Locked within every woman is the potential
to thoroughly enjoy lovemaking
This continues a web series that begins at
When a Woman Doesnít Want Sex
We use a heart shape to symbolize romance. It would be more accurate, of course, to use a brain shape, because it is within this amazing organ that everything happens.
I wish describing the brain could evoke the same warm feelings as the sight of those adorable fawns mentioned in a previous webpage. Nevertheless, while we live in this body, the brain is the seat of every warm fuzzy we will ever enjoy. And it is in understanding what has rightly been called the largest sex organ Ė the brain Ė that we find a key to healing.
Think of part of your brain as being a little like a living, highly sophisticated pinball machine. Every sight and sound and smell and feeling and taste and thought fires impulses like pinballs. There are many different routes these pinballs can take. Some routes are blocked; some are hard to access and hard to traverse; some are wide and well-travelled. Each leads to a different destination, ranging from wonderfully pleasurable feelings to horrifically unpleasant ones.
Because our brain is living, it is continually changing. For the pinball analogy to have any semblance to reality, pathways in this amazing machine must narrow and grow bumpy, becoming less and less passable, when not used. Each time one is used, however, it widens and smooths, making it increasingly likely that impulses will take the same route next time. And each time a repeat occurs, the route becomes even more accessible and fast. But diversions can be erected, setting up new routes and soon making the old one so disused that it seems like a goat track, relative to the new one which begins to look more and more like a highway, drawing in impulses from many different sources.
Within your intricate brain is a means whereby certain sexually-related stimuli Ė various sights, touches, thoughts, and so on Ė fire impulses along on a divinely fashioned path that leads to beautiful sensations. Sometimes impulses slow or get diverted, but when they travel this path with perfection they cause you to erupt in waves of exquisite excitement melting into cozy feelings of warm contentment and fulfilling intimacy with the one you love.
Tragically, your abuser acted so contrary to Godís kind, unselfish ways that sexual stimuli set off impulses that could not take Godís path to feelings of love and elation and pleasure. Instead, they bypassed the divine route, forcing a new path through your brain that your loving Lord never intended to exist. The new route joins sexual stimuli to such horrid feelings as fear and pain and shame. That hellish route Ė the diversion away from the pure delight that sexual signals were intended to lead to Ė has now become the easy, well-traveled route, while Godís path to pleasure has narrowed, becoming hard to access, and even when found, hard to traverse.
Letís consider a happily married woman who has been raped by a stranger. Even though the crime was a single event, it was so traumatic that it plowed a wide, totally new path in her brain, linking to horrific feelings certain smells, sights and touches that until then had been linked to pleasurable feelings. The tragedy might have been a one-off rape, but it becomes a much-traveled route due to memories and flashbacks causing the person to keep taking that route in her thoughts. The old routes are still there, but because of the diversion they are now seldom, if ever, taken. And every time the new diversion is taken, the old route grows even less accessible. Through no fault of hers, nor of her husband, when the couple resume marital relations many of their early attempts will inevitably end up taking the new, wide route to the hellish zone. Not only will this be unpleasant, it will further smooth and widen the hellish highway, making it still more likely that subsequent attempts will take that route. So the couple need to avoid slip-ups as much as possible. When accidents happen, however, they need not become discouraged. Despite such accidents, with patient persistence, a couple will become increasingly skilled at firing impulses in the right direction. For instance, they will get better at identifying which smells, sights, and touches should be avoided and the couple will become more skilled at inventing ingenious ways of avoiding those triggers.
Even if signals start off well, early attempts along the pleasure route are likely to quickly slow and stop long before reaching the pleasure zone. But each attempt along this path smoothes and widens the way, allowing subsequent attempts to push further and further towards the pleasure zone.
