Summer of Q&A: What Was the Most Asked Question?

I promised a Summer of Q&A with J, in which readers can ask questions about the sexual intimacy in their marriage and I will answer with a blog post. The topics that came in are really varied, showing our experiences run the gamut. While many marriages relate to struggling with sex, we struggle in different ways.

Summer of Q&A: What Was the Most Asked Question?

 

Yet one specific question came up again and again. Even across so many different situations, this question was often included somewhere in the email:

Will you please let me stay anonymous?

Let me first say that my answer to all of you is YES. Indeed, I set up my blog so that you may comment using the name “Anonymous” or an initial or a made-up nickname. I wanted to encourage people to engage here and not worry about sharing their private concerns in this public forum.

But the repeated appearance of this question about retaining anonymity makes me wonder about something bigger. How many times does a marriage have problems with the sexual intimacy that are entirely unknown to anyone around them? How many spouses struggle in silence and feel they have nowhere to turn? How many feel anonymous even before God when it comes to the pain they face?

Let me encourage those feeling anonymous in their marital intimacy challenges:

1. You are not alone. The problems posed to me are varied, but they are not new. If you’re a higher drive spouse longing for more connection, plenty of high-drive spouses know what you’re going through. If you’re a wife whose husband has rejected you for a porn addiction, other wives have been through the same. If you feel like your marriage is sexless and hopeless, others have been there and come out the other side with new hope and health in their sexual intimacy. I hear the tough stories, but I hear the victory stories too.

Whatever your issue, another Christian out there is facing a similar challenge. Moreover, you are not alone no matter what — because God is with you. He doesn’t promise us a perfect life this side of Heaven. But He promises us His presence, if we will invite Him in and seek His face.

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'” John 14:23

I could go on all day with verses like these.

2. Seek answers. Many of you are seeking answers already, just by being on my blog or other websites. Perhaps you’re reading books, listening to sermons, praying diligently — asking for wisdom for the struggle you face. I encourage you to continue.

Now I hate to be a downer about it, but I do want to be realistic — so I’ll tell you it was years between when I starting seeking wisdom and when our marriage got much better. That sounds awful, right? ‘Cause when you’re in a big mess, you think you can’t make it another day, much less years! Looking back, though, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat to get to where we are — with an intact family, renewed love and hope, and God-honoring sexual intimacy. And I know where I’d be if I’d never sought wisdom — in the pit for even more years. Who wants to live there?

You’re stronger than you think, and you can do this. And God is even stronger than that — by a long shot. So take it day by day, look for answers, and ask God to lift you up when you feel too burdened to continue. In weeks or months or years from now, you may look back and see how amazingly far you’ve come.

3. Talk to people who know you. I will offer my best advice here, but I can’t get all the details of your situation into a single post or email. It’s not the same as sitting and having a long conversation with you, or — better yet — you and your spouse.

It may freak you out to think about sharing the nitty-gritty details with someone who knows you, but they might have insight that would be helpful. Your own doctor knows your body and your health. Your pastor knows your spiritual life and has seen your marriage. A counselor can speak with you at length and find out more about what’s going on. A close friend can mourn with you, encourage you, and pray for your marriage. A mentor can keep you accountable and be an ongoing cheerleader.

I don’t know who you need in your life, but it helps to have someone who knows you and your particular situation to hold your hand for the long haul. Consider opening up to someone in your midst. Choose carefully, but you might be surprised at the welcome arms that reach out in return.

Do you feel anonymous in your struggle with sexual intimacy in your marriage? Why is so hard to talk to someone? What would help you feel safe enough to open up?

26 thoughts on “Summer of Q&A: What Was the Most Asked Question?

  1. Steve

    Here we all are, trying to get a better understanding of intimacy, and all we’re really worried about is…”will someone else who knows me see my struggle”. Or “everyone will think I’m dirty”. I think that’s more of the issue on anonymity. We’re afraid to let people see that most ALL of us need help with intimacy. For years it was something we were told not to talk about. Some of us can’t even express our desires to our spouses, how can we put our name on a post and tell the world we need help. I think this topic should be no different than any other. We should be able to discuss it openly, with our names and dignity intact.

    1. J Post author

      Indeed, Steve, it would be great to work toward that, but I understand people needing to start where they are. Which means some people want to stay anonymous.

