1. I’m a widow(er) and I recently remarried. Do I need to break bonds with my deceased spouse?

When we create bonds God’s way, within marriage, they are positive, healthy bonds and will have no negative impact on a future relationship. However, if your spouse was abusive, or you had sex prior to marriage, then you need to break the bond, because it could have a negative impact on any current marriage. If you are not sure, pray and ask God if there’s a negative bond from your previous marriage that you need to sever and heal from. God knows best, and He’ll be sure to show you.

2. I’m divorced and remarried. Do I need to break the bond with my ex?

Divorce tears apart two people who’ve become one--emotionally, physically, and spiritually. That never happens without significant pain and wounding. Unlike the situation mentioned above, the bond with an ex needs to be broken because of the negative emotions associated with it that will impact your new marriage. Although you may not be able to physically remove this person from your life, especially if children are involved, it will be important to ask God to sever the “one flesh” bond you had with them so that you can completely bond with your present spouse.

3. How do I know if what I experienced is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse can take on many forms. We often think of sexual abuse in terms of intercourse. Although sexual abuse is often associated with sexual touching and intercourse, you can be abused without even being touched. Dr. Dan Allender, in The Wounded Heart: Hope For Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse says that sexual abuse is defined as “any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult when the child/adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person.” He goes on to explain that sexual abuse comes under two categories: sexual contact and sexual interactions. “Sexual contact involves any type of physical touch that is designed to arouse sexual desire—physical or psychological, in the victim and/or the perpetrator.” Physical touch can be forced or non-forced and progress from kissing to sexual touch of clothed or unclothed body parts, to genital stimulation and penetration.

Sexual interactions are harder to define and easier for the victim to minimize. Examples include:

  • Being exposed to sexually arousing stimuli by an older adolescent or adult
  • Sexual conversation that leaves a child feeling uncomfortable and violated
  • Having your body scrutinized by adults who violate your privacy when dressing or showering, and/or by using sexually explicit language to describe body parts.

More subtle forms of abuse are psychological in nature. An example is a care-giving adult who parades around the home naked, or involves a child as a surrogate or confidante in a sexually subtle way to the exclusion of the other spouse. Regardless of the kind or severity of sexual abuse, all forms are equally damaging.

An abuser can be anyone: a father, grandfather, brother, family friend or relative, babysitter, step-parent, pastor, a mother’s boyfriend. Although females are more often abused by males, they can also be abused by other females. The abuser can also be any age—even the same age as the victim. If you’re still wondering if you’ve been abused, ask God to reveal any memory or situation where you felt sexually uncomfortable, awkward, or violated. Don’t be afraid if something comes to mind, and don’t try to minimize it or deny it happened. Trust that God has revealed it so you can find healing and be free from the damaging wounds of this abuse. Share your abuse with your husband, a Christian counselor, pastor, or trusted friend, and let God begin the journey of setting you free.

4. Even though I’ve gone through healing and want to improve our sex life, my husband seems to have lost interest in me sexually. Is there anything I can do?

Although your husband may appear to have lost interest in you, in reality he may be hesitant to pursue you sexually because you’ve made a habit of avoiding or rejecting his intimate advances in the past. A man’s sense of manhood, his self-worth, is closely tied with his sexuality. When we desire our husband, respond to his touch, it makes him feel loved and gives him strength. It gives him the courage to rise up on our behalf, to be our knight who loves and protects us. But each rejection, like a knife, pierces his confidence and self-worth, until he’s too wounded to keep pursuing.

This was true for Stacey’s husband, even though her attitude toward sex and her husband were changing. She was open to sex, hoping, waiting for him to pursue her because although she was ready, she was still afraid. She needed her husband to help her through this, to make it safe for her. But he was afraid too. Her previous rejections had left a wound that time had yet to heal. And so he waited, for her to come to him. But the pressure to pursue paralyzed Stacey. Sex was still a fragile thing for her. Being responsive would prove challenging enough, having to pursue was beyond her reach.

Maybe this is your story, and now you and your husband are more like roommates than soulmates. Pray and ask God to show you the wounds you’ve caused your husband by rejecting him for so long. Then, ask your husband how it feels when you say no to sex, over and over. Maybe his anger, indifference, or absence is more about feeling unloved than just being in a bad mood. Or maybe that’s what’s behind his being overly critical, demanding, and unkind. I’m not saying that these behaviors are acceptable. I just know that when I don’t feel loved or appreciated I can become like this.

Knowing the health of Stacey’s marriage, and the support her husband gave her in this healing journey, I suggested that they reverse the roles. I recommended that she give her husband permission to pursue her sexually, with the promise that she would respond willingly and not reject him. And I suggested a reasonable goal of two times a week. Stacey was relieved at this arrangement, and her husband agreed. When I asked her recently how things were going, she said much better, though they have more work to do. Healing wounds, restoring intimacy, and reversing old patterns takes time.

