Intimacy in marriage, specifically sexual intimacy, right up there with finances are the two biggest contributors to conflict in marriage. Unmet expectations, sin, insecurities, it all disrupts unity in marriage leading to a difficult environment to experience intimacy. We struggled with sexual intimacy for the first four years of our marriage. If you don’t know this already, I share about our marriage hardships and how God saved us in my book The Unveiled Wife.
In this episode, Aaron and I decided to dive back into our story to talk about what happened back then in those first few years. We talk about our struggle with intimacy, the pain I felt during sex, and what God did to restore and heal our marriage. We pray our story encourages you today, at most letting you know you are not alone in your struggles.
– Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.
– Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.
– Today, we’re gonna share with you our struggle with intimacy. Hey, thanks for joining us again this week. As usual, we want to invite you to subscribe to our channel so you get notified every single time we upload an episode.
– Also, we would love for you to share this video with your married couple friends.
– So, in this episode, we’re gonna just dive into one aspect of our marriage. It’s been the one that has defined our ministry in many ways. It’s the one that started us into the ministry of just encouraging marriages and wanting to impart to other people what God’s been teaching us. It’s in the area of intimacy. We did an episode telling our whole overarching, you know, marriage testimony. But, we just want to talk mostly, in this episode, about what the intimacy issues were, what we dealt with, when it started. Hopefully, you guys can get just bit deeper into knowing us. And also, maybe get some hope if you’re in a situation similar to ours because we’ve talked to people that have had similar situations and they felt like us, hopeless. So, in sharing with you, we hope that you would be encouraged and also maybe even encouraged to tell your own story to someone to find help if you need it. So, that’s what our goal is today.
– Yeah, sharing about sex and intimacy is not an easy topic to cover. Like, it’s not easy or natural to just tell the world about the struggles that you’ve had.
– I even fought you on doing this one, this episode.
– You did.
– I was like, do we really want to talk about that right now?
– But, here’s the thing. I found that as we shared our story over the years, we found that it has brought healing and freedom and encouragement to other people in hopeless situations or painful situations. Situations where, just like us, they felt completely alone or too embarrassed to talk about it. So, we wrestled with all those insecurities in the beginning, too. But, as we started to talk about it, we found that it was okay to talk about it and we should be talking about certain things so that other people know how to get help. Or just be encouraged to know that they’re not alone in those struggles and to give them that little bit of hope that will carry them on through the next day and the next day and the next day.
– In reality, the Bible talks about just being children of light. We’ve talked about this in the past. The idea is the enemy loves to keep us in the darkness. We like to keep our sin in the darkness. We like to keep to pains in the darkness, don’t tell anyone, don’t share, you’re the only one dealing with it. You know what it does, is it keeps us right there. You never find healing, you never find victory. So, we’ve found that the more we talk about it, the more victory we have over it. It doesn’t control us emotionally, it doesn’t control us physically, it doesn’t control us spiritually. So, our ministry and hope is that we’re helping people, teaching people, showing people by example. Hey, pull those things into the light so that they can become light.
– Yeah, and here’s the thing. Sex and intimacy is a huge part of marriage. So, for all those listening, all the husbands and wives who listen to our podcast, I mean, they are dealing with that on a day to day basis anyway.
– Yeah, in some form or fashion.
– Yeah, so we need to be talking about it. Aaron, why don’t you start out by just giving a little backstory from your side of before marriage, so leading up to marriage, what were some of your expectations about sex?
– Well, I saved myself. I didn’t have intercourse with anyone outside of marriage. I don’t have a squeaky clean past, though. I struggled with pornography my whole life. It was something that it was a daily event for me. In my mind, somewhere along the way, and I know a lot of people think this, a lot of men, I thought that marriage would fix it. I thought, “Oh, this is just something that I need now.” In reality, marriage only amplified it. Which is a crazy thing to think about. But, marriage doesn’t fix sin, you know? We’re called to walk in that purity and that light and the marriage isn’t the key to it, it isn’t the answer. But I thought it was. But, I did save myself physically, even though I didn’t save myself spiritually, which is sad. Getting married, I just was thinking, “Okay, now it’s gonna be all good. “I’m gonna be able to enjoy my wife.”
– You were looking forward to it.
– I was looking forward to it like I should, right? Maybe looking forward to it at a wrong level because of the things that I was dealing with and walking in. But, that’s where I was at. I was looking forward to the wedding night. I was looking forward to a life with my wife and being able to have intercourse and enjoy my wife in that way. I just thought that God owed me that because I had waited like the good Christian boy that I was.
– So, my story is very similar. I grew up a Christian. I saved myself physically from intercourse. But, also didn’t have a squeaky clean past. I mean, there were some relationships that I had where we did other things. But, truly my heart was to give my body to my husband. I did what I could to save that for you. I had expectations of, I had really high expectations of it being all fulfilling. Like, I thought–
– This is it. This is the answer.
– Yeah, like I envisioned our honeymoon night and I saw us being together. I just had a lot of hope for being fulfilled in that area of my life because it was something that, you know, growing up, it was always like, “No, no, no, you can’t do that.” There was a vision of freedom there that I was looking forward to.
– There was also, I remember we talked about this early on in our healing process, in the middle of our marriage, I should say now, where we talked about how not only was it you were looking for it to be all fulfilling, but you were looking for me to also fulfill other things. Just emotionally and you saw me, you had me on a pedestal. I had you on the same kind of pedestal. So, it wasn’t just sexually, but it was like–
– Every aspect of life.
– That, again, going along the process of walking through all of these things, we learned that our expectations were just so out of whack. No one talked, like, we had the sex talk, maybe. I don’t even actually remember having the sex talk.
– Well, we did do a series of pre-marital counseling.
– Which had some sex talk stuff.
– It was more encouragement leading up to the marriage about what marriage was gonna be like, but–
– No one warned us that it might not work. No one said like, “Hey, just so you know, “it might not work.” Which, we’ve sadly had people tell us, after hearing our story, that’s why they, they believe in sex outside of marriage. “Well, what about test drive?” And using those kinds of derogatory terms. But, I didn’t marry you for sex. I saw it as a fruit of our marriage. So, that mentality is just totally demonic and wicked. If you’re thinking that way or you know people that are thinking that way, the end result’s not sex. The end result is a godly marriage for, you know, doing ministry for God together. But, we had those wrong perspectives. We had those wrong attitudes. And, to be honest, because of what we were going through, I remember very vividly, all those thoughts I had. Like, “Oh, man, I wish I would’ve “not saved myself for marriage.” I actually remember regretting that.
– I was on the other end having thoughts of, “We’re incompatible.” “This isn’t gonna work because of this one aspect “of our marriage.” So, before we jump too far ahead, let’s talk about the wedding day and the wedding night.
– Could we skip that part? Let’s go right to when it was all better.
– All of our dreams came crumbling down. It was so devastating.
– We’ll just say this. We’ve redone our honeymoon several times because our first honeymoon was so bad. First of all, we find that that’s the night, it was the night that we realized sex was not gonna happen. Now, we had hope still because we’re like, “Oh, this is day one. “People have said it’s gonna hurt.”
– Yeah, “It’ll take a couple days.” And then it turned into weeks and months and years.
– But, not only did, you know, we weren’t even able to consummate our marriage. Like, we still were together and we still did things. We’re not gonna get vulgar on our show. But, we were together. We just couldn’t fully be together.
– I remember weeping. I remember just crying–
– Yeah, like, “Why is this not working?” I remember being patient, too.
– Oh, you were so patient. But, I just wanted to go lock myself in the bathroom for a couple hours and be by myself because I felt already that I’ve disappointed you or that I couldn’t fulfill your needs. Those insecurities came on, like, immediately.
– It’s natural because first of all, the wedding day was really intense and long and you’re just tired and you’re like, “Now, what are we supposed to do?” You can’t be prepared for, like, stepping in to holy matrimony. It’s a weird thing. So, we’re like, for the first time ever. We had never slept with anyone before. Now, we’re supposed to be like perfectly compatible and everything’s supposed to be fine. I also remember on our wedding night, I remember thinking, I think we even talked about this, how our whole lives growing up Christians, sex was a sinful thing.
– Yeah, it was a no-no. It was a bad thing.
– Not just a no-no, it was like the worst thing. That’s what it felt like. And then all of a sudden we’re married and, boom, it’s like, “Nope, now it’s all good.” We had these totally twisted views of sex because no one in a healthy way within the church that we were raised in and the churches in general, taught us to think about sex. I don’t remember ever hearing from a youth pastor, like, “Sex is a good thing.”
– Right, the gift that it is in marriage.
– And that you should be protecting yourself because of how good it is and how valuable it is. It’s like protecting, you know, a wealthy investment or a fine piece of china or like these things, they’re valuable, but they’re only used in the right time for the right thing. That was never really, like, taught to us. We just had this perspective of, like, sin, sin, sin, sin, sin, married. Oh, now it’s no longer sin. And it should all work and it’s gonna be great. And your perspective should perfectly shift and change.
– But, here’s the thing. Had it worked, would our perspective had changed? Because it didn’t work–
– Well, it didn’t and it highlighted all of those things. I would say, it might not have highlighted those things fast enough. We’ve talked to people that they don’t even talk about these things. They don’t realize these broken expectations, they’re uncommunicated lessons that we’ve learned. Because they don’t really struggle with it, it manifests in other ways. But, because we were hit head on with this problem, I think we actually started communicating about things that people mostly never get to. Like, “Why is this supposed to be so easy “in the first place?” We started talking about all these things that we learned. And even if it did work, I remember you specifically had a very hard time being naked around me.