      Also, if you’re sharing something very personal about your spouse, perhaps that’s the best choice. Finally, being able to talk about it is great, but I don’t share the details of all my marriage issues here online — some of those are best handled with a confidant or counselor close to me. So I get the desire for anonymity here. I really do.

  2. Shelly

    My husband (a pastor) and I have been through many trials in our 20 year marriage, including his porn addiction and anger problems and my tendency to withhold love and not let him get too close emotionally. Of course those things led to problems in the bedroom.
    The turning point for us was when I opened up to friends and family and admitted we were on the verge of divorce if things didn’t change. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done- I was raised to put on a good face for everyone no matter what’s going on. But I can honestly say that was the best thing I’ve done for my marriage. We were able to get the help we needed and also found that there were many other couples who were struggling as bad as we were. I’m now very open with people about the problems we’ve been through and how God brought us through it all. My relationships are more genuine and I feel so much freedom and just peace in my life.
    It was tough to bare it all but so worth it!

  3. Keelie Reason

    So happy that you are doing this during the summer. I know a lot of women want to ask their questions and get valuable answers. I have ever confidence that you will respectfully answer everyone in a way they can understand. Good luck. I can’t wait to read your posts. 🙂

  4. Ham

    All I can say is, “Wow!” The Holy Spirit was talking through you on that one, babe. And, yes, it sometimes takes a long time, years even, before we get His answer to our situation, but that may very well be because it takes us that long to mature enough to accept and internalize the answer.

  5. G

    And, as was my case, how many times does a marriage have problems with sexual intimacy and they go kinda, sorta, unnoticed by the other spouse? My dear, sweet, hot wife was a little taken back when I told her how frustrated I had become with our (almost to the minute) time-able routine. Not to mention the frequency and lack of intimacy in so many other aspects of our lives. We were roommates who occasionally mated.

    Things are improving. This blog has helped. I’m finding good, trustworthy, God-blessed information. My wife and I are speaking openly about intimate matters. Consequently, everything is getting better — not just because of the improvement in sexual intimacy, but because of the improvement in overall intimacy.

    Thanks for your work J — you’ve become a wonderful go-to source. And thanks to everyone who contributes to this blog as well. Not traveling the road alone road helps immeasurably.

    1. J Post author

      Thank you…and I love hearing stories like these where things have indeed improved. I know God wants to bless our marriages with true intimacy, and I pray for husbands and wives to embrace every part of His plan.

  6. alchemist

    I’m not married and consequently don’t have intimacy troubles, but I really needed those verses today. For some reason I’m kind of finding it really hard to want to continue living.

    Keep on keeping on.

    1. G

      Alchemist — I really hope (and pray — and I don’t use that loosely) you are feeling better today. Please try to hold on for another day, another week, another month, another year. Life is tough; there is no other way around it. And for some life is tougher on them than it is for others.

      “For some reason I’m kind of finding it really hard to want to continue living.” That’s tough. What you are going through is tougher than what many others are experiencing. I don’t know what’s hitting you so hard it’s about the knock the life out of you. And I would be so wrong to tell you to just buck up and put on a happy face and that things aren’t that tough, etc., etc. I just hope you’ll find the strength somewhere to really keep on keeping on. So sorry. My heart goes out to you.

  7. Ruth

    I love this post. My marriage started changing when I dared to talk to my husband and to Godly women that spoke wise counsel and prayed with me. I encourage women that take my classes to look for opportunities to encourage other women in their marriage and their sex life. Christians don’t talk about it, and we need to start encouraging each other and building each other up. I can’t tell you how many women at the start of my class have expressed embarrassment someone might see them reading the book Sheet Music. Think about it, a married Christian woman reading a book on sex, How can that be wrong?

    1. Ham

      …and to think that Christ came to set us free and give us an abundant life! Should it surprise us much when the scripture tells us He wept?

  8. lynn

    Besides the natural discomfort about sex that most of us were raised with, I think the fact that, in talking about sexuality, I am also disclosing my husband’s secrets, is another barrier. So many times I thought, “Who can I ask this question of?” Sometimes, I actually asked my husband, and that led to some fruitful discussion. Other things, I’m afraid to hurt him. I’m so glad for the great marriage and intimacy blogs out there, the ones that are responsible and well-informed – like yours.

