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The Mysterious Connection between Sexuality and Spirituality

Hannah Goodwyn - Senior Producer
Clinical psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery, co-founder of international non-profit Authentic Intimacy, believes what the Bible says about sex and shares the hope found in God's forgiveness and healing to women around the world.
In Surprised by the Healer: Embracing Hope for Your Broken Story, her book with co-author Linda Dillow, Dr. Slattery addresses the "mysterious connection between sexuality and spirituality" and what to do if you've experienced brokenness.
How do you know if you have a broken story?
Dr. Juli Slattery: All of us have a "broken story" to some extent. We all know rejection, disappointment, and loneliness. Each one of us needs the redemption and healing that Jesus came to bring. No doubt some people walk with more pain than others. We each know people whose stories make us weep or cause our pain to seem pale in comparison. However, pain is pain. While a divorce or parent's rejection seems normal in today's world, it still represents deep brokenness and grief for those experiencing it. People know the brokenness of their own story.
"Many women who are sexually active have never been sexually intimate." What do you mean by this?
Dr. Slattery: Giving yourself sexually is simply one aspect of sexual intimacy. Both in casual sexual relationships and in marriage, people can be naked and sexual without the vulnerability of intimacy. I've met with women who have been married decades, obviously sexually active, but who have never experienced sharing all of who they are with their husbands.
How do lies play out in our sexual brokenness?  
Dr. Slattery: We see that men and women often stay in bondage to lies related to brokenness. For example, they may believe the lie that God can't (or refuses to) forgive their sin, so they walk in shame. Or they may believe that God doesn't heal things like wounds resulting from sexual abuse. Our relational and sexual brokenness provides fertile ground for Satan to plant lies about God's love and our worth.
How do we start to heal?
Dr. Slattery: Healing begins by admitting that we are broken. Many of us limp through life without fully acknowledging the wounds we carry. Healing also begins by embracing that Jesus truly is a loving Healer. He's not just concerned about the "world out there" but invites you to come to Him as your Healer and Redeemer. The Lord usually uses His body (the Church) to express love and to walk with people through healing. Therefore, a next step is to reach out to someone (friend, counselor, or pastor) who can encourage you as you pursue healing.
Each of the stories in the book concludes with an "invitation." What kind of invitations do you extend and why?
Dr. Slattery: When you read through the Gospels, you will see that most people who were healed by the Lord were in some ways involved in their healing. Some ran after Jesus for healing, while others were asked to do something very specific as a demonstration of faith and desire for redemption. Healing is not passive on our part. The invitations in the book give a person tangible ways to engage with the Lord in his or her healing. Some examples include invitations to exchange truth for lies, come out of hiding, experience the radical love of Jesus, and make peace with a broken life.
How important is it to break the silence?
Dr. Slattery: Oh, this is a critical step for both individuals and communities. Our enemy loves to work in the shadows. In isolation, his accusations and lies gain power. When a person speaks their struggle out loud, even to one other person, the power of that isolation is broken. When a church or community acknowledges the brokenness among them, God begins to work. While we wrote Surprised by the Healer to minister to individuals, we also hope it is an impetus to prompt these necessary conversations among God's people.

 

 

 

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Clinical psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery addresses the connection between sexuality and spirituality and what to do if you've experienced brokenness.
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  • Respect Your Husband (Even If You Don't Think He 'Deserves' It)

    My husband, Ron, admits that he used to be jerk, but I discovered a secret formula that turned him into a loving husband: I started treating him like a VIP! Ron always wanted me to respect him, but I thought he had to earn it and I had to feel it, before I could do it. Wrong.
    We women are very good at pointing out our husbands’ faults and failures and punishing them for not meeting our needs, but that only leads to discontent and distance in our marriages. We all know that yelling, nagging, and belittling are disrespectful and ineffective. So I’m suggesting a radical concept: Treat him like a king, and eventually, hopefully, he will begin to treat you like a queen.
    Instead of waiting for him earn your respect, behave respectfully and watch him grow into the man God designed him to be.
    About 25 years ago, our marriage was on the brink of divorce. I was controlling, critical and disrespectful so Ron was defensive and angry. We were both Christians but neither of us was living a sprit-filled life. I was letting my emotions determine my actions and thought it was Ron’s job to make me happy. Instead of seeking marriage counseling, I found temporary “happiness” in the arms of a coworker. But through a series of miracles (read my book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, for the whole story) we made a decision to rebuild our marriage.
    While trying to heal, we went to a Christian counselor who read Ephesians 5:33* “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Then he said, “Ron, You have not been behaving in a loving way, and Nancy, your behavior has been very disrespectful to Ron.” I knew he was right so I swallowed hard and came up with a plan. Here are three of the ways I began to respect Ron: They are easy to remember because they spell out the goal -- to treat him like a V.I.P.
    Respect him Verbally, Intellectually, and Physically.

