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Sex & Marriage Part 2 | Dr. Michael Sytsma

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2023 1:00 am

Sex & Marriage Part 2 | Dr. Michael Sytsma

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 13, 2023 1:00 am

Sex and marriage Part 2. That’s coming up on this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Last week, Shaunti Feldhahn revealed some groundbreaking research with married couples. This week, counselor and sex therapist, Dr. Michael Sytsma talks about how to overcome sexual struggles in marriage. Don’t miss this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: Secrets of Sex and Marriage: 8 Surprises That Make All the Difference

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When we recognize that as a drive to connection and a drive for pleasure, a drive for playfulness, then it can be something that's rich in the relationship and I can discipline it for the honor of both of us.

I can't do that if it's a need. I can if it's a powerful desire for connection. So I think that little shift is a massive shift in the heart of the relationship. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Last week we talked with author and researcher Shanti Feldhahn about the book Secrets of Sex and Marriage. This week, part two of the discussion with her co-author, Dr. Michael Seitzman. He is a certified sex therapist and his perspective was really helpful to Shanti in her research and surveys of couples. Their book is titled Secrets of Sex and Marriage, Eight Surprises That Make All the Difference, and you can find out about it at our website Gary, that was an interesting discussion last week. Did you hear anything from Shanti that was new or surprising that you gleaned from our conversation last week? Well, you know, Chris, one thing that I had never even heard is that what percentage of people who are married but really are not involved sexually with each other.

And even though I think research indicated it was nine percent, I just never heard any figure associated with that. I mean, I knew in my counseling that there were couples that were not active in this area. And I think the fact that, you know, she did all this research and have some percentages of things was very, very helpful. But I'm looking forward to our conversation today with Dr. Seitzman because he comes, of course, from a clinical background and has been a sex therapist for all these years.

So I hope our listeners are going to stay tuned because I think you're going to learn some things today that will be helpful in this area. Dr. Michael Seitzman is a licensed professional counselor, certified sex therapist, ordained minister, professor and national speaker with more than 30 years of clinical experience in sex therapy. He founded Building Intimate Marriages Incorporated and co-founded Sexual Wholeness Incorporated. If you go to, you'll find the book that we talked about last week and now this week, Secrets of Sex and Marriage, Eight Surprises That Make All the Difference.

Find out more at Well, Dr. Seitzman, welcome to Building Relationships. Thank you very much. It's an honor.

I really appreciate it. Tell us about your background and how you decided you wanted to research the topic of sex and intimacy and marriage and get involved in writing this book. Well, it started back when I was a kind of traditional staff pastor in a church and people keep coming to Pastor Mike asking questions that I didn't know the answers to. I'd go home to my wife and say, I know God put the answers in scripture someplace.

Nobody's taught me how to get it out. So I continued to advance my training and counseling as people came in to see me around sexual issues. There was so much pain in that arena and just continued to pursue the area of marriage and sexuality. So my PhD specialized in marital sex therapy with my dissertation in sexual desire discrepancy in married couples. And that was over 20 years ago and just fell in love with doing research, getting a PhD from a tier one research institution. They kind of force that on you and worked with Shanti off and on as kind of a consultant for a number of her books.

So when she reached out and said, would like to work with you on this project, it was just a great opportunity to do some really solid research in an area that I knew couples were hurting and had a lot of questions and confusion. So it was an easy yes. Yeah. I would assume that with your interest in this and experience in this, you kind of a sense that this is really your calling. I mean, this is where God has placed you in the kingdom.

Yeah. You know, it's been a lot of years of me fighting that actually. I don't know too many people that, that grow up in a very conservative Christian background and say, I want to be a Christian sex therapist. You know, my fellow ordained pastors in the Western church, they're, they're really not quite sure what to do with me often.

And I'm not either. There were honestly many times that I said, God, how did I get here? Um, can I, can I quit now? And you're right in saying it's a calling, but over the past few years, just seeing the impact on an area that can be so wounding and so divisive for couples and knowing that there are answers and healing can occur. Um, I've settled into it as a calling that I can almost say I'm grateful for. Yeah. Yeah.

