He got my old one when we upgraded.  The more I looked at that list, I got to “Sexy Asian Girls”  Ummm.  I think this is one place where some discussion is needed.

We are in a world today where we are exposed to more sex in on our TV, in songs on the radio, on the internet…. And now on our iPhones and Droid phones as well.   The world in general is a very dangerous place for those who are struggling with porn.  Our kids can download this apps on their own phones.  People don’t think twice about sexting.  As technology gets greater, we get more temptations out there that we need to guard our hearts.  While some of these apps that I mentioned above may be harmless and useful, there are still others that we need to guard our hearts on.

If you have a phone where you can download these apps and carry them around on your phone, how do you feel about this?  What kind of apps are on your phone?  Have you downloaded any sex apps?  How do you guard your heart when there is so much temptation out there?   Let’s start a discussion on what we should be careful of and what is truly helpful.

Same Sex Attraction: My Thoughts

I found the last two articles on this topic very thought provoking. I appreciated reading the comments and hearing different perspectives even though I didn’t agree with all. As I mentioned in the introduction, while I do believe that God intended for sexual fulfilment to be within the context of relationship between a husband and wife, I also can empathize with the struggle people have when they feel attracted to the same sex. I realize that some people are offended by my opinion that homosexual acts are sin, but my heart is truly not an attack towards gay people or the gay community. I feel compassion for those who, like the woman I interviewed last week, are living their lives with SSA a constant, forefront issue. I can see God’s redemption in it, but to fight with all you have for years so you can get to a place of healing and wholeness must be difficult. Many do not even try.

The challenge to the Church is to find the balance that Cori and I spoke of in the previous articles in this series. How do we get to the place where a person within our church body expresses a temptation in this area and they feel supported in their fight against it rather than feel like they need to leave the congregation? I think often times the Church has shown a resistance to allowing things to make it look tarnished. We want to be a spotless Bride for the Lord, but that doesn’t happen by pretending that sin does not touch us. It happens through an act of God as He sanctifies us. We must see our sin in order for the process of sanctification to be effective.

Perhaps we are so used to instant gratification that we feel intimidated by walking with someone through something that could potentially take years in order for them to find healing, but I am encouraged. I have seen a shift, at least in the region where I live, that the church is showing a willingness to walk with people through messy stuff. Pornography. Sexual abuse. Addiction. Big stuff that the church used to despise people for, I see the Church in my city rising up and joining hands with other congregations to offer hope to people who are in brokenness. We are seeing sin and we are pointing people to Jesus, but the moment we give way to thoughts that sin is not sin, we no longer have a sure place to stand.

This is why I believe it is important that we continue to work out our faith on this issue. If the world has been watching us and their impression is that we hate and fear homosexuals, somehow we haven’t done a good job of reflecting the power of the gospel on this issue. Jesus empowered sinners who came to Him to change their ways and walk in righteousness. Will some still be offended that we voice a morality on sexual conduct? Yes, of course! But for those who are looking for hope and healing, they will find it within the Church.

I can not outline how healing should look for everyone. I am far from qualified and too far removed from loved ones who are dealing with this to dictate what it would look like. In my interview last week with Cori, I found some of the ways the Lord has lead them very different from my own experience with Him (and some things very similar, too) so I really can’t say how the process should look and it would be foolish to think that any of us can.

I am just glad that we have this platform to discuss it. As always, feel free to offer your insights. I could say more and maybe I will below, but I’d like to here from you on this aspect of the Church rising up and handling this issue with more grace than we perhaps have in the past. If your comment is more geared towards defending homosexuality, please read the introductory article and all the comments there first. Then, if your comment is a new idea that hasn’t already been shared feel free to post it on that article.

So to be clear, since some comments are being deleted which do not fit with the intent of this article, this article is for those of us who believe that homosexual acts are sin to discuss how we can do a better job of loving gay people. If your comment is a blast towards gay people or a defence of homosexuality, it will be deleted. 

Same Sex Attraction: Interview

I want to introduce you to “Cori,” an acquaintance I met through The Marriage Bed forums. Her story has touched my heart so in my preparation for this series on Same Sex Attraction (SSA) I contacted her and she agreed to participate in an interview so that our readers could hear how this issue has touched a Christian marriage. You will also see that in Christ, Cori and her husband are finding victory in their journey. Please feel free to read the introduction to this series that was published last week if you have not had a chance to do so yet. 

Please share with our readers how SSA has had an influence in your marriage.

My marriage would not be what it is today without the influence of SSA and the redemption of this issue in our lives.  I am utterly re-defined in terms of my walk with Jesus, my marriage to my husband, and how I live my life in compassion and truth because of SSA.

Did you both enter your marriage unaware that this was an issue? If so, how did you each come to realize that this was a problem?  

