Honest to goodness, sometimes it seems like sexuality is just too complicated. As married women, we’re bombarded from every direction by conflicting messages and expectations –you’re sexy, you’re not sexy, sex is for you, sex is for your husband, married couples have the best sex, married couples have the worst sex. It’s enough to leave a woman confused and dismayed. Add in the libido-suppressing effects of busyness, fatigue, and everyday stress, and it just seems easier to leave that whole “sexuality thing” for another day.
But even though the deck seems stacked against us, I want to encourage you not to give up and not to let go of pursuing sex and intimacy in your marriage. Embracing and enjoying your sexuality will seem challenging at times (it certainly does for me!), even overwhelming, but the effort you put into it will pay you back many times over. Today I am sharing 7 ways to get started.
7 Ways to Embrace and Enjoy Your Sexuality
1. Consider what the Bible says about sex in marriage and reject teachings that say otherwise. Song of Songs describes a beautiful, sensual relationship between a husband and a wife. It uses language that is clearly sexual and clearly reciprocal – both of the lovers are giving and receiving, enjoying pleasure together. On the other hand, many women have learned, often from their church, that sex is bad. They’ve been told that it’s an obligation, something they “owe” their husbands. If those kinds of messages have clouded your view of sex, begin turning away from them. Read the Song of Songs and immerse yourself in resources that encourage a positive view of sex and intimacy. And pray about it, asking God to help you enjoy this great gift He created.
2. Recognize the way your body is made. Our bodies were made to enjoy sex, but most married women can’t wrap their minds around that truth. We’re so busy feeling fat or saggy or inadequate that we can scarcely imagine feeling sexual. But think about it for a minute. Our breasts, whether we love them or hate them, are exquisitely sensitive. Our skin craves gentle and sensual touch. And our clitoris serves only one purpose – creating a fabulous response that often leads to orgasm. So begin thinking about your body in terms of its sexual nature. Start small if the idea seems overwhelming, focusing on just one part of your body or one sensation.
3. Take care of your body. Many women are so busy caring for others that they neglect to care for their own bodies. And it’s hard to feel sexy and confident in a body that’s been neglected. So start taking care of your body! Feed it well, with healthy and whole food instead of processed and fast food. Get up and move every day; walk, bike, dance, hike, or play soccer with your kids — anything that strengthens your body, burns calories, reduces stress, and makes you feel great. Get enough sleep – 7 to 8 hours most nights. And do things that pamper your body – stretch, enjoy the sun and fresh air, use lotions and oils that soothe your skin. And remember – if you don’t have time to take care of your body, you’re too busy!
4. Accept that sex is about you, too. Don’t believe the lie that sex is primarily about your husband, that it’s something you “do for him.” That way of thinking, which is sadly common in the church, distances you from your God-given sexuality, limits true intimacy in your marriage, and creates resentment. So begin taking small steps to embrace your sexuality. Take time to identify things that make you feel sexy or sensual and begin pursuing those things. Begin thinking about, talking about, and doing things in bed that feel good to you. And take the initiative once in a while – be an active, not passive, participant in your own sex life.
5. Talking about sex is hard, isn’t it? Maybe it’s because we think it’s not “ladylike” to communicate our sexual needs. Or we don’t believe our needs are valid, or we think our husbands should “just know” exactly what we need. But we need to lay those thoughts aside, because they block honest communication and real intimacy. So start the conversation. Tell your husband that you want to embrace and enjoy your sexuality and improve sex and intimacy in your marriage. Share what you’ve been thinking and feeling, what you’ve learned, and what steps you’re taking. Ask him to share what he’s been thinking, too, and really listen to what he says. Then keep the conversation going. Getting things out in the open is great, but it’s the just the beginning of finding solutions. So keep talking (even when it’s hard!) and keep taking small steps that allow you to move forward.
6. Consider things that may be squashing your libido. If it seems like your libido has taken a permanent vacation, consider the things that might have run it off. Fatigue ranks high on that list for most women. Hormonal birth control can play a role, as can some medications (including antidepressants). Physical and emotional illnesses, high stress levels, and unresolved marriage issues can all squash a woman’s interest in sex. And so can unrealistic expectations – our culture tends to focus on male sexuality as the “model,” so women often assume that something’s wrong with them if their sexual response isn’t identical to their husband’s. If you’re struggling to find your libido, Bonny’s Oyster Bed is a great resource. (If you’re dealing with significant problems that affect libido, sex, and intimacy, including prior sexual abuse and serious marriage problems, please seek professional help to address them.)
7. Make space in your life for sex and intimacy. Busyness is the enemy of the lover. If you’re running from one commitment to another – all day, every day – you won’t have time or energy to embrace and enjoy your sexuality. So determine to make it a priority by creating some space and margins around your life, in order to allow sex and intimacy to flourish. This may require making some hard decisions. It make require reining in your family’s schedule, saying no, and letting go of some commitments. But it will be worth it, because it will allow you, your husband, and your marriage to flourish.
Have you embraced your sexuality? If not, or if you struggle with it, consider working on one or two of these areas. You and your marriage are worth it.
Gaye Groover Christmus is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons. In her “day job” she works as a writer and editor in a health field. Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages. She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives. Gaye blogs at CalmHealthySexy.