Well, we are glad that you are there where you are. So in the opening chapter, you say that you avoid most books on sex. Why is that? I avoid most kind of popular books on sex. Generally, they are really well-meaning. The people who write them want the best, but often they write them from what they personally believe or what they personally want or what they've heard somebody else say. Many times what they have to say is very good, but often they unintentionally do harm because they don't know that what makes sense to them doesn't work in the real world or has actually been shown to be damaging. So it's not saying don't write about it or don't read those books.

Just buyer beware, be cautious. For me personally, I spend all of my time kind of reading through the research. I subscribe to a number of professional peer-reviewed journal articles in sexuality and sex therapy and reading textbooks and preparing for the lectures that I provide for the graduate students that I teach. So that's where the focus of my reading has been.

Yeah. Talk about your experiences in the counseling room in this area and your pastoral perspective. What have you seen through the years? A couple of things probably jump out to me. One is that most couples really are good people. They are good couples.

They like each other at the core. They're in my office because something is hurting or they're stuck, but most of them want good for their spouse, for each other. Many of them have really tried hard, but I often tell people you've tried really hard just in the wrong arenas. You've pushed hard in an area that's not going to get you success. Let me help you to shift that a few degrees so you're out from behind this wall and you can start to make progress as a couple because they've kind of run out of hope. The beauty of it is we see that there is hope.

There's things that can be done. The other thing that I've seen and part of what drew me to this, I fell in love with doing marriage work in the mid 90s, in part because I see marriage as the ultimate discipleship tool. There's nothing that gives us the opportunity to grow up as intense as the marital relationship where our spouse holds up a mirror and says, look at this thing in you that's just not very good. We want to look at them and try to break the mirror or tell them, don't see that in me. But the opportunity to help people to own it and say, yeah, that's not a particularly healthy area for me. I'm not proud of it.

Can you join with me while I work on growing in this area and being my best self? And I love that kind of work with couples. We know that there are many couples who really don't talk to each other very freely about this part of the marriage. So what's the most common issue that you found that keeps couples from communicating openly about this part of their marriage? Sex is a sacred subject. And I think the sacredness of it that's embedded within us is part of what makes it difficult.

But I really see kind of two barriers that showed up kind of in the Garden of Eden. One is just the fear of being unaccepted. When we realize that we're going to be exposed, we want to hide. And I'm afraid that if I tell you what's really going on in my mind, if I tell you what I really do or don't want, that I'm going to be unacceptable to you.

And maybe I'd say it is unacceptable to me. So we try to hide it and we shut it down. And I think the other thing that showed up really early in the story is that of shame, that I believe that there's something that may not be right in me or I'm not proud of some of my past choices. And I'm afraid if we really get into it, I'm going to be exposed. And I think those are natural responses in our humanity. And the beauty of an intimate marriage relationship is we can work through it and be totally accepted, totally transparent and exposed to each other, and still in this loving, intimate relationship. But we're always afraid that's not going to happen.

So we don't communicate well, we don't open up, we're not really transparent with each other. And I think a lot of our listeners can identify with what you're saying. I do think it is a universal part of being human.

That, like I said, goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. And, you know, our sexuality is an arena that we just know we're exposed. Not only are we physically naked and exposed, where you can potentially judge what I may or may not be comfortable with in myself. But what happens in our neurology as we shift from the parasympathetic to the sympathetic nervous system, all the chemical shifts that happen during sexual arousal, and it exposes our hearts and our minds as well. And we intuitively know that.

So it is a sacred, intimate arena that is easy for us to naturally back away from. It's great to have you with us for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you'd like to hear a past time, take an assessment of your love language or see our featured resource. Go to our website There you'll find out more about the book co-written by Dr. Michael Seitzma and Shanti Feldhahn, Secrets of Sex and Marriage, Eight Surprises That Make All the Difference.

Again, go to Dr. Seitzma, before the break, we were talking about communication and why couples often do not communicate about this part of their marriage. Are there ways to improve communication about sexual intimacy?

There definitely are. You know, a lot of the barriers in communication is not just what we were talking about before, but I also want to force my rightness on you. I truly believe in what I'm saying, and I can't understand why you don't just think I'm brilliant and believe me as well. So we tend to push our opinion. And the challenge, I love Stephen Covey's fifth habit of highly effective people, understand to be understood. And communication is a skill that can be learned.

