Focus on the Family Broadcast

Pursuing Passion in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Pursuing Passion in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery and author Linda Dillow address common questions women have about God's design for sex and describe how wives can enjoy greater intimacy in their marriage. (Part 2 of 2)



Linda: I would encourage every husband and every wife to get out their Bible and open it to the Song of Solomon and have a piece of paper and a pencil and for a husband to ask God, “All right, would You show me through this book, the kind of lover that Solomon was to his wife.” And for the wife to say, “God, would You teach me from this young bride what it looks like for me to be a lover to my husband?” Because this is God’s biblical model. And yet, I think very few husbands or wives have ever made a list of what they see from Scripture.

End of Recap

John: That’s Linda Dillow, one of our guests on the last “Focus on the Family” broadcast, challenging us to dig into Scripture and learn what God’s Word says about marital intimacy. And we’re gonna unpack that more on today’s program with your host, Focus president, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and Jim, what a conversation we had last time.

Jim: Oh, John, this is so healthy. First of all, I know it’s our first response to step back from this conversation, rather than to step into it. But that’s why we want to talk about it. I think one of the great weaknesses we are facing in marriages today is a lack of understanding about God’s design for intimacy and a healthy, honest, open discussion about it. We have left this area to the world to commandeer.

John: Hm.

Jim: And I think it’s time for the Christian community to say, you know what? Statistically, research shows that the healthiest marriages are, guess what? Christian marriages, where this is healthy and it is done well, when we talk about emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy and yes, physical intimacy. Those are the happiest marriages on earth. And so, today we want to continue to talk about how to improve that area of your relationship and to answer, I hope, questions that you have maybe deep down in your heart that you[‘ve] really not talked to anybody about. We’re gonna do that today.

John: Yeah and last time there was a lot of Scripture woven into the discussion. We’re back with two people who love the Scripture, who love God and who want to help women in particular, understand this area of marriage and if you haven’t yet ascertained this, this is a delicate topic. And if you’ve got young children listening along or nearby, you want to have them doing something else perhaps.

Linda Dillow is here. She’s an author, speaker and has been married for 50 years. And she has four children and 10 grandchildren. Dr. Juli Slattery is here, as well. She’s a clinical psychologist, an author and speaker and she and her husband, Mike have three boys.


Jim: Welcome, ladies back to “Focus on the Family.”

Juli: Thanks, Jim.

Linda: Happy to be here.

Jim: In the form of a recap by the answer to this question, what do women feel are the obstacles for them when it comes to physical intimacy in marriage?

Juli: Hm.

Linda: They’re tired.

Juli: Yes. That’s–

Jim: You hit ’em.

Juli: –one of them, you know. I think as we said last time, female sexuality is so complicated. And that means that women have many different obstacles. For some of them, it is the shame and the guilt that they associate with sexuality.. For others, for many others, they have woundedness and trauma in their past that they don’t know how to work through. Or woundedness and trauma in their present. Their husbands have been unfaithful or involved with pornography and that creates a high level of insecurity. Body image issues, there are so many things that can get in the way of this. Or even just confusion about, it just seems wrong. I’m not sure what’s right for me to enjoy. And Linda and I have heard from women who have all of those sorts of obstacles and more.

Jim: And those are good things to acknowledge. You talked last time … really challenged women to go home–hopefully, they did that last night—and make a list out of those things they see in the Song of Solomon. See what the woman, the young wife is doing to help her marriage and help her man.

We didn’t let men off the hook last time. I want to make that statement right out of the gate, that you, Juli, particularly, you were rightfully hard on us to say, hey, protect your bride. That’s what the Lord wants in that intimacy space. Don’t defile her by looking at pornography or doing things that are ungodly. You have to be a godly man, as well if you expect your wife to be a godly wife. And that is good admonition on your part.

Let’s move to the practical today. Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about something that we get here at Focus on the Family, where you know, the husband seems not that interested, where the wife, although she’s got a lot to do, she might be working and taking care of home responsibilities and all that, she still is wanting intimacy, but her husband doesn’t seem to respond. Now I don’t know if that’s the 80-20 rule and that’ 20 percent, but speak to that woman who has the passion, is pursuing passion, but may not see it in her husband.

Linda: This has become a bigger and bigger problem as the decades have passed. I …

Jim: Why is that you think?

Linda: Oh, Jim, I think some of it does have to do with pornography. Some of it has to do with the world becoming so despicable in this area that even Christian men just aren’t sure what a godly holy relationship and a fun relationship in marriage would look like.

But my heart just goes out to the women, because I’ve held them as they’ve wept and just said, “Am I not pretty enough?” “Is my body not good enough?”

Jim: Well, that’s where–

Linda:  Why–

Jim: –a woman …

Linda: –doesn’t he want me?

Jim: Right, she’ll internalize that.

Linda: Yeah.

Jim: And maybe mostly on his side, he’s maybe … he’s not interested. It may have nothing to do with her. But how does she broach the subject? How does she begin to talk to her husband about this need?

Linda: First she has to have an honest talk with God and just say, “God, would You search my heart and see if there is anything wrong in me? I want to be able to talk to my husband with a pure heart.” And then say to her husband, “I really want to have an honest talk with you.

Now, I’ve had women say to me, “I can’t do that. I’ll just start crying.” Or “He won’t understand.” And I’ve encouraged them to write their thoughts first to their husband and just ask him to pray over it and then for them to talk about it.

Jim: Hm.

Linda: But she’s got to be able to express how this makes her feel.

Juli: You know, I think one of the barriers to having that conversation and dealing with this issue is our stereotypes. Over and over and over again, you hear the stereotype that the man is interested in sex; the woman’s not so interested and she has to be almost forced to please her husband, that he’s the one drawn to pornography and so on.

But in our society, it’s becoming more so that many marriages, the woman is the one, as you said, feels unfulfilled. Maybe she’s even drawn into pornography.

Jim: When you see a rise in those novels–

Juli: Right.

Jim: –such as Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s a program–

Juli: And …

Jim: –that we’re gonna hear from you–

Juli: Right.

Jim: –in a couple of weeks actually.

Juli: Yeah and even online pornography, 30 percent of the people going to view pornography now are women. And so, some of it is saying …

Jim: Say that again.

Juli: Thirty percent of people going to view pornography online are women.

Jim: See, I think that shocks most people.

John: Yeah.

Linda: Oh, and Juli, I talked with a man who ministers in this area, because he came out of a pornography addiction and he says the statistics that he is hearing are 40 percent.

Jim: Yeah. I mean …

Linda: That just over …

Juli: So, let’s get rid of the stereotypes and let’s just say that Satan wants to destroy sex. And every marriage is gonna have obstacles. Every marriage is gonna have things that they have to get through. It doesn’t matter if your problems are different than the person next door. Forget about comparing and just say, “God, we’ve got the enemy attacking intimacy. This is what it looks like in our marriage. And Your desire is for us to learn to love each other in a holy and wonderful way. Would You give us the resources to do that?”

And I think when a couple gets rid of those stereotypes and just says, “These are the issues we have. These are the problems we have. The next door neighbor has their own set. I’m not gonna worry about that. Let’s just get on our knees before God and ask for His help.”

I think you get a lot farther attacking it that way, rather than comparing yourself and feeling like, we must be weird, because nobody talks about this.

Jim: In Passion Pursuit, which happens to be also a DVD curriculum, along with the workbook, which is terrific, you don’t find many Bible studies on sex. And again, I think it’s necessary and needed. So, I’m glad you’ve done this. But in there, you talk about this concept of boredom. I mean, and this is another practical point, that after you’ve been married 10 or 20 or 30 years, perhaps you think, well, it’s just perfunctory. I mean, something we do, it’s enjoyable, but you know, it doesn’t have kind of the sizzle that it once had. Why is that dangerous?

Juli: Well, I think that there are two ends of the spectrum that are dangerous here. For some couples, they despise boredom. And they can’t …

Jim: They want to run from it.

Juli: Yeah and they think, wow, if sex is just normal in our relationship, there’s something wrong. You know, there’s something about the normalcy of a husband and wife being regularly intimate that is healthy and good.

But the other side of this spectrum is, if you never work on it and sex like anything else, if you want to be good at it, you’ve gotta work at it, especially if it involves two people. That means communicating; it means sharing thoughts and feelings. It means praying together. It means saying, how can we get better at this?

And for some reason, people think that they need to work on every other aspect of their marriage. They need to talk about parenting. They need to talk about finances. They need to communicate on everything, except for this, like this is just gonna happen. And if you leave it alone and don’t do anything to it, it will not only get boring; it’s likely to disintegrate to the place where there’s conflict and–

Jim: Well, and it may–

Juli: –animosity.

Jim: –it may be the Achilles Heel in your relationship that ends up undoing your marriage.

Juli: Right.

