What a rough year 2020 has been. These past couple of weeks, I’ve had my heart in throat as I’ve processed current events (specifically, the Floyd killing and repercussions).
One of the best things I’ve absorbed in that time is the testimony of Christian conservative David French, who had his eyes opened after he and his wife—both white—adopted a black girl from Ethiopia. What he wrote made me think not only about racism, but why I get push-back sometimes on what I say about sex on this blog.
Let me first share his words, and then I’ll explain:
Let’s perform a thought experiment. Let’s optimistically imagine that only one out of 10 white Americans is actually racist. Let’s also recognize that—especially in educated quarters of white America—racism is condemned and stigmatized. If this is the reality, when will you ever hear racist sentiments in your daily life? The vast majority of people you encounter aren’t racist, and the minority who are will remain silent lest they lose social standing.
But imagine you’re African American. That means 10 percent of the white people you encounter are going to hate you or think less of you because of the color of your skin. You don’t know in advance who they are or how they’ll react to you, but they’ll be present enough to be at best a persistent source of pain and at worst a source of actual danger. So you know you’ll be pulled over more, and in some of those encounters the officer will be strangely hostile. The store clerk sometimes follows you when you shop. A demeaning comment will taint an otherwise-benign conversation. Your white friends described in the paragraph above may never see these things, but it’s an inescapable part of the fabric of your life.
This is how we live in a world where a white person can say of racism, “Where is it?” and a black person can say, “How can you not see?”David French, The Dispatch – American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go
If those perpetuating a problem represent a minority, and you don’t have personal experience with that minority, it can be easy to debate, downplay, or dismiss that it’s happening at all.
Now this post is not really about racism, but rather my specialty: sex in marriage.
You see, sometimes when I talk about a subject within the arena of sexual intimacy, I get told it doesn’t exist or represents such a small minority that it’s hardly worth covering. Want examples? Well, okay.
1. Sexual Harassment and Assault
When #MeToo hit, I addressed it. I’ve shared my own story of harassment. I’ve discussed my even deeper concerns about these issues and cover-ups within the church. But even before that, I was disturbed how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are in our personal lives and politics.
Believe me, I received comments and messages from readers who said I was overstating the problem, misrepresenting truth, targeting men unfairly, etc. Mind you, I agree that false allegations happen and some definitions of sexual assault are problematic, but that doesn’t take anything away from the large problem we have with harassment and assault.
You see, a single perpetrator does not harass or assault a single person; they can have dozens or hundreds of victims. Film producer Harvey Weinstein had 95 accusers, and US Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar had 265 accusers. Those are egregious examples, but those two horrible males impacted at least 360 lives!
Even if it’s not a crime we’re talking about, that one slimy guy who ogles women, says inappropriate things about their appearance, sidles up too close without invitation or consent represents a number of bad interactions. This is why I can easily say that most men are not jerks but most women (and many men) have been assaulted or harassed.
2. Waiting Until Marriage
My secular friends were convinced my son and daughter-in-law were having sex long before marriage. They simply couldn’t fathom a couple being in love and not taking those feelings to the bedroom. I didn’t argue with them, but I trusted my son and his future wife to wait if they wanted. I believed it was more than possible.
Yet many people, including Christians, don’t believe it is possible. Or at least it doesn’t happen in real life.
Now let me first assure you that having sex before marriage is not a nail in the coffin of your spiritual or sex life. (I didn’t wait.) God specializes in forgiveness, redemption, and blessing! Also, contrary to what some have heard, having waited until marriage doesn’t guarantee a perfect sex life. But the question is whether anyone actually waits, and while a large majority doesn’t, plenty still do.
Statistics vary, but let’s look at the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth data:
Nearly 90% having premarital sex seems like a whole lot—and it is—but that’s still 1 in 10 who wait. And considering how many people over 15 have never married, the statistics on how many in that age range are in the US, premarital sex percentages, etc., I did a bunch of math and came up with at least 6.6 million Americans who hold out until marriage.
So yeah, people wait—6.6 million or more. It’s simply not a given that couples will give in.
(If you didn’t wait, check out Entering Marriage with Sexual Baggage and/or Why You Feel Worse Than He Does about the Premarital Sex. And talk to your spouse about any residual feelings.)
3. Higher Drive Wives
I heard perhaps the most heartbreaking statement on this topic this past week: A podcaster was sharing that a male friend had told her, “You show me a woman whose husband isn’t going for her, and I’ll show you an ugly woman.” I vacillated on whether to repeat that statement here—concerned that a high drive wife might worry it’s true—and then I realized we HD wives have already heard that before, in one way or another.
It happens on my site too, with husbands who comment and say they (1) don’t believe that higher drive wives exist much if at all, and/or (2) there must be something seriously wrong with him or her. That perspective comes from not having experienced it ourselves or personally knowing others who have.
Actually, you do know a husband out there with a lower sex drive than his wife. However, comments like the ones above hardly invite him to share his story. (By the way, LD hubby, this post is definitely worth checking out: A Letter to the Lower Drive Husband.)
Meanwhile, I’ve been researching how prevalent HD wife/LD husband is, and I’m fairly confident it’s around 20% of marriages. Now imagine sitting in church, looking around at all the married couples, and admitting to yourself that 1 in 5 of those has a higher drive wife. It’s real, y’all.
4. Turned Around Sex Lives
A few times a week, someone tells me they don’t believe that sexual intimacy in a marriage can or will turn around. I’m not talking about those who say they haven’t experienced it yet but continue to pray, look for answers, and communicate as best they can with their spouse. Feeling like it’s hopeless in the moment doesn’t mean you don’t think it’s possible.
Rather, some argue that change is so unlikely that I and others are full of guano to even suggest it can happen. Instead, they believe I should change my message to telling spouses it’s okay to divorce someone who doesn’t have regular sex with you or to get your jollies elsewhere, or simply telling those withholding spouses they owe their mate sex!
Believe me, I’m not unaware of the difficult road many of you face. My marriage nearly fell apart several times before we found our way out, and even that took years and continues to require maintenance. That’s why my site doesn’t boast 10 Tips Guaranteed to Change Your Sex Life! or Do These 3 Things and Get All the Sex You Want! I won’t lie to you about the challenge you face. But I also won’t lie and say it’s not possible, because I’m 100% certain it happens.My site doesn't boast 10 Tips Guaranteed to Change Your Sex Life! I won't lie to you about the challenge you face. But I also won't lie and say it's not possible, because I'm 100% certain it happens. #marriage via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
Not only do I have my own turnaround-in-marriage story, I receive regular testimonies from couples who did a one-eighty in their marriage. Over the 9½ years I’ve been blogging, writing, speaking, podcasting, I’ve heard it again and again and again. It’s not nearly enough couples, because it’s not all couples. But it happens!
It could happen to you.
What sexual issue have others denied or downplayed that you know is real based on your experience? This is not an invitation to rant or blame, but rather tell your story so others can better understand.