Very few people are born just natural communicators. And so I encourage couples to go through some kind of a program that teaches them reflective listening or active listening or whatever language we have for it, where we learn how to listen well to the other. And then we transition that into talking about sex and sexuality. I invite couples just to sit down and do a reflective listening where we're listening carefully to each other and repeating back what each other is saying.

And just starting by talking about vision, what would you like? Like I say, it is a skill couples can learn. They may need some coaching in it. You know, there are a lot of people that are trained in good communication skills, or there's some online programs. There's one that most all of my clients have to go through. But there is a lot of hope here because it's a skill that can be learned. Is there a particular website that you often recommend for couples who want to improve in communication in this area?

There definitely is. It's called And it's the online version of the prep program which is one of the most researched programs that we have for teaching couples how to communicate.

Just and they can go through the entire program online with each other. Dr. Seitzman, one of the things that I heard last week from Shanti that was really helpful is the different types of desire. And I always thought that, you know, there's just one type of desire, either you desire or you don't desire. And that was really, really helpful that initiating desire and the receptive desire. Can you go through that one more time?

Yes, that was part of my work and my dissertation over 20 years ago. And we've used different language for it over the years. But the initiating desire is where it seems to just be there. And all of a sudden, we're moving forward. We're wanting. And the initiating sexual desire is you wake up and you're thinking about your spouse and you're wanting to connect with them or they walk by and you see them and you want to reach out and touch. That's the initiating type of desire, where receptive desire is a bit more complex in some respects, because there has to be a kind of willingness to step into it. And then we have to begin to be aroused, both subjectively in feeling aroused and then in our bodies, our bodies getting aroused. And we have to assess that arousal positively.

So we have to view it as a good thing. And then the desire clicks into our brain, and then we want it. And for many people with receptive desire, they're deciding to engage sexually. And starting the process, their body starts to warm up, they begin to enjoy subjectively in their hearts connecting. And then the desire turns on or maybe five to 10 minutes into the process. And now to say to them, though, well, you didn't really want sex to begin with, is not really accurate and not very true.

It's like offering somebody something to eat. They weren't thinking about it beforehand, but once it's offered, they really do want it. And it's allowing for that receptive desire to kick in. The key to both of those is how do we be the kind of person that draws our spouse in? So if I'm the initiating type of a spouse, it's easy for me to just want to reach out to pursue, to push, to get assertive with it. And as opposed to stepping back and drawing our spouse in, the language that I use there is to be seductive, to live in such a way that I'm always drawing my spouse, that they want to be with me, they want to engage with me, the kind of stuff that we did while we were dating.

Then as I draw them and invite them in, they're willing to make the decision to step in. And I know that as we engage, that they will start to move towards the desire and then all of a sudden it clicks in and now both of us want. For the receptive desire, it's being aware that five minutes into this process, I really am going to want it and we have fun and I enjoy it. And it might not sound great to me right now, I might not be hungry for it, but if I can make the decision to step in, my body will likely engage.

And if it doesn't, then we need to problem solve what's happening. But those two different types of desire and working with them, that can be very helpful for couples as they learn and understand how each other are. And Gary, that makes a lot of sense for the callers that call here and ask you questions that just frame everything negatively.

It's like, you never want sex or you always want, you know, you're always thinking about this, what's wrong with you? And instead of what's wrong with you, it's like, who are different here? Gary, that was eye opening to me last week with Shanti and here because she used the car in drive or in neutral and you use food. So I understand now. I do think that's very helpful, Chris. And I think couples in reading this book and going through this are going to get the handles on that and realize it's not that one is bad and the other is good. It's just that we're different as we're different in so many other areas of life. So this is just an insight that I think most couples don't have about this part of the marriage.

You mentioned something that I think is very important there. In the conflict, often couples are blaming each other and there's something wrong with you. Your desire is too high or your desire is too low. And the whole point of my dissertation over 20 years ago is to point out that the level of desire is not the problem.

Occasionally it is when it gets way to the extreme ends. But the problem comes in what we call the misattribution or the misunderstanding of each other. When the high desire person underestimates the low desire individual's desire, believing that their that desire should be the same and not understanding that, oh, you have receptive desire because most couples, when you strip it right down, they really want sex pretty similarly. But the more conflict they have, the more they polarize and move apart from each other. And that polarization where we start blaming one another and overestimating or underestimating each other, the research shows that that's where the pain comes from. So the problem isn't somebody else's desire. The problem is the distance that we're allowing between us.

