7 Ways to Cultivate Your God-Given Feminine Sexual Energy for Your Marriage

Happy Couple, Eastern Art Collection, Museumsinsel, Berlin

If you got married straight out of the purity culture in the modern church, you probably discovered the exact same thing I did:

Your feminine sensuality didn’t switch on like a lightbulb just because you said, “I do.”

Sad to say, it took me eight struggling years of marriage and a difficult divorce to figure out that I wasn’t actually “broken” when it came to sex. Diagnosed at age 25 with a clinical sexual dysfunction, I struggled my way through round after round of dilator therapy that failed … completely … until I discovered the secret emotional root of my physical issue:

I just had no idea how to access the natural pleasure center God had given me in my body—which is as useful for enjoying a picnic by the lake as it is for having a triple orgasm in bed. 

When you’re taught in church to cultivate your mind, your emotions and your physical strength–but not your sensuality–your natural pleasure sensors essentially act like an atrophied muscle. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t run a day in your life. And you can’t expect the rockin’ hot sex they promised you would be the reward for your purity if you haven’t prepared for sensuality.

But for years, I did not understand this. I thought I was broken. I thought that unforgettable intercourse and true joy in my body was only for thinner, fitter, less emotionally timid women than I was.

In my heart of hearts, I even wondered if sexual satisfaction was only for the women who’d had their first orgasm at an age when I didn’t even know what sex was.

But the path to freedom can’t really unfold as long we are stuck in the lies. Thank God, He began to transform my heart, my mind and my experience with this critical topic.

Not only did I beat the “incurable” sexual dysfunction to find total freedom in pleasure, but I reclaimed my feminine essence along the way and healed a lifetime of wounding around traditional femininity and the feminine “receptive” role.

Now, I know my sensuality doesn’t have to be shut down. And it isn’t meant to be, either. Timidity, frigidity, body image issues, sexual frustration and/or low libido are not your birthright.

You also don’t have to wait until you finally say “I do” to try to figure out what turns you on.

Yes, I’m here to say it because I truly believe it:

You can be both totally pure in your pre-marriage lifestyle and also totally tuned in to your sensual essence as a woman … which is gonna make it a whole lot easier for you to let go, relax and have some bonafide fun in bed when God finally sends your Boaz.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you don’t resonate with a conservative church upbringing and its (often) unintended result of frigidity. Perhaps you have a different reason to struggle with your sexuality and sensuality. Maybe you experience a sexual trauma or were the victim of a sexual crime. Maybe one or both parents shamed your body from the day you were born. Maybe you just keep ending up with guys who make you feel like you’re not good enough.

Whatever your story, I’m here to say: it’s not too late.

You can fall in love with the body God gave you and totally enjoy the experience of having your body touched, loved and, yes … even penetrated … in a relaxed, struggle-free way.

The biggest key here is that the heart of great sex really has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse. It has everything to do with your ability to be present in the moment, feel pleasure deeply, and open yourself up to another human being. 

Let me say that again:

Your enjoyment of sex has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse.

It has everything to do with your ability to:

  • Be present in the moment,
  • Feel pleasure deeply, and
  • Open yourself up to another human being.

When I first began to understand this … and consequently to unpack what had actually happened in my life that had caused my deep struggles with sexuality … it was mind boggling.

I began to take the journey step by step. Looking for little ways to start experiencing pleasure in my everyday life, be present and stay open to what was happening around me.

And … my relationship with my sensuality changed, too.

It’s that simple.

But let’s face it: it’s also that difficult … because as modern Western women we are hardwired to check off lists and chase success. We know more about over-achieving than we do about having an amazing orgasm.

We tend to believe anxiety and depression are the status quo. So when we get into the bedroom and are asked to just have fun? Well, we have no actual skills for this strange, new request. Sex becomes a goal to be achieved, not an experience to be savored.

It’s time to change that, baby. Are you ready?

In the following tips, I’m not asking you to do anything kinky, weird or borderline sinful.

All I’m asking you to start taking time to enjoy who you are as a woman and what God has already put in your life … which, simple as it seems, will transform your current sex life (if you’re married) or the one you hope to have (if you’re not).