Jim: I mean, that’s the point.  You’re listening to “Focus on the Family.” Today we’re talking with Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery, their DVD curriculum, a Bible study on sex and it’s called Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making? And folks, I can only say with that disclaimer, I know this is a sensitive are, but we in the Christian community need to be talking about this. The enemy has stolen this from God’s design and we need to take it back, because it’s beautiful in the context of a man-woman marriage and you’re committed for life in that context and it’s beautiful and that’s why we’re talking about it today.

Let me ask the two of you, sometimes you can think in terms of broken homes, which I come from. And there was plenty of opportunity. I mean, I lived with my brother in high school. I didn’t have a lot of boundaries in that case. You know, I stumbled in this area at times. Linda, you come from an alcoholic abusive home. Juli, you come from a good Christian family. Talk about that perspective. It seems like the enemy of our soul, he doesn’t care what kind of family you come from. I’m gonna take you down no matter what kind of family you come from. Does it play a role? Or is it that generic and pervasive that it doesn’t matter your background?

Linda: Oh, I think it matters, Jim, it matters in every way. I had an angry father, an abusive father. So, if my husband got angry, I felt he was my father. I mean, there are things each of us …

Jim: You responded emotionally to that.

Linda: I responded emotionally in the same way I did to my father. And God had to teach me, no, your husband is just raising his voice because sometimes men raise their voices.

Jim: Well, he’s frustrated, whatever.

Linda: He’s frustrated, what else. So, but I would just say from having talked with women for many, many years on the topic of sexuality, that even in a Christian home, someone can come out of a wonderful Christian home, with some problems in–

Jim: Well, Juli, that’s–

Linda: –relating sexually.

Jim: –your story–

Juli: Yeah.

Jim: –I mean, not that you had the problems, but–

Juli: Yeah, no, I’ve–

Jim: –you come from a Christian–

Juli: –got my–

Jim: –home.

Juli: –problems.

Jim: What’s your personal–

Juli: You know …

Jim: –experience?

Juli: I think what you said is true. Satan is so after sexuality that he’ll use anything he can to take you down. And we talked on the last program that sometimes growing up in a Christian home with that Christian ethic, there’s shame attached to sexuality that you don’t really recognize, but there’s this sense that somehow my sexuality is wrong and I’m not supposed to enjoy this too much. And I would say from a woman’s perspective, there can also be pride in terms of, I didn’t make any mistakes. And I’ve got this area figured out. What’s wrong with the rest of the world? Or even, what’s wrong with my husband?

And there’s not a humility in terms of, how broken we are and how much we need the grace of God. Every couple needs the grace of God in this area. I have never met an exception. And again, the ways that the enemy comes after you is different based on your background, but Satan will use anything and everything he can to destroy this beautiful picture, because it’s such a powerful picture.

Jim: Hm.

Juli: And you know what’s interesting is, women have gone through Passion Pursuit. One of the most surprising comments we get and we get it often is, that this study on sex has brought them close to their intimacy with God.

John: Hm.

Jim: And–

Juli: He …

Jim: –and do they describe how?

Juli: They’ll say everything from, “The Holy Spirit was so present in what He was teaching me to … I had no idea that God designed sex to be such a powerful metaphor of how much He loves me and what it is to know the Lord like that.” And that’s why Satan wants to destroy it. It’s not just to destroy family. It’s to destroy the picture of covenant love.

Jim: Well, let’s talk about that practically in the few minutes. A wife who has that issue, her husband … she suspects or maybe knows is addicted to pornography in some level, at some level. What can she do practically? What can she do to begin to arrest him from that deception, if I could say it that way? How could she appeal to his godliness, his manhood in Christ and pull him away from that? What would uh … the woman in Song of Solomon do?

Linda: Hm.

Juli: Wow, that’s a good question. You know, there is so much teaching throughout Scripture on what we should do, not as husband and wife, but as brothers and sisters in Christ when someone’s stumbling and someone’s in sin.

And the first thing that Jesus always tells us to do is first search your own heart and get the log out of your own eye before you try to help your spouse. And for a lot of women, they don’t take that step. Their understandably gut reaction is anger, betrayal–

Linda: Disgust.

Juli: –shame, you know. I can’t believe he’s done this and hidden this from me. And I certainly understand why a woman feels that way and there’s a time and a place to feel that way. But before you confront your husband, really just saying, “God, would you soften my heart? Would You give me empathy for what this man is walking through?”

