I’m feeling a mix of emotions as I share with you my latest piece for Today’s Christian Woman. On the one hand, this is a topic we need to be talking about. On the other hand, putting the realities of my sex life out there for anyone in the world to read is incredibly intimidating and makes me want to hide my face.
I hesitated to share this on my blog and through social media because it’s such a vulnerable piece and taboo topic. But as I shared the contents of this article with some friends, I was shocked by how many of them said, “I had no idea this happened to you, but you should know . . . it happened to me too.” My heart broke for all the tears and pain and shame we’ve stifled.
I’m done keeping this topic in the dark, locked away in my mind. I’m sharing this article in the hope that if you can relate (and of course, I truly hope you can’t), it will encourage you to speak the truth of your experiences to someone you trust, pursue real healing, and choose your future over your past.
“There will be dry spells, perhaps sooner than you think.”
“Some days sex will be more like a chore than a joy. Do it anyway. Even when it doesn’t feel like magic, it is building intimacy.”
“Sex is messy and awkward. Don’t expect it to be great on your honeymoon. Be ready to laugh off the weird stuff and have fun with it.”
Such were the well-intentioned words of advice from my closest girlfriends at my bachelorette party. I’m so grateful they shared their experiences with me and helped to demystify the idea that so often floats around evangelical Christian circles: if you save sex for marriage, it will be perfect and enjoyable simply because you waited. But there were things I was still unprepared for, things my friends couldn’t tell me.
But what happens when your sexual baggage is larger than a carry-on? What happens when sex as a habit feels too much like the time when sex was coercion?
Haunted by My Past
In college, I was in a three-year, on-again-off-again relationship with Mitchell (not his real name). Though we both professed to be Christians, a few months into our relationship he began pressuring me to have sex—and I gave in. His subtle coercion gradually became barely disguised demands for sex, and soon I equated sex with both physical pain and “love.” He desired sex anytime, anywhere, and he made me believe that it was the only real way I could communicate my love to him.
Every time I “loved” him that way, I felt filthy and violated; he would fall asleep or walk out of the room, and I would sob silently—hoping there was more to sex than this but doubting that it could be true.
I spent many years after that relationship as a single woman, and slowly but faithfully, the Lord healed my broken pieces.
When I eventually started dating my now-husband, Dan, we committed to waiting for marriage. However, a few months after our wedding, I realized I wasn’t fully free from my past. Despite the knowledge that I was forgiven by both Christ and Dan, I said yes to sex only as often as necessary to keep my guilt at bay. I found myself feeling ashamed at my inability to enjoy my husband, berating myself for not being the kind of wife I thought he deserved.
Head over to Today’s Christian Woman to read more about how I’ve sought God’s healing moment by moment and how he’s continued meeting me where I am while showing me hope for a better future.