How do we get over our sexual shame?

February 7, 2006 — Leave a comment

Salt Lake Tribune

Marital intimacy is not an easy topic to talk or write about but one that is essential to marriage. Busy married couples with demanding children must make their marital bond a priority. Yeah, right!

Easy for me to say as an unmarried, childless professional. Perhaps the best that couples can do is to rank caring for their family as the No. 1 goal they share.

Regardless of our culture, religion or gender, most of us struggle with a bit of cross-wiring when it comes to the meaning and importance of marital lovemaking. Few grew up with parents who talked openly and honestly about this delicate and private (sometimes shameful) subject. Like love and marriage, shame and sex go together all too often.

The most common e-mails I receive from married women regard the conflicting roles between being a child’s mother and a husband’s lover. The sentiments are much the same: “I feel guilty being sexual with my husband; I feel like such a slut!” (Well, “slut” isn’t quite the word, but you get the idea.)

It’s alarming to see how many otherwise well-adjusted people still think of married sex as dirty or evil. It’s understandable, however, if one has only been taught during their formative years a negative approach to sex. The marriage ceremony alone can’t instantaneously reorient one’s sexual attitude from “No” to “Go.”

Put sexual taboo to bed for good:

Postpartum: Pregnancy and birth cause major physical changes to a woman’s body. Unfortunately, “sexy” in our society means looking like you never gave birth. The goal is to feel good about your body as a woman who is also a mother. If you think your lowered libido is something to be concerned about, consult your doctor. Hormones and symptoms of postpartum depression should be addressed.

Responsibility: You’re responsible for straightening out the wires and maintaining a healthy sexuality -physically, spiritually and mentally. Use your five senses to get and stay in the mood; from beautiful music to fragrant candles to lovely lingerie. It doesn’t have to take that much if your brain is in the game; it, by the way, is the most significant organ used in sexual expression. Clearly communicate your preferences and be open to your mate’s. Compromise, don’t judge; be creative and initiate!

Planning: Not to take the spontaneity out of things, but let’s be realistic! You remember to schedule in those important lunch meetings with clients, why should this be any different? Sneak in a few “dates” on the family calendar that only the two of you understand. Let your kids know that when your bedroom door is locked, unless the house is burning down, you’ll visit with them later. Your marital, unashamed love provides them with great stability. Isn’t that the healthy sexual attitude you’d want your children to take into their marriage?

I ran across a shirt that summed it up well: “Sex: Do It for the Kids!”

What do you think? How do we overcome sexual shame?

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Dr. Liz Hale

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