Healing After an Affair

I recently had an affair revealed in my office. The session prior had been difficult because I told the couple something they did not want to hear: they were stuck and they weren’t getting better. I referred them to a marriage intensive that I trust, to help them identify the deeper, unspoken emotional issues they had yet to face. Our next session surprised me, not because I was surprised about the affair, but because in my 5 years counseling, I’ve never actually witnessed the reveal. I’d yet to see the look in a husband’s eyes, watched him vacillate from his raw, heartbreaking sadness and hurt to loud and forceful anger. Watching him almost faint in his effort to quickly leave the room, and his weeping on the couch in an unused office… it broke my heart and, (a rarity for me) rendered me quite speechless.
And in those moments, I knew there was not much I could do or say to ease that pain—except to make sure everyone stayed safe and that they knew I was available when they were ready. I knew I would hear from them again; that his initial desire to file for divorce would likely change. I was correct, 2 days later he sent me an email saying he wanted to find a way to heal and save their marriage.

“So, now what?”

This is not an easy question to answer because the “Now what?” will be different for each couple. But I will do my best to give a basic outline* of what the “now what?” looks like for most folks who are healing after an affair:

  • Sort out the chaos: figure out the logistics.
      • Will you separate? If so, there should be a clear plan and “rules.” Work through visiting the kids and childcare if you have children. How much/what kinds of contact will you have with spouse? Preferably no physical intimacy.
      • Cut off contact 100% with the “other” person. If you want to draft the “it’s over, I’m going to try and make my marriage work, please don’t contact me again” letter, that’s good. Just let your spouse see and approve before it’s sent.
      • Who will you tell and not tell?Both spouses will need a healthy, loving, same-sex confidant during this time of grieve and processing.
      • If you are not already in therapy, find a good marriage therapist with experience and training in affair recovery. I also suggest an individual therapist for each person as well.
  • Recognize and accept that this will be a long journey.
      • You will probably need to begin letting go of obligations that are not absolutely necessary in order to make time for therapy and reading as well as to make mental space for the emotional roller coaster you will be on for a while.
      • You will begin having more good days, but there will be “bad/hard” days for a while.
      • FYI: It will most likely take longer for the betrayed spouse to heal. This will require patience at times when the infidel is just ready to “move on.”
  • Begin the process of understanding the message of the affair: “Why and how did this happen?”
      • The “why” and “how” will be two very different answers, but both are important to understand. Your therapists will help you sort this out.
  • Rebuilding trust
      • This will take time. The infidel will lose privacy as a consequence, phone, email, etc. should all be accessible to partner. The infidel should take the stance of, “I have nothing to hide, so please, look at whatever you want.”
  • Restructure/relearn intimacy
    • First emotional, physical intimacy will come much later
    • This will require changing the habits and patterns that led to the affair and break down of intimacy in the first place.
    • The infidel must take full responsibility for his/her actions in engaging in an affair, but both spouses must take responsibility for the marital problems that led up to the affair.

* I used some information and language from a great book about recovering from extramarital affairs, Torn Asunder by Dave Carder. I highly recommend this book as part of your healing journey.

I wish you blessings on your long journey, friend. I can testify that is a road worth traveling; and when done well: with an open, honest heart and intentions, can ultimately result in a better, more intimate marriage than ever before.

~Lauren Dack, LMFT, LPC

Lauren Dack, LMFT, LAPCLauren is a Counselor and marriage therapist at Simplified Life Solutions in Atlanta, GA. She can be reached at www.laurendack.com

Healing From Sexual Abuse

A question that I hear from many of my clients at the start of therapy is: “Is it healing from sexual abuse really possible? I mean really be free?” These individuals want to hope for healing, but they have lived with the pain of their abuse for so long, they are more than a bit empty in the storehouse of hope. 

These individuals come from all walks of life, and do not fit any “abuse victim,” stereotype. In fact, chances are that this victim is you, your friend, your sibling, or your neighbor. 

Some of these men and women have been successful in their lives; others have struggled for decades. Regardless, many are walking through life without the hope for healing, or even a place to process through their abuse with others who can grasp their pain and struggles. 

As a therapist who works with this issue, I believe in and have seen that healing is possible. It usually comes in stages, and through bringing light to things that have been hidden just underneath the surface of the soul, often masked by day-to-day living (dysfunctional or not!). 

To get you started, let’s address some things that survivors of sexual abuse often wish they had been told sooner: 

  1. You SHOULD NOT have been violated. It wasn’t your “lot” in life. It is not the way things were “supposed” to happen. You did not provoke your abuse. It wasn’t your fault.
  2. Many abuse victims have been told that they were to blame for their abuse, or that it was just their fate. This complicates the issue of the abuse, causing victims to struggle with doubt and confusion about the why/how of the violation. Abuse is NEVER okay. Does it happen? Too often. But is it ever acceptable/ tolerable? No. This means that we call abuse what it is—abuse—and we serve and love those injured by abuse by affirming that they did not choose or deserve it.

  3. Your identity is not based in your abuse.
  4. Because sexual abuse violates the core of a person, invading the most personal physical, emotional, and spiritual spaces, many abuse victims have a difficult time knowing themselves independently from their abuse. The sad reality is that many people spend years struggling to know the truth about their identity and value. The good news is that despite this, it is never too late to discover and uncover what IS good and true about yourself, completely separate from the abuse that happened!

  5. You have a legitimate right to feel what you feel!
  6. Many times, abuse victims have been told that they are wrong for what they feel, that their emotions are too extreme, or that they should just “get over it” and move on. If only it were so easy. Abuse victims benefit from talking about their abuse and actually “feeling it through.” Emotional pain can lessen, but certainly not through invalidation or denial of legitimate pain.

  7. Some of the “issues” in your life today are probably influenced by your abuse.

I would love to tell you that abuse is a stand-alone, isolated event that has no impact on your current thoughts, feelings, actions, or decisions. Unfortunately, I have not seen this to be true. We are impacted by our past experiences (chosen or not) and often act out of thoughts and feelings that we learned in other stages of our lives. This is not a prescription for doom, but it does mean that it is important to gain insight about the ways that abuse may have shaped your ways of thinking and acting.

There are, of course, many more issues related to sexual abuse. They are not easily summarized or easily worked through. But for those who can muster up just enough courage to begin the journey, and then with just enough support to stay on the path, I have seen that there IS a way forward. In spite of any kind of abuse, there is reason to hope, and steps that you can take towards healing from sexual abuse!


ab-25Abigail Foard, MA, LPC is a therapist in the NW Metro Atlanta area who offers ongoing 12 week groups for survivors of sexual abuse. Her goal is to provide a safe and structured environment for individuals struggling with the impact of abuse to explore their abuse and have an opportunity to heal from it. She is passionate about freedom for these individuals and deeply respects the courage it takes to engage with life in the aftermath of often-traumatizing abuse.

Groups are between 3-6 individuals, and gender-based, and meet at various times during the week, both daytime and evening. For more information, and to find out when the next group is starting, contact Abigail Foard by phone (404.788.1072), email ([email protected]), or visit the website www.radiallight.com


Stud 100

Stud 100 – Advice and Review

I’ve recently had a flurry of questions related to premature ejaculation.  I’d like to take some time to review the questions and provide some quality information, but I wanted to get word out about a solution that many men are finding very helpful.  The product is Called Stud 100 and it’s a desensitizing spray for men containing Lidocaine.  If you’ve ever had a minor skin procedure, the Dermitologist likely used Lidocaine as a topical anesthetic to numb the area before the procedure.  Many pain management specialists use Lidocaine patches to treat minor chronic pain issues.  Dentists recommend products containing Lidocaine for tooth pain and I’ve even heard of ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) specialists recommending products containing Lidocaine to numb the mouth/throat for various afflictions involving those areas of the body.

It stands to reason then that Lidocaine could be a safe and effective treatment for premature ejaculation due to an overly sensitive penis. There are no reports of side effects that my research uncovered, some reports of allergic reactions, most likely due to the lidocaine, and seemingly only with people who have never used lidocaine before. Allergy to lidocaine is very rare. Lidocaine has a history of being a safe and effective topical anesthetic. Stud 100 is available as an over the counter (OTC) agent at many online retailers including Amazon.com and also at your local drug store.

One caveat here… be sure to follow the directions carefully and take some time to test it out to make sure it’s right for you.  Talk with your spouse about it and be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions.  There aren’t many products available for premature ejaculation so having a product like Stud 100 in your arsenal should the need arise (no pun intended) seems like a “no brainer” to me.  The reviews look good, and the bad reviews seem to stem from user error.  Premature ejaculation is the second most common male sexual dysfunction right behind erectile dysfunction.  It seems to me that anything that might help delay ejaculation for PE sufferers is worth a try.


So why 4.5 stars and not 5? Well the biggest reason for being docked 1/2 star is because of the Lidocaine. Stud 100’s best asset, the Lidocaine, could also be the reason some couples have to stay away from it. Although Lidocaine is well tolerated by most people, not everyone can use it. It certainly shouldn’t be used during a pregnancy. But please, again, if you aren’t sure talk with your doctor first. This article is for information purposes only and isn’t meant to diagnose or treat premature ejaculation.

Finally, some Christians struggle with the idea of using products to enhance sexual intimacy. If so please read my article on Vibrators for Christians for some further insight into this issue.

Vibrators for Christians

We’ve recently received a few emails asking about the use of vibrators for Christians in the context of marriage so I thought it would be appropriate to address the issue here as the question of the week. It is our hope and prayers that you will prayerfully consider what the Lord has for you as you consider your marital intimacy.

When I hear that a couple wants to enhance their sexual intimacy with sex toys I almost always have a split reaction. There’s a part of me that gets a little bit anxious at the thought of bringing something into the bedroom that isn’t “natural” to aid in the sexual experience. But there’s also a part of me that rejoices with couples that can have an open discussion and are willing to explore new ideas to keep their love life exciting and playful. Please bear with me as I flesh out the differences and hopefully shed light on some risks and benefits to vibrators for Christians.

First let me say that each couple is unique. There is no cookie cutter approach to this type of issue. Each couple should evaluate these types of questions according to their own unique circumstance and relationship – their relationship to each other and with the Lord. Second, let me re-assure you that, as a general rule, I don’t have a moral problem with the use of toys, such as vibrators for Christians. There isn’t anything (to my knowledge) in the Bible that speaks out against it (if there is, please feel free to correct me).

The first thought I usually have when someone asks about a sexual aid is a question that I would hope most sex therapists have: “I wonder what’s wrong that would cause this couple to want to use a vibrator?” This is a question that the couple should ask each other as a good place to start exploring the issue for their unique situation. Many times there isn’t anything “wrong” and some couples just want to enhance what’s already a positive experience. We see a lot of times, however, that the desire to use a toy, such as a vibrator, is an unspoken request to try and troubleshoot a problem.


