Marriage Counseling Can Help

marriage counselingProfessional Marriage Counseling Can Help

Professional marriage counseling is different than listening to your mother or asking your friends what they did. Professional marriage counselors spend A LOT of time working with all sorts of people and every sort of marital difficulty. Their experience with complicated and easy cases gives them a vantage point that no one else has.

Here’s what you can expect from a professional marriage counselor:

  • Confidentiality. Nobody wants their business spread all around town. Professional marriage counselors are held to legal and ethical standards that protect your confidentiality. Non-professionals aren’t held to the same standard.
  • Compassionate empathy. Counselors get into the helping profession because we care about people. It’s not just a job for us, it’s our calling.
  • Professional listening. Professional counselors are trained to listen intently to what is being said and what’s not being said. Our training and experience helps us know what to listen for so we can thoroughly understand you and your situation.
  • Best practices. Professional training equips counselors to use the best evidence based, researched supported methods for helping people. This training combined with thousands of hours of experience enables us to be competent help to you.
  • At The Relationship Center our marriage professionals are Biblically trained to help marriages God’s way.

Your marriage is so important, it just makes sense to entrust it to some one who is equipped to help.

MyCounselor.Online has a marriage professional near you that can be on your team, helping you fight for your marriage.

Testimonial

We had tried everything we knew. It seemed hopeless. We tried professional marriage counseling as a last ditch effort before divorce. We are SO glad we did. Our marriage is actually better now that it ever has been.
Jan and Frank, Nixa Missouri

Marriage Counseling has a VERY high success rate with committed couples.

Research on emotionally-focused couples counseling shows that 3 out of 4 couples (~73%) who engage professional relationship counseling reach a place of satisfaction with their relationship. At MyCounselor.Online we have NEVER (yes, I’m using the word never and I mean it) had a case where both spouses were committed to the marriage and both spouses engaged counseling and their relationship did not improve.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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Professional Marriage Counseling

Josh Spurlock Marriage CounselorMarriage can be the best or worst part of our life. When things are good in our relationship there is nothing better. When it’s not good it cast a cloud over everything else.  You want your marriage to make your life

better. You want to be happy. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask, but sometimes it seems so hard to grasp.

So many things can go wrong

The path to a lasting and rewarding marriage seems so narrow and hard to find. With so many marriages failing and couples struggling to like each other it makes one wonder if lasting happiness is possible.

  • We never thought we’d fall out of love when we exchanged our vows on our wedding day. Yet real life has a way of grinding away at our love for each other.
  • It seemed impossible that an affair could come between us and crush our heart.
  • There so much we didn’t know about our self back when we got married, maybe we just weren’t ready to get married.
  • There so much I didn’t know about my spouse, I feel tricked and trapped by a bait and switch scheme.
  • My spouse changed so much. We used to be passionate lovers, now I don’t even think their attracted to me.
  • Selfishness seems to dominate the relationship, it’s all about them and what they want.
  • We can’t even talk without fighting. We don’t know how to communicate.
  • Silent. Cold.
  • Awesome roommates, but not much else. We work well as a team taking care of the kids, but haven’t been lovers in a long time.
  • Everything gets swept under the rug. We don’t talk about anything that matters. We avoid conflict at all cost, and it’s killing us.

I don’t want to keep living like this

You don’t want to get divorced. You also don’t want to keep living like this. The burning question is “Can it get better?”

It’s hard to have hope when you’ve tried everything you know to do and it just keeps getting worse. Maybe we both make promises after it explodes and it gets better for a little while. It doesn’t take long, months-days-hours, before it goes right back the way it was before. Why should I believe that it will ever change?

You are not unique.

People have been flirting, coupling, and getting married for literally thousands of years. There is nothing new under the sun. I promise your problems aren’t unique. Lot’s of couples experience the same difficulties that you do. The reason that fact should encourage you is:

Professional marriage counselors spend THOUSANDS of hours doing marriage counseling every year helping couples just like you.

We know can overcome your struggles and have the marriage you have always wanted.

It IS hopeless.

There’s no reason to believe it will ever get better, IF you keep doing the same things you’ve always done.

Try something new.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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Sexy=Dirty? | Better Sex For Women

Low Sexual Desire | Better Sex For Women.jpg

Does being sexy feel dirty to you?

Growing up we can sometimes receive the message that sexual desire is lust and only promiscuous girls want sex. This belief that sex is slutty/dirty and that you are bad for having sexual feelings, especially as a single person, leads us to feel bad about the sexual part of ourselves. Pleasing God and being horny are seen to be incompatible.

This is especially true for those who grew up in a very religious home. Sometimes the message that “sex is holy” is interpreted to mean that sexy feelings or the desire to engage sexually any way other than “missionary style” is a sinful corruption of God’s design for sex.

What follows is feeling bad about yourself any time you experience sexual feelings. So you learn to shut down your sexual feelings. This tends to get in the way of desire for sex.

God Made You Horny

Who designed your body? Who’s idea was it to wire your neurology and hormones to give you sexual feelings, desires, thoughts?

Truth: God made you horny. From a physiological standpoint, it is an undeniable fact that God wants women to enjoy sex even more than men. Take for example, that a woman’s clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of human anatomy male or female. Further, it serves zero functional purposes other than a woman’s sexual pleasure. In contrast, a man’s penis is a multi-functional tool. It aids him in urination and reproduction in addition to being an instrument of pleasure.

It doesn’t stop there. Women possess at least three separate neuropathways associated with sexual pleasure, to a man’s one. Women are capable of enjoying a variety of orgasmic experiences whereas men really only have one. Male orgasm may vary in intensity, but it is basically the same feeling and geographic location. Even more, women have the physiological capacity for an unlimited number of consecutive orgasms. There is probably a world record out there somewhere, but I wouldn’t recommend googling it. Men, on the other hand, get just one followed by a waiting period ranging from minutes to hours.

Conclusion: God wants women to enjoy sexual pleasure!

Distortions of Sex Displease God

Distortions of sex displease God. This includes the distortion that comes from well-meaning church people who make sex and sexual feelings out to be something evil or bad. It’s the ditch on the other side of the road from the secular hedonism that says there are no boundaries for sex, do whatever you please, with whomever you please, whenever you please.

In a world full of secular distortions of sexuality, where perverts and sexual predators lurk, it’s no wonder we the church are afraid of sex.

We are afraid of…

. . . the controversy.

. . . being thought of as a sexual predator.

. . . being misunderstood or misportrayed.

. . . offending people.

. . . being controlled by our sexual passions.

. . . being like the perverted culture.

. . . exposing our own shame around our sexual experiences, past, struggles, failures.

The power and potential for destruction inherent in sex terrify us.

We are bombarded with unspoken messages that say “sex is dangerous to your soul and body.”

“If you think about sex or feel sexual desire – You are Sinning!”

“Sexual sin is the worst kind of sin. Be ashamed of your sexual struggles. Hide your weaknesses.”

“If you love Jesus enough, you will NEVER be horny, especially if you’re single.”

“Any expression of gender affirmation or insinuation that “I think your attractive” is flirting. Flirting is sinning. YOU MUST PRETEND YOU FIND NO ONE ATTRACTIVE.”

“Asexual = Godly”

All of these messages, and many more, either spoken or implied through silence, result in beliefs about sex that do not come from God or the Bible. They don’t represent God’s revealed thoughts, as expressed in the Bible, about sex.

The Bible Celebrates Sex

Would it surprise you to know there’s an entire book of the Bible dedicated to the romantic sexual pursuit of a man after a woman and her desire for him (Song of Solomon). The flirtatious, romantic desires that draw a woman and man towards each other with longings for each other, leading to marriage, is God’s design.

The physical realities of our sexual desire are a metaphor for the longing that God has for His people. God desires to be one with us, indwelling us by His Spirit as we share an intimate love affair together. He describes Himself as a husband and we His special creation, as a bride, Whom He is passionate about and longs to be intimate with.

Consider, that according to Christianity, unlike any other religion, when we approach God giving our self to Him, the Bible says the Spirit of God literally indwells our body. The vulnerable, intimate act of intercourse between a husband and wife is a physical revelation of that spiritual truth. Further, God’s drive to be with us is constant and unrelenting…kind of like some husbands.

God’s loving pursuit of us and our enthusiastic response to Him shows us what a healthy sexual relationship in marriage is supposed to look like. Likewise, God appreciates and enjoys when we too initiate times of intimate connection with Him.

