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How Do I Enjoy Sex in My Marriage after Past Sexual Abuse?

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“How can I trust my partner with my body after domestic violence?”
“What would you do if sex got you?”
“What if I can’t satisfy my spouse sexually?”
“What if I’m too hurt to have a relationship?”

These are practical questions and genuine concerns from abuse survivors. Some of us married abusers. Some have been abused by their parents, teachers, pastors, and siblings. Either way, the distortions of love and sexuality, the lies that strangle our hearts and minds, leave echoes of fear and shadows of anxiety long after we are free. We may want a romantic relationship, but we fear that our past will interfere with our future.

Because each abuse survivor has different personalities, experiences, and cues, it is impossible to create a one-size-fits-all solution. Still, I encourage you to talk to a counselor about your particular situation, but I’ll give you a general answer and hope it steers you in the right direction.

god made sex

As a child, I felt like I was walking through cancer. I wondered if I had been the trigger for my father’s sins. Like the spiritual typhoid Maria, I was afraid I was infecting men with perversions wherever I went. People I loved, even my own father, were plagued with sin because of me. I was afraid to get too close to pious people like pastors and elders. Because I was afraid of tripping them.

But one Sunday our pastor gave a sermon on sex. It was one of those services that sent all the kids out and warned the adults to get some stinky salt because things were going to get messy.

These warnings intrigued me rather than frightened me. I attended the sermon and listened well. I know that when God created Adam and Eve, he said to them: Fill the earth and conquer it. ” Genesis 1:28. After creating man and woman, God said, “It is very good.” Genesis 1:31. Because of this, we know sex is good. Sex was invented, planned, and intended for good by God.

Adam and Eve were meant to have a loving, physical, conjugal relationship. One man and one woman, loyal and loving. If they hadn’t sinned, their marriage could have lasted forever. But sex existed before the fall. Before sin invades the world.

A sinful person may use sex in sinful ways, but sex itself is neither sinful nor shameful. Someone is guilty only if loveless sex takes place outside of marriage.

That sermon hit hard on my abuser’s mind game. The lies my father shouted and the lies Satan whispered began to unravel. I began to realize that my father’s perversions were entirely his own creation. It wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Not mine. not of God. Not masculine as a gender. Not even Satan’s. My abuser’s guilt was entirely my abuser’s fault.

end the guilt trip

Abusers often try to make us believe that all sexuality, even loving sex within a marriage, is shameful or evil. Conversely, they may argue that all sex (including violent and non-consensual sex) is acceptable within marriage. My father taught me both of these lies at the same time, and the effect was confusion and despair.

Abusers may argue that our anger at their evil is as sinful as their violence. They may misrepresent our legitimate fears, disgusts, or resentments by accusing us of being unforgiving, disrespectful, self-righteous, or disobedient. . They humiliate us while minimizing their sins. They may want us not to feel ashamed and guilty to ask for help or report.

It is very important to understand this pattern of wrongful accusations by evil people to keep us in control. Detecting their lies is like removing a blindfold. Rejecting their thought patterns is like breaking the shackles that bind us to unhappiness.

You may feel confused because you found the abusive spouse attractive. But of course we found them charming. Being attracted to a spouse is not a sin. Rather it is healthy and good. At some point we loved a violent or perverted husband.

But love is not a sin and we are not part of their sins.

We may have taken pleasure in our parents’ improper consideration, but we also want children to please their fathers and mothers, and to impress their teachers, pastors, and family “friends.” It’s not wrong to hope. Children should trust adults.

Innocence is not sin and we are not complicit in their sin.

love is not lust, truth is not shameful

And hope is not weakness. As survivors, we need to redefine concepts that our abusers have misdefined. We need to shift our perspective on fundamental concepts like romance, sexuality, masculinity, and marriage. Slowly but surely we need to learn how to distinguish between our natural instincts and healthy desires and our sinful choices and evil intentions.

Desires, for example, are inappropriate thoughts that a person meditates on, clings to, and develops. Desires may start as small ideas, but over time they swell and grow into fantasies and obsessions. Ultimately, desire can interfere with your ability to think purely and feel wholesome love. It affects how we treat others.

Lust is choosing a temptation and following it. Simply finding someone attractive is not the same as seeking a mate sexually.

Attraction is a natural emotion that occurs in healthy adults. We know this because God made it like sex. The chemicals he has incorporated into our bodies respond to stimuli, causing emotional and sometimes physical reactions. For example, you may blush when an attractive person smiles at you. It doesn’t make you the bad guy. it makes you human.

But unlike abusers, when we see someone attractive, we recognize that person as God’s creation instead of lusting. We treat them with honor and dignity. We don’t fantasize about them, take advantage of them, seduce them, or intentionally make them feel uncomfortable. Basic emotions and chemistry are not sins per se. What is sinful is how we act towards them (in imagination and in real life). That is why one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22).