Through the years as you have worked with people, what are the most common issue or issues that you have seen that impact intimacy in a marriage? I think it flows from what we were just talking about. I boil it down to I'm demanding my own way. I want marriage to go my way. I want you to be who I want you to be, not stepping back and allowing you to be who God has called you to be.

But I want to shape that. I want sex to happen on my timetable and in my way. So, you know, the biggest thing that's brought into the office is desire where couples are arguing over frequency or they're arguing over practices that they desire to happen and just demanding that their spouse be like them. Anytime we demand that somebody else be who we want them to be, it tends to not work. In our humanity, if somebody starts to push us, we dig our heels in and push back. That's just who humans are. And when we start to push our spouse to be who we want, rather than stepping back, figuring out who they are, oh, you have receptive desire. Well, how do we work with that and stay curious and stay open and learning and crafting a vision that we both move together.

So when we start to demand it just doesn't work. Yeah. We are all by nature self-centered, right? And that often leads us to be selfish.

And our way is always the right way. Yeah, absolutely. Now, you discovered something about the importance of curiosity in marriage. Speak a little bit about that. You know, I have learned in my clinical practice, there's been plenty of research and writing on curiosity, but in my clinical practice, I watch curiosity break the back of many of the things that bring pain to couples. If we are curious, it's really hard to be contemptuous. If we're curious, it's tough to be critical.

It's tough to be commanding. Curiosity really shifts it. So I'll have a couple sitting in front of me and they're beginning to talk to each other and they start by trying to override the other to make you who I want you to be. And then they'll hear something and they shift into, wait, what? And I like to pause them right there and say that heart attitude, that stance where you're going, explain that to me.

How can you think that way is so powerful. Sometimes I have to invite it. One spouse will be just saying, you just don't love me.

You never want to connect with me and you don't want to be. And I'll pause them and say, is that the person that you married? All the women in the whole wide world, all the men in the whole wide world, you chose this one.

I think you chose well, but did you choose somebody who is going to be against you? And they sit there a minute and go, well, I didn't. So I wonder what else is going on. And you watch them shift into a curious stance of my spouse is smart or my spouse is intelligent or my spouse tells me that they love me.

Why is this going on? And that curiosity can really open up the marriage. And when we move into things like sexuality, we showed that couples who there is greater curiosity in the marriage have a much higher marital satisfaction, much higher sexual satisfaction, much higher sexual frequency, that the couple just does better when they pursue curiosity in the relationship. And how is that often expressed curiosity? Just by wondering about our spouse, you know, you look over and you say, Hey, you're really cute. Do you want to, and they say, no, rather than getting bent out of shape and angry to say, okay, help me to understand that. Because internally I'm thinking, I know you love me and I know we have fun when we engage sexually.

So what is the barrier here? Or if your spouse looks at you and says, Hey, you're really cute. Do you wanna, you may be ascribing some pretty negative attributions to why they're reaching out instead.

Well, why is it important to you right now? What's going on? Oh, and sometimes spouses are shocked to learn that they just feel disconnected and they know this is a way to connect or they just want to be playful or, and what they thought was going on, wasn't what was really going on. And when I hear the internal script, I think, yeah, I know what you didn't want to engage sexually, but that's not what was going on in your spouse's heart, but it takes just being open and asking questions, uh, to learn what's really happening. I think by nature, we just judge that we understand them when we have really no idea of what may be going on in their minds.

Yeah. And what's fascinating to me is the research that looks at that piece has shown that the longer a couple is married, the more likely that they're going to be to misunderstand what their spouse is saying. So a stranger actually interprets the spouse's statement more accurately than the spouse does.

And if we can keep that in mind that, you know, we start to believe things about each other that is not true. Um, so the curiosity keeps us learning how our spouse is changing and developing and it is really critical. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you go to Building, you'll find our featured resource today.

Secrets of sex and marriage, eight surprises that make all the difference. It's co-written by our guest today, Dr. Michael Seitzma. If you missed part one with Shanti Feldhahn, go to our website, Building and you can hear the discussion.