How To Embrace Positive Feelings About Sex

Before you can embrace positive feelings about sex, you first have to identify your negative ones. Often we’ve been so submerged in negative messages about sexuality that we aren’t even consciously aware of the misbeliefs that we hold about it.

Trace It Back

Take a sheet of paper and create a timeline of all the things you learned about sex and whom those thoughts came from.

How was nudity handled around your house?

How were your genitals talked about?

What reactions did your parents/adults have when you touched yourself as a child?

Did your parents discuss sex openly?

How did you learn about the “birds & the bees”?

What did you learn from siblings, family members, friends, the locker room at school?

What were the messages you got from the church/youth group?

When do you first remember having sexual feelings or thoughts? What was your response to them? How did you feel about them?

Did these experiences help you have positive feelings about sexuality or negative?

Write a Sexual Fantasy

Take a sheet of paper and create a sexual story about you and your husband. Make it as romantic and arousing as you can imagine.

What feelings are provoked just by reading the above two sentences? Positive or negative? Do you find yourself not wanting to do the exercise?

By this point, you probably accept, in your head at least, that God views sexual passion between you and your husband as positive. So what is getting in the way of you letting yourself imagine, think about, and look forward to sexual experiences together?

At first, you probably won’t be able to identify it. Keep trying to do the exercise and keep thinking about the feelings it stirs and bring them into conscious awareness by writing them down.

Challenge Distortions with Truth

For each of the negative feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that you identify in these exercises create a counter statement that affirms the positive nature of God’s thoughts about sex. Write down the truth statements.

Examples:

Distortion: I feel dirty.
Truth: Sex and sexual feelings are a beautiful gift from God.

Distortion: I feel ashamed or guilty?
Truth: God designed me to have sexual feelings and desires, He wants me to enjoy them and pursue them with my husband.

Distortion: I shouldn’t want these things?
Truth: Any mutually respectful and pleasurable sexual act between husband and wife, that doesn’t bring in a third party, is permissible to experiment and play with. God loves variety and creativity.

Experiment

Experiment with intentionally being flirtatious and sexually forward with your husband. Make a point to be receptive / respond positively to your husband’s advances. Notice the feelings you have as you think about and try doing so. Use the truth statements you have formulated to combat negative and anxiety producing thoughts/feelings. Talk about them out loud with your husband. Pray together, thanking the Lord for the sexual part of yourself and relationship. Ask for God’s help in experiencing as GOOD what He has created to be good for you.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

Start Your Journey

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Feel Sexy | Better Sex for Women

Sexual Confidence Feel Sexy | Better Sex for Women

Feeling Sexy | Sexual Confidence

Feeling attractive/sexy is an important driver for a women’s sexual desire. If you don’t feel sexy, you’re probably going to have difficulty desiring to engage sexually. This is different than men, who are more driven by how attractive they find their spouse then how attractive they think they themselves are.

If you feel uncomfortable with your body or believe it is unattractive this is going to get in the way of you wanting to be naked with your husband. This can also take the form of you lacking confidence in engaging sexually. If you are afraid your attempts at being sexy will come off as awkward and embarrassing, you are more likely to avoid sexual encounters.

Sexual Confidence

You’re going to have to work at it. Almost no one is born with an innate sense of confidence, we all have to work hard to earn it. It’s worth it though, the more confident you are the more you will enjoy sex.

True sexual confidence is about being relaxed, knowledgeable about yourself, willing to learn about your spouse, ready to ask for what you need, happy to take charge, and undeterred by failure or rejection. Being sexually confident makes you a great lover, able to both give and receive with an equal abundance of pleasure.

This has nothing to do with looks. Don’t be manipulated by the media. If you don’t love your body, change your mind. Men are almost always more focused on sensation and the feelings of acceptance that sex gives than on your size, shape, or degree of firmness. If when you are unclothed he has an erection, then he not only accepts your shape but craves your body. You’re not doing him or yourself any favors by obsessing over insecurities.

Don’t assume that just because you’re uncomfortable with yourself that your husband is as well. You can go back to obsessing over all your imperfections after you’re done having amazing rowdy sex with the man you married, who either doesn’t notice your imperfections or doesn’t care.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

You have to see yourself as sexy before you can expect that to translate to your husband. You need to feel good about your body. This begins with your internal dialogue. If every time you pass a mirror you have something derogatory to say about your looks, how are you ever going to feel good about yourself? Knowing your desirable sends a vibe that is incredibly enticing regardless of how closely your body fits a media standard.

Feel Good Naked

  • Smile in the mirror, and say something kind to yourself. Especially when getting out of the shower naked.
  • Exercise. It’s not so much about reaching a goal as it is feeling better about yourself. Regular exercise is proven to help you feel better about your body. It increases flexibility, athletic bedroom performance, feel good endorphins, and yes body shape.
  • Sing LOUD in the shower, get over yourself and have fun naked, soapy, and steamy.
  • Compliment EVERYONE you see or interact with, either in your head or out loud. Noticing the praise worthy in other helps you notice it in yourself.
  • Give yourself the same pep-talk you would a girlfriend or daughter struggling with body image woes.
  • Turn up the music and dance like nobodies watching – nothings better for working through self-consciousness. Try dancing around on the bed in your underwear to take it to the next level.
  • Try a naked day, or hour. Close the curtains, lock the door, turn up the heat, and while the kids are at school or down for a nap, wander about the house naked. The point is to work through the inhibitions you have around your body so you can feel more comfortable naked.

Buy Some Sexy Clothes

You know your clothes affect the way you feel. When you look cute, you feel cute. When you look sexy, you’ll feel sexy. I’m not talking about being immodest, no one has to know you have on a new sexy underwear set – but you will. Combine that with an outfit that you feel complements your figure and you are well on your way.

Take a Mirror and Look at Your Vagina

Ok, actually it’s your vulva, your vagina is inside your body. You can’t confidently share your body with your husband if you aren’t first comfortable with it yourself. A hand mirror works best.

Learn What Feels Good to You

Many women, especially if you grew up in church as a young girl, were raised to believe sex is dirty and you shouldn’t touch yourself. This is nowhere in the Bible. In Bible college I studied Biblical languages, 3 years of Greek and 2 years of Hebrew. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover many times – You will not find “Thou shall not touch yourself, or I will be very upset” anywhere in the Bible. God made your body pleasurable to touch and nowhere says not to, you do the math.

Being familiar with your body, what feels good and acts as an accelerator for desire, is key to enjoying yourself sexually with your husband. Consider giving yourself permission to discover how God has wired your body for sexual pleasure. A good place to start is with a vibrator. You can order one from Amazon, like this NU Sensuelle Point, and have it delivered right to your door. Women who know their bodies, what turns them on, enjoy sex more.

Be Good in Bed

Learn what feels good to him. Feeling confident that you know how to bring sexual pleasure to your husband builds sexual confidence. Being good at sex is really about your ability to respond to your husband’s body language and verbal communication.

If you want to increase your confidence in your abilities, ask him what he enjoys. It’s really that easy. It’s incredibly attractive for you to pay more attention to your husband in bed than what you look like. Educating yourself sexually will help you feel more confident.

Becoming a sexual woman can be exciting and terrifying.

You have to decide you want to have better sex. No one can decide this for you and it won’t get better if you don’t. Doing it for your husband won’t work. Great sex is a kind of play, make up your mind up to be good at it.

Sources
• The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

Start Your Journey

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Fear of Pregnancy | Better Sex for Women

Fear of Pregnancy | Better Sex for Women

Fear of pregnancy getting in the way of your sex life?

For many women, conflicting feelings about pregnancy get in the way of them enjoying a passionate sex life with their husbands. It’s true – abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% birth control method for women with their reproductive organs still intact, but it sure can be hard on a marriage (see Why Sex is So Important to Men).

Fear Will Ruin Your Sex Life

If the idea of getting pregnant creates anxiety or fear for you, it’s only a matter of time before that sabotages your sex life. Anxiety gets in the way of physical arousal such that sex becomes enjoyable, even unpleasant. Most of us tend to avoid things we find unpleasant. At the very least we don’t actively seek them out. Whether or not you consciously identify your fears as playing a role in your avoidance of sex, they likely do.

Common Reasons Why Married Women Fear Pregnancy

We have enough!

Maybe you feel satisfied with the number of children in your family. Maybe you feel overwhelmed trying to parent the children you already have.

Grow by Adoption

Perhaps you feel adoption is the way God would have you grow your family further.