– Yeah, feeling comfortable.
– Which, in the beginning, like, of course it’s gonna be uncomfortable and it was. It was like, “Oh, this is weird.”
– It’s just different, yeah.
– But, we actually, like, I don’t remember feeling clean about it because of it’s always been sin and all of a sudden now it’s supposed to be good. So, not only could we not have sex, and it was painful and there was tears and it’s our honeymoon, but, I also remember not fully feeling free with you. I remember feeling kind of dirty. Like, “When is this gonna feel “like it’s supposed to feel like?” because no one ever gave us, do you remember feeling that way?
– Yeah, and I think that a part of it, too, was the sin that was wrapped up with sexual intimacy. For you, pornography, for me it was you know, things that I would think about and books that I would read. We both had sin wrapped up around–
– We had sexual sin that we brought into our marriage.
– Right, so it makes sense that we would also feel dirty when it doesn’t work. We couldn’t be together the way we were supposed to.
– Which highlighted us desiring our sinful desires even more because now we’re like, “Oh, now we’re justified in our sin “because this is supposed to work “and, God, you’re not giving me what I deserve “therefore, I’m okay to do this over here.” Which we weren’t, but those are things that we thought.
– So, just moving on in the story, a couple weeks go by. I think I talked to my mom and maybe a girlfriend about our situation and they kind of just looked at me funny and said–
– Like, “You shouldn’t be having a problem.”
– Yeah, “You shouldn’t be having a problem. “I’m sure it’ll work itself out,” type of thing. What was going on in your head in those weeks.
– You know me, I’m an optimist. So, I just kept telling you and myself. “I’ve heard from various people over time “that we were becoming married “that it might be painful and that it takes time “because we’ve never done that before.” So, I just kep repeating–
– You were really encouraging.
– I was hoping my happy thoughts would pay off.
– Actually, for several years, I feel like you were so stable in this area emotionally even though you were probably wrestling, I’m sure you were wrestling–
– Hiding, hiding what I was feeling.
– You were hiding good because I felt, as your wife, very encouraged even in my brokenness, that there was hope and there was encouragement because of the words that you showered over us. I just really appreciated that. So, just for those listening, if you guys are facing intimacy struggles and, whether it’s the husband or the wife, the other spouse can be a huge encouragement in this area simply by sharing words of hope, visions of the future, encouraging–
– Yeah, which we did, often, every single time.
– You know, suggesting those hints of, like, “Hey, why don’t you go get this checked out. “Or maybe you can go talk to girlfriend.” ‘Cause you did that kind of thing for me. Even though not all those solutions worked. I remember going to the gynecologist–
– Well, none of them did. I was always hoping that something was wrong with you.
– No, I know. I was just gonna share the story of going to the gynecologist. I remember them telling me, “Well, everything checks out. “You look fine.”
– And you came home crying.
– Yeah, I was like, “There’s nothing wrong with me.” But, I knew that something was wrong because it was so, I don’t even know if we’ve shared this yet in this episode, but it was super painful for me, physically, to engage in intercourse. So, that’s why it didn’t work.
– I just want to go back a couple steps. You were talking about me being encouraging over the years. Now that you’re mentioning, I’m thinking, “Why was I so encouraging?” Because internally I was, like, angry and broken and frustrated but I was encouraging. I think, like I said, I was still optimistic and I wanted to believe that it was gonna work, right? ‘Cause I love you and I wanted everything to work. But, I think, looking back, we would’ve been confronted quicker with the reality of it on my part if I wasn’t walking in my sin. Because, in reality, I didn’t need you as much as I probably should’ve needed you. I’m just thinking about, not that I didn’t want to encourage you, not that I didn’t want it fixed. I think the full weight of what was going on was being masked by my sin. I’m sad to think about that. That I wasn’t letting myself experience with you, at the same level as you, because I was finding my satisfaction elsewhere in my flesh. You know, thank God He’s fully cleansed me of that and He’s taught me how to walk in purity through His Holy Spirit. But, back then, I think that’s where we were at. I was using it as an excuse. Even though I still felt guilty and shameful and confessed to you time and time again of that sin, I think that’s what shielded me from walking fully with you in it, which is not good. So, if anyone here is walking through something similar, and you’re just wondering, like, “I want it and my spouse doesn’t,” or vice versa, you guys need to come together and talk and see if there’s any sin that might be masking you from actually walking together in it.
– That’s really good. Just go take some time to evaluate your lives–
– And confess, if necessary. And, like, fully confess and repent. What I did is I would confess and not actually repent because repent means to turn and I wouldn’t. I would apologize for the guilt and I would apologize for doing it again but I would never fully repent. So, if you’re walking in any sort of sin. If you’re a husband and you’re walking in pornography and that’s keeping you from desiring your wife and your wife desires to be with you, you guys need to fix that. And vice versa, if your wife’s walking in pornography or erotica or these things that are gonna keep her from desiring you, then you guys need to repent to each other, find healing, find accountability and wisdom and walk away from that. So, that you guys can walk together in that.
– That’s really good. And I don’t want to skip over this by any means ’cause I feel like pornography and sexual sin is such an important topic to tackle but we are gonna be doing a future episode on his and her points of view because we both have different journeys of walking this out with each other. So, just to encourage our listeners to stay tuned because those episodes will be coming out. But, just to move forward in our story. Our struggle with intimacy lasted about four years in total.
– Four-and-a-half-ish, yeah.
– So, it was really exhausting. It was really painful. It was really emotionally draining on both of us. But, like I said, you seemed a little bit more steadfast in that area and encouraging. I felt like my heart just got harder and harder and harder towards you and towards God.
– It did, yeah.
– Definitely did. That affected and amplified other issues in our marriage. Normal things that people struggle with like finances or job making decisions. Or, you know, anything that comes our way, I just felt so irrational over it and didn’t want to deal with. I just remember having outbursts and struggling with rage.
– We had some pretty good fights.
– I don’t even like thinking about going back to that place because it was so unhealthy and spiritually unhealthy for our relationship. It wasn’t where we envisioned our marriage to be four years in, by any means.
– Going back to those expectations, we were expecting everything to be prefect. I literally thought, before I got married, I was like, “I’m never gonna fight with my wife, I’m perfect.” That was literal thought I had.
– I actually thought the exact same thing. I was like, “I’m way too perfect “to have any problems in my marriage.”
– I’m easy going, like, if we have a disagreement, I’ll be okay. And the one person in the world that can make me the most mad is now one with me. We read a book once. And in the book it talked about your spouse being a full-length mirror reflecting your sin back at you. That’s exactly what you are when you’re in marriage. So, not only did we have sin we were walking in, not only we have this sexual issue where we couldn’t have intercourse, we couldn’t be together, we couldn’t consummate our marriage fully, highlighting those sins. Now, we’re having to be, like, we have to live together, and walk together. Everyday we know that such and such is happening. Our term for sex was like, we wouldn’t say, “Hey, you want to be together tonight?” We’d say, “Hey, you want to try?”
– “You want to try?”
– That was literally our term.
– You hated it, you hated that.
– But, that was literally what it was. It was like, “You want to try tonight? “You want to see if it’ll work tonight?” It never did. Maybe like a handful of times, we were able to have intercourse, but it was not without pain.
– Yeah, it wasn’t successful by any means.
– That was our world we lived in. You know, we thought we were the only ones that dealt with it. We’ve had people kind of, like, reprimand us online and say, “Why didn’t you guys just go get help?”
– We did.
– And we did. We talked to nurses. You went to gynecologists. We actually sat down with a counselor one time and the person gave us some terms that we’ll mention later about what it might be and that was it. But they looked at us the same way everyone else looked at us. Like, “You’re young, you shouldn’t really be struggling “with this, but, okay.” We’re just, “Okay.” So, we kind of just stuffed it back and kept doing our life and pretending everything was fine. We were really good roommates.
– Yeah, we were.
– Other than all the fights. We could still, we were friends to an extent, but not lovers and not in love with each other.
– That was a tough four years. So, what do you think got us through those four years?
– Well, we both were believers. Even though we were both mad at God, even though we were both becoming more bitter with our situation, we definitely weren’t as righteous as Job, you know, who went through way more than us. We were like immature.
– We complained.
– And complained about everything and thought we were, “Oh, woe is us.” When there’s people in the world suffering from way worse things.
– We were so self-focused back then.
– But, I do believe that, at the end of the day, we still did, we had our foundation in Christ. Even though we were immature in the way we looked at God, immature in the way we walked with God, immature in everything, God was with us and watching over us and walking us through this. As the Scriptures say that God works together for good, “All things together for good for those who love Him “and are called according to His purposes.” So, this thing that we saw as evil and painful and not good at all, God is sitting back watching what it’s doing to us. He’s using this crucible in our life to sanctify us and to change us and to transform us and to bring us to our knees because we were so young, so immature, so prideful, so arrogant, with how we believed things were gonna go, what we were gonna do, how we were gonna, you know? And God’s like, “Actually, I got different plans for you. “This is not gonna go the way you think.” and you know what? If the only thing it did was highlight our sexual sins, which is not the only thing it did, but it massively did, God used it to draw those out and say, “No, I don’t want any of this.”
– Yeah, He pruned us. Like majorly.
– A lot. Pruned us down to stubs and He’s like, “Now, you can produce fruit.”
– I am seriously so grateful for God’s love and compassion and grace in our lives. I feel like that is the reason why we made it past those years because He never gave up on us. And like you said, He brought us to our knees. Like, He never once–
– Abandoned us.
– Turned his back or abandoned us. Even when my heart was super hard and I refused to go to church with you because I knew what it meant, stepping into His place. I just wasn’t ready for that. Even then, He was still pursuing me, through you. You would pray for us at night.
– ‘Cause I felt this, like, “I don’t want to give up. “Like, I don’t know what else to do “But, I know God’s the only one that could do anything “to make this better.”
– So, just to encourage those listening. Again, if you are in the midst of any sort of marital struggle, prayer was so key and vital in helping us walk through this valley, this darkness, that we experienced. So, if you and your spouse are struggling with anything, please be the one that initiates through prayer because you don’t know how it’s gonna change things. You don’t know how it’s gonna change you or affect your spouse. It was so powerful in the trajectory of our marriage and bringing change to our marriage.
– God uses our, He calls us to pray and desires us to communicate with Him and commune with Him. Even though many of our prayers were selfish and wrong-focused and backwards, we were still communicating with Him. It, at minimum, puts your focus on God. And reminds you that He’s there, right? Even if you feel like He’s not listening. Because God wants us to pray in His will and His will was that we would be mature. Not that we would be necessarily happy. He wants mature and holy people. So, I think, yeah, just God. I don’t even want to take credit. ‘Cause it’s easy to say, “Well, we prayed “and we did these things.” But I really think that God kept us and was guiding us through this. Even when we were angry, would remind us, like, “I’m still a good God.” And He is a good God, He’s a perfect God and He knows what we need way better than we know what we need. What’s awesome is out of this, like, who knew a ministry would come out of this pain.
– I couldn’t even imagine.
– It’s not like we got married and like, “Hey, let’s start a marriage ministry. “Do you want to go through four-and-a-half years “of just marital suffering?” No, we wouldn’t go back and choose it either. But, we’re glad that God’s getting the glory. Even more so than the ministry that God’s given us and that he’s allowed us to do this for a living, and just encourage other marriages and the fruit that we’ve seen in other people’s lives through God working through us, I’m just thankful that God matured us and taught us what He taught us through that season and still teaches us. You know, how to trust Him and how to surrender to Him because, leading up in our story, we got to a point, finally, where the weight of it started hitting me and I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was, like, done. Like, emotionally, spiritually, physically. I was just over it and you could see it on my face. We still would go to church most Sundays and run through the motions. I’m sitting there and we were quiet on the way to church. You talk about this in your book. But, this was the turning point. I don’t even remember what the message was about that day. But I remember God speaking to me. I didn’t hear Him audibly. I didn’t hear Him say, “Aaron, stay married.” But, He brought to remembrance, which is what the job of the Holy Spirit is, He brought to remembrance the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I remember just walking through the story and remembering the prayer that Jesus prayed. Three times, He said, “Lord, let this cup pass from Me.” And He’s talking about the cup of suffering that He was about to take for His future bride. That’s what this story’s about, is Jesus dying on the cross for His bride. ‘Cause the church is His bride. And He prayed that He didn’t have to. “Lord, if there’s another way.” He says, “But not My will, but Your will be done.” So, essentially, he was saying this is gonna be hard and I don’t know if I could do it. But, I’m gonna do Your will anyway. And Jesus had to do it in God’s strength because God was the one empowering Him to do this. He had to die as a man so He felt all of it. I just remember this story of Jesus praying these things three times asking God to take the cup of wrath away. And I just felt like the Holy Spirit was saying, like, “Jesus died for the whole world, “for a bride that spit on Him “and cheated on Him and did way worse things “than what you’re going through with your wife.” He said, “If Jesus can do this, “do you think you can do it for your wife?” He was saying, like, “Will you take this cup?” Is just what He was asking me. In reality, I had already chosen to take the cup. We had made the vows.
– Yeah, we were married.
– So, I was just reminded. I’m like, “Well, either I can walk away from my vows “and think that I’m owed something “that Jesus didn’t even get. “Or I can take what I’ve been given “and I can serve my wife and love my wife “even if I never get from her what I think I’m deserved.” It was such, the cup that I had to carry was such a smaller cup compared to what Christ carried for me. At that point, and not to compare me to Christ necessarily, but it was the Holy Spirit saying, “Christ died for you. “The least you can do is live for your wife.” I remember thinking, like, “Well, okay.” And it wasn’t that simple, I was weeping.
– You were crying pretty hard.
– I just came to the conclusion. I said, “Whether it ever fixes,” my love for my wife was rekindled that day. It was more of a Christ-like love.
– I was gonna say, it was different.
– Because I decided to, I chose to love you, whether I could ever get from you whatever I deserved from you as a wife. And that’s what we need to do as husbands, is we have to choose to love our wives as Christ loved the church, giving Himself up for her, as Ephesians 5:25 says. I don’t get to say like, “Only if.” No, I get to throw all of that out and say, “I’m gonna do what Christ has called me to do “because that’s what Christ has called me to do.” And I’ve made a choice, I’ve married my wife, she’s my wife, and I have to love her this way. The story doesn’t stop there but that’s where the story, this new story began, was me choosing to remain even if nothing ever changed. So, why don’t you go to the next part of this and we’ll get to the happy ending.
