Guys, we are going THERE right now. This isn’t a post for little eyes, or my family members (eek!). This is me being super open about personal experience in hopes it helps others. If sex makes you uncomfortable– click away now.
I write often about birth and how God works through those experiences in me, but before pregnancy can even begin, there has to be that certain action to happen to make a baby – sex.
You would think with having 7 pregnancies altogether, we would have an amazing sex life. The truth is, nope. We didn’t. Until now.
I was sexually abused as a very young child, which led to a promiscuous teenage past – including an unplanned pregnancy at 16 years old and another at 19 years old. It was fun, despite the toil I felt about it being wrong. It filled the void in my heart temporarily and helped me feel loved momentarily, so I kept doing it, obviously.
But once our wedding night came at 19 years old, I clammed up and nothing was the same again. I felt ashamed, damaged, guilty – and basically, like sex was bad. Gross. Unclean. Embarrassing. I carried the weight of my past choices and the holes in my heart from each time and each person I gave my heart away to, piece by piece. I became triggered by my husband’s touches, reminded by other people in my past and my abuser’s touch. It was simply a chore, a duty as a wife to keep him in a good mood and make him feel loved.
I couldn’t undo my thinking no matter how much I loved my husband because my physical relationships before marriage were wrong in God’s view and I knew that. Suddenly though, once it was “acceptable” to have sex, it wasn’t desirable in any way because of all the shame I felt attached to it.
Our physical intimacy became our biggest argument. My husband wanted, needed, and dreamed of more now that it was “okay,” but I only felt a huge wall around me of protection. A jail cell. I was trapped by the guilt, shame, and everything I felt about sex prior, even if I had been having “fun” in my sin. Satan had a hold on me, reminding me of the past chains of sin, making me think I was still being held by them even though Jesus had freed me long ago. It felt like I couldn’t step out in the freedom promised to me. I knew in my mind I had been redeemed but I couldn’t feel it.
We went to a few counselors which helped begin un-peeling the onion layers of healing– starting with learning our love language so that we could learn how to love each other better as a whole. Mark was physical touch (of course! Which, only made our disconnect worse), and me being quality time. We learned how to fill each other’s love tanks in other ways besides the bedroom, which all connected into physical intimacy too (but, more on that later). This helped us reach a new level of happiness as a couple, but it still would take years for complete healing. Out of this growth spurt in 2012, Ashlyn was given to us as a gift.
We worked hard over the years to keep our emotional and spiritual connection close, which helped me feel safe in Mark’s arms at times. However, I still often struggled with not just a lack of desire but letting myself be a sexual being made by God. How can a woman be both a “good” mother and a sexual person? It felt like an oxymoron to me, like they couldn’t co-exist at the same time because it made me feel “gross” and embarrassed. And my thoughts would constantly be, “What if they come in? What if they hear us? What if they know what we are doing?” I couldn’t relax.
In May 2016, we were arguing once again about the same thing. He needed passion and to feel desired, while I needed his grace as I figured out how to keep healing. We both were frustrated that no matter how hard we tried, prayed, and begged for healing, but it wouldn’t come. For a few days, we didn’t even speak and I felt like a divorce could even be possible because I didn’t see a way out of this jail cell. We felt it would always be the same because nothing was really working to get us to the level we wanted. I went to a bible study that night and asked for prayer. I came home and the songs playing on the radio confirmed again and again of God hearing my prayers and that everything would be okay. “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns was one of them.
A few days before, I was at a used bookstore when on the discount shelf I found God’s tool to begin the next layer of healing. It was a book called Breaking Eve’s Curse by Frank Hultgren, which is a short book filled with prayers and standing on the truth of Jesus’s redemption at the cross. Bottom line: we don’t have to be held captive any longer. Each chapter deals with different aspects of “curses” from the fall of Eve, from women’s infertility to sexual issues. I learned that much of the bondage I felt in my heart was due to soul ties – connections to each person that I had given myself away to in my teenage years and the sin put on me during my abuse.
I had forgiven and released much of my past before, but I felt the biggest tie to Anna’s birth father (understandable, as we have a child together and he was my longest relationship that I had many hopes for back then). When I envisioned what this soul tie looked like, I felt it was like a thick rope, whereas others were thin strings that were easily cut. With his, I had to saw away at it one thread at a time and I knew it would take a while to completely be free. I would dream of him far too often, but now I never do because the rope is gone with God’s help. Praise!
Anyway, that night when I arrived home from a bible study, I took this book, kneeled beside Mark, and read a prayer of releasing and cleansing. I read the prayers and believed in the healing God could give. We prayed together and as Mark’s walls of anger came down, my walls of protection came down.
