February 14, 2017

Are you Settling for Something that God Never Meant for You to Settle for?

Guest Author — 

Readers,

When I was writing Cherish, I’d ask wives how they wanted to be cherished. If you poured a cup of coffee right away, it would be room temperature by the time most of them stopped talking. When I’d ask men how they like to be cherished, the most common answer was, “Do you want the PG version or the real answer?”

The reality is that many husbands won’t feel cherished if they are not sexually pursued. Sometimes, the husband needs to change a few things so the wife can safely pursue him—but sometimes, wives can address ways to build their own libidos. No man feels cherished with mere “duty sex.” He wants to see in his wife’s eyes and even sexual hunger, “He is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend.” Song of Songs 5:16

My friend Sheila Wray Gregoire writes a marvelous blog primarily directed toward women, though I have steered many a husband her way. I’m delighted that she has released an online video course that will help wives who want practical advice for boosting their libido. Sheila has been talking and writing about this for years, and her husband is a doctor. She mixes the medical with the practical in a fun and inspiring way. Talks are already underway about Sheila and I touring together, speaking about sexual intimacy in marriage—that’s the confidence I have in her, her marriage, and the content of her message.

Here’s Sheila’s story, and what she’s offering:

Are you Settling for Something that God Never Meant for You to Settle for?

Sheila Gregoire

Every night when I was a little girl, I would drift off to sleep dreaming of one day being married to a man who would make me feel safe. An only child of an amazing single mother, I still desperately needed to know that I was loved and that my life wouldn’t be uprooted again.

I wanted stability. I wanted, in Gary’s words, to be cherished.

I’ve been married for twenty-five years now, and I can attest with every fiber of my being that I am, indeed, very safe.

But I’ve also learned that safe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The reason that I’m happy with my husband today is not because I’m safe; the reason I’m happy with my husband is that together, we’re living an adventure.

Sometimes in our quest for safe we forget to live. We’re trying so hard to avoid anything bad that we forget to let the good in, too.

We know there’s such a thing as holy contentment–the sentiment that the Apostle Paul conveyed in Philippians 4:12:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I believe, though, that there’s also a thing called holy discontentment, even in our marriage. It doesn’t mean that we’re unhappy with our mate. It’s that we feel that we’re missing something important that God had for us. We know that He created us for more, and we’ve been settling. And we have a thirst for God’s passion to be more real in our lives, so that we stop playing it safe and start really living.

Nowhere do I see this as much in women’s experiences as in the area of sexual intimacy. Many of us are content to put sex on the back burner, every now and then consenting in order to give our husbands a break, but not truly experiencing passion ourselves. Maybe we figure we weren’t made for it. Maybe we figure it will never feel that good anyway. Maybe we figure we have too many other things on our minds and it’s too much work to make sex feel awesome.

Now, I know many of you are throwing yourselves into anything but sex because you’re the one with the higher sex drive. In 30% of marriages, it is the woman who wants sex more, not the husband, and your biggest question is why doesn’t your husband want to make love? Others have been so wounded because of your husband’s pornography use that sex has become ugly. For you, I am sincerely sorry, and I pray that you will be able to get others around you to hold him accountable and to help you both restore what has been broken.

But for those of us who have just given up, let me ask this Valentine’s season–are you settling for something that God never meant for you to settle for? Are you giving up too easily, and losing out on the life that God meant for you?

Before I got married I dreamt about sex. A LOT. I pictured us spending Saturday mornings in bed every week, just enjoying each other. But then we got married and I realized that sex was work. It didn’t always feel that great. I was often so tired. And for me to be able to enjoy it, I had to be able to concentrate (no one ever tells us women that!). If I had a headache, or was worried about something, or had too much on my to do list, then sex flew out the window.

Somewhere along the line, though, passion did, too. Our lives became work and housework and shuttling the kids to music lessons and to church clubs and to sitting down at night to watch Netflix and to knit my eighth pair of socks this year. Not that there’s anything wrong with knitting socks, mind you. But life became a routine.

The more content we get with normal, the less we yearn to be part of the big passion story that God is writing in our world. God is a passionate God. He’s creative to the extreme. He’s jealous. He gets angry, but also rejoices over us with singing. He is the furthest thing from mediocre or boring. As C.S. Lewis said, “He’s not a tame Lion, you know.”

When we settle for tame in our marriage we often tame God, too. Our sexuality and our spirituality are linked, because they get to the core of who we are. We have been created to know so intimately and to be known so intensely. God chose to use sex as the metaphor and vehicle by which we would partly understand His passion for us. The sexual imagery in the Bible is awfully blatant.