My husband knew of his struggle (he was acting out while we were engaged, unbeknownst to me), but was unable to admit it to me, for fear that I would bolt.  I had no idea – he presented as a straight man.  I knew he had a porn issue, but I thought it wouldn’t be an issue once we got married and had sex.  I was that naive.

It was in Year Two of our marriage that this issue came to the surface – we had just gotten online and after an unexpected slowdown in the computer’s performance and learning about the “temporary internet files,” I discovered my husband’s secret.  It was porn, for sure, but it was gay porn.  This sent me in a tailspin – I didn’t expect gay images on the computer and didn’t know what to do with it.  Additionally, my husband was reading “muscle magazines,” but didn’t workout.

I ended up writing him a letter explaining how much I was hurt and putting it in his suitcase when he travelled for work.  He was gone for the better part of a month on that trip and I had time to calm down and he had time to think.  I honestly thought we were headed for divorce, but that was one of many times when God told me to stay in the marriage.  When my husband returned home, we talked.  He threw out his muscle magazines and promised not to go to porn sites on the computer, but that didn’t solve his problems.

What was the initial transition like to accepting that this was going to be a battle you would have to fight? Did it take a long time to accept that SSA was a problem?

I honestly stuck my head in the sand initially, preferring to trust my husband’s promises.  It soon became clear that he wasn’t able to “stay on the wagon” with regard to the computer, and we began a cycle of renewing our relationship, having him fall away (or step away intentionally) to self-medicate, and then finally confrontation/tears & apologies/promises to stop self-medicating.

I think I accepted that SSA would be a part of our life somewhere around Year Five – it never seemed to end, and I was firmly in the closet, because we didn’t have a safe place to be real.

What do you mean when you use the phrase “self-medicate?”

Using porn, masturbating to images that were not *me*, etc.  It’s a euphemistic phrase that covers any sort of undesirable behaviour and numbs whatever pain the user is experiencing.  It’s commonly used in recovery circles and in that case, can be any number of addictive behaviour cycles – drinking, using drugs, acting out sexually, etc.

Do you both view his struggle as something to get free from and healed of? Or is it something you accept as part of him that can not and should not be changed? 

My husband’s journey within SSA has been unusual and is morphing even now.  His actual attraction to men (the level of that attraction) has gone from a high of about 90% attracted to men to a current low of about 15%.  He reports that it continues to diminish as he gets healthier and closer to the Lord, dealing with his brokenness as he goes.

But in the same vein, we both recognize that this “thorn in his flesh” is one to be embraced and not prayed-away.  This issue has done multiple things that are damaging in our lives and stems from his horrible past of childhood sexual abuse, but has been redeemed to a point where he is more dependent upon the Lord than ever, which is a good thing.  His walk with God is more vibrant than it has ever been and although his actual attraction to men has lessened, we both see the struggle as a sort of ‘tether’ to Jesus.

Elizabeth Moberly, PhD, said that the struggle of SSA is based in legitimate needs and that those needs shouldn’t be prayed away – that instead, the struggler should focus on praying that those needs are met in a healthy, God-honouring way.

We recently went to a conference for married couples impacted by SSA and the overwhelming message of the weekend was that if our struggle keeps us dependent upon God, then He will keep that struggle in our lives.  He wants us to depend on Him in everything, and if the struggle does that, then it’s a blessing and not a curse.  So we can attempt to “pray it away” or “rebuke it away” or use any number of spiritual techniques to relieve the pressure of the attraction, but God might just be keeping us in the midst of it in order to redirect our focus to Him, not the struggle.  That idea radically changed how I viewed my husband’s struggle and our marriage within the context of his struggle.  It brought new meaning to 1 Thes. 5:18 (Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus).

Do you believe that certain aspects of your husband’s past influenced the struggle he now has with SSA? If so, can you give us insights into those things?

Absolutely yes.  My husband’s story isn’t identical to some with SSA, but it does reverberate loudly with many strugglers.

My husband was a “perfect storm” for sexual brokenness.  He was sexually abused by his maternal grandfather beginning at the age of 3.  He told his parents about the abuse directly, but they chose not to believe him.  They also chose not to get him any help or protect him from his abuser, which permitted the abuse to continue.

Compounding that abuse was his father’s outright rejection of my husband – my father-in-law poured his affection, time, and attention  on my husband’s younger brother, who was (we think) “clean” in the mind of my father-in-law.  The rejection by his father compounded the confusion my husband felt as a young boy – why he “felt different” and his body responded to the abuse he was subjected to.  The gender confusion was cemented in adolescence when his emotions became sexualized and as an awkward teen, he was ostracized for being “different.”