You may want to tell your husband something similar if he has stopped pursuing you. With one caution. I hesitate to suggest this if your husband would use it to his advantage rather than as an opportunity to help you heal. Keep in mind that there are other reasons that your husband may have lost interest in you sexually, including:

  • If he’s had sexual abuse in his past
  • If his levels of testosterone are low
  • If he’s being unfaithful
  • If he’s addicted to pornography

Pray that God will give you insight into the reason. Ask your husband about what is impacting his desire for sex with you. If you discern his lack of desire is due to your previous rejections, talk together and set a maximum number of times a week that would be comfortable for you, with the understanding that anything beyond that you have permission to refuse. Knowing up front will minimize his feelings of rejection. It’s a win-win. The pressure for both is gone; he’s happier; you’re gradually healing, and the sex is bonding you closer and closer. Before long you may forget about your limit altogether.

5. My spouse reconnected with a high school sweetheart during their high school reunion. Now they’re emailing all the time. Is this something I should worry about?

Absolutely. If a couple’s bond is not what it should be because of past bonds, a spouse with an invisible bond will be easily tempted to fantasize about a past relationship, or to become involved in emotional or physical affairs. Spouses who gravitate to someone in their past are often having struggles in their marriage.

Your spouse needs to break this bond with the high school sweetheart. It has prevented them from forming an emotional attachment to you, and is why they are easily drawn to the past. They may not realize that this attachment to the past has to do with the bond they created. But there is hope. If he/she is willing to seek healing and to break the bonds to the past, you will be able to re-bond in your marriage with the complete oneness God intended.

6. If self-stimulation is in my past, have I created a bond that needs to be broken?

It depends on whether you used mental or visual images during self-stimulation. If mental or visual images were involved, you may have trained your brain to be aroused by certain stimuli, in which case you may be struggling to enjoy sex in its absence. If this is your situation, it would explain why even though you’re having sex with your spouse, you may need to conjure up those past mental images to get aroused. It may also explain why although you’re happily married, you’re still struggling with self-stimulation. In addition to asking God to sever this bond, you’ll need to take steps to retrain your brain’s arousal trigger.

Here are several steps to consider:

  • Confess your struggle with your spouse
  • Get professional counseling
  • Practice taking “every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
  • Join a Celebrate Recovery group at your church that offers support for addictions to sex or pornography
  • Pray before and during sex with your spouse that God will protect your thoughts and keep them pure
  • Guard your eyes, ears, and mind from sexually explicit material
7. My husband has a bad temper, and he often lashes out at me. Sometimes he says horrible things to me. He always apologizes afterwards, but it makes it hard for me to trust him or want to have sex with him. What can I do?

A person’s anger or pain never excuses verbally abusive behavior. Verbal attacks, rage, and belittling are never okay in a marriage relationship. If your husband is verbally or emotionally abusive to you, consider seeking professional help. A professional counselor can help you learn how to respond to his attacks in an emotionally healthy way. If your husband is willing to go with you, a counselor can help him process the root of his anger and learn how to express it in healthy and appropriate ways. If you’re unsure that what you’re experiencing is abuse, talk with someone you trust, or a Christian counselor, for guidance.

However, if your husband is physically abusing you or your children, your first responsibility is to protect yourself and your children. It’s crucial for all concerned that you remove yourself and your kids from a physically abusive relationship. With counseling, your husband has the hope of change, but it won’t happen as long as you continue to stay and bear the abuse in silence. Nor will your relationship heal. As long as you are in an abusive situation, you’ll never feel safe enough to risk emotional intimacy. Nor will you heal.

I understand if you’re scared. Leaving the security of a marriage is never easy. Planning how you’ll raise and support your family can seem like an ominous task. But you’re not alone. God has a special place in His heart for the fatherless, and the widow, or the wife who’s husband does not honor his commitment to love and protect her. He is the true source of your provision and protection, not your husband. As you leave to protect yourself and your children, God goes with you, and promises to never leave you. He will guide you to safety. He will provide for all your needs, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. He will love you completely, unconditionally, like no man ever can. You can trust Him, I promise.

8. I have a history of emotional and physical affairs. If I break the bonds I’ve created does that mean I won’t be tempted again in the future? If not, what can I do to guard my heart and my marriage?

Breaking past bonds and healing wounds allows you to restore emotional and physical intimacy with your spouse, leaving you less vulnerable to attachments to others. As you continue to draw closer to your spouse, you will most likely find that you no longer struggle with the need for attention from others. However, if this has been your weakness in the past, it can be again in the future if you allow your emotional relationship with your spouse to suffer. Read the suggestions offered in Chapter Twelve of Kiss Me Again about how to keep your relationship strong and your healing moving forward.

9. I’m having a hard time dealing with and forgiving my spouse’s or significant other’s sexual past. What can I do?

This is a great question and one I get often. To read my answer, please click on the link to an article I wrote about this.

10. I am struggling because of my sexual past. What can I do?

First I suggest that you take the questionnaire on my website called, Do I Need Healing?, to see if any of the things mentioned there apply to you. If so, then I suggest you begin your healing journey by getting one of my books, either The Invisible Bond or Kiss Me Again if you’re married. Many of your questions will be addressed in one of these books. If after reading them you sense that God is leading you to deeper healing, I suggest you get one of the appropriate study guides called Free to continue your journey. They are available in women’s, men’s and young women’s versions. If you’ve had sexual abuse as a child or any sexual trauma at any age, I encourage you to enlist the support of a professional counselor as you go through the study.