The deeper we get into this book the more convinced I am that this is a must-read for married couples AND for couples who are engaged. In fact, I am performing my first marriage and am going to require the couple to read the book. Both of these individuals have been married before and I know there is healing that needs to occur if this marriage is going to last.
Chapter 6 helps couples deal with sexuality. Weiss teaches that most of us have never developed a healthy and strong sense of sexuality because of our past sexual histories. Some marriages, he says are plagued with ‘sexual anorexia’ which he defines as “the active withholding of spiritual, emotional and sexual intimacy.” (77) Most people married today have not kept themselves free of sexual liaisons prior to getting married. They come to marriage with premarital sexual baggage that creates hindrances in the present. Sexual activity outside of the bounds of marriage cause tremendous damage- to the person committing the sexual act, to the future wife or husband as well as to the relationship with God. We were created as sexual beings but its expression is right ONLY within the marriage relationship and was created by God to allow us to connect with one person for life.
When sex occurs outside of the marriage relationship, whether in premarital situations, adultery, or pornography the person committing the sin- and that’s what it is- creates a ‘secret place’ that keeps them from being 100 percent intimate with their spouses. Sexual sin exposes you to various personalities and fantasies that can block a person from fully accepting and appreciating their spouse. Sexual sin defiles the marriage institution which God loves so very much. Sexual memories are, as Weiss puts it, an “unfortunate consequence of the sins to which you exposed yourself. Your memory is your problem. Don’t project it onto your spouse.” (82)
Couples have sexual histories as individuals but they also have a shared history. This history can be positive or negative depending upon how you have treated each other during your marriage. Some people have positive relationships because they have worked to keep their communication open and because they created the sexual history within the bounds of marriage. Others have very bad histories including ‘mate rape,’ sexual rejection, adultery and pornography. Couples with these issues will have more difficulty working through the blockages. The only recourse is healing if you want to have an intimate marriage. Healing IS possible, given information and time.
Some couples suffer in the area of sexuality because one of the partners was abused by someone outside of the marriage. Weiss gives very interesting and appalling statistics. He writes that “30% of females and 10% of males are sexually abused before the age of eighteen. That breaks down to about one out of three women and one out of six men.” (84) All of our congregations are negatively impacted by this phenomenon. Sexual abuse causes major problems for the person who was hurt. Sexual abuse is a “three dimensional” trauma involving the spirit, soul and body. The ways that people respond to this trauma is varied. Some become overly sexual, some are not sexual at all. Others struggle with depression, eating disorders, rage, and an inability to have and enjoy healthy relationships. Weiss continues to make an important point: the person who was the offender is 100% responsible for the act but the victim remains 100% responsible for his or her own healing. And I add, we all must seek God for relief from expecting someone else to pay for damage they did not cause. Personal healing will allow the person who has been victimized to have more of themselves to give to their spouse, children and friends.
Sexual addiction is also a huge problem for marriages. It kills spiritual, emotional and sexual intimacy. Weiss notes that between 29-39% of Christian men in local churches are sexually addicted. (86). That means that over a third of us have husbands who suffer from sexual addictions! If your husband falls into this category I recommend that you read the book, Living with Your Husbands Secret Wars by Marsha Means.
Going through this chapter netted some pretty serious conversation on Sunday in our class. Starting with a question about ‘mate rape’ – that is, if your husband forces you to have sex with him when you’ve already said no is this considered ‘mate rape’ – we ended up in a pretty heavy and at times heated discussion about 1) whether Christian women have the right to deny their husbands and 2) if women who do say no do they encourage their husbands to cheat. You can imagine how that went. Personally, I always get a bit angry when it seems as if women are held responsible -blamed- for their husbands’ wrong choices. It’s much like blaming the victim of spousal abuse saying if she had kept her mouth shut he wouldn’t have hit her. When the scripture teaches that our bodies are not our own but that they belong to our spouses, did God mean that we are to be ‘ready in season and out of season, whether you feel like it or not?’
Clearly, we need to honor our husbands and wives with our bodies. That’s part of what this book is about. I guess, we may need to go back to the first couple of chapters and read about spiritual and emotional intimacy as the root of physical intimacy if we can expect to be victorious!
What do you think?
Filed under: Marriage Intimacy | Tagged: Douglas Weiss, intimacy, Marriage, mate rape, sex | Leave a Comment »