Nevertheless, guilt and trauma from past abuse can hinder a devout, loving Christian who wants healthy sexual relationships but fears sin.

If you are, why not read the Song of Solomon all the way through. Remember, these words were inspired by God Himself. They are not just good; they are sacred. They are sacred ideals representing how a loving groom romances a bride and an honorable wife flirts with her husband. fine.

There is no shame in expressing feelings and desires that God has designed for you to enjoy. Your sexuality isn’t “dirty” or something to be afraid of. Rather, it is a gift from God meant for you to glorify Him through your love, life and marriage.

Identify triggers and create anti-triggers

Many survivors worry that sex or cheating can cause anxiety or PTSD. Triggers are a strange thing. It could be the layout of the room, a particular aftershave scent, a song, or a particular pick-up line. Please narrow down what exactly is causing you. Often it turns out that it is more specific than sex in general. A hand is placed on the shoulder from behind. A specific room in the house. The act of taking off one’s clothes in public.

Once you recognize your triggers, you can avoid them, avoid them, or at least be mentally prepared. Tell your spouse what they are so they can avoid them as well.

Decorate your home so that it looks no different than the place where you were abused. Use scented candles, laundry detergent, and other scents that are different from the ones you smell in the abused area. Create a new environment for new relationships that does not remind you of old relationships, even subconsciously.

One of the triggers was the smell of freshly cut grass. Naturally, we couldn’t expect our neighbors to disturb our yard, and we couldn’t stay indoors to avoid such a common smell. So I came up with the anti-trigger. I chose a good memory—the day my mother gifted me rose perfume—and used it to combat PTSD. I bought a small rose scented candle and kept it in my bag. Whenever I felt depressed or anxious, I would always pull it out and smell the memory. It took me back to that happy moment. The feeling of being loved and safe.

Triggers cause panic, but anti-triggers bring tranquility. Remember your own happy memories. A time that felt safe, caring, and peaceful. It doesn’t have to be monumental, just sentimental. Now think of small things (songs, smells, activities, or items) that can be used to create anti-triggers. When you feel stressed, use that anti-trigger to relax. It may take a few tries before you find one that works, but don’t give up. When this technique works, it’s a game changer.

Look for Jesus in Your Loved Ones

Like all people, abuse survivors understand the world based on what we know. We see people and situations through the lens of our experiences, many of which have been negative. Past events have influenced our expectations and perceptions of others. But our fear is a learned behavior.

Abusers have taught us to fear abuse. afraid of sex. Fear of trust. The good news is, if you can tell what you feel, fearso I can teach you to feel too loved and safe. And you can teach yourself.

So, in closing, I would encourage you to practice thinking about your godly spouse through the lens of Jesus rather than through the learned lens of abuse. It may feel awkward and unnatural at first, but after a while it instinctively begins to identify your loved one with God’s love.

Is your loved one a patient? Think of the Good Shepherd who patiently takes care of his sheep (Psalm 23, John 10).

Does your loved one like children? Meditate on how Jesus loved and blessed little children (Matthew 19:13-15).

Do they help with household chores? Remember how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13).

Are they the life of the party? Jesus was very popular at weddings in Cana. (John 2).

By doing this, you are replacing painful triggers with new, positive emotional triggers. You are turning your spouse into an anti-trigger.

So practice emotionally connecting your spouse with Jesus. The goal is to slowly unravel negative thought patterns and reorganize your mind in patterns of grace and joy. We are discarding the old relationship blueprint of fear and shame and replacing it with a blueprint drafted by God Himself.

It’s a process, but eventually a new way of thinking will permeate it. It took a deliberate and repeated effort to identify her husband with Jesus so as not to unwittingly remind her of her abuser.

It’s been years and I’m still working on it, but the result is continued spiritual growth and an increase in love, trust and security.

I hope this article, though a brief overview, will encourage you to grow and move away from the idea of ​​abuse and into the idea of ​​God’s love. he created you He created your spouse. He loves marriage and love and family.

You are not defined by what others do to you. In fact, you are not defined even by what you have done yourself.

If you believe in Jesus, you are defined by God’s perfect and holy love.


Jennifer Greenberg She was abused by her churchgoing father. However, she is still a Christian.in her courageous and compelling book not abandoned, she reflects on how God brought life and hope into the darkest of situations. Jen shows how the gospel can help survivors overcome issues of guilt, forgiveness, love, and values. And she calls on church leaders to protect vulnerable members of the congregation. Her reflections offer biblical truths and gospel hope that can help survivors of abuse and those who walk with them.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/PeopleImages

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