Especially if memories of your abuse are fuzzy, lovemaking is likely to take some mysterious twists. An impulse can seem perfectly directed when it hits an apparently insignificant bumper and suddenly it is sent hurtling away to the hellish route. Wow! Where did that come from? you wonder in stunned disbelief. You might discover, for instance, that passionate kissing is pleasurable, whereas having your cheek gently stroked fills you with horror. Behind a mysterious reaction is the fact that your abuser, like everyone, produced a vast array of stimuli Ė sights, sounds, smells, touches and so on. And because of the way he hurt you, there are now what might be thought of as wide channels plowed through your brain linking many of these stimuli to awful sensations. In the example just given, the stimulus strongly linked to bad feelings was having your cheeks stroked. Another time it might be a different type of touch, or an odor, or the way your husband positions his body relative to yours, or something else seemingly inconsequential. You might have forgotten some of the stimuli associated with your abuse but because the paths still exist in your brain, the ďpinballsĒ inevitably find these hellish routes when you experience something similar to what your abuser did or looked like, and so on, when he hurt you.
This does not mean you will have to spend the rest of your life avoiding that trigger. It simply means you will need to try to skirt around the trigger until the pleasure route becomes even more deeply entrenched in your brain and the hellish one becomes much less traveled. Then, in a manner described later, you can ever so gradually begin to incorporate into your lovemaking that former trigger without experiencing anything unpleasant.
Given the intense trauma they have experienced, it is hardly surprising that even decades afterwards abuse survivors often suffer clinical depression. This medical condition must not be confused with common depression that positive thinking might cure. Clinical depression is believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and requires medical treatment. It usually dulls oneís physical senses, diminishing oneís ability to enjoy life, food, sport, sex Ė all sorts of things. My heart breaks that so many suffer this double whammy Ė not only the danger of sexual signals being diverted along the hellish route, but lessened enjoyment of even those signals that are perfectly directed only the good route. This is another reason for prayerfully considering medical solutions to clinical depression.
Since our brains play a key role in all that we do, the principles we have been describing apply to very many aspects of life. Breaking a habit is an example. Letís consider a sexual example not associated with abuse. A man felt a most unpleasant tickling sensation in the roof of his mouth whenever his nipples were stroked. At the same time he was also vaguely aware of mild sexual feelings. He remembered, however, that years ago it used to produce exquisite feelings. Rather than avoid the unpleasant feelings by asking his wife never to touch him there, he adopted a plan. Whenever his nipples were touched he ensured he simultaneously received other types of sexual stimulation that were highly pleasurable. Although the unwanted feelings were still present, the mildly pleasurable feelings were now magnified by input from other parts of his body and were stronger than the unpleasant tickle. Over time, this process began to widen the route connecting nipple stimulation to pleasure. He persevered with combining nipple stimulation with things that gave him great sexual pleasure, while focusing mentally on the pleasure and trying to ignore the tickle. After a few sessions, the route linking nipple stimulation to pleasure began to take precedence over the unpleasant route until the unpleasant route was so rarely used that it become almost impassable. The tickle in his mouth totally disappeared, never to return again. Now, whenever his nipples are caressed, he acclaims it is as one of the most beautiful feelings he has ever known. He is amazed at how close he got to declaring his nipples a no-go zone and so spending the rest of his life never knowing what exquisite feelings he was missing out on.
Letís bring together what we have so far discovered and see what surprises it can unlock. We know that each time sexual signals take a path in oneís brain, that path becomes a little more entrenched as the route sexual signals will follow, and alternative routes become a little less accessible. We also know that to increase sexual enjoyment, we should avoid stimuli that are strongly linked in the brain to unpleasant reactions. This avoidance should continue until through lack of use the undesirable routes become less accessible. Now add a fact we earlier glossed over: sexual stimuli can come not only from any of the five senses, but also from thoughts. This opens exciting possibilities for healing
Merely by thinking about it, you can begin re-opening Godís route to beautiful feelings and gradually close off the undesirable route. What makes this so powerful is that when limiting oneself to thoughts it is easier to eliminate other stimuli that at this early stage would best be avoided. Additionally, thoughts can be repeated more easily than most other sexual stimuli.
This web series contains the occasional reference to scientific research. By the time we have finished, however, we will see that such research is merely like discovering gravity. It just confirms the existence of principles God has put in place from the beginning of human history. And attempts to apply those principles without the supernatural power and guidance of God is like denying yourself the security of being shielded by armed bodyguards when walking down a dark alley crammed with hate-filled thugs. And itís like having a twelve-year-old operating on your brain when you could have the greatest brain surgeon in existence.
