Tag Archives: sexual baggage

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

Your Wife Has Been Sexually Harassed

Sex is in the news. Or at least accusations of sexual misbehavior.

And I’ve been struck by the difference in how women and men respond to these news stories. Now, let me be clear, I believe wholeheartedly that many men are upset by highly improper statements about women made by a particular candidate and the rumors (true or not) that have followed. I salute these men for taking the situation seriously and understanding the importance of respect.

But overall, guys, I’m not sure y’all totally get it. Like really, really get it.

Even the men I’ve personally spoken to, who are disturbed by what’s been said and charged, seem to brush this off a bit more quickly. Or chalk it up to “a few jerks” or even “boys will be boys.”

Sometimes, it’s just hard for men and women to describe fully what it’s like to be their gender. So I wanted to take this opportunity to tell all of you husbands: Your wife has likely been sexually harassed. Repeatedly.Your Wife Has Been Sexually Harassed

She may have been molested or raped as well. But if your wife is the average female, she’s had to deal with vile statements about her body, unwanted sexual touch, and even groping that left her stunned, angry, and/or ashamed.

And I think this is why women are being so vocal on social media and in conversation circles : Because, in the wake of allegations (yet again, true or not), women are sharing personal stories and realizing, “Hey, this is a universal problem.”

From my own life, at least one of the following is true of every women I’ve talked to about this. (And this is from men they were not dating.)

  • While out dancing, a guy’s hands roamed where they shouldn’t have gone, usually to her breasts or buttocks.
  • A man spoke about her genitalia with crass terminology, often adding what he wanted to do with those parts.
  • A guy landed his hand on her knee, and then moved up under her skirt or shorts without invitation or warning.
  • A man cornered her against a wall and shoved his body against hers, usually pressing an erection against her. Sometimes, he did more.
  • A man touched her private parts without encouragement or consent.
  • A guy scanned her body with his gaze, head to toe, and suggested kinky acts or used graphic sexual descriptions.

The second one listed — someone speaking about genitalia in crass terms — happened to me in high school … in front of my dad. If my father hadn’t been turned away and missed what the guy said, I’m pretty sure that guy would have gotten a pounding. And deserved it. But did I say anything? No. Rather, I was disarmed by those comments, felt humiliated, and just wanted to forget about it. Given that it’s over 30 years later, I obviously haven’t forgotten. That moment left an impression.

I have several reasons for sharing this with you men:

Stories of women sexually mistreated affect wives in a different way. Yes, I know some women are dismissing what is rumored to have happened, but most women have had a visceral response. Maybe not to the news stories, but to personal stories now shared by friends or family. Why? Because we understand. Because we’ve experienced it.

Like a Survival Sisterhood, we now recognize it wasn’t our fault that some guy groped us in the nightclub, or the church fellowship room, when we were 19 years old. We didn’t ask for it. And, quite frankly, some of us are sick of this happening and want a better experience for ourselves, our daughters, and our granddaughters.

Sexual harassment impacts how women view men. To me, the most disheartening part has been women who suggest this is just how men are — that we shouldn’t expect anything more than being viewed as a sex object by men. You and I know that’s not true! The vast majority of men I’ve encountered never spoke in such crass terms or put their hands where they didn’t belong.

I believe those men who are true jerks, the sexual harassers of the world, don’t mistreat a few women; they mistreat a lot of women. Which makes it seem like it’s men across the board, but a single jerk can verbally and physically attack tens or hundreds. It’s a way of life for them, and their impact is felt across many women.

But this has left an impression on how ladies view men. Because if our interactions have been negative in this way, some wives begin to wonder: Does my husband secretly think this way too? It’s one reason I hear wives accusing their husbands of being perverts. Because some of the men in our lives were perverts, and it left an impression about the male race as a whole.

In an effort to protect ourselves, some women simply put up a wall against men, even their husbands. Your job, guys, is not to attack her for that belief but to help her pull down that wall by showing that you are not that guy, you can be trusted, and you will protect her.

Unexpected sexual touching can remind us of unwanted sexual touching. I know you guys like to hear things straight, so here it goes: If you think grabbing your wife’s breast out of nowhere is the way to get sex, you’re a fool. There are plenty of physiological and emotional reasons why this doesn’t get your wife’s sexual motor humming, but here’s another reason why she’s unlikely to enjoy that: It reminds her of sexual harassment she previously experienced. Even though she logically knows you’re not him, when you act like that jerk from high school who cornered her in the hallway and copped a feel … something clenches inside her. She may not consciously make the connection, but her body reacts negatively.