And adding more confusion to the mix, my mother-in-law is a very unhealthy woman who had an emotionally-incestuous relationship with my husband, making him her confidante when my father-in-law was emotionally and physically unavailable.

What has the journey with this struggle been like for your husband? How have you been able to support him in it?

It has honestly been excruciating for my beloved.  He has fought his attraction for so many years and felt like such a failure because of his inability to “stay on the wagon” and not self-medicate.  He has been porn-clean since January 2008, which has been amazing, but he still struggled with his mind and eyes roaming where he didn’t want them to roam and where he knew God didn’t want them to roam.  He’s had more freedom in the last 18 months, but is still on his guard.

I began our journey (post-revelation) as his “accountability,” which I now call “being his cop.”  It wasn’t pleasant for either of us, mostly because it put me in an awkward position of policing the computer and his reading material and it put him in the role of trying to live up to the “policing,” and when he failed to do so, hiding his “crime.”

We’ve left that stage behind and I am now able to walk with him in this – we are a team and it’s not a matter of “his struggle” as much as it is “our life together, impacted by his struggle.”  We do a lot of talking and decompressing, but I make sure that even with my educational background in counseling, I don’t become his therapist.  I’m his wife and he needs me in that position.  We have a therapist for a reason, and I’m not that person.

I am my husband’s cheerleader, his support, his lover, and his Shield-maiden.  I pray with him, for him, and for myself and our family – and when he’s tired or war-wounded from his battles, I hold up the shield for him and he has a place to rest and heal.

Every so often we do a “status check” where I ask and he tells me how his journey is going on an internal level.  It’s for my healing of trust issues as well as to enhance our marriage and communication levels.  He knows that no matter what he says, I will love him and accept him.  I am a safe place for him.

How has his struggle influenced your own emotional and spiritual wellness? What resources have you utilized to get support for yourself?

I had no idea how my spiritual and emotional life would be changed by marrying my husband.  I expected a fairly “normal” life with him; this journey has been anything but.

I had my own issues of self-esteem and trust.  After discovering my husband’s “secret,” my self-esteem and trust issues became front and center.  It took me a while to separate myself from my the struggle and realize that although it affected me deeply, it wasn’t about me.  I didn’t “make him gay” and nothing I did caused his attraction.  Once that became clear to me, I was able to look to the Lord to heal my issues and help me heal on with my husband’s journey.

Things came to a head for me in the spring of 2008, when I very clearly heard the Lord (audibly) speak to me.  He said, “Your husband is about to become the man that I have called him to be.  You need to match him.”  YIKES.  That began a path to healing in my own life that allowed me to more actively be a help to my husband and focus on his pain and past, not clouding the issues with my own.  The Lord removed thorns from my heart from past events that were poisoning my life, and when the process was over, we were able to focus on my husband and his healing.

Resources which have helped me include The Marriage Bed, private counseling, Cross Power Ministries, Intimate Issues by Pintus & Dillow, hours of girl-talk with other women who understand intimacy-issues, and referring back to a bevy of books on homosexuality, emotional healing, sexual abuse, and emotional incest.

How has your husband’s battle with SSA affected your intimacy with one another, both sexually and in emotional oneness?

It’s a huge issue for most couples impacted by SSA, and we were not excluded from the struggle.  My husband grew up understanding sex to be bad, secret, and twisted, and I had terrible messages about sex from my upbringing, in addition to having sexual trauma that took place in college but that I neglected to deal with.

We also made mistakes in our engagement in the name of “purity” that set us off on the wrong foot; we opted not to have any physical contact (touching, kissing, petting, etc.) until we were married.  We actually had our first kiss on the altar during our marriage ceremony!  We did it for multiple reasons, all of which were Godly, but all of which were devoid of God’s leading.  We decided to do this without consulting the Lord, and ended up making things very difficult for me in later years.  I had to go from 0-100mph in the course of about 3 hours – from kissing to “I’m supposed to do WHAT?!”  It was a recipe for disaster and didn’t help me develop trust and intimacy with my husband.

When you combined that decision, our backgrounds, and my husband’s SSA, we were more like roommates for the first 13 years of our marriage than anything else.  He would self-medicate with porn & masturbation, have nothing left for me, and then I would take his rejection of my advances as “he doesn’t want me” or “he doesn’t like my body.”  I also transferred a subconscious anger at him because of my un-healed sexual trauma, which was entirely unfair to him.

Our intimacy was probably down to once every 4-6 months at different points in our marriage, infrequently dotted with times of sexual connectedness.  Things really began turning around for us sexually in 2008 as I dealt with my issues and sexual trauma – my husband was delighted to be a participant in my healing and my subsequent appetite for him.

It has been challenging to have this concept of SSA in our bedroom, but by working slowly and consistently and letting the Lord lead us, we have made huge progress.  We now make time for each other and for sex by making it a ‘scheduled item’ on the calendar and have found tremendous satisfaction and emotional intimacy in that.

