How Much Sex Talk Is Healthy?

QUESTION


My boyfriend and I are talking a lot about sex and I also have a lot of sexual thoughts. I feel guilty about it because I don’t think it is what God would like. How normal is this?

 

SEX THERAPIST’S ANSWER

It is hard to really answer your question because I don’t know what you would consider “too many sexual thoughts”. It is normal to have sexual thoughts and depending on your age and gender, you can have lots of them! Thinking about sex is part of having a sex drive. What is important is what you do with those thoughts – you want to manage them as a part of managing your sex drive. That way you are in control instead of feeling like your thoughts are in control. So let me ask you some questions in that context.

Does talking about sex a lot with your boyfriend help you to manage those sexual thoughts or is it making it harder?

What can happen when we talk about sex a lot is that it actually stirs up more thoughts. If this is happening to you then not talking about sex as much might be a good boundary to have. This is a wisdom issue. Are you empowering yourself to live a pure life or are you actually making yourself weaker? You want to make sure that your values and your voice are being heard in your relationship. This is really bothering you. Is your boyfriend taking your concerns seriously or is he telling you it is not a big deal? It is important that you are in the drivers seat for your own life. Listen to yourself and honor your own thoughts and feelings. It sounds like you have a lot of wisdom – trust it.


He’s Ready For Marriage, I’m Not!

QUESTION


I have been dating a guy for 7 months, we are both 19. I have no plans on getting married right now, which he knows. But, I also don’t know if he is the one or not. I think his mind is starting to get there. Do you think I am leading him on when I don’t know if he is it, while dating this long?

 

TEAM’S ANSWER

First of all, I believe that it is key to have communication at the foundation of any relationship. Danny Silk (founder of Loving on Purpose) says: “Assuming you know something is one of the biggest obstacles to healthy communication.” In any relationship you get to share your perspective without assuming that the other person already knows what your normal is, what you might be expecting, how you might feel, etc.

That being said, I would encourage you to communicate with your boyfriend what your expectations are for the future and especially in regard to marriage. Communicating expectations in any relationship, but particularly in a romantic relationship, is key. That way you can understand each other’s normal and find a common ground.

For you personally, I would suggest to ask yourself what you believe to be true about there being only one right person for you. You mentioned that you weren’t sure “if he is it”. They are very different perspectives on this matter so I will give you my personal opinion. Even though there might be some of us that have one particular person designed for us, I believe that any man can make a marriage work with any woman. It is important to consider whether you are a good fit for each other based on your strengths, dreams, life calling, etc.

It is important that you do not isolate yourself with your questions. Isolation is no one’s friend and has caused many people a lot of heartache. Share your thoughts/questions with leaders, mentors, spiritual parents, friends, etc and get feedback. Getting others’ perspective on your relationship is really helpful since they are not in the relationship and therefore are not personally involved with their feelings.

Here are a few resources I would like to recommend to you:

Communication Dance by Danny Silk : This is a practical and insightful look at how people can learn a better way to get their messages of life and love into their most important relationships.

Communication (couch conversations): Guys and girls discuss the importance of communication.

Decisions and God by Eric Johnson

Finding “The One by Dann Farrelly


Hanging Out One-on-One?

QUESTION


Is it okay to hang out with a friend of the opposite sex (one on one)?
Or is it better to hang out in groups?

 

TEAM’S ANSWER

Here are a few things that would be great to consider before hanging out with the opposite sex one on one:

Talk to your heart.

It is always a great idea to be in touch with your heart and figure out what you are feeling and what you need. If hanging out with the opposite sex is meeting a need in you outside of a dating commitment then it might be good to reassess the relationship. Ask your heart questions like, “Am I attracted to this man? Do I see him as a potential mate?”

Be aware of your needs.

Who or what is filling those needs? The last thing you want to do is to use guy friends to meet needs in you reserved for the man you will marry. God has designed it in such a way for us to be able to go to Him. He also gave us friendships to steward that can meet needs in us in a healthy way.

Set up some boundaries.

It is always wise to set up physical and emotional boundaries in any relationship. Establishing these personally is key and doesn’t always need to be communicated verbally. The way you conduct yourself will speak volumes to the other person. Ask yourself questions like, “How much will I share? What is appropriate physical affection as friends?” These things are so important to ask yourself so that you can protect your relationship.

