Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Flipping the Switch

An anonymous reader was sharing about their growing up years in reply to one of my blog articles. In his comment he said:

“We were exhorted to be passionate for God, but to harness and resist the passions of the flesh. However, it seems that passion was often linked with bad, sinful, unhealthy concepts. Then, later in life, when one gets married all the sudden you are supposed to be able to flip a switch and go from avoiding all things sensual/sexual to now diving in and enjoying marriage. …hardly ever do we hear leaders in church or ministry speak of healthy sexual relationships with their spouses.“

As I was re-reading his comment a thought occurred to me. Drawing from personal experiences which GR and I have had, and of course there are exceptions but, the following has been our general POV of how sex is viewed among many Christians. If you say “sex”, they think “sin”. Talking about sex is so associated with guilt and so embarrassing that it is not uncommon even for a husband or wife to avoid discussing it with their spouse. Consequently, they develop a habit early in the marriage of avoiding most if not all sexual discussions and activities and they keep their own sexuality or lack thereof hidden from others. This keeps them more holy and pleasing to God, so they think.

Often I hear folks say, “------- is wrong because it is not in the bible. We only believe in the bible.” But is everything right and good that we do, specifically mentioned in the bible? And if something pleasurable is not specifically written about in the bible, does that mean that it is wrong and sinful? Do we view our pastors in this same way? If our pastor does not mention and encourage healthy marital sex does that mean that it must be sinful? Could we be placing too much blame and/or responsibility on our pastors? What about personal responsibility for our own thoughts and opinions?

Here is a related example- It is probably not a good idea for a wife to walk around in public looking like a whore but is there no middle ground? Does that mean that a wife has to look like a prude or be unattractive in public? How easy do you think it is for a wife to dress like a prude in public and then be her husband’s every fantasy in the bedroom? Is it confusing and sometimes impossible for a wife to be able to “flip the switch” at a moment’s notice? Is it fair to expect that of a wife?

27 comments:

wifeacacia said...

Hi, Gemma. Found you on TMB.

I've been thinking about the topic of your last para. a bit lately. I don't know exactly what dressing like a "prude" might look like, but I suspect I could come dangerously close to "frumpy" a lot of the time--being a homeschool mom to two littles. Anything that goes with jeans and travels to the playground and grocery store!

One of my recent goals is to have the house tidied up and myself looking "nice" by the time DH gets home from work. This might just mean a brush through the hair and lipstick, but more often than not I'm hoping it will mean a fresh shirt (maybe lower cut) with a nice bra. (something I might feel more comfortable in at home vs. in public) And, even if I don't pull that off, I can always get in a nice outfit for bedtime. I love lingerie and it can be a nice way to "flip the switch," even though I end up sleeping in nothing most of the time.

A funny story is that I'd been doing the "dress for bed" thing for a while and one night DH came in and I was already in bed but with lights on. He lifted the covers and saw me in nothing. He'd never done this before, so I asked "what that was for." He said he wanted to know what he was supposed to do/expect and what I was wearing was supposed to give him a clue. Since I usually sleep in nothing, but nothing is also *nothing*, he wasn't sure what I was thinking. I told him to "try his luck" and see how he did. ;) Anyway, cracked me up that now he's looking for clothing clues!

Blessings!

landschooner said...

I doubt there is any answer to this, but I've always wondered "Why is it hard to flip the switch?" I don't understand it. I've read it expressed so many times, so I fully believe, but I don't comprehend it. Like Bank robbery is wrong, but if I win the lottery, I'm not going to have any problem taking the money. Its STEALING that is wrong not having money.

I grew up in the church and YES, they always spoke of sex outside of marriage as being wrong, and NO they never spoke about married sex, but I NEVER EVER EVEN ONCE ever even felt like married sex was wrong in any shape or form. ALL the prohibitions in the bible speak to extra marital sex being wrong. Why do people associate sin with married sex? even subconsciously?

I believe it of course. I just don't get it.

LS

Gemma said...

wifeacacia,

I too homeschooled 2 littles many years ago. Don't get in a rut like I did. There are ways to dress attractively AND be comfortable while tending to littles and running errands. When I step out I pretend I'm meeting my dh. (Sometimes I do.) I am the queen of comfortable clothing but you can learn how to shop and put pieces together for a cool look.