As our sex life turned around, our emotional oneness also grew deeper – we were no longer shy about praying together, reading the Bible together, and otherwise talking about the hard things.  Sometimes it still takes me “screwing my courage to the sticking place” to talk about certain things, but it definitely has gotten easier to be emotionally vulnerable with him compared to what it once was.

As you have been processing through this struggle, what opinions and philosophies have you encountered in secular streams of thought? Have they been helpful or not? How so?

Most secular theories discount us as “freaks” or “religiously motivated nutjobs,” and unfortunately, many inside the Church believe the secular world’s take on the subject.  “Once gay, always gay” is the prevalent belief outside the Church.  There are some secular groups who marginally and begrudgingly accept where we are, but only because in order to be considered “inclusive,” they have to include people whose experiences and worldviews are different than theirs.

Most of the secular philosophies are not terribly helpful, with the exception of two:  cognitive therapy (talk therapy) in the hands of a skilled Christian therapist can yield tremendous results.  My husband has come to grips with the roots of his struggle in this way.  EFT (emotional freedom technique, or “tapping”) used in a Christ-centered context is also very helpful in releasing pent-up emotions and wrong beliefs about oneself.

What about the Church? Has your local church been helpful? Are there people in the church who are aware of his struggle? What about the broader Church? What is the predominant sentiment expressed by the Church at large to people who struggle with SSA? Is there any shift in thinking that you have noticed?

The Church as a whole has flubbed much of this issue.  There seems to be two main lines of thought/belief within the Faith about SSA:  1)  the temptation (i.e., SSA) is sinful and the appropriate response is condemnation and isolation; or 2) everyone is loved by God, regardless, and the only appropriate responses are to be affirming and re-define Scripture.

Very few churches pick the middle path to acknowledge SSA and still hold to a Biblical belief that while the attraction isn’t wrong, acting out on the attraction is – although it is not a sin which is Greater Than Any Others.

My husband and I particularly appreciate this last approach – it creates a culture in which broken people can find healing in the presence of God and shuns the idea that some sins are somehow worse than others.  All sins put Jesus on the cross – to then make some “more grievous” than others indicates that the blood of Christ is incapable of satisfactorily cleansing all sin, which is heresy.

Our local churches have been fantastic – we moved across country last year and our church where we used to attend was amazing.  We were honest with them about our journey and they embraced us, trusted us with leadership positions, and encouraged us in our healing process.  Our current church has been incredible – from the platform we hear compassion, Biblical truth, and see people live out God’s love in a way that touches us to the core.

Portions of the leadership in our current community are aware of our journey and have embraced us; we are telling staff as we build relationships with them and have a chance to bare our souls.  We haven’t been rejected and indeed have been asked to lead small groups within our church’s marriage ministry.  They recognize our journey and testimony and we have been accepted.

We see glimmers of hope across the country with different churches and how they handle this issue. We are hopeful that as the “changing of the guard” takes place and new leadership comes in with more of the compassion of Christ than a love for “clean churches,” the trend will continue.  There is room for all sorts of brokenness in the Church, and the more we are changed by the love of Christ, the more we can pass along that love and compassion to others.  If being real about our journey encourages others to deal with their “stuff” and find healing, then it’s all worth it.

Where are the two of you at right now? Are you in a good place?

We are in a good place!  We are clinging to Jesus and to each other, and God is continuing to work out things in us.  We know our next step is to meet with a new therapist and pursue more healing for my husband – that’s a scary step, but we’re willing to do it, knowing that the Lord is leading us.

Spiritually, emotionally, and sexually, we’re doing better now than we ever have.  We have our ups and downs like everyone else, but we’re much quicker these days to ‘get back on track’ than in the past.  We’re walking this out one day at a time, but I’m here to tell others who are impacted by SSA that there really IS freedom in Jesus and that His touch isn’t too weak to heal in this issue, either.

Thanks so much to “Cori” for sharing the journey she and her husband have been on. It is our hope that it will help those for whom this is a struggle. If you would like to read more from her about this topic feel free to visit her blog at My Heart | His Heart. Watch next week for my wrap up article in this series on SSA. Please remember that we would love to have you contribute to the discussion in the comment section below, but comments will be moderated if they are lacking in grace and compassion towards one another. 