Because if you cannot stop to “just be” … allow yourself to relax into the moment and experience simple sensory pleasures right now, in your daily life … you won’t be able to access it in the bedroom, either.

You can cultivate a beautiful, feminine sensuality that will allow you to drop everything you’re doing and just “be” with your husband in a relaxed, loving way. When you cultivate this skill, you will totally open up to the deepest feelings of blessed married sex. The little things you do now to cultivate “being” will pay dividends later.

Here are 7 easy ways to cultivate your God-given feminine sensuality:

1) Start eating slowly so you actually savor your food.

Pleasure 101: You cannot fully experience and enjoy what is rushed through for the sake of getting done. If you’re currently married and sex feels like a chore—yes, I know you just want him to finish. But if you’re going to get serious about YOUR pleasure … you’re going to have to slow down.

Food, like sex, is a sensory experience, so it’s a great place to practice this slowness. But heck, it’s not just food. Start slowing down in general. Pause to really touch and enjoy fabrics that feel good. Pause to smell the scent of lilacs in your neighbor’s yard. Plant your two feet on the ground and sense all the yummy and wonderful things around you.

2) Meditate daily, even if only for five minutes.

I said that sexuality is a practice of presence. Meditation is the best way I know to practice being present in your daily life. No, you’re not going to stop all the racing thoughts on day one. But over time, even a very short daily meditation practice will help you build the skill of getting outside your own head long enough to be quiet.

Very often a problem with sexuality for women is that we can’t set aside all the “stuff” that’s happening in our lives in order to be present with the other person we’re there to enjoy. Meditation will help you build that skill so you can be present with your spouse in a joyous and loving way.

As many ancient texts have also noted, sexuality is also a form of meditation. But that’s another topic for another day … For now, if you’re interested, I recommend The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Dan Reid, a noted expert on Asian medicinal practices.

3) Keep a “pleasure journal.”

By now you might be saying, “Lisa, I’m not even sure what I love, or what makes me feel good. I’m so out of tune with my God-given pleasure sensors that I feel stuck even starting.” Okay, great; this is an awesome realization. Yes, I was there too. But the best way I know how to get past this big hump is to simply start trying stuff and noticing what works for you.

Try new kinds of coffee. Try on new styles of dresses. Go to a new restaurant. A new exercise class. Try a new dance. Each time you try something new, record how it made you feel and what you liked and didn’t like about it. Over time, you will begin to find the things that make you feel good, that you really like. Bonus: some of them, you might be able to bring into the bedroom.

4) Pamper your body with baths, self-massages & oil.

This is big, especially if you don’t like your body very much. You have to start acting as if you loved your body so that you eventually will actually feel that love. I promise, it works this way … and only this way. If you wait for the feelings of self-love to come first, in order to pamper yourself, it’s never gonna happen.

So why is this so critical for your sex life?

Your man will feel about your body exactly the way you train him to feel. (I’ve tried this principle out multiple times; it’s completely predictable.) If you want your man to love love love your body … exactly as it looks right now … don’t make the poor man constantly build up your self esteem. Loving yourself as God loves is your responsibility first. Commit to love love love your body first, and watch what a difference it makes in your relationship. When you remove that pressure from Mr. Right, you’ll be surprised what happens!

Whatever self-care or body nourishment routine works for you, do that. For myself personally, I find that loving, gentle body self-massage was an amazing tool. I have to put my hands on my own skin and touch it in a way that felt good. This was revolutionary at first for a girl raised like I was.

5) Shut door, crank up the music and MOVE.

Nothing puts in your feminine, sensual energy like dance. Yes, I was born with two left feet. Yes, for years I was desperately afraid for anybody to see me do anything like dance. But then I discovered I could shut my door at home, draw the blinds, get naked and put on music I loved. And WOW, did I ever discover I loved to dance!

Dancing got me moving my body in a way that felt good (Hello, that’s necessary for hot sex …) And coming from a background where dance was basically forbidden, dancing at home alone got me past the mental hurdle of being afraid to move my body. Now I’ll happily do it in public … and I still dance every day at home to help me stay in my best, most aligned emotional groove.