– Yeah, it was that same week that you were in the shower and I remember, specifically, you yelling out to me, “Babe, what’s the one thing “you’ve been using for the last four years?” plus, more than four years.
– Before, we were married, yeah.
– Before we were even married. I knew exactly what you were talking about. I was like, “My face wash, why?” And you said, “Remember that story?” So, about six months before this happening, we sat down with another couple from the church and kind of shared with them our struggle, intimacy, trying to look for help. I remember our friend sharing this story about one of her friends that went all organic to try and heal PCOS because she was struggling with just some symptoms that were uncomfortable for her. So, her story went, she went all organic, changed all of her household products and she ended up pregnant, which is really hard to happen with PCOS. So, we kind of threw that–
– Yeah, we weren’t trying to get pregnant at the time. So, we were thinking, like, “Okay.”
– Yeah, we threw that story out because we thought it doesn’t impact us in any way. But, for some reason that story stuck with you.
– Well, when I was in the shower, that story came to my head and I was like, “Okay, so that girl got, “she felt better from those symptoms “by changing some of her face washes and shampoos “and conditioners and stuff.” So, I’m in the shower and I’m looking at all the bottles. And there’s all these chemicals on them. You know what I’m talking about. Just grab one of your soap bottles or face wash bottles and see if you can name any of the ingredients. So, I’m calling to you and you’re like, “My face wash.” It’s the only thing that she’s been the most consistent with and I remember because we’d had a lot of fights about it through our marriage because it’s expensive.
– It was expensive and we didn’t have a lot of money back then being missionaries and traveling.
– But, it was the one thing she’s like, “I have to have it.”
– I actually used it multiple times a day because I felt like it did help keep me from having acne.
– Yeah, so, I’m like, “Hey, I would rather you have acne “and us be able to be together “than the other way around.” She was like, crying. She’s like, “I don’t want to give it up.”
– Well, the reason that you were asking me to give it up is ’cause when you got out of the shower, you started googling all of these ingredients.
– I looked up every single ingredient on the bottle.
– There were a handful that were different types of parabens and when you looked that up, this website popped up that talked about parabens being endocrine disruptors. So, they even knew back then–
– What I looked up is I went to a toxins website, a chemical toxins website and you can put in these ingredients and they’ll tell you the level of toxicity. Over half of them were high The other half were low or none. But over half of them were high. What I would do is I would read what the possible symptoms or what they possibly can affect was. The ones that, ’cause I’m not a scientist–
– Yeah, we don’t know.
– The ones that affected the areas that we struggled with.
– The reproductive areas.
– Were the parabens which mimic estrogen, which affect the endocrine system, which affect all those sexual hormones and, like–
– So, he’s very quickly putting all this together. He’s come up with this idea that, “Hey, maybe these parabens from your face wash “are affecting you and mimicking estrogen “so that your body’s not functioning “the way that it should be and that’s why it’s painful.” I’m sitting there going, “I don’t want to give up my face wash.”
– We brought this up many times and people were like, “Oh, so you got rid of your face wash “and that fixed everything?” They’re, like, mad about it, right?
– But, seriously, I even went back to my gynecologist to tell them what was happening with this scenario and she didn’t even believe me. She was like, “No, it has, no.”
– Regardless if it works for everyone, we had tried a lot of things, like, everything. Someone was like, “Just go have a bottle of wine and relax.” Did nothing. “Oh, just think about this or put some worship music on.” They gave us a plethora of all these things that we could do, different positions, different everything, right? Not to be graphic, but, we tried everything. So, if we care enough about our marriage, why would we not try this?
– So, long story short, we put the face wash on the shelf. I gave it up and I kid you not, three days later, I’m calling Aaron on the phone, middle of the day, we’re both at work, and I’m like, “Look, I don’t want you to get too excited, “but by body feels different. “My body feels different and I don’t want “to try right away because I don’t want “to get my hopes up, but this feels right.” So, we went another couple of days and by the end of the week, we had sex for the first time and it was awesome.
– And it was awesome.
– It felt like the first redo from our honeymoon.
– That’s when we started redoing our honeymoon, was that day.
– So, we went back and what we did is we just started cleaning out all these things that we thought we needed.
– It started with parabens. Anything with parabens went. This kind of started our journey for healthy living. It wasn’t just parabens but it moved on to other types of ingredients that we found out were bad for us. It even moved into food. Being more aware of conventional versus organic and GMO.