Sport knit skirts are ultra comfy: http://www.womanwithin.com/clothing/Petite-sport-knit-skirt-by-All-American-Comfort.aspx?PfId=187116&DeptId=9566&ProductTypeId=1&PurchaseType=G&pref=ps . I shorten them to an above the knee length... not mini-skirt... I am a little too old for mini's in public... I wear leggings underneath, a cute top.... and my signature pieces-- jewelry, boots (I have about 8-9 pr boots), and a cool looking jacket or coat. Very comfy yet nice looking when out in public.

I do jeans but when out, only with nice tops and shoes.. no sneakers/sweat shirt look. Instead of sneakers when running errands I use my black Sketchers or a nice pr of boots, which are all comfy on my feet.

When I feel sexy while running errands it helps to keep me in the right frame of mind all day so when dh comes home in the evenings, I've been thinking sex all day and I'm ready to roll.

Gemma said...

landschooner said: "Why do people associate sin with married sex? even subconsciously? I believe it of course. I just don't get it."

Because of unfounded fear??? They learned to fear sex as a teen and as a single, young adult. Then when they marry the fear is ingrained in them so much that they can't shake it.

I don't tell my kids to fear sex. I tell them that it's wonderful but that it is designed for married couples. That old phrase "the fear of God" doesn't help in these cases as it always seems to come back and bite them after they marry. Their sexuality is snuffed out because of fear. jmo...

His Milkmaid said...

Ah! Don't you know all those Amish and Mennonite women are wearing garter belts under those dresses. LOL.

As a mom of many, I have led a double life. I was a wholesome Mom Walton until I got behind closed doors and let my hair hang down.

Neat wholesome dressing and hair in a bun is not as much of a detriment as we think. An attractive lady did an experiment and tried different outfits to see what got her the most approaches for dates; the tidy librarian look won by far.

Clean and confident can be refreshing in a world of nasty.

Keep him guessing; Lingerie underneath can then have attitude. Are you the sweet sex kitten dressed in white, the passionate lady in red, or the bad girl in black?

On date nights out, I do dress more provocatively and, someone even said to our preacher, "You should have seen how she was dressed!" He told me about it and we had a good laugh together.

I try to cause my husband so lusting without being a stumbling block to other men in the room, but little old church ladies will always find something to gossip about. LOL.

Blondie said...

My wife, when I first married, used to dress like a frump. During our engagement I used to think she was fat underneath and was pleasantly surprised that she wasn't. Over the years I have encouraged her to dress more attractively. She is very conscious not to be seductive in public and this is obviously correct. I think we have got there although I would like her skirt a little shorter as she has fantastic legs but she knows what she is sure about and I respect her for it. Nowadays she talks fashion with the pastors wife which is very encouraging. It is all a matter of balance.

Gemma said...

His Milkmaid said: "I was a wholesome Mom Walton until I got behind closed doors and let my hair hang down.... Neat wholesome dressing and hair in a bun is not as much of a detriment as we think."

HM, you have to go with whatever works in your MB. For some of us, though, the double life doesn't work. There are way too many options between dressing frumpy and dressing like a whore in public. Dressing 'middle-of-the-road' works best for me.

Many women do have difficulties flipping the switch in the bedroom if they dress too conservatively or frumpy during the day. Obviously you aren't one of them.

Gemma said...

Blondie said: "It is all a matter of balance."

Exactly. I enjoy having the freedom to dress attractively when I'm out and about. For years I worried about hiding my sexuality. Now, I just don't see the need to keep it hidden just as I don't see a need to flaunt it.

Blondie said...

I asked my wife to wear leggings because she has such good legs but she reckons she is too old. It's that puritan streak that she has.

Yes it is a complete change of attitude in keeping pure before marriage and doing the bit afterwards. IC cures this to a certain extent but there is still the tendency to guilt in the more colourful foreplay. It has been a long road and we have made inroads. We had a talk a couple of weeks ago and decided OS was out as she was not comfortable with it. Tying up doesn't seem to float her. The amazing thing is that she has peace about using a hairbrush. That knocked me for six as it seems the opposite of her character. That's worth losing the other easily in my book.

wifeacacia said...

This isn't directly on point with your para. 2 and 3, but I wonder how much stereotypes we hear play into our marital perspectives on sex. We've recently discovered in our marriage, it can impact a lot!

E.g., DH raised in a "good Christian home," grew up thinking that women pretty much tolerated sex and men were all sex maniacs because they might want sex more than, say, 1x/week. This "stereotype message" isn't just in the church, either. The world might way, "women put up with sex to get a guy or to get love." The old, "men give love to get sex, women give sex to get love." And at the same time, women aren't really supposed to be into sex because then she is slutty.

So DH, being a kind gentleman, will try not to suggest sex to DW (who likes sex but hasn't verbally expressed this-but never refused either) because he doesn't want to be viewed as a sex maniac and doesn't want to make things unpleasant for her. DW, meanwhile, *knowing of course!* that all men are "sex maniacs" can't figure out why DH isn't all over her all the time! Is she ugly? What's going on?!

So, there's more even than just the "sex is sin," or "we don't talk about sex, so no one knows what to think about it" mentality. Sometimes even when it is taught, it creates unwritten "rules" in even really healthy marriages that couples just HAVE to dig out and deal with to live at the fullest level.

Hismilkmaid said...

I don't think "frumpy" is an option for me. Conservative can be beautiful and fashionable. "Conservative" doesn't have to frumpy or hide our feminine figure either.

The only points I meant to make is that there are conservative options, and that conservative can be alluring if done right. Old fashioned beautiful can be sexy in it's own right. I wanted to make this point especially for wives who due to their own circumstances, HAVE to dress conservatively in public. (Southern Baptist preacher's wife for example.) The mysteriousness of hidden undergarments and talents behind closed doors saved as treasured secrets between the lovers is hot in its own right.

We can use whatever we are given and grow wherever we are planted. Our attitude and confidence is the sexiest thing we can wear. Strike the poses, give him the eyes, and whisper what he wants to hear. There is nothing that can stop us from being his personal siren, not even a wardrobe we may be stuck with.

Personally, I am whatever kind of woman my husband desires at the time. I have many roles. ;) Princess to goth. White lace to black leather. I enjoy exploring and expressing all the different sides of me... safely within my Christan marriage.

I love being a woman. We are wonderfully made. For me, it is apart of the "abundant life" to be able to share every aspect of my womanhood with my husband... no holding back.

I am thankful for blogs like yours that encourage us to bring passion to the MB. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this... that is why I come to your blog. :)

Gemma said...

wifeacacia,

My opinion about those stereotypes? I think they are culturally based. My dh and I have been in many different churches and we’ve seen that a lot of those stereotypes mainly live in particular church cultures. In the last 10 years we have been in Christian churches which are predominantly Lebanese congregations. We just don’t see much of those stereotypes in our church. In fact our current church is a big part of what brought me to my sexual awakening. The Lebanese we know are very comfortable with their sexuality, both the males and the females. A lot of that is all about how you are raised and what type of church you attend…. whether those “unwritten rules” exist.

I do agree with you in that those stereotypes are very much alive in many cultures. We each have to decide if we will bow to them, and in doing so, pass those wrong ideas to our children.

Gemma said...

Hismilkmaid said,
“I don't think "frumpy" is an option for me. Conservative can be beautiful and fashionable. "Conservative" doesn't have to frumpy or hide our feminine figure either. The only points I meant to make is that there are conservative options, and that conservative can be alluring if done right.”

My apologies. I did not mean to imply that you dressed frumpy.

Your point was taken :-).

Mike said...

Many good comments. I do agree many associate sex with sin. One of the great awakenings in life is to move beyond that.

I love the fact that in public my wife dresses modestly but in private is an absolute slut.

Anonymous said...

ANON here- great posting yet again. This carries on with our previous dialogue about my wife. So we discussed sex again last night and I said- you know we have been struggling with the same issues for 15 years. Her response well you always want me to be naughty and I am just a nice girl. I said what do you consider naughty? She tried to default to a typical protestant reply and condemn herself and say she did not understand- I was talking over her head. I pointed out that she was using that as control to get out of finding the core or root issue. Again what did I ask her to do that was naughty? I said I am not asking for anything that goes against the Bible or anything that involves other people, animals or perverse things. You know what it came down to? Talking during sex. Since i have been asking her for feedback and guidance she equates even saying "that feels good, touch me more, or describe what you like" as naughty and SINFUL. How the hell is anyone supposed to improve in a situation like that?
Keep on keeping on. This blog is a bullseye. Suggestions?

Gemma said...

So your wife equates "sexual naughtiness" with sin??? And talking during sex is evil? How does that play out for her when it involves romance instead of sex? Just curious...

Blondie said...

I should think that romance talk would be alright but we shall see.

I can't get my wife to talk sexually in a fun way as it doesn't roll off her tongue. She has to ask what do you want me to say which rather kills it for me. I'm not really frustrated about it though. Just a thing of the moment really.

Is there a better way to say "slut in the bedroom". My DW would certainly not want to be considered that. I know slut puts the point across and breaks all taboos but I couldn't say to her that is what I want you to be.

Anonymous said...

Yes- sexual naughtiness is apparently sin. Sex outside of the bed is apparently wrong. Giving oral sex to her husband is apparently wrong. on and on it goes.

Talking during sex is a no no. Once after what I thought was a great moment of sexual intimacy I said "Oh that was the best ever." She did not respond and after pressing her she told me that sex was more exciting with her first. So, a decade later I am still chasing the wind trying to be her best.



Problem being- no communication or dialogue as to what would make it better from her. I am more than willing to do whatever and have tried many things but without feedback it still comes back to her having an orgasm because she has to not because she wants to.

Soooo I do wonder what it would be like with a woman who could actually let go, participate and see me as the object of her sexual desire. instead I am trapped with a woman I am attracted and committed to and tempted everyday by not only the physical but potential of someone looking me in the eyes during intimacy and saying "I love you and the way you are touching me."

Does this lead me into mental lust and sin? Yes. Does it lead me to have emergency parachutes standing by if needed? Yes. I am not pulling the cord for the emergency ones but I (as most of your readers can easily attest to) with the technological age I could most likely have a willing partner without baggage in a matter of minutes with social networking.

I simply want to have incredible sex with my wife. But am trapped by layers of mental junk.

If anyone has suggestions please chime in. PLEASE!!!

Anon

Blondie said...

I have similarities with my wife but only in some ways. I too seek info on what makes it better for her and she is rather unforthcoming. I know some of what she doesn't like now so that is a help and I must kiss her neck.

The thing is she is who she is and I don't want to get into the area of manipulating her or comparing because she is not like Gemma or someone. She says it is me that switches her on and I have noticed that IC is the big thing with her, so that has to be rather central but there is room for my more adventurous things.

I think it is very important to discipline our minds and love only our wives including physically. Looking at others is the way the enemy wants us to go. We are instructed to be intoxicated with our wives and I think that should always be possible. I think I am although there is always room for improvement.

Gemma said...

Anon said: "Once after what I thought was a great moment of sexual intimacy I said "Oh that was the best ever." She did not respond and after pressing her she told me that sex was more exciting with her first. So, a decade later I am still chasing the wind trying to be her best."

Anon also said: "Yes- sexual naughtiness is apparently sin."

Anon,

Am I understanding correctly that after having sex your wife told you that it was more exciting with her first bf? If she really feels that way then why would she be so uptight about anything that we would consider to be 'naughty' in the MB? It seems to me that if she misses sexual excitement she would be receptive to naughtiness. Can you clarify?

Anonymous said...

Anon here- oh welcome to my world. This is where your description of the website is accurate. Sex before marriage is a sin- therefore my wife feels guilty for oh 20 years about that. We had outstanding sex before marriage. Full participation and she was of course everything I would have desired. Active participant full package, my dream sexual partner.

We get married and she feels guilty that we had sex before marriage and relates those 'naughty' things from before marriage as 'naughty and sinful' thus not happening anymore. When the children arrived sex declined even more. So, I continue to have more women throw themselves at me while my wife throws herself away from me more and more.

Anon

Gemma said...

Your dream sexual partner is locked within the imagination of her mind. She imagines that any sexuality which she enjoyed before marriage cannot be repeated within her marriage. She sees the acts as sinful rather than simply the fact that she wasn't married then. The "wasn't married" is the only sin.

Have you ever shared this with her?... what you're saying here? I still don't understand why she sees everything as sinful and yet she still thinks about how "sex was more exciting with her first"... like someone longing for excitement. How can she think both ways simultaneously?

Anonymous said...

Anon here.

Good angle on 'the only sin being not married'. I have shared and had lengthy discussions with her on that. To that she will and does reply:

1) 'you are not accepting me for me.'
2) 'To much pressure' 'you are pressuring me to perform' etc.

Sorry to vent but if I had not tasted the raging sexual women I thought I was marrying I would not be so longing to have her back which may lead to inadvertent pressure on my part. I feel bait and switched and want my lover back.

I will revisit within the context that you suggest. I am confident it will be greeted with a "don't put pressure on me"

This of course sets up the perfect scenario to cause my mind to wander.

