Why Is Sex Difficult Now?
"[My abortion] affected our sexual relationship. At times I couldn't bear my husband near me. I often cried out of shear frustration as I wondered what was happening to me."
exual problems can result from many underlying causes. In this chapter, sexual problems directly related to your abortion are addressed.
Why do I have such a disinterest in sex?
Following an abortion negative thoughts can plague your mind and cause a lack of interest in continuing a sexual relationship. As Liz relates, this disinterest in sex may not surface immediately: "Three and one half years after the abortion, everything fell apart. I was so empty and unable to reach out. I pulled away from my husband. We struggled to maintain any sexual contact at all. And I finally couldn't stand it at any time. I felt violated and forced into sex with him. We went six months without having sexual intercourse and also not touching or hugging. We were in terrible shape."
Are you afraid of something? Do you fear another pregnancy; do you fear becoming pregnant will lead to another abortion being forced upon you; do you fear barrenness; do you fear future retribution from God? Have you kept a previous affair and abortion secret from your husband? Are you afraid that during sex he will somehow find out? Do you feeling betrayed by the baby's father? Do you experience physical pain during sexual intercourse? Or do you suffer with recurrent vaginal infections? Any one or a combination of these could cause a disinterest in sex.
Is frigidity my punishment for having an abortion?
Frigidity means failure to become sexually aroused. This can result from various reasons, some of which were just mentioned.
Examine your situation. Are you are having sex with only one man ¾ your husband? If so, are you still experiencing sexual problems? Could it be because of a physical problem? If not physical, what are your thoughts during sex? The man with whom you previously made love may have used you or been callous or forceful. You may feel guilty because of a past sexual relationship. Do you focus on these rather than on your husband?
My husband Leigh comments regarding our early relationship: "Concerning sex, there was always the fear of pregnancy because further children were NOT wanted ¾ I don't know if I really knew what the reason for this was. However, many different methods of birth control were used, with great fear of their failure, and thus sex was difficult and strained. Fulfillment in sex was sought after by both, but usually wound up in frustration because of timing of birth control method or whatever."
Previous emotional trauma will affect future relationships if you allow it to control your thoughts. The negative thoughts you dwell on will eventually become part of your personality and will manifest themselves in your thoughts and actions. That is why we are admonished to allow the Holy Spirit to control our thinking and actions (Ephesians 5:18). God does not punish women by making them frigid. It may be you are punishing yourself because of guilt you feel about your abortion. It is important to realize that usually the problems you face in this context are between you and God rather than between you and your husband.
Our relationship quickly deteriorated following my abortion. Why?
"Researcher Emily Milling found that of more than 400 couples who went through the abortion experience, most of the relationships (70%) had failed within one month after the abortion."
A quote from Aborted Women, Silent No More answers this question:
Abortion, it seems, always underscores the weaknesses in a relationship. As an act of conditional love which reflects an unwillingness to accept an inconvenient child, abortion also implies that the relationship is viable only as long as each partner is convenient to the other, only as long as their separate aspirations and careers are compatible. Thus the question "should we have a child?" slips quickly into "should we continue this relationship?" Choosing to keep the child reaffirms the relationship; choosing to abort calls the relationship into question. Especially when it is the first child of a couple's union which is being aborted, the abortion symbolically represents an unwillingness to make a deeper commitment to each other. By denying the union of their flesh, the couple denies any long-range commitment to each other.
Why do I resent my husband for this? It was when we were dating that the abortion occurred.
Reasons for resentment could be that you feel he used you, betrayed your trust by consenting to or encouraging your abortion, didn't really love you, but married you out of guilt because you did as he wanted and aborted your baby. Resentment is a form of anger. Dr. Jay Adams states: "Letting the sun go down on your anger is the most frequent cause of sexual disharmony in marriage. It is hard to bring all of the baggage of resentment into the bed at night and expect to have freedom of joyous sexual expression under those circumstances."
Have you considered the following? "The woman gets pregnant; his first thought is to 'fix it.' If he has any feelings about the baby, the woman, or the whole situation, he is trained to deny them, and get on with the job of 'fixing it.'" Here we see that the man may have consented to or advised abortion because he thought it would mend a difficult situation. He may not have realized you did not want to abort and was trying to be supportive of your decision by saying, "Whatever you decide is okay."
We need to help our husbands, not alienate them. Sometimes they suffer as much as we do, but are unable or unwilling to express themselves. The solution to resentment is forgiveness. Only when we forgive can we enjoy and be enjoyed by our husband as God intended.
Why do I not trust even the most trustworthy gentleman in any way? (I am single)
I believe it is a common response to think that every man will treat you as the men concerned with your abortion did. Your lack of trust may stem from unresolved bitterness toward specific men in your life. Your father may have told you to, "Get an abortion or get out." Your boyfriend may have betrayed your trust by refusing to marry you when you became pregnant. Doctors are usually men and you may blame your doctor for his part in performing your abortion. Betrayal is a mighty force in inhibiting one's willingness to trust. Forgive each man involved in your abortion. Then evaluate each man you meet individually rather than stereotyping him into the mold you have cast.
Are the sexual problems I have directly related to my abortion or to the promiscuity that followed my abortion?
