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Improving Marital Intimacy

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Starting last summer, some of you have witnessed my 7 month journey of saving my marriage. There was a short honeymoon period after reconciliation, but now I'm struggling with holding onto the momentum.

I've been doing everything I can to lead a blameless life, studying the bible, praying, trying to follow God's direction, attending men's group, and serving when possible. During that 7 month journey, I had learned that not doing those things was holding me back, particularly prayer effectiveness. While I can control my own habits, I cannot control my wife.

My primary concern is our intimacy. When I study God's design for marriage and sex in marriage, I do not feel like our relationship honors that. In the past this would lead me to resentment, but after my journey of learning, I instead try to lean into Jesus. It is a real struggle that can leave me feeling depressed, rejected, and disappointed.

Here are a few examples: small acts of affection (kissing/hugging) has really tapered off, we don't even really kiss on the lips anymore. Each week (once only) is "duty sex" on a schedule, she tries to get it over with as fast as possible, I don't think she is enjoying it. The "I love yous" have also tapered off. If I pursue her a lot, she just distances more, so I often have to hold back sharing any love because it is clear she wants some space.

I have been praying fervently for direction knowing that this marriage is a life long journey. I want us to serve together, pray together, but we do not do these things. Am I expecting too much? This doesn't seem to be fully glorifying God so that others in our path can see an example of God's church. I've been reluctant to confront her directly on this topic, while I wait for God's direction.

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I would think that asking her what the deal is and talking with her would be the viable option at the moment. The key to any healthy relationship is good communication. As for afterwards, that would really just depend on what she has to say.

A bit of advice? Do this privately. Make sure that you are both seated, as people are less likely to get angry and confrontational when sitting down. Try not to get mad; what she has to say might be hurtful, but it never rains forever.

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Communication is certainly good and should be the next step, but keep in mind that some level of ebb and flow is normal in a relationship. It's also normal for things to cool down to whatever degree. Without knowing more it's hard to advise further, but relationships do require upkeep. When you talk to her make your own expectations on upkeep known and ask about hers.

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That is along the lines of what I was thinking as well. I've been praying for the right time to approach the conversation. I don't think she'll see it as a surprise, she has acknowledged in the past that she knows I enjoy more frequent affection (but she knowingly chooses not to honor it).

I've learned my lesson the hard way about getting angry, that is long behind me. I'm prepared to be graceful whatever the outcome. It sounds like my request is not unusual or unfair, so I'll voice my expectations when the time is right.

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Posted (edited)

Three things.

[1] Has she seen a gynecologist?  Sometimes a woman's hormones are out of whack and she will not want relations at all.  Also, there are a lot of reasons why relations  can be painful for a woman.  A doctor can help with these things.  The birth control pill can lower a woman's drive for intimacy.  Is she overwhelmed or depressed? There's just countless reasons why seeing a doctor might help.

[2] Do you meet her emotional, spiritual, and friendship needs first and foremost?  Maybe you think you do, but you need to ask her these things and she needs to give you an answer.  Do you talk to each other a lot [that means listening to her, too], joke and laugh, discuss the Bible and the Lord, pray together, hold hands, and tons more?  If sex has become a "duty" [and I do hope you have never said those words to her], then there is a reason.  A woman will desire a man much more frequently and fervently who makes her feel like she is important and emotionally safe and in a place of spiritual/emotion "one-flesh" already.  I hope I am not being too crass, but for a woman - foreplay begins long before touching.  Foreplay for a woman begins in her heart and mind.

[3] You need to see a marriage counselor over this.  A message board with strangers is not the answer and she would be devastated to know that you are discussing your marital relations with strangers on the internet for all the world to see.  No one here is a professional nor trained in this.  Both of you together and you and her separately need competent counseling.  Just because you came together and "reconciled" doesn't solve any problem whatsoever.  Reconciliation is not just living back in the same house.  Reconciliation is a spiritual thing and takes time.

Edited by Jayne
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On 5/29/2019 at 10:32 AM, onedirection said:

Starting last summer, some of you have witnessed my 7 month journey of saving my marriage. There was a short honeymoon period after reconciliation, but now I'm struggling with holding onto the momentum.

I've been doing everything I can to lead a blameless life, studying the bible, praying, trying to follow God's direction, attending men's group, and serving when possible. During that 7 month journey, I had learned that not doing those things was holding me back, particularly prayer effectiveness. While I can control my own habits, I cannot control my wife.