We earlier drew inspiration from David being so determined not to suffer permanent loss that he risked his life to retrieve what had been stolen from him. That was not the first time, nor the last, that David faced his fears in order to prevent himself from being ripped off. At the end of this webpage is a link entitled Inspiration from the Giant Killer. It reveals how Davidís life exemplifies the healing principles that I am about to describe.
The earthly teaching of the eternal Son of God was so far ahead of his time that two thousand years later humanity still has not caught up to even some of his basic revelations. Jesus placed great emphasis upon thoughts. For example, he revealed that lustful or hateful thoughts are as morally corrupt as actually doing those things. Modern science is confirming that thoughts powerfully affect us, often as much as actions. Letís see how we can use this for the glory of God.
When you are feeling relaxed and close to God, imagine yourself in a warm, loving, slightly sexual situation with your husband. It might be cuddling fully clothed, or whatever you find comforting and enjoyable. While imagining this, focus on the fact that Godís approving smile is upon you when are making love. The King of the universe is delighted when you physically enjoy and bond closer to the life-partner he has entrusted to you. The only thing that would sadden your loving Lord is any pain and anxiety the experience might bring you. It hurts him to see you distressed, but your Lord would love for you and your husband to find unique pleasures in each other. Itís not merely that he wants you to please your husband; he wants you to find in your husband more personal pleasure than you could even imagine. If, as you continue imagining yourself relating to your husband in a mildly sexual way, the thought ever begins to become unpleasant, immediately drop the thought and re-focus on God alone. (Otherwise you would be widening the hellish highway described above.) Try this for weeks, not allowing yourself to continue a thought if you feel yourself becoming tense, but very gradually build your trust in God by letting yourself imagine sexually relating with your husband in ways that previously you would have found disturbing. Remain blissfully relaxed and focus on sensing Godís blessing and approving smile upon you. Each time you do this, you are sending impulses down the path to pleasure, thereby further clearing and widening it so that when you finally get to do in real life what you imagined, the impulses will take this same path that you have widened.
When we tense up emotionally, our muscles usually also tense up. Total muscular relaxation is fairly well incompatible with fear and anxiety. Researchers have found there is great healing power in associating total muscle relaxation with what they call successive approximations. By this they mean gradually getting closer and closer to thinking of what you most fear, but doing so only at a pace that enables you over weeks to reach the point where you can think of it while remaining totally relaxed. For this to be effective, you must not attempt anything in real life until you have become very comfortable with doing it in your imagination. Add to this the power of joyful, faith-filled prayer (not anxious prayer) and of sensing Godís presence and approval. If practiced diligently for several weeks, I believe youíll find this combination effective in speeding your healing. If he is willing, your husband can assist you.At this stage, however, both of you will need to restrain yourselves from acting out what you are imagining. I suggest you delay trying anything slightly adventurous with your husband until you can calmly do it in your mind, having on several consecutive occasions imagined yourself enjoying it.
A variation on this therapy is to sometimes let your mind slowly drift to a new or slightly scary thing while you are thoroughly enjoying making love, such as kissing. It would be wise only to let your mind drift when you are blissfully relaxed and making love in a manner that is already firmly established in your repertoire of things that make you feel nice. If ever the thought begins to get scary or spoil your lovemaking, immediately pull your mind back and re-focus on enjoying what you are doing. Keep practicing mentally. Over weeks slowly progress to imagining slightly more challenging sexual activities, but on each occassion continue only for as long as you enjoy pleasant, relaxed feelings while having these thoughts. And throughout this, maintain an awareness that God warmly approves.
A woman Iíll call Felicity was traumatized by the thought of intercourse. I asked if she was able to fondle her husband. She replied that it made her feel used. This must have been an awful experience and I deeply feel for her. We should note, however, that this is her past talking. For people who truly love and have an abuse-free past the thought of being used in the sense that Felicity meant would almost be a foreign concept. They would normally beg for the opportunity to be used for their partnerís pleasure. Lovers count it their greatest joy and privilege to delight their beloved, just as Christians who truly love their Lord long so much to be used of him that some even rejoice in the honor of suffering hardship and pain for him (Acts 5:41).
