Category Archives: Marriage – General

Are You Guilty of Whataboutism in Your Marriage?

I’ve been hearing a lot lately on the topic of whataboutism. Don’t know what that is? It’s defined as “the technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue” (Oxford Dictionaries).

Basically, it’s when one person says, “So-and-so did this bad thing.” And the other person replies, “Yeah, well, what about so-and-so and their bad thing?” You hear it in politics all the time. In American politics, it often comes across this way: “Democrat A did this terrible thing,” to which someone replies, “Yeah, well, what about Republican B and the terrible thing they did?” Or switch Democrat/Republican. Not surprisingly, such debates go nowhere.

If neither side will ever admit that someone actually did something wrong or unwise, and their entire defense is that someone else in the universe also does bad things, how can any progress be made to improve the situation? It just starts sounding like a bad playground fight with yo-mama insults tossed from one fool to the other and back again.

But before we all feel so superior that we would never be such fools, let me ask: Are you guilty of whataboutism in your marriage?

blog post title + older married couple arguing

I’ll be the first to raise my hand. I’ve totally done this in the middle of an argument. You know how this goes:

Him:  You said you’d pick up my dry cleaning, but it’s been three days and you haven’t done it.
Her: Yeah, well, what about that weird sound our dishwasher makes that I told you about last week?

OR

Her: We haven’t been on a date in forever, because you’re always working.
Him: Yeah, well, what about when I suggested we take dance lessons and you didn’t want to do that?

OR

Him: I want us to make love more often, because I really miss it.
Her: Yeah, well, I want you to talk to me more, but it’s not like that’s happening.

Honestly, these aren’t like the yo-mama insults, because both parties have a point. The dry cleaning should get picked up, and the dishwasher should be fixed. He might need to stop working so much, and she might need to be more open to new experiences. They should make love more often and talk more.

The problem is that the reply is a deflection tactic. It’s a way to avoid talking about the subject your spouse brought up, to defend yourself by attacking back, and to feel superior to your spouse by pointing out something you’re doing right and they’re doing wrong.

This often happens in the comments section of marriage blogs. When a suggestion is made for a spouse to address an issue, sometimes he or she responds with, “Yeah, well, my spouse…” and then they go on to identify all the awful stuff their spouse is doing. And sure, they oftentimes reveal serious problems their spouse should deal with. But it’s also a way to avoid looking at what you really ought to address with yourself.

Even if your spouse is 90% of the problem, you need to deal with your 10%.

Even if your spouse is 90% of the problem, you need to deal with your 10%. Click To Tweet

If your spouse or someone else points out that something’s a problem, resist the temptation to switch the topic. Deal with the issue brought up. If you can resolve that one, you can move on to other issues and deal with those.

But using whataboutism just ensures that no issue really gets addressed and resolved. It becomes a battle of who’s worse, and you know what?

  • For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT).
  • Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

And if you think you’re not guilty of committing a sin against your spouse, maybe this one is you:

  • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17).

Next time you’re tempted to start your reply to a complaint from your spouse, or a suggestion from someone else about your marriage, with “Yeah, well, my spouse…” stop yourself. Ask whether your spouse has a point. Even if they word it very poorly (and we often do), dig into what their grievance says about their feelings and what they long to have in your marriage. Figure out how to address that issue and resolve it.

Also read blog posts and books about sexual intimacy with this in mind. As well as the Bible — especially the Bible. It’s not written for everyone else; it’s written for you and me. It’s convicting us. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Now what about that?

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My Biggest Problem with “Pray for Your Marriage”

It’s October, and I’m still talking about prayer! That’s because my goal this year has been to pray more, especially for marriage.

I’ve encouraged you to be praying for your marriage and your marriage bed as well, including unity with your spouse, sexual temptation, and perspective. And I’ve been encouraged by you sharing your prayer habits and thoughts. But today I want to tackle one of the problems I see with the ongoing appeal to “pray for your marriage.”

blog post title + black-and-white image of woman praying (close-up)

Sometimes prayer is touted as the cure-all to every ill in marriage and life. You’re arguing with your husband? Pray for unity. You’re struggling with your sex drive? Pray for its awakening. You’re battling a porn habit? Pray for release. You’re two steps away from divorce? Pray for restoration of your marriage.

And all of that is great. You definitely should “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). The problem is when we stop there and make it sound like prayer will resolve all of your issues.

But prayer is communication with God, and we have to also listen to what He says in those moments and in His Word and then apply it to our lives.

I know this from experience, because in the pit-dwelling years of my marriage, I prayed. A LOT. Everything from quiet reflection with God, to Scripture-focused prayer, to yelling and crying at Him for help. It felt like He wasn’t answering my prayer, because hadn’t He promised to deliver me? Psalm 91:14 says it this way:

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).

I was acknowledging His name regularly, loudly, desperately, yet my marriage slipped further and further into a black hole of despair.

Ah, the power of hindsight! It frankly makes me want to kick that younger me who expected God to fix everything while I continued to hold on to my mistaken viewpoints, my poor habits, and my selfish plans.

Let’s flip a couple of pages further in Psalms and learn more the character of God:

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
  the one you teach from your law;
you grant them relief from days of trouble,
  till a pit is dug for the wicked (Psalm 94:12-13).

Wow, that doesn’t sound nearly as awesome as Superhero God swooping in to rescue me with little effort on my part — just holding on to His caped person while He flies me away from trouble. But that ignores that God wants us to be a part of the plan.

Or rather, that IS the plan. Our Lord longs to rescue us, but He won’t swoop in when He knows that we need to grow more through the experience.

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Imagine God like a father with a toddler learning to walk. If the dad grabs his daughter every time it looks like she might fall, she won’t ever take those first steps. Instead, He’s there the whole time, listening to us, teaching us, scooping us up and comforting us when we stumble, and helping us learn to walk and then to run.

Prayer is inviting God into that experience. It’s reaching out your arms, looking directly at your Father, and walking toward Him. And then, applying what you’ve learned to the life you lead.

You have to act. What actions you need to take depend on your situation. But let’s take the issues I mentioned above:

  • You’re arguing with your husband? Pray for unity. And take an in-depth look at what changes you need to make, speak candidly and calmly with your husband, and consider attending a marriage course or getting marriage counseling.
  • You’re struggling with your sex drive? Pray for its awakening. And see your doctor to determine if there are health issues involved, check out a low libido resource like the online course from Sheila Gregoire or the devotional study from Bonny Burns, and listen to our podcast for regular tips on improving sexual intimacy.
  • You’re battling a porn habit? Pray for release. And confess your struggle to your spouse and a trusted mentor in your church, install filters on your computer or get rid of devices that tempt you, and seek out ministries that can help you break free like XXX Church.
  • You’re two steps away from divorce? Pray for restoration of your marriage. And see a counselor, either with your husband or without, to figure out what you can do to actively work toward reconciliation, and tell a church leader what’s going on and invite their intervention.

Also, let me add that the times when this advice to “just pray for your marriage” make me crazy are when:

  1. A spouse is serially unfaithful. If your spouse doesn’t give a hoot about the damage they’re doing to your marriage with their infidelity, you don’t cower in your closet and simply pray. Yes, you pray mightily, but you also set boundaries and leave if they don’t change their behavior.
  2. A spouse is abusive. You can’t just pray that a spouse will stop smacking you or calling you every name in the book. Jesus Himself said that He was sent here in part “to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). Get out, and if he wants to stop being abusive, he can change, win your heart back, and renew the marriage covenant.

Should you pray for your marriage? Absolutely! Just don’t stop there. Also actively work toward resolving the problems you face.

Should you pray for your marriage? Absolutely! Just don't stop there. Click To Tweet

This shift started me on the path to healing and happiness in my own marriage: I stopped expecting God to swoop down and fix it all and started applying Scripture and the insights He showed me to my daily life. I continued to pray, but I also got off my butt and put real effort toward making our marriage better. Or rather, making me better, since I was the only one I could change.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

blog post title + black-and-white image of woman praying (close-up) - sized for Pinterest

5 Ways to Make the Holidays Good for Your Marriage

It was about a month ago that a fellow marriage blogger reminded me that this was the time to start writing Christmas posts. She followed up by saying that October would be fine too. My response? “October?! Who are these heathens?”

Blog post title + couple in winter clothes sitting on park bench with a present

Personally, I like to focus on Thanksgiving before moving on to Christmas, and I’m also known to be a last-minute gal in many areas of my life, including holiday shopping. I barely know what I’m doing tomorrow, much less exactly what’s happening in December 25.

And all the pressure of the holidays feels more stressful than delightful at times. I admit to having a few Grinch moments even, when I walk through a crowded store in December and think, “Oh the noise! Oh the noise, noise, noise, noise!

But the holidays present an opportunity to be particularly generous, to spend special time with family, and to focus on people in need and ones we love. All of those apply to our marriage. So, whether you’re as excited about Christmas as Rudolph or a little Grinch-like at times, how about five ways to make the holidays really good this year? For you and for your marriage.

1. Talk about what Christmas means to you.

I originally wrote talk about your expectations, but that’s only part of the equation. Yes, you should talk about where you two should spend Christmas Day, what kind of presents you want to give and get, and what traditions you want to establish or leave behind. But what really makes a difference in what you and your spouse decide to do for Christmas is what these choices mean to you.

Let’s pretend my family had a tradition of opening all the presents on Christmas morning, but my husband’s family opened one on Christmas Eve. We could negotiate that on the face of it and decide Christmas morning makes the most sense after all. But if he explains that one year, his uncle had an early morning Christmas accident and gifts were postponed until the following day, and so the only gift he had on Christmas Day was the one he opened the evening before … suddenly, I get it. I know what meaning that Christmas Eve present has and why we should continue that tradition.

It needn’t be anything that drastic, but discuss what meaning you ascribe to the decorations, events, and traditions you desire for the holidays. Talk about your deeper beliefs and feelings and then bless each other by embracing what gives your spouse special joy this time of year.

2. Know your mood triggers.

Despite Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” the Christmas season isn’t all joy and happiness for everyone. Rather, the holiday season can cause negative emotions and moods. It’s important to recognize what your triggers are and then do something to manage them.

Perhaps you know this season will stir up grief about the absence of a loved one, or you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that most often occurs in wintertime, or the sheer amount of to-dos overwhelm you with stress. Once you become aware of your triggers, you can take steps to deal with those issues. Maybe you need to simply clear some time to visit the grave of a lost loved one or make freezable meals in advance to get you through a calendar of work overtime.

Just as important is considering what your spouse’s triggers are. How can you help them deal with any negative emotions or moods that might visit this holiday season? Where can you be a balance and a blessing for your beloved? Consider how you can be his ezer kenegdo (Genesis 2:18), and then be that strong helper.

3. Say no so that you can yes.

I had an epiphany a few years back: I didn’t have to go to every Christmas event to which I was invited. This is hardly an earthshaking revelation, but to me it was a big deal. We came to realize that we had to say no to some things in order to say yes to having enough time with each other and our sons.

Likewise, you don’t have to bring cookies or cupcakes to every holiday activity that wants them, be it your kids’ school, your workplace, or a church activity. You don’t have to volunteer for every Christmas service project. You don’t even have to buy presents for every single person you did before. I’m not saying to shirk off the whole holiday season, but rather be intentional together in picking and choosing what you can and will do.

Make sure your choices align with what’s good for your own family and your marriage, not to mention your marriage bed. Too often, we get wrapped up in saying yes to everyone else that we’re out of energy altogether when our spouse would love to hear a yes to sexual intimacy. Think carefully about which yeses really matter and in which areas you can just say “no, thanks” this year.

4. Consider your love languages.

My top two love languages are Quality Time and Physical Affection, while my bottom two are Acts of Service and Gifts. Unfortunately, too many Christmases have focused on those bottom ones — with me running around doing things for people and agonizingly trying to find the right gift for each recipient. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Take stock of the love languages both you and your husband use. Then choose holiday activities that speak to those love-tank fillers. If one of you (or both) is a Quality Time person, schedule a time to attend a Christmas concert or the Nutcracker, take a drive and look at holiday lights, or head to a Walk Through Bethlehem event. If you’re about Acts of Service, work together on a service project like serving in a soup kitchen or putting together a Samaritan’s Box and look for ways to serve one another throughout the season.

I could go through more ideas for the other love languages, but you get the idea. Paying attention to the ways you express love and feel loved will keep your love tank filled during the holiday season.

Keep your love tank filled during the holiday season... Click To Tweet

5. Remember you still need romance and sex.

I put romance and sex together because they feed off each other, don’t they? And they both often get a backseat at holiday time. Consumed with to-dos, family gatherings, holiday events, and preparing meals that would make Ina Garten applaud, we can forget to pay attention to our Mistletoe Mister. But you can’t put your intimacy on a back burner for 4-8 weeks a year and expect a good result.

You can't put your intimacy on a back burner for 4-8 weeks a year and expect a good result. Click To Tweet

The word “Christmas” shouldn’t be synonymous in your spouse’s mind with “not getting laid for a month.” Nor should you skip investing in affection, flirtation, and romance that makes you both feel more linked and loved. Set aside time and make the effort to reconnect regularly with both romantic interludes and sexual intimacy.

If you want inspiration, check out the many dating your spouse posts from The Romantic Vineyard. And here’s my post on 10 Intimate Things to Enjoy for Christmas. Or hey, grab a copy of my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous, this holiday season and read it together for some spicy ideas for your marriage bed.

I’ll be back soon with some practical Christmas ideas, but I wanted us to start with thinking about how to make the season as a whole something we look forward to, embrace with joy, and treasure for the good it does for our marriage as well as others.

4 Responses to Hurricanes and Marriage Struggles

I’m sitting here on the Wednesday before yet another massive storm pummels the coast, writing my post a little early, and thinking about these storms. Having been through Hurricane Harvey and then discussing with a friend her preparations for Hurricane Irma, I considered how our options to a coming storm and to marriage struggles are the same.

Disregard.

You know that person after a hurricane, whom news reporters always seem to find, that says something like, “I knew there was a storm coming, but I had no idea it was going to be this big. So when it shattered my house…” All the signs and warnings were there, but the person chose to ignore that something bad was happening, preferring instead to live in denial.

Too many deal with marriage struggles the same way. Sure, they’ve heard that their spouse is unhappy, but they didn’t realize it was that bad until she left with the kids or until he filed for divorce. Despite the signs and warnings being there, the spouse chose to ignore the conflict or silence in their marriage, the emotional pain their mate felt and expressed, the absence of companionship and intimacy.

And, sadly, in many cases, the home eventually shatters. If your spouse is telling you they’re unhappy in the marriage, listen and take steps to avoid irreparable damage.

Ride It Out.

This is what the vast majority of Texans decided to do with Hurricane Harvey, staying put in their homes while the storm raged over and around us. While the photos of devastation in Houston and now Beaumont are truly heart-wrenching, we experienced relatively few casualties and most of our homes and buildings survived. We have a lot of rebuilding to do, but riding it out allowed residents to be here immediately to begin reconstruction once the rains subsided.

Some challenges in marriage are worth riding out. You might be experiencing conflict tied to external events, like a health issue or financial pressures, that won’t last forever. We tend to think however things have been going for the last year or two are how they will continue to be, but it’s just not true.

One important research study showed that couples who reported being unhappy in the marriage reported being happy in their marriage just five years later …. with no intervention. What happened? They rode out the storms, and things got better. Riding it out doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing. You still need to take care of your home, prevent further damage, and create a safe and reassuring place as best you can.

Seek rescue.

Hurricane Harvey dumped about 50 inches of rainfall in my area just outside of Houston. A few of my friends, whose homes had never flooded before, had to be rescued. They had every intention of riding out the storm, having prepared well based on hurricanes in the past, but this time was different. It was worse. It was life-threatening. The only answer was to seek rescue, from organized rescue teams or that average Texan guy who brought his bass boat to help out. Once rescued, further relief efforts began, providing shelter, food, and healing to those who had to leave what they’d known behind.

Some marriage problems are life-threatening; not that they could kill you, but they could kill your marriage. And too often in those storms, we wait too long to seek outside help, the blessed rescue our marriage needs. The time to get outside help isn’t when you’re underwater or having to ax through your roof and wave a white towel to a passing rescue crew, but when you look around and realize you’re flooding and the water isn’t going away.

In today’s world, there are so many resources to address problems that plague marriage, from overcoming porn to recovering from an affair to ongoing conflict to loss of sex drive. Books, blogs, online courses, workshops, counseling, and much more are available as rescue you can seek when you need it.

Evacuate.

I wasn’t here for the last major hurricane that hit Houston, which was Ike in 2008. My family packed up and went to San Antonio to stay with family. I ventured back after the storm to find a hole in our roof where rain had fallen straight into our dining room, and I was glad we hadn’t been there for the actual 104-mile winds that had struck our home. Sometimes, when the hurricane is particularly bad, it’s best to just leave.

There is so much good about being in this ministry, but one tough thing is receiving a comment or email from someone who describes their marriage and their spouse in such a way that I really, truly believe they need to get out. Ah, the weight of that moment! Do I tell them to leave? No, but I do suggest they do some reality checks and soul-searching. Because while this is a last-resort answer, sometimes it’s best to just leave.

Some spouses are sadly in an abusive marriage (physically and/or emotionally) or living with a serial adulterer, and there’s no indication that their mate will change or even wants to change. When your spouse is a 104-mile winds storm every day, how long can you do that? God knows that you are more important than your marriage, and He has provided that there are times you simply need to evacuate.

I don’t know where you are in your marriage, but most struggling marriages are in the stages of Ride It Out or Seek Rescue. Mind you, with both of these, you should be preparing for the storm, investing time and effort, working together to minimize damage, and pursuing emotional safety and health. That’s why my ministry is here, as well as many others.

♥     ♥     ♥

Since I’m writing this post ahead of time, let me say that I’m praying for all those in the path of Hurricane Irma. I encourage my readers to do the same. Any time there’s a massive storm, there will be a time of recovery and rebuilding.

Why You Feel Worse Than He Does about the Premarital Sex

Blog post title + woman curled up with head to knees

Did you have sex before marriage? Either with your husband or someone else? Or maybe several someone elses?

Welcome to the majority. Statistics show that 97% of Americans have sex before marriage. In highly religious groups, that number goes down to 80%, which is quite a difference. However, that’s still 4 out of 5 devoted Christians who didn’t wait until the ring was on the finger, the I Dos were spoken, the deal was sealed.

Waiting for sex until marriage is God’s design and desire, but the reality is that many of us didn’t achieve that goal. And if messing up was the end of our hope, not a single person could make it to Heaven. Rather, there is forgiveness, redemption, and clean slates through the saving work of Jesus on the cross.

But a reader recently emailed me saying that he hadn’t gotten the sense that my premarital promiscuous past came with any real consequences for me or my marriage: “I came to the conclusion that your premarital ‘adventures’ had not affected you at all.”

Wow. If I have left that impression, let me correct it right now. I have not talked about all the specific consequences of my past, poor choices — my sin — because some are quite personal and painful. But having sex before marriage remains my greatest regret.

I do not carry the guilt of my sin, because through the blood of Jesus, I have been washed, sanctified, and justified through Christ and the Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:11). Still, if I could anything in my life over again, that would be it.

Many wives feel similarly about their past promiscuity. They hate the choices they made, they ache over the consequences, they wish they could go back and do it differently.

Some of that emotional baggage follows them into marriage, like dragging an invisible suitcase filled with heavy heartache. But when these wives try to talk to their husbands about the issue, their feelings are sometimes batted away with “That was so long ago” or “I don’t care about those guys; you’re with me now” or “Why are you dwelling on the past?” The husband doesn’t really understand why the issue still impacts her view of her sexuality and her openness in the marriage bed.

But it does.

For many wives.

So why do you feel worse than he does about premarital sex? Why is easier for him to move on from his past? Why doesn’t he understand what you’re going through?

Apparently, there’s a gender gap in sexual regret.

Apparently, there's a gender gap in sexual regret. Click To Tweet

Looking specifically at teen sex, one study cited that 72% of girls who engaged in sexual intercourse wished they’d waited. That’s nearly three-fourths of young ladies who regret the sexual choice they made. But what is the percentage for teen boys? 55%. While still a majority of guys, that’s a substantial drop.

What about adults? The Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Texas at Austin together interviewed 853 Norwegians and 466 Americans. They wanted to know if religiosity influenced sexual regret after casual sex, with Norwegians representing far less attachment to religion than Americans professed. They didn’t find much difference on the religiosity scales (although I could argue with what they defined as “religiosity”), but they discovered an interesting outcome that women experienced far more sexual regret than men.

Then there’s the National Marriage Project, which surveyed a thousand single Americans and then studied them for five years. Among the 418 who got married during that time, 23% who only had sex with their spouse prior to marriage reported higher quality marriages than those who had additional sexual partners in their past. Even more revealing was that the more sexual partners a woman had before marriage, the less happy she reported her marriage to be. But the researchers didn’t find the same thing about men.

So are our husbands all too happy to collect sexual partners before marriage with no regrets at all? No, I don’t think that’s true.

Plenty of husbands also say they wish they’d waited for their wives. But they don’t always carry residual regret the same way.

I suspect that’s more about how men target their focus and compartmentalize events. Many husbands don’t feel their prior mistakes or sins have a bearing on how they feel about their wives. Simply put, they’re often better at putting the past behind them with a that was then, this is now attitude.

That’s a great thing when you consider that husbands are not comparing their wives to other women from their past. They’ve flipped that page and moved on.

Now I’m not at all trying to diminish the weight of sin. Because that is what our poor choices were. But I am saying that there’s a gender gap in sexual regret likely based on gender differences in our brains.

But that doesn’t solve this disconnect — that she continues to carry baggage from her promiscuous past and he doesn’t fully understand. What can a wife (and husband) do?

Admit your sin.

The first step in clearing your state is being honest about your failings. That may sound like I’m encouraging you to dwell in the past, but nothing could be further from the truth. Admitting our sin is simply a first step. As 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That’s a big if there at the beginning, one we’d be well-advised to heed.

Embrace His forgiveness.

I was recently asked if there was an aha moment for me in my marriage — that moment when I let go of my past baggage (as awful as it was) and embraced a different future for my marriage. For me, it was finally, fully understanding this passage:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Ah, the beauty of that past tense. The sexually immoral is what I was, but I also was washed, sanctified, and justified in Christ Jesus. Believe it, cling to it, embrace His forgiveness.

Identify your baggage.

Be honest about what messages and concerns you’ve brought into your marriage based on your past. Much of what we think about ourselves, our husbands, and our sexuality can be tainted by our prior sexual experiences. What errors in thinking and behavior have you adopted based on your previous sexual choices and how you were treated by those other men?

To replace your erroneous thinking with God’s truth about sexual intimacy in marriage, you need to know where you’ve bought into lies. Here’s a common lie: That you don’t deserve full pleasure and intimacy in the marriage bed because you screwed up before. Not true. You are in a married wife now, pursuing God’s plan for sexual intimacy, and He longs to bless you and your husband.

Share your struggle.

Your husband doesn’t have to fully understand, and he may have a different way of looking at past promiscuity. But explain your own thoughts and feelings as best you can. You might also want to use a line I once used with my husband when he told me, for the millionth time, not to worry about something: “I literally have no idea what that looks like.” I went on to explain that while he can shove something in a mental box and tuck it away, I cannot. It’s just not how the female brain typically works. If your husband can begin to understand, you can enlist his help to push through your sexual regret and enjoy the full blessings of a healthy marriage bed on the other side.

Husbands: Support her journey.

All of my other tips are for the wives, but this one is for you men reading. Research has shown that women struggle more with this, so please recognize it’s not some flaw in your wife that she can’t quickly and easily let go of the past. If you want to really help your wife, don’t belittle her feelings, dismiss her struggle, or shut down conversation. Rather, reassure and comfort her, help her embrace a new perspective, and make sexual intimacy a beautiful experience for her too. Just be her Barnabas; that is, her encourager as she journeys toward a healthy and holy view of sex in your marriage.

Do sex God’s way.

For a while after I embraced God’s design of sex, I still struggled. I ruminated about my sinful past, carried personal labels like slut in my mind, and felt a fair dose of heartache from time to time. But over time, my husband and I logged so many positive, one-flesh sexual experiences that those outweighed everything that came before. The scales tipped, and “sex” in my mind became equated with this holier and deeper version of sexual intimacy. In some ways, “just do it” is good advice. And by it, I don’t mean sex itself, but sex God’s way.

Have you struggled with your premarital promiscuous past? How have you embraced God’s way instead?

Same image as before...sized for Pinterest

WaitingTillMarriage.com – 4 Cool Statistics About Abstinence in the USAStatistic Brain – Abstinence StatisticsPubMed.gov – Trends in premarital sex in the United States, 1954-2003; Verily – Sex Regret Isn’t about Religious Guilt as Much as Biological Instincts, New Research Shows; Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation – Teen Attitudes Toward Sex; The National Marriage Project – Before I Do; Verily – Regret Is Not the Same as Slut-Shaming