I have always been a private person when it comes to…you know…s-e-x.

For nearly 18 years, this topic has been a sore spot and area of constant struggle in my marriage. I feel so alone sometimes, like we are the only Christian people with an ice-cold intimate life. If not for our faith in Christ, we would lose it. All of it. I have tried to analyze why I have such feelings of disgust and guilt about it. Oftentimes, the best way for me to figure out why is to look back at the past.

Maybe It Was Early Influence

My parents meant well when they raised me to think that boys only wanted one thing and that good girls waited until they were married to have “you know what.” They were very protective of me, but they often assumed I was out messing around with boys. I remember I went to the mall one time. When I returned home, they asked me about my day. But before the conversation was over, my dad had decided I’d found somewhere to go to make out with some boy. All I’d done was shop and hang out with my friends!

I wore confusing looks of nervousness and fear when my parents grilled me. Because of my guilty-conscience face, they frequently thought I’d been up to no good. Football games, movies, and sleepovers often ended with arguments about what boy I’d been with. I didn’t even have that many guys interested in me to start with! There even came a time when one of my friends told me that they have sex toy at home and told me how amazing it was for sexual pleasure. Those weird things you see on PlugLust.com that have brought fulfillment and sexual satisfaction to many women feels very alien to me, and I just could not help but think about it as something I should not be considering.

Maybe It Was Desire

While I know these accusations had an effect, I am not altogether sure when the topic became dirty in my mind. Maybe one negative event after another turned that wrong thinking into a raging, sex-hating beast.

Over the years I have realized that I have never been comfortable with desire. I battle repulsion for the feelings because they seemed to show up unannounced, and they seemed beyond my control. I decided I would fix that problem by training my brain and my body to block those feelings whenever they came. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

I took a break from the blocking technique when I met my now husband. There was no lack of desire between us, and I wasn’t derailed by any of the negative thoughts I’d once had. I let my guard down, and those desires took their natural course for a while. I was convinced that when we married, we would have more-than-healthy relations.

We fell into physical sin at times. I was newly saved, and this caused problems with my faith at its core.  Guilt reignited and weighed heavily on me. And just like that, the struggle reemerged.

Here we are, 18 years later. We are still in a rut that only worsened on our wedding night. There have been glimmers of healthy, godly interaction between us, but I have trouble remaining consistent.

It’s Grace—A Work in Progress

Over the years, I have learned that God is not separate from intimacy. I used to see Him outside the door, but now I let Him in the room, so to speak. I also search the Word for guidance on the subject. After all, He made marriage, and sex was His idea. Who better to seek out to get a right perspective on the matter?

I talk to the Lord about it, even in the act. I know that the marriage relationship is a reflection of Him, and He desires for marriage to illustrate the beauty of the Gospel. I have to remind myself that God is my help in all things—even in this.

My husband is a pillar of grace in this plight. He suffers the most, and he feels rejected by me. When we fight over sex, I know that it does not honor God. Instead, it drives the wedge deeper, separating my husband and me, and it further mars what God intended our relationship to be. I am so thankful that my husband is a believer, and when I reflect on the understanding he offers despite his own struggles, I am reminded of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

So, no happy ending to report here, as our story is still a work in progress. Though we aren’t healed yet, I hope so much that I will someday know what God has in mind for this special relationship between my husband and me. I truly do want to experience sex in the way God meant for it to be in my marriage.

Still Figuring It Out

I am trying to live by these verses on relationship, not only for our struggle in the bedroom, but for our marriage and life as a whole:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-6)

I think way too highly of myself most of the time. I have a battle to fight in my mind every moment. I am not so naive to think that Christ was full of desire to suffer and die on the cross. Instead, Jesus emptied Himself. He had something greater in mind than His own physical struggle—love.

In order to be a wife that can truly meet the needs of her husband, I will have to abandon all of my inhibitions and submit myself to God’s design for our marriage. The essence of all that God is accomplishing all of the time is to demonstrate His glorious love to us. I can always rejoice in that hope, even though my circumstances appear completely hopeless.

I desire to be an instrument in His hands to demonstrate that same love to my husband, family, and those He sends to my life!