I presume Felicity reels under this awful feeling of being used because it reminds her of when she was forced to relate sexually with someone who had no right to the pleasure he wanted. Back then she was used. Relating to her husband triggers that memory. That old reaction will not suddenly disappear. Nevertheless, Felicity can begin the process of re-routing sexual feelings along the path they were originally designed to travel, instead of the path to yucky feelings. Using the imagination in the manner described above is a big part of this. In addition she can work towards gaining a new appreciation of marital relations. She should try to develop a mindset in which she finds herself yearning to give herself to her darling; longing to pleasure him and delight in his joy. ďPlease use me for your pleasure,Ē lovers beg. Or, in the words of Scripture, ďLet my lover come into his garden and eat of its choices fruits,Ē (Song of Solomon 4:16).
To think of oneself as being used is to take on a victim mentality. Your days of being a victim are gone forever. You are no longer a victim; youíre a wife. That means youíre a lover. Lovers give not out of compulsion, but out of joy. They receive their greatest delight when they know they have succeeded in thrilling their beloved. Everyone who truly loves revels in the joy of giving. They need no one to tell them it is more blessed to give than to receive. For them it is an obvious truth they experience over and over. Take, for instance, the joy parents feel when they see their childrenís eyes light up because of a gift from their parents. To move from seeing yourself as a victim to seeing yourself as a lover is to move from a dingy, stinking dungeon to a palace.
In Jesusí time and country, the Romans were the foreign oppressors who had used their military might to defeat Israel. By Roman law, a soldier of the occupying forces had the right to compel a citizen of the occupied country to carry the soldierís pack a maximum of one Roman mile. Anyone unfortunate enough to be picked on for this task would usually count each pace. The instant he had paced off a mile, he would dump the pack and get on with life. When Jesus spoke of going the extra mile, he was not adding his own law to the Roman law, saying his followers are forced to pace off another mile. That would be meaningless. Jesus was talking not about yet another law, but a radically new attitude Ė love. He was talking about no longer acting out of compulsion, but acting out of love. People forced to do things against their wills do the bare minimum. In contrast, people who love, genuinely want to help. They find themselves eagerly Ė almost effortlessly Ė going far beyond what is asked of them. It is this new, liberating attitude that I am inviting you to discover.
By all means, stir up love within you and let it drive you to find ways of delighting your husband, but never be driven by guilt about what you canít do for your husband, nor by fear. Even viewing it as a duty is to turn it into a drudgery. Being motivated by love is like coaxing yourself to eat by setting mouth-watering food in font of you. In contrast, letting guilt or fear drive you is like punishing yourself until you at last give in and eat tasteless food. Punishing yourself might initially bring results but it will ultimately turn you off food more than ever. Likewise, in motivating a woman to relate sexually with her husband, guilt and fear are counter-productive. Any positive results they seem to produce are not only short-lived, they end up making a person more and more reluctant to please her partner. Like borrowing from the cruelest loan shark, youíll end up paying dearly for your short term gain. In their own interests, both husband and wife should avoid anything that contributes to the wife suffering feelings of shame, failure, inadequacy or insecurity. Fostering the opposite feelings does much to release a person into his/her full sexual potential.
It seems that almost anything enjoyable could be turned into abuse by a cruel person. We earlier mentioned how awful it would be to have oneís favorite food down oneís throat hour after hour. Perhaps a person loves sunshine. Someone abusive could force her into the blazing sun until her entire body is covered with third degree burns. Maybe she likes the snow. That again could be turned into torment. A person could be tortured with her favorite music turned up so excessively loud for so long that it prevents her from sleeping, ruins her hearing, and so on. In the hands of an abuser, almost any good thing becomes repulsive. You can learn to hate anything. Likewise, you can learn Ė or re-learn Ė to enjoy what God lovingly created for your pleasure. By faith in the Creator, you can gradually begin to look beyond the hideous abuse of Godís gift to believe what might initially seem unbelievable Ė that when used as its Creator intended, sex is a most desirable gift.
If sex has so far brought you little else but pain and guilt, it is probably beyond your powers of imagination to conceive how wonderful you make your husband feel when you relate to him sexually. It is close to being the greatest happiness one human can give another human. It is not the perverted pleasure your abuser felt, but a holy expression of loving commitment that heightens your husbandís appreciation of you and intensifies his feeling of oneness with you. When your man is sexually aroused, he feels drawn to you in very special ways. For instance, you become more physically beautiful in his eyes than any beauty treatment could ever achieve for you.