Distinguish yourself from that jerk in her past by demonstrating tenderness and respect. Be a secure place for her to express her sexuality without feeling viewed as an object or used for her body parts. Yes, I know it’s unfair that you’re having to deal with stuff some other guy did to her a long time ago, but we all come into marriage with baggage and we have opportunities to break down each other’s barriers and provide someone in this world our spouse can really trust. Don’t you want that to be you? She does — she wouldn’t have married you if she didn’t want the person she trusted most to be you.

Grabbing her without warning or invitation adds to feeling her body isn’t her own. When a woman has had her body touched without permission again and again, she feels a loss of control. She feels helpless to stop those actions that invade her most vulnerable and sensitive places.

When husbands grab their wives willy-nilly all the time, it can contribute to that woman feeling like her body isn’t her own — that it’s a plaything for someone else. Of course, our bodies belong to each other in marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” But listen to that word choice: yield. The New Living Translation says it this way: “The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” We give authority to the other — as a conscious, willful choice.

If you’ve read me for long, you’ll know that I encourage wives to constantly give the green light to their husbands for affection, foreplay, and sexual intimacy. In our marriages, we should feel comfortable touching one another romantically and sexually. But that doesn’t mean you get to Indy-500 your way to grabbing her privates with no warning. Your wife needs to feel like her body is worth something, and she gets to be involved in flipping that red light to green.

Now it’s awesome that God created us male and female. What a complementary design! But our gender difference can also make it difficult to understand how our spouse views the world. Today, I simply wanted you husbands to try to understand the sexual harassment most women have experienced in their lifetime. For some, it was one time; for others, it was an onslaught of unwanted contact. Regardless, it left an impression.

You can leave a different impression. You can become her standard for what it means to be a man. You, husbands, can beat back the view of men as sexual predators by treating women with respect.

You, husbands, can beat back the view of men as sexual predators by treating women w/respect. Click To Tweet

Start with your wife. She needs you to be her refuge and her ally.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7

Q&A with J: Getting Over Your Baggage

I feel like I’ve been answering a high percentage of questions lately from newlyweds. But I’m happy to do it, and I’m sure today’s question applies to plenty of wives in various stages of their marriage. Read on:

I’ve so enjoyed your blog thus far and am grateful for your spiritual guidance. I am a newlywed and want desperately to have a deep sexual relationship with my husband. I’ve found it so difficult to be in the mood though for a number of reasons: 1. My body image is a mess. This is the worst I’ve felt about my body in a long time and I hate being aware of it. How can I be naked and let someone touch me when I hate my body so much? 2. I had an abusive ex that still haunts me and creeps into my thoughts. 3. I was raised really devout Catholic and I still feel guilty for the “dirty” parts of sex. For some reason I can’t get out of this juvenile mind set.

All of this combines to make me not in the mood. Like ever.

I love my husband so much and I want our marriage to be a successful one. Any advice to work through my baggage I would very much appreciate. And so would he.

Other wives, did you see yourself in there somewhere? This reader did a great job of separating out the topics, so I’m going to deal with them in that order.

Q&A with J: Getting Over Your BaggageMy body image is a mess. This is the question so many wives ask themselves: “How can I be naked and let someone touch me when I hate my body so much?” I’ve tried to answer this question in so many ways and enlisted other wise wives to help:

Don’t Touch Me: I’m Ugly!
Facts and Figures
3 Practical Tips for a Sexier You
Husbands, Help Us Feel & Be Beautiful
Feeling Beautiful: A Wife’s Goal for 2015
Feeling Beautiful: From His Perspective
Feel Beautiful in 2015: Fight The Frump!
Feel Beautiful: Dust Off Your Exercise Shoes!
Feeling Beautiful: 8 Things I Learned While Shopping
How Do You Feel Beautiful? with Sheila Wray Gregoire
Put Your Body to Work to Help You Feel Beautiful with Gaye Groover Christmus
Feeling Beautiful Beneath the Sheets with Julie Sibert
Feeling Beautiful Starts in the Mind with Keelie Reason
Permission to Feel Beautiful with Bonny Logsdon Burns
4 Ways to Feel Beautiful When You’re Not Really Feeling It with Jolene Engle

I also deal with this issue several times in my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriagewith scriptures and focused prayer.