Health Concerns

Sometimes pregnancy can pose a health threat for mom or baby. Fear of loss of life for either or lifelong birth-defects can definitely add angst to the thought of pregnancy. If there’s been a loss of a child, the pain of that grief alone can be a motivator for avoiding the possibility of going through it again.

Relationship Quality

If our marital relationship is a mess, why would we want to bring another human being into that chaos? Uncertainty about our marriage can contribute to hesitancy over pregnancy.

Birth Control?

When considering sex avoidance or lack of enjoyment due to fear of pregnancy, there’s an obvious conversation about birth control that needs to happen. Usually, it already has and the issue is more about a struggle to make a decision then it is a lack of knowledge about the options. Still, this article would be incomplete without at least some discussion of the options and issues surrounding them.

Hormone-Based Birth Control

Pills, inserts under the skin or in uterus – whatever the method of delivery these options work great for some while creating real problems for others. If the effects on your body and risk of problems are minimal, then you still have to consider the controversy of whether hormone based contraceptives prevent conception or just implantation. ¬For most of the women I work with in my practice, if this were a good option for them they wouldn’t be in my office. So there is a good chance if you’re reading this article, for some reason they are not a good option for you.

Timing Methods

Whether it’s timing a “pull out” or ovulation this method is really only good if you like spoiling the most enjoyable moments of intercourse and rolling the dice as to whether or not you get pregnant. All such methods are notoriously ineffective – no matter what a someone who knows someone tells you. For every couple that successfully navigates a life-time avoiding pregnancy by way of this method, the other 99% get pregnant at some point.

Condoms

Fairly effective when used correctly – also tend to take something away from the experience for both husband and wife. They definitely don’t heighten the sexual experience and most men prefer not to use them.

Diaphragms

Requiring a little planning ahead, about as effective as condoms (but inserted into the vagina instead of over the penis), not a bad option if you don’t mind the prep. To properly use, with about 94% efficacy, they must be combined with the use of spermicide, which is of course super sexy.

Hysterectomy

May be necessary at some point in life, but generally cutting organs out of your body if not medically necessary isn’t our favorite option. It’s also permanent- which you may not be ready for. If you do go this route, do your best to retain your ovaries – you still need their hormones.

Tubal

Tying the tubes can be effective and reversible, but is rather invasive and can lead to other complications.

Vasectomy

Probably the absolute best option is the vasectomy. Minimally invasive, minimally painful, quick recovery (depending on how big a baby you are, you could be back to work as early as the next day). Reversal is possible if you so desire, though is not guaranteed.

What about the lowering testosterone? There is minimal research linking the two and most of it is from 20 years ago when doctor erroneously believed there was a link between testosterone replacement therapies and prostate cancer. Some research even shows a small increase in testosterone after the procedure. The truth is you almost certainly will not be able to tell any difference after the surgery than before – except you won’t be getting pregnant and won’t need condoms.

Between the options of hormonal methods, female surgeries, and the vasectomy – the vasectomy definitely is the safest and most effective. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than have any serious side effects. Most insurances cover the outpatient surgery, or you can pay out of pocket usually for less than $2k.

Can’t agree about birth control?

The simple answer would, of course, be “Get on the same page.”, but what if we’re just not there yet? I believe God wants for couples to move forward in life in unity and that He makes this possible through options that are a WIN for both husband and wife. I’ve seen this to be true in my own marriage and in that of my clients.

That means NO bull-dozing, steamrolling, manipulating, or forcing your way for either of you. That does not please our King. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of bringing conviction to your spouse’s heart and leading them to His Truth without your help. If you think you can do a better job you are sorely mistaken. If your spouse won’t listen to the Holy Spirit, it would be idolatry for them to listen to you instead.

Humbly make it a matter of prayer for both of you. Trust the Lord to help you both to get on the same page with Him. Ultimately as believers, that’s what we want more than anything else – not to get our way or for our spouse to agree with us, but for both of us to agree with our King.

Use your communication and conflict resolution skills to understand where each other is coming from and what you really want that possible solutions are the means to. Brainstorm together as a team. Need some help in this department? Check out the book Crucial Conversations or connect with a marriage counselor to help you work through it.

Trusting God

“Trusting God” with your fertility is good Christian advice. We should trust God with every area of our life and health. Most of us still wash our hands though, because trusting God with our health doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play a role in it with our choices. Trusting God also means trusting that He is able to speak and make His will for our life clear.

As with many things in life, we should make choices based on the best information and wisdom we have access to, in conjunction with our desires for life. Doing so means being prayerful about decisions, trusting that if we are headed in a direction contrary to God’s desire for our life He can and will make that clear to us. We can trust God to grant wisdom to us, so long as we’re listening (willing to be obedient when He makes Himself clear).

Choosing to use birth control of one form or another does not mean that you are not trusting God, unless God has made it clear to you that He has other plans and you are just ignoring him.

Save Your Sex Life

So, what if you aren’t able to quickly come to a WIN-WIN agreement with your spouse on the subject? Should you just avoid sex until you do? At worst that’s very manipulative, at best it’s a BAD idea. God designed sex to be an important part of the intimate connection between husband and wife. Neglecting it will create vulnerabilities to the attacks of the enemy in your marriage, as well as lead to disconnection and resentment.

Non-Intercourse Sex

As mentioned at the beginning, abstinence from intercourse is the only 100% method of birth control. Abstinence from intercourse doesn’t mean abstaining from sex. There’s so much more to great sex than just intercourse.

Not so sure? Maybe your sex life needs an overhaul. Sometimes going through a period of time in a marriage where you aren’t having intercourse really helps a couple cultivate a rich and vibrant sex life where before it was a minimally fulfilling one-act show. Deeply satisfying, orgasmic sex is completely possible without intercourse. If you’re not sure how, schedule an appointment with a Christian sex therapist to help you.

I highly recommend that as you work through what to do with your fertility, in a win-win God-honoring way, you also continue to share regularly in affectionate sexual connection. This will help keep sex a positive thing in your marriage even as you navigate this conflict.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Overcoming Trauma | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Trauma | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Sexual Trauma

If you have had negative emotional experiences associated with sexuality, this can significantly impact your sexual desire.

Examples of sexual trauma that might impact your sexual desire include:

  • Feeling pressured by a boyfriend to have sex when you weren’t comfortable doing so.
  • Being sexual in ways that left you feeling guilty or ashamed at an earlier time in your life.
  • Having been touched or made to act in sexual ways as a kid that made you feel uncomfortable by friends, siblings, babysitters, a parent, or another adult.
  • Sexual experiences that have been painful physically or emotionally.
  • Being forced to engage sexually when you didn’t want to by any one, including your spouse.
  • Exposures to pornographic materials as a kid.
  • Even if the event was a long time ago and not violent – it can still have a BIG impact.

Frequently women I work with are surprised to discover that emotional associations created from these experiences are still affecting their sex life today.

Sexual Aversions

Aversions are actually a protective feature God has built into us, although operating in over-drive. It’s like when you eat a food and get food poisoning. Something about the unpleasantness of vomiting that food up through your nose leaves a lasting impression on you. Even if it was the flu and had nothing to do with the food, the experience will likely make you queasy around that food in the future. The smell of it alone can make you nauseous.

We call this a food “aversion”. It happens because our brain associates the negative emotional experience of being sick with the food. It then tries to help us stay safe by discouraging us from eating it again. There was a particular brand of pizza I used to eat a lot of that fell victim to this for the better part of a decade.

When this same sort of pairing happens with a negative emotional experience and something involving our bodies or sexuality, it can form a sexual aversion. This is where our brain tries to keep us safe by warning us to avoid anything that even remotely reminds us of sex.

Sexual Trauma

If sexual traumas can result in sexual aversions it begs the question, what exactly is sexual trauma? Essentially sexual trauma is any negative emotional experience involving some aspect of our sexuality. Sexual traumas exist along a continuum from minor to significant, based on the impact on the person.

The significance of a trauma is measured based on the impact on the person, not necessarily the nature of the event itself. Although, when we think about traumatic experiences there are some that tend to result in a higher degree of traumatic significance than others as a norm. That being said, everyone is different. What one-person experiences as insignificant, another might experience as hugely impactful.

It’s important not to judge what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling in response to something. Instead be curious and observe what you are feeling. Believing you shouldn’t be feeling something doesn’t change the fact that you are, it just decreases the likelihood that you will care for the wound in way that will heal it.

