Spiritual Sex

by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

PictCan sex be a spiritual experience? More often than not, spiritual practices are kept separate from our sexual life. Even when sex is acknowledged as a very good gift from God to be enjoyed in marriage, rarely is sex also seen as a spiritual experience. We may be able to accept that God approves of sex, but, for most of us, being deeply conscious of God during sex seems rather foreign.

One definition of spiritual practice is anything that opens our attention to the presence of God in our lives. This may occur through more traditional types of spiritual practice including praise and worship, Scripture reading, prayer, or devotional studies. Less recognized approaches, such as watching the sunset, discovering scientific truths, or caring for a sick child may also provide just as spiritual an experience. God’s presence can be enjoyed at church and at the grocery store, and whether we are playing softball, washing dishes, or having an intimate encounter with our spouse (Psalm 139:7-12, God’s presence can be found everywhere). All of these activities can be spiritual experiences, if in the midst of them we simply open our awareness to God.


Addressing depression in marriage



With the post holiday season and dark winter days, you, or your spouse, might be dealing with a common increase in depression symptoms. We have also shown that strain in marriage also contributes to increased depression. Combine all these and you have a mix sure to make any depression worse. As depression goes up, marital discord goes up which causes depression to go up and the cycle accelerates.

While irritability is one of the most common symptoms of depression I see (especially in men), other symptoms apparent in interactions include tearfulness, sighs, looking away, whining, sad facial expression, slow speech, and withdrawal. General (physical) symptoms include feeling sad or blue, loss of interest in activities you did enjoy, trouble making decisions, loss of energy, substantial weight gain or loss, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, and loss of energy (see more here). A quick look at this list and it’s easy to see how depression can aggravate marriage. If you spouse is irritable or withdrawing it is easy to feel unloved and uncared for.


Where do you choose to fail?

I read an article a few years ago that looked at time management. The authors had calculated the amount of time it would take to complete everything we are told to do. They determined it would take someone over 30 hours to complete all the important daily tasks (sleep, work, brushing teeth, exercise, devotions, etc.).

My "take away" from this article was that we are all choosing to fail. I can't do 30 hours worth of responsibilities in 24 hours. I can't be teaching in another state, counseling a couple in Atlanta, and sitting at my son's soccer game at the same time. So, sometimes I turn down a teaching assignment and fail in that part of my career to spend time with my family. Sometimes I walk away from family dinner to provide an emergency call to a client. While I'm generally proud of the choice I make, I am still choosing to fail in another area of my life. It's just not possible to always succeed everywhere.

The problem I regularly see in my office is that some couples consistently choose to fail in their marriage. Before the wedding, they made each other, and growing their relationship, a high enough priority that they rarely failed in nurturing their relationship. After the wedding, however, they cared for their marriage by focusing on other things: career, setting up the home, having kids, completing education, etc. All are valid and worth pursuing. Like any other organism, if we choose not to feed our marriage for a long enough span of time, it will eventually starve. Tossing crumbs of time and energy to it occasionally will help, but anemia will still set in eventually.

It's ok to choose our children, church, and career. It's just that we need to regularly choose to NOT fail in our marriage. This will mean choosing to fail in another important area of life for a time.

So. Where can you choose to fail this week so your marriage can be the focus of energy and attention?

Who initiates sexual activity in your marriage?

matchesWho initiates sexual activity in your marriage? Are you ok with how it is?

One of the more common areas of sexual dissatisfaction I see in my office is in the area of initiating sexual activity. Complaints of who initiates, how often, and how lovemaking is initiated are common. To help address this concern, this series of articles will address ways to enrich and problem-solve sexual initiation your marriage.

“If we have sex, it’s because I asked for it. I really wish she would approach me sometimes.”

The most common complaint comes from husbands wishing their wives would initiate sex more frequently. While I do work with couples were both initiate sex fairly equally, what is typical is that the spouse with the highest sexual drive generally initiates sex the vast majority of the time. Statistically speaking, this is generally the husband.


A new female desire drug?

Imagine a drug that can increase female sexual desire. Many of you have already tried to imagine it. So have the pharmaceutical companies. Since about 30% of women report their sexual desire is too low, the income potential for such a drug has many businesses hoping to cash in.

Testosterone patches are just one of the medications proposed for increasing sexual desire in women. The latest attempt has been called by some the “female Viagra”. The nickname is misleading since Viagra is an arousal drug not a desire drug, but potentially accurate in the impact it could have on society. At this point, however, Filbanserin (proposed trade name is Girosa) has been rejected by the FDA.