Jim, I have met with women who are married to godly wonderful men, pastors, ministers, people–ministers, guys who love their wives and their children–who are caught up in pornography, who saw it at age 10 or 12 and something got clicked in their brain and they’ve wrestled with it ever since. And they don’t know how to get rid of it and they want to honor their wives. And they fall into it again and I think a wife needs to understand with empathy, that many husbands, if they could do anything to get rid of this battle, they would. They wake up with it every day. They don’t know who to share it with. So, there’s that piece of empathy.

But then empathy doesn’t mean that you go soft on the sin.  It doesn’t mean you just say, “Well, every guy struggles with it and I guess I’ll just let it go.” You know, God calls us to holiness and righteousness. And as married husband and wife, we call each other to righteousness and holiness. And so, a wife needs to learn to hold together both that empathy, but also God designed you for more than this.

And you know, what we teach in Passion Pursuit, which is so critical, is that a husband and wife learn to be a team in fighting temptation. And I think in the average Christian marriage, he’s fighting his stuff and she’s fighting her stuff and they don’t ever talk about it or pray about it. But get to the place where you recognize your spouse is not the enemy. You have an enemy who’s actively seeking to devour you.

Are you praying together? Do you know where your wife struggles? Does she know where you struggle? Can you get to the place where you’re helping each other and truly fighting as a team? And when you take that approach, and seek the Lord together, there’s victory.

Jim: Well, and frankly, that’s attractive to people who are struggling. If we can get to that kind of intimacy and the church generally can have that kind of appropriate intimacy about shortcomings, not just in the area of sexuality, but in every area where our humanness sprouts out, you know, that we’re tryin’ to control. But it’s just there because we’re human.

Juli: Uh-hm.

Jim: And we’re living in a state of sin in this life. If we could ever get to that point, which is what the early church was living, I think more and more people would say, “Wow, okay, they’re real. I’d–

Linda: Yeah.

Jim: –like to do that, ’cause they’re trying.” Rather than faking it and having a façade and in essence, being hypocritical. In fact, John, that’s why we have Christian counselors here at Focus on the Family, for you to call and to talk with someone about these addictions or these concerns or you know, the dark things that are goin’ on in your life. It may be too big a step to talk to your spouse first. It would be a good step, but if that’s tough, call us. Talk with us. Let us give you some biblical perspective on next steps you can take to becoming healthier and closer to Christ.

In that way, ladies, let me ask you this question, because we get this at Focus on the Family quite a bit. With a promiscuous culture that we have, very few people are coming into marriage without some baggage, without some background, things that they regret. Maybe they were sexually active in high school or college and then became more committed to the Lord or became a Christian. And they have their regrets. They may even have the consequences of that in their physical body. I don’t know. Talk about that woman specifically, because now she wants to do better. She wants to be the Song of Solomon woman. How does she get over the emotion and in many ways, the trauma of what has happened in her earlier years?

Linda: Jim, there are so many women in that category who have made mistakes, so many men. And I remember talking with a woman in Alaska. And she walked up to me and she said, “Linda, you just don’t get it. I’ve had two abortions. I can’t have this kind of intimacy in my marriage.” And I took her face in my hands and looked in her eyes and I said, “It is for this that Jesus died.”

Jim: Ah … there’s a lot of guilt in that comment.

Linda: There’s–

Jim: Wow!

Linda: –it is … this is why He died. What else would you have Him do? And I feel each of us as partners in marriage, need to ask ourselves the question, am I really walking in freedom? Because God’s grace, His gift has forgiven me. But do I walk in that forgiveness? But then when I open the door to the bedroom, I go back to guilt. And that isn’t what He wants. He says, “I forgive you. Walk in freedom.”

Jim: How do we translate that though? Juli, you’re the psychologist. How does a human being … how does a woman who has those deep regrets, maybe she had multiple partners, I don’t know. But now she’s married. She’s committed to Christ. She wants to do it differently.

Juli: Uh-hm.

Jim: How does she go from Point A to Point B, like Linda’s talking about? Full of regret to knowing freedom and forgiveness in Christ?

Juli: Well, I think first of all, we’ve gotta be honest with what we’re doing with our guilt. We feel guilty and hold back for justice’ sake. And uh … at a psychological level, we punish ourselves, you know, without really being honest about what we’re doing. This woman that you mentioned from Alaska is still punishing herself for those two abortions, regardless of what Christ did on the cross, she’s saying, “That justice wasn’t enough; I don’t deserve to enjoy intimacy. Maybe my husband doesn’t deserve it. And so, I’ve put a sentence on our marriage that we can’t have fun here.” And um …

Jim: Condemned the marriage.

