Category Archives: Sexuality and Health

The Biggest Challenge to My Sex Life (That I Never Told You About)

I’ve been writing about sex in marriage for over seven years, with over 800 posts and three books. I also have a podcast with three other Christian sex bloggers and two Facebook communities. But in all that time, I’ve never told my readers the biggest ongoing challenge to my sex life. What is it?

Blog post title + heart-shaped labyrinth

My husband is a Type 1 diabetic. Has been for 38 years.

For those who don’t know the particulars of Type 1 diabetes, this means his body produces no insulin. Insulin is what breaks food down into sugar energy for the body’s use, so without his own supply, he must regulate the level of sugar in his bloodstream by managing the timing and levels of carbohydrates (sugars), injected insulin, and physical exercise.

How does this affect our sex life?

Too much sugar in the bloodstream, and one’s body and sex drive become lethargic. Too little sugar in the bloodstream, and one becomes anxious and sleepy. Neither condition supports a good, strenuous round of sexercise.

When faced with these circumstances, we have to put off sex until he can re-balance his blood sugar. The postponement could be only a few minutes, later in the day, or the next day. We miss out on spontaneity and frequency as we address his diabetes together.

So when someone writes me about their spouse having a chronic condition that impairs their sexual intimacy, I don’t just have sympathy for their situation — I have empathy.

No, I have never been through a spouse having cancer, or healing from a severe injury, or experiencing any number of other health issues that create obstacles to physical intimacy. But I know what it’s like to work your sex life around the complications of a chronic condition.

I know what it's like to work your sex life around the complications of a chronic condition. Click To Tweet

I know how it feels to wish you didn’t have to deal with that challenge. I know what it is to long that your sexual intimacy could be free of the condition’s constraints.

What advice can I offer, based on our experience? Every situation is different, but here’s how we have handled it so that we still enjoy healthy and satisfying sexual intimacy in our marriage.

1. Maintain health as much as possible.

My husband is a champ about managing his diabetes as much as possible, including diet choices that conform to his condition and regular exercise. I also make sure to help him when and wherever I can.

If you’re the spouse with a chronic condition, there are likely symptoms or consequences you cannot control, but also positive steps you can take to pursue health as much as possible. For the sake of yourself and your marriage, manage what you can. For women, I encourage to follow Calm.Healthy.Sexy., a blog from fellow podcaster Gaye Christmus which provides a lot of practical tips and positive encouragement for taking care of the body God gave you.

If you’re the supporting spouse, ask how you can help. Do you need to eat differently yourself or keep better choices in your pantry and fridge? Would it help to exercise with your spouse or support them in getting physical therapy or a gym membership? Does your spouse need help with ongoing treatments or medications? Please remember you’re married to an adult, but be a positive influence.

2. Adjust your expectations.

Am I disappointed sometimes when we have to forgo lovemaking? Yeah, I am. Maybe we don’t have the sex life we might if diabetes wasn’t the ever-present elephant in the room. But that’s okay — our sexual intimacy is still really awesome.

What expectations do you need to adjust? Is it how many times you’ll make love each week? Is it what counts as a sexual encounter? Is it dropping expectations that a climax will happen every time? Is it adjusting to the length of time it will take to get there?

Take into account the challenges you face with the chronic condition, and then ask what a great sex life will look like with that factor involved. It’s still a great sex life, and there is deep intimacy in taking care of one another as you make decisions together about your health and marriage bed.

3. Encourage one another.

Chronic diseases and conditions invade every aspect of your life and can be awfully discouraging. Which is one reason, among many, we should encourage one another.

And this should extend all the way to how the condition affects our marriage bed. If you’re the chronic condition spouse, encourage your beloved that you still find them attractive and desirable. Make sure they understand that when you struggle or cannot engage, “it’s not you” but the chronic condition getting in the way.

If you’re the supporting spouse, let them know you understand their challenges and you’re willing to coordinate with them for intimacy. Make sure you don’t transfer your discouragement onto your spouse, but rather be a voice of optimism and understanding.

4. Strike while the iron’s hot.

When my husband feels great and wants to have sex, I make an effort to be available. Those aren’t the only times we engage, but when all the train cars line up, so to speak, we want to jump on that engine quickly, before something could send it off track.

For you, this could mean engaging at different times of day, encouraging the chronic condition spouse to initiate when they feel good, helping the supporting spouse find ways to flip their ready-for-sex switch more easily. Perhaps even figure out what tried-and-true warm-up gets you both going, and be willing to use that agenda when opportunity arrives.

This isn’t just “take what you can get.” But rather, make the most of these moments. When they come, be grateful and enjoy your sexual intimacy as thoroughly as possible.

Our sex life would be easier if diabetes wasn’t a factor. But is it possible to create and nurture great physical intimacy despite the difficulties of a chronic condition? Most of the time, it is.

Still, it takes intention, grace, and perseverance. Though, really, those are traits every marriage bed should have anyway.

Is it possible to create and nurture great physical intimacy despite the difficulties of a chronic condition? Most of the time, it is. Click To Tweet

Q&A with J: “He Won’t Touch My Clitoris”

I’m getting control of my email inbox, slowly but surely. (I’d lost control in 2017.) But this means that I’m re-reading old messages, so some questions I’ll be answering on Thursdays were posed to me months before. However, I considered this one worth addressing, because I suspect it happens in other marriages too. Here’s the reader’s question:

What does a wife do when her husband is afraid or uncomfortable touching her clitoris? I used to feel so resentful and bitter he wouldn’t but I have had more peace about this issue as of late and the last time my husband and I had intercourse, I ended up taking care of myself but he had already gotten up and was in the bathroom and don’t think he noticed me or cared that I took care of my own needs at the end. I don’t know why touching my body below the waist makes him so uncomfortable. I have tried talking to him and he said it’s the way it feels and he seems rather OCD about body fluids… We were making some progress where he felt more comfortable with a glove on even though that felt a bit “clinical’ like I was at the dr or something but I didn’t care that he had a glove on if that was the only way he would touch me but it still felt a bit awkward…. I know I can’t change his feelings about touching me, but I’d sure like him to help me experience orgasm with him. I would like to feel more “mutual” pleasure in our marriage as I know God created it to be a mutually satisfying experience. 

Blog post title + illustrated hand with pointer finger extended, touching heartLet me start with this sentence: “I have tried talking to him and he said it’s the way it feels and he seems rather OCD about body fluids…” Yeah, that might well be it.

I hear from spouses now and then who wonder why sex has to be so, well, messy. I mean, usually it’s a bad sign when something is leaking or oozing out of your body, so it’s a strange twist for some minds to embrace that fluids coming out are a good thing in the case of sexual intimacy.

Then there’s the texture of the fluids themselves. For instance, semen has been described as having the consistency of a beaten egg. Really? Who wants to handle or swallow a raw, beaten egg? Maybe we should come up with a different analogy…

Now take a person with cleanliness issues, and you’ve got a real challenge. And I understand how difficult it can be to try to convince someone with OCD traits that everything will be okay if they’ll just do the thing they feel they must avoid. I don’t have that Help! Sex Is Messy issue, but all the presidents on my currency must face the same way in my wallet, and telling me the world won’t crater if a five-dollar-bill is upside down doesn’t stop me from turning it the “right way.”

Thus, telling your husband that his aversion isn’t logical or to just get over it isn’t likely to work. So what can you do? Here are some suggestions. (And a big thank you to those in my Facebook community who chimed in with their thoughts.)

1. Talk about your concerns and desires.

I know you’ve tried talking to him. But keep the conversation lines open. Let him know that you’ll support him, even if he says something that wouldn’t seem logical to others. Be a safe place for him to express his concerns, and be willing to share your desires as well and why addressing this issue is important to you. You might find some helpful tips in this post: How to Talk about Sexual Problems with Your Spouse.

2. Study female lubrication.

If something seems dirty, we might assume it is. But we’re not always right about which substances in nature are harmful or harmless. So what is all that lubrication made of? You can find a bit of a breakdown here on the LiveStrong website. But after reading so much about female fluids that my eyes were starting to cross, it comes down to this: very little sweat or oils are involved in the lubrication that happens with sexual arousal. Instead it’s mostly a mucus — which doesn’t mean ick, mucus! but rather a slippery substance that moistens and protects — secreted through the vaginal walls and Bartholin’s glands. That mucus contains some starch, chemicals that make the substance slick, healthy bacteria, a bit of acid that kills off bacteria that could harm the vagina, and — believe it or not — alcohol.

Point being that the fluid is harmless, unless there is an infection of some kind — which you would probably sense based on feel, smell, consistency, etc. Otherwise, it’s not can hurt anything whatsoever to touch it, it’s actually very useful in making sex comfortable and enjoying for both of you, and it even has its own bacteria-fighting properties.

3. Get clean together.

Since one of the concerns might be cleanliness of the area, take a shower or bath together. Let your husband be in charge of washing you down there; that way he’ll know the area has been thoroughly cleaned. I recommend using cleanser pH-balanced for that area, like the Sliquid Balanced Series (link goes to Christian marital aid store, Marriage Spice).

4. Wear a glove or finger cot.

You mentioned this, and it’s certainly an option for your husband to wear a glove. To make it a comfortable experience, try a thin latex glove and make sure it’s powder-less. Another option is a finger cot, which is basically a latex covering just for a finger. You can find gloves and finger cots at a medical supply store or your local grocery or discount store.

If you go this route, find a personal lubricant that can help make the glove slick as well so that it feels good to you. A silicone lubricant might be a good choice for this particular kind of manual play. You can also try different kinds of gloves made from various fabrics or substances to see if a particular texture feels better to you than another.

5. Use systematic desensitization.

When dealing with high anxiety or fear, psychologists often prescribe systematic desensitization. You can find many resources on how to apply this procedure, but it’s gradually exposing yourself to the anxiety-inducing stimuli and introducing a relaxation response at each stage.

In this case, hubby’s a little freaked out about touching your clitoris (or, really, the whole vulva). Essentially, the steps above could be part of a systematic sensitization program, where he talks about his worries, then gets used to the idea of your female anatomy, then touches you with a washcloth, then moves to sexually stimulating you with a finger cot…

Perhaps the next step is touching your vulva through your panties, feeling some of the wetness on the fabric but not making direct contact. You could also insert steps among the ones I mentioned here: like having him watching you stimulate yourself to climax so that he can clearly see what happens and become more comfortable with the fluids there, or him stimulating your clitoris with a vibrator (see Q&A with J: “Is It Okay to Use Sex Toys?”).

Regardless, the key is him intentionally relaxing at each step, reassuring himself that this act is beautiful and holy and good for your marriage. Indeed, God’s perfect design makes this natural lubrication the perfect substance for sensitivity, slipperiness, and protection. You can encourage him with your words as well.

What if he never gets to the point of touching your bare vulva? It’s likely he can make real progress, especially if he is personally motivated, but there are no guarantees. If he just cannot get there all the way, then you can ask how he feels about you touching yourself while he stimulates you in other ways. You can stroke that knobby bit of flesh while he kisses the rests of your body or gives full attention to your breasts, or while you two are engaged in intercourse. That way the self-touching still adds to mutual intimacy.

Any other ideas from readers on how to address this particular scenario?

Is Seasonal Depression Impacting Your Marriage?

I had other ideas lined up to write about today, but when I sat down and looked at my cursor flashing on the blank screen, I felt this urge wash over me … as if something, someone, was telling me that I needed to come clean today. To spill about a struggle I’ve gone through in hopes that I can provide empathy and support to others going through the same thing.

I’ve written about it before, but I have a propensity toward depression. It’s not some weakness in me; it’s my biology. If you have the same propensity, know that it’s neither an emotional nor a spiritual weakness in you. It’s just that so many processes and chemicals are involved in regulating mood, and sometimes the balance isn’t quite right for some of us.

Most of the time, I’m fine — depression-less, if you will. But this time of year — wintertime in my neck-of-the-woods — can be a challenge for my mood.

This type of depression is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (“affect” in psychology refers to emotion or disposition). SAD can occur in any season, but wintertime is especially difficult for some. Depression can occur at this time of year due to shortened days and reduced sunlight, which causes a drop in serotonin levels (serotonin regulates mood), increased melatonin (a chemical that helps us sleep), and disruption to our circadian rhythm (that is our “inner clock”).

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be mild, moderate, or rather pronounced, even leading to suicidal thoughts. Regardless, it takes a toll on the sufferer and their marriage.

Blog post title + sad woman staring out a window

At a time when everyone else seems to be more cheerful than ever with seasonal decorations and social events and proclamations of “Merry Christmas!” the person with SAD is struggling to get the regular to-dos done as well as all the extras. Because they’d much rather crawl back into bed and sleep a while longer, like past noon.

SAD sufferers may be lethargic or tearful or grumpy — not exactly the kind of person their spouses want to hang out with. Even when that marvelous romantic date happens, they may return from just those few hours completely tuckered out and wanting to hibernate once again.

And sex? Well, that takes energy. Which is the one thing sorely lacking during a SAD spell. If the spouse’s libido is high enough normally, they may still want to make love regularly, or regularly enough. But if they started with a lower libido? Sex can be a real challenge.

Right this moment, Seasonal Affective Disorder is impacting many spouses and their marriages.

Right this moment, Seasonal Affective Disorder is impacting many spouses and their marriages. Click To Tweet

If that is you, I know where you’re coming from. It’s impacting me and mine too. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been sleeping more, lacking energy, and even found my eyes watering at times. Thankfully, I knew what it was: not some problem with me or my marriage, but my biology off-kilter at this time of year. I explained the situation to my husband and started working on solutions.

What can you do when faced with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

  • Get outside. While the sun is shining, get out there in it. I live in an area where the temperatures don’t get so cold that I can’t go out most days, so I’ve determined to make my back porch an outside home office whenever I can. That’s not possible for some of you. But think creatively and find times and ways to spend at least some moments outside.
  • Exercise. Exercise boosts production of serotonin, which elevates our mood. You could make those outside moments a walk or jog through the park, or you can head to an exercise class, or just dance around your house in your jammies. Whatever works to get you moving, find a way to exercise.
  • Light therapy. Daylight helps alleviate the symptoms of SAD, and you can buy products that mimic sunlight to help reset your inner clock. You can spend some of your day sitting a few feet from a light therapy box (like this one) to get the right brain chemicals going, or you can try a “dawn simulator” (like this one), which is essentially an alarm clock that uses imitation sunlight to wake you up and get your body on track.
  • Antidepressants. Some SAD sufferers may require medication to properly regulate mood during this season. Especially if you’re experiencing extreme depression, including any suicidal thoughts, you need to see a doctor and get whatever help you can. Some antidepressants do have an impact on libido, so you might ask about that when you discuss options with your physician.
  • Prayer. This one isn’t in the medical manual, but I’ve definitely turned to prayer in moments when I’m teary for no good reason or feeling like snapping at a family member because I don’t feel good. While still pursuing ways to alleviate the core issue (SAD), it helps to pray for perspective, strength, and joy. God has delivered that to me in various moments.

Be sure to communicate to your spouse what’s going on. If they’re not so sure that it’s a physiological issue, point them to expert resources, like this page on the Mayo Clinic site. Don’t use SAD as an excuse to check out of your marriage, but rather involve your spouse and take action to reduce the symptoms and get your joyful and sexy self back.

That’s what I’m doing this season. And I pray that you will have a cheer-filed season as well!

Intimacy Revealed ad, click to buy book

Q&A with J: “A Sexual Stimulant for Women?”

Today’s question is an interesting one, from a husband wanting to help his wife’s sexual desire:

So I hate to ask this as I can see [there] being conflicting opinions on the subject but, do they make a sexual stimulant for women? As well as you know they have been making them for years for the guys but I can’t find anything that looks reliable for the woman’s side of things. My wife and I have talked about this off and on for some time and she is willing to try almost anything to help her with her almost non existent drive in the bedroom.

I write about sex drive differences, but honestly there are resources more dedicated to low libido in wives than I am. Here are just three you could take a look at:

Image result for amazon.com unlock your libido

Bonny’s OysterBed7.

Given the question, I think Bonny’s site is a particularly good resource, because she addresses the science of sex and low libido. Bonny does a great job of giving emotional encouragement, practical tips, and covers studies that show which substances do work or don’t work in lifting your libido. She also has a great book titled Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation. She’s also one of my podcast partners, and she brings her science knowledge to our Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

Boost Your Libido course.

Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has a wonderful online course for low-libido wives that walks them through reasons they might not be “feeling it” and what to do about it. She doesn’t talk supplements so much as tips, but they are helpful and might indeed boost your wife’s libido. Click below to find out more.

Dr. Oz’s List.

Confession: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Dr. Oz. I think some of his advice is really good, and some of it is, well, opportunistic. But I found this article on his website with natural substances he suggests could boost female libido. Do they work? I’m skeptical how much of this stuff you’d have to actually eat/take to get results enough to notice a difference. But then again, why wouldn’t you just try and see for yourself? Especially when the prescribed substances include innocuous things like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

In addition to these resources, I suggest your wife see a doctor and get tested for hormone levels as well as deficiencies that can cause fatigue and low response, like low thyroid and anemia. Tell the doctor what exactly is happening, so she’ll know what to look for. It’s certainly possible that her physiology makes it difficult for your wife to feel desire.

But also remember that many women don’t experience a sex drive the way it’s been primarily described — as a desire for sex followed by engagement. Instead, many wives have a libido that is responsive, in that the drive is there after engagement in affection, foreplay, and sexual activity begin. There’s nothing wrong with having a responsive drive; it’s the way many of us were created. What matters instead is whether she can get into the sexual experience at all.

As for an actual sex stimulant for women? Nope, I don’t really know of anything I’d recommend. There are some shysters who will sell you something that claims to fire up a woman’s libido, but they’re not a magic pill. Stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.

Like or not, sexual desire can be a delicate dance for many women. So just be patient, investigative, and willing to try various thing to see what works. I wish you all the best!

Q&A with J: “He Goes Hard and Then Soft”

Today’s question is an urgent one, from a wife recently married:

My husband hasn’t entered me yet, not for a lack of trying. I feel so worried because it’s not as easy or as straightforward as I thought. It feels like he just can’t fit in me (is that possible?). He inserted his finger into me and wiggled it around and that worked ok. So far he also isn’t able to stay hard for very long to get in me…he goes hard and then soft, and then hard, then soft. We also haven’t found a comfortable position and maybe that’s part of the problem.

He really wants to consummate our marriage and he really wants to be inside me…I wish that I could make it happen. He’s so kind to me and we’ve been exploring each other’s bodies and he’s been stimulating me with his fingers and I’ve been helping him finish with my hands.

Is any of this normal? Does anyone else go after the wedding without sex because they can’t make it work?blog post title + row of straws ranging from straight to bentI actually emailed this newlywed wife back with some suggestions. Knowing that this frustrated couple isn’t the only one out there who has struggled to consummate, let me share those tips here:

  • He’s probably going hard then soft, hard then soft…because his concentration is wavering. I suspect he’s aroused then worried about you…aroused then worried, etc. At this point, his part doesn’t really concern me too much. I don’t think you’ll know how his erections really respond until you get the main issue worked out.
  • Are you actually in pain when he tries to enter? If so, you need to see a doctor, like a gynecologist. Have the doctor check for any structural issues and ask about vaginismus. Sheila Gregoire has several great posts on that condition. And please don’t worry about the delicacy of the topic: Doctors hear all kinds of things. Most are quite willing to answer your questions. If you do get blown off, then find another doctor.
  • You may need more time to stretch. If he can insert one finger, then have him move up from there: two fingers, three fingers. No, he’s not going to put his whole hand in there. 😉 But he can help to slowly but surely stretch your muscles enough to receive his penis. You can also do this yourself with your own fingers. I have a good friend who was advised by a doctor to stretch herself out a little on her own before her wedding night, so that she—a virgin—would find sex more comfortable, and it worked.
  • Have you tried you on top? Sometimes this helps, because you can be more in control of the pacing, angle, etc. Christian Friendly Sex Positions has quite a few ideas for wife on top. Be careful, however, of leaning so you don’t cause a sex injury (see “penile fracture”).
  • Are you on birth control? Do you have allergies? How are you lubricating? These issues deal with how your body is responding to what’s happening. You should get fully lubricated, and your inner vaginal lips should swell to 2-3 times their regular size before he enters. If your body isn’t responding to arousal this way, then you might have physiological issues that need looking into. For instance, oral contraceptives can change your hormones such that your body doesn’t have the right amount of estrogen to perform properly. And allergies can be an issue; just ask Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife.
  • How’s your mental focus? Are you enjoying what’s happening? You say he really wants to be inside you. What about you? Do you embrace your own sexuality fully—knowing that it’s a God-given gift for your marriage? Sometimes it’s hard for us Christian gals to flip that switch from virgin to lover, so if you’re struggling, honestly my best advice is that you pick up a copy of my book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, which specifically deals with how we view our bodies and our sexuality in light of God’s Word.

That’s a very brief run-down, but hopefully something there sparks an idea.

As for how normal this is? It happens more than you’d think. Breathe easy and realize that you two just vows to spend your lifetime with each other. As much as you want it all to happen right now, you really do have some time to figure this out. Work toward a solution, but also enjoy the journey and the arousal, excitement, and intimacy you experience along the way.

♥     ♥     ♥

But here’s something y’all rarely get to see. This young wife emailed me back with more information, including this tidbit:

No, I’m not in actual pain…he hasn’t been able to enter me because as he tries to enter, he goes soft.

Hmmm. I kinda take back my first point — because this is an issue worth addressing. And it happens to more than newlyweds.

Sometimes a husband struggles to keep an erection, and some men particularly struggle with maintaining the erection for intercourse. Why might a husband struggle with being hard and then going soft, just as he’s about to enter or even after he’s inside? Let’s talk about several possibilities.

Health Issue

In order to maintain an erection, you need strong, healthy blood flow that can reach and remain in his penis. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, interfere with proper blood flow. A husband might be able to get hard, but can’t hold onto it. So erectile dysfunction may not merely impair the marriage bed, but could be a symptom of real health problems.

Get thee to a doctor! Yep, you should start with a call to his physician to check his total health and make sure there are no health issues interfering with his ability to maintain an erection. Be insistent about making sure everything is a-okay. And if it’s not, address the issue with treatment, management, or whatever else needs to happen.

Drugs, legal and illegal

Some prescription drugs can affect the intensity of an erection. If he’s on medications, talk to the doctor and/or pharmacist about side effects to see if that’s one of them. Sometimes you can change to a different drug that won’t have the negative side effect for you.

Alcohol is another substance that affects ability to perform. Drinking too much really can make a penis go flaccid. If he’s drinking alcohol before sex, eliminate it for a while and see if that makes a difference.

Illegal drugs can have terrible consequences for many parts of your life, including the marriage bed. Plenty of users cannot perform. Now, most of the spouses I write to here are not dealing with this … but some of you are. If you’re the one using, you’ve got to stop. If your spouse doesn’t know, it’s time to fess up, get help, and be accountable. If you suspect your spouse is using, it’s time to confront (lovingly) and set some boundaries.

Masturbation

Our minds are powerful things, and they embrace patterns. When a man establishes a pattern of becoming sexually aroused and satisfied through self-touch, he can have difficulty becoming aroused and satisfied in other ways. Sometimes masturbation has been a tool men use prenuptials to deal with their high libido until they can have sex in marriage. But then they’re shocked to find that what helped them keep their sex drive in check before marriage has made it hard to enjoy what they waited so long for.

Some married men do this as well. They masturbate too often and thus deprive their wife of the sexual intimacy marriage should have. Sex becomes a self-focused activity, with a feedback loop that masturbation easier than interacting with another person. Obviously, the answer is to stop jerking the gherkin! No masturbation. None, zero, nada. Your mind and body need time to reset so that you can adopt a new pattern of being fully engaged with your beloved.

Porn

More men report experiencing erectile dysfunction these days. One of the reasons is the prevalence of porn. Where you used to have to seek porn out, now you have to keep it out … or it comes and finds you. Consequently, we have a much higher percentage of men who have seen and engaged with pornography. Again, since our minds are creatures of habit, porn can become the way he gets and stays aroused. So even if the guy can get hard, he can’t keep it unless it’s accompanied by sexual imagery.

What’s tough for the wife is finding out if this is the issue. You want to know so you can deal with the problem, but you also don’t want to (1) accuse him of doing something he isn’t doing or (2) discover that your beloved man has been looking at naked women behind your back (the selfish pig). Now I know you men who have struggled with porn just cringed at that last parenthetical, but this really is how it feels for most wives.

At the end of the day, though, you have to ask questions, show support, and realize that your husband isn’t the enemy — porn is. And if you’re the husband watching porn, confess your sin, ask for forgiveness, comfort and reassure her, and then get to work fighting the enemy. Shove off sin and embrace the real and beautiful sex God wants you to have instead. After a while, your erections should come back.

Guilt

We talk plenty about the issue of Christian women who worked so hard to maintain their purity before marriage that they struggle becoming sexual in marriage. The same can happen to men. A husband can really, really want to have sex, but when it’s showtime, deep-seated guilt comes roaring in and it goes limp. He may not even been consciously aware that’s what’s happening.

So the answer is to dig deep into what you think about sex. Do you believe 100%, with every bone and fiber of your body, that sex is a God-given blessing for your marriage? Are you tensing up when met with the opportunity to have sex? Do you feel a part of you holding back, worried that maybe this isn’t beautiful or spiritual after all? Again, my book, Intimacy Revealed, while written for wives, has a lot to say about a healthy theology of sex. You need to replace your personal guilt with God’s truth. And your body will follow.

Performance anxiety

Pure and simple, performance anxiety is often the issue for men experiencing erectile dysfunction. Especially a man who enters marriage as a virgin. This is his first go-round, and oh my goodness, the pressure! Hey, grooms get nervous about the honeymoon too. Or nervous well after the honeymoon is over.

Husbands can ruminate through a series of questions in the middle of making love: Is this good for her? Is my penis big enough? Is it too big? What if she doesn’t climax? Am I doing this right? Why isn’t she wetter? Is she ready for me to enter? Does she really want to be here, or is she just here out of duty? And on and on. What’s worse is that once he’s had erection difficulties, the big question that could be flashing in his head is: Am I going to be able to keep an erection this time? Again, pressure!

Look, erectile dysfunction happens to almost every man at some point in his life. If it hasn’t happened yet, just wait until you’re older and have a frustrating moment of your brain being totally engaged while your penis lazily hangs there in total opposition to your plans. Give yourself a break. The truth is that sex in marriage is a marvelous thing in that not everything relies on getting it right this one time; you’ve got a lifetime of lovemaking. You really can take your time, figure out how to arouse and pleasure one another, and rest assured that your penis can get the job done. If not this time, then next time.

Since this post is now rivaling Santa’s list on length, I’ll cut off there. Even though I could say more. Stop laughing, hubby. (He thinks I could always say more. 😉 )

Now to my readers, what words of encouragement or wisdom do you have for this couple or others who have experienced difficulty with maintaining an erection?