    Verbally

    Cut out (ok…cut back) complaining and add in compliments.
    If you want to have a peaceful, happy marriage, learn the art of the compliment.  Compliments are like magnets, and the more you compliment your husband the more he will be attracted to you. Begin to notice when he does it right and verbally encourage him by complimenting him at least once a day. If you are having a hard time thinking of anything to admire, consider these categories: physical traits, mental skills, financial strengths, spiritual growth, or healthy relationships with others (children, parents, or friends).
    You may be asking “Hey, why should I compliment him when he NEVER compliments me?” Because, if you want your marriage to grow and bloom, you’ll have to water it with kindness and encouragement. Then, as he sees your sincere efforts, he will begin to believe you’re committed to this change.  Don’t give up.
    If you do need to bring up a difficult issue, place it between two compliments, also known as a “Compliment Sandwich.”  Here’s an example, “Honey, I know how hard you work for our money and that Sally’s braces will be expensive, but I need your decision before her appointment tomorrow. I hope we can do this for her, but if you want to wait, I trust your judgment. What should I tell the orthodontist? ”

    Intellectually

    Men like to solve problems and fix things. So appeal to his intelligence by asking him to help you solve a problem. Instead of saying “This garage is a mess, clean up your camping stuff!”  Try, “I’d like your help with something. Could you figure out a storage system for all the camping supplies?”
    Don’t imply that he isn’t smart.  Instead of saying “I think you are wrong about…” Say, “I’m confused about…please explain your point of view again” (Remember to keep your tone of voice sarcasm-free.)
    Request his help on spiritual matters too.  Ask him to explain a passage of Scripture or ask him to pray for you when you are going through a difficult time.  If your husband is not the spiritual leader in your home, continue to pray for him and ask him if there is anything you are doing that is hindering his relationship with God.
    Men don’t give a lot of weight to feelings. Show them facts and they’ll be more likely to listen. For example: if he wants to buy a car that you think is too expensive, don’t launch into a hissy-fit. Write out your monthly expenses and ask him what other things should be cut out in order to buy his car. Let the facts speak for you.
    When you cannot reach an agreement, instead of trying to wear him down by nagging or crying say, “Is that your final decision or can I still try to convince you?  If it’s his final decision, then honor it.  It’s freeing—let him carry the responsibility of your family.

    Physically

    Physically -- ask what he would like you to do and then, do it.  Find out what his top three needs are.  Ron likes the laundry done, intimacy a least twice a week, and for me to keep my “girly-make-up stuff” off his side of the bathroom counter.   If these top needs are met, he’s content and easy to get along with.   I know it sounds simple, but each of us have different things that make us feel loved and appreciated.  You won’t know what he wants unless you ask him.
    Be aware of your body language.  You can communicate disrespect by rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, or slamming doors.  Reflect your new decision to respect your husband in your heart, mind, and body.

    Change your attitude and actions

    Respect is both a verb and a noun, an action and an attitude, so begin today to respect your husband in thought, word, and deed. He will be more willing and able to give you the love and affection you need if he is respected and admired. When I began to respect my husband, he was skeptical at first. However as he saw that I was committed to my attitude adjustment, he began to treat me differently—lovingly. We now teach at couples’ events, helping others discover the blessings of true love in action.
    Ask the Lord to strengthen you as you obey His word.
    "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13*

    Adapted from Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome by Nancy C. Anderson.