Work towards viewing marital relations as being granted the priceless privilege of thrilling your darling in a way that only you can. Gaining that attitude is no easy feat. No matter how far fetched it seems, set the long-term goal of reaching the point where you can blissfully lose yourself in your darlingís pleasure and in the security of Godís protective love. You and your husband are one. His pleasure is your pleasure; his agony is your agony (and, of course, your agony is his). Provided it does not become too unpleasant, when you do the little you can to meet your husbandís needs, try to forget yourself and focus on his pleasure. Thatís a key ingredient of true love.
If a woman is tense, she is unlikely to produce sufficient natural lubrication. This is likely to result in painful intercourse for her.
Try to avoid becoming deadly serious about lovemaking. Thatís just one step away from being tense, which is a step from anxiety, which is but a step away from yucky feelings. Be as light-hearted as you can. Sex is meant to be fun Ė adult play. So have lots of fun. Laugh a lot. Joke together. Be playful. Lovingly tease each other, if you can achieve it without the slightest hurt. Major on things you like and that make you feel good. Think of re-opening Godís path to pleasure as commencing an exciting adventure with the man you love. View it as a fun-filled, highly challenging game, with hosts of wonderful prizes waiting for you each time you win. And delight in the knowledge that your enjoyment of Godís gift has your Lordís full approval.
Especially at first, it might be helpful try to make relating with your husband as different from your abusive experiences as possible. I canít deal with specifics because peopleís abusive experiences differ widely, but be alert to the fact that some settings and activities are more likely to bring bad memories than others. If, for instance, your abuser was always on top, assume the dominant position, while resisting the urge to expel on your husband any pent up anger you feel for your abuser. If, in your past, the bedroom was not a place of security for you, you might need to make the bedroom a no-sex zone and find another location for love-making, or if this is not practical, try relating long before bedtime and keep the later hours as a no-sex time. Only you can know in what settings you would feel most secure, but creatively and prayerfully seek them out.
An obvious reason for forgetting is that the mind considers an event to be too trivial to warrant the effort of keeping the memory vivid. The other main possibility is that the memory was so awful that the mind deliberately suppressed the memory because it cannot cope with it. If the latter applies, you might have some tough times ahead, should these memories begin to surface. If, however, the re-surfacing is left entirely to God, then although it might be initially unpleasant, it will bring healing.
The wifeís goal is to restore to perfection Godís wedding present of sexual pleasure. For the glory of God, she longs to delight in the gift and in the Giver. In loving yieldedness to her Lord, she should determine to keep bravely pushing through the barriers, longing to achieve her long-term aim of pampering her man with every sexual treat he could ever wish for, losing herself totally in his pleasure.
The couple should keep seeking the Lord for creative solutions, and particularly be on the look out for tiny steps forward that the wife can comfortably take. Donít force the pace. Be patient with yourself, each other, and the Lord. Delight in every tiny progress. Realize that there will be occasional setbacks and times when it seems you will never make it. Know, however, that God is on your side and that faith challenges merely make you spiritually strongly. Youíll reach your goal!
The husbandís goal is to so love his Lord and his wife that he counts it an honor to suffer for the one Christ suffered for. He should seek God until he longs to bear her pain by moving towards her goal so slowly that it is virtually stress-free for her, even though the self-denial may be agonizing for him. His desire is to always delight in what his wife gives him, rather than let himself feel miserable about what she does not presently give him.
To achieve these goals both of you will must draw deeply upon God for an abundance of those spiritual qualities that bring not just earthly reward but eternity glory. As you yield to God in loving trust, you are headed for exciting breakthroughs. Nevertheless, you will praise God for all eternity for not instantly removing the challenge you presently face. The Lord is preparing you to rule on his throne forever and your present trial will prove a valuable training ground for things greater than you dare dream. Glorious things are ahead.
Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 2000.
For much more by the same author, see www.net-burst.net
No part of these writings may be copied without citing this entire paragraph. No part may be sold.