Again, go to Building All right, Dr. Seitzma, just before the break, you said something and I sat up in my chair and I thought, that can't be true. You can't be married to somebody 10, 15, 20, 50 years and have a stranger listen to the same thing and know what the other person is saying. And then I thought, well, I do this with Andrea. I will ascribe things to her because of patterns, you know, that we've had and I'll think, well, she won't want to do that. And I won't even ask. And then if I do ask, she'll surprise me.

Yeah, that sounds like fun. So help me understand that the longer you've been married, the less, you know, it's not as much the less you know, because you're right. You know, Karen and I've been married for 38 years now. You do learn an awful lot about each other in that period of time, but it's exactly what you stated. We have almost 40 years together and we learn an awful lot about each other, but we have almost 40 years together of interpreting each other.

And that interpretation is what gets off because we miss a tribute. And so when our spouse says something, we interpret it through 40 years versus a stranger who just takes them for what they say. And that piece of it gets really mixed up often in marriage. And I think sometimes that's why counseling helps is because I just take them at their word and I'll reflect it back and helping the spouse to hear what was actually said, not through the filter of however many years of marriage that they have. And curiosity does help to break through that barrier. So you're saying that we don't really need to go to a counselor, we just need to listen to each other more.

Is that right? You know, most of the couples that I work with, that would be true. If they could truly listen to each other. They don't necessarily need to be in my office. Yeah. Let me bring up another topic, because I've had wives in my office, say, through the years, you know, a few wives. Well, I've just decided that the sexual part of the marriage is not for me. It's not that I'm getting pleasure out of it. It's just that I do it for his pleasure.

Now, what's the biblical perspective? Is it to be mutually satisfying or respond to that? You know, those couples, I truly am sad for, because the sexual relationship, the health of the marriage is going to continue to go down over time.

Cliff Penner, one of the leaders in the Christian sex therapy field, says the greatest turn on for most men is a turned on wife. And if she's saying, I give up, I'm not willing to pursue the richness of sexuality, then over time, both of them are robbed of it. And this is the same for those couples where it's reversed, where the husband takes that stand.

Those are far fewer in my clinical practice, but they do occur. But anytime either one of us says, I'm not going to pursue the richness in this arena, I think we're robbing the marriage. Sex, I do believe is designed to be great for both of us, our physiology and the way it was designed, the way our bodies are, I think illustrate and support that profoundly. Yet, as you said, for many couples, the mutual enjoyment isn't there. But rather than giving up on it, I encourage both the husband and the wife to really lean into it and to be good students of their own bodies, to be good students of what we've learned helps sex to do well, how to make it mutually enjoyable for both of them. And if the husband realizes she's not really enjoying it, to take a couple of steps back rather than trying to force something to happen and invite her into the space.

If she realizes, this isn't really good for me, that's not okay. If they can shift it and learn, they can make it mutually enjoyable for both of them. They may need some help with it.

But for many, just reading, openly talking and exploring it, being playful and curious, they can get back on track. I also think some of it comes into a societal or a cultural message that says that sex has to be, you know, on a one to 10 scale, sex has to be an 8, 9 or 10 most of the time. And I think that's really destructive to step back and say, you know, sex can be average, but it can still be rich and good. And then there are times that it is an 8, 9 or 10 where we look and say, wow, I don't know what happened. But there's going to be just as many times that we go, okay, check the box.

We'll try again in a couple of days because that wasn't all that good. And if we can allow for average, that can be, that can be healthy. You talk about in the book, you talk about myths about this part of the marriage. What are some of those myths that are commonly believed? I think there are a lot of myths that we have in our sexuality. You know, one is if I take the right person, that sex would be naturally great. I hear that one a lot. Or if I behaved right before marriage, sex would be naturally great.

And because I made some choices I'm not proud of, that's why we're having trouble. Or my spouse will want it the way I want it or when I want it or because they love me, they'll conform to me. I think all of those are myths that really get in the way of us being curious and pursuing a healthy vision in sexuality. But my favorite soapbox is the myth that sex is a need. When we say that sex is a need, and most commonly I'll hear this as men need sex every 36 to 72 hours or he needs it or a guy sits in my office and says, I just need sex.

