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A large part of maturity is grieving the life we don’t have to live in freedom and accept with grace the life we do. And this is true sexually as well. Many times we must allow ourselves to experience sexual grief to discover the fullness of joy still available.

For instance, we each have our own unique arousal template – a mix of desires and preferences shaped by our personal story that allow us to experience deep satisfaction sexually.

Often this template operates quietly and unspoken behind the scenes, and frequently taken for granted. But sexual frustrations are more likely when we don’t talk about it and there’s a mismatch between our desires and our lived experience. Maintaining an open dialogue with our wife relieves much of this tension, as we’re free to creatively explore ways to incorporate both of our templates into our sexual dance together.

But, even at its best, this might not resolve every issue and some aspects of our template might still need to be grieved if they’re incompatible with married life or who God has called our wife to be. For example, it’s not love to expect our wife to have a different core body type or temperament than the one God gave her. And part of maturing in love is learning to love her for who she is without holding back our affection just because some feature of our template is not fulfilled.

Of course, this is not settling. And occasionally love calls us to challenge the status quo to bring more life and goodness into a situation. But this is still pursuing God’s standards for us, and not merely pushing our own agenda.

To be sure, grief honors what’s important to us while still coming to terms with the reality of our story. And we shortchange our growth and limit our sexual potential when we don’t grieve well.

In the end, Let your marriage be a playground to explore and incorporate as much of your arousal template as you can. But don’t make an idol out of your preferences and learn to grieve whenever your freedom to love is hindered.

Photo by Camilla Carvalho on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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