Intended For Pleasure

So let’s think practically for a moment and do a mini risk/benefit analysis.  There are risks to using sex toys. Vibrators in particular can become problematic over a span of time. A vibrator can do something that a penis can’t – vibrate.  If used over time, a vibrator could cause a penis to lose all appeal.  If the penis becomes boring, a vibrator could essentially become a surrogate sex partner driving a wedge between husband and wife.  Granted, that’s the worst case scenario, but it should give cause for thoughtful reflection though.  It could be very frustrating for a man to try and compete with a vibrator.

On the flip side of that coin, a vibrator doesn’t have what a penis does have – a man attached to it.  So on some level a vibrator will also lose some appeal over time in that there’s loss of that human interaction and bonding that’s so intricately tied to sexual intercourse.  This reduces the risk some, but not entirely since we are talking about using a vibrator as a couple.  Using a vibrator for masturbation is an issue for a different article.

Some women find it very difficult to be aroused to the point of orgasm on a consistent basis during intercourse. Whether the couple is rushed due to life stressors or the man has struggles with premature ejaculation or the female has delayed orgasmic response or a host of other reasons, the reality is that women typically take much longer to climax, needing much more stimulation and friction, than a man.  This can detract from the experiences together and if not addressed, resentment and disappointment can set in leaving room for bitterness and reduced sex drive.

Vibrators for Christians can lead to a greater sense of intimacy and closeness.  As a couple discussed the issues and enjoys the experience together during a lighthearted time of play and intimacy, a vibrator can certainly do wonders for enhancing sexual intimacy.  If a couple is having open dialogue about these issues and making sure that there is healthy communication, then you will be able to sit down, brainstorm a larger listed risk/benefit analysis and come up with a plan of action.

There’s just something about climaxing together that strengthens the bond of sexual intimacy.  A vibrator, if used properly, can help a couple enjoy that moment together.  Of course, as with any sexual issue, if the female is having trouble with climax or arousal, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a physician to rule out any physical abnormalities.  If there aren’t any physical problems and the couple still has questions or if you are having trouble getting the discussions going as a couple, seek the help of a trained Christian sex therapist.

Christianity as a whole by history has, unfortunately, typically been a bit prudish regarding the topic of sexuality in general.  It can be very difficult for some couples to express their needs and desires with each other, even in the context of a committed, loving and Christian marriage.  My advice… don’t settle for what you know could be better.  If one of you is uncomfortable with vibrators than be respectful and considerate.  But if you are both willing to explore the issue and do a risk/benefit analysis together then you will be a step ahead of most Christian couples in this area.


headshot01Dr. Santan is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in marriage therapy and sex therapy. He does counseling from a Christian world view and is located in Chattanooga Tennessee. You can find out more about Dr. Santan through his listing in the directory.

Sex In A Busy Life

Sex In A Busy Life – The Common Story of Dave and Patricia

Healthy and vibrant sexuality is composed of many moving parts.  Learning how to bring sensuality into the bedroom, for example is one element.  Learning how to be close and bonded outside the bedroom is another.  Both of these are critical dimensions that make sex work.  Great sex, that is

Remember, that we have an amazing God who created sex to be a passionate and deeply connected experience between two married lovers that results in a kind of communion He calls “two becoming one.”

One aspect or moving part of intimacy that goes into passionate sex, centers on setting up the right atmosphere.  This includes lighting, sound, making sure we’re clean, proper time without kids, etc.  In other words, you step into the bedroom with thoughtfulness about the environment, hoping to create a surrounding that let’s relaxation, excitement and even playfulness flourish.

Here’s an example of a couple in our practice that struggled in their sex life.  We helped them analyze what went wrong and some steps for repair.  Let’s take a look at Dave and Patricia.

Dave and Patricia

It all started with children.  Bless their hearts.  Barge in when you’re naked, demand more attention than a five alarm fire and wear you out morning, noon and night.

They have an uncanny ability to extract all the energy you have and flush it down the drain of potential sexual arousal and leave you in bed snoring, praying for relief and downright ragged. 

Then they smile, you melt and the next morning starts all over again.  Meanwhile, another sexless day hoping tomorrow will be different.

Dave and Patricia, married 8 years, madly in love and passionate about their sexual contact and frequency.  What happened?

The busyness of life, the endless energy raising kids, supplanted their deep connection and replaced it with fatigue, deadlines, and a need to build a life with careers and other usual suspects that fill up our time and calendar.

Dave, of course, was the first to complain.  He loved Patricia and enjoyed their sex life immensely early in the marriage.  With some differences in sex drive, they managed to work out those bumps and developed a frequent and spirited bedroom pattern that left both satisfied.

Dave’s growing dissatisfaction with their physical life mirrored Patricia’s growing angst around their lack of meaningful time together.  She would complain that their connection had grown more distant.  Dave agreed but usually focused on renewing their bedroom time as an antidote.

Patricia insisted on the need for more time out together without the kids and made efforts to find babysitting.  Yet this was somewhat infrequent and so “going out” together, without children, became intermittent at best.

Although they began to argue more in the relationship, many of their disagreements centered on the issue of the frequency of sex.  Even the quality of their physical contact diminished.  Sex became something rushed and often more to console Dave than the mutual pleasure they used to enjoy.