Same Sex Attraction: Introduction

Well, the time has come that I sit down and begin a discussion on the very difficult topic of Same Sex Attraction (SSA). It’s difficult for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s not talked about a lot in the Church so it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s also something that makes a lot of Christians uncomfortable so it’s hard to be honest about it. Because the majority of Christians, myself included, believe that God has establish that proper expression of sexual pleasure ought to be between one man and one woman in marriage, we often approach the questions surrounding SSA with a lot of judgement. It’s also a point of heavy contention between Christians and much of our society. The idea that it would be realistic for someone in the church to be struggling with this is embarrassing to a lot of Christians and the conviction that homosexual acts are sinful is offensive to those who support gay rights. The whole discussion is wrought with struggle and strife between the two sides. But I must take the time to discuss it, and here is why. These are excerpts from several emails we have received over the last little while.

I am a Christian and I am in a really great marriage with my husband of many years. How is it that I would struggle with attraction to other women? It’s not something I want and I avoid the attraction as much as possible but when it’s triggered, I’m reminded it’s still there. The thorn in my side. Is this a topic you could discuss? Bisexuality or attraction to the same sex?

I am married to a wonderful man and have wonderful children. However, I have a very serious struggle. I’ve had it for most of my life and it makes me feel good, yet very ashamed. The struggle is, that I find myself sexually attracted to other women, and I don’t know how to stop it. It makes me feel ashamed and unsaved at times. I try to figure out how this started. There are only two possible triggers…1) being molested by a woman, at a young age, and 2) seeing my share of porn on the past. Could you please try to address this issue? I’d like to have a healthy view of sex before God, and my husband. Thank you.

I have a history of bisexualism and have had bisexual tendencies since I first saw beautiful images of naked women in magazines that I was not supposed to see at a very young age, 8 or so…. I struggle with the tempation of being with another woman.

These women are having a very real struggle between their flesh and what they know to be true about God’s plan for sexual pleasure. Just so you know where I am coming from at the outset of this discussion, this is my conviction about homosexuality. A person who is prone to be sexually attracted to someone of the same gender is encountering a temptation for sin. I do not believe that most people choose to have same gender sexual desires, although bi-sexuality is becoming something of a fad so in some cases I do believe people choose it. I believe that a lot of different factors can influence a person to have very real struggles with SSA that they are not choosing to have, but what I believe is a choice is how the person responds to the struggle. For those who choose to embrace these desires as part of their identity and pursue a gay lifestyle, which I do not agree with, it does not give me licence to forfeit on the command to love. So while I am convicted based on the whole of Scripture that homosexual acts are sinful, I am equally convicted that the higher command is to love. And while I do not accept homosexuality as a legitimate expression of godly sexuality, I do not believe that it should be looked upon as so much worse than others in the church who struggle with marital fidelity, pornography addiction, or even selfish greed and malicious speech. They all tarnish the Bride of Christ and those in the body who struggle with these things need the Church to come along side and create an environment where people are safe to take ownership of their sin so that they can deal with it. I know that people on both sides of this contention-filled issue of gay rights are going to disagree with some aspects of my point of view, but it is my conviction nonetheless.

That being said, where do we go from here in this discussion? What is the solution? I am going to include an interview next week as part of this series on SSA, but in the meantime I want to end this introduction by presenting some questions for you to ponder and interact with.

1. Do you have people in your life who struggle with this or who have embraced homosexuality for themselves?

2. What would you do if you found out that someone in your church congregation was struggling with this?

3. If you found yourself feeling an attraction to someone of the same gender, what would you do?

If you wish to participate in the discussion I ask that you keep your comments respectful. Comments will be edited or deleted completely if they are an attack towards others. Feel free to share your opinion without accusing other commenters.

Sex Headaches

While I don’t believe that I have ever experienced this personally, I have heard of women who have headaches during or soon after intercourse.   I decided to do some reading on this topic to find out some more information.

Sex headaches are headaches brought on by sexual activity — especially an orgasm. You may notice a dull ache in your head and neck that builds up as sexual excitement increases. Or, more commonly, you may experience a sudden, severe headache just before or during orgasm. The most common headache happens with basically no warning and usually during the build up of an orgasm.   You may notice a dull ache on the sides of your head, jaw clenching, neck tension, and can intensify as sexual excitement increases.  They can last for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

What causes these?  The head and neck muscles can tighten up during sexual activity that causes a headache to start.  It could also be a response to increased blood pressure and heart rate during orgasm.  I know I would probably be more susceptible to headaches while I have sinus infections, too.

In some cases, your first sex headache may also be your last one. And many sex headaches last for such a short period of time, the pain is gone before any pill you take can work. If they are severe and/or chronic, you will want to consult your doctor.  Your doctor might prescribe either beta blockers daily (if you are prone to them a lot) or indomethacin or triptans can be prescribed and taken as a preventative.  Only your doctor can choose a plan that is best for you.

So, what is your experience?  Have you ever had these?  How do you manage them?  Let’s get your feedback!