– And just what ingredients are in our stuff. The Bible wants us to be wise people. The Bible desires us to be wise and mature. So, we don’t just sit, and our spirituality’s over here, and everything else is over here. It doesn’t work that way. No, actually, everything should be within the confines of the relationship that we have with God. So, like, the Bible talks about health. The Bible talks about our bodies and how they’re the temple of the Holy Spirit and how we are to use them and not use them. So, why would it be so unspiritual to not look and be considerate of the things that we put in our body and on our bodies.
– Which, actually can be a lot. ‘Cause when we started cleaning stuff out, we realized that we could take these five body washes, different scents and things that we had in our shower and replace it with one thing.
– Which is cheaper and better and I love that.
– And more healthy for you. So, we downsized a lot but in a really good way for our bodies. I just want to add to what you’re speaking about. You know, why would it be unspiritual for us to choose to make sure what we’re putting in our bodies and on our bodies is good for us. The same is true when you think about the enemy. Why wouldn’t he try and attack from an outside angle, an outside source? He’s gonna use everything he has.
– He’s the Prince of the Air, that’s what he does.
– He’s gonna use everything he can get his hands on to try and destroy what we have. So, a big part of our encouragement and one of the reasons why I wrote The Unveiled Wife book was to try and get husbands and wives to understand that sometimes we fight in our marriage because of outside influences.
– Things we allow in, things we don’t. Aren’t paying attention to things we’re not being aware of.
– Some things that are just in our environment that we can change, we have control over. We’re just not paying attention to. So, I think that that’s a really, really important aspect for Christians who are called to fight against the enemy and to be prepared against his attacks, yeah.
– I want to highlight, we’re not advocating that being all organic and eating non-GMO foods makes you more holy. This has nothing to do with holiness, per se. This has everything to do with being wise.
– It’s wisdom.
– If my wife uses a detergent, just to talk about our bodies, if she uses a detergent that has any dyes, or scents in it, like perfumes, I get a rash over my whole body. My sons have the same similar sensitivities on their skin. My skin is sensitive. I don’t know why. It’s not sensitive to everything, it’s just sensitive to certain chemicals. So, detergents, like I know. I’m like, “Babe, did you use a different detergent “’cause my whole body’s like red and itchy and painful.” So, why would, I believe that you were probably more sensitive to this than other people are because other people don’t struggle the same way and they use the same face wash. But, for us, we just started realizing, “Well, we should be wise about everything.” Like, how we spend our money, what we spend our money on what we eat, what we put in or on our bodies. Not to become more holy, not that it makes us closer to God, but that it makes us more like God. Because we think the way God thinks. He wants us to be wise, so we’re gonna be wise with everything he’s given us.
– And here’s the really cool thing. Since sharing about our story, even though, like Aaron said, we’re not scientists, we had no idea back then if it really was the parabens or not.
– They didn’t do non-paraben stuff back then.
– Well, we started seeing a lot of non-paraben cosmetics popping up. And since sharing our story through The Unveiled Wife community, we’ve heard so many stories of women saying, “Hey, I read your book,” or, “Hey, I read that article. “I made a change, I took parabens out “and me and my husband can have pain-free sex now.” So, I’m, again, not even trying to use those stories to brag or say this is the right thing, but there is something to say about testimonies and about things working. So, I just want to be an encouragement to you guys today that if you are struggling specifically with painful sex, maybe try parabens. Maybe try and eliminate–
– Don’t try ’em.
– Or, sorry.
– Get rid of ’em.
– Maybe try eliminating parabens.
– And, you know, I just want to keep reiterating, the main crux of our story is that we decided to love each other the way Christ has called us to love each other, regardless if this got fixed. Now, I believe that the Holy Spirit prompted this to us for the sake of our sexual health and overall health. So, whether or not you go and take the same route as us, our goal in telling you this story is not to change you and be like, “Well, it’s more Christian to be organic.” We don’t believe that.
– And there’s plenty of times that we go out to eat or we know that there is plenty of food out there that we still eat–
– We eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
– Yeah, I mean, come on.
– But, the point is, are we gonna be, are we gonna walk through our trials with Biblical mindsets? That’s the main point. And then, lastly, is, and it comes to things about our health and our bodies and what we put in and on them, is are we gonna be wise. Are we gonna say, “Okay, Lord, am I just gonna use this “just because it’s what I’ve always used? “And I’m gonna spend my money on this thing over here “because it’s what I like.” Or are we gonna be like, “Well, let’s consider it? “Let’s think about what we’re doing and why we do that?” Because it wasn’t just that you were, like, that was the only stuff that worked. You believed it was the only stuff that worked, but you had this actual physical attachment to it. You were like, “I cannot. “I have to spend this money and if I don’t have it,” so, you had an identity thing wrapped up in it also.
– I really did and the funny thing is, is after we shelved it, I never broke out.
– She hasn’t broken out since the day she put it on the shelf. So, I think it was making you break out.
– I don’t know.
– It’s a perfect business model.
– No, I don’t know.
– Face wash that makes you break out and you have to keep buying it.
– No, I don’t think that’s the case. But, I will say that I do feel like the Lord blessed me in being obedient to you and so that’s a really encouraging thing for. And you wives listening, or even husbands, when your spouse–
– Oh, good point, ’cause I asked you to do something really hard and you said, “Yes.”
– Yeah, so when your spouse brings something to the table, a suggestion, they don’t know if it’s gonna work but they’re like, “Hey, I’m willing to try this if you are,” be willing, be wiling. Don’t just, you know, throw out your justifications, your excuses, or your reasons for why you need to have that control because your spouse might be prompted by the Holy Spirit to encourage you in that area. And, yeah, it might be hard but it can be done. And I think that God’s looking for that heart of willingness to go at your struggles as a team. If you’re gonna be a team, you gotta do that communication thing where you’re both listening, you’re both communicating, you’re both talking–
– You’re both praying and in the word of God and just asking the Lord to direct you and guide you and listen. Listen to His direction and listen to His guidance, which usually comes through the word of God and the Holy Spirit bringing to remembrance the things that the word of God says. That’s how He speaks to us.
– Another thing that I wanted to mention, as a part of our story, is once we were able to enjoy sexual intimacy in our marriage, it didn’t make things better completely. There were sill, there was a lot of hurdles that I had to overcome as far as, you know–
– We had spiritual and mental hurdles.
– Well, I know for me, I was still apprehensive to even go there with you. So, it was a mental battle for me to initiate or to say, “Yes,” to or to be inviting in that area. It was really hard for me.
– We worked through that. It actually took several years because we had, like, four-and-a-half years of pain to heal from. So, we both had to communicate about it and you got good at saying, “Okay, I know you want to, “I just, I’m not ready yet.” Or, “Can we do it tomorrow?” Or, “Be patient with me.”
– Or there would be times where it did work and it did work and it did work and then it didn’t work. And I still would get so flared up. I would, back then, it would remind of all those, all those painful memories of it not being able to work and I thought, “Oh, no, is this where we’re going again?” I wanted to bring that up because sometimes we do find a solution or we do find something that works and yet something sets us back. So, if you’re listening right now and you’re in the midst of experiencing that setback, don’t be discouraged. Keep pressing forward and communicating with each other on the topic.
– Even to this day, we’re still learning how to be lovers. We’ve been married 11 years now and we missed four-and-a-half years of that 11. And you know what? Recognizing that we’re gonna learn how to be lovers for the rest of our lives.
– And we should be. Like, that should excite us.
– We’ve realized that there is no pinnacle. We’re gonna get to that point and then, like, “Oh, now it’s all hunky-dory.” We have to recognize that there’s things, like, we have to learn, this is weird. But, we go through seasons of forgetting about sex and, just, we’re busy. And because we went through so long of having those issues, we don’t have the same natural sex drives that we would’ve had in the beginning. So, we actually have to work harder to want to be together and to really, “Oh, we’ve been forgetting about this. “We need to prioritize this right now.” Like, putting it on the calendar and planning it and talking about it more. So, we’ve gone through weird seasons. So, even today, it’s been years later, we’re still figuring it out. But, we’re both okay with it. We both talk about it often and we’re like, “Hey, where you at with this? “How are we doing?” Especially going through all the pregnancies. There’s definitely highs and lows and just a balance and figuring out how to communicate about it and how to still be excited about each other. So, if you’re coming out of a season of hardship, sexually, recognize that it’s just not gonna be perfect forever. It takes a lifetime to learn how to be a lover. But, to embrace that to do it together, of course, you have to have sex together, but, do the embracing together and the walking the journey out together. So, we just wanted to be an encouragement that you would just do this journey together and seek the word of God. Seek after God’s face and be patient with each other.
– So, we just wanted to kind of start back at the beginning and share a little bit more in-depth of our struggle with intimacy just to encourage those who are listening who might be in that season. You might, for whatever reason, be struggling with sexual intimacy in your marriage. We don’t want this to be the thing that breaks you guys. We don’t want this to be the thing that hardens your heart or keeps you away from God because, truthfully, He’s the only one that walked us through this journey and made sure that our marriage came out stronger and better. But, it was only when we submitted everything to Him. So, we want to be an encouragement to you to submit your hearts to God, to be in prayer over your marriage, over finding a solution and never give up. Just persevere through it. If you need to talk to someone or if you need to go see a doctor or if you need to change something in the pattern or your life to try and fix this, make sure that you guys are doing it together as a team just like Aaron was saying. Be on the same page, communicate about where you’re at, where your hearts are at, what you’re struggling with, what you’re going through, maybe what your needs are. And be willing to help each other and to support each other and be that encouragement for one another.
– So, thanks for joining us for this week’s episode. We look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today’s show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at MarriageAfterGod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.