Sex meant finding brief time frames where you lock the door, jump under the covers and finish before interruptions.  Mood, lighting, candles, bubble baths before sex, all good ideas but shoved under the rug of expediency.  Let’s hurry became the motto.  After all, lions were prowling around, the freeway noise was considerable and the goal, well, orgasm had to happen fast if possible and get through the event quickly.

Patricia wanted more quality time and began feeling used during sex – like she wasn’t the object of love and care but simply needed for sexual release.  Dave insisted this wasn’t the case but didn’t know how to jump start a new day and resolve the walls they had created with one another.

In our initial time with Dave and Patricia, we discovered that the fractures in their marriage had resulted more from the fast pace of life and having children than more serious wounds and challenges.

They desperately needed to talk about how their relationship had grown apart, without arguing and blaming one another.  This proved to be somewhat easy, since their love for each other was still fresh, even though beneath the surface.

The sensitive issue centered on their battles over sexual contact, especially frequency.  They simply didn’t know how to put the pieces back together again and resurrect their passion for one another.

It didn’t take much for repair to happen.  We discovered their physical connection for one another had indeed been strong.  What it needed was the proper focus and attention to reignite what they once shared so effectively.

Although we discussed intimacy and the many dimensions of sex that make it special, our primary focus centered on getting them to set time aside and create a sexual atmosphere than honored their love for the other and their capacity for mutual passion.

As an assignment, we had both structure a “love evening” over the course of two weeks.  For Dave, we instructed him to design the following scenario:


He was to pick a night mutually agreed on to engage in intercourse.  He needed to make it special, to treat his wife in ways she would feel emotionally, as well as physically valued.  He told us she loved candles, especially vanilla scented ones and so we assigned him the task of finding new ones to lace the bedroom with.  We also instructed him to find babysitting, knowing he could drop the kids off at his parents for the night.

At least two days before the special evening, Dave was told to begin “courting” his wife with flowers, cooking her dinner or any other “touchy-feely” behaviors he used to do to woo his wife.  We asked him to focus on all the ways he would “give” to her that night, such as rubbing her back and preparing a bubble bath to start the bedroom experience with.  We instructed him to access his softer, loving self and treat her like a princess several days before engaging in sex that evening.

And finally, we gave him instructions to think of all the ways he treasured his life partner and tell her verbally or in a note, why she is so special the day of their rendezvous.  Our assumption was that Patricia, like most women, needed to feel loved in a tangible way, feel safe and free to be vulnerable.


For Patricia, we instructed her to open her heart to Dave’s advances in any way she could, knowing she too wanted physical intimacy.  We asked her to come up with special music and even sexy clothes she knew Dave liked and that made her feel personally attractive.  We asked her to rest that day, to take a nap if necessary to prepare for their evening together.  Then we instructed her to find her passionate, feminine self and to imagine how she would bring her charm and sexual electricity into the bedroom experience.

As you might guess, the evening went well.  But our advice didn’t center on creating one spectacular night.  Rather, we were hoping to drive home the message that love and sex get created out of the right ingredients – from thought-through stuff that sends chills up a lover’s back.

Because your partner invested in sight and sound, aligning all the components of a sexy room, an invitation from the heart and a nakedness that began days before the fireworks even started.  Atmosphere.   The right emotional temperature from two lovers who become mindful of what turns their lover on.  And the stage that gets set where lovers convene and bring pleasure – just the right walls, ceiling and ambience to say I want you, love you and no other.


This is an example of the kind of problems and challenges couples face in creating an amazing sex life.  Over the years, we have been privileged to help many marriages navigate the intricacies of being naked together – in spirit, fully dressed, and literally in their love life when the bedroom doors close.

Amazing Intimacy Doug & Leslie Gustafson

Adapted from: Amazing Intimacy:  Create a Spectacular Marriage In and Out of the Bedroom

By Doug & Leslie Gustafson Copyright 2012


Doug & Leslie Gustafson

Doug and Leslie Gustafson are Marriage and Family Therapists for their ministry Authentic and True Psychotherapy and Recovery Services.  Doug specializes in individual, marriage and sex addiction therapy and Leslie specializes in individual, marriage and sex therapy.  They can be reached online at www.authenticandtrue.com and by phone at 720-398-0720.  They desire to be a resource for any couple seeking greater intimacy, hoping to call it amazing!

From Dark to Light: Freedom from Sexual Shame

                In an interview with the band, Tenth Avenue North, about their new album The Struggle, the band shared about the struggle we all face to be free.  However, because of God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice, we, as followers of Christ, are already free and can be free to struggle knowing that if we fall, we fall into God’s capable hands and the infinite ocean of grace. 

                Unfortunately, countless Christians continue to live in darkness and shame because of sexual abuse, acts, or desires.  Brene Brown, PhD, author of the book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are has spent years researching shame and how it interferes with developing connection and intimacy.  Dr. Brown defines shame as the fear of disconnection; the feeling or belief that if I share this about myself or act in this way that you will not find me worthy of relationship.  Based upon this definition, it becomes clear to see why those who have been victims of sexual abuse, engaged in certain sexual acts, or have family or culturally-condemned sexual desires struggle with self-acceptance and often feel as though they do not belong.

                If you can relate to this struggle, know that there is hope for you and that you are not alone.  From working with clients, below are some strategies that have been helpful in the battle against sexual shame.