Examples of Sexual Trauma

There is a broad range of experiences that can shape our feelings about sex and our sexuality. Many of them you might have never thought of:

The more obvious ones…

There are, of course, the events that you probably think of when you hear sexual trauma:

Stranger Rape

This is what you see in the movies, where the woman is jogging in the park and is grabbed by a masked man, pulled into the bushes, and raped under threat of bodily harm. While this certainly does occur and is extremely traumatic, it’s actually one of the least occurring kinds of sexual trauma.

Small Child Molestation

Another scenario that probably comes to mind is the woman who as a little girl is sexually touched or forced to perform sexual acts. This too is extremely traumatic and leaves emotional scars that have a great impact on one’s sexual relationship.

These are real scenarios and if they are part of your story, you probably have some awareness that they are impacting your feelings about sex and negatively impacting your sexual relationship. They are treatable and we can help you reclaim the sexual parts of your body and life.

But what if neither stranger rape nor molestation as a small child is part of your story? Is it possible to have experienced sexual trauma that impacts your feelings about sex?

Less obvious forms of sexual trauma…

There are a great many experiences a woman can have that impede her sex life. Here are some examples that we routinely come across in sex therapy:

Humiliation

Feeling humiliated around some aspect of your body or sexuality can be very traumatic, leaving you feeling insecure about your body and sexuality. These feelings of insecurity can lead you to avoid all things that trigger these feelings, like sex.

  • Peer bullying – a teenage girl gets made fun of in the locker room for being “flat chested” or fat, or an ugly rumor spread about her being a “slut” or that an ex-boyfriend said she was terrible at sex.
  • Lewd comments/innuendo – an early blooming middle school girl has inappropriate comments made to her by boys at school or older adult men, perhaps a father, brother, cousin, uncle, family friend “prick tease”, “jailbait”, “asking for it” or other derogatory comments.
  • Stared at, undressed with eyes – maybe it was an authority figure, teacher, coach, pastor, a relative who stared at you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, like they were undressing you with their eyes.
  • Text / Social Media – Maybe somebody posted a picture of you or spread it by text that you didn’t feel comfortable with or the comments made about it.
  • Boyfriend or Spouse Comment – maybe a boyfriend or husband told you that you were “no good in bed”, were a “terrible lover”, “not sexually arousing”.
  • Lack of Dating Interest – maybe no one asks you out on a date or to a dance at school, maybe the message was you’re not pretty, nobody wants to be with you, you’re not attractive.
  • Body Development / First Period – Maybe you felt really self-conscious about developing breasts and curves, or started menstruation without good preparation from a parent, maybe you bled through your clothes at school. Or maybe your breasts are different sizes or your labia/vulva seem odd shaped or sized to you.

Trust Violation

Sex is an extremely vulnerable act, physically and emotionally. If trust has been violated in a significant way, this can create a wound that makes sex difficult.

  • Date Rape/ Sexual Pressure – So you know the guy, maybe you’re even friends and really like him. He wants to have sex, you’re not ready for it. He insists or gets upset with you if you don’t want to. If you want to stay friends, if you want him to like you – you feel like you have to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing. Maybe you agree or maybe you just don’t kick and scream no. It still isn’t what you want and you get the feeling when it comes to sex, it doesn’t matter what you want. You might even feel this in your marriage.
  • Peeping Tom – maybe somebody violated you by watching or looking at you sexually uninvited. Stranger or family member, it doesn’t matter. You feel violated.
  • Predator – someone in authority, a female or male coach or a teacher, watched you, touched you, or just interacted with you in ways that felt uncomfortable to you. Maybe it was a child-care provider or babysitter.

Experimental Play

Sometimes, as kids and adolescence, we do things that are exploratory in nature that later in life we don’t know what to do with. These are consensual things that we might even initiate. We can have fears about what they mean about us. Sometimes we’ve never told anyone about these for fear of what they will think.

  •  Playing Doctor – As prepubescent (before puberty) kids we are curious about our bodies and the bodies of others. We play games that involve looking at (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours) each other’s bodies or touching each other out of curiosity. Sometimes we reenact things we saw on TV. Sometimes this is with kids our own age, sometimes younger or older. Sometimes it’s with kids of the same-sex sometimes it’s opposite sex.
  • Sexual Body Part Stimulation – Even as kids our sexual nerve endings are developed and if stimulated will feel good (different than after puberty, but still good). This is true if they are stimulated by same-sex playmates or opposite, or even from being rubbed on an object, or up against a pet. Sometimes as a kid something happens that feels good, and we do it again. If it’s something taboo or odd from an adult perspective, we can have anxious feelings about it looking back as an adult.
  • Body Violations – When our body is touched or violated sexually in some way, it creates negative emotions that can lead to aversions.
  • Molestation – This often times is paired with trust violations. It can happen in the context of a trusted relationship: a father who touches his daughter sexually. The relationship may be groomed over many years, whereas a young girl she doesn’t question her daddy’s love for her, so when he “teaches” her something “special” to be “just between them” she doesn’t think anything about it. It might even continue for years, and she might feel guilty because her body responds sexually to the stimulation, so she questions, “maybe I want it to happen”. Sometimes the attention and even sensations in the body feel good, so maybe you engage a babysitter or older neighbor kid to repeat something that has happened.
  • Groping – maybe kids at school took the liberty to grab your breast or butt, or drunk guys at a party, leaving your body feeling violated.

Immature Choices

Sometimes during rebellious/immature periods in our life, we can engage in sexual choices that we are extremely embarrassed about and ashamed of at later periods in our life. These choices leave us associating all things sexual with a perversion of our sexual choices during this season. Now sexual situations with our spouse trigger memories of choices we regret.

  • Multiple Sex Partners – Perhaps there were lots of drunken one night stands, waking up with someone you didn’t know. Maybe there were multiple partners at the same time. Maybe there were blowjobs and hand-jobs, and risks of STD’s. Same-sex or opposite sex.
  • Party Girl – Could be a sorority situation or just an immature need for the attention and acceptance.
  • For money – stripping, sexual favors for gifts or dinner, or for money.

Physical Pain

If sex is unpleasantly painful for any reason the brain can associate that pain with all things sexual, creating aversions from all things sex-related. See the article Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women for more details.

This list is far from exhaustive, but I hope it gives you some insight into the variety of different situations that can create emotional or physical trauma that can get in the way of a healthy sexual relationship. Add fear or physical pain to any of the above situations and it amplifies the traumatic nature of them.

How to Heal Your Sex Life from Sexual Trauma

There are two phases of healing your sex life from sexual trauma. The first is the trauma work, where you work through the negative emotional and psychological impact of the traumatic experiences. The second is sex therapy to build positive associations with your body and sex, so you can enjoy sharing a healthy sex life with your spouse.

Professional Help

It’s likely that you’ll need to work with a sex therapist with experience treating sexual trauma. Treating sexual trauma can be complicated and you want to work with someone that has traveled this road with others. While many counselors have experience with trauma treatment, not many have experience in sex therapy. In counseling, trauma treatment and sex therapy are separate disciplines. Having experience in one doesn’t necessarily mean having experience in the other.

Working with a clinician that has experience in both is ideal. This isn’t always possible though, as they can be difficult to find. You may find yourself working through the trauma phase of the work with a local counselor and then either pursuing self-help or online sex therapy counseling to address sexual difficulties.

Sexual Healing Self-Help

Sexual aversions can be tricky to treat. You should be patient with yourself. The best self-help resource I know of for working through sexual trauma to heal your sex life is Wendy Maltz’s Sexual Healing Journey. Wendy does a great job talking through different kinds of sexual trauma and how it impacts a person emotionally and sexually.

Below are two YouTube video’s produced by Wendy where clients share their experiences working through Wendy’s program. The first one is of couples sharing their experiences along the journey. The second demonstrates the touching exercises that are a part of the relearning touch exercises in the book. I would recommend ordering the book and watching the videos while you wait for it to arrive.

Partners in Healing

Re-Learning Touch

You Can Do This!

I applaud your courage just reading this article. Spending any time thinking about these things brings up uncomfortable emotions. Know that many women have experienced the unfortunate things you have been through. They have, as you can, found healing. If our team can be a help to you on that journey, it would be our honor to do so.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Pain | Better Sex for Women

Really Painful Sex is NO Fun

Does anybody desire physical pain? If you do, you should probably see a counselor about that, it’s not healthy. If sex hurts, I mean really hurts not just a little rough in a playful way, you’re not ever going to desire it. Nor should you. In fact, if you “play through the pain” you can do serious long-term damage to your sexual relationship by pairing pain with all things sexual and romantic in your brain. That pairing can even bleed into an association with your spouse in general, which can lead to resentment and loss of respect for your spouse.