Regulate time spent.

It is important that you are aware of the amount of time you spend alone with the opposite sex. Intimacy grows and develops when time is spent with another person (especially if one of your love languages is quality time). If you are strictly friends with a member of the opposite sex whom you are spending one on one time with (even when you do not have any intention for affection to grow) it most likely will as your intimacy grows. Be honest with yourself and be aware of the amount of time you spend together.

The more the merrier!

Hanging out in groups is a great idea in regards to spending time with the opposite sex. It’s definitely a way to get to know people in a safe environment with limited intimacy. Having a “community” of people enables you to see people’s true character and allows you to be yourself and have fun.

There are no “rules.”

When it all comes down to it there are no “rules” but there are definitely decisions that we can make that are more beneficial. We no longer want to be people governed by law because God longs to be in relationship with us and he wants to do life with us each and every day. Do not hesitate to invite God in when considering a one on one with a guy friend. I don’t mean to over-spiritualize this, but you are capable of making quality choices because you have the mind of Christ and you are a woman led by the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you.

Here are a few resources to help you along the way:

Check out this short video from out YouTube channel called “Couch Convos” where young people discuss their thoughts on boundaries.

I Will Wait For You” is a short entertaining spoken word video on YouTube. It empowers women to wait and communicates that we as women are worth waiting for. http://moralrevolution.com/videos

I am confident that the Lord will bless you richly as you seek out what is best for you, your future, and your relationships. May you be encouraged that you are capable of making great choices and that you will benefit greatly from them.


Sex in Marriage … After a Porn Addiction

QUESTION


I feel God has delivered me from pornography, but after I have sex with my wife, I feel like I’m fighting those same demons again! Right now we expect different things from sex. However, I feel the most victorious when we abstain all together. How can we move to our sex being more love centered and intimate?

 

SEX THERAPIST’S ANSWER

I am so glad you are not looking at pornography! I don’t know how long you have been free so it makes it hard to answer your question. But let me say a couple of things. It takes a wife 9 months to a year after her husband has quit looking at porn to feel like she can begin to be vulnerable with him. I don’t know your story, but I want you to remember what it is like for your wife. Put yourself in her shoes. If she did not know about the porn and found out, it was traumatic for her. Her whole world has been turned upside down! In fact, we are finding that spouses of those who are sex addicts – and I am not saying you are one since I don’t know you – need to be treated for PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is the same disorder soldiers have when exposed to the horrors of war.

Real intimacy has to have vulnerability and trust. For her, that might be impossible until she is convinced that her husband has changed. She will need to see behavior over time which means she will need to see her husband change and keep that change over time. Sometimes guys who look at porn and stop, just stop the behavior and do not deal with the underlying issues. So it feels the same to his wife – he might not be looking at porn but he still is not kind or loving. So she doesn’t trust it. Then she finds it hard to let down her guard and be vulnerable enough to be intimate. Again, I don’t know you so I don’t know if this is true for you. It might be a good conversation for you to have with your wife, where you listen to her heart and begin to restore intimacy. Just a warning though – really listen and persevere. Ask questions and don’t defend yourself. The goal is to understand her heart, not to be right!

When you say that after you have sex you are fighting those same demons again, I am not sure exactly what you mean. But it sounds to me like you are saying the lack of intimacy with your wife when you have sex triggers a desire to act out with porn. You say it is easier just to abstain. When someone has been addicted to porn, sometimes they swing to the other extreme, to a place of just not having sex because it is easier to stay sober – it’s called sexual anorexia. It is unfortunately very common. But it is not a place of freedom; it is actually the same disorder (an intimacy disorder). It is just the opposite extreme. So I am so glad you are wanting to have love-centered and intimate sex! That is the place of freedom. Hopefully, your wife will be willing to work on that with you. A good sex therapist, if you have one available, can help you with intimacy exercises. There are a couple of books you might want to read with your wife if she is willing. Two Become One by the McCluskeys or Sheet Music by Kevin Leman are good places to start. Reading together, having conversations about sex and intimacy, doing the exercises really will be a help to your relationship.

Intimacy is so much more than having sex – knowing her and understanding her heart, as well as physical affection, are just as important as having intercourse. Talk to your wife about what you are wanting. Be tender and compassionate. If she is not ready, then you need to be able to deal with your lack of intimacy in a way that is helpful to you and not triggering. Abstaining from sex is not the answer. You can stay present when you have sex even if your wife is not. Maybe that can be your goal along with learning to be more and more tender with her. Tools that deal with anxiety-maintenance will help you. They are readily available on the internet.

