Up front, let me say it’s rare for me to suggest to either a husband or wife how the OTHER can or should do something. You can’t change her, and the chances of making her want to change are slim. However, if she wants to change, you can help. Please note that anything that comes across as “get fixed so I can have more/different sex” is only going to make it worse. Also, be aware that in the area of sexual healing your attitude, love, and patience is vital to her making progress. She has to want it, but even then, your attitude can help or hurt the process.
Our position is that God intended every married couple to have an active sex life that deeply blesses both of them. No past sin disqualifies us from that, and no injury or abuse should be allowed to cheat us out of it. God wants you both to enjoy sex, to be made more one, and to become more deeply intimate through your sex life.
A few things that can help, when she is ready:
- Journaling: Writing what she thinks and feels about her sexuality can help her to gain perspective, see problems, identify patterns, choose to make changes, and track how she is doing at changing. During the process, I would advise you not read what she writes, and let her know you won’t be reading it. If she is writing with your reading it in mind, she will hold back.
- A sex positive friend: Spending time with married friends who enjoy sex is a good thing. OTOH, hanging with women who have nothing good to say about sex (or men) is harmful.
- Release her from shame and guilt: She will probably need to hear many times that you forgive her, and don’t hold anything against her. If she was raped or abused, she may need to hear that you don’t blame her, don’t think it was her fault in any way.
- Reading: There is now a lot of good material out there. This page has a listing and description of a number of books about marriage and sexuality (affiliate links).
- Theophostic Prayer Ministry: I like TPM because I’ve seen it quickly bring about significant, long-term changes in a variety or areas, including sexuality. The idea behind TPM is that behaviours are often the result of lies we believe – get rid of the lies, and the behaviour either goes away on it’s own or becomes something that can be dealt with. TMP is excellent for situations where guilt, fear, or shame are involved.
- Give her space, within set parameters: She may be able to deal with things more easily if you give her a bit of sexual space for a season. What that looks like will vary from couple to couple. Perhaps it means no intercourse but other sex acts, or maybe she only takes care of you for a time. It could mean no sex at all for a few weeks if you feel you can do that, or if you are both okay with you masturbating during that time.
- Prayer: She may not pray about sex much – which is understandable if she feels guilt or wants to avoid the subject in all ways. However, praying about it can help her to gain perspective and deal with guilt and shame.
- Self-exploration: It’s still far from rare for a woman to have very little awareness of or experience with her sexuality and/or her sexual parts. A surprising number of women have never looked at their genitals in a mirror. A woman can learn a lot about her body, and how to enjoy her sexuality, from a season of private, solo, self-exploration. Yes, that could include bringing herself to orgasm. Think of it as training, and of learning what she likes so she can seek it from you. (Be aware many women can’t deal with this. At most, let her know you have no problem with her doing this if she thinks it could help her – then drop it!)
- A list of guidelines and limits: You could work with her to come up with a set of guidelines and limits for your sex life. This would include sex acts you won’t ask for or expect, ways she can choose to do something less than going all the way when you want sex and she does not, and some range of sexual frequency that you both feel you can live with. Some couples set days when sex is not going to happen – which gives her a day she does not have to think or worry about sex. Some couples set a day when sex will happen short of extreme situations – which gives you a day you can count on it. Other examples are that each of you is responsible for initiating sex a set number of times a week, or that a “no” is always followed by a promise of sex in a set period. When you make up a list like this, also include a date when it will be examined and modified (six months to a year) and agree that you will both abide by the list until that time unless there is an extreme problem.
- Counselling warning: Counselling can certainly help, but be very careful in this area. A good many secular counsellors (I would say the majority) will include the use of “erotica” (AKA porn) as part of the treatment. While this is often successful in the short term (by giving her “permission” to be sexual, or just getting her so turned on she can push past her problems) it usually only works for a few months to a few years. What’s more, down the road she is likely to feel guilty, which only makes things worse.
Finally, a warning. I suspect there are very few women who would not be offended, hurt or freaked if their husband just handed them this list of suggestions. Carefully choose both your time and what you offer as suggestions. Regardless of how pure you motive might be, pushing in this area usually does more harm than good. And, as my bride would say, be sure to pray, pray, pray!