Three Things To Keep in Mind

I have been reading MarriageHeat stories for a while. Thanks to all the contributors.

I have been married for almost twenty years and been unsatisfied with our sex life for pretty much all of it. My wife has a series of physical and emotional issues that really affect our sex life. She has deep, deep issues with sex. I won’t go into the details because her/our specific problems are not the point here. We have sought a lot of help and counseling and been working on this for almost two decades. There’s been some progress, but it’s very slow.

So when I read MarriageHeat stories about incredibly horny couples who are getting it on day and night in every possible position, I can be filled with frustration. That’s what I want for us! Why can’t we have even a tiny bit of that?

But then I reflect and remember that God has asked me to take a different path. And so I wanted to share three things that, on my better days, I have learned and try to remember.

God doesn’t guarantee anyone a great sex life.

Historically Christians only talked about sex in negative ways, which has been a huge problem. But now it often feels the other way: that if you just follow all of God’s instructions – particularly his instruction to wait until marriage – you’ll have a great sex life. And sure, you might. But just like God doesn’t guarantee you a million-dollar income, perfect health, or other things if you just work hard enough, he doesn’t guarantee you a great sex life. Sometimes God asks us to carry a different burden. I know that he has asked me to do so.

Every spouse and every marriage is different.

Every marriage is unique and built on two different, unique people. So our sex lives are each going to be unique as well. What works for one marriage may not work for another. This can be hard to take if you or your spouse are not happy with your sex life.  You can seek good advice and counseling and work hard to improve things, but get frustrated that your spouse (or you) isn’t responding the way the advice predicts that they should – or that you think they should. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, each in the image of God, but as unique persons. You are special and unique, as is your spouse, and as is your marriage.

You are not alone, especially when you most feel alone

Sex is a gift from God, and God has given each of us a particular gift different from anyone else. So give thanks to God for whatever you have and don’t have sexually. Avoid the great temptation to be consumed by jealousy, anger, or despair. And understand that you are not alone. Pretty much everyone is struggling sexually in one way or another, every day. (Or, if they happen to have a perfect sex life (unlikely!), they may be struggling in other areas where you have been blessed.) So while sexual problems may feel unique and isolating, don’t feel alone, because you aren’t.

I’m not saying I have it together—I give in to jealousy, anger, and despair all the time. But in my stronger moments, I am able to thank God for teaching me these things.

Click on a heart to thank the author of this story!

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17 replies
  1. SecondMarge says:

    I too have thought MH while a great place presents a picture of sex that few marriages can live up to. Certainly surveys and research confirm most marriages have at least one unsatisfied partner. But I do enjoy reading the pleasure others and appreciate those that admit their marriages fail to fulfill them sexually. I appreciate your comments and find your reminder helps me cope.

    • AdamW says:

      Thanks, Second Marge. In return I can say I have particularly enjoyed your posts and comments. You always have a refreshing and straight take on things. I always look forward to what you have to say.

  2. HappyHubby says:

    Such a great post Adam. I have also struggled to the point of resentment over what seems like perfect and non stop sex portrayed in many of the stories. It helps me to realize that A) the stories are just a snapshot in their sex life B) We tend to write about the most juicy encounters naturally and C) There might possibly be some "enhancement" involved.
    I realized I should be using stories for encouragement not as a model for every sex session my wife and I have and that has helped me. Thanks for bringing up a topic that I'm sure many can relate to and offering such great insights. Very helpful.

    • AdamW says:

      Thanks HappyHubby. I agree – if you read the stories for comparison, rather than inspiration, you can get unhappy pretty quick. Because often you’re comparing yourself against a snapshot – not the whole reality.

  3. LovingMan says:

    This was a very insightful post. It was needed. I think you are brilliant! Many of us needed to read your post. Sometimes I read MH stories and wish that was us. But I have learned to be grateful for what we have. I too feel frustrated at times. But when I am spiritually strong I feel very grateful.

    We had issues to work out because of childhood sexual abuse. (both of us) Many couples have to deal with adjustments to their expectations because of that. For example, wife can only give me oral in the shower. She can’t usually handle sex in the living room. She often does not care for cunninglingus. She does not like sexual slang terms. I can’t stand any anal play and neither can my wife. We have a very good sex life with occasional times where her inhibitions completely depart and we have an absolutely amazing series of sexual encounters with each other. She’ll enjoy me giving her oral and we’ll make love multiple times in multiple positions several days in a row. Or we’ll “play” in the car, etc. These are lovely memories to cherish. I have found that being content with what we have works better than being dissatisfied and longing for more rip roaring sex sessions. Those mind blowing sessions come by from time to time. In the mean time we have very regular pleasant sex that ranges from good to very good.

    It took therapy and loving negotiating to get to where we are. Most of the time I am able to choose to be happy about what we share sexually. Would I like more? Of course. But what we have is great considering what some survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience in their marriage. Sometimes we are just delighted that we can still make love at all, given our multiple health problems.

    By the way, I may be wrong, but I suspect that many of the true sex stories on MH are the occasional mind blowing experiences that many married couples share.

    For all married couples, the Iess intense love making sessions still create a loving bond between husband and wife. Like you said, AdamW, we need to stay grateful for whatever blessings we have.

    • AdamW says:

      Thanks LovingMan. My wife has (different) issues in her past as well and they also play havoc with her sexual wiring. Lots of complex dos and donts and yet no predictability either. But I suspect that is actually quite common and perhaps even the norm for most marriages.