You have to fix her so I can get what I need. And in part, what he is saying or what we're saying to men is you are a holy warrior of God. You are called to discipline self to do great things. But in your sexuality, you can't control that. It's a need.

You just have to have it. And if you don't get it in one way, you're just going to get it in unhealthy ways. And we kind of understand that. And I think we give a lot of grace where there should not be grace because we accept this belief that it's a need and you can't really control it. And I think that is so demeaning for men. Men can learn how to control their sexuality.

They can bring it under discipline and make it something rich, something that's desired versus something that drives them. And if we make sex a need, especially if we make it a need for men, then our wives become predominantly the meter of our needs. And that's not honoring to them because then our sexuality becomes the focal point. And I think to go back to what you had asked earlier, many times wives come in and they've just given up on trying to meet their husband's quote unquote need because they can't meet what they believe is a need versus when he learns to discipline his sexuality. Then she can step up and she can explore what she desires and what feels good to her. And it may be that she says, I need you to touch my heart first.

And that is legitimate. But if the focus is on what he quote unquote needs physically, she can't really explore and bring the richness of her sexuality to the table because the focus is on his need. And what we find is these couples polarizing more and more rather than leaning more and more in. Or one of them takes a one downer subjugated role that is not healthy in the relationship long term.

So I think it has a number of different facets where it's just over time, quite destructive to the relationship and doesn't need to be. When we see sex as a deep desire, that for one or the other is often more compelling, that we have a greater drive than maybe our spouse does. But when we recognize it as a drive to connection, and a drive for pleasure, a drive for playfulness, then it can be something that's rich in the relationship. And I can discipline it for the honor of both of us.

I can't do that if it's a need. I can if it's a powerful desire for connection. But I think that little shift is a massive shift in the heart of the relationship. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller "The 5 Love Languages" . Dr. Michael Seitzma is joining us and our featured resource today is the book Secrets of Sex and Marriage, eight surprises that make all the difference. You can find it at our website

That's Dr. Seitzma, before we took the break, we were talking about one of the myths is viewing sex as a need. And therefore, that one would press the other to say, well, you're not meeting my needs.

I think a commonly held myth, it is a commonly held myth that it is a need. So how do you help an individual, often a man, understand the difference between a need and a desire? Well, I work with a lot of singles or individuals that due to health reasons, you can't experience or choose not to experience the sexuality that these guys say is a need. And they do just fine in life.

Nothing explodes, nothing dies, they do well. And helping to challenge is this a need, helping them to see the cost of seeing it as a need, or is it a deep desire? And generally, as they really wrestle with it, they can understand that it's a desire. They push for it as a need because they're afraid that they won't get what they desire. And to address the fear and to talk about it.

And that's where I step back and help couples to do some vision work. What do we want our sex life to look like? What do we want the frequency to look like?

And what is a shared number that we can kind of agree on? Not necessarily what it's going to be this week. But as we continue to heal and draw together, what is it going to look like? And is it going to be playful?

Or is it going to be erotic? Or is it going to be nurturing, and help them to really define the vision that both of them are working toward, then the fear of me not getting what I want can decrease. And there's not as much of a push for it to be a need that you have to meet. It can shift into a desire that both of us share. And we're side by side moving towards that vision and towards that desire, rather than trying to force each other into what I want. Now, you learned that creating a great marriage in this area of the marriage, a sexual area, actually starts with what happens in the mind, not what happens physically.

What do you mean by that? You know that our greatest sexual organ is between our ears, our brain, you know, our overall skin is very important in sexuality, and helping couples to slow down and just be erotic with each other to go back to that maybe dating time before when they had some boundary set for what they would do, but could spend an hour just enjoying each other. That's important.

You know, our genitals clearly are an important part of sex. But what happens in our mind, what this means to us, and why are you pursuing me? And, you know, are you pursuing me just because you have a need? Or are you pursuing me because you want to connect with me? Do you like me or do you just like my parts?

Or are you doing this just because you feel like you have to? Or do you really want to connect with me and to experience pleasure with me? All of those aspects of sexuality is what's going on in our mind. If our spouse reaches over and touches, what that means to us, and can we drink it in?