Juli: Yeah or condemn myself. He can have fun, but I’m not allowed to enjoy it. I think when you write that down or you say it out loud and you admit what you’ve been doing for the last 15 or 20 years, and then you just say, “What does Scripture say?” You know, Jesus died and He says there’s now no condemnation for those who are under Christ Jesus.  Well, you’re still condemning yourself. And you have that choice, but Christ is saying, “I set you free from that. You know, I died so that you can be free. Would you walk in that freedom?”

And then, how do you make that a reality? You know, one thing that Linda, you walk women through in Passion Pursuit, is there is a time and place to put a stake in the ground. And we see this all throughout particularly the Old Testament, where there’s an offering of sacrifice. There’s an altar built to say, this was dealt with at this time at this place.

And because we don’t do those kind of physical things anymore, there’s for many women, never a time and a place where they can say, “I, like David in the Psalms, have repented of this. I have said, ‘God, would You take away my sin? Would You blot out my transgression? Would You make me clean?’”

Most couples have never gotten on their knees and said, “God, we confess our sins. Would you cleanse us from all unrighteousness? And then do something to put the stake in the ground. Write something or make something. Do something physical to remember the date, where you confess that before the Lord and you know that He has forgiven you.

Jim: Hm.

Juli: And there’s some beautiful stories that Linda in particular, shares in Passion Pursuit, about women who have done that and then walked from that day forward into freedom.

Linda: Jim, I counseled a woman who was a prostitute and she married one of her clients. And pornography had been a big part of their marriage. And after learning God’s perspective, she went home and put on her wedding dress again, walked into her husband and said, “I want to start all over again.” Will you start God’s way with me?”

Jim: Wow.

Linda: Now, if a former prostitute can do that, we can. I, probably because of my background of living in an abusive home, made mistakes in this area. And I can remember when I became a Christian at 20, just having a talk with the Lord and say[ing], “Lord, I have a choice, don’t I? Am I going to really accept and believe what You say in Scripture? Or am I going to live in guilt?” And I made a decision that I wasn’t gonna live in guilt. But I was gonna step forward.

Jim: You are both hitting a nerve with what you’re saying. I can feel it. I know that for women who have this in their past, it’s hard to get through. And especially if they were walking somewhat with the Lord when these things were happening and to be able to, as you said, Linda, for this prostitute, former prostitute, I mean, you don’t get any further from Point A to Point B than she was.

Linda: That’s right.

Jim: And if she can do it, we all can do it.

Linda: We all can do it.

Jim: And um … that’s the power of Christ. That’s the beauty of that. It’s not something that she just woke up and said, “I gotta change.” It was the Lord prompting her and that’s beautiful.

Linda: Yeah, I like the way you said that.

Jim: It has been so good to talk with you on this topic and I hope people have been helped, both men and women. And you know what, to go deeper, to go further they need to pick up the curriculum, the DVD and the workbook study, Passion Pursuit, which both Linda and Juli have pulled together.

Thank you for your vulnerability, for your openness. Thanks for tackling perhaps one of the biggest uh … most difficult issues in the church today. Good to have you with us.

Linda: Uh-hm.

Juli: Thanks.

Linda: Thank you.

Juli: It’s been a pleasure.

Linda: It’s a joy.


John: We covered so much ground in these past couple of days and this is a sensitive matter in the marriage relationship for so many couples. And there are so many who are struggling with this. If that’s you or perhaps you know a friend who’s confided in you and they’re just not sure where to turn, please know, we have caring Christian counselors here at Focus on the Family. You can call and talk with them. There’s no charge for that initial service and they’ll probably direct you to someone in your area, in fact, for ongoing discussions. Help is just a phone call away and please, that’s why we’re here, to help you thrive in all of your life, including intimacy in marriage.

Now if you believe in the message of these past couple of days with Linda and Juli, pleases come alongside us and offer hope through God’s Word, through truth, through practical resources like this radio program. We rely on the financial generosity of friends like you and when you contribute today, we’ll send a copy of the Passion Pursuit workbook that we’ve discussed here these past couple of days, as our way of saying thank you and also putting good tools into your hands that you can use yourself or perhaps pass along. Make that donation when you stop by or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for listening in. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. We’ll have a really inspiring message about finding your identity in God from the last Adrian Rogers, as we once again, share trusted advice and encouragement to help you and your family thrive.

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Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?

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