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.
18 thoughts on “The Experts Who Are Damaging Your Sexual Intimacy”
So true. You have to be careful who you listen to. Ultimately, if it goes against scripture, it’s not good to do.
I love how my pastor says even great couples sharing what works for them, won’t necessarily give you tools that will work for you and your spouse. He says the one Person that knows your spouse and their unique expectations better than anyone else is the Holy Spirit, and you should get to know Him through prayer and study of / obedience to the Bible, so that through communion with Him, you will better grow to understand and provide better for the needs of your spouse. Sometimes the best thing is for you both to realise that Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of our marital desires, which are a shadow of the Bridegroom and the Church, and while physical intimacy and relational communion with our spouse can certainly give us much joy and contentment now, we have much more to expect from God. We are only human, and can only love like God does when we work with Him, which we don’t always do, and at those times that we are not, we need to forgive and overlook those differences and choose to “love the unlovable” so to speak.
Listen to all things that could be helpful, but do not heed all things, as they will not all be beneficial. When our Heavenly Father gives His stamp of approval through confirmation in the Word of God, that gut feeling of peace and joy in your heart of hearts, and/or the still calm voice of the Holy Ghost, then you know you can trust that advice. Otherwise, if you have been prayerful about something, and it just doesn’t sit right in your innermost being, especially if it directly contradicts Scripture, then just ignore that advice.
The second segment of this is what is good for “my personal marriage” as a person with a sound Biblical thrology and correct teaching may not address “my” marriage concerns. So the second part of this is to find someone who understands my needs and sek to help me rather than simply giving our such wide spread information.
Your comments are spot on as many well meaning folks are springing up. I would also add that a couple should look at the track record from the person or couple they are seeking advice.
There are single folks with no professional training that generate books or articles abouot marriage and so they have no actual tested experience to share or Biblical professional trainging.
As a preacher of 40+ years, I can tell oyu that many pastors have no “training” in maritial education or have not studied this aspect of the Bible. I have shared my specific pre-marriage guidelines with a number of preachers who only “wing-it” with couplkes they are performing a wedding for. They have no specific structure to cover troublesome subjects that will come up. It astounded me when I started asking my preacher friends what they use to help their new couples prepare for the most significant relationship on this earth.
Hope I didn’t babble too much – you touched on a great topic here!
Yes, it’s very true not everyone is an expert on marriage and sexual intimacy, that’s why it’s important to learn what God’s word says about sex and marriage so we can better discern if what we hear or read matches up.
I’m glad you added so called Christian sex bloggers because I was beginning to wonder if it was just me, but I’ve noticed several new ‘Christian’ sex bloggers in the past year or two who post things which certainly border on the edge of being erotica and not much different than what you might read on a secular sex blog, except it’s presented under the guise of being Christian. I found a common trait too among those type of bloggers, you never see their face. Always makes me wonder who they really are and what their real purpose for blogging is. On the other hand, those more reputable Christian sex bloggers, including yourself, put themselves out there fully.
Anyway, good topic, thanks for sharing.
I was anonymous for a while, but I always wrote with the knowledge that I would be “out there” fully at some point and having to own everything I said. And my close friends and family knew — thus keeping me accountable.
Ah, the experts. Gotta love ’em! I didn’t even realize I had half of these “problems” until I started reading blogs about marriage. At the worst point one day my husband said something like “if you start one more sentence with ‘I read…’ I’m going to get rid of that computer.” I’ll admit, it was getting excessive. And in the beginning, I wasn’t very discerning – I was desperate! If someone claimed to be an expert or even “concerned with” marriage, I read what they had to say. And the comments are a dangerous place, too. Anyone can write comments, and it’s not always the best source of counsel or information. (In fact, the other day on a fashion for women over 40 blog, the blogger wrote about how to dress your body type. Pear, Apple, banana, etc. I am tall and thin. Still look like a woman, but I do have a tiny rear view, so I fall into the banana category. I thought that was a cute title, and I was interested in the fashion tips. And then, in the comments, a woman wrote that it’s not actually called the “banana” body type, but the “boy” body. Gee, thanks. So now I look like a boy. Thanks, lady. Ah, the power of words.)
Anyhow, although I have gotten a lot of good advice from a couple blogs (like yours), I have also gotten a lot of negativity from others. For example, men initiate sex most of the time, and would love it if their wives initiated once in a while (not in my house). Our sex life went downhill in a hurry when I learned I should not be initiating. We are slowly beginning to rebuild. What happened here was, we hit some rocky patches, I went searching for answers, and I ended up taking several major hits to my self esteem and getting a lot of wrong ideas. Most of my reading made me feel much worse about myself and my marriage, especially since I have the higher drive and that is extremely abnormal. Or rare, I should say.
