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“No More Headaches” Book Review (Part 2 of 3)

March 2, 2010

This is the second of three blogs I’ve written reviewing Dr. Juli Slattery’s book “No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage.”  I went to the Christian bookstore looking for a book speaking to a struggle I’ve faced all my marriage – difficulty enjoying physical intimacy.  “No More Headaches” seemed to be exactly what I needed – and it did not disappoint. I’m beginning today with Chapter Four.

Chapter Four: Is Sexy Mom an Oxymoron?

This is a clever and funny chapter that gives a great snapshot of different stages of parenting and common struggles many couples face during each of the stages. For example, in the teen years of parenting or Stage 5: The Twilight Stage, Slattery describes this stage as one where  “our kids are more interested in sex than we are.” 

In this chapter, Slattery makes a great point – if you think you can just wait until life gets a little less hectic to make sexual intimacy a priority, it will never happen.  Slattery also offers several practical tips for keeping intimacy a priority in the midst of every stage of our hectic lives. 

Chapter Five: A Different Kind of Headache

It’s no big secret that men and women are very different, and those differences can lead to many arguments and headaches in marriage.  Sometimes this is most apparent in the bedroom.  Slattery goes over several of these “differences” and how we often misinterpret them because of our lack of understanding of where our spouse is coming from.  She suggests that we work on communicating more with our spouses to understand them better. 

Another important point Slattery makes in this chapter is that just because we can’t understand something about our husbands, that doesn’t make them wrong and us right.  As an example, she points out the