Living with a disorder that causes painful sex can wreak havoc on your marriage and, as an extension, your life. It is easy to fall into negative thinking and to feel like it is your fault, at least it was for me.
Sex was always an issue in our marriage, and it seemed like it was the cause of all our problems. The sex issue caused arguments and created feelings of loneliness, dissatisfaction and alienation from each other. Even on the days when we were seemingly fighting about a completely unrelated issue, it always had a tendency to go back to the problem of sex (or at least it always did in my mind). I believed that his feelings of jealousy stemmed from a lack of confidence in our relationship, which I attributed to our lack of a sexual connection. I could go on and on about the various struggles we faced and situations that came up, all of which I felt were attributable to the overarching issue around sex.
And if all our marriage struggles stemmed from the main sex issue, everything about our sex issue stemmed from my inabilities (or so my way of thinking would go). It was my pain issue—if I could just have sex like a normal person we wouldn’t have these issues around sex and all of the other difficulties stemming from it. I truly believed that my husband would be happily married if he had simply married someone else (and that I would face the same struggles no matter who I married because I would take this pain issue with me). I would often pray for physical healing, but it was the emotional and psychological pain of my broken marriage that was causing the most devastation in my life.
Fortunately God knew better, and he eventually eradicated all of my negative feelings around it being my fault.
I realize that not all of you attend a Spirit-filled church and some may think I’m a little crazy for what I am about to share, but that doesn’t change what I experienced. About two years ago my mom invited me to visit her and attend my childhood church for their healing service. The entire service was spent with a small group of elders praying together for one person at a time, and just about every one of the 100 or so people in attendance took their turn to receive prayer for healing of various ailments. Painful sex is not exactly a topic I wanted to bring up amongst a group of church leaders, so when it was my turn I asked for prayer for back and “muscle pain.” Not only did I experience a supernatural sensation and reduction in my back pain during their prayer*, I was given a different kind of healing.
One of those praying for me received a word that God had pressed upon her heart to share with me. She told me that she felt a large burden was being taken off my shoulders and specifically that God was telling me that it was not my fault (I believe her specific words were “he says it’s not your fault”). I had asked for prayer for healing from back and muscle pain. I hadn’t said anything about painful sex or marriage difficulties and I certainly didn’t share about any feelings that I was blaming myself for either. To this day I’m not sure she has any idea what blame God was freeing me from. But free me he did—and what a burden to remove from my shoulders! Later on, when my marriage started falling apart and when it eventually ended in divorce, I only had one brief moment where my mind went to that place that many divorcees deal with—feelings that I could’ve done more to save my marriage, that in some way it was my fault. But in an instant I remembered those words spoken to me in that small church, and I didn’t have to wonder—God had already freed me from that burden.
If you have struggled with any similar feelings of self-blame, I pray that God would free you from that burden as well. Every marriage has difficulties it will face and painful sex is not just one person’s issue—you must both face it together, just as you would any other situation involving your marriage. Sexual dysfunction does not doom you to a failed marriage—there are many couples living with sexual pain who are happily married (I’ve met some!). Don’t take this unnecessary burden upon yourself because it’s not your fault!
*Along with my hypertonic pelvic floor muscle disorder, I also suffer from chronic low back pain. Standing for long periods compounds this pain and, after standing for quite some time waiting for my turn for prayer, I was feeling about a level 3 to 4 out of 10. While the group was praying for me I felt a warm, tingling sensation in my low back and the pain level dropped to about a 1 out of 10! I haven’t received complete long-term healing from my back pain, but that experience opened my eyes to the wonders that God can work in me. I believe God wanted to get my attention that day, but his focus was not on my physical healing. He knew I needed a much deeper healing, and he has been working that healing through me ever since!