  • Talk About It: The best way to keep shame alive is to continue to be silent.  Once you begin sharing about the sexual abuse, act, or desire, it begins to lose its power and grip on your life. It is important though to find someone that is not going to judge you or immediately tell you how to fix it.  This is why talking to a counselor, who is trained in expressing unconditional positive regard, is the preferred course of action.  If you do not have the means to see a therapist, you can speak to your pastor about finding a local ministry or small group that is going to be validating and supportive.  We were not designed to go through life alone and sharing our burdens is part of Christ’s law.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
  • Step Out of Fear & Into Faith:  Shame is a form of fear and there is a reason the Bible tells us to not fear 365 times, one for every day of the year!  We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them… Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. 1 John 4:16, 18 (NLT).  It is important to be on guard and aware of how fear is influencing your decisions because if you are following fear, you are not following God and you are then missing out on the freedom God wants for you.  In my work with numerous clients, I have witnessed the consequences of allowing fear to guide your life’s decisions.  Fear ruins relationships, causes people to miss out on God’s blessings, robs people of joy and gratitude, and fuels addiction.  Ask yourself what fear wants you to do and begin doing the opposite.  If fear is keeping you from sharing your sexual shame, it is time to move from dark to light and begin talking about it. 
  • Challenge Your Beliefs: We all struggle with shame in one form or another.  We all have an “Inner Critic” that tells us we are not good enough.  My Inner Critic at this moment is telling me that I am writing this for nothing and that no one is going to read this or be helped by this.  Instead of accepting every thought or feeling as truth, begin putting those thoughts and feelings to the test of God’s Word.  This includes your beliefs about sex.  The Bible has plenty to say about sex in some areas, but is unfortunately lacking in other areas (e.g. masturbation).  One thing the Bible is not short on though is verses about God’s view of you and who He created you to be.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10.  Begin to become aware of when your Inner Critic is speaking to you and instead of accepting its words as Truth, declare God’s Word in your heart and mind to fight against the shame.  It is then that you begin to realize that who you are is so much more than the sexual abuse you experienced, the sexual acts you’ve committed, or the desires you’ve had and God does not define or judge you by them.  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12.
  • Nurture & Self-care: We live in a society and a day and age that is always demanding more of us.  Constantly trying to live up to these expectations can lead us to declare defeat and conclude that our Inner Critic is right; “I am not good enough, so why try?” Sometimes the Church can be one of the biggest sources of demand and expectation in our lives.  Jesus knew the importance of nurture and having self-care disciplines in his life.  Many times, Jesus would give himself time to be alone in prayer and to rest.  He also set boundaries in his life so that He would not be taken away from His true purpose and ministry.  In Mark 1:35-38, Jesus even declines to help more people in need after his disciples tell Him that there are people in town looking for Him.  Jesus knew that if He went back to help more, it would keep Him from fulfilling God’s purpose.  Attempting to live up to the expectations of others is a shame-based behavior, so this means that we need to learn to become comfortable with saying no and disappointing others for the sake of maintaining balance in our lives.  Allow yourself to focus on the present moment rather than dwell on the burdens of tomorrow or the regrets of yesterday.  Buy a carton of strawberries and enjoy the flavor and the color.  Find a spot outside and enjoy the scenery and the sounds of nature.  Turn on your A/C and wrap up in a warm blanket with a good book or watch a show that will make you laugh.  If you have any negative thoughts (“you’re wasting time”) or feelings of guilt, just allow them to pass and try to stay in the moment.  Sexual shame can be daunting and can feel like an elephant on your chest (it is often the elephant in the room in my work with couples).  This is why it is important to learn to nurture yourself and treat yourself as worthy and deserving because that is exactly how God views you.

I pray that the reading of this article would be the start of you becoming freed from the shackles placed on you by sexual shame and that you would begin to walk in the abundant grace of Christ.  It is time to realize that there is a way out and that you are meant for something greater.  The fear you have may be intense and powerful, but The Spirit that lives in you is greater than the spirit that lives in this world  1 John 4:4.  God bless.

Jonathan S. Statt, M.C., LAMFT


Jonathan Statt is a Marriage & Family Therapist for Renewal Centers, Inc. in Tucson, AZ www.renewalcenters.net  Jonathan has been practicing as a therapist since January 2008 and brings with him a wide array of knowledge and life experience pertaining to marriage, families, and children. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Development and a Master’s Degree in Counseling with an emphasis on Marriage, Family and Child Therapy. He is also a state certified K-12 School Guidance Counselor. Jonathan has had many experiences with children and families from working as a youth pastor for over 6 years to being a Jr. High Life Skills Instructor for 5 years. In counseling, Jonathan has a passion for working with individuals, families, and couples on a variety of issues including anxiety, depression, life transitions, personal growth, school difficulties, addiction, marital discord, parent-teen relationships, men’s health, sexuality, grief, and spiritual conflicts. When not working in the community or counseling, he enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife and 2 daughters and still enjoys the occasional video game. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Jonathan, you can contact him at 520-791-9974 or [email protected]

10 Tips for Maintaining Sexual Integrity

Get Real – Recognize that sexual temptation is unavoidable in our sex-obsessed culture. Erotic images on billboards, films, television and a thousand other stimulants are bombarding you daily. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from temptation – the godliest of men can fall prey to it. So the first step towards maintaining sexual integrity is to get real. Admit to yourself that sexual temptation is a problem that you have to reckon with. Remember John’s warning: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.

