In this episode, I told a story about a time when I felt like my life and the life of my family was determined by one decision I didn’t make when I was 5 years old. Thirty years of shame persisted until I had a major realization that I share.
I talked about pressure to have sex here, but I wanted to add to that a bit tonight.
I often hear women saying something to this effect:
“My husband has higher desire. I never feel like having sex. I have young kids and not a lot of time. I always feel so much pressure from my husband. If I am wearing make-up or dress nicely or even just kiss passionately, he will want sex, so I avoid those things. And then when I do agree to have sex, he seems to push me to do things that I don’t want to do and it makes me not want to have sex anymore.”*
If this describes your feelings about sex, I want you to think about this: why don’t you just say no? You don’t want to have sex, but you also don’t want to say no to sex.
Saying no to sex makes you feel guity.
Not saying no makes you feel pressure.
Your brain doesn’t like either of these options, but in this scenario, your brain would prefer the pressure to the guilt (because that is what you are feeling).
Feeling pressure keeps you from feeling guilt. Feeling guilt keeps you from feeling pressure.
I also want to teach you that pressure comes from your THOUGHTS.
IT DOESN’T COME FROM YOUR HUSBAND.
If a stranger came up to you and asked for sex, you wouldn’t feel any guilt for saying no. And if you didn’t actually say no, you wouldn’t feel any pressure. Maybe disgust or fear or any other number of feelings, but pressure likely wouldn’t be one of them. This is because you wouldn’t care what a stranger is thinking or feeling.
Pressure comes from your thoughts about what your husband is thinking or feeling.
Of course, our husbands’ opinions matter to us in so many ways.
But whether or not we “should” have sex doesn’t have to be one of them.
What if your husband could your grab your butt…
or you could kiss him passionately…
or you could wear whatever the heck you want…
and you wouldn’t feel pressure or guilt?
It’s not your job to manage your husband’s emotions.
I promise when you stop trying to make him feel a certain way and expecting him to make you feel a certain way, you will start focusing on what you really desire and the pressure will go away. Your relationship will grow to the next level.
This is not selfish because in the end, your husband will also benefit from this shift.
Last thing. Of course he always wants to have sex with you! You are amazing! He thinks you’re hot! You are smart and the mother of his children! Why wouldn’t he want to have sex with you?? You got it goin’ on!
*I am referring to a loving, non-abusive relationship.
When I was 5 years old, I walked to a convenience store with my parents. My nose was counter height and I remember standing there at the counter eyeing some little foil-wrapped chocolate footballs. They were probably five cents back in the mid-80’s. I picked one up to “look at it” and then dropped it into my pocket.
I totally stole a candy from a convenience store.
On the walk home, I felt so guilty about it that I threw the candy into some bushes.
I never told anyone about that for years, but it burned a hole into my memory.
Fast forward to today: The whole family was heading out to dinner, but my husband needed to leave directly from the restaurant to catch a flight, so he was driving separately. I pull out of the garage and out of habit, hit the button to close the garage door. Before I could reverse the garage door, my husband started backing out of the garage and the top of his car got scratched. It could have been much worse if the garage door had been damaged, but luckily it is fine.
I slide the window down and yell “Sorry! Habit!” and was on my way. My son said, “If I did that, Dad would be SOOOO mad.” I responded with, “Oh, Dad is really mad at me, but he can manage his own emotions.”
Over a 5 cent candy as a child I feel guilty for years. A possible hundreds of dollars worth of damage and no guilt today. Sure, I feel sorry, but guilty is not the descriptor I would use.
Even just two years ago, I probably would have cried over a mistake like this.
So why the change?
The answer is: I have learned how to manage my emotions and let others do the same.
(Let’s be realistic. Your average Joe does not manage their emotions. They react, resist or avoid their emotions. So when I say I let them manage their emotions, I mean I let them have their emotions and don’t feel responsible for them.)
I know that in most situations, guilt is not helpful.
Guilt is only useful in moral right and wrong. (So technically, my stealing at age 5 is an appropriate situation for guilt.)
Accidentally closing the garage door out of habit is not a moral wrong. I can try to make it right, and maybe I will get a paint kit for the scratches, but that’s about it. There’s no repenting needed. I apologized and that’s about all I can do. It was a simple mistake.
I say all this, because guilt is a hot topic with sex.