Types of Sexual Pain / Where does it hurt?

Sexual pain can range from mild to excruciating; burning, stinging, sharpness, or extreme tenderness. Depending on its cause, the pain may be located in the outer genitals (vulva), within the vagina, or deep in the pelvis. Dyspareunia, painful intercourse, can start suddenly or develop gradually. Pain may occur every time with sex, or only occasionally. For some women, simply thinking about intercourse can start a cycle of tightness, pain, and avoidance of sex.

When troubleshooting dyspareunia very specific information about where pain is felt must be gathered. Treating sexual pain is often a multi-disciplinary strategy involving a sex therapist, physician, and possibly a pelvic floor physical therapist. Having good terminology to describe your experience will help with accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Pain from the Outer Genitals (Vulva)

If the pain originates from the surface of the delicate skin around the opening to the vagina it could be a dermatological condition. These conditions are highly treatable, but treatment varies depending on the diagnosis.

Anatomy of the Vulva

To aid in identifying where your pain comes from, it will help to have some terminology for understanding your girl parts.

The vulva consists of several layers that cover and protect your sex organs. The plush outer lips of the vulva — the labia majora — are covered with pubic hair and contain fat that helps cushion the area. Inside the labia majora are the thinner, more pigmented and delicate flaps of skin called the labia minora. The labia minora join at the top to enclose the clitoris.

pain during sex

The labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris become engorged with blood during arousal. The area between the labia minora, the vestibule, contains the openings to the urethra (from which you urinate) and the vagina, as well as the Bartholin’s glands, which are located on either side of the vaginal opening and produce lubricant for the vestibule.

The skin between the vaginal opening and the anus, the perineum, is not part of the vulva but often involved in vulvar skin problems. This is where the incision called an episiotomy is sometimes made during childbirth.

Vulvar Skin Conditions and their Treatment

Several vulvar skin conditions are found else where on the body but may be difficult to recognize when they appear on the vulva.

Eczema

This inflammation of the vulva skin causes a cycle of itching and scratching that leads to thickened and intensely itchy skin. If eczema affects the vestibule, it may cause stinging and burning. Often, it begins with exposure to an irritant or allergen.

Many things can cause an allergic reaction or irritate your vulva. Here are some of the leading suspects:

Irritants (on exposure, can cause immediate stinging or burning)
• Soap, bubble baths and salts, detergent, shampoo, conditioner
• Adult or baby wipes
• Panty liners and their adhesives
• Nylon underwear, chemically treated clothing
• Vaginal secretions, sweat, and urine
• Douches, yogurt
• Spermicides, lubricants
• Perfume, talcum powder, deodorants
• Alcohol and astringents

Allergens (symptoms may not appear until several days after exposure)
• Benzocaine
• Neomycin
• Chlorhexidine (in K-Y Jelly)
• Imidazole antifungal
• Propylene glycol (a preservative used in many products)
• Fragrances
• Tea tree oil
• Latex (in condoms and diaphragms)

Vulvodynia

Another culprit to sexual pain is vulvodynia, unexplained and persistent pain in the vulvar area. Vestibulodynia is a type of vulvodynia characterized by chronic pain affecting the vestibule. Any kind of touch or pressure—not only from sex, but even from a tampon, cotton swab, tight jeans, or toilet tissue—can trigger discomfort.

Pain From Within the Vagina

Vaginismus

Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have intercourse. The vaginal tightness results from the involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor, especially the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group, although you may not be aware that this is the cause of her penetration or pain difficulties.

Vaginismus is a common cause of ongoing sexual pain and is also the primary female cause of sexless (unconsummated) marriages. Sexual pain can affect women in all stages of life; even women who have had years of comfortable sex.

While temporarily experiencing discomfort during sexual intercourse is not unusual, ongoing problems should be diagnosed and treated.Vaginismus can be triggered in both younger and older women, in those with no sexual experience and those with years of experience.

Not all women experience vaginismus the same way, and the extensiveness of vaginismus varies:

• Some women are unable to insert anything at all.
• Some women are able to insert a tampon and complete a gynecological exam, yet are unable to insert a penis.
• Others are able to partially insert a penis, although the process is very painful.
• Some are able to fully insert a penis, but tightness and discomfort interrupt the normal progression from arousal through to orgasm and bring pain instead.
• Some women are able to tolerate years of uncomfortable intercourse with gradually increasing pain and discomfort that eventually interrupts the sexual experience.
• Women may also experience years of intermittent difficulty with entry or movement and have to constantly be on their guard to control and relax their pelvic area when it suddenly ‘acts up’.

Vaginal Atrophy

The deterioration of vaginal tissue caused by estrogen loss associated with menopause is a major source of painful intercourse for women at midlife. When ovarian production of estrogen declines at menopause, vaginal tissue may become thinner, less lubricated, and less elastic. Eventually these changes can result in vaginal dryness, burning, itching, and pain. Reduced sexual activity as well as medications such as antihistamines can also contribute to vaginal dryness.

Pain Deep in the Pelvis

The pelvic floor is a melon-size web of muscles, ligaments, and sensitive nerves at the bottom of the pelvic region, where it supports the uterus, bladder, colon, and rectum; stabilizes the pelvis, trunk, and hip joints; and plays a role in everything from orgasm to continence.

There’s a lot that can happen to the intricate components of the pelvic organs, nerves, ligaments and muscles.

• endometriosis,
• pelvic inflammatory disease,
• bladder prolapse,
• infections of the urinary tract, vagina, or reproductive organs;
• injury to the pelvic area from childbirth;
• damage to the pudendal nerve, which supplies the vaginal area;
• musculoskeletal complaints, such as arthritis or tight hip or pelvic muscles

Any of these, and more not listed, can create pain deep in the pelvis that may make sex uncomfortable or even extremely painful.

Treating Sexual Pain

Treating dyspareunia often requires a multifaceted approach that includes medications, other therapies, and self-care. Frequently prescribed strategies for managing dyspareunia include the following:

Counseling

Emotional and psychological issues, from anxiety to poor communication in a relationship, can contribute to painful sex, and painful sex can put stress on a relationship. Talking with a professional counselor or sex therapist can help.

Vaginal estrogen

Local low-dose estrogen helps most women with vaginal atrophy; it’s also recommended in some cases of vestibulodynia and vulvar skin problems. It comes in a cream (applied to the vulva or in the vagina), a small tablet inserted in the vagina, and a flexible vaginal ring worn continuously and replaced every three months.

Surgery

Women with stubborn and severe vestibulodynia may want to consider an outpatient procedure called vulvar vestibulectomy, which removes some vestibular tissue. This surgery is usually offered only after other medical approaches have failed.

Lubricants

Nonhormonal vaginal lubricants and moisturizers may help reduce friction and pain during intercourse. (Lubricants are applied just before sex; moisturizers are applied more regularly, for longer-term relief.) There are many brands with different ingredients, and finding the products that work for you can take time. Vegetable oil is an inexpensive option; however, like other oil-based lubricants, it can weaken latex and shouldn’t be used with condoms.

Sexual Techniques

Extend foreplay to increase moisture in the vaginal tissues before intercourse. Try switching positions. Experiment with different ways of being intimate. And communicate with your spouse; speak up about what does and doesn’t feel good.

“Use it or lose it.”

Frequent sexual activity can help stretch and strengthen muscles and increase blood flow and lubrication. But if intercourse hurts, practice different ways of being sexually intimate that don’t involve penetration.

Gentle Vulvar Care

Whether you have a vulvar skin problem or are just prone to irritation, gentle care of your vulva is a must. Wear loose clothing. Choose cotton underwear (and go without when at home). To wash the area, use your fingers instead of a washcloth and an unscented, non-alkaline cleanser such as Cetaphil or Basis. Avoid perfumed, multi-ingredient products such as bubble bath, douches, and some panty liners.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Pelvic floor physical therapy is relatively new, and there aren’t much hard data on it yet, but experts consider it safe and effective. Many women with vulvar pain have tight or weakened vaginal and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can weaken as a result of aging, childbirth, excess weight, hormonal changes, and certain physical strains. They can also tighten in response to genital pain. Physical therapy can help reduce tightness and improve muscle function.

Sexual Pain is Treatable

The bottom line is: Sexual pain is treatable, don’t let it ruin your sex life. 

