A friend and I were recently discussing how supposed “experts” often dispense very bad marriage advice. It got me thinking about how great resources are available, yet some “experts” might actually be hurting the sexual intimacy in your marriage.
Who are those “experts” and how are they doing damage?
Physicians. I’ve heard way too many stories of wives struggling with pain during sex or low libido who approach the subject with their doctor — and have their concerns brushed aside. They’re told things like “there’s nothing wrong” (translation: it’s all in your head) or “just relax.” And the wife goes away feeling even worse for having the same problems with no answers.
I have a great deal of respect for medical doctors because they’ve helped me in so many ways. But if a physician repeatedly ignores a legitimate concern, and thus my overall health, it’s time to find a new physician. The ones who shrug off your body’s unresponsiveness and/or pain aren’t trying to harm you, but they aren’t helping. Find someone who will. Most doctors really do want to help, and you can find an advocate for your sexual health. Check out my post on finding a good gynecologist.
Secular sexperts. Plenty of secular sex experts have a lot to say about improving your sex life. Everything from attitudes to techniques, they focus on how to increase arousal, pleasure, and orgasm. But a vast number suggest things that will hurt your marriage in the long-term. Like the encouragement to watch porn together to stimulate your libido or get new ideas. Even if they don’t suggest porn, they almost exclusively focus on individual satisfaction rather than marital bonding, in physical pleasure rather than emotional intimacy.
There are some good suggestions and solid research from secular sources, but everything must be filtered through the foundation of biblical truth. And if something involves pornographic content, that gets to moved to the No Way, José column. Make sure anything you’re digesting from a secular source supports your go-the-distance marriage, rather than focusing on short-term, selfish pleasure.
Marriage counselors. This one may seem contradictory, because I advocate for individuals and married couples to seek quality Christian counseling. But pay attention to that phrase: Quality. Christian. Counseling. It’s not enough that someone hangs out a shingle that says “counselor” — they need to be working from a biblical foundation and tackling the problems you bring to their office. If your issues include difficulties in the marriage bed, they should be addressed as well. Instead, I’ve heard of some counselors waving away such concerns with notions that if you simply increase communication or work out your emotions, the sex stuff will fall in line.
For some, that’s true. But not for everyone. And it’s reasonable to expect a marriage counselor to be comfortable discussing one of the ways God created for spouses to bond — that is, sex. If you’ve given counseling a try and it’s making things much worse, find another counselor. You’re not nailed down to one particular person, so be willing to find counseling that genuinely addresses the issues in your marriage.
Pastors. If I had a silver dollar for every wife who told me their pastor skipped anything about sex in their premarital counseling or the marriage class . . . *sigh* And more than one couple has been given such advice as “you’ll figure it out” or “just make sure you satisfy his need for sex.” I feel for pastors — I really do — because they are often expected to be a one-stop-shop for all spiritual and relationship problems. And pastors often struggle with sexual intimacy in their own marriage, so they don’t feel comfortable addressing this topic with others.
The fix is not to berate your pastor for ignoring the subject of sex or giving bad advice. Instead, find people in your church who are conversant with this topic, who have wisdom to share with other couples, who have a passion for marriage and sex ministry. Come alongside your pastor with resources he can support and recommend. Ask your church leadership to sponsor marriage events, classes, and ministries that help married couples with all kinds of issues, including sexual intimacy. Your pastor and his wife might be among those who benefit.
“Christian” sex bloggers. In the last several years, more and more voices have spoken up through the Internet to advocate for satisfying sex in Christian marriages. Unfortunately, not everyone with a computer and a website is doling out biblical and practical wisdom. Some Christian sex bloggers sound more like they have a chip on their shoulder than a Bible in their hand. Some focus on a single verse as their entire guide on what’s okay and what’s not, ignoring the identity of our Creator and the totality of the Word. Some post highly inappropriate content without regard to issues of lust for those who might be viewing.
It breaks my heart when someone claims to represent biblical truth and provides damaging teaching instead. I’m not talking about issues we can reasonably debate, but advice that fosters division and abuse in marriages and marriage beds. If what you’re reading makes you feel angrier and more entitled, it isn’t going to help.
The good news is that there are amazing Christian sex bloggers out there who speak to all kinds of issues. I regularly recommend resources through my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and my newsletter to help married couples sort out their sex lives and improve their intimacy. Simply make sure what you read is consistent with the Word of God and leads you to becoming a better spouse and a more devoted follower of Christ.
Most of the experts who damage your views and practice of sexual intimacy in your marriage aren’t out to do harm. But they still do damage. As Christians, we must “see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Seek out biblical answers and wise counselors for your marriage and your marriage bed.