Sexual Honesty

We should be naked and unashamed with our husbands.

That naked part isn’t always easy. Plenty of women struggle with the idea of having sex with the lights on or being completely naked. It took me a long time to be completely comfortable and uninhibited in letting my husband see me naked, in all my glory, in full light.

I was even more reluctant to be naked and exposed with my sexuality—and I know I wasn’t alone in that.

Sexual Hiding

We can hide our sexuality from our husbands—and from ourselves—in various ways:

  • We suppress our sexual thoughts and feelings because we think good Christian women shouldn’t think about sex—or shouldn’t think about sex when we’re sitting in church or taking care of kids.
  • We don’t ask for what we need sexually but let our husbands do whatever and hope for the best.
  • We agree to have sex when our husbands ask instead of asking to wait a couple hours so we can deal with distractions and be more fully engaged.
  • We avoid kissing or non-sexual touch because we don’t want to feel aroused unless we’re in bed and everyone else in the house is asleep.
  • We don’t tell our husbands that we masturbate, and if they ask us outright we might even lie.
  • We don’t tell our husbands that we can orgasm only by thinking of certain scenarios.
  • We’ve been lying about our sexual past for years.
  • We have a secret struggle with sinful thoughts or pornography use.
  • When our husbands have an orgasm and roll over to go to sleep, we don’t say, “Hey, wait, I’m not finished, so you’re not done.”
  • We don’t ask for a new sexual activity or position because we think our husbands won’t approve.

Being sexually naked requires us to be vulnerable. That can be kind of scary: What if he is really turned off by the idea of having sex with someone who wants to have sex swinging from the chandelier (or whatever “out there” sexual activity you have in mind)? What if he won’t do what I ask him to? What if I hurt his feelings when he finds out I’ve been faking orgasms all these years or have been masturbating while denying him sex? What if . . . ?

A Barrier to Intimacy

If you’ve been hiding your sexuality in any way, the thought of being completely and totally open, honest, and vulnerable can be overwhelming. It may seem easier to just keep on the way you’ve been doing.

But here’s the thing: God designed us to become one flesh, to share our bodies and our lives with each other. In marriage, being one flesh includes not only uniting our bodies but also sharing a life, developing intimacy, and treating each other well.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:31-33

In these passages, we see that one flesh means living as one with someone, the profound mystery of intimacy, and love and respect.

If we are sexually hiding, we are blocking opportunities to completely share our bodies, we are hindering rather than nurturing intimacy, and we are not treating each other as full partners in our marriages.

How to Become Sexually Naked and Honest

Sexual honesty is important in marriage, but how can you get there if you have been sexually hiding?

I’d like to suggest a process to help you grow and gradually become comfortable with increasing levels of vulnerability. These are the steps that worked for me.

1. Don’t speak untruth.

If your husband asks you if you like something and you don’t, be lovingly truthful. Obviously, “No, I can’t stand that” isn’t going to go over well, but “That is a bit irritating, but I really liked what you were doing right before that, a little to your left” is truthful and loving. Truth isn’t always easy to speak, but it is usually best.

Being truthful in response to my husband’s questions helped me begin to see my own sexual desires. I had spent so many years ignoring my own preferences just to get sex over with that I barely knew how to recognize what I wanted. Making the decision to be truthful helped me learn to claim my own sexuality. It helped me become more aware of what I wanted, which helped me feel more like a sexual person.

2. Ask your husband for the things you want sexually.

If you don’t have a habit of doing this already, it can feel embarrassing at first—but the more you do it, the easier it gets. When I was learning to do this, I would wait until we were in the car and Big Guy was driving. That way I knew I wouldn’t have to look him in the eye. Now I can look directly at him and tell him what I would like to try or what I would like him to do a little differently.

Many women struggle with the thought that sex is for them and not just for their husbands. Our bodies are made to experience sexual pleasure, and mutual sexual enjoyment can strengthen the bond between a wife and her husband. Learning to ask helped us both learn that his sexual desires were not the only ones that mattered in our marriage bed. Big Guy’s responses to my requests weren’t great at first. It was new to both of us, and he wasn’t always sure what to say or do. Over time, though, he got better, and I began to feel sexually accepted and valued in ways I hadn’t before.

3. Share your sexual embarrassment, shame, and sinful thoughts.

This isn’t easy, but with truthful communication and acceptance of your sexuality, it might not be as difficult as you think. If you have inhibitions in the bedroom (like being afraid to really enjoy it because you might make a sound you can’t control) or activities that you’ve associated with shame in the past (such as giving your first boyfriend oral sex because you thought you had to in order for him to value you), it is time to open up. Also, if you have sinful thoughts or habits, tell your husband.

I approached it like this: “Honey, you know I’ve been trying to grow more comfortable with my sexuality, right? I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and praying about sex, and I’d like to share something with you that I think has been a problem for me. When I struggle to have an orgasm, the only way I can get there is to think about something that is sinful.” I told him what the sinful image was, and asked him to help me push that thought out of my head during sex. Over time, I was able to share other struggles I faced, one at a time.

It was embarrassing, and it felt weird to say out loud—but it offered a new level of vulnerability and intimacy in our marriage. Each time I shared something, it was easier. The sharing allowed me to release some of my feelings of shame, and bringing my temptation into the light helped it lose its hold on me. Even more, my vulnerability made it easier for Big Guy to begin to open up to me about some of his struggles. Being naked sexually helped us both feel more emotionally connected than ever.

4. Confess and repent any sexual lies and sins.

If you’ve been faking orgasms, hiding a masturbation or pornography habit, or carrying a lie about your sexual past or present, it is time to admit what you’ve done, acknowledge your sinfulness, ask for forgiveness, and commit to walking in repentance. Start by confessing and repenting to God. Your sins are a barrier between you and God even more than between you and your husband. Get right with God first.

Then confess to your husband. If one of your sins is something he already knows about, begin there. For instance, if you’ve been withholding sex from your marriage for any length of time, your husband already knows. He will be able to hear your contrite heart without also trying to process shocking information. If it was a sin against your husband, your confession and genuine contrition and repentance will help him begin to heal.

But what if there is something more that you’ve been keeping from him? Did you have an affair ten years ago? Did you have an abortion when you were mad at your husband and expecting to divorce him? Did you use webcams in sexual chats with other men?

If you have been keeping something from him, he is likely to feel hurt both by the truth and by the fact that you have kept it from him. He may feel angry and betrayed—and he is allowed to have those feelings. I’d like to encourage you to approach this with a great deal of prayer and, if needed, pastoral or professional support. How much should you tell him? How can you do so in a way that will help your husband rather than add unnecessary hurt? How can you prepare yourself to respond to your husband’s feelings? How can you best pray for him?

Although I think honesty is generally the best policy, there are some situations where honesty needs to be approached with extra sensitivity and requires guidance and support. Absolutely be honest and confess your sin to God. Then get support in figuring out how (or how much) to do so with your husband.

Naked and Unashamed

Learning to be sexually naked and honest was not an easy thing for me. What looks like a nice neat four-step process was messy and took me several years. I still struggle from time to time.

But, oh, what a wonderful difference is has made in our marriage! In the marriage bed, where I am most vulnerable, I have become completely naked. My husband sees me—body, heart, and soul—in my full glory as a wife who offers her complete self to him, in full light.