Sources

  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/managing_common_vulvar_skin_conditions
  • The V Book, by Elizabeth G. Stewart, M.D., and Paula Spencer (Bantam Books, 2002)
  • https://www.vaginismus.com/

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Emotional Connection | Better Sex for Women

Emotional Connection | Better Sex for Women

Sex is an emotional experience.

God designed sexual desire to lead a women into an emotionally intimate relationship and to enjoy sexual expression in the context of an emotionally safe and connected relationship- i.e. Marriage. If a women’s marriage doesn’t feel safe or if she doesn’t feel emotionally connected to her husband, she’s probably not going to feel a desire to be sexually vulnerable with him.

Being disconnected doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad relationship. Couples who love each other very much and our safe with each other can get emotionally disconnected just from the busyness of life getting in the way. If we’ve been too busy to nurture the relationship, then we’re probably emotionally disconnected.

If we do have serious communication difficulties or breaches of trust in the relationship, it’s unlikely that we will ever have a healthy, passionate, sexual relationship until this is addressed.

5 Tips for Staying Emotionally Connected

1) Be Friends

If you and your husband aren’t friends – you’re probably not going to be very good as lovers. You need to cultivate a relationship with each other outside of roles as parents or roommates who share domestic responsibilities.

Hangout

Friends hangout. As married people we like to call this “dating” your spouse. You keep them like you caught them. If you stop putting yourself together and going out as a couple, the flame will dwindle.

Share Experiences

Doing things…together…is important. Even if it’s just binging on Netflix next to each other on the couch, have shared experiences in your week. If you live completely separate lives you’re not going to be very connected with each other.

Take Trips

To a sunny beach in an exotic location or to the grocery store without children – whatever the budget allows. Building memories together is an important part of deepening a relationship. Having adventures together, even tragic sagas, accumulate shared experiences that weave our stories together.

2) Make-Out in the Kitchen

The kitchen, elevator, park bench, a deserted hallway at church – wherever [wont get you arrested]. Non-genital physical affection is important to the emotional connection in your relationship. If the only time you two touch is when one of you is initiating sex, you’re not going to be very emotionally connected and the sex is going to be more scarce as well.

Make time to snuggle, cuddle, hold hands, sit with an arm around your spouse, back scratchy, and lean up against the counter with your arms around each other. The more it grosses out your kids the better.

3) Learn to Fight

A lot of couples are no good at fighting. Not for lack of practice, but the form is terrible. The best at communication turn conflict into greater closeness, instead of allowing it to drive a wedge between them (yes this is possible). If you tear each other down when you fight, leaving the other feeling hurt, uncared about, and unsafe in the relationship this will get in the way of a healthy sex life.

Sure, make up sex can be fun because of the intense hormones flowing through our veins when we fight. However, if we don’t know how to navigate conflict in way that feels like a win for us both, resentment will eventually choke out our affection for each other.

4) Talk before Sex

Most women need lots of verbal intercourse before the other kind. No I’m not talking about oral sex – I’m talking about communication [if you’re still confused check Webster’s Dictionary]. The former may be helpful as well, but that’s another article.

Sharing about each other’s day and feeling like we care about what’s happening in each others life helps women feel emotionally connected to their husbands. Don’t come home late from work and commence to groping your wife – it probably won’t go over very well. Try having a conversation (not a fight about points of conflict) with her before you lead into flirting. I know it sounds crazy men, but you might even try texting or calling your wife during the day.

5) Resolve Conflict

If you have a habit of sweeping things under the rug, the awkward pile that forms over time can really get in the way of your sex life. Unresolved conflict leads to resentment, which chokes the life out of passion.

If there have been betrayals of trust, hurts, wrongs that have never been addressed, or ongoing disputes that are not worked through- make cleaning these messes up a priority. If you don’t know how, get professional help. You’re not the only couple to ever face these sorts of challenges. There are books and counselors who can help you work through these things so they don’t keep you from a passionate relationship you love.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Overcoming Orgasm Obstacles | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Orgasm Obstacles | Better Sex for Women

Anorgasmia

An inability or difficulty achieving orgasm, that’s what Anorgasmia means. If you’re not experiencing sexual climax and release when you connect sexually, that significantly impacts the pleasurableness of the experience. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy sex without orgasm or that it’s even normal to orgasm every time you connect sexually. Sexual frustration from a lack of release, however, does diminish the sexual experience- especially if it’s chronic. If unaddressed it will likely leave you feeling less and less interested in sex as time goes by.

You’re Not Alone

If you struggle with anorgasmia, you’re not alone. Only 1 in 3 women report having an orgasm every time they connect sexually with their spouse. Around 1/5 have either never had an orgasm or have difficulty reaching orgasm. The good news is, treatment for anorgasmia is extremely effective – 9/10 learn to orgasm.

Becoming Orgasmic

This article is a starting place for treating anorgasmia. Entire books could be written on the subject. Indeed they have been. Drs. Julia Heiman and Joseph Lopiccolo wrote the classic book on the subject most sex therapists today read during their training. Becoming Orgasmic: A Sexual and Personal Growth Program for Women is a great resources. It has helped thousands of women become orgasmic since its original publication in 1976. While not written from a Christian worldview, if you can eat the meat and spit out the bones, it is a valuable resource. I highly recommend it to any one struggling with anorgasmia.

Common Obstacles to Orgasm

Let’s take a look at some common obstacles to orgasm I routinely see in my practice. For each I’ll give you some direction on how to get started working through the issue.

Negative Emotions Associated With Sex

Sexual thoughts, feelings, and desires are “bad” before marriage, but they don’t switch to “good” after the wedding. There are lots of ways we can get the message that sex is bad. Sometimes it comes from the church we grew up in or our parents. Maybe sex was never talked about or girls who were interested in sex were labeled “promiscuous”. However it happens, the message that sex is dirty and should be avoided can stick, making it difficult to embrace sexual desire and expression after the wedding.

Negative Sexual Experiences

If you experienced any sexual touching or felt forced or pressured to engage sexually in ways that made you feel uncomfortable (rape, molestation, pressure from a boyfriend), these feelings can get associated with sex also.

Fooling around before marriage

Feelings of shame or guilt from sexual touching or activity prior to marriage can get associated with sex in a way that endures.

What to do with negative emotions:

  1. You can’t change what you’re not aware of. Spend some time thinking about the way you feel when your spouse is being flirtatious or initiating sexual connection. Close your eyes and imagine that you have an extremely high sex drive and are pursuing your husband for sex. What negative feelings are stirred up? Often indifferent or neutral feelings towards sex are actually masking negative feelings. Think about the messages you received or didn’t receive about sex growing up from various people and experiences. What did they tell you about sex?
  2. Evaluate these messages for their truthfulness. Are they consistent with the truth that God wired your body to really enjoy and really want sex because He created it good?
  3. Construct some truth statements to help you rewire your thoughts and feelings about sex. Try something like, “Even though (Message or Experience) left me feeling like sex was bad and dirty, I know God designed me to experience sex as beautiful and fun. Like a good parent enjoys their child enjoying a gift they have given them, God loves for me to enjoy my sexual body He has given me to enjoy and share with my husband.”
  4. Journal and talk with your spouse about the negative feelings and thoughts you discover. Stay tuned into your emotions and when you sense the negative feelings, identify them out loud and talk yourself through them using the truth statements you have constructed.
  5. Push into / pursue positive sexual feelings, giving yourself permission to really enjoy them.

Discomfort with out-of-control feelings

Orgasms, by their very nature, are involuntary reflexes that happen in the body. You don’t make an orgasm happen, you surrender yourself to it by embracing feel good sexual experiences in your body. For some, the out of control nature of orgasm freaks them out. You might shut down your feelings when you start to get there, or avoid sex all together.

Sexually out of control

Some women fear they will become a sex-crazed maniac or might even become promiscuous outside of their marriage. There really is no evidence to support this fear. The only likely outcome is you and your husband enjoying your sexual relationship a lot more. Use truth statements to combat this misbelief as with other negative emotions.

Self-Consciousness

Orgasm is an expression of the sexual pleasure your body is feeling. Sometimes embarrassment around expressing sexual pleasure through facial inflection, body movements, sounds, etc. can cause you to shut-down your feelings when you feel them start building.

  • One way to work through embarrassment to comfort is for you and your spouse to take turns simulating exaggerated orgasm responses. Talk with your spouse about the fears you have concerning what they might say or think. Then act out the wildest orgasmic experience you can imagine with all the imagined scenarios you’re embarrassed about. Repeat this on different occasions until you find the embarrassment has gone away.
  • For inspiration check out this funny clip from When Harry Met Sally

Fear of Vulnerability and Trust Struggles

The feelings of closeness and emotional need for your spouse triggered through sexual connection can be scary if important people in your life haven’t been trustworthy. If larger trust and vulnerability issues are getting in the way of your marriage / sexual relationship you may want to work with a counselor to help you identify their root and work through them.

Depression

Both depressed brain chemistry and the medications used to treat depression can inhibit sexual desire and orgasm. If you’re struggling with depression or are on depression medication you will probably need to work with a sex therapist to troubleshoot and design a solution for addressing your sexual difficulties.

Body Awareness and Connection

You can’t “make” an orgasm happen any more than you can make yourself sneeze. Orgasms are reflexes that happen in the body when you reach a sufficient level of arousal.

Learning how to relax, soak in bodily pleasure, and pursue arousing touch are the keys to learning your way to orgasms. This requires intentional exploration and practice to learn how to build high levels of arousal in your body. The repeated practice also establishes neuropathways in your brain that bring you closer to orgasm.

No man is connected to the sexual pleasure pathways in your body. So, it is impossible for your husband to know how to stimulate you in ways that will get you there. Even if he did – it changes! You have to learn your body, and then you can teach your husband.

Insufficient Stimulation

Some women’s bodies require more stimulation than is achievable from intercourse, digital, or oral stimulation alone.

About 50% of women experience orgasms during intercourse, while 50% do not. Why is uncertain. All orgasms, even those that happen during intercourse, are driven by clitoris stimulation. The clitoris is the primary female sexual pleasure genital component. During intercourse the tugging at the skin around the vaginal opening and the grinding between bodies stimulates the clitoris. Clitoris stimulation can also happen digitally (with fingers) or with orally (tongue and mouth).

Though for most women, before direct genital stimulation is even arousing, your body needs 20 minutes or more of indirect [read not breast or genitals] stimulation. This would include hugging, kissing, caressing of the rest of your body.

Even with plenty of non-genital stimulation- intercourse, oral, and digital touching may not be sufficient in intensity or duration to reach a level of arousal that will trigger the orgasm reflex. Many women who struggle with anorgasmia find the help of an electric vibrator is necessary to achieve orgasm. The adjustable intensity, specific placement around the clitoris, and “as long as you need” nature of the stimulation makes reliably achieving orgasm possible.

Learning to use a vibrator together as a couple can help mutual orgasms become a regular part of lovemaking. A good starter vibrator is the NU Sensuelle Point, which can be ordered from Amazon and delivered privately to your doorstep.

Still having difficulties – Get help.

These are a few of the common obstacles to orgasms I routinely see in my sex therapy practice. If you don’t see yourself in any of these or have difficulty working through these obstacles one of the sex therapists at MyCounselor.Online can provide the individualized help you need to reach your goals. Treatment for anorgasmia has an extremely high success rate, 9/10 become orgasmic. So don’t let fear keep you from having an awesome sex life!

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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Overcoming Your Hormone Cycle | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Your Hormone Cycle | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Hormones to Have a Better Sex Life

Women are hormonal creatures – it’s how God made you, and it’s not a bad thing. It does, however, create challenges that take some special attention to overcome. One such challenge is the ebb and flow (no pun intended) of your sex drive as related to your menstrual cycle.

Women’s Sex Hormone Peak

Women hit their sex hormone peak in late teens to mid-twenties. As this starts to trail off over time, there’s usually still a hormonal surge that starts 1-3 days before ovulation and continues for few days after. The body says “Hey, I’m about to drop an egg, go find your man so you can fertilize it.” It’s during these days that women reach their peak erotic motivation for the month. Sex therapists call this spontaneous and intrinsic motivation to connect sexually “Initiating Desire”.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always cooperate so that these days fall during convenient times to connect. A lot of women express, “Well honey, I was feeling pretty horny about 2 this afternoon, but by time we got the kids in bed it was ALL gone.”

The Pill Can Make it Worse

To further the problem, chemical birth control, i.e. the pill, can neutralize the mid-month natural hormone boost resulting in diminished sex drive. It can also reduce blood flow to the genitals, which can make reaching orgasm more difficult. Testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are all at their lowest during menstruation, making it the period of least desire. It is the decline of these same hormones that reduce libido in women during menopause.

For all these reasons, it’s pretty normal for a mature married woman to only experience initiating desire a few days a month.

So what can you do about it?

Now that we have a little bit better understanding of what the problem is, let’s take a look at some ways to deal with it.

Embrace Receptive Desire

When sex therapists talk about arousal we mean one of two types: 1) Subjective Arousal or 2) Physical Arousal.

Subjective arousal is the awareness of sexual desire, that is being horny.

Physical arousal refers to the changes that happen in the body in response to sexual stimuli, like pupil dilation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, accelerated breathing, flush skin, nipple erection, blood flow to the genitals, vaginal lubrication, breast enlargement.

It’s common to think of subjective arousal coming first, then physical arousal. I feel horny, so I pursue sexual connection and become physically aroused. We call this sequence initiating desire, because it leads to the initiation of a sexual experience. It’s not the only option though. Receptive Desire refers to an openness to sexual connection with an understanding that subjective arousal often follows physical arousal.

I sometimes use an example from our taste template to illustrate. Have you ever been out on date night with you spouse, engaging the age old question “Where do you want to eat?”

Well, if you have a craving for something, say Mexican, that’s like initiating desire. Sometimes you don’t have a craving, “I don’t care, I’m not really hungry.”

After you get to the restaurant, you taste the salsa and smell the fajitas sizzling, your mouth starts to water. When your food arrives you tear into like a crazed animal. As the two of you recline, fully satisfied, you look at your spouse and say “this was a good idea.”

Following this script you might say to yourself, “I’m not feeling horny or thinking about sex right now, but I know once we get into it I’ll start feeling desire.”

Think About Sex

It’s very helpful to think about sex. Use fantasy to imagine past experiences that were super arousing. Think about new positions, places, and scenarios you might want to explore with your spouse. Thinking about sex causes the body to arouse physically, which in turn increases desire. Remember, for women, physical arousal often precedes desire.

Plan for Sex

Planning out regular times for sexual connection with your spouse can help keep the connection happening despite hormonal fluctuations. Plus, knowing about a sexual encounter in advance gives you reason to think about the upcoming encounter and be flirtatious with your spouse about it. This builds desire increasing the excitement and pleasurableness of the experience.

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Overcoming Fatigue | Better Sex for Women

Overcoming Fatigue | Better Sex for Women

Men and women are different. One of the differences is in the way fatigue effects sexual arousal in women. Both men and women’s physical arousal is effected by fatigue, but women’s bodies are effected to a much greater degree. If a woman is exhausted physically, her body wont respond sexually, which means she wont want or enjoy sex. If you don’t enjoy connecting sexually – you wont want to connect sexually.

You are not superwoman!

The first step in overcoming fatigue is recognizing that you are NOT superwoman. God did not design you with an infinite amount of energy. The amount of energy you have each day is pretty well fixed. Some days you may have a little more or a little less, but it pretty much is what it is. So the question is: What will you do with the energy you have?

Steward Your Energy

There’s never enough time or energy to go around. There’s always more things to do than there is time or energy to do them. You have to learn to steward your energy so the most important things get the attention they deserve. Imagine you have an Engergizer battery on your back and a little wristwatch with a meter showing you how much juice is left in the battery. Each day you start out with basically a full battery. It’s up to you to decide how you will use that energy. When it’s gone, it’s gone, game over, put a fork you in – you are done.

There is Enough

There is no way you can accomplish all the things you think you have to or others want you to and still have energy to share with your spouse. There’s just not enough hours in the day or energy in your battery. There is, however, enough to accomplish all the things that are important to God that you complete. God doesn’t ask us to do more than we can. There are enough hours in the day and enough energy in your battery to do everything that is important to God for you to do.

Say No

Is it more important that the floor get cleaned or your children get fed? Is it more important that you don’t disappoint a friend who wants something from you or that you have quite time with the Lord? Is it more important to check another couple items off your to-do list or to nurture your relationship and stay connected to your husband? What do you think God’s prioritize for your time are?

Saying NO to good things and good people is tough. You have to do it. There’s not enough of you to go around and every YES you say is a NO to something else. If you’re saying yes to things you need to say no to, de facto you are saying NO to things you should be saying YES to.

Discerning what God’s priorities for your time, so you don’t steal from the things that are important to Him, can be challenging. Especially if you have a people pleaser personality. You don’t want to disappoint any one, but you end up neglecting things that are important.