My primary concern is our intimacy. When I study God's design for marriage and sex in marriage, I do not feel like our relationship honors that. In the past this would lead me to resentment, but after my journey of learning, I instead try to lean into Jesus. It is a real struggle that can leave me feeling depressed, rejected, and disappointed.

Here are a few examples: small acts of affection (kissing/hugging) has really tapered off, we don't even really kiss on the lips anymore. Each week (once only) is "duty sex" on a schedule, she tries to get it over with as fast as possible, I don't think she is enjoying it. The "I love yous" have also tapered off. If I pursue her a lot, she just distances more, so I often have to hold back sharing any love because it is clear she wants some space.

I have been praying fervently for direction knowing that this marriage is a life long journey. I want us to serve together, pray together, but we do not do these things. Am I expecting too much? This doesn't seem to be fully glorifying God so that others in our path can see an example of God's church. I've been reluctant to confront her directly on this topic, while I wait for God's direction.

My wife and I pray together every single day before I go to work. And one of the things we pray for every time is that "our love for each other will continue to grow as it did in the past. After our prayer we hug and, yes, kiss on the lips. 

I will throw this out: My wife says that, for her, foreplay is the entire day, culminating in her desire at the end of the day. We are also empty nesters so we don't have the distraction of kids. And since I'm anonymous here, I'll throw out some stats. 

We got married at the age of 44 (our birthdays are within days of each other). At first, sex was pretty close to twice a day. After five years it tapered off to more like ten times a week. We've been married now for 21 years, and love each other more than ever. Frankly, more than I ever thought possible, and yet it STILL increases. Our sexual desire for each other is all about the person we see when we look into each other's eyes. We are each other's best friend. 

We're almost 66 and sex is down to only three or four times a week now. And it is plenty for both of us. It is a major part of being "one" as far as we are both concerned. It is not "why" we are married, but we both see it as important to being intimate at all levels, not just physically. 

But beyond sex, let me be clear: We both "live for each other" in a very real way. She never nags. EVER. Even when I deserve it. We both know that the other is terribly flawed, but we don't care. I'm here to love my wife, and she is here to love me. And love is both a decision and action. How much you love another person has nothing to to with them and everything to do with you. Treat her like she is the light of your life and let the chips fall where they may. Either your marriage will blossom or you will annoy her even more than you do and, eventually, she'll dump you. And if that is how it goes down, it is a good thing. And by "love her", I don't mean be her lap dog. quite the opposite. And NEVER beg for sex. EVER. That is a total turn-off to women. 

BTW, I tried this method with my first wife (married 20 years) and she dumped me. A friend even told me that if I had remained her lap dog she would not have dumped me. But I changed. I became an adult MALE, and took on my responsibilities as a male. I took seriously my role as husband and father. It drove her away (turns out it exposed her hard core feminism), but it changed everything in a very good way for me.

The result was that put me in a world where I found the love of my life and it is far better than I ever imagined it could be. And my expectations are blown away all the time. 

Be the best you can be. Love her and be a man. And let the chips fall where they may. And it may lead to temporary pain. When my first wife dumped me, I cried for three straight days. But that is a distant memory. It was the barrier that I needed to break through to find marital bliss. 

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Shalom @onedirection

This sounds like a very trying situation.

From my experience, when a woman is reacting this way it's either:

1. Because she is bottling something up (resentment, pain, anger, sadness etc) and doesn't feel comfortable to communicate 

2. Because she is not feeling loved.

Both can kinda tie into each other as well.

If it's option 1, whatever the bottled up issue is, you need to open it.  It's vital that she feels comfortable enough to do so.  She might not if she feels you will be critical, quick to give advice/solution, misunderstand and get upset or it concerns you.  Whatever the reason, she must feel comfortable and confident enough to share it.  An evening out to somewhere quiet (nothing special) where you can talk intimately could help. Don't look or offer solutions at this stage, just let her vent to open the channels of decent communication.

If it's option 2, then my advice would be to approach this without the morbidity of a counsellor or the soberness of scriptures.  Love is tender and very gentle and, as strong as it is, it can been be quenched to a small flame if not nurtured daily. We need to actively show our love for our wives with tenderness, respect, steadfastness, patience, kindness and deep care.  If you remind yourself just how much she means to you, place her in the centre of your heart - for you and her are one.  All your concerns should be for her well-being, happiness, safety and peace - at the cost of your own.  Forgo the sex for now.  If you don't feel she is into it, forget it.  After all, sex doesn't mean a thing unless both parties are fully involved.

Of course you may be doing all of these things already.  

When I read your post you come across very grounded in the Scriptures and self improvement - which is fantastic.  However, in my experience, sometimes being too deeply based scripture can make the relationship with our spouse a little "dry".  Sometimes because they feel unloved compared to your love for Yahweh and His Word, sometimes because they feel bad to not be on the same level or in the same place.  Therefore, as strange as this may sound, if you are sharing the Word, studying a lot and speaking about such things - stop for now.  Turn conversations into fun things, things that she is concerned with and matters that her heart is set on.  For now, keep your spiritual development to yourself and humble yourself in her view so that she doesn't feel "less" than you in any way.  Meeting her where she is at will be a sacrifice but it's paramount to make, as you and her are one and, if "half of you" is struggling, setting aside your study time is the right thing to do.  

Don't pressure her to pray and study together for now.  Instead show how you want to enjoy other things with her.  Remind her why you want to be with her, don't assume she knows.

Continue to pray, but pray that you will handle the situation wisely and that you will understand her concerns and thoughts more, rather than for her to change - if that makes sense.

I hope something in this mish-mash helps you!

Love & Shalom

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38 minutes ago, Tzephanyahu said:

Shalom @onedirection

This sounds like a very trying situation.

From my experience, when a woman is reacting this way it's either:

1. Because she is bottling something up (resentment, pain, anger, sadness etc) and doesn't feel comfortable to communicate 

2. Because she is not feeling loved.

Both can kinda tie into each other as well.

If it's option 1, whatever the bottled up issue is, you need to open it.  It's vital that she feels comfortable enough to do so.  She might not if she feels you will be critical, quick to give advice/solution, misunderstand and get upset or it concerns you.  Whatever the reason, she must feel comfortable and confident enough to share it.  An evening out to somewhere quiet (nothing special) where you can talk intimately could help. Don't look or offer solutions at this stage, just let her vent to open the channels of decent communication.

If it's option 2, then my advice would be to approach this without the morbidity of a counsellor or the soberness of scriptures.  Love is tender and very gentle and, as strong as it is, it can been be quenched to a small flame if not nurtured daily. We need to actively show our love for our wives with tenderness, respect, steadfastness, patience, kindness and deep care.  If you remind yourself just how much she means to you, place her in the centre of your heart - for you and her are one.  All your concerns should be for her well-being, happiness, safety and peace - at the cost of your own.  Forgo the sex for now.  If you don't feel she is into it, forget it.  After all, sex doesn't mean a thing unless both parties are fully involved.

Of course you may be doing all of these things already.  

When I read your post you come across very grounded in the Scriptures and self improvement - which is fantastic.  However, in my experience, sometimes being too deeply based scripture can make the relationship with our spouse a little "dry".  Sometimes because they feel unloved compared to your love for Yahweh and His Word, sometimes because they feel bad to not be on the same level or in the same place.  Therefore, as strange as this may sound, if you are sharing the Word, studying a lot and speaking about such things - stop for now.  Turn conversations into fun things, things that she is concerned with and matters that her heart is set on.  For now, keep your spiritual development to yourself and humble yourself in her view so that she doesn't feel "less" than you in any way.  Meeting her where she is at will be a sacrifice but it's paramount to make, as you and her are one and, if "half of you" is struggling, setting aside your study time is the right thing to do.  

Don't pressure her to pray and study together for now.  Instead show how you want to enjoy other things with her.  Remind her why you want to be with her, don't assume she knows.

Continue to pray, but pray that you will handle the situation wisely and that you will understand her concerns and thoughts more, rather than for her to change - if that makes sense.

I hope something in this mish-mash helps you!

Love & Shalom

I agree with where you are going here, but I'll just throw this out: if it is option one, it could be something that is going to be fatal to the marriage, no matter what he does. Perhaps she's already called a divorce attorney, or perhaps she's having an affair and will chose her lover over her husband. There are just so many things where she is just "done" and may not even be admitting it to herself yet. It's one of the reasons I played "be a man, and husband, as God intended, and let the cards fall where they may" card. And I'm speaking from my own personal experience. That is, the more I did the right thing, the angrier she got. Years later, friends apologized for believing things she told them about me that I had no clue was going on. Both male and female friends from our church (that we attended for 18 years). 