Let me encourage you. Learning to be intimate yourself is not a waste of time even if your wife cannot be intimate with you. Intimacy allows you to know God, others, and yourself in ways that are deeply satisfying and freeing. So keep moving forward yourself in learning how to be truly intimate. If you will do this, you will have the best chance of having what you want: an intimate relationship with your wife. Hopefully your wife will join you on the journey.


Communication Heals Relationships

I’M NOT PERFECT, BUT I’LL BE THE BEST ME I CAN BE


In my first relationship, we were both young and had few tools for communicating our feelings and needs. I would make jokes with her like I would with my guy friends, and she would react to them, though she couldn’t talk to me about how I made her feel. Similarly, I would never say how uncomfortable or hurt conversations or actions made me feel. This led to major misunderstood actions and reactions.


“We were both young and had few tools for communicating our feelings and needs.”


One day, I blew up after bottling my emotions and lashed out at her. The relationship was over all because we couldn’t communicate about our own foundations, what we needed to work through, and where we needed help and understanding.

Today, I am now with my perfect match — the woman of my dreams. She is gorgeous, powerful, God-fearing, and she completely loves me. However, we do have problems. We both have a history, we both have things that are not each other’s “normal”, and things that are just generally not amazing. However, we came into the relationship saying, “Okay, I am not perfect, but I will be the best ‘me’ with your help.” We have managed to work through things with communication. We know we don’t need to react, but need to communicate, understand each other’s heart, and grow together.

– Samuel, 25, England


Rebuilding a Relationship

PUTTING THINGS INTO REVERSE


About three and a half years ago, a sequence of events began that would ultimately change my life forever. About that time, I was living with my girlfriend who, in all honesty, I hooked up with in a one night stand. We both grew up in church and knew that how we were living was wrong, but we wanted it to work so we made up every excuse we could to make it seem okay.

Fast-forward to today. We are still together, we are madly in love with each other, and even greater, we are insanely in love with God. We have huge hearts to help others transform their relationships to allow God to be at the center. How did all of this happen? God. Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to completely transform it to one of purity, honor, and covenant.


“Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to transform it into one of purity, honor and covenant.”


We allowed God to basically put our relationship in reverse and then slowly rebuild it, all the while changing our beliefs and mindsets. This isn’t an easy process, especially when couples stay together like Libby and I did. We moved out and became physically pure with each other, which meant no sex, no foreplay, and during certain time periods, no kissing and no hand-holding. During this time God taught me that I needed to know myself before I could attempt to understand someone else. I had Libby in my “God spot.” I looked to her for everything— joy, happiness, value, confirmation, and even guidance. I had to come to the understanding that only God can be in the God spot. I had to learn what it meant to have an identity as a son to God.

— John, 23, Florida

 


A Man With a Plan

WORTH WAITING FOR


Before I knew my wife, I had a couple of serious relationships. Since I was a child, I knew I would not give away my virginity to anyone except my wife, so that part of purity was never in question for me. Unfortunately, there were other things I did because I didn’t really have a plan. I thought, “Well, I just won’t have sex,” but just having that boundary ended up not being enough. With those relationships I did things physically and emotionally that I’m not proud of, and gave a part of myself away that I will never get back.


“I learned that no matter how strong I thought I was, I still needed a plan.”


By the time I met my wife, I had learned that no matter how “strong” I thought I was, I still needed to have a plan for how I was going to be responsible with myself. Early in our relationship we made some clear boundaries to protect each other. The most important, and most helpful, boundary was that we would not kiss on the lips until we got married. Making this decision was not just out of our pure will — we prayed and both felt the Lord give us the grace to do it. It allowed our emotional relationship to build and become strong without the physical part becoming a distraction.


“…it allowed our emotional relationship to build without the physical part becoming a distraction.”


I found myself falling more and more in love with my wife every day. I truly found myself in love with who she was and not just excited about the newness of a relationship. There were times when I really wanted to kiss her, but I knew that it would be so worth the wait. I’m so thankful we did, because on our wedding day when we kissed for the first time, I felt like I won the best prize ever. My wife.

Sal, 29, California