During those years in my marriage when I put sex on the backburner, then, it’s hardly surprising that I often ended up putting God there, too. When I couldn’t be carried away and a little out of control with Keith, it was hard to let God take control and to be overcome with His goodness, too.

Passion is of God. And passion is expressed in so many ways–in worship; in our heart for the world; in our love for our kids. But also, most definitely, in the bedroom. And when we let passion die in one area, it often dies in all.

Perhaps this Valentine’s Day it’s time to awaken passion. I’ve created a “Boost Your Libido” course for women like me who have been living very safe lives, and want more.  Maybe God isn’t just calling you to more passion with Him, but also to more passion with your husband. That part of you can be reawakened, and when it is, it’s amazing to see what God can do with the rest of our lives, too!

Boost Your Libido is a super practical 10-module online course (with video!) that will help women understand what libido is, the roles our brains and bodies play in libido, and how to escape from a boring sexual rut in our marriages. The modules build on each other step-by-step, so you can start seeing immediate results! We don’t need to settle for safe.

Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 25 years and happily married for 20. The author of nine books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, she blogs almost everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

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23 responses to Are you Settling for Something that God Never Meant for You to Settle for?

  1. great stuff Sheila. These are important reminders for us married folks. You get out of marriage what you put into it.

  2. Whoa! Thanks for sharing this gold. I’m gonna have to show my wife your site and program. I think she would really enjoy and benefit from it. I particularly was taken by this: “And when we let passion die in one area, it often dies in all.” Great reminder! Thanks for your important work.

  3. Oh how I wish I could get my wife to read articles like this. Maybe it would change the nearly sexless marriage we have. Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone with no intimacy in sight. She refuses to listen to me, dismisses the letters I wrote to her, and doesn’t have the time to read the marriage books I have purchased. She got her ring and house and car and hasn’t put any effort into us since the week after we got married. I love that people like you are speaking up about such an important issue. I wish the internet had been around and more accessible before I got married. Our church never talked about this and just assumed everything would work itself out after the wedding. Now it’s too late and I am trapped in a cold, harsh, unloving, passionless marriage where I am always lonely. If this had been brought up before marriage, maybe we could have figured out that she has no desire for sex and then we could have made an informed decision to either agree that she make an intentional effort in this area or us not get married at all.

  4. Gary thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing this to be posted on your site. The comments seem to imply that this is a all man problem or an all women problem. That’s not the case at all. It’s an intimacy problem. If either side is withholding its usually a sign of a bigger issue. Throughout a 14 year failed marriage I would pray for God to take away my desire for sex. Every time I would try and initiate she would deny me. It hurt every time. When she left the girls and I, she was having an affair and that broke me to the core. According to some, if a man cheats on his wife there is no course of action to suffer in punishment for his failing. If a women, or for that matter a man, withholds sex from their spouse you will hear crickets when trying to get help. Sex is created by God. Our sex drives are as natural as our need to eat. When a person stops eating they begin to dwindle into nothing which is exactly what happens to a marriage when sex stops. (Unless of course there are legitimate reason which there certainly can be). Submitting ourselves one to another in our marriage vows leaves little room for withholding sex. My prayer is if you’re in my situation, God would bring about a change in you or your spouse that opens the floodgates to sexual and spiritual intimacy. I pray this in Jesus name!

    Update:
    I’m in a very healthy relationship with the women of my dreams.

  5. Thank you Gary for posting this. I am SO GUILTY of settling for less. My wonderful husband has been deprived and I am the reason. I felt like everything Sheila said was spot on. I just have to get up the courage and determination to do something about it. This will be a great place to start. Thank you again!
    Tracy

  6. Marriage: To give oneself to another person in the most intimate and inclusive of human relationships, to support him or her for good in every way possible – physically, emotionally, and spiritually; but in every conceivable dimension of his or her being. Mutual submission to each other in awe of the Lord. Marriage is a particular kind of union of body, soul and spirit under God, not just whatever we say it is. The various alternatives being discussed must meet this challenge. Submission to God and under God for good are the key ideas. We are all too familiar that the goodness that God intends can be quite different with humanity’s version. God is love which is for what is good and best, NOT for just the desired. Our culture betrays us into confusing love with desire where we often desire what is not good. We say things like, i love chocolate cake. No, we don’t. We want to eat it. That’s not love, especially from the cake’s point of view. That’s lust. We have no intention to take care of the good of the cake. The apostle John makes important distinctions about it in 1Jn. 2-16-17, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

  7. I actually think this is so unscriptural and a fallen world view. I truly don’t see God viewing our sex life like this. I am so disappointed in you Gary for even allowing this view to be aired on you website.

