Katrina & Liam’s Story
Katrina is a 29-year-old newlywed with a strong work ethic and a heart for others. Formerly a semi-professional ballet dancer, she currently maintains a day job to support her real passion of coaching at-risk teens at her private dance studio.
Katrina met her husband, Liam, after what she describes as a “dreadful” dating life, mostly because she could not find a man who shared her Christian value of chastity before marriage…until Liam.
A desire to honor God by reserving sex for marriage was only one of many values they had in common. And they had such fun together! No one could make her laugh like Liam, and he felt the same way about her.
But they were both disillusioned and frustrated upon their wedding night as they realized attempting intercourse was painful for Katrina. A year into their marriage, sex became almost impossible due to recurrent discomfort.
Multiple visits to the GYN revealed no “reason” for the pain. Katrina began to wonder if she was broken, recalling how tampon use had always been difficult for her. Liam struggled with feelings of rejection. Both wondered, “God, we did everything right. So, what went wrong!?!”
God designed sex to be a beautiful and intimate moment of pleasure to be enjoyed with our spouse. When the sexual encounter causes physical pain, we are robbed of these delights and left with many troubling emotions.
Wives who experience sexual pain might feel broken, less feminine, inadequate, and alone. They may fear the pain will eventually ruin their marriage, and wonder if they just need to endure to meet the perceived needs of their husbands. Husbands are faced with their own host of distressing emotions when their wife is experiencing sexual pain. Without fully knowing what is going on, a husband might experience frustration, anger, and rejection if his wife repeatedly declines sexual contact due to pain. Even when he is more aware, he might still worry or feel guilty about “causing” pain.
Dealing with sexual pain is especially difficult when there is not a clear cause and there is no clear physical evidence for the pain other than the experience itself. It is not uncommon for women to go to several doctors over the course of many years, trying what seems like everything under the sun and still to no avail. Even when there is that rare family member or friend to confide in, it is easy for them to forget because they do not see anything wrong; there is no cast to wear or crutches to use as with a broken limb. It is easy to lose hope and feel alone in these moments.
Talking about their sexual relationship is a good place for most couples to start. This conversation might reveal some quick and easy solutions to relieve the pain. For instance, a wife might share her need for more foreplay before starting intercourse or an artificial lubricant to increase comfort. Many couples also benefit from brushing up on their understanding of sexual anatomy and responses. Sometimes pain is the result of placing unrealistic expectations on the sexual encounter, expecting responses like those seen in the movies or porn, for example. Learning about our bodies and how they work helps us live in harmony with God’s design for our sexual being.
Counseling provides a personal touch in an already difficult journey. Counselors trained in Christian sex therapy can walk with you and advocate for your care as you work with physicians, physical therapists, and other medical professionals to better understand the underlying causes. They can also provide care for you and your marriage, as sexual pain is ultimately a shared experienced that impacts both the wife and the husband. When couples walk this path together, not only is there less anxiety and depression, but they can also move toward a much stronger marriage as a result.
Sometimes even with a counselor it is hard to describe exactly what is going on, where the pain is located, and how it is experienced. My colleague, Kelli Willard, has put together an assessment to help women give voice to their unique experience of sexual pain and to better facilitate discussions with counselors, their husbands, and the medical professionals. Click the link below to download the assessment.
Kelli works with me at Building Intimate Marriages, Inc. and has a special heart for women struggling with sexual pain. She is a fierce advocate for them, providing them with tools and resources, and helping them to connect with the right medical professional for their situation.
If sexual pain is keeping you from God’s best in your marriage know that you are not alone and that there is hope.
Schedule an appointment today and let a caring Christian professional walk with you. Restore the pleasure God intended for you and your marriage.