As a trauma and a couple’s therapist, I end up talking about sex quite a bit. Good thing this doesn’t bother me at all! I don’t want it bother you, either. Sex is a wonderful thing, but sadly it often gets twisted, confusing and hurtful. Let’s talk truth about sex.
Sex is good. Somehow people often get the message sex is dirty or bad. This is especially true if you grew up in a church environment where you were simply told not to have sex before marriage, and then the topic was never discussed again. What we don’t talk about becomes scary, unknown, confusing, or bad. When we aren’t able to ask questions about sex when we are younger, and get good solid answers, we stumble through trying to figure it out on our own. And let’s be honest, our society doesn’t give us great answers. Our culture tells us it’s okay to have sex with whomever you want, whenever you want. Girls get the message it’s their job to fulfill guys’ sexual desires, that their value as a girl is wrapped up in how they please guys physically. I see this often in my office with my teen girls thinking they have to send naked pictures of themselves to any guy who asks, or they won’t have any friends. Sadly, this also seems to continue into adulthood. Many married couples struggle with sex, and the wife simply feels obligated to “meet his needs”. This is not how sex is meant to be.
When we have experienced sexual abuse or assault, we believe sex is bad. Of course, this reaction makes total sense. Sex was used to hurt, scare, belittle and control you. You can overcome these emotions and learn to enjoy sex again. I know how overwhelming that sounds, but I have seen it many times in my practice. God designed sex, and he made it to be good.
Sex is not like the movies. TV shows and movies show us two strangers meeting and oh so quickly having amazing sex, with no consequences afterwards. This is not reality. Maybe you have experienced this in real life. You have sex on the second or third date, and feel awful about yourself afterwards. Maybe you did wait until marriage like your church told you to, but then your wedding night was awkward, weird, and not all that fun.
Like a good relationship, sex takes effort. Both partners must buy into the reality that sex is supposed to be mutually enjoyable – not just for one partner. Most times, it’s the woman who thinks it’s all about the man, and he might think that too! Sex will not be good as it should be when it’s not mutually enjoyable. Good sex takes communication. Couples need to talk about all aspects: how often they want sex, why they aren’t having more sex, what they like, what they don’t, what obstacles do they experience, and so on. More communication equals better sex for both.
Sex is meant for marriage. Yep, I said it. Sex is its best within marriage. The reason for this is not simply “because God said so”. Although that’s true. The reason it’s true is because sex is not just a physical act. Every person you have sex with takes a little bit of your soul, your personhood. There is no more vulnerable act. This is why sexual assault and abuse is so damaging – it inflicts pain and hurt in area where we are the most exposed. As humans, we are made to connect to each other, to feel safely attached. When sex is kept within a safe, emotionally healthy marriage, both partners are able to be completely free and open to one another. There’s no better set up for amazing sex than that.
However, maybe you are having sex only with in your marriage, and it’s awful. Maybe it is nonexistent. I get it. Just because you keep sex within your marriage doesn’t automatically make it awesome.
Maybe you and your spouse fight all the time, and so you don’t want to be physically vulnerable. Perhaps there is just so much emotional distance, you guys never talk anymore, and so you never touch anymore either. Maybe one of you has been sexually abused, and that makes it hard for you to want to engage in sex. In this case, your partner probably doesn’t understand the impact of your experiences on your current thoughts about sex. If you have young kids, chances are you are exhausted, and you’re lucky if you take a shower, forget about sex.
WHY WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT SEX
While sex is meant to be awesome in all ways – physically, emotionally, spiritually – so many things can cause wreckage in your sex life. When we are hesitant to talk about sex, we just keep living in pain or isolation, not knowing how to get better. I want to help you, I will talk to you about sex.
Are you stuck thinking sex is bad or dirty? Were you sent this message growing up? Have you been sexually traumatized? Maybe raped or abused as a child? Understandably, these experiences are going to influence your understanding of sex.
Do you expect sex to be like the movies? Wonderfully magical the first time with whomever you choose in that moment? Maybe you’ve gone down that road and realize it’s a lie. Perhaps you feel broken and dirty yourself after giving pieces of yourself away over and over again. I understand the pain of those choices.
Is sex within your marriage not mutual? Is it not happening at all? Are you so distant or emotionally volatile you don’t feel safe to have sex? Maybe one of you keeps going back to pornography, or have had an affair. That’s a terrible, lonely place to be.
When you speak out loud about your issues with sex, get honest and verbalize what is happening, you start your road to healing. I can help you in that process.
YOUR SEX LIFE CAN GET BETTER
At Lime Tree Counseling, I help you identify your beliefs about sex – where they came from, and how past experiences have shaped your thoughts on sex. Then we look at the truth about sex and how that’s different from your understanding. We then talk about how that practically plays out in your life now – whatever stage of life you are in – and how following God’s design for sex is actually what’s best for you, and the only way to experience truly amazing sex.
There is hope. We don’t have to keep living believing lies that society or our past taught us. We can learn to see sex as the wonderful event that it is – and how to create a safe bond with our partner to fully enjoy it and all its benefits!
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