In most of our situations, abortion is tangible evidence of involvement in sexual immorality. You may have sought the abortion to keep secret your sin. Others may not know, but you know. You may unconsciously transfer your guilt to your current relationship. Also, because the abortion has not been dealt with, emotional attachment to the baby's father remains and may intrude on your new relationship.
For instance, you may have determined that you are "dirty" because of your abortion or previous promiscuity. One woman explains: "I know I'm healed and forgiven, but there is one area that I haven't gotten a grip on. That is my sexual relation with my husband. I don't feel worthy, I still feel cheap and dirty and don't enjoy my husband like I should."
Another woman comments similarly: "My main problem is regarding my sexual relation with my husband. I don't enjoy it. I still feel dirty and not worthy to have the kind of relation that God would want us to have."
Still another woman states the problem this way, "Sometimes my attitude is don't touch me, other times my attitude is fine. I believe it is old guilt from a sinful relationship with ex-boyfriend and possibly past abortion."
If you were promiscuous following your abortion, your current sexual problems may stem from unreconciled sin over your promiscuity compounded by the sin of your abortion. Your promiscuity may have been a way of physically validating your feelings of worthlessness. Indiscriminate sex may have been used to escape facing up to your abortion. The only way to eliminate the problem is to face your sin and deal with it.
Is sex ever wrong?
Sexual intercourse is a beautiful, sensual and fulfilling act created by God to meet a partner's need within the marriage relationship. The Bible tells us it is wrong to abstain from sex within the context of marriage unless it is for a period of fasting and prayer. That same passage explains that our bodies are not ours, but our marriage partner's (see 1 Corinthians 7:1-5). That is why pursuit of sexual pleasure as an end in itself leads to despair. We are to pursue sex to meet our partner's need by giving fully what already is theirs ¾ ourselves.
What about continuing to have sex after the abortion if you’re not married?
A college girl called me with the complaint sex with her boyfriend was difficult since her abortion. She related sex was no longer fun. She felt dirty and guilty about the entire situation. She wanted to know what she could do to correct the problem.
This young woman's problem went further than mixed feelings over her abortion. Now she felt guilt whenever she had sex with her boyfriend because her conscience told her she was doing something wrong. Sex had become unclean to her, not because she thought it was unclean, but because her abortion had helped her realize that sex outside of marriage is wrong.
As we finished our conversation, the young woman said, "Thanks. I knew what I had to do, but I needed to hear it from someone else."
God reserves sex for marriage for three reasons. First, the sexual union is symbolic of Christ and his bride, the Church. It represents completeness and perfection. Second, sex is the vehicle by which human beings reproduce. In other words, having sex can result in a new person coming in to existence. God has established marriage and the family unit. God in His wisdom planned for children to be born after marriage and into a loving family environment. It doesn't always happen that way, but that is the way it was meant to be. Third, sex within the companionship of marriage allows complete freedom and eliminates any cause for fear.
Women often abstain from sex for a short time following their abortion. Then rational thinking takes over and the thought, "It could never happen again" leads us to reestablish the old relationship with our boyfriend or to start a new one with a different man.
What steps can I take to enjoy lovemaking with my husband?
Often, as I did, in our quest to resolve our abortions, we overlook the obvious of seeking forgiveness for things that led to our abortions. Have you ever asked God to forgive you for the sin of having a sexual relationship with a man prior to marriage? If not, do that first.
Second, have you gone to your husband and asked his forgiveness for having sex prior to your marriage? A pastor once pointed out in a sermon that having sex with a person other than one's own husband or wife, even if you eventually marry that person, is a sin against the spouse. When I asked Leigh to forgive me for not coming to him a virgin, it strengthened our relationship and we were able to start clean before God in our sexual relationship.
Once you have received God's and your husband's forgiveness, do the following:
1. Explain to your husband that you are having difficulties. Ask
for his patience and suggestions.
2. Gradually lead up to the sex act ¾ kiss, hug, fondle. Sexual
intercourse is not necessary each time you
3. Ask God to remove ugly thoughts and replace them with good
ones (Romans 12:1-2).
4. Strive to please your husband during the sex act (1 Corinthians
5. Don't expect an orgasm each time you have sex.
6. Be patient! It may take time for sex to become enjoyable for
you without having to "work" at it.
Laura adds a final comment, "I do feel the pain of abortion affects a sexual relationship with a husband; but I believe that 'In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us' (Romans 8:37). God can and is restoring my trust in an intimate relationship. It does take time and needs healing."
Before I read this chapter, I had a question about . . .
In this chapter I have learned . . .
To resolve my post-abortion trauma, I will . . .
I need to talk to God about . . .
A verse from the Bible which helped me in this chapter is . . .
After reading this chapter, I have hope because . . .
If you experience physical pain during sexual relations, please see your doctor as soon as possible.
As reported by Dr. Vincent M. Rue, "The Forgotten Fathers: Men and Abortion," Heartbeat (Fall 1984), p. 19.
Reardon, Aborted Women Silent No More, p. 124.
Dr. Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor's Manual (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1973), p. 359.
Carter Jefferson, "Men and Abortion," National Right to Life News (January 15, 1987), p. 20.
The Song of Solomon offers insights into the joy of a married love relationship. See also Proverbs 5:18-19.
One caution I want to add in this age of AIDS is that if you are not involved in a monogamous relationship with your husband, your chances of contracting this deadly disease are greatly increased.