For extra credit, dance naked in front of a mirror. (Yes, I hear you Baptist girls out there cringing!) If I can do this, you can do this. And trust me, your husband will thank you later.

6) Take up yoga once or twice a week.

Yoga is hands-down one of the best ways I know to get in tune with your sensual energy. No, the goal here is not to get yourself twisted up like a pretzel or perform the most contorted sex position you possibly can. It’s to learn how to feel what’s actually going on in your body. And to put those feelings into words.

When I started yoga, I had NO idea how to answer the instructor’s question, “Does this pose feel good in your body?” Literally, it was a foreign language to me. In the churches I grew up in, the body was deliberately divorced from public conversation (other than for topics regarding sports and “acceptable” medical procedures). I had to learn a form of sensation and conversation I had not innately learned as a child.

Over time, taking yoga not only helped me build strength and confidence. It helped me actually feel more of what was going on in my body and have words to describe it. Which you are going to need, eventually, when a certain gentleman asks you what feels good … in bed.

7) Burn your to-do list and do something you love.

Really, if we’re being honest, our Superwoman culture in America (which is as prevalent in the church as outside) is very often at the heart of our struggles in the bedroom. Because, as I said earlier, you can’t treat sex like a to-do list. It’s a living, shifting, expanding experience with another human being. Yes, it is an experience. 

Most of the women I’ve counselled and coached for sexual challenges share one trait in common: they’re laser-focused on goals and achievement. Breaking yourself of your addiction to box-checking–and letting yourself drop into blissful flow–is one of the best ways I know to open yourself up to a less goal-driven interaction. Burn your to-do lists and try letting your intuition guide you to which tasks really need accomplishing, and eliminate which ones are just Superwoman Busywork.

Do things you love. Let yourself have pleasurable experiences more often, whether that’s a picnic at the park, a Friday night manicure or a day out with girlfriends. Eventually you’ll find that this newfound enjoyment of experience—surprisingly enough—follows you straight into the bedroom.

You’ll be able to go from stressed out to blissed out … you know, like the 0 to 60 in 6 seconds flat “WOW, BABY, CAN YOU DO THAT AGAIN????” kind of blissed out … and neither you nor your husband will be quite sure how it happened.

Okay, just kidding.

You’ll know exactly how it happened. And you’ll feel …. AMAZING. 😉

The Truth and the Lies of Sexual Dysfunction

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“I’m sorry, young lady. You have a serious sexual dysfunction. You’re going to have to see a therapist.”

I got this diagnosis when I was 25: a newly minted wife who had been a proper virgin up until a disappointing wedding night. Fresh off a confusing honeymoon, I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office where I got the painful news.

Vaginismus, to be exact. Something I’d never even heard of. The doctor barely had, either.

Thus began one of the worst experiences of my life: therapy visits.

To be fair to the sex therapist, she tried. She really did. But at that time, I was a shut-up, locked-up volume of emotional trauma I did not even know I had. She asked some of the right questions. Others, I realize looking back, were pitiably pointless.

Either way, this multi-award-winning doctor for women’s bodies knew very little about what it was like to grow up in a Christian home where sex had been an unmentionable as a four-letter word, and my body a source of shame. So when her usual methods didn’t work, she resorted to Kegel exercises—which I didn’t really understand at the time—and forced me to watch something I had never seen before: porn.

I’m not sure which was worse: the diagnosis I’d gotten, the scratchy voice on the kegel exercise tape, or the quality of the sex romps she forced me to view.

Some of you may be shaking your head that I could have been so sheltered, in my middle 20s. It was 2009, for crying out loud! I mean, who’s even a virgin at that age anymore? Let alone so terribly …. clueless … about her own body.

If you talked to women I talk to frequently, it might not be so surprising. Sharing my story has given other women courage to share theirs with me, and the same threads keep coming up over and over again:

  • Born and/or raised in an extremely conservative Christian church (or Jewish or Muslim community)
  • Raised to be “pure” and a virginal until marriage
  • Struggled mightily with sex after marriage
  • Typical symptoms include physical pain, emotional trauma and difficulty with penetration
  • Ability to sense physical pleasure from intimate acts is low or non-existent

Let’s face it, if you’re raised to withhold your sexuality from everyone (even yourself) for the first 25 years of your life, it’s not going to just flip “on” like a light switch on your wedding night. At least, not if you’re a woman from such a background—whose body needs to feel emotional safe, gently-treated and emotionally close in order to begin to open up.