Ladies- If you are doing this to your husband listen to gemma and the other posters- be your husbands whore. If you don't like that term find one that you can agree to. But let go and enjoy sex it is a gift from God for you to enjoy as well. Satan will tell you whatever he can to stop you from fully being one with your husband.

I can only speak from experience as to how much better our marriage is if my wife participates and what a train wreck it creates if she doesn't- on multiple levels. Husband will be more short with you, the children and have wandering eyes.

Gemma said...

Anon,

Exactly who is the "me" to which your wife refers when she says, "You are not accepting me for me."? Has she told you who is the real "me"? Does she even know? Have you ever asked her why she enjoyed 'performing' before the wedding but doesn't want to now? If she can't give you a concrete answer have you suggested seeking counseling? Even if she won't go, would you be willing to go so you could set the wheels in motion? I can really relate to your wife. If my dh had gone for counseling even if initially without me, it would have encouraged me to join him in seeking professional help years ago.

No need to apologize for venting. My readers can vent as much as they need to here. I would strongly suggest that if your wife won’t aggressively work on her attitude towards sex… you begin the work by “outing” her to your pastor and by going on your own to talk to a therapist. If you become more proactive you won’t feel so helpless. Your dw is overwhelmed with guilt from the past. She has to get over that guilt before she can move on to better things. It is really only a matter of confessing and repenting. Then she can move forward with her marriage bed.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I can only speak from experience as to how much better our marriage is if my wife participates and what a train wreck it creates if she doesn't- on multiple levels. Husband will be more short with you, the children and have wandering eyes.

My own dh could have spoken your words many years ago. I was so woefully ignorant back then and caused my marriage to be as a train wreck. My biggest prayer is for other wives to be able to learn from my ignorant mistakes.

Gemma said...

Gemma said: "Your dw is overwhelmed with guilt from the past. She has to get over that guilt before she can move on to better things. It is really only a matter of confessing and repenting. Then she can move forward with her marriage bed."

Before you tell me that she's already confessed it....no, she hasn't. Confession is way more than just lip service. When we confess and repent, it goes deep down into our heart, mind and soul. So if it hasn't changed our heart, mind and soul, then we haven't truly confessed and repented. We might feel sorry for what we did, we might feel remorseful, but we haven't truly confessed and repented. Once your wife is willing to deal with this on a spiritual level, she will be freed from her past.

Anonymous said...

This is anon2. I could have written much of what anon1 said. We have been in counselling with our pastor, and I think we've exhausted that route.

Gemma, having read your story, did you know that it was guilt causing you to feel the way you did about married sex, or did that have to be "discovered" in counselling/therapy?

At what point did you even want to get better?

Gemma said...

anon2 asked: "Gemma, having read your story, did you know that it was guilt causing you to feel the way you did about married sex, or did that have to be "discovered" in counselling/therapy? At what point did you even want to get better?"

As I stated in my brief bio:

Not to excuse my sin of refusal, I was battling with many emotional and physical issues. To name a few of them:
1. past history of low self-esteem in who I was. This was not based on my physical looks but on my basic personality.
2. promiscuous lifestyle prior to meeting GR
3. infertility in both of us
4. 20 married years of legalistic/abusive churches
5. severe female problems necessitating emergency hyster at a young age
6. use of BC pills on/off before and during marriage to help manage the female problems
7. my wrong thinking that dh only wanted me for sex
.... and the list goes on.

For some 20 years I had no idea that guilt from my years as a single was one of the causes of my sexual refusal. I just thought that I was sick of having sex and was through with it and that that was me, take it or leave it. As you can see above, there were many contributing factors in my life. Finally after 20 years of easily and successfully hiding my sexual sin from our pastors and from anyone else we knew, we changed Christian Faiths and it was like—BINGO!!! For the first time in 20 years I began to clearly see that my sin, ALL of my sin, needed to be exposed and that I needed to truly confess and repent and do it right with evidence of a change of heart towards my husband and towards our marriage bed. But that wasn’t the end of my healing. After I realized that I needed to heal it took me an additional 6 years to complete the healing.

A large part of the reason for my 20 years lost in the dark and then another 6 years trying to reach the light--- I was too foolish, too proud, too ignorant to seek professional therapy. During those last 6 years I did have assistance from our pastors but they were limited in what they could do for me. This is why I so often push for others to seek out a professional to help them heal… just as they would seek a professional if they were diagnosed with cancer. Sexual sin is a “mental cancer” of sorts and needs to be treated by a professional in order to speed up recovery.