No More Headaches: Enjoying Intimacy in Your Marriage
By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com - Sex. It’s a taboo topic amongst some in the Christian community. Not so with Dr. Juli Slattery, an adjunct professor at the Focus on the Family institute and frequent co-host on the ministry’s daily radio broadcast.
As a Christian psychologist, Dr. Slattery argues that marital intimacy is a valid and necessary issue people of faith should be discussing. That’s why she wrote her latest book, No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex and Intimacy in Marriage. Flipping through the pages, readers discover answers to questions most men and woman ponder.
Dr. Slattery tackled some of these very issues in an interview with CBN.com. Take a few minutes, and see what she has to say.
In your book, you talk about three myths that perpetuate conflict and reverse sexual intimacy. What are they?
Dr. Juli Slattery: Well, one of the myths is that women start to believe that God created sex to satisfy guys. And so basically what happens in marriage a lot of times is the sexual relationship starts to revolve around the man’s needs, and her needs kind of get ignored, and both of them really think that’s the best it gets.
The second myth is that anything erotic is immoral, and that myth kind of goes both ways. First of all, you talk to married couples, or married women in particular, who feel like any sort of sexuality or pleasure or having fun in the sexual relationship within marriage is wrong, because they equate the two together. Or the other way around, you see particularly younger married couples reverse that trend, where they really believe, “God says it’s OK to pursue erotic pleasure together,” but they don’t draw the boundaries of what’s OK and what’s immoral. So there’s really consequences to that one.
The third one is that people start to believe that the greatest gift of sex is something in the immediate. So if I ask a married couple, “What are you expecting to get out of a relationship?” they’ll usually “physical pleasure and oneness” or “intimacy.” And then, especially early on in marriage, but also throughout marriage, neither of those might be there at given times. It’s not pleasurable, and it’s creating division instead of intimacy. And they fail to see the bigger picture, that intimacy really develops through the years of working through the struggles together and overcoming struggles, rather than in the moment.
Explain the 20 percent club you mention in No More Headaches.
Dr. Slattery: In about 80 percent of marriages, you have a man who’s more interested in sex than the women. And in about 20 percent of marriages, it’s the reverse, which is a large portion of marriages. We don’t talk about it much, but really there are a lot of marriages that fall into this. In that case, the woman has a higher sex drive than her husband does. And so both of them feel like, “We don’t really fit the mold. What’s wrong with me?” There’s a lot of shame involved for both the husband and the wife, a lot of feelings of rejection. And so often the problems that a 20 percent club couple will experience can be so profound. They don’t feel like they have the support of community to deal with it, because it’s usually kind of kept a secret.
How important is that, for a couple to pray together?
Dr. Slattery: I think it’s really important. First of all, prayer creates an intimacy with someone that’s incredible. You don’t just pray about something you care about with a stranger. It creates a bond, and God blesses that bond when a husband and wife pray. And then when they pray about their sexual relationship, I think it combats some of the lies we believe about, for example, God not blessing the sexual relationship.
For a couple to pray that the Lord would bless that really defeats some of the lies of the enemy. But also we know that God answers prayers, and so we should be praying for each other in terms of the temptations we’re facing and the struggles we’re facing, pray about hurts that need to be healed, pray for discernment about how we approach the sexual relationship. So just like any other form of life, sex isn’t a compartmentalized thing. It’s part of who we are. It’s an expression of who God made us and how we want to honor Him. So just like we’d pray about work and childrearing and lifetime decisions, we should be just prayerful about the sexual relationship.
If you tell men one thing about women, what would you say?
Dr. Slattery: I would say, “Your wife is so complicated sexually, and God made her that way because He wants to give you a lifetime journey that will always be challenging, that you’ll never fully achieve or arrive there.” And a man is wired the way to always want to be working towards something. So if he can continue to work towards understanding his wife, understanding her sexually and emotionally, it’s a tremendous gift. But a lot of guys just kind of give up, because she doesn’t respond emotionally or sexually, and they think that’s all there is to it. So just think of her as a wonderful masterpiece that takes a lot of time and care to really understand.
What about men should women know?
Dr. Slattery: Men are simple. "No". "Yes". If I were to say one thing, “You very likely underestimate how important sex is to your husband, not just in terms of frequency, but how meaningful it is to how he views you and his willingness to invest in the relationship, and also how it’s really a part of his spiritual journey, and that if you discount that area of his life, you’re missing a huge part of who he is as a man, and you’re missing the opportunity to journey with him in that area.
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Hannah Goodwyn is CBN.com's Family and Entertainment producer. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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