  9. Mitch

    I am in my late 50s and have been married nearly 30 years. We are both long time Christians but sex between us has never been good. In fact, it has never even approached “regular”. (It’s been since last year). My wife has used so-called “gatekeeping” or passive denial. We have a lot of children, including special needs, and have had no privacy. I don’t have enough money to get a hotel room every time I want sex, so the result has been frustration for nearly 30 years. I have no idea how to even start fixing the problem since my wife has not shown the least interest in sex with me. She sees it just as physical release and entirely optional. I don’t want to die being miserable.

    1. J Post author

      My heart aches for you. Sadly, your situation is not entirely unique. Your frustration and despair are understandable. I wonder why your wife holds the view of sex that she does. Sometimes, there’s a buried history a woman hasn’t even shared with her husband that helps explain why she is so unwilling. I am praying that God will prick her heart, and she can open her eyes to how much sex would mean to you, and could mean to her, if she would engage in physical intimacy.

      There is indeed hope. Marriages have turned around, even after such a lengthy struggle. Blessings!

  10. libl

    Yes, it can take years. It can also just be a glitch in communication or misunderstanding and a simple bit of guidance can be restorative. It took years and many tears for me. Nervous breakdowns, seeking help and being given none, and perhaps the hardest was having to face my own issues and part in it while giving up control seeking tactics, fear, and lack of boundaries.

    I have a mentor-friend I can be honest with when things get tough. She has been a huge blessing.

    And just a word of advice I am spreading: if Boundaries and Boundaries in Marriage don’t make sense to you….you just aren’t grasping the Boundary concept, read Boundaries With Children. Seriously!

    1. Ham

      Though I am not a Methodist, one great thing they’ve been doing is called the “Stephen” Ministry, where a church member is paired up with another, hopefully more elder, church member who can be confided in and who will pray with and for you and give you Godly counsel. Sounds like just the thing for issues like these. The devil (note small “d”) would have each of us believe that our problems are unique to ourselves and nobody else is undergoing them, which is far from true, and believing that lie keeps us isolated from the Christian fellowship that the church is intended to provide.

  11. Anonymous

    My husband was sexually abused as a child up until his mid teenage years. I know he went for counselling as a young adult but I feel like he should go again, but I don’t know how to bring it up because it’s such a painful subject. We’ve been married for 8 months and we’re unable to be intimate. He tenses up, freaks out, even becomes short of breath in such a way that he needs his asthma pump, as if he’s about to have a panic attack. And then I feel horribly guilty and cry, which makes him feel even worse. Communication is definitely a problem on both sides and the idea of talking to anyone else about it is so scary, especially since I’m one of the few people who know who know about his childhood and I don’t want to make it worse for him than what it already is.

    1. J Post author

      Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. What a struggle — for both of you!

      I’ve written some on bringing up difficult topics like this. For instance, How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse. I also wrote recently for a woman who struggled in a way that sounds similar to yours (although I don’t know if abuse was involved there): My Shy Husband is “Grossed Out” by Sex. It does sound like your husband is having anxiety attacks, which is understandable for abuse victims. Many of them even have PTSD.

      I encourage you to talk to him outside of the bedroom, explain that you see this is a we problem now that you are married (not just his problem), and reassure him that you are okay taking time now to fix things so you can experience a lifetime of physical love together. You may need to affirm that you still see him as the heroic, masculine, wonderful man you married. This is a challenge you can overcome together, and you want to be his “helpmeet” (Genesis 2:18) in this journey.

      Then talk about resources together, and decide which ones to pursue. You can offer to go with him, or he can go alone — figure out which approach would be best and more easy for him to do. There are many confidential options you can consider. He might even be more comfortable seeking medical or psychological help across town. But note that psychologists and counselors will not reveal to others why they are seeing you, so if he or the both of you do run into someone you know, his past will remain private.

      I do hope the perpetrator of this awful abuse has met with justice. Sexual abuse to a child has to be one of the most heinous things a person can do. My heart goes out to your husband. Blessings!

  12. anonymous

    Where should I post a question? I sent an email a while back, but not sure I sent it to the right place. I’m not sure if my question would be relevant, but I sure would love to get some guidance. By the way, I bought your book last year before I got remarried after several years alone; it sure has been a blessing. Thank you!

    1. J Post author

      I don’t see your email in my inbox. Send a question for Q&A to hotholyhumorous [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks! And thanks for getting the book. 🙂

  13. SUE

    PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT YOU CAN COMPARE SEX TOi, i KNOW SOMEONE WHO WHO IS STRUGGLINGWITH THIS QUESTION AND i DO NOT KNOW HOW TO ANSWER IT.

    THANK YOU

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