What you will find in this article:
- How to lower anxiety around sex and boost sexual confidence
- 3 Things to learn about your body
- Functions (And where to go to learn this)
- Skin sensations
- Bonus – when do I ask for help
- Other helpful MCO articles on married sex, pain, pleasure, desire, women’s sexual confidence
Improving your sex life can feel overwhelming, lonely, even scary. You want to deepen your enjoyment, learn how to grow in intimacy and pleasure with your spouse, but where do you start? How much time could it take? Where can you even go as a Christian woman who wants to honor your moral values and still enjoy the gift of sex in your marriage?
If you have wrestled with any of these questions, you are certainly not alone. Maybe you are here searching for some insights because you are just not sure about the idea of sex therapy itself.
I get it. Christian sex therapy might still feel a little invasive. You’re on the fence, and that’s ok. Let me offer 3 areas that you can engage in on your own here and now to help you start to learn and build more confidence in your sex life. You can decide later if sex therapy is a good fit for you.
Paying attention to these 3 things will help you to:
· Lower anxiety and shame about your body and/or sexual experiences with your spouse
· Increase hope and self-confidence in your married sex life
· Increase confidence in your ability to share specific needs for care with your doctor as needed
· Increase pleasure in your life (yes, whole life, not just sex life)
3 Things to learn –
· Anatomical names of the parts of female genitalia (hint- there are more than 3)
· The specific functions of those parts of your body
· Recognizing the sensory input of your skin (the body’s largest organ)
Let’s call it like it is. Your body is designed by God, and it is good. Let that sink in for a second. Take a breath, let one hand rest on your arm or belly and repeat those words, your body is designed by God, and it is GOOD.
It has always been good and is capable of incredible growth and healing.
Although we live in a world with a lot of confusing messages, your body’s original design still stands.
Every part of you was created to be seen, felt, and experienced without shame by you and your spouse.
“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame” (Genesis 2:24-25)[i].
Consider that, both bodies were designed to be seen without any shame.
Researchers and therapists in Christian sex therapy emphasize that sexual terminology itself is one of the first and most common sources of anxiety in married sexual relationships. Findings indicate that over the last 30 plus years of research a huge source of fear, stress, disappointment, sexual disfunction and embarrassment for couples is this very thing: a lack of sexual language that deals with sexuality in detail[ii].
I meet with women of all ages who refer to their own genitals as, “down there”, or “that part”, or “lady parts”, as if it was one big, disgusting, shameful growth. This breaks my heart to hear women across cultures, races and faith traditions alienate themselves from these precious parts of their own bodies! If you have used some of these terms regarding your own genitals as a woman, you are not alone.
In fact, secular studies have shown that “most of us grow up learning how our bodies ‘work’ (generally), and a few names like ‘penis, vagina, orgasm, ejaculate’ we learn in school health classes… However, (few people are) given information about how women (and men’s) bodies function sexually”[iii].
Research in both secular and biblically based worldviews reveals that decreasing body shame and sexual anxiety and increasing self-esteem starts with better language and understanding about the anatomy itself.
Be curious, learn the specific functions of the many parts of your genitals, how they work and when they work that way. This creates clarity of understanding of the intricacies in your body’s systems, its uniqueness and its goodness.
I invite you to consider that the same Creator who fashioned your eye’s pupil and iris to function so precisely also formed your clitoris, hymen, and vaginal walls. God made them to fit and act precisely in the form of your body as part of a good and healthy life.
(Where to go to learn this) –
You may be thinking right about now, “Great, but where can I even start learning about this level of detail, Mary? Google images is not a door I want to go through! How would I explain that search history?”
I hear you. Protecting your own heart and mind in today’s world of vast information sources is important.
I have good news. There are ways to learn more specifics about your anatomy and protect your mind from unhealthy information or temptations out there on the web.
You can access the correct names and drawings a few different ways. You can contact your gynecologist’s office where several educational pamphlets with clearly outlined names and images are available. You can also find great resources for understanding more of the function of the individual parts of your genitals through several resource works by Christian sex therapists –
When you choose a resource to guide you through names and images take some time weekly in a private, quite place in your home. Set aside some unrushed time to look at your own vagina (you can use a small hand mirror to assist here), and name the different areas out loud to yourself. Name the part and what it does. Share what you are learning about your body with your spouse.
Offer a prayer of gratitude for those parts of your sexual organs and the intricate ways that God has made you.
Take a few moments during your week to read Psalm 139:13-14. Allow your heart to pause, listen and consider these verses as you see, name and feel your intricate wholeness.
“You fashioned my inmost being,
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank You for I am awesomely made, wonderfully;
Your works are wonders – I know this very well” (Complete Jewish Study Bible)[v].
Similarly intricate, your skin is the largest organ in your body. It helps you feel the changes in weather, the excitement of a moment, and the tenderness of comfort for a child.
Take some time daily and check in with your skin, yes, really, like you are talking with a friend. Pick an area of skin, perhaps your forearm, your neck, or fingertips. Take some slow breaths as you notice for a few seconds these 3 things about the kind of touch you are experiencing in the moment:
Ask yourself after noticing these, what you enjoy and what you might like to change in those 3 sensations[iv]. Practice saying these out loud [v].
Recognition of pleasure and discomfort sensations are key parts of your experience in a lifelong journey of sexual growth and fulfillment with your spouse.
Developing an awareness of your own sensations can help you to share more specifically with your spouse what you are experiencing as you engage intimate moments together. Also, this practice of mindful touch and breathing technique helps to slow and reduce your body’s overall stress responses and access comfort and pleasure, no matter where you are. This small exploration of touch and breathing can help deepen your emotional and physical closeness – your spouse won’t know what it’s like for you and how to help or what you would like instead unless you tell them. So, take a few moments daily to be curious, explore and practice expressing this for yourself.
Bonus – When do I ask for help –
A word of encouragement.
As you are exploring through these 3 areas of learning if you find yourself experiencing intense emotions (fear, sadness, confusion), or body responses like panic, painful sensations, or numbness, it can be a signal that your body is sending to alert you of a need. This is a helpful not a harmful signal that your body was designed to give you; it is indicating that there may be a need for support. A trained sex therapist can help you sort through your experiences and get to the specific type of support needed for your body, mind, and emotions.
A final thought –
If you have felt frustrated, stuck, or confused about your body or your sexual experiences, I hope that you hear there is help and hope for you to have a more fulfilling and enjoyable connection with your sexual self and your sexual journey. God made your body to enjoy His incredible gift of intimacy with your spouse, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Taking a step to build your understanding of physical vocabulary, functions and gratitude for God’s wonderful design in you is a great place to start enjoying this gift even more.
Other questions? Here are some more resources in other MCO articles from our team of Christian Sex Therapists: