Writing fiction, I’ve studied character archetypes with which we are all familiar — the hero, the love interest, the villain, etc. A successful book or movie incorporates all the necessary character types to tell the story.
But sometimes our own lives lack the supporting characters we need. When I hear of married couples struggling year after year in a sexless marriage or with pornography issues or physical challenges to intimacy or adulterous affairs, etc., too often they are struggling alone. It’s a me against the giant scenario.
While that’s an appealing story, David was not actually alone against Goliath. Neither should we face extreme marital problems alone, even those involving sex.
Who are the characters in your story of sexual intimacy?
Heroine. Hello, wife. You are the heroine of your story. You’re the one with a goal — which is hopefully healthy, godly sexual intimacy with your husband. But you’re also likely to face challenges along the way, obstacles which must be overcome.
Why? Because Earth isn’t Heaven. We live in a broken world where problems occur and temptations abound. However, God can use these struggles to grow us into the people He desires us to be. Through our difficulties and victories — and even our failures and repentance — we can learn how to be stronger, love better, and glorify our Heavenly Father.
Hero. In romance novels, there’s the main-character heroine and her love interest, also known as the hero. You and your husband are involved in a romance, and I assume you both want a Happy Ever After. God wants you to have that Happy Ever After too. It was one of the reasons He made sex the way He did for His children.
Most romantic stories involve the hero and heroine finally recognizing that they love each other enough to conquer whatever ails them. So do you see your husband that way? Do you identify yourselves as being on the same team? Able to conquer your problems together?
Perhaps you need to take another good long look at the man you chose. If he isn’t acting the way you expected your hero to act, ask why. Do you understand where he’s coming from and why he feels the way he does? Do you acknowledge the difficulties he faces? Does he feel like you are on his team? If you need to work through some things to get on the same page, to have that together feeling, make one goal of your story aligning the hero and heroine so you can pursue your Happy Ever After.
Villain. Yes, there’s a villain. Satan does not want you to have a good Christian marriage. If you’re healthy and happy in your sexual intimacy, how will he tempt you to sin? It’s far easier to divide you as a couple, wear down your trust in God and marriage, and tempt you to meet needs elsewhere when you’re unhappy or disengaged with your husband and your sexual intimacy.
Sometimes we don’t consciously identify Satan as the real villain. Maybe instead you dump everything on your husband, believing he’s the instigator of all your difficulties. Or maybe you blame your church or your parents or your past marriage or your ex-boyfriend or some past event.
I’m not saying there isn’t responsibility there. Some are to blame and deserve a heap of heavy guilt dumped upon their head. But many times, a Christian marriage is simply being attacked by the Prince of Lies, and we need to get that clear in our heads. We need to identify the real villain of our story.
Herald. A herald challenges the existing order by announcing something important, something that will change things. In American history, a famous herald is Paul Revere shouting, “The Regulars are coming!” to colonists so they could prepare for the arrival of King George’s troops. In the Bible, Job has heralds in the form of servants who come to tell him of the deaths of his livestock and children.
Heralds aren’t necessarily popular, because they well may deliver tough news. But it’s news we need to hear.
Churches and marriage ministries should be filling this role. Christian communities need to speak loudly and unequivocally to protect, support, and encourage healthy God-honoring sexual intimacy in marriages. We have to be willing to speak against sexual activity outside of marriage, to speak clearly about what the Bible says about sex, and to spread the good news of how God can heal and nurture our intimate lives. Is your church doing this? Are you plugged into resources that herald the truth about sexual intimacy?
Ally. What would Sherlock Holmes be without Dr. Watson? Batman without Robin? Captain James T. Kirk without Spock? (Had to throw that one in!) We all need allies — people who’ll support us and our mission.
I’ve talked again and again about the importance of having godly friends who support your marriage and your sexual intimacy. If you’re in a group of wives who constantly berate their husbands or mock their sex drives, you’re not getting the ally experience you need.
Instead, find wives who will talk honestly and positively about sexual intimacy in marriage. Be that kind of wife to others. “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Make sure you have friends who’ll be your marriage’s ally.
Mentor. We know mentors when we see them in film: Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, Yoda in Star Wars, Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, and on and on. In the Bible, there are often mentors as well — people who have wisdom and faith they impart to others. Samuel had Eli, Paul had Ananias, Timothy had Paul.
When it comes to sexual intimacy in marriage, it can be hard to identify who should mentor you. Whom can you turn to for wise advice? Yes, you can come to blogs like mine, but it’s also helpful to have face-to-face interaction when you’re in the midst of a struggle. You may need a counselor or organization to speak directly into your situation and mentor you through difficulties. You may need to consult a physician or a pastor or a Bible class teacher. You may simply need a more experienced wife who can teach what is good, as described in Titus 2:3-5.
But let’s admit we don’t know it all, and sometimes we need a mentor who can speak the Word of God into our lives with a fresh perspective and loving kindness. We may need to seek out a mentor for our story.
Who’s in your story of sexual intimacy? Have you reached out to others when you’ve needed a better perspective and godly wisdom? Where do you think your story is lacking in the right characters?