But today as I leaned back in my office chair wondering if there was anything else I could add, I paused to listen to the background music coming through my earphones. Was it a coincidence that Casting Crowns’ “Voice of Truth” was playing? Maybe, maybe not. But here’s the conclusion of the chorus:

Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe
The voice of truth

I encourage you to go through those posts and my book, which include wisdom and tips about feeling beautiful. But Casting Crowns is right: It’s ultimately about training our minds to agree with God’s perspective of us. It won’t happen overnight. But we can choose to listen, we can choose to believe, we can choose to rehearse the truth in our heads: You are “remarkably and wonderfully made“! (Psalm 139:14 HCSB).

I had an abusive ex. I’m not clear on what type of abuse this entailed: verbal, physical, or sexual. Or even all three. But I’ve seen the damage that domestic abuse causes, the open wounds it leaves in the victims, the pain they have to heal from. Domestic abuse can be caused by a woman or a man, but statistically it is more often the male — and I believe this is Satan at work. As usual, the accuser creates nothing, only twists what God created.

Overall, God made men biologically better equipped to be a physical protector. Man’s physical strength should be used to keep others safe, but Satan turns that on its head and convinces some men to use their might to abuse others instead. It’s a horrible thing, and if you’re being abused, you need to get out and get out now. Your situation is extremely unlikely to change, and will likely get worse, unless and until you break the cycle by pulling away.

Thankfully, this reader is out of that situation and now in a marriage where abuse is not occurring. God be praised! So what about the baggage left over from that awful experience? Once again, it’s about retraining. That was then, this is now. So here are some straightforward tips on getting past the bad memories:

  • Remind yourself that your husband is not that guy. Over and over and over. As many times as you need to. To protect ourselves, our bodies learn which stimuli signal danger and react accordingly. For abuse victims, this can mean that male hand touching you can cause you to tense up, even if it’s a different hand than the one that struck you. You’ll need to do some self-talk to distinguish this stimulus from that one. It will take some time to decouple the stimulus-response, but you can make it happen.
  • Let your husband know what triggers your fear. Communicate clearly which activities cause the bad memories to leap to the forefront of your mind. Explain how he can best touch and arouse you in ways that won’t cause you emotional pain. And look, if there are certain things that need to be off-limits, at least for the time being, tell him. For example, if a young girl was forced to give a man oral sex, she can take that off the sexual menu with her husband, because it’s just too close to the original event. Over time, her comfort in the marriage bed could improve enough that they can revisit that topic, but it’s not reasonable to push optional activities that send you reeling.
  • Have the agreement that you can pause and regroup as needed. If you’re in the middle of lovemaking, and something happens that evokes your fear response, you can call for a momentary break. Just say something like, “Hold on, I need to breathe for a moment.” Then take deep breaths, do your self-talk, and guide your husband on what you need, whether it’s slowing down, touching you elsewhere, or reminding you how much he loves you and will protect you.

Don’t stop being intimate. Because what eventually happens with bad baggage versus our marriage bed experiences is the scales tip. If you put baggage on one side, and your marriage on the other, you can eventually get so many positive experiences of sexual intimacy with your husband that you reach a tipping point. And then sex truly feels like a positive thing. Not that you don’t remember what happened to you, but it no longer defines your view of yourself, men, relationships, and sexuality like it did before.

I still feel guilty for the “dirty” parts of sex. I’m not sure what the “dirty parts” are, but it sounds like maybe it’s the whole kit-and-caboodle. Church tradition really did a number on our perspective of God’s gift of sex. It’s a shame really, but I do see many Christian voices — both in the Protestant and Catholic communities — now trying to correct the fallacies.

I keep coming back to Satan, but really I think that’s where this thing comes from: the effort of Evil to convince us that bad things are good and good things are bad. But read Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

Sexual immorality is evil. Sexual intimacy in marriage is good. Let’s not confuse the two.

Sexual immorality is evil. Sexual intimacy in marriage is good. Let's not confuse the two. Click To Tweet

Much of what I said earlier about self-talk, listening to the voice of truth, and tipping the scales applies here. But I’d also suggest that you do an exercise of listing what you believe about sex, then searching for the biblical truth about that subject and the real conclusion. For instance, you might write:

Good girls don’t have sex. Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love. Song of Songs 2:3-4 Good wives delight in sex with their husbands.
Good girls don’t initiate sex. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. Song of Songs 4:16 Good wives invite their husbands to have sex.

Once again, Intimacy Revealed is an excellent resource for helping you view sex the way God designed it to be — as an intimate expression of love between husband and wife.

But if you don’t know what’s okay and what’s not, talk that out with each other, remembering the consent that matters most is your Heavenly Father’s. And He smiles on husband and wife sharing the intimacy and pleasure He gifted to marriage.