In these conversations, I have heard comments from other women, like, “My first year of marriage was hell.” And “I had no idea what was going on. I just cried every night.” And “My husband wanted me to enjoy myself, but I just couldn’t relax.”

If you resonate with these statements because, too … I want you to know you are not alone.

I also want you to know that the quickest way out of this dark, scary place is to take the diagnosis you’ve been given and set it on a shelf. Act like it doesn’t exist. Let it collect some dust. Forget about it. 

At least for the next few minutes…

You see, getting a diagnosis from a medical doctor did one thing for me, and one thing only. It convinced me something was wrong with my body the way God had made it.

“Your PC muscles are unnaturally tight, and they associate pain with penetration,” was the way one healthcare provider put it to me, in the simplest possible terms. And it’s true … from a doctor’s perspective, my muscles were too tight to allow vaginal intercourse.

But here’s the thing:

Being told that this was the sum total of my problem didn’t fix things. It actually kept me from finding the real cure for eight more years. 

Thanks to believing that diagnosis, I failed that round of therapy. Failed it miserably. And then failed more tries at home. The doctors talked about surgically opening my vagina—but then decided that procedure would only worsen the problem.

I tried every year after to start that therapy again, but the fear always kept me from getting too far. My body only shut itself down further. It became a demoralising cycle of sadness and frustration and isolation.

My marriage dragged on for almost eight more years until it failed, too.

It wasn’t until I decided—as a single woman again, at age 33, on her own, with no therapist—to set aside the diagnosis that I finally stumbled upon the truth:

Yes, I had physical symptoms in my body. But my body was only reacting to what was going on in my emotions and my mind. And had been, for a very long time. (In my case, since birth … but that’s another story for another day.)

Think about it.

All my life, I’d been taught to withhold myself from anything sensual or sexual. I’d been taught to cover up my body, even from myself. No one had had me do mirror work with my vagina or explore my own anatomy so that I’d actually understand how Part A went into Part B. No one talked about sex or taught me how to tap into my feminine energy so I’d be ready for sex.

At home, church and school, the female body was a problem for the male gaze … and that translated into the fact that I as a woman felt like I was the problem. Intimacy was a forbidden fruit that was frequently talked about as a source of sin and sometimes celebrated as a wonderful part of marriage.

I had been taught that if I saved myself for marriage, I would naturally enjoy superior sexual experiences because of this choice. This teaching was fundamentally a lie. Did God want me to save my sexual expressions for marriage? Yes. But shutting myself off from loving, non-sexual touch before marriage, and abstaining from studying and understanding my essence as a woman , actually hindered my ability to bless my husband within it.

In the absence of balanced teaching and a healthy relationship with my God-given sexuality, the concept of “intimacy” had been my enemy from the time I was born. No wonder it and I could not make instant friends after my marriage.

I was taught strictly to obey and achieve, holding back my emotions and physical touch, not to feel and experience and let go, surrendering myself to the pleasure of another’s warm embrace even in an innocent, platonic way.

I was dressed up and paraded as a “good girl” who knew how to look the part. But get past that down to the messiness? Let anyone see me in sweatpants (let alone less than that)? Nope. Not happening.

Even the notion of “experiencing pleasure”–the capacity for which is critical to healthy sexual relations in marriage–was suspect. Pleasure in church was associated with sin, not with healthy, natural everyday activities. Subconsciously, the teachings of my church suggested that too much enjoyment of anything, even godly things, was probably a problem.

In fact, if you’d asked me what brought me real pleasure—innocent, everyday pleasures to savor such as “the scent of flowers on a spring breeze” or a “hot cup of tea by the fire”—I don’t actually think I could have told you. I was too busy dressing up and over-achieving. And being super sure my head, rather than, my body, did all my sensing for me.

All of this fed my natural self-loathing of my body which every American girl is tempted to every day of her life.