  4. O-surfer says:

    I appreciate your post. It addresses one of my concerns with MH. Similar to any social media post, it can lead to discontent and comparison for some. We truly have to be on guard and examine our own hearts. So far, I’ve only written one story and I had to write it down right away in order to get it down with accuracy. But, it didn’t happen in isolation. It was built upon the years of marriage and work we’ve put into it.

    • AdamW says:

      Thanks. Yes, every marriage has peaks and valleys, but it's a lot easier to share the high points than the low ones.

  5. Mercury7 says:

    Adam, thank you for this post, which gives a very healthy and balanced perspective. I do appreciate your 3 points – they are important things to remember. Perhaps there are some lucky couples who have sexual encounters multiple times a week that mostly match the accounts written here. I'd say it's more common for couples to have experiences like this "once in a while." And for a great many couples, stuff like this only happens in their fantasies. And I'm sure some of the accounts here are either somewhat embellished, or are at least partly fantasy. Whether entirely true, or partly fantasy, the stories are usually stimulating and present some creative things to try (or to dream about). In our case, one of our weak points is that we have very limited ability to talk about our sexual relationship. Most of the time my wife either can't or won't open up to discuss our sexual life. Surprisingly, we still have a fairly good (although rather bland) sexual relationship, but without good communication not much growth has taken place over the years. In a comment above, LovingMan expressed my thoughts very well, "Most of the time I am able to choose to be happy about what we share sexually. Would I like more? Of course. But what we have is great considering…"

    • AdamW says:

      "In our case, one of our weak points is that we have very limited ability to talk about our sexual relationship. Most of the time my wife either can't or won't open up to discuss our sexual life."

      That's very much the case with us as well. I've realized that even more than desiring more sex, I desire that my wife and I could easily communicate about sex. But most of the time, no matter the timing or context or how I approach it, it overwhelms her and she shuts down, which then often triggers anger and resentment in me.

    • Mercury7 says:

      Adam, thanks for your follow up today. Indeed, it sounds like we have a lot in common!! Yes, I want sex (specifically, I want higher frequency, more variety, more playfulness, etc.). But perhaps more than any of those (or a key component that would facilitate all of those!) would be good open communication. I have tried having us read good Christian books about sex together, or having a structured talk session with an agenda, or doing it casually…but nothing seems to produce a good result. The only time any communication happens is when she has become highly aroused when we are making love, or right after one of those sessions. That's better than nothing, but in that setting, the amount of communication we can have is very limited. I have also dealt with anger and resentment, but as I've grown older my sex drive isn't quite as intense, so now I usually just react with some frustration and disappointment – not so much of the stronger negative emotions. Thank you for sharing you experience!

    • AdamW says:

      Mercury7, looks like we can keep agreeing on a lot of shared things. There are so many good Christian resources out there, it seems especially for women, and I can't seem to get my wife interested in any of them. It is frustrating, especially because it seems to me that so much of the resources directed at _men_ tell us over and over to talk more with our wives; that our wives want to communicate more about sex, which is definitely not the case for us.

      And yes, it's probably more frustration and disappointment for me, compared to the anger and resentment of the past. Where I do feel continuing anger is at much of the Christian teachings I still see today about sex. As I said in the original post, I feel there is far too much "just follow these steps and God will guarantee you a great sex life." That kept me in a pit of despair for a long time because I couldn't figure out where I had gone wrong. But as I said in my post, and as everyone is saying in these comments, it's a lot more complicated than that.

    • SecondMarge says:

      I agree with what the two of you have discussed.

      If the stories here were truthful and not embellished they would be as boring as our own sex lives. We would not enjoy or be turned on reading them. They are almost all written with the intent to arouse others.

      I must admit [it's hard for me to imagine or relate to] the references to God being part of their sex lives, even masturbation.

    • CrazyHappyLoved says:

      I guess we all have different experiences. For some, sex is (at least some of the time) a very spiritual thing.

      I tend to agree that sin is in the doing, not the imagining. Some of us know from experience that what we let our minds dwell on tends to influence our decisions in a negative way, so we try to avoid fixating on thoughts we wouldn't want to act on. Others of us are able to enjoy fantasy either solo or with our spouse without ever desiring to follow through in "real life." I think we need to know ourselves and our own weaknesses but not judge others' choices based on them.

      I also agree that it's sad when a person doesn't have the kind of relationship with their spouse that allows for honest conversation without fear of judgment. I wish I had always had this attitude. Oughtn't we be able to disagree and still love and respect each other. Shouldn't we be able to think about and discuss *why* we believe a certain thing is good, bad or indifferent without thinking less of a person who sees it otherwise, most especially in marriage?

      Could it be that we see any desire in our spouse for something other than the status quo as a failure on our part to be "enough?" Or has the illicit side of sex put a bad light on what God created for good so that we think it's shameful or distasteful to think or talk about it? Maybe changing is just too hard, too much work. Granted, we each come to a marriage with our own baggage and add to it as we go. How lovely if we can help each other carry it, or better yet, unpack and get rid of some of it to make the load lighter for us both.

    • AdamW says:

      Thanks, Marge and CrazyHappyLoved.

      Indeed, Marge, the stories here are not representative of people's normal sex lives. And I think it's easier to reflect on the spiritual dimension and connection of sex when things are going well and you're happy to praise and give thanks. As with other types of adversity, it's harder to thank God when things aren't going the way you want, even if that's when you most need to.

      CrazyHappy, in my case it's not about avoiding conversation for fear of judgment; it's about having any conversation at all. If there's judgment going on, I suspect it's my wife judging herself and not being able to free herself to talk about sex.

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