Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Free to Enjoy Intimacy in Marriage

Leslie Basham: When a woman makes poor moral choices, she can enter marriage with a sense of guilt and bondage. Here’s Linda Dillow.

Linda Dillow: A Christian woman will say with her lips, “Oh, I know God’s forgiven me for my sexual sin,” and she’ll smile as she says it. But she’s not walking out that forgiveness in her marriage.

Leslie: You're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 24.

If you have young children, you might want to get them busy somewhere else, and then come back to listen to Revive Our Hearts.

One of our listeners responded enthusiastically to the program that aired yesterday. She communicated at ReviveOurHearts.com how much she enjoys intimacy with her husband. She wrote, “I have never understood why so many women think of it as having a responsibility for meeting their husband’s needs.” For her, intimacy in marriage is a joy, but if you don’t share that sense of enthusiasm, please keep listening.

Here’s Nancy to get us started.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the great messages of the Scripture and of the Gospel is that through the death on the cross and the blood of Jesus Christ, there is hope and forgiveness and cleansing available to deal with issues of our past.

This week, we’re talking particularly to married women about the topic of physical intimacy in the context of marriage. Here to help us on that subject is Linda Dillow, who has co-authored with Lorraine Pintus a book called Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex.

Linda, thank you for joining us again on Revive Our Hearts.

Linda: It’s a joy to be here, Nancy.

Nancy: I so appreciate the spirit and the tone of your book, and the very practical help that you give to women in dealing with many of those questions. Now, before we jump into those questions, let me say also that we have joining us my friend, Holly Elliff.

Holly, I’m going to ask you to jump in from time to time with questions. As you’ve ministered to married women in this area, what are some of the things you’ve seen and heard and sensed—some of the issues that have been raised that we need to deal with from a biblical standpoint?

Holly Elliff: Nancy, one thing that I have dealt over and over with married women about is, “How do I get a right perspective on the whole area of my sexuality when my past has been so wrong? Maybe I have not handled sexual things correctly in the past; maybe I was abused as a child. So my whole perspective on this area is not biblical. How do I get from that point to the point where I can see this as a good thing?”

Linda: That’s a good question, Holly. Let’s start with the first one: How does a woman get over the guilt of her past?

In reality, very few women come into marriage without a past. What I see over and over again is that a Christian woman will say with her lips, “Oh, I know God’s forgiven me for my sexual sin,” and she’ll smile as she says it. But she’s not walking out that forgiveness in her marriage.

I remember a young woman that came to me and said, “Linda, this area of my marriage just isn’t good.” As we began to talk, she told me that as a college student and a Christian, she had given herself to her boyfriend, knowing that it was wrong.

She told her husband before she was married, and she said with her lips, “Yes, I know I’m forgiven.” But she could not enter into their physical union with joy. There was something keeping her from giving herself totally to her husband and enjoying the abandonment, the freedom, and the holiness that God wanted in her sexual union.

Holly: Linda, I think, too, sometimes women, because they had so much freedom in their past in this area, try to punish themselves even after they’re married, in the sense of believing that they cannot enjoy this. They cannot see it as a God-given, wonderful, good thing because in the past it was not God-given; it was wrong. So they have not released themselves from their past enough to enjoy this area of their marriage.

In your book you refer to this as "cleaning out the basement." The fact that we have to go back and look at our past and deal with it God's way. How do you tell women to do that?

Linda: Holly, that is exactly what the problem was in the life of the young woman that I was talking with. We went back and looked together at 1 Corinthians 6:17-18. It says,

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

Because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are not only harming God, but we’re harming this temple that God has given us. Sexual sin is like no other sin. When we sin sexually, it’s like there’s a tie that connects us to the other person, and those soul ties have to be cut.

So I encouraged the young woman who was sitting in my living room to confess to God. When we confess our sins, He is always faithful to forgive our sins and to cleanse us (see 1 John 1:9). So she just went down and named her sins. She said, “God, I confess this. I thought I had, but I see I really haven’t. And God, I want You to cut that part of me that I connected to him and remove it forever, because I want only to be connected to You and my husband.”