Get Serious – You should know by now that sexual sin ravages everyone connected with it. What you may not know is that every sexual fantasy you entertain, every flirtatious conversation you keep up, or every “second look” you indulge in is the seed for AIDS, adultery, a broken heart, a shattered life. Get serious – if you’re entertaining lust, you’re dancing on a cliff. Take concrete action now while you can. Lust when it is conceived, brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death. (James 1:15)

Get Ready – If you really believe an earthquake is coming someday, you prepare for it by developing an emergency plan. If you really believe sexual temptation is both common and can become lethal, you’ll make an “emergency plan” for it, too. Decide in advance what to do when you’re tempted: how to distract yourself, who to call, how to escape close calls. Even St. Paul admitted: Like an athlete I train my body to do what it should, not what it wants to do. Otherwise, I fear that I myself might be declared unfit. (I Corinthians 9:27)

Get Connected – Sexual sin thrives in the dark. If you’re caught up in any sexual vice, one thing is certain: The secrecy surrounding your behavior is what strengthens its hold on you. However ashamed you may feel about admitting your problem to another person, the reality is this: You can’t overcome this on your own. If you could, wouldn’t you have done so by now? Take a hint from James: Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you might be healed. (James 5:16) Find a trusted, mature Christian friend to confide in. Make that friend a partner in your recovery, and NEVER assume that you’ve reached a point where you no longer need accountability.

Get Brutal – I believe there’s an eleventh commandment somewhere that says “Thou Shalt Not Kid Thy Self.” If you’re serious about sexual integrity, you’ll distance yourself not only from the particular sexual sin you’re most prone to (fantasizing, pornography, affairs, prostitution) but you’ll ALSO distance yourself from any person or thing that entices you towards that sin. Sometimes, even a legitimate activity (certain movies, music or clubs, for example) may be OK for other people to indulge in, but not for you. Get brutally honest about your lifestyle: anything in it that makes you prone to sexual sin has to go. All things are lawful for me, Paul said, but not all things are edifying. I will not be brought under the power of anything. (I Corinthians 6:12)

Get Help – Sexual sins are often symptomatic of deeper emotional needs that a man is trying to satisfy in all the wrong ways. Repenting of the sin itself is a necessary first step, but recognizing the conflicts or needs that led you into that behavior may be the next step, requiring some specialized care from a Christian professional. Don’t hesitate to seek Godly counsel if you’re trapped in cycles of ongoing, out-of-control behavior. The answer you need may be more than just “pray and get over it!”. King David (who was no stranger to sexual sin, by the way) found refuge in Samuel’s wise mentoring. (I Samuel 19:18) If you’re willing to seek professional help for taxes, medical care or career counseling, surely you’ll be willing to do the same to maintain your sexual integrity.

Get Comfortable – The problem of sexual temptation isn’t going anywhere. It’s been with us since time immemorial, and no doubt it will plague us until Christ comes. So get comfortable with the idea that you’ll need to manage your sexual desires throughout life, always remembering that your sexual integrity is but a part of the general life-long sanctification process all Christians go through. I count myself not to have attained perfection, Paul told the Philippians. I am still not all I should be. (Philippians 3:12-13) So learn to love the process of pressing on, not perfection.

Get Love – “I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places”, an old song laments. The sexual sin you’re drawn towards may indeed be a cheap (though intense) substitute for love. You can repent of the sin, but not of the need the sin represents. So get love in your life: friendships, family, spouse, fellow believers. A man who truly loves, and knows he’s truly loved, is far less likely to search for what he already has in places he’ll never find it. Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread, or your labor on that which cannot satisfy?, Isaiah asked. (Isaiah 55:2) Learn to be intimate and authentic. It’s one of the best ways to protect your heart and your integrity.

Get Grace – It isn’t the sinless man who makes it to the end; rather, it’s the man who’ll learned to pick himself up after he stumbles. If you’re struggle seems relentless, remember this: when you commit yourself to sexual integrity, you commit yourself to a direction, not to perfection. You may stumble along the way – that’s no justification for sin, just a realistic view of life in this fallen world. What determines the success or failure of an imperfect man is his willingness to pick himself up, confess his fault, and continue in the direction he committed himself to. Remember Paul’s approach: Forgetting those things that are behind, I press on towards the mark of the high calling. (Philippians 3:14)

Get a Life – What’s your passion? What’s your calling? How clear are your goals? And, by the way, do you have any fun? The man who doesn’t have a life – a passion, a sense of meaning, an ability to play as hard as he works – is a man with an emptiness tailor-made for sexual sin. Life is about more than keeping yourself sexually pure, as important as purity is. It’s about knowing who and why you are, where your priorities lie, and where you’re headed. If you don’t know that much about yourself, you have some serious thinking to do. Commit yourself to developing your life as a good steward of your gifts and opportunities, and make that the context in which you seek to maintain your sexual integrity. Sexual integrity for it’s own sake is a good thing: sexual integrity for the sake of a higher calling is better. So by all means turn from your sin. But as you do, turn towards a goal-oriented, passionate, meaningful life. That is repentance in its truest, finest sense.

Author: Joe Dallas – www.NewLife.com

5 Ways to Keep Romance Alive in Your Marriage

Romance is a key factor in keeping a marriage alive and healthy. If romance is missing or unsatisfying, then you and your spouse may find yourselves drifting away from each other. You have to keep the fire burning by rebuilding romance in your marriage. Romance probably came easy during the early years of your relationship, however, as couples settle into a marriage relationship, romance can diminish and each spouse can find himself/herself with unmet needs and desires. Rebuilding romance takes some dedication and hard work, but with a few key factors in play, it will get easier and you can begin to rebuild romance quickly.