Can we find the pleasure inside and pursue it? All of that's happening in our mind. And helping couples to have that vision to have a, I call it a theology of sex, but what does this mean?

And what is the design for it? All of what I talk about in chapter 10 of the book is so important. Many times couples come in and they're struggling in the practices or in body issues. And as we dig down in, we learn that the problem isn't in how they're using their parts. The problem is the meaning that they're making of it. Or the problem is that they are holding some anger or bitterness or resentment against their spouse. They're not truly drinking in each other.

And all of that happens in the mind. If a couple is really struggling in this part of their marriage, and it's become a huge issue for them, where do they start to come out of that? I do think it starts with learning to communicate well. If they can't communicate about parenting, about the in-laws, about finances, they're going to struggle with communicating about something as intimate as sex. And so they may need to go through the program that we recommended or get some coaching. And then to sit down.

And I do invite them to start with vision. What would they like? And talking through it with each other. Taking it in small chunks, setting a timer. We're going to talk about this for 20, 30 minutes, and then we're going to take a break.

Because as we push into it, we run out of energy or we get off track. And take it in small bites as they start to work on it together. Often couples believe that they need to start by behaving in the bedroom differently in a sexual realm. And how they touch and how they use their bodies. And I tell them that's important, but that happens after we connect our hearts.

So it's spending the time really pursuing the intimate relationship and allowing that to flow into the physical piece. One of my favorite stories as a couple, and this was a number of years ago, but they came in and sat down and we'd been working together for a little while. And he says, I have figured it out.

What'd you figure out? He says, I figured out what turns my wife on. And I said, really?

What? He said, tea. I said, what kind of tea?

Because I'm buying stock. He said, the kind of tea doesn't matter. He said, I fixed my wife a cup of hot tea because she loves tea. And he says, then I go find her wherever she is in the house. And she's busy making our house great for our family. And I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know you can do that later. I made you cup of tea. Come on, sit down. And he says, I invite her to sit down at the table. And he said, I set a cross from her and I lean in and I say, so how are you doing?

No, really? How are you doing? You know, what's happening in life? And he says, and I truly lean into caring for her and listening to her. And he said, 45 minutes later, and she interrupted, she said, 45 minutes later, I'm grabbing him by the collar and saying, come on, big boy, let's go to the bedroom.

She says, I feel so cared for and so connected with him that I want to take this further. And it's back like we were dating, where we really wanted to know about each other. We were exploring each other.

And that curiosity shows up again. And we're not pressuring one another. We're not demanding of one another. We're stepping back and we're drawing one another, we're seducing one another in, we're inviting one another to connect. And out of that comes the richness of the relationship.

Of course, when there's resentment, or when there's past history stuff that we haven't cleaned up, when there's fear, when there's lack of trust, any of those can disrupt it and have to be cleaned up. But just truly caring for one another and inviting each other into the intimate space is where it starts. Yeah, I would say that he's speaking her love language. And that's the perfect language that I often use in my office. When she feels loved, then she wants to be sexually intimate with him. When she doesn't feel loved, then she has little interest in that. And that's not a guaranteed recipe, of course.

No, absolutely. When we attend, you know, I call it the incarnate in chapter 10. When we're attending to both the spirit of the act and the body of the act, there's much greater opportunity for success to occur. And it's quite common for one spouse to emphasize one side of that, the other spouse to emphasize the other. So one may emphasize the body of the act, the other emphasize the spirit of the act. But when we can accept influence from each other, it can reflect both and then it is rich and it's good.

Yeah. Well, I think this book is going to be a real helpful tool to couples and I would challenge them, whether they are struggling or whether they have a fairly good marriage in this area. I think we're always growing or we're regressing. And reading through a book like this and discussing with each other, I think could help almost any couple. So I hope our listeners will take a chance to get the book Secrets of Sex and Marriage. And I thank you for being with us today. And may God continue to give you wisdom as you seek to help couples. Well, before I go make some tea, let me tell you that Shanti Felton and Dr. Michael Seitzman have written Secrets of Sex and Marriage, eight surprises that make all the difference. Find out more at That's And next week, what it's like to be a military spouse. We'll honor military families in one week. Before we conclude, a big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-13 03:41:51 / 2023-05-13 03:58:27 / 17

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