Did I mention that unconditional love for your body makes it a whole lot easier to receive someone else loving it back?

Over those next few months, after making these startling realizations at age 33, and divorced, I decided to try the therapy again.

But this time, I did it God’s way. I asked Him to demolish any theology of sexuality that did not reflect He actually said about me and my body as a woman, and about marriage and about pleasure. I prayed for guidance to the right tools. Then I bought the dilators and yoni eggs the long-ago therapist had recommended once for the physical practice. But I only moved forward with that while totally getting quiet, sitting down with God and actually facing my tremendous inbred fear of intimacy … and my hatred of my own body.

Once I began taking each brick off the emotional and mental walls I had built up against my Real Self, the wall (miraculously) started to come down. Not easily. Not quickly. But it did come down.

One realization led to another. Which led to another. Which led to … well, another.

I discovered that as a woman, who would normally be deeply in tune with her body by God’s natural design, I had no real innate ability to feel into my body or understand what it was trying to tell me. In fact, my body and I had been at odds with each other my entire life. Yet my husband, who as a man naturally lived more in his head, had been looking to me to help him relax deeply into bodily experiences.

I started to learn what it felt like to love my skin exactly as it was. To make friends with all the parts of myself that I had previously not even understood. I learned to get comfortable dancing naked in my room, with the door shut. I took a mirror and stuck it up you-know-where and gave myself an anatomy lesson. Or two. Or five.

Above all, I asked God to unlock the deepest parts of my womanhood that had been locked up in a prison since babyhood, with the key tossed who-knows-where.

He heard my cry. He always does. And praise Him, He faithfully and gently handed me the key.

When I started the dilator work again, this time, my thoughts about myself and my emotional pain were healing first. So the physical practice was a totally different experience.

The body that previously “needed surgery” yielded naturally. No, I didn’t finish the dilator therapy overnight. But dilator by dilator, I retrained those PC muscles not to feel the pain they used to feel. By myself. Naturally. At home. Until one day, I outgrew the dilators and had to buy a genuine dildo. And I felt no pain at all.

(Some other day I’ll tell you about what it’s like putting condoms on a cucumber when the dilators don’t fit anymore. But yeah, that’s a story for another day …)

More than that, I started to feel totally relaxed and comfortable with myself as I was. I had to shed all that body shame, and truly redirect my thoughts to see how God sees me, as a woman. I began to pamper myself, to enjoy feeling beautiful, to lean into practices like yoga and chakra work that helped me get comfortable with who I was and become smarter about “hearing” my body.

That made all the difference in the world.

Now, when I look back on the frightened girl in the doctor’s office, all those years ago, I wish I could tell her to take that diagnosis and toss it right out the window. I would have bypassed the “sex therapist” and never even entertained the discussion of surgery.

Because I believe now that when it comes to our sexuality as women, most of our body’s physical responses result from what’s happening in our hearts and minds.

By telling me I had a “physical condition”—without addressing the fears, sadness, misunderstandings of God’s design for sexuality, and self-hatred in my heart—my healthcare providers encouraged me to see the problem as being outside myself. Which also means I saw the solution as being outside too.

You want to cure for your problems with body love? You want to conquer your fear, reclaim your intimacy, save your marriage? Or ensure that your first experiences with sex in marriage really are the blessed path of discovery I was once promised they would be?

Listen to what the doctor says, yes. Consider the therapist’s advice. Get prayer and counseling at your church. But above all, go deeper.

Go straight to the source.

Ask God to show you—really, truly show you—how you’re feeling about yourself, your body and your sexuality.

Then be brave enough to sit with the answers He gives you. Also brave enough to share what you learn with another woman you trust. And further more, brave enough to do whatever it takes to break down those walls.

When you begin to know yourself in this way—hard as it can be—you can truly take your first step to healing. Because healing this “sexual dysfunction” (really, the physical manifestation of an emotional wound) is an inside-out job. Your body will only be a thermometer for what’s going on in your heart and mind.

Let God heal you within, and your body will be set free.

Have a story to share? Struggling with vaginismus or wondering why you can’t seem to relax in intimacy? I love mail! Send me a note, and I’ll respond: