Tag Archives: groom anxious about sex

Q&A with J: How Can My Groom Turn His Sex Drive Back On?

Today’s question comes from two different readers who contacted me with similar situations. Both are newlywed wives who haven’t had the sexual intimacy they expected to have after they tied the knot. Here’s the first one:

It has been one month since we got married and we still haven’t had sex. He told me last night that he was nervous almost to the point of tears because we have always been taught not to have sex before marriage, and now it’s all of a sudden okay. He said it’s like a Wall is there that he can’t get through. What should we do? How do i help him? He feels bad because i want to and he can’t, and i feel bad because i don’t want him to feel pressured. I just don’t know what to do.

And the second:

I recently got married and waited until marriage. My now husband wasn’t a virgin before but waited with me. The sex has been less frequent and passionate than I had expected and last night he revealed to me that because he had to ”turn it off” for the last 2 years to stay strong for me that he has a hard time turning it back on. I feel really sad about it and kind of mad too. I’m trying to not take it personally but I never thought I’d have to ask for sex or even be turned down in the first month of marriage. I’m trying to be patient and pray about it. Any suggestions on what to do?

Blog post title + photo of bride & groom sitting on bed

There are differences, in that one groom has never had sex, while the other had it previously but waited with his bride until they got married. But both gentlemen are having a terrible time awakening their libido after keeping their sexual feelings in check for so long.

It’s admirable that they waited, just as we are commanded to do, but sometimes our message about premarital purity encourages people to simply repress their sexual feelings. Repression here is “a process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious” (Merriam-Webster). Our libidos aren’t really gone, but we stamp them down so hard, it’s difficult for them to get back up when the right time arrives. (See also When Your Groom Is Anxious about Sex).

But I don’t see where the Bible teaches repression of our sexuality. Rather, we can acknowledge our sexuality and exert self-control: “Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6). Look at Jacob, who worked for seven years to marry Rachel. He kept his behavior in check, but he didn’t deny what he eventually desired, even saying to his father-in-law at the end of those long years: “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her” (Genesis 29:21). Can’t get much clearer than that.

Even 1 Corinthians 7:9 says to singles: “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” In other words, control your sexual desires outside of marriage, and if you can’t do that, get hitched. It’s a nod that God made us as sexual beings, a fact we cannot and should not ignore.

God made us as sexual beings, a fact we cannot and should not ignore. Click To Tweet

Teaching repression of our sexuality can result in situations like these where it’s hard to turn your libido back on, even when you’re in the right framework for sexual intimacy (marriage).

But to the question: How can you awaken his libido after it’s lain dormant for a while? How can he get past that hump of repressing his sexuality?

Give yourselves grace.

It stinks not to get to make love on your wedding night. Many couples look forward to that experience. But plenty of couples actually don’t have sex right away, due to physical issues, time constraints, or even Aunt Flo visiting at the most inopportune time. But one of the perks of sex in marriage is you have a lifetime to get to know one another physically and experience all kinds of sexual pleasure and intimacy.

Let’s imagine that you make love once a week (it should be more, but go with me here), and you’re married for forty years (more than reasonable, given the average age of marriage and life span in the U.S.). At that rate, you’ll have sex 2,080 times. Two thousand eighty times. So even if you miss out some at the beginning, you’ve got plenty of time to figure this out and still have lots and lots of sex. Point being: Relax. Give yourselves some grace and time to work things out.

Talk about the baggage.

We all bring baggage into our marriages—some toting in a toiletries bag of issues and others dragging a massive trunk behind them. But make no mistake: We’ve all absorbed bad ideas about sexual intimacy. Erroneous messages surround us, both in the secular world and, sadly, the Church. All kinds of messages soak in, and we can find them hard to shake once married.

So talk about it with each other. Be honest about your expectations and concerns, and then listen to his. Let him know that whatever he says, you won’t judge it harshly. Once you’ve admitted what’s going on, challenge each of your internal beliefs and see which ones hold up to God’s Word. For example:

  • “Sex is dirty.” No, sex can be twisted and misused, but sex itself was created by God and “everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4:4).
  • “Enjoying sex too much is ‘indulging the flesh.'” No, that’s not what “the flesh” means. Rather, Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” Those are all sins, but sex with your wife is not a sin and thus not on the list.
  • “Men are supposed to have the higher libido.” No, you can’t find that in the Bible either. Read through Song of Songs, and you’ll see that sexual feelings abound in both husband and wife. Sometimes one more than the other, but it shifts from her to him, him to her.

Bringing your anxiety from the subconscious to the conscious level and then challenging those beliefs can help you work through the barriers preventing you from experiencing sexual intimacy.

Focus on romance and foreplay.

In three different places, Song of Songs says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). That presumes that you can arouse or awaken love when it’s time—that is, in marriage.

Focus on that word arouse, and make that your goal for now. Not orgasm, not penetration, not even erection necessarily, but arousing the sensations that eventually lead to all of those things. I firmly believe that couples don’t spend enough time exploring one another’s bodies and discovering what arouses them. But the knowledge you gain through this process will be beneficial throughout your marriage.

Get a great book with ideas on what to do, so you can try out different activities. You know, like this one, which I highly recommend:

Click to buy or find out more!

Take the pressure off, and give yourselves, and especially him, permission to enjoy touch, exploration, and romance. Let your husband know that he doesn’t have to “perform”—that this can be an opportunity to get to know one another and experience pleasurable feelings.

Use self-talk and encouragement.

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. This principle works with sexual anxiety as well.

Let’s say you’re going through the foreplay mentioned above, and your husband becomes tense. You two can pause, and he can remind himself that sex is a gift from God, meant to provide intimacy in his marriage. You can encourage him as well, helping him relax. You two could even stop to pray for God’s comfort and courage to continue. When the tension has released enough—it may not release completely—you can get back into your groove.

Using desensitization techniques, he can likely progress a little farther each time, until intercourse is possible…and enjoyable. Another way to think of this is baby steps. Nothing says you must leap into intercourse on your wedding night, but marriage is the time when you get to build all kind of intimacy, including physical intimacy. Be willing to build slow, feeling good about each stage of progress.

If problems persist, see a doctor and/or a counselor. There’s nothing wrong with this taking some time, but you do want to be moving in the right direction—toward God-honoring, mutually satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Q&A with J: When Your Groom Is Anxious about Sex

Today’s question comes from a lovely woman on the brink of new marriage. With just weeks until the vows, here’s what she wrote:

hi, im getting married in [a few] weeks, my husband to be has usually been a little reluctant to talk about sex which we always said was good to keep us from going too far before married. we did some sessions of premarital counseling a while ago and our pastor suggested looking at the site the marriage bed shortly before our wedding. I have read quite a bit on their site as well as yours which has helped me be less scared about sex, but now that he has read some things on their site he says he is super weird about the idea of sex. I asked if there was anything in particular that scared him and he said “putting my hands and face where they don’t belong.” I told him that I will never make him do anything he isn’t comfortable with but just the idea of sex is still scaring him. he is a very very logic driven person so has a hard time understanding why anyone would want to do any of the things he read about (even just normal sex). …

I don’t want him to be scared of sex and both of us have a really good understanding that sex is a good thing from God and its not dirty, it just is best within marriage. do you have any suggestions on ways I could make him less scared? I have told him its ok if we don’t have sex right away, we can spend time just becoming comfortable with each other and I will wait until he feels ready. I want to know how to love him best.

Blog post title + midsection of groom looking at his watch

I love that last line: “I want to know how to love him best.” Isn’t that a great way to approach your spouse, no matter how long you’ve been married?

But I wanted to tackle this question because it gets at a few issues that people often don’t consider.

Men also absorb the purity message.

Last year, Sheila Gregoire wrote 10 Things That Scare Me About the “Purity” Culture. One of those ten was “The Purity Culture can make women afraid of sex.” Now Sheila was writing specifically to women, but her point is valid for both genders: Well-intentioned Christians can preach sex as such a huge no-no that they create fear about engaging in the act even when married.

Here are clues that suggest this young man has been exposed to, and absorbed, some purity culture messages:

1. He’s highly uncomfortable talking about sex, but then they decide that’s a good thing so that they won’t go too far.

Except that talking about sex generally and talking about sex specifically are very different. As Christians, we need to be able to comfortably talk about our sexuality, our temptations and challenges, our longings for the future, etc. Silence isn’t always golden. Indeed, teens that have parents and mentors willing to discuss sexuality honestly and in the context of values tend to wait longer to have sex. 

When and how should much should you talk about sex before marriage? Check out this guest post from Eric and Heather Viets of Preengaged.comHow Much Should You Learn about Sex before the Wedding Night? Also, Lauren Hanna also guested here with Let’s Talk About Sex, Shall We?

2. He’s worried about “putting my hands and face where they don’t belong.”

Who said they don’t belong there? I’ll deal with this issue more thoroughly below, but suffice it to say that I wonder if he’s absorbed the sense that godly sex involves a pretty narrow repertoire. It’s a message you get in some Christian circles, but it’s not what God’s Word says.

3. The questioner insists that they don’t believe sex is dirty, just best within marriage. That might be a completely innocent comment, or it could be that this young man is still trying to convince himself.