But whether or not you have sex, or how often, is also not a moral right or wrong.
God never said “Thou shalt have sex with thy husband three times a week.”
Guilt will not be useful, and may even be harmful.
Remember, guilt means “I have done something wrong.” Sometimes it leads to shame, which is “I am something wrong.”
Why do you feel guilty when you don’t have sex, or don’t want to have sex?
It comes from a thought. Probably something along the lines of “I should have sex.”
Then, how do you act when you feel guilty?
You probably do some form of hiding– don’t talk openly about it, fall asleep, withdraw into your mind, etc. (Guilt likes to hide.)
And then the impact of those actions is that your husband continues to want sex with you and you continue to find evidence that you should have sex. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that gets you nowhere.
Guilt is a negative emotion that our brains really want to avoid. So when you associate guilt with sex, your brain wants to avoid sex at all costs.
Here’s the other thing: your brain prefers the guilt to the resentment that comes when you do have sex, but you don’t want to. So recognize that guilt is the “better” option, but it is still optional.
When you gain confidence in yourself, a natural by-product will be less guilt. But you can choose to just not feel guilt now too.
What if it’s not true that you should have sex?
What if it’s ok if your husband is upset about it?
What if owning your emotional responsibility will eventually lead you to feeling closer to your husband? (With hotter sex?)
These are skills you can absolutely learn. And the great news is that they apply to every situation with any emotion, not just in the bedroom. Or in the garage as the case may be.
I have time this week for some consult calls if you are interested in learning more. Feel free to email me or hop on my calendar.
How do I feel sexy after having a baby? How do I feel sexy while I am pregnant? How do I feel sexy when I am having a bad hair day? How do feel sexy when I am bloated? How do I feel sexy when I want to lose weight? How do I feel sexy when I haven’t exercised in a week?
How do I feel sexy? Period.
“Sexy” (in this case) is a FEELING. Feelings don’t come from how your body looks, what your partner thinks or anything else outside of you! Feelings come from your thoughts. It might seem like it comes from something else because your thoughts are so quick– like milliseconds, but they are there. Your thoughts might be so deeply embedded they don’t feel like thoughts, just truths that everyone would agree on, but they are still simply thoughts.
What is the standard for what “sexy” even is? And who gets to decide? Is sexy tall, slim and tan? Or is it short, buxom and pale? Sexy is in the eye of the beholder. If your husband thinks you are sexy, then you are– to him. Everyone gets to decide what “sexy” is for themselves. EVERYBODY. Even you. So are you sexy?
If you aren’t feeling sexy right now but you’ve been able to feel sexy in the past, think about when you did feel sexy and what you were thinking about yourself. What if that were still true right now? Is it possible anyone in the whole wide world could think you are sexy right in this moment? Could you be wrong about not being sexy? Just open your mind to the possibility that maybe you are sexy and you just can’t see it… yet.
If you’ve never felt sexy, ask yourself why? List all the reasons. Where did those reasons come from? What if they are all completely wrong? When you don’t feel sexy, how do you act? Maybe you wear sweats or pjs all day. Maybe you don’t shower or put make-up on. Maybe you act in a way that doesn’t coincide with your version of sexy… and then your brain sees how unsexy you are. Perhaps your only obstacle to feeling sexy is the thought “I’m not sexy.” What if you just never thought that? How would things change?
If you can’t get yourself there— maybe you are like, “No. You don’t get it. I have all this extra skin and stretch marks. It just IS ugly and not sexy.” Take a step back and think about how that makes you feel. Thinking you, or some part of you, is ugly or frumpy probably feels disappointing or ugly or shameful. Then how do you act? You probably want to hide in some way or just go eat that chocolate ice cream in the freezer, or scroll social media where you get more evidence that you don’t compare to “sexy.” None of that makes you feel more sexy and the result is more guilt, shame, disappointment and evidence that you are not sexy.
Just notice that thinking that way is not getting you anywhere.
If you were sexy, how would you feel? When you feel that way how do you act? How do those actions impact you? Do you see how the belief always has to come first?
So. Maybe you won’t be able to just decide you are sexy. But can you get one step closer? Can you think something like “I’m not sexy– yet.” or “Someone out there would think I am sexy.” or “Sexy is as sexy does.”