You have a process to go through, but your mind and your experience can be turned around. Take one small step today, another tomorrow, and so on and so on. Together, you can grow your marriage bed into a beautiful place you both anticipate with delight!

Entering Marriage with Sexual Baggage

My last post on What Should a Groom Know about His Wedding Night? received a very interesting comment. Here’s part of it:

“… I think the title needs to be changed. It should be, ‘What Should a Christian Virgin Groom Know about His Wedding Night?’ For many, this experience has already taken place with the one they are going to marry. And, for many this experience has taken place with someone they are not going to marry.”

I did indeed write that post with a virgin groom in mind, actually in response to a request for such information. But the commenter brings out a great point: Most spouses do not enter marriage as virgins. Even many lifelong Christians were sexually active before the I-Do’s — with their own spouse or with others in their past.

Luggage

(photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art)

So what do those of us with sexual baggage need to know as we enter marriage?

First, come clean. Explain your sexual history to your spouse. Your spouse should know what they’re getting into so that they can help you through it. If you’ve had multiple sexual partners, own up to any residual consequences and offer to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. If your fiancé has questions, answer them directly, not withholding what they need to hear (“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Proverbs 24:26).

You don’t need to share every detail. An overall accounting is reasonable, but providing specifics can cause your mate unnecessary hurt. Your beloved doesn’t need to have heart-rending images planted in his/her head that won’t go away. They need to know enough to be able to walk beside you as you forge a new life together, one with healthy sexual intimacy.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9

Seek healing. Address and resolve lingering pain and misconceptions. Don’t simply expect the wedding vows to erase the wounds of the past.

If sex has been a negatively charged experience, you need to intentionally change your view to appreciate sex as a gift from God to marriage. If you’ve developed harmful patterns of behavior, you need to intentionally replace those with new approaches. If you have memories of past sexual experiences, you need to intentionally move past them so you can build a fresh, better intimacy with your beloved.

Your sexual past has impacted your current thinking. Understand your history and deal with the brokenness before it unintentionally becomes a wedge in your marital intimacy. Decide whether you need to talk with a friend, a mentor, a pastor, or a counselor. Find books, websites, or blogs which address your circumstances. Attend classes, conferences, or support groups as needed. Seek the healing you need to enter your marriage with a godly understanding of sex and a fresh start for your sexual intimacy.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Focus on your spouse. Whatever happened before, however someone else behaved or hurt you or enjoyed something, this is a new moment. You have both the challenge and the opportunity to create a beautiful, sexually intimate life with your spouse. Focus on this person you married, figuring out on what they like.

Sure, a few things translate to your new situation — like Tab A still fits into Slot B — but your spouse is a unique person with their own experiences, desires, and preferences. Your spouse may have a lower or higher drive than prior partners. Your spouse may like to be touched in different places and with different intensity. Your spouse may be less or more willing to do certain sexual activities. Your spouse may have sexual baggage of their own. Learn how to navigate sexual intimacy with the person you married.

If people hurt you sexually in your past, remember that they are not your spouse. Yes, you may find sexual moments that trigger bad memories, but immediately return your mind to your spouse and the encounter at hand. Focus your energy on this one person — the mate you chose and have a lifetime with. Over time, you two can build a sexual relationship that is unique to the two of you and satisfying for both.

“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10

Take time. Allow yourselves time to move past your sexual baggage and build healthy sexual intimacy instead. If your sexual past rears its ugly head, whether in your first year of marriage or down the road, take a deep breath and handle it. Don’t assume that your sexual baggage will weigh you down forever. You can break free and create something beautiful.

Remember that you are in this for the long haul, a lifetime of love. You have time to let go of the past and build a better future. Each step in the right direction leads you to the destination you desire — satisfying sexual intimacy in your marriage. Celebrate the small successes and work through the gaps. Invite God in and let Him edge you forward to where He wants you to be.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

I definitely entered my own marriage with sexual baggage. Sure, I wish I’d been a virgin when I married, but my story didn’t end after those chapters. God had more to write. I sought God’s forgiveness, forgave myself, and forged a beautiful, God-honoring sexual relationship with my husband. It can be done.

Our God is a God of second chances. Take Him at His word that He can restore and renew your life, even in the area of sexual intimacy.

I welcome you to share your own story of brokenness to healing below; it may inspire others.

Or share where you are struggling with sexual baggage from your past, in hopes that I or others will have wise advice to heal your marriage.