Our current culture severely damages the expectations of young females regarding marriage. It does males, as well. But you BOTH have to change to make it work. If only one changes, the other will almost certainly leave. And their change is up to them, not their spouse.

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On 5/29/2019 at 7:32 AM, onedirection said:

Starting last summer, some of you have witnessed my 7 month journey of saving my marriage. There was a short honeymoon period after reconciliation, but now I'm struggling with holding onto the momentum.

I've been doing everything I can to lead a blameless life, studying the bible, praying, trying to follow God's direction, attending men's group, and serving when possible. During that 7 month journey, I had learned that not doing those things was holding me back, particularly prayer effectiveness. While I can control my own habits, I cannot control my wife.

My primary concern is our intimacy. When I study God's design for marriage and sex in marriage, I do not feel like our relationship honors that. In the past this would lead me to resentment, but after my journey of learning, I instead try to lean into Jesus. It is a real struggle that can leave me feeling depressed, rejected, and disappointed.

Here are a few examples: small acts of affection (kissing/hugging) has really tapered off, we don't even really kiss on the lips anymore. Each week (once only) is "duty sex" on a schedule, she tries to get it over with as fast as possible, I don't think she is enjoying it. The "I love yous" have also tapered off. If I pursue her a lot, she just distances more, so I often have to hold back sharing any love because it is clear she wants some space.

I have been praying fervently for direction knowing that this marriage is a life long journey. I want us to serve together, pray together, but we do not do these things. Am I expecting too much? This doesn't seem to be fully glorifying God so that others in our path can see an example of God's church. I've been reluctant to confront her directly on this topic, while I wait for God's direction.

First of all you need to give this 100% to God. Then you need to sit down with your wife and the two of you need to open up to each other and communicate. You both need to discuss your marriage with each other. Honestly tell each other what your feelings are and your concerns. If that does not work out a Christian counselor may be needed. 

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All good stuff! Allow me to dig in a little and address some of your comments:

@Jayne

Has she seen a gynecologist? No, but I wouldn't rule out a medical issue either. Regarding your comment on depression, it is near impossible for someone to admit they have depression and then seek help on it. I think we would have to wait on God to nudge her in this direction, I don't feel comfortable throwing this at her.

[2] Do you meet her emotional, spiritual, and friendship needs first and foremost?  Yes, absolutely, I've read about a dozen self-help books on the topic and she admitted to the counselor (back when we were in counseling) that she noticed a change in me and appreciates how I fulfill her emotional needs. She just doesn't fulfill mine!

Regarding your question if we pray together, the answer is no. I asked her on several occasions to pray with me and she refuses to do it. She thinks it is weird.

[3] You need to see a marriage counselor over this. Probably, we have already been in counseling and stopped. I'd have to get this topic on the table first and see if that is the direction she would want to go.

@Still Alive

Yes, I understand the foreplay starts early in the day. I've been at it for months, being kind and sweet from morning through night, never nagging, never demanding, even still she will not initiate more than once per week on her schedule. If I try to initiate outside this schedule, it will make things worse, I know from experience. Congrats to you by the way on your statistics, you are certainly on the very active end of things!

@Tzephanyahu

No, I do not try to force scripture on her. I lead by example and never demand. For example one Sunday we missed church due to a commitment at her son's baseball game, so I read a children's bible with the little ones before we went, and she overheard me doing that.

Regarding the resentment, I believe that we got passed that with the reconciliation based on things she said in front of the counselor. As for loving her, yes I am always doing things to make her feel loved. I am very active in my awareness to be sure I am engaging with her when she talks about things she has her heart set on - a new shirt, a business trip, kid's baseball, etc... I always support her, never demand, and never try to control.

@missmuffet

Waiting on God has been my plan so far, I've been praying about this for months and waiting on direction on how to handle, while the frustration clouds my mind daily. I try to not let it be an idol, but I don't think my emotional needs are going to change. I know that intimacy is a weapon against satan's lies and attacks, which is one of the main reasons I want to get closer to her.

 

This bit of history may also be helpful. I was not living for Jesus when we met and subsequently we had premarital sex. Even before we got married this frequency thing was an issue, but I was also a different person then. I was not as attentive to her needs. However her reasoning has always been: "I'm a woman, I don't have a high sex drive, this is normal, it isn't important, stop making a big deal of it".

Quite frankly I think those are lies satan tells women to destroy the relationship, simultaneously he'll tell men that they are entitled and to take what they want. Add the two together and you can see why we have these kinds of divorce rates in America.

 

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