How do you feel sexy? No matter what? You do the mindset work to believe you are sexy. It’s simple, but not easy.
What questions do you have about body image, feeling sexy or mindset? I would love to answer them in the comments or via email.
With it being the Sabbath, I wanted to give you some thoughts about sex in religion and how the two can go together.
Many women have this belief that sex is dirty or wrong. But it is also the way to create children, which are “an heritage of the Lord.” Sometimes the messages around sex, coming from religion get a little mixed up.
God created man and woman. If God is a perfect, and he created our bodies, then our bodies are perfect. The female body has a tiny little organ that is meant strictly for pleasure: the clitoris. Why would God create the female body with a clitoris, in which the only purpose is pleasure, if he didn’t want women to have pleasure during sex?
Your sexuality is an essential part of you. It’s like the color of your eyes, your preference for certain foods, etc. I believe God wants us to each love ourselves and see our true potentials and work toward them. But what happens when we try to repress or ignore an essential part of our selves? (It doesn’t feel good!) We can’t work toward something we are ignoring.
If part of our identity as a child of God is to be good and pure or righteous, and we think that sex is dirty or shameful, then the two are in opposition to each other. We have to first accept sex as something that God wants for us– something that can help us to reach our potential. We must view sex as beautiful and good. It has to align with our identity for it to feel good and bring us closer to God.
What if sex was akin to the sacrament? Partaking of the sacrament is eating a symbolic piece of bread and drinking a symbolic sip of water. They represent Christ’s body and blood, respectively. We actually ingest them into our bodies as a way to literally become more like Christ. We have to allow “Christ” to enter our bodies. When we have sex, we are allowing someone else’s body to enter our bodies. It requires openness and vulnerability. When two people willingly partake in this activity together with shared goals, it brings them closer together. They share a part of their souls with one another. Biologically speaking, oxytocin in released during this process, which quite literally bonds them together. (This, in my opinion, is one reason we are taught to keep sex within marriage. Complete fidelity could suggest bonding in this way with only one person.)
Of course, I have no way of knowing the mind of God. But these ideas help me to think of sex as a holy, sacred act that brings me closer to my husband and also closer to God. I love the simple image of a triangle with husband, wife, and God at each corner. When we individually try to get closer to God, we naturally become closer to one another. And when we try to become closer to each other, we naturally become closer to God.
Thinking of sex this way helps me drop any guilt, shame or negativity in general and compels me to try to make sex a regular part of my marriage. I hope the same is true for you!
Guilt encourages us to act according to our values. And if we have violated them, to come clean and make things right if possible.
But sometimes guilt is not necessarily a fact, but a perception we have. One definition I read said guilt comes from a wrong, either real or imagined.Our thoughts can’t always be trusted.
And sometimes we have done something wrong, but even after we have tried to make things right, we still use that wrongdoing against ourselves. We beat ourselves up, bringing up the past and holding onto the real or perceived offense to justify why we aren’t good enough.
We can internalize lingering guilt into shame. Now instead of “I’ve done something wrong,” it becomes “I am wrong.” When this happens, guilt is no longer useful.
I coached a client this week who was letting guilt keep her from the life she wanted. When I probed a little further, she confessed to me that because of something she did 35 years ago, she didn’t feel like she deserved a good life now.
That’s like saying, “I smoked for a while 35 years ago. I regret it, and I quit. But now I don’t deserve to be healthy.”
I say absurd.
We all deserve a good life now, regardless of what wrongs we have committed in the past.
Guilt was always meant to be a signal to make things right. It was never meant to be carried with us long-term. It’s a slippery and heavy sucker and difficult to carry. It takes a lot of energy and focus to keep a hold of it.
If you are carrying guilt with you, maybe now is the time to let it go?
Have you come clean? Have you tried to make it right? Are you still beating yourself up over something that happened long ago? Are you holding the mistakes of a child (relatively speaking) against yourself as an adult?
I promise, you deserve better. You deserve a wonderful life. You deserve joy and pleasure and peace.
Let it go and focus your energy on being the person that has the life you want.
I would be happy to help you let go of the guilt and shame. It’s not easy when you have been holding onto it for so long.
PS. I have ONE spot left for a free 6 week coaching package. If you are a Latter-day Saint wife and want help with your sex life, click here to schedule a free consultation call to see if my program is right for you.