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Wifey Wednesday: Forgetting About Long Lost Loves

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Last week we talked about why it's better to wait for marriage before you have sex with your husband. I know that's not a popular stand today, but it's one I very much believe in, and the research bears it out.

Today I want to talk to those of you, though, who didn't wait and now regret it. What can you do to banish thoughts of the other men--whether those memories are good or bad--and concentrate on your husband?

Photo by Mercedes

It's a hard one, isn't it? Some of us are burdened by feelings of guilt over sex because we gave ourselves away too easily when we were young. Now we have a hard time seeing sex as a positive thing. Or perhaps we're burdened by a quasi-guilt because of the things that were done to us. Many who are rape and incest survivors often report feeling guilty, though they weren't responsible. But the feeling won't go away.

And then there are those of us who had sexual experiences before that were physically very satisfying. And when we make love sometimes now, we find ourselves comparing. How come hubby can't take the time that he did? How come hubby can't make me feel the way he did? And we try to get hubby to do those things, and it doesn't work. Or we find ourselves flashing back to things that happened earlier in order to help with our arousal level during sex (sorry for being so graphic, but that's the reality of it). What can you do to make yourself totally and completely physically and mentally present while you're making love to your spouse, and keep all that other stuff far in the distance?

I think there's two parts to recovery: healing and commitment. So let's look at those in turn.

1. Healing

If you've been hurt in the past, and sex still has those negative connotations for you, go to God and ask Him to heal your heart from those scars. Confess any anger and bitterness you still have. Ask God to give you a new heart and a new mind when it comes to sexual intimacy. Ask Him to help you envision how He feels about what was done to you. Understand that there is justice, but that it is in God's hands, and you don't have to carry it around anymore.

If you have big issues in this area, sometimes you can't pray through this on your own. We aren't meant to be alone. Maybe you need a counselor, or an older mentor who can help walk you through this. Some counselors will see people for a fixed time for a fixed purpose. Maybe just six weeks, for instance, to work through this one problem. It's worth the investment. Or perhaps there's a church near you that offers counseling for free. Take the time. You may think you don't have the time, what with small children and work and your family, but you need to invest in your emotional and spiritual health. Talk to someone.

And if you want some encouragement, here's a quick take on how to recover from the past that I gave at a women's conference a while ago. It's got nothing to do with sex, but the point is the same:

Maybe you don't feel a lot of guilt, though. You wish you hadn't fooled around, but it's in the past, and you don't feel guilty about it now. That can be a good thing if you've taken it to God and already dealt with it. But perhaps you haven't. And you can't have it both ways. You can't feel guilt-free but also indulge in a lot of memories and comparisons. If you revisit those "positive" memories frequently, perhaps you don't recognize how ugly what you did actually was. Just because it felt good doesn't mean that it was good, and it's now having an impact on your marriage. And God never intended for you to do that. You may have to go to God for a different reason.

Ask Him to give you His mind about your past. Perhaps you need to see that it wasn't something that was good or fun, but it was something that wasn't pleasing to Him and wasn't ultimately satisfying. What you did was you changed sex to be only about the physical, and not also about the relationship and the spiritual connection. Ask God to give you His heart about sex; that it is more than just the physical. And then ask Him to take those memories and deal with them. Hand them over to Him, and agree not to keep unwrapping them when your sex life gets boring.

Remember, too, that just because something was exciting with someone once doesn't mean that it would still be exciting had you married him instead. You'd have the same challenges: children, exhaustion, work, bills. And he may not be as attentive towards you once the commitment had been made. Don't compare your husband to something unrealistic.

2. Moving Forward

Now that we've talked about healing, let's talk about what practically to do. To avoid flashbacks during sex, keep your mind fully engaged. This is a challenge for almost all women because our minds tend to wander. We're easily distractible. And we have to consciously keep our focus on our husbands and on what is going on in order ot maintain any sort of arousal, and in order to really bond with our husbands. So if you want to banish those thoughts, replace them with other ones! If you're used to just lying passively during sex, then start being more active! It's hard to have flashbacks when you're actually DOING something, because your brain is engaged.

Keep your mind focused. Think about what is actually happening. Think about what you want to happen, and make it happen. Talk to him while you make love. If you are moving and talking, it's harder for anything else to enter your mind, unbidden.

If you start making love like this, you'll find that it's a much more intense experience, and that it ends up being satisfying on a whole bunch of different levels. You're more aware of what's going on, which also helps you bond more with your husband. Not only that, but you're physically present during sex, so you're going to feel better. And instead of wondering why he can't make it feel better for you, you've now got the initiative to make it feel better for both of you. You can take some of that responsibility.

Make sex into something that you both can be present for and enjoy. It really is worth it! At times you may still have flashbacks, and that's okay. Just as soon as they enter your mind, though, banish them by starting to talk to your husband, look in his eyes, or refocus. Reject those thoughts and recommit yourself to your husband. If you've been struggling with guilt about sex or with discomfort, you'll likely find this helps, too, because it's strengthening the emotional bond with you while you're making love, so it doesn't seem like something "dirty".

I hope that helps! I know this is a huge struggle for about 60% of Christian wives, and I want you to know that God is there to help you, no matter what you've done in your past. And for those of you have a more pristine past, please try to understand what your sisters in Christ go through, and don't condemn. Instead, use this post as impetus to head on out to your church's youth group and start really laying it on the line about why they need to wait!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever had to confront your fantasies and throw them aside? How did you do it? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!


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At 11:02 AM , Blogger Sheri said…

Great post Sheila. I think it's also important to note that with or without sex you can have very strong past feelings that you must be wary of.


At 8:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I agree with Sheri, I have a hard time a few times a year with fantasizing about another. The thing is we were never really a couple (so no sex or intimacy in that way but we were very close emotionally and mentally) but the threat is that of fantisizing of what may have been or how it would have felt if something had materialized and circumstances had been different. Kind of like the 'one that got away'.

On another note, I often wonder if my husband struggles with this type of issue since he had multiple partners before becoming a Christian - or is it easier for guys to let this sort of thing go?


At 9:25 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

That is a good point, Sheri: how do we make sure that we don't fantasize about someone else? I think again it all comes down to trying to be present in the moment--concentrate on what's going on, what you like about what's happening. Even when it's got nothing to do with sex per se, concentrate on your marriage, your family, your God. It isn't easy. It is a battle, and it is a temptation, and we have to recognize that. But that doesn't mean that we can't win!

And Anonymous, I think men do struggle with this, too. The one advantage men have when they're making love is that they're more focused on their bodies and less on their minds, so they're less distractible than we are. But that doesn't mean they're not distractible at all. So it is difficult, but I think encouraging your husband to talk to you during sex means that you're focused, and he's focused, and you know his mind isn't wandering!

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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