    • @ Josie, read the Song of Solomon, but before you do, ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding of the Word of God. The Bible covers every aspect of life, including sex. This is the problem with most churches today — many members and preachers shy away from preaching and teaching about the purpose of sex in marriages and the consequences of sex out of marriages. God said to be Holy because He is Holy, but many of the churches have set their own standard of holiness.

    • Josie,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, but I have to respectfully disagree. Satisfying marital sexuality isn’t a “fallen world view,” it’s a biblical command. The Bible celebrates it in the Song of Songs and many other places. Sexuality outside marriage is a fallen worldview, but I don’t know how or why you’d call this desire “fallen.” I re-read Sheila’s words, trying to understand what could be unbiblical about anything she says, and I just don’t see it. You’ll have to enlighten me if there’s something I’m missing, because I believe everything Sheila writes here to be true–to Scripture, and life.

      • I truly apologise Gary. What I wrote was wrong and came out of a heart bitter and betrayed by affairs, porn and lack of nurture. I responded to this post out of anger. Please forgive me.

    • Josie, I’m sorry that you feel that way. Can I ask you something: If God made sex to be wonderful, and devoted a whole book of the Bible to it, and talks about His relationship with us in very sexual terms, then do you think it’s possible that you may be missing out on something that God really wanted you to enjoy? I explain it better here, how God made sex to be both passionate and holy at the same time. It is quite a beautiful thing, and when we hold back on passion in marriage, we often end up holding back our hearts to passion with God, too. Passion–that ability to be vulnerable, to be out of control, to be truly intimate with another–is linked in both our spirituality and our sexuality. I just hope that people don’t miss out on the best that God has for us because of a mistaken view of who He is. I think often when we turn away from passionate sex it’s not because we don’t understand sex; it’s more because we don’t understand part of God. And that’s really important.

      • I truly apologise Sheila and yes, I do think I’m missing out or have missed out on what God really wanted me to enjoy in my marriage. What I wrote to Gary was wrong and came out of a heart bitter and betrayed by affairs, porn and lack of nurture. I responded to this post out of anger. Please forgive me.

    • I am so very sorry you feel that way. I believe that puts you and your marriage in jeopardy! It was our Creator God who created sex, and then said “it was very good.” I was raised with the mentality you’ve depicted and I have apologized to my tolerant husband…..and I AM HERE TO SHOUT FROM THE HOUSETOPS that GOD is about joy/pleasure/passion in addition to duty/work/loyalty and again duty/work/loyalty. Satan did a masterful WRETCHED deception when he convinced humans that sexuality was evil. May you find JOY IN HIS presence and that of your spouse!

      • No Judy, my husbands infidelity and porn has put my marriage in jeopardy ..I used to have a very healthy and active sex drive before my husband destroyed it. I have already apologised to Gary and Sheila and I’m accountable for my bitter comments.

  8. I love this post! The only trouble is what if I want to remain passionate and my husband does not. We were both passionate in dating both for one another and for the Lord but it seemed like the minute the honeymoon was over my husband lost interest. The stresses of life, work, providing etc…. have completely zapped his sex drive as well as his passionate pursual for me and the Lord. I can no longer attempt to initiate sex as I do not feel safe doing so being rejected 9/10 times over the past year. He is tired, work and stress and dragging him down, he finds no joy in the things he used to and there is little I can do to help him in this. Any suggestions? I’m at the end of my rope with trying to ingite passion back into my only one year of marriage.

    • Courtney, Sheila’s online course is for wives to improve their libidos; in your case, the problem is with your husband’s libido. Her blog, http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/, has several articles for wives whose husbands have low desire–helping wives determine what might be behind it and what to do about it. So, in your case, rather than ordering the course, I’d recommend you go through her blog archives and you’ll find several relavant articles.

    • Courtney, I’m so sorry, and I just want you to know that you are NOT alone! Depending on what study you read, about 24-30% of women are the higher drive spouse in their marriage. And it’s so much more frustrating, in a lot of ways, because all around you is the message that men want it all the time, and women really don’t. So you’re left wondering, “what’s wrong with us?”

      I have written a four-part series for women in this situation that starts here. I hope that helps!

  9. Why is there never any courses for men who refuse? Yes there are occasional articles, but nothing beyond that.

    • Hurting, I’m sorry. If you see my comment to Courtney, you’ll see that Sheila does address this on her blog. But you’re right–I don’t know of an online course for husbands who refuse. If I come across a solid, Christian-based one, I’ll let people know about it, too.

    • I am sorry, Hurting! I do have a 4-part series on that, too, which includes one post on what to do if your spouse withholds sex. You can see that series here. I wish that we in the church would start talking about refusing sex as being as serious a marriage killer as infidelity, because quite often it has similar effects. Again, I’m so sorry.

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