That night – 9 years into our marriage – was the first time ever sex felt like the gift it was supposed to be in God’s design of marriage. It was the first time I felt the freedom Jesus intended – whole, exciting, spiritual, enjoyable, like a bird finally out of her cage. It became our new standard of what we wanted to achieve every time. In that night, we also were given the gift of Lylah.
Fast forward to preparing for Lylah’s birth. While another layer had been peeled away leading up to her arrival, I wasn’t fully healed and still struggled, especially with now having pregnancy hormones, morning sickness, simply being uncomfortable, being an exhausted mom, etc., however, at the end her pregnancy, God gave me a verse: 1 Timothy 2:15– through A Heavenly Welcome’s childbirth class that I claimed and leaned on. In fact, I kept it right on the tub to focus on during labor. I also felt God say, “The passion that brought her in will bring her out” so we enjoyed each other those last days of pregnancy for multiple reasons, and it brought her into the world, just like He told me it would!
Still, while I felt this promise given to me, I knew there were still more layers to undo so I could be completely free. We spent 2017 slowly getting there, still growing together spiritually and emotionally. We sought out a few resources to help us and to spend time together learning.
We listened to this podcast on Focus on the Family called “Enjoying Physical Intimacy As a Woman” along with part two on our way to a road trip for a weekend away (which was amazing in every way!). These were really the catalysts for a new mindset about intimacy for me and all that I struggled with. I highly recommend them!
We then bought “The Gift of Sex: A Guide to Sexual Fulfillment” and “Enjoy! The Gift of Sexual Pleasure For Women” by Clifford and Joyce Penner to read together. While we still haven’t read either book entirely (and not all of it applies)– wow! These were hugely helpful, not just for our bonding (because I love quality time to feel loved!) but for myself to really understand that connecting us spiritually and physically go hand in hand. It’s God’s design! That is why I needed to completely slice away the pieces of soul-tie strings and ropes holding me back from fully embracing my husband in every sense of the word.
Reading what God had to say about sex, His design for it, and accepting that HE MADE IT FOR PLEASURE (after all, there is NO other use for the clitoris) was key to releasing any shame I felt. He designed it, we are married, and we are in love. It is a GIFT to us. It was time for me to own this sexual part of me that only the “bad girl” in me knew many years ago. Now, it was time to claim the full healing and the gift promised to us.
At first, I still had trouble getting there mentally and letting go of those thoughts of embarrassment that kept me from feeling “free” and letting my walls down. Things had to be perfect to embrace the sexual me – kids had to be away or deeply asleep and I had to have an alcoholic drink. But, it gave us hope that I could actually get there and it was even better than the night Lylah was conceived. We had a new standard of pleasure! I worried that I would always depend on alcohol to relax, but that now isn’t the case. Honestly, now that I’m free, I feel like the newlywed that I should have been 10 years ago.
Let me be uncomfortably blunt here for a second: in all my years of intimacy, I had never, ever orgasmed. Even when things felt amazing, it was super scary to relax and release into those intense feelings. But in 2018, God was faithful in completing this healing fully. This new event happening was how I knew I was completely healed because I fully surrendered. Things are mind-blowing now between my husband and me, finally 10 years into our marriage — a new standard once again!
It no longer is a chore, but something I long for.
My husband is finally having his love tank fully filled in the ways God created him to feel love, and I feel even more emotionally and spiritually connected to him because we have been fully vulnerable with each other – and it’s FUN! It all overflows into everything else – our relationship with each other, how we parent, our happiness, and our connection to God. We are praising God even more as He has answered long-awaited prayers.
My heart sings so much praise and wants to give Him all the glory – I didn’t do this on my own but with HIS help. I share all this because of that. People may scoff at me being open about our bedroom life, but here’s the thing — God designed sex. Christian women should be dominating the topic, not hiding from it! And yes, my husband is 100% on board with me sharing all this – in fact, he was the one urging me to write about it because he has seen such a change in me!
I want others to know that there is HOPE and HEALING should we just ask and keep following His guidance. Yes, it was many years and a process to get here – but God was faithful.
God can do this for you, too.
I see it all too often in my mom groups and among my friends. Us women, wives, and mothers have lost our selves in our other roles – dealing with a lack of desire, feeling like it’s a check on our to-do list to keep our men happy or something else to do to meet someone else’s needs. No more – it doesn’t have to be that way! It can be a fun, enjoyable, and an intimate time for BOTH of you!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on thegracebond.com
Featured Image by Christopher Jolly