After she prayed, she was flooded with the forgiveness of God and began to walk in a new way in her marriage.

I always tell women, “If you are continually assaulted in your mind by pictures and thoughts of what was in your past, you know, if you’ve asked for forgiveness, that those thoughts are not from God. They are being hurled at you from the evil one, and you need to do exactly what Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness. You speak Scripture. You say, ‘I am forgiven,’ and you hurl it back at the enemy. You say, ‘Get behind me, Satan. I am not going to go there in my mind. I am not going to listen to your taunts. I am new.’”

Holly: Linda, I think, too, this is a topic that applies to Christian women who are single and want to stay rightly related to the Father in this area. They may walk into a marriage someday where they don’t want to carry with them the guilt of sexual sin. It will affect their marriage. When they become a wife, they will have to deal with issues.

What do you say to that woman who is single now but perhaps already has a past that is wrong. How does she need to deal with her past so that she can look forward to marriage and this area of being exactly what God wants it to be?

Linda: I encourage every single woman I talk to, to know God’s perspective on the sexual relationship in marriage. She needs to know that while she is single. She has heard a million messages from the world. I always ask single women, “How many messages have you heard lately from God’s perspective?”

A single woman needs to be saturated with God’s perspective about the gift He’s given to married couples, and that should be her motivation for staying pure. In reality, many single women have already erred in this area.

I talk with many of them who’ve put off dealing with the guilt of their past. I encourage any single woman listening today, that today is the day you need to confess that sin to the Father. You need to cut those soul ties with the person or persons that you’ve been intimate with.

I think it’s important to say, too, that it’s not just the act of sexual intercourse that ties us to another person, but it’s intimate touching, and we need to confess to the Lord Jesus every one of those sins. He will give forgiveness, and a single woman can become as a virgin again. She can’t restore her physical virginity, but the word virgin means “pure-like,” and every single woman can become pure in thought and word and deed.

Holly: That gives such hope, I think, to single women and married women with a past.

Linda: Oh, it does.

Holly: A lot of married women and many single women struggle with the whole area of having a right mind because they’ve been abused in the past. I know this is a huge issue in our society. So what about the woman who’s been abused in the past, who cannot view sex as a good thing?

Linda: Oh, it’s very difficult when you have been violated and when evil has been done to you, to see sex in marriage as a gift. That just doesn’t go together.

The tragic thing, Nancy and Holly, is that a Christian counselor that I work with in Denver said that she’s convinced one-out-of-three women in America has been abused. That just makes me want to weep, and I know it makes God weep. He was weeping with every one of those women who was abused. He was weeping over the evil that was done to them. But what I’d like to say to every woman listening, single and married, who’s been abused, is that God’s name is Jehovah Rapha. He is the Healer, and His name is Hope.

I have seen many women who have been totally healed of their sexual abuse and able to enjoy the sexual relationship with their husband as they have seen God’s perspective. As they have allowed the Lord Jesus to come deeply into their life, they have been able to reach up and grasp God’s perspective.

That can happen in a moment, or it can happen as a long process, but God is the one who brings back the years that the locust has eaten. He is the one who brings beauty out of ashes, and He can do that in every woman’s life.

Nancy: We’ve talked today about two barriers that many married women experience in their physical relationship with their husband. In fact, Linda, one of the chapters in the book that you and Lorraine co-authored, Intimate Issues, is entitled, “How Can I Relate When He’s a Microwave and I’m a Crockpot?”

Linda: That title makes me laugh, Nancy, and yet it’s very true in many marriages. I find that women don’t like that. They don’t like the fact that they’re a slow cooker and their husband is a microwave. This area of sexual response seems so easy for him, and it doesn’t seem as easy for the wife. He seems ever-interested, and she doesn’t seem as interested. Do you find this, Holly, when you talk to women?