Bringing Out the Superman in Him

“Hello, My husband and I have only been married for 10 months. I am 24 He is 31. First I have a much higher sex drive than he does and I am starting to be cranky around him and would rather masturbate because when we finally do have sex it really wasn’t worth my while so to speak. We’ve been together a total of four years and things weren’t perfect before marriage but it was better. I am trying to become a Better Christian woman now that I am saved. Although it’s a struggle with my husband because he isn’t as passionate about CHRIST as I am. I know prayer is the key but in the mean time I am hurting because of his disconnection both physically and emotionally. I’d like him to lead as he should and I have no problem with being submissive in our marriage. In other words a strong GODLY man is what I desire and is extremely sexy to me. I don’t want anyone else I want him to be that man. I admit that I married him while we were both unsaved and that Now I’d like to see a change that only Our GOD can bring into a life. Second we have two children ages 2 and 5 months mind you I am only 24 and fill I have sacrificed a lot . I dont want to end up bitter and divorced but I admit I have resentment. Please pray for our family and offer some wise advice. Thanks “

We recently got this letter in our email box, and it really sparked an interest in me.  There were some things I can relate to and others that I will depend on God to help me answer.

At my church, we have had several guest pastors lately while our pastor was ill.   One of them did a message that took us all over our bible, which I liked very much, and he really spoke to my heart.   He spoke of several things that I have had a problem with in the past, and I hope that I am healed of.

In Genesis, man had a perfect unity with God.   God gave man everything that he needed, even the realization that he needed a helpmate, a wife.  God provided for Adam and Eve’s every need.   He only gave them one rule….do not eat from the tree in the center of the garden.   Out of all the trees in the garden, only one was forbidden.  Should be easy, right?  Nope.  It was the temptation.  The serpent knew it and he used it.  And do you notice that in Genesis 3:6, the woman was the leader and the man followed her?   I never thought of it that way.  Adam knew what God said.  He knew it was wrong, but he followed his wife in eating the fruit.  Ladies, even today, we are still trying to take the lead when it really is our husband’s responsibility given to him by God.

This goes back to the reader’s comment “…it’s a struggle with my husband because he isn’t as passionate about CHRIST as I am” I know I am guilty about judging my husband’s relationship with Christ.   Who am I to judge?  I am responsible for MY relationship with Christ.  I can’t make him do what he is “supposed” to do.   My responsibility is to respond to my husband with what God told ME to do.   Ephesians gives us our roles….

Husbands:  Love your wife as Christ loved the Church. (Ephesians 5:25)

Wives: Submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

There is that word….submit.   There are some women that equate that word to slavery, but hear me out a minute.  I use a Ryrie Study bible (NASB) and in his notes about submission, Dr. Ryrie, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor states, “…the subjection is to be mutual and based on reverence for God. The differing responsibilities, if followed bring harmony, but if ignored, they bring difficulties.”  The latter is what I think this young lady is experiencing.

If you are like me, you take that, “If you want something done right, you’ve gotta do it yourself” attitude.  I brought that into my marriage.   There were things that I had always done “this way”, and even when our son was born “my way” was better than “his way” even though in the end we accomplished exactly the same thing and got the same result.  My husband has always been a hands on kind of man.  He wanted to be involved in all the details of our wedding.   While I breastfed our son, he wanted to be able to hold and feed our son, too.  He wants to be involved in everything.   My expectations of love from him were different than the way he loved me.   We really had bad communication issues.   The more I didn’t get my way, the more distant I felt towards him.  I am still that way at times as well, and I am hopeful that I am more apologetic when I do get that way.

Ladies, if you were to ask your husband what is the #1 thing that makes him feel loved, what would he say?   I know what my husband would say.  Respect.  Respect lifts a man’s spirit in ways that we cannot know and understand.   When a man feels respected at work and at home, he’s like Superman.   He feels strong.  He feels secure.   He feels loved.  Ladies, it starts here.   If our husbands don’t feel respect from us at home, it starts a downward spiral for them.  I hope all of your husband’s are like mine in this way….when we went through my refusal years, I did not respect him very much at times, and sin fed into our sex lives.   If he didn’t do anything that I considered respectful to me, sex was my tool to show how I felt.   But I didn’t realize this until much later….my husband continued to love me like Christ loves the Church.   He didn’t leave me.   He didn’t have affairs on me.  He didn’t reach out to porn on the computer.   He loved me so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own sexuality and his own needs to show me how much he loved me.   Does that ring a bell?   Didn’t God give up his precious, only Son for us?   His sexuality is one of the most precious gifts to me, and he was ready to pray that God take it all away if it made me happy.

