This article by the amazing Lady Boss, Melanie Studley, was originally published on the Anatomy of Marriage Facebook page. You can view the original post here.
We received an email at Anatomy Of Marriage this morning that was a simple question about a wife not being in the mood for sex and having a sort of mental block, but it unearthed a deep and personal awakening in my heart that I wanted to share!! Here is part of my email response….
Try and erase what you currently think of as “sex”. I know that sounds weird, but our cultural ideas that sex is only intercourse, that you have to be perfectly made up and wearing something sexy to do it, that it is mostly about the pleasure of the man, all of those things often turn sex into a chore for women, there is SO MUCH MORE PRESSURE ON WOMEN!!!!! BLAGH!!
Start with a reformation of what pleasure and connection looks like with your wife, take sex out of the equation for a time, tell her that you have no intention of intercourse and then proceed to please her through soft touch that has nothing to do with her genitals (unless that is what she wants!), talk to her, listen to her without offering advice or correction, let her be your Goddess but don’t make her do anything to earn it, make sense?! Take pleasure in her as a human, a wife, a friend, don’t fixate only on her body, fixate on connecting to her soul and communicating the love and desire that you have for her. Connection and Pleasure.
Women often feel ‘taken from’ in so many aspects of life in order to fit in or be acceptable in our society. We are told to shave our legs or we will be ugly, we should be thin and wear makeup or we “just aren’t trying hard enough”, we are told be soft spoken, we are told to let men lead (even our boyfriends who may have no intention of loving and caring for us long term) because that is what “good girls” do. We are encouraged to give up our dreams to raise children, we are judged by family and friends if we return to work, if our home is not clean or Pinterest-y enough. All that to say that women are constantly being told how to be, what to be, what they should do, how they should think, what they should wear, how they should feel, etc. This constant loading in of “should’s and shouldnt’s” is an enormous burden on women and is SO PERVASIVE in our culture that we don’t even notice it anymore.
This all applies to sex and intimacy and is a huge burden and a huge turn-off for women. Flipping the script often feels so bizarre to us that we can’t imagine what it would look like. What comes to mind when I tell you to let your wife be a Goddess? I instantly think of a completely culturalized idea of a Goddess, she isn’t a “normal woman”, she has more than one lover, she wears very little clothing, she has huge boobs, etc. Even our idea of what a Goddess can be is completely shaped by culture, popular movies, etc. We need to find the middle space here, all women are Goddesses in their own right (the ability to bring new life in the world is a very significant skill and yes, it makes all women Goddesses even if they have never birthed a child) BUT…we must allow each Goddess to love, live, be, and move on this earth in her own way. When we allow for the blossoming of the women around us, we WILL bask in the beauty that is uniquely formed in each one of them, that is… if she wants to share that beauty with us.
Women (and men) who are welcomed to blossom at their own rate and in their own way bring a complex and unparalleled spectrum of beauty that is a celebration of Imago Dei itself (the image of God). Sexuality is a facet of that Imago Dei expression, we humans are the ones who have a hard time letting sex be complex and varied, we think it is, looks, feels and behaves in a very particular way, and in our constricted and confined idea of what sex ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ be we lose so much beauty, so much connection and so much pleasure.
Healthy sexuality truly is the blossoming of a flower, there is no better analogy that I can think of. You cannot tear open a rose bud and expect that the rose will be healthy and beautiful, you cannot force a tulip to blossom but you can love that flower well, water it, give it sunshine and protect it from harsh weather and it will blossom when it is ready. And… wounded and injured flowers, just like wounded and injured people, aren’t garbage to be thrown away, they just need love, proper care and affection and they will bloom again in their own time and in their own way.
Women are as delicate as flowers and as mighty as Goddesses, so are men.
When we deny ourselves the beauty of our own complexity we deny ourselves of Imago Dei, when we put blinders on and see sex and intimacy as only a handful of specific acts, we deny ourselves and our partner of the spectrum of intimate and sexual pleasure that is fully available to us. If we can begin to remove the mountains of unnecessary shame and guilt that have been placed on us then we can begin to foster our own blossoming. We need love, safety, and care to blossom well, but society, church and culture have piled on shame, judgment and guilt, and just as a flower cannot bloom when it is buried to deeply in the soil, we also cannot bloom if we are buried too deeply beneath the weight of these unnecessary additions.
I hope you found this helpful, it means a lot to me to have a place to share it and I pray that it inspires y’all to bloom in your beauty and your complexity, men and women alike!!