Holly: Definitely, and I think what’s so interesting is that when women do not understand that, it’s very difficult for them to respond to their husbands because they don’t have the basic knowledge of some of the differences and the fact that God built their husband that way.

It wasn’t that their husbands just decided to be that way; this is a God-given thing. So unless they understand their husband’s needs, even in the physical realm—even in the way God built him physically—they’re not going to understand why it is so important for them to meet their husband’s needs.

Linda: I think you hit the nail on the head. Women think that they’re unhappy with the way their husbands are, but in reality, they are arguing against God, because God is the one who created men to respond visually. God is the one who gave the sexual desire like a microwave to men. This was His design, and when we as wives fight against it, we’re really fighting against God. We don’t want to do that.

Holly: So, Linda, what do you say to wives to help them understand the ways in which God built their husband that make it critical for them to respond to him in the right way?

Linda: Holly, let me first just make a couple of qualifications. We’ve said that men are like microwaves and women are like crockpots. That is a general statement, but it is not always true.

Men have varying degrees of sexual desire. Women have high, medium, and low degrees of sexual desire. A question that I hear very often from grieving women is, “Linda, why isn’t my husband taking the initiative in our sexual relationship? Why am I more interested than he is?”

There is such a wide range of situations. Probably, it is as wide as the number of marriages represented by the listening audience today. And yet, God did make men different than women.

I think one of the areas, Holly, that wives struggle with is that they don’t like the fact that their husbands are visual. This weekend a woman said to me, “My husband wants to make love with candles, and I want to be in the dark.” What do you say to women about that?

Holly: Well, when Billy and I got married, I was so inhibited in this area and so modest that I wanted to go in my closet to get undressed at night. It was very difficult for me to realize how God had built my husband and why it was so important for me to understand him in this area.

I do believe that many times, as women, because we have not become students of our husbands in this area, we miss a lot of the ways in which we could give them joy. How do you teach women to understand their husbands? What do they need to do differently because of the way their husbands are built?

Linda: Holly, I encourage them to go back to the Word of God, where all the answers are found. When we look at the very wise young bride in the Song of Solomon, we see that she realized her husband was created to respond to the visual. In one passage in the Song of Solomon, in chapter 7, we see her enticing him visually. He starts at her feet and goes up her whole body, and he is just enjoying gazing on the beauty of the creation of his wife’s body.

Holly: A lot of women don’t feel very good about their bodies and how they look. How do you encourage women to respond to their husbands, understanding his need, even if they may not look like they’re 20 and weigh 110 pounds anymore? Are they responsible to respond to their husbands’ needs?

Linda: I love the passage in Proverbs 5 where the answer to temptation for a man is that he’s to drink water from his own cistern and fresh water from his own well, and he’s to delight in the wife of his youth (see verses 15-19). Now, she may not still be youthful, but he is to delight in her, and that is where all of his sexual desire is to be satisfied.

I want to read to you a letter I got from a woman. Yes, as women, we usually don't like our bodies. At our conferences with 1000 women, my co-author, Lorraine Pintus and I have said, "How many of you are totally satisfied with your bodies?" Not one of those thousand women raised their hand—not one!

A woman that I think has the right perspective is named Caroline. She sent me this letter. She says, “As I age, the old body deteriorates. I’ve got stretch marks from three babies, cellulite, and varicose veins. My breasts sag, wrinkles abound, but as my body has fallen, my expertise as a lover has risen. I really think my dear husband of 40 years still sees my body as it once was, because he receives such pleasure from it.” Isn’t that a fabulous perspective?

Holly: It’s a great perspective, but it’s also a motivator for us as women to keep our bodies in shape, to stay as attractive to our husbands as we can.

I know many, many of the letters and responses we get at Revive Our Hearts, Nancy, deal with the whole issue of marriage. Many times, I think, women struggle with the fact that their husbands don’t seem to desire them as much as they used to. So what do you say to the woman who is struggling with that issue, that her husband is not meeting her as often as she’s wanting him to?