Manage Stress

Stress is a major cause of fatigue in a women’s life. If you’re not actively managing stress, by placing limits on stressors and doing things that mitigate the effects, it’s going to kick your butt, killing your sex drive.

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

You can not give what you do not have. If you are going to be blessing to the people in your life, children, spouse, friends, family, co-works, neighbors – you have to take care of yourself. The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself- would it bless your neighbor to take care of them the way you do yourself?

If you don’t take care of you, you can’t be there for others. You won’t be able to be your best self and you’ll rob those around you of the blessings God desires to give them through you.

So how do you go about this self-care stuff?

Here’s a short list to consider:

1on1 Time with the Heavenly Father – You need spiritual refreshing. Quite time in His presence to align your heart with His each day and tap into His energy for you.

Exercise – Your body needs at least 20 minutes a day of some light cardio (get that heart rate up) along with some stretching and light lifting. It doesn’t have to be hard core, but to metabolize stress hormones, boost your metabolism, and promote good brain chemistry – you need this. Brisk walk, take the stairs, yoga – get some movement in.

Good Food – Feed your body, it needs fuel. I’m less focused on the specific diet as the need for a variety of foods, that supply your body with the fats, proteins, vitamins, fiber, carbs in balance that it needs to be healthy.

Recreation – God created you to need play. No one has to teach it to you as a kid, you instinctively do it. As adults we can get “too busy” for play – and it hurts us. Carve out time each week to things that are life giving to you.

Friends – Hang out with friends that make you feel good. Some people pour into you, others suck life out of you. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with and making time for people who pour life into you.

Nap – Yes, sometimes it is OK to take a nap. Your body needs it sometimes. If you’re tired – sleep. If it means you have energy to feel frisky later in the day it’s a great trade off.

Sleep – God designed your body to need 7-9 hours of sleep out of every 24. You can’t cheat your body the sleep God designed it to need and not suffer the consequences.

Date – You need time outside your roles as mom & dad to be lovers and friends. Without this you’ll be emotionally drained, which will manifest in physical fatigue.

Save a Little in Your Battery for Your Husband

Start with the end in mind. If you plan ahead for times of intimate connection with your husband you can save a little energy to share with him. Planning in advance also gives you something to flirt around all day which helps build anticipation.

Work with Your Husband

Help you husband understand you only have so much energy. If he wants to get frisky he needs to help you with the things that have to get done before then so you both can be mostly awake when it’s time to connect.

Morning Sex

You might experiment with trying to connect earlier in the day. Maybe you can pull off some morning sex after the kids leave for school or a nooner over lunch break. Connecting earlier in the day means you have more energy in the battery and are thus more likely to enjoy the experience.

Chronic Fatigue

There’s no way around it: You’ll never enjoy a passionate, healthy sex life if you are chronically fatigued. It’s like trying to start a car with a dead battery – it just isn’t going to work.

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Why Sex is So Important to Men

Why Sex is So Important to Men

In 4 out of 5 marriages men have the higher sex drive and are the primary initiator of sexual experiences. If you are in one of these marriages this comes as no surprise to you. It may seem like your husband is constantly wanting sex and acts like a wounded puppy dog if you’re not in the mood. It begs the question: Why is sex so important to my husband?

It’s the way God made him. 

He came from the factory this way. That’s how God made him. It’s actually part of the whole created in God’s own image thing talked about in the Bible. You see a man’s passionate and unrelenting pursuit of intimacy with his wife reflects God’s passionate pursuit for peoples hearts. When we were still completely disinterested in Him, He loved us and pursued us, wooing our heart that we might be in an intimate relationship with Him. 

Repeatedly in the Bible God uses the marriage relationship, husband and wife relationship, to illustrate the kind of relationship he wants to have with people; He being our husband and we His bride. In this relationship God is always interested in connecting intimately with us. There’s never a day of the week or time of day, or any place that He isn’t willing to connect with us if we make the time to do so. You’ll never get a “I’m too tired, come back later” message from Him. 

There’s also this amazing metaphor for the intimacy that God desires to have with us displayed through intercourse. In every other religion God is out there some where and we are trying to get to god. In Christianity, the message of the Gospel is that God came for us, and when we embrace Him he literally indwells our body, alive inside of us. This closeness of relationship is mirrored as a husband literally indwells his brides body through intercourse when she accepts him. 

Sex is a primary way a man emotionally bonds with his wife. 

Again we’ll blame God for this, since in His perfect wisdom God designed your husbands body to release the bonding hormone oxytocin in enormous quantities when experiencing orgasms with his wife. Wives experience this too, but men do so 400% more. 

You may be familiar with oxytocin if you have vaginally delivered children. The synthetic form, pitocin, is often administered during baby delivery to move labor along. It’s because of the massive amounts of this bonding hormone in your blood when your baby arrives that doctors believe you want to snuggle with your baby instead of kill it after all the pain it caused you. It’s also the hormone that triggers a nursing mom’s milk let down when her baby nuzzles and causes the feeling of closeness when your kids snuggle on your lap while you read them a story. 

God wired your husband so that when he connects with you sexually, the skin to skin contact and hormone release with orgasm would create deep emotional bonding between he and you. It’s this oxytocin flood through his body that also makes him very sleepy after sex. In the absence of regular oxytocin events like sex your husband will be emotionally disconnected from you. 

Sex is a huge part of a mans identity.

In more than 10 years of therapy I have yet to have a man sit on my couch and say “Josh, my wife only loves me for my penis. Sex, sex, sex, it’s all she wants. It’s like she doesn’t even care about me as a person. All I am to her is a walking penis.” Now maybe that guy exists, but I’ve not met him yet. I have, however, had many wives express the sentiment concerning their husbands – that they feel their husband isn’t interested in them as a person, only as a sex object. 

This idea is foreign to men, because their sexuality is very much integrated with their identity. While women experience their sexuality as largely separate from their personhood. For a man, to reject him sexually is a rejection of his personhood. 

Sometimes I illustrate this with a story about the best and worst anniversary card ever given. The story goes like this:

A husband decides to write his wife an anniversary card to express his undying love for her. It reads, “Darling, you are so beautiful and I find you so sexually un-resistible that if you were in a coma and we could never have another conversation but we could still have sex – I wouldn’t mind a bit, I’d keep you around so we could keep having sex.” 

How do you think that wife felt? How would you feel? Not very good probably. Quite possible the worst anniversary card ever, yes?

Now, take that same anniversary card and have a wife give it to her husband, “Darling, you are such a stud and I find you so sexually un-resistible that if you were in a coma I would keep your body around so I could keep having sex with you.”

You’re likely to hear this guy telling his friends around the locker room “You’re never going to believe what my wife said….it was the nicest thing she’s ever said to me…”

The reason for this is that men’s identity and sexuality are so integrated. To accept a man sexually is to accept him. To reject a man sexually is to reject him. Often times women will say this to their husband, thinking they are paying him a compliment: “Honey, I love you so much, appreciate you as dad, and enjoy being married to you – if we never had sex again, I would be OK with that, I just don’t need that part of our relationship – it’s you that are so precious to me.”

A man hearing this from his wife feels about the same as a wife feels hearing, “Honey, I love having sex with you so much, if we never have another meaningful conversation, if I never have to hear your voice again, but we can keep having great sex – I would be OK with that, I just don’t really need that whole conversation part of our relationship.”

Most wives would be crushed hearing this – husbands feel the same. Only, instead of expressing it in tears men tend to express hurt in the form of anger. They may blow up or just shut-down and withdraw from the relationship. 

It’s a big way he feels affirmed and accepted by you. 

Since a man’s sexuality is such a big part of his identity it’s also a significant way he feels affirmed and accepted by his wife. Words, acts of service, quality time, non-sexual physical touch, and sometimes gifts all matter – but none of these love languages replace a man’s longing to feel wanted sexually by his wife. Nothing says, “I love you, thank you, I think you’re great” to a man quite like “You’re a stud and I look forward to having sex with you.” 

The entire pornography and illicit sex industry is built on the exploitation of this powerful reality for men. Porn and illicit sex is never rejecting, always affirming, and always want’s you sexually. While this is a fantasy and no real woman could ever live up to this, it illustrates what they know about a mans heart. Every man want’s to be found sexually desirable by his wife and to feel accepted/affirmed sexually by her. 

Men and women are different by design. 

Men experience their sexuality differently than women. While this may be confusing to wives, it’s not because men are broken or defective – it’s how God made us. Believe it or not, the differences are actually complementary. 

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