Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is wrong with everyone?

Are that many couples beginning their marriages with issues keeping them and their spouse sexually apart? I keep reading on the internet about couples who in the early stages of marriage begin struggling with sex. What is wrong with everyone? How come more couples are not going into marriage being equipped to be sexually generous spouses? Are that many immature, uninformed couples getting married? Do the parents and pastor of engaged couples not see a responsibility to train or teach these young people in what it takes to be sexually generous in their marriage bed?

And then, as if that is not enough, most of these confused young couples go for months and years fumbling around in the dark before they finally speak out but by then the story goes, "We have been married for 5 (or 10, 20, 30) years and our marriage bed has NEVER been good! What should we do?" OR.... "We have been married for 10 years (or longer) and our marriage bed was only good for the first few weeks. Please help!" Well, by then the bad habits are so cemented that it is a monumental task to undo the damage if it can EVER be undone. I get the impression that parents and pastors are telling young couples, "Hey kids, if things do not turn out as expected do not complain. Just suck it up!"

I just do not get it. Someone please help me understand this. Job, I know you and your wife train your engaged children. What is it that you have done with your kids where you see other parents and pastors missing the mark? Do tell!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

We struggled in our early marriage, and it was pretty horrible. Just now at 10 years of marriage I feel like we are figuring it out... My drive is higher than my husbands. It had NEVER occurred to me that such a thing was possible, I just assumed his drive would be higher. (We didn't have sex until we were married.) And when he said he sexually desired me but then didn't actually pursue me it was heartbreaking and confusing. And now that that issue is mostly resolved, I struggle to orgasm consistently which is another frustration.

If you're a sexually generous awakened wife, I would beg you to make yourself available to mentor young ladies. I wish we hadn't wasted so much time, but we have no one to turn to, no one even to talk to about it.

Sometimes I'm very angry at the pastors and church leaders who taught me about sex when I was a middle schooler and teen. They messed me up, and made my early marriage so much harder!

Maybe pastors and parents just can't effectively mentor newlyweds or soon-to-be weds. Maybe it has to be Christian women stepping up, caring for our sisters in this way. I know I'm raising my kids a little differently. Hopefully they won't have the same struggles (but they'll have their own issues in different areas) and I'd love to help anyone avoid the confusion and just the disappointment of ho-hum sex that's supposed to be a great gift of God.

Your site helps me, Gemma. It's an encouragement. Please keep writing! But it would be even better to have a real life wise Christian woman to chat with face to face.

Anonymous said...

I think Titus 2:3-5 speaks to this. It has always been taken as older women teaching younger women to cook, clean train kids but never how to totally love their husbands. One of the problems is that older women sometimes have a very unhealthy view of sex and have sexless marriages.

In churches there has always been the idea that we don't talk about sex in marriage because doing so is inappropriate. I know an older man who preached and taught in Bible colleges for years. He says in practical ministry classes and preaching classes young preachers are taught never to talk about sex from the pulpit because people might think you are interested in it. He says he felt this way for years and then it finally dawned on him that he was interested in sex. So he started teaching and even preaching on it. In my ministry I have tried to talk about it more than men of my Dad's generation. Ministers of past generations have viewed any mention of sex in the bible as figurative instead of literal. Song of Solomon was an analogy of our relationship with Christ. IMO that is a far stretch to say that is what it really means. Most people would be shocked to find out one place that a word has been changed to make it more socially acceptable.

I think the Church needs to do a better job and parents need to do a better job and older women need to do a better job.

Again I applaud you for taking this stand and talking about sex in this blog.

MVP

Who am I said...

So Anonymous MVP, what is that word that has been changed and where is it in SOS. I would love to know.

Thanks.

verticaldistance said...

I'm gonna place the blame on the parents. Parents are supposed to be the #1 source of (hopefully) blunt and honest sex education. Today many parents are just too damn chickensh!t to talk to their kids about sex and do so without using those insipid cutesy names for genitals. There is so much garbage out there being passed off as fact about what married sex is. Where are the friggin' parents today?!?!?

And who says you have to be engaged to read about married sex? Read those books NOW, long before you meet the supposed "one", before your judgment could be possibly compromised and clouded by feelings of love and whatever..... Decide if the married lifestyle is even for you.

job29man said...

Gemma wrote...

"I just do not get it. Someone please help me understand this. Job, I know you and your wife train your engaged children. What is it that you have done with your kids where you see other parents and pastors missing the mark? Do tell!"

Okey dokey Gemma. I'll talk.

We raise the children from the beginning, to see DW and I acting loving towards each other. We touch each other and hug, and some kissing. We also excuse ourselves to the bedroom or shower during broad daylight without any embarrassment.

We talk about sex when it comes up in our Bible reading time, and we also discuss things like husbands and wives being kind and generous to each other.

We are physically affectionate with the children. Lots of hugging, and stroking hair, arm around the shoulders while sitting on the couch. Things like that.

So you see, sex, affection, generosity, and kindness are set as expectations. The kids learn that they should give it, and expect to receive it.

We also model and teach conflict resolution, including just say what's on your mind and then talk it out nicely with each other.

As they get to adulthood we will find ways to communicate that a generous sex life is a part of a good marriage. We specifically mention that refusal is a sin.

Then when they get married we follow up and ask them how it's going in the marriage.

We also give sex books to couples when they marry.

... Titus 2 women? Well, our young daughter in law is meeting with a good friend who is 40 and has a big family. They meet for spiritual mentoring. This older woman teaches my DIL that "you need to be there for your man, and never, ever turn him down. Take care of his needs and desires."

Gemma. I just don't see these things happening passively. These precepts don't just teach themselves. They need to be actively pursued and openly taught from early childhood on. We need to create a family culture that upholds the values of kindness and generosity, and upholds the sanctity, holiness, and FUN/JOY of married sex.

We are very intentional about teaching these things.

Anonymous said...

Ok, the Word. The first time I saw this was in Joseph C. Dillow's book "Solomon On Sex", (Thomas Nelson Inc, 1977). He states that the word "navel" in SOS 7:2 is a mistranslation. Instead of Navel it should be translated as "Vulva". To translate it as Navel would be out of sequence. It goes feet, legs, vulva, waist or belly and so on.

The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Cesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon says this word is now often translated Vulva, Secret Part.

I tend to agree that vulva fits better than navel as you have the navel and belly mentioned back to back and every thing else is in more of a proper sequence.

Anyway that is my opinion.

MVP

mr. self respect said...

I have attended the same parish for the past 20 years, until I had to move to Tampa. I don't recall sex ever being mentioned once during a sermon, in all those years. Not once. In fact, in all the Catholic Churches I have attended, I don't think it's ever been talked about at all.

Really, I don't think it's very high on the radar screens of most Catholic priests. And from the sound of it, it isn't on talked about openly in other denominations, either (protestant, evangelical, orthodox, LDS, etc.)

Seriously, if you are a pastor, what is your top priority going to be, when coming up with topics for the next sermon/homily?

1) Issues of economic justice;
2) Issues of community morals;
3) Issues of church finances or administration;
4) married sexuality?

I don't think many pastors will pick option 4.

Anonymous said...

Yes - a lot of people are in fact being told to suck it up. The first 2.5 years of my marriage was hell. And I was repeatedly told to suck it up by people who either assumed that we were just going through normal marital difficulties, didn't know what to say, or else were of the school of thought that basically goes, "Divorce is not an option. Your marriage sucks. Ergo, there is nothing you can do about this. You must endure this and be happy about it because God wants your marriage to suck this bad for his glory." It wasn't until Job got hold of me that anybody really said "Divorce is not an option, but your letting this happen. Your marriage, the one you are responsible for, does not glorify God. Be a man, pick up the load and start heading that way, and let the chips fall where they may." Once the bike started moving she decided she'd better hang on. We decided to hang on. That and taking the training wheels off the bike helped too. And I'm no longer trying to shake her off in the twisties, even if I do like the feeling of her digging in when the pegs scrape. ;-)

job29man said...

Howdy Anonymous!

Good testimony. Write to me separately and give me an update.

Job

job29man said...

Dear Mr. Self Respect,

I have never understood why Catholic Priests feel they have to be the only ones in the pulpit. Priests cannot speak authoritatively on matters of sex, but sex is important. So why not have guest preachers? At least bring in a married Deacon who's a good speaker on sex.

If not, then why not have guest preachers from among the Catholic laity?

And yes I know all about the Marriage Encounter weekends. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about Sunday morning, from the pulpit, thus saith the Lord God about sex type stuff.

This is one reason I left the Catholic church that I was raised in. Gutless preaching, now POWER of the living word of God for everyday living and discipleship.

Sorry if that sounds like an attack. But it reflects my experience. And come to think of it. In my 20 years as a Catholic, and additional decades as a dear friend of Catholics I have NEVER EVER heard of a Catholic saying "You have GOT to come hear my priest preach! Wow! That man brings the word of God with POWER for living, and packed with practical guidance!" Never once! But that is extremely common in other churches.

I'm not saying that anointed preaching would help your marriage, but I'm saying it will help many marriages in the Catholic church.

Gemma said...

Our Eastern Orthodox priest are usually married. Our priest is an excellent speaker, teacher and story teller and yes, even on topics of marriage and sex. His wife is equally as good a speaker.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say it on the boards, I struggled with saying it on Gemma's blog. But I think the shot fired by 1 Tim 4:1-3 lands squarely on the RCC, and is in fact aimed there.It's obvious Paul has revelation about what is to come after he and the other apostles have left the scene. Who else in all of church history could it be?

mr. self respect said...

But let's be 100% honest, Job29: There are plenty of evangelical, protestant, orthodox, and adventist churches, where sex in marriage is not covered in the pulpit. This problem is not confined to the Catholic Church. Many other congregations have the exact same difficulty. Human sexuality is not covered at all within those faith groups, or if it is, it is discussed in terms of sin: Do not fornicate, do not commit adultery. There's no practical advice given in those churches for married sexuality, either.

Maybe there are some enlightened denominations where this issue is being preached, on a regular basis, but I suspect that these are in the minority. (In truth, they are probably few and far between.) If they were in the majority, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Gemma said...

My response- Part I

I have to agree somewhat here with Mr. SR. In the first place, the teaching of healthy marital sexuality need not be "from the pulpit" to be effective. It can be taught just as well in sufficient pre-marital counseling and/or in classroom settings.

In regards to marriage bed issues on TMB forum... and I don't mean this in an insulting way. I'm just trying to explain how I see it from my POV of having been in all 3 Christian Faiths--- Which Christian Faith is most represented on TMB forum by a good 80% or higher? The Protestant Faith, of course. So if this is a huge problem for Roman Catholics and Christian Orthodox why aren't more of them (us) on TMB crying for help? Also of the 3 Christian Faiths it is the PC who is most at liberty to preach/teach anything they want "from the pulpit" so why aren't they doing it? If pulpit teachings on sex are the answer, why isn't it being done in the PC?

My opinion? Respectfully, I think the rampant hidden, secret sins of porn, premarital sex, sexual refusal in marriage, etc., take place mostly in Protestant Christians because of the huge public shame put on those who are caught in these sins AND because true confession of sins to a pastor/priest (we confess to our priest) which are deep within our hearts is not exercised in the PC. Instead, Protestants are told, "Your sin is only between you and God. You don't need a mediator so when you sin, just confess to God." Well, the problem that we saw when we were in the PC is that most people chose to ignore their sexual sin. If you refuse to acknowledge sin even to God, how can you possibly confess it and turn away from it? We can only turn away from that which we acknowledge to be sin in our lives. Even as adults, having a Father confessor can be greatly helpful in guiding us to thoroughly search our hearts so that nothing gets overlooked.