Linda: That’s a good question, and it’s a very often-asked question. People don’t know it’s an often-asked question because that woman who is in this situation feels that somehow it's all her fault—she's not attractive enough, she's not young enough. She isn’t going to tell her friends or voice to anyone that her husband just is not interested in her. I find these women very often are dieting excessively, exercising excessively because they just want to get their husband’s attention.

Now, first we always have to go before God, and we have to say, “Search my heart and test me, and see if there’s anything in me that’s not right.” One husband who was not interested in his wife, Holly, finally confided in his wife and said, “Because every word out of your mouth toward me is critical, I’m just not interested in being intimate with you.”

Holly: When we’re married, we’re not just having sex. It’s a whole realm of a relationship.

Linda: Yes. It’s a totality. It’s everything. We don’t think of men like that, but you know, the sexual act is emotional for them, too. This is how men primarily connect emotionally with their women. If they’re just being criticized and torn down, they don’t want to connect emotionally or sexually with their wife. So, first, examine your heart. Secondly, realize people have different degrees of sexual desire.

I really almost hate to mention this, Nancy and Holly, but the question has to be asked, “Is my husband involved in pornography?” This is just such a huge issue today with the Internet.

Holly: And such a trap because the man is visually oriented.

Linda: That’s it.

Holly: This is such an easy tool of the enemy to draw a man’s heart away. It’s rampant in our society.

Linda: And it's rampant among Christian couples. I talked the other day with a couple that led a small group with seven couples who were talked about keeping yourselves pure in marriage—what you see, what you hear. Five of those seven men made an appointment with the leader and told him they were involved with pornography over the Internet.These are all Christian men.

Nancy: And this is something that we’re hearing often from our Revive Our Hearts listeners, women who are expressing—just pouring out their hearts with frustration and crying out for help, “What do I do with my husband involved in pornography?” Now, we’re not going to answer that question in any exhaustive way here, but, Linda, could you give just a word of encouragement to a wife in that situation?

Linda: God is the one who will meet her needs just as He does in every area, but, Nancy, she needs to be very honest with her husband. She needs to confront him and tell him she loves him and that she’ll go for help with him, but that he must get help.

Whenever sin is kept in the dark, the enemy has power, but when it is brought into the light, then there can be healing. As long as a man keeps this sin of pornography hidden, the enemy will just use it over and over again.

So I encourage women to beg their husbands to go for help, to offer to go for help with him, but to give a deadline and say, “Please, within the next two weeks, go for help.” If he doesn’t, she needs to go to the pastor and involve the church in ministering to her husband, because if it’s kept in the dark, it will destroy his soul. It will destroy their marriage and their children.

Holly: I think that’s why it’s so critical, Linda, for women to realize that they are a safeguard for their husbands. When they respond to their husband in the right way physically, then it protects him in many ways from the temptation that he encounters in the world. She is the only legitimate way for his needs to be met physically.

Nancy: We’re talking here about the importance of wives accepting their husbands, accepting those God-created differences—even coming to the place where they thank God for their husband just as he is, in the way that God has made him—accepting him as God’s gift for them.

Then there’s a need for a married woman to accept biblically her responsibility, her God-given responsibility, to meet her husband’s needs and to minister to him, not only in the physical realm but, as we’ve said, also in the way she talks to him—to be an encourager, an affirmer, to build him up so that he feels free to be the man God made him to be.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss talking with Linda Dillow about the God-given differences between men and women. If you've related to the frustration women often have when their husbands seem so different, we hope you'll read further on the subject. In their book, Intimate Issues, Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus deal plainly with many of the things that often frustrate husbands and wives.

Whether you consider your marriage strong, in deep trouble, or anything in-between, you'll benefit from reading the book, Intimate Issues. We'll send you a copy as our way of saying "thanks" when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just call us and ask for Intimate Issues at 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

What do you do if you're exhausted and don't feel like meeting your husband's needs? Linda and Holly will be back tomorrow to give you some advice. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible.

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