Here are five (5) things to keep in mind that will help you start rebuilding romance today.

Remember the Difference between Romance and Sexual Intimacy

Many couples mistake physical intimacy for romance, but it’s important to remember that there is a difference between the two. It can be said that physical intimacy is an integral component of romance, but there’s more to romance than merely being physically intimate. Think of physical intimacy as the icing on the cake of a romantic relationship. In rebuilding romance, it may be important to even take the expectation for physical intimacy out of the equation by focusing only on things which your partner considers romantic. Let physical intimacy be a natural side effect of romance and you will find that the entire experience will be more relaxed and pleasurable.

Devote Time and Attention to Create Romantic Moments

You must know your mate if you are to be successful at rebuilding romance. People change and what was romantic during the early years of a relationship might not be romantic ten years later. Men and women should become a lifelong student of their spouse and learn what types of things each finds romantic. Awareness is a key to knowledge and communication is a key to sharing your awareness and knowledge with your mate. Make sure that you are communicating your romantic needs effectively as well as listening to the verbal and body language queues of your spouse to dome to a better understanding of what things each finds romantic. When you are attune to each other’s desires for romance, and you devote the time necessary to bring those desires to fruition you will be giving the necessary attention to recreating romantic moments.

Engage in Passionate Sex

As earlier mentioned, sex is an important component of romantic marriages. Once you are able to be more romantic with your spouse, it will be fun to add physical intimacy into the equation. We typically see that as romance increases between each other, so will passionate physical intimacy increase.  Physical intimacy is a natural outgrowth of romance because romance tells your mate that you are serious about, committed to and vested in the relationship. As your mate feels more cared for and important, sex will become more passionate which will strengthen the bond between you.

Strengthen Your Trust for Each Other

Building romance in a relationship also naturally strengthens trust between you. I tell all the couples that I counsel that trust is a two way street. One must be trustworthy and behave in trusting ways, but the other must also be willing to step out in faith and show trust. As trust in each other increases, so will romantic feelings which will inspire romantic behaviors. Trust is strengthened when we go out of our way to make sure that our spouse feels import and a priority. It’s important that you are honest with each other and communicate in a way that is loving and kind. We don’t have to reveal our deepest darkest secrets, but it is important to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open when it comes to our spouse. We need to be willing to trustworthy as well as willing to trust.

Celebrate Romance

The next four ways of rekindling romance in your marriage revolve around learning how to celebrate romance like the following:

  • Break the routine and create an extraordinary moment you and your spouse can take pleasure in and create memories with. Find common interests and find a way to be interested in what the other person is interested in.
  • Keep the line of communication open and clear.
  • Maintain the respect and give each other room to enjoy one’s individual privacy.
  • Say it with words and follow it up with actions. Never hesitate to verbalize how much you love each other and the positives that you notice and are aware of. You should also make it a point to show what you say in action.

I hope that these 5 tips to rebuilding romance will help you in your relationship. Try not to miss an opportunity to rekindle romance in your marriage. This will help strengthen the bond between you and increase the chances that you will be together for a lifetime.


headshot01Brandon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in marriage therapy and sex therapy. He does counseling from a Christian world view and is located in Chattanooga Tennessee. You can find out more about Brandon through his listing in the directory.

Igniting Passionate Intimacy

True passionate intimacy is so much more than just sexual intimacy. If you’re waiting until you get to the bedroom to have passionate intimacy then I’m afraid that you are missing out on an entire world of intimacy opportunities. Not only are you missing out, but you are also depriving your spouse of healthy intimacy.

Remember back to an experience of when you were first dating someone or newly married. You made the other person your priority right? And he/she was a priority in more ways than one right? That was passionate intimacy. You might not have been sexually intimate during those times, but you were passionately in tune with each other’s wants and needs. It took effort, but it didn’t seem like it because it was so new and fresh. As time goes on we settle into complacency and we forget how to put the other person first. We must work hard at cultivating passionate intimacy.

Well, here are some ideas on how to go about doing that. Hopefully as you read, the waters of creativity will stir within you and you will develop a sense of what passionate intimacy looks like within your relationship.

Igniting her passion

It’s been said a thousand times. Women are typically more in tune with what a relationship needs to thrive especially on an emotional level. It’s just how women are wired. As a result, men, if you want her to be more open about her sexual desires, start by melting her heart. Find out more about the emotional connections that are tied closely to her sense of self and the way she relates to the world around her. Cultivate the emotional connection that she craves.

One way you can do this is by selecting a part of her body that you love most. If it is her eyes that attract you most, let her know. Do not just pretend. Women know well if you are just pretending. Be sincere. Start by holding her hand, looking into her eyes, and say in a soft, sweet voice how attracted you are with her eyes.

Another way is to romance her by finding out in what way she shows and likes to receive love. If she is a person that likes gifts then get creative and give her gifts. Gifts don’t have to be expensive. They can just be small tokens of your love and appreciation for her that tell her that you know what she likes and values. If she likes it when people do things for her – or perform tasks for her – then show her your love by engaging in house hold chores or some other form of service. If she is turned on by spending time together then figure out ways that the two of you can spend more time together engaged in meaningful conversation.

As you do these things, she will be able to feel your love for her on that much needed emotional level and this will, in turn, boost her mood and ignite a sense of sexual drive and passion for her husband. As you continue to do these things for her (and this is key) with no expectation for anything in return, she will begin to open up to you more sexually. Passion will be ablaze and as your emotional connection strengthens she will be turned on by you not just by what you do or who you are.

Igniting his passion

While women are typically more in tune with the emotional health of a relationship, men are more in tune with the physical intimacy aspect of the relationship. For most men, a tender kiss or a few strategically placed soft touches can put his libido on high alert. It’s important to remember, however, that men, like women, have unique ways of communicating love and passion. For most men, though, respect, pride and visual stimulation go a long way.

Passionate intimacy, for men, is gained when women look after their man’s sense of pride, respect and visual appeal. Women need to remember that men value his spouse’s opinions. If a wife is consistently nagging or disrespectful it can be a tremendous turn off for him. In the same vein, if a man doesn’t feel respected by his mate, he will likely find a decline in his passionate intimacy.

So make sure that you are finding ways to show respect, boost his pride and appeal to his visual needs for sensuality. Be willing to get creative when it comes to showing him that you respect him as a man, husband, father and human being. Many people make excuses when it comes to showing respect by hand waving it and saying "respect is earned not given". Heard that one before? I say, what a crock! Respect is given. It’s a gift we give to those we love. We show respect because we value something. Showing respect to your husband simply because he is your husband should be motivation enough. As you show respect you will boost his sense of pride and ego. As he gains a boost in his ego and sense of pride he will be more apt to show you emotional intimacy and passion.

When passionate intimacy is ready to move into the bedroom, make sure you are visually appealing to him. Let him see you in sexy lingerie. Be willing to explore new and playful ideas in the bedroom. Men get excited at the idea of trying something new. Put some thought into foreplay and take a moment for a few strategically places kisses. When done correctly and in the context of mutual respect and care he will literally melt in your hands (and hands should be used).


Igniting passion in a relationship takes planning, dedication and hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart. You must be driven to improving your marriage and you must be persistent. Expectations for improving passion immediately must be ignored. Igniting passion takes time. As you implement the above strategies over time, passion will improve. Your spouse is looking for you to be consistent and make him/her a priority. Your goal should NOT be sex! Your goal should be cultivating a romantic relationship that is emotionally intimate. Once emotional intimacy is strong, improvement in sexual intimacy should follow. Above all, make sure you are having fun together. Laugh and make memories.

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headshot01Brandon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in marriage therapy and sex therapy. He does counseling from a Christian world view and is located in Chattanooga Tennessee. You can find out more about Brandon through his listing in the directory.

5 Ways to Make Love Last Forever

Do you think it is possible for two individuals to live happily ever after? Yes and I’ve got 5 ways to make love last forever. If both the wife and the husband will put these ways into good use, a “happily ever after” movie scenario will definitely be possible. What are these keys to a lasting marriage?

  1. Cultivate Mutual Love. The first key to a lasting love is mutuality. If you want to achieve success in your marriage then you will need to work hard at a mutual love in your relationship. Loving married couples must remember to cultivate intense love and affection for each other.  This requires an active choice to see the best in each other and accept imperfections.  It has to go both ways though.  You must each work at loving the other person and doing things to get earn that love in return.  As you both work individually you will actually be working together as a couple.

  3. Show Respect. The second key to a lasting love is respect. If two married people really love each other then respect for each other must follow. Someone once said that respect is earned, but I happen to disagree.  We show respect all the time when it’s not earned.  We respect our elders because of their wisdom and high regard in society.  We respect our children when we allow then to grow as individuals with their own unique interests and desires.  We respect authority because of this position of power over us.  The same is true of your partner.  You need to show respect because he/she is your mate and a person worthy of respect.  We need to be considerate and courteous.  Though it is impossible for both partners to always have identical views on everything, learning how to give up control, respect the differences you see in your spouse and adjust to different perspectives can help.

  5. Learn to Acknowledge Little Things. In most cases learning to appreciate even the smallest thing your partner had done for you adds spice to a long-going marriage. For example, husbands should make a strong effort to acknowledge your wife’s new haircut, her outfit, her nails or even a simple dinner she cooked on a routine evening during the week.  These little acknowledgments can go a long way to make our spouse feel special.

  7. Constant Communication. Open, honest and respectful communication that makes time for active listening and allowing the other person to speak without judgment or response will foster a sense of closeness and help love last forever.  No matter how busy schedules get you need to carve out a little time for one-on-one communication.  Although children and household management issues are important, communicating about those issues don’t count.  This needs to be a communication about your relationship together and a mutual sharing about individual perspectives.

  9. Give Each Other Space Though marriage involves you and your partner, both of you should not restrict yourselves from growing as individuals. Both of you also need to spend time with developing friendships and personal hobbies and interests that is separate from your spouse.  That may sound counterproductive, however, you are still an individual and your mate should be respecting your individual differences and interests.  Chances are that you won’t share all the same interests anyway.  Couples that learn to allow each other space for individual interests foster a sense of completeness that enmeshed or dependent relationships don’t have.


Indeed every marriage will have its own ups and downs but incorporating these 5 things into your relationship will go a long way to help make your love last forever and will be helping your spouse feel confident that their marriage will be happy and lasting.


headshot01Brandon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in marriage therapy and sex therapy. He does counseling from a Christian world view and is located in Chattanooga Tennessee. You can find out more about Brandon through his listing in the directory.