Rather than undergo public humiliation that many PC are known for putting people through when caught in sexual sin, the guilty parties choose to keep this sin secret as long as they are able, until the sin is discovered by a distraught spouse. By then, the lies and deception are so great that it takes twice the time and effort to correct the wrongs if they are ever corrected. From personal experience this is why my dh and I finally felt the need to walk away from the PC and to join up with the Christian Orth Faith. For years as a Protest Christian I had absolutely no conviction of the way I spoke to my dh or of my sexual refusal AND I knew that if I confessed it to our pastor I would have been humiliated beyond what I felt I could handle.

Gemma said...

My response- Part II

Secret sin-- It is a horrible, terrible habit to keep sin secret. You are essentially telling God, "Aren't I the good Christian? I don't do anything in public that you would call 'sin'. But don't bother me about what I do behind closed doors." Kind of reminds me of the many Protestant denominations who adamantly state, "We don't drink or smoke because we view it as sin." At one time we were in such a church and I can't tell you how many folks in our church made that claim while drinking and smoking in secret." Who are we kidding with secret sin?

Really, this is not about RC vs. PC vs. Christian Orth. Rather it is about all Christian Faiths stepping up to the plate to practice deep soul searching, true confession, seeing lies and deception as sinful as other sins, eliminating the useless public humiliation over sexual sin, etc. PC can make fun of RC and Orth use of a Father confessor but I can tell you that when we became Orthodox and I began confessing my sins before our priest, it was like I had an "ah-ha" moment as I learned to dig deep and quit hiding secret sin. That was when I first began acknowledging that my sin of sexual refusal was indeed sin.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if it is broke, ditch the game plan and find a new one that will work. Having a Father confessor works for my dh and me. We've also seen it work for our kids for things that they would have kept secret in the past as Protestants but now have no reservations in confessing it before our priest. Btw- Technically we don't confess TO our priest. We confess to God with our priest present as witness and spiritual adviser. We know we can confess ANYTHING before our priest and he will keep it in confidence and counsel us to spiritual health. In the event that the counsel needed is over his head, he does not hesitate to point us to the appropriate professional.

mr self respect said...

Here is a clasic article that I found:

http://www.christopherwest.com/page.asp?ContentID=117

There's an evangelical pastor in Good Hope, Alabama, who refuses to talk about sexual issues at all in his congregation. His explanation? "Talking about sex ain’t gonna get nobody to heaven."

Direct Quote. Don't believe me. Read the article.

This should be proof positive that this is not just a Catholic problem. It runs across denominations. It may be worse in some denominations than others - I fully agree with that.

But every denomination, IMHO, could improve, when it comes to helping married couples overcome their sexual problems. My denomination may simply be the worst of the worst.

Chateau Violet said...

In church (and more focused in pre-marriage), we're taught that sex is good in marriage and our bodies belong to each other. To be considerate and not force things. It was never explicit that saying "no" is unacceptable. I don't remember "generous" being used in connection with sex. What we were told was right and good, but not nearly enough.

"Fumbling around in the dark..."
Someone the other day on the boards wrote to the jist that, "newlyweds are told to 'figure it out on their own' and the fact is they usually can't." That person was relating more to bringing mutual pleasure but I think it's also applicable in the "generous lover" category.

"I get the impression that parents and pastors are telling young couples, "Hey kids, if things do not turn out as expected do not complain. Just suck it up!" "
Maybe so... I think it's more the couples not bringing it up because it "shouldn't be about sex." And they're ashamed that sex matters so much. Which comes back to "why do they think that..." Which points to the parents and the church.

Thankyou, everyone for your responses. So much to think about as DH and I raise our two boys.