When fellow Christians balk about why I write about sex in marriage, I often want to say, “You should see my email.” If they could read the scenarios and testimonies I receive, perhaps they’d understand how important ministries addressing marriage and sexual intimacy can be.
With that in mind, here’s a heart-wrencher question today. This young wife and her husband waited for all the physical stuff until their wedding day, including the kiss. I’ve known others who waited for nearly everything until the honeymoon, and most are like children ripping open the Christmas present with eagerness and excitement; they can’t wait to be intimate! Not so this couple.
My question basically is, how do I encourage my husband to be more comfortable with me when he is (well is seems to me) grossed out by stuff… I try to use my tongue while kissing, and [he] absolutely won’t use his. I have stopped because it makes me feel rejected when he does that, but I really would like to be more intimate that way. I tried reading a book with him called A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds but he didn’t seem interested or at least was to shy to be reading words like sex and orgasm :)…
I don’t know how to help educate my husband so that he is confident in touching me. He doesn’t explore my intimate parts unless I intentionally sit down with him and then he seems to [lose] interest in 3 minutes even though I am doing my best to encourage him. And if I try to move his hand there while in bed he resists me (again rejection feeling). So I want to be respectful of his discomforts so I just suggest every once in a while and leave it at that. But he is fine with me touching him for the most part except that he is extremely ticklish.
So I am feeling frustrated because I want more, but don’t know how to communicate with my shy quite husband. And will I have to keep asking? I also feel frustrated because of the stereotype of the way men should be in my mind and he is not that, i e he does not pursue me aggressively in a sexual manner which is what I want/expect. I feel like I am doing all the work. It seems like he was such a good Christian boy who never ever let his mind wander or fantasize. I ask him if there are things he would like to do or try and the answer is always “i don’t know.” How do I get my husband to want me more and in new ways? I guess the real answer is prayer. I should pray more for him. But again how do I get him interested in learning about sex?
Mourn with those who mourn. First, I want to hug this wife. Sex is supposed to part of the package deal of marriage, and she’s got a lifetime ahead of her with the man she loves, but it’s just not happening…at all. I want to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15), because this is real grief. Yet God knows. And, while I cannot reach her, He can wrap His strong arms around her and her marriage and help her through.
Sexual baggage? Second, my red flags are up and flying at full mast. If this husband were in my counseling office (no, I don’t have one, but let’s pretend), I’d ask a lot of questions about his sexual history. An extreme lack of interest and discomfort with sexual intimacy could relate to events from his past—such as childhood sexual abuse; harsh punishment for sexual curiosity; teaching that sex is “dirty” or sinful; deep and unyielding shame about prior inappropriate activity (e.g., watching porn).
I suggest sitting your husband down outside the bedroom and starting a conversation about your previous experiences with sexuality. When did you learn about sex and from whom? Did you have any awkward experiences as a child? What did you think sex would be like in marriage? If he will not engage—because it’s about S-E-X—state clearly, “I need for us to talk about this, because I want to be intimate with you in every way, including sex. If you cannot talk to me, you have to talk to someone.” Then outline some possibilities for him, like your pastor, a Christian counselor, a mentor friend, a support group.
And yes, I think there could be a point when he’s had ample opportunity to follow through but hasn’t, and you must enlist help from others. That could mean going to your pastor, explaining the situation, and asking him to gently and privately approach your husband. It could mean telling a close friend of his who’s marriage-positive, a wonderful confidant for your husband, and who’ll take a biblical approach. I would not take this step lightly, but it’s also not okay to live like this for years on end.
Just too much? That said, this “good Christian boy who never ever let his mind wander or fantasize” may simply feel in over his head. If he expended a great deal of effort avoiding sex to remain pure, it could be difficult to flip that switch. In which case, I’d put away the Christian sex book (yes, even mine *sigh*) and reach for the ultimate Christian sex book, the Bible. You need to start with helping him understand God Himself is entirely in favor of him exploring, enjoying, and satisfying his wife in the marriage bed.
Three times in the Song of Songs, the Bible says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Many Christians and churches focus on the first half of that verse, making sure not to arouse or awaken sexual feelings and activity before marriage. But the verse doesn’t stop there; it goes on to say “until it so desires,” meaning there will be a time when love should be aroused and awakened because it’s ready. Marriage is that time.
You can share the Song of Songs, or stories from the Bible about sexuality (4 Great Bible Stories about Sex, 3 More Great Bible Stories about Sex). Take him to one of my favorite scriptures on sexuality—Proverbs 5:18-19: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.”
Pray for him, and pray with him if he’ll agree. It may help to find some of these specific scriptures and adapt them to pray for your husband’s interest and engagement. For instance, using the above scripture: “Bless my husband’s fountain, Lord, and help him to rejoice in me. Give him Your view of me as loving and graceful. Help him to seek satisfaction in my breasts and my body and to become intoxicated with my love.”
Slowly, slowly. On a practical level, go slow. Like insanely slow. Will this nearly kill you? Not being a patient woman myself, I’m freaking out a little just writing about it. But ask for divine help to persevere and slowly pull your husband out of his extreme timidity.
Set aside chunks of time to use as experimentation. Even if your husband isn’t tuned into his body, your body, and sexuality, he can get there. He may need time, permission, and trial-and-error to figure out what gets him going in the sex department. Explain you want to spend time figuring out how to make sex work between you two.
Also, I’m not a big fan of blindfolds, but I can see a use for it here or simply asking hubby to keep his eyes closed. He may need to tune out the visual of oh-my-goodness-what’s-happening and focus on sensations of touch. Ask clearly and often about what he likes or doesn’t like. If he isn’t comfortable answering with words, he can provide a hand signal or soft noise—whatever works for you. You may need for a time to hold off on intercourse while you help him explore sexuality itself. Remember the goal is ultimately physical intimacy, not a grand finish (although, believe me, I’m in favor of the grand finish).
You have a lifetime together, so breathe easy knowing you don’t have to get this all nailed down by Thursday. Does it suck? I’m a candid woman, so I’m going to agree that it sucks to be rejected by your husband and have him get grossed out by something as simple as a French kiss. Will it always suck? I’m also a Christian woman, so I’m confident saying that answer is no. God has worked wonders in so many marriages when it comes to sexual intimacy, and I think He can spin a beautiful miracle in yours.
What advice do you have for this wife? Do you have a similar situation in your marriage?