You know how we do that — tell ourselves something over and over so that we’ll eventually believe it. But if the belief is embedded deep, it can be harder to genuinely feel something is true, even when you know logically it is.

Men are simply not immune to the messages many Christian singles received about sex — that it’s dangerous territory. As being such an off-limits activity or even discussion before marriage, it’s hard to flip the switch after the vows.

What can you do? Here’s my go-to on this one: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). To me that means that we get what we want when we want what God designed for us to have (see Aligning Your Sexual Desires with God’s Plan). You, as a couple, must learn to delight in God’s design for sex. That can take some time, but it’s worth the study, communication, prayer, and perhaps even counseling you may need.

Sex IS weird.

Let’s just be honest: The act of sex is a strange thing. You get naked, put yourselves in all kinds of positions you wouldn’t get into otherwise, and you match up body parts in unusual ways. I’ve often wondered what God was thinking when He created this act. Wasn’t there an easier alternative?

But if you think we‘re weird, go look at the animal kingdom. I’m fascinated at all the ways reproduction happens among creatures, like the female praying mantis that sometimes eats the head of her mate after copulation or the argonaut octopus that has a detachable penis. You can really get lost in articles about the strange mating rituals out there. I don’t know why God made it that way for some species, but it sure makes me grateful He chose our way of doing things for the creatures made in His image.

It might make your fiancé feel better to just accept that sex IS weird. But just because something is strange doesn’t mean it isn’t also natural and enjoyable. There’s a lot of strange stuff in nature that’s pretty cool. (See Travel & Leisure’s World’s Strangest Natural Wonders.)

So yeah, sex is weird, but give it a fair shot … because it’s also quite wonderful.

Where do your hands and face “belong”?

I grew up on the rural side of Corpus Christi, Texas, where my high school let out for the local livestock show and rodeo because too many students were involved to continue holding class. Those of us not involved still attended to check things out and cheer on friends.

After one livestock show ended, a friend shared how she’d been walking past the hog stalls where two hogs lay head to toe. A romantically involved couple just ahead said something like, “Hey, those pigs look just like us!” (referring to the 69 position). My friend was way creeped out and ranted for a while about oral sex, wondering why anything would do such a thing … right up until a married woman nearby calmly responded, “You’d be surprised what you’d do.” You could have heard a pen drop … or maybe me snicker — one or the other.

Anyway, it’s not unusual for sexual acts to seem really strange as well and even off-putting before you do them. Hey, I remember wondering when I was young why people would touch tongues together and how that could be enjoyable. Turns out, French kissing is quite enjoyable, but I didn’t know until I tried.

Of course not every sexual act is a good idea. So how do you know where your hands and face really belong — from a Christian viewpoint? Here’s the upshot:

  • God clearly wanted penis-in-vagina intercourse to be part of sexual intimacy in marriage. Just think of the number of times something like “he knew her, and she became pregnant” occurs in the Bible.
  • The vast majority of our bodies is hygienically clean enough for hands and mouths. One exception is the anus, but our skin and genitalia are pretty much fair game. It’s a wide, wide playground God gave us to work with.
  • If oral sex is among the concerns, I — and quite a few others — believe it’s specifically referenced in Song of Songs: “In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste” (2:3) and “Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (4:16). Check out Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design for more in-depth treatment of oral sex and other sexual activities.

Essentially, your hands and your mouth belong on your spouse’s body where God says it’s okay, where your spouse says it’s okay, and where you want to go. God gave us a lot of freedom in the marriage bed.

God gave us a lot of freedom in the marriage bed. Click To Tweet

How do you deal with your mate’s genuine anxiety in the bedroom?

Actually, I think you’re on the right track. You need to nudge, but not pressure; communicate, but not nag; request, but not demand. The beauty of sex in marriage is that you get a lifetime to figure this whole thing out.

Unfortunately, some people think their first few experiences of sex together represent the destiny of their married sex life. And they don’t.

Just because of how life works, you’ll have seasons when things are better and when things are more challenging. But you also have the opportunity to grow together in intimacy in all areas, including the physical.

However, you need to be intentional in pursuing a good sex life together.

You need to be intentional in pursuing a good sex life together. Click To Tweet

In addition to what you’re already doing, I’d suggest that you read a few books together, which you can probably do now since you’re so close to the wedding. For couples, here are a few recommendations:

While I wrote it for wives, it could also be very beneficial for you two to go through my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage. Each devotion is brief, steeped in a biblical perspective, and includes questions that can help you communicate better and find out where you need to grow.

Take it slow, but don’t stop progressing. And many blessings for your upcoming nuptials!