Yes, it is hard sometimes to respect a man who doesn’t seem to respect you.  God didn’t tell us that it was okay to be disrespectful if we weren’t being respected.  God didn’t tell us that we were supposed to take the lead when our husband doesn’t seem to want to like Eve did to Adam.   We are to respect our husband no matter what.   There is bound to be ONE thing that you find respectful in him that can start the wheels turning in your relationship.   “Honey, I really appreciate that you go out day after day and work hard for our family to meet our needs. “ Even words that show you desire him.   My husband says if a man can see that you are being truthful, showing is more important than saying.  Then once he gets a little bit of that “Superman” feeling in him, he will be ready to try to please you as well.

Pray for all aspects of your husband’s life.  Pray for his job, for temptations, his choices, his health and stresses in his life, his attitude, his walk with Christ, his self image, his obedience to God….pray for his wife.   I don’t know how you are praying, but pray that if there is anything in you that needs changed, that God will bring it up to you to fix in yourself first.   If your husband sees that you get more pleasure in masturbating than in sex with him, pray that you can show him your desire is for him and not for your own personal gratification.  Pray for a time when the two of you can sit down and talk about your sexual needs.   Ask him what you can do to make intimacy and pleasure better for him.   Communicate your needs to him.

To the writer of this email, I am not certain how long you and your husband have been saved, but sometimes it is overwhelming, and it is the hardest right after you were saved.  There are doubts about if you were really saved or not.  Life seems harder at first.  It takes time to settle into what the bible says and it is not easy to just start doing what the word of God says when you are used to doing something else.  If you are not already in a church together, I suggest looking for a church where you both feel comfortable with the teaching and the relationships.  He may need to join in a men’s group and make friends who can help and guide him along, being examples for him.  In the meantime, my suggestion to you is this…. 1 Peter 3:1-6 says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” I have seen this in my own mother, who has been married to an unbeliever for over 40 years.   It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.  I have seen things in my father recently that may mean that he has given his life to Christ, but even if not, my mom hasn’t waivered in what God calls her to do.  I strive to be that same woman to my husband.   If there are times that I am disappointed in his walk with Christ, it is not my job to judge him or take charge of his spiritual life.  It is to walk like Christ, so that he might see Christ in me.


Intimacy After Loss

Over the last few months we have received emails from several of you who have recently suffered a loss in your lives.  You have asked about how to handle intimacy in the midst of losing a loved one.  One woman even asked if one of us had personally had any experience living through this ourselves.  Everyone processes grief differently, but here is my story.

I lost my grandmother six years ago.   She & I were extremely close to the point where she was truly my second mom.  I grew up next door to her and she taught me how to sew on her old Singer sewing machine, how to bake cupcakes, and how to make homemade biscuits.  When my parents fought (which happened a lot) she was my refuge and took me in.  When I was sick at school, she is the one who would come pick me up.  As I grew into a woman she remained one of my best friends and you could find me at her house multiple times a week.  She was truly a woman of God and I had so much admiration for her.

When she was eighty-eight years old, Cancer took her from me and her death was a blow that was so hard to recover from.  My children were 2 & 4yrs at the time and I remember trying so hard to be strong in front of them….and then when I was alone, in the bathroom, driving, lying in bed, doing dishes, wherever…. I would grieve her loss the most.  I felt like no one understood the bond I had with her, and I felt like my children had been robbed of being able to know the best person in the world.

I remember being so upset that I just wanted to be held by my husband.  I also remember a period of time where I was just numb.  I think I had cried so much that there was nothing left but numbness, and I just wanted everyone to leave me alone, including my husband.

But during that time where I was slowly coming out of the grief, and coming back to myself, I remember wanting my husband to make love to me to give me some normalcy.  One of my primary love languages is physical touch, and so I wanted that intimacy between us so that I could feel my husband’s love for me.  Orgasm wasn’t as important, but I did want to feel him inside me.  I wanted to feel us joined together.  I wanted to know that our lives and our love would go on.  I wanted that reassurance.

My husband thought that the “nice thing to do” would be to not initiate sex with me at all, because he didn’t want me to feel pressured, and he didn’t want to come off as a jerk after I had just experienced such a tragic loss… and I wasn’t bold enough (or good enough with my communication) to just tell him that I actually NEEDED sex with him.  So for a little while I wanted/needed that connection to him but didn’t get it because he thought he was doing the right thing.  But sex would have been comforting to me.

You may not be like me at all.  Everyone processes grief in a different way.  My only advice to you would be to make sure that your husband knows what you want/need from him during this difficult time.  You may go through periods of different emotions such as anger, profound sorrow, bitterness, emptiness, fear, numbness, and many others.  Just allow yourself to be human and know that you have a husband and family who are here for you in whatever capacity you need them to be.  And your heavenly Father is also here with you, holding you in His arms.  You are not alone.

If anyone would like to share a testimony of how you were able to live through grief and how the intimacy in your marriage was affected, please use the comment box.

Violence in Marriage

We received several emails from a woman who is in a marriage where her husband has been violent towards her and her children. She is living in constant fear of the possibility that her husband may again loose his temper and become abusive. She is concerned that he is monitoring her emails so this article is actually the first time she is hearing my opinion on her situation as she had previously asked us not to reply to her emails for fear of her husband seeing the email and hitting her again.

To summarize her emails, she is wondering about whether or not she has biblical grounds to divorce her husband if he continues to be abusive and she is asking for help in knowing where to establish boundaries in light of Christian forgiveness. If she is allowed to divorce him, she is asking if she is then allowed to remarry someone else. Her emails reflect that her husband responds to her in ways that are typical of abusive spouses; controlling her friendships and actions, threats of keeping her children from her if she leaves and other attempts at intimidation, frequent declarations of love and repentance without any sign to seek help, and alienation.

So, what do I think?

Dear Sister in Christ,

I am so sorry that your husband has created an environment of fear in your home and I grieve for the painful circumstances you are enduring both emotionally and physically. I am certain that the emotional pain of watching your husband hit your children is as hurtful as the physical pain you endure when he is violent towards you. I am sorry that you are in a marriage where your husband is not protecting and loving you as he ought to, that he does not accurately reflect to you the love of Jesus which is the clearest command to husbands in scripture. My heart breaks for you and the many other women who are in situations just like yours.

So to be clear, on the practical side of this equation, it is my opinion that because of the actions of your husband it would be a greater error on your part to keep your children in a home where their and your safety is in question. The emotional scarring of abuse is horrible and the longer they are kept in potentially violent situations, the harder it will be for them to overcome the trauma of it. Depending on where you live, you may actually be at risk of having legal action taken against you if you knowingly keep them in a home where they have been abused and do not report it. I am unclear as to how extensive the abuse has been, but if I understand the circumstances accurately, your husband will probably become violent again if he finds out that you are leaving and I suspect that you will need to file a restraining order against him for you and the children. I know that it is common to want to hide any evidence of abuse, but it will be important for you to keep a record of these events and it may help if you consult with a lawyer who can help you with that.

Now biblically speaking, I believe you also have more than enough scriptural support to get you and your children separated from him. I hope you are in a church community that can help you as you are going to need a lot of help in your healing journey from this. Regarding divorce and remarriage, based on my knowledge of God as revealed through His Word, a husband who is violent towards his wife and children has already broken covenant with them. Can God bring redemption? Yes, it is possible, but very uncommon because even a truly repentant abuser needs to have more than just repentance. Something in your husband is broken. Unless it is healed by God and God alone, I do not believe that repentance will lead to a permanent change in his behaviour. Because I do not know your husband or the depth of his brokenness I hesitate to give you parameters around if and when you should take the step towards divorce and remarriage. This is why I hope you have a wise church community that you are a part of. Salvation from this is impossible, but what is impossible with man is possible with God (Luke 18:27) and if healing is to come, a God-focused church community will give you the support you need to navigate through any miracle that might come to your husband’s heart. Your marriage might be miraculously healed, or it may end in divorce. I’ll take the miracle any day of the week, but if there is no will on the part of your husband to get truly free, divorce might become the only option. Is it ideal? No, but if your husband stays holding on to his brokenness and pride, I do believe that it is sometimes a reasonable outcome and God will be faithful to help you in it.

In regards to forgiveness, this sort of deep wounding is likely the sort of thing where you will chose it in your heart to begin with and then the reality of becoming free from your hurt and anger will come in waves. Whatever the process looks like for you, just stay close to Jesus’ heart and allow Him to redeem the hard things that you encounter. Although he doesn’t send hardship, he doesn’t waste it either. You’ll find that things will happen that seem to open up the wound of this tragedy in your life. Jesus will take those situations and speak truth to you resulting in healing. Then things will get better (because His healing is AMAZING), and you will be rejoicing at your victory in forgiveness. And then another thing will happen which reminds you of another area of wounding and you’ll go through it again, and every time you will become more and more free. The key is to stay close to Jesus so that when these things come, you are holding onto your identity as His daughter rather than the identity of being a victim of abuse. Your children, too, will go through a process like this so encourage them to continue holding on to Jesus and going to Him with their hurt. But make no mistake. Forgiveness does NOT equal staying in a violent relationship.

Thank you for being brave enough to ask for guidance. I hope my words to you are helpful. If I know this community of women like I think I do, I am sure that many of them will stand along side me in support of you. We pray for you and the many other women in similar circumstances. May God bring you out of the violence and fear into His peace and freedom.

Disclaimer: This article is based on my opinion only and is not meant to be taken as authoritative on any situation of domestic violence. I recommend that all who are in a situation of domestic violence seek professional and legal advice from someone in their geographic area. 

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