The Pastor who married us gave us NO premarital counseling (nor were we saved at the time), and I’m not about to share these issues with a pastor now. I dont think I’d be able to stand the judgement. Would you want to walk into church knowing that your Pastor was looking at you with the thought of how you’re not as good as the other wives, not even enough for your own husband? That he might be laughing as he tells the assistant Pastors about your backwards sex life? No thanks.
Most counsellors are weird. I have no desire to be medicated because my sex life is rocky at times. Most people I know who go to counseling end up on medication. I did ask a friend I trusted for the name of a good Christian counselor, and the name she gave me is of someone I know! So that’s out.
The good news is, things in our life are slowly improving. A lot of that is because my husband has started praying for us. So while your blog has been helpful, a lot of my “research” these past couple years has done far more harm than good. At least to me. So the post is a good one, and I hope a lot of struggling folks take the warnings to heart and be very careful which “experts” they choose to listen to.
There’s plenty of sexual advice out there in the form of porn, and its advertised in respectable magazines, aimed at older couples. These are videos touted as marriage aids, offering live actors in various positions for $19.95 or two for $29.95. I’m 76 years old, married 52 years, and I’ll admit I’m tempted. I’ve never ordered or seen one of these, and please pray that I don’t.
Let me say that, from the ads, it seems that the actors may be wearing swimsuits. But anything that would get you visually into another’s sexual encounter is WRONG. Apparently, even seniors aren’t exempt, given that it must cost the producers several hundred thousand dollars for a quarter-page ad in a national journal with circulation in the millions of copies.
J, your line about sexperts recommending porn to liven up a libido reminded me of an incident that occurred many years ago. My wife and I were watching the remake of Bye, Bye Birdie with Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams… hardly porn by any standards. However, in one scene Williams does a very seductive dance at the men’s club. I found it arousing and apparently by wife did as well, for as soon as the scene was over, she was on top of me and we had a great time of love making. I never knew if she was truly aroused or was simply trying to divert my attention from a movie star. Either way, I thought the whole incident interesting.
Maybe you can suggest she try that move without the movie before? I’m sure you’d both enjoy it. 😉
Ah, but therein lies the rub. My wife has a low libido. Like many women, she has no interest in sex *until* she’s aroused, and she has little interest in intentionally or proactively doing anything (or permitting me to do anything) that might result in arousal. She basically waits until arousal comes upon her unbidden, which isn’t all that frequent. She also has little interest in talking about sex, so such a suggestion would probably be met with, “I *couldn’t* do that.” I fear that, without that scene at that moment, there would have been no lovemaking that night. And, I don’t like making that admission, for I fear where it could lead logically, precisely where the sexperts would suggest, and I’m *not* going there.
Aaah. And this is where knowing your own spouse and filtering through advice is common sense.
Despite my defeatist attitude, I appreciate the suggestion. Maybe if I get some courage, I’ll try it.
Great post, J! And I totally agree about counselors and pastors. I think that counseling can be SO helpful, but I have also known so many people who have been really harmed by it. And many pastors just aren’t equipped to do real counseling, and fall back on the “save the marriage no matter what”, rather than “get to the root of the problem”.
The problem, then, is that counselors often cost a lot of money, and so many people have no good third party to turn to. It’s really hard. I hope that our blogs do a little bit to help, but ultimately most couples really need someone in real life too!
Thanks, Sheila! I agree with you too.
Your post is spot on. This poses a dilemma for Christian wives (and husbands) seeking help with marriage issues. As a former pastor, married 52 years, I can truthfully say that it was many years after I began the ministry before I understood godly marriage principles well enough to give sound advice on serious issues, even though I’ve published articles about marriage in Christian periodicals. Many pastors, gifted at expositional preaching, are ineffective counselors.
I think that Titus 2:3-5 is a sadly neglected passage. “Older” Christian wives (“aged” in the KJV) are to be taught by their pastors–Paul’s advice to Pastor Titus– to “teach” (KJV), “encourage” (Holman), “train” (NIV & ESV) young wives/women. Yet where does one find mature Christian wives capable of counseling in most churches? Many of the old wives in the small church I now attend have unresolved marital issues enough of their own, and their advice is simply not to be trusted.
Yet there is one who stands out as a godly model of sensibility. She is a mother, grandmother, wife of half a century. Educated in a Christian college (Moody Bible Institute), she is a former missionary. And she has a healthy attitude about sex, and has said so in a SS class. It’s my thinking that women such as she ought to be recognized by local churches as the “go-to” person when young wives need a counselor. And now that I’ve typed this, I think I should see my pastor with this idea. I’ll just bet he’d be happy for her help!
“Some Christian sex bloggers sound more like they have a chip on their shoulder than a Bible in their hand.”
YES! So perfectly stated! May we all have more Bible and fewer chips.
Comments are closed.