Q: I’m not happy with the way our sex life is going. How can I broach this subject with my spouse without hurting his or her feelings?
A: First of all, you need to communicate unconditional love to your spouse. You say, “I love you. I’m crazy about you. Can we discover each other all over again physically?”
If you feel embarrassed to talk about this, just admit it: “I’m embarrassed to bring this up but I care enough about you and our marriage to talk about it.” Or you might bring it up and say something like, “You know, you don’t seem to be in the mood for sexual intimacy lately. Is there anything you want to talk about?”
The worst and most painful thing you can do is to be abrupt and say, “Things aren’t good. I want to talk about them,” because that’s too harsh a way to talk about a very sensitive and fragile area in your marriage as well as in each other’s self-esteem. Instead, you want to affirm the good part of it and be gentle. Don’t critique or criticize. Affirm what is fulfilling for you during your times of intimacy. That gets the conversation off to a good start. Sometimes the problems couples have stem way back to before they were married. Listen to Annette:
“I’ve been married for six months, and we’re encountering some problems because my husband thinks that I’m boring in bed. My husband and I both had premarital sex, but his sexual past is much more extensive and sort of wilder than mine. So I kind of feel like he’s comparing me to his past sexual partners—and I don’t measure up.”
That can be so heartbreaking. How terrible to feel that you are constantly being compared to any number of other faceless bodies who have had sex with your spouse. How can you possibly keep up? How can you possibly be better or more exciting? When comparison is brought into the marriage bed, then you are literally inviting a third person into that sexual relationship. That is a very real consequence of sex outside of marriage—whether it’s adultery, fornication, premarital sex, pornography, you name it. People think it won’t have an effect, but it does. See how it affected the Annette and her husband—young newlyweds already dealing with pain they shouldn’t have to face.
We counseled this young woman and her husband to each seek out Christ and to cleanse their hearts by way of asking God and each other to forgive them for the premarital sex. You see “marital sex” is very different that premarital sex. Marital sex has bound up with it all of the commitment, unconditional love, and “forever-ness” that really makes the physical aspect so fulfilling. It’s only through that kind of understanding and sensitivity to each other that they will be able to overcome this problem. When you and your spouse deal with a sexual past through love and forgiveness, God can give you fresh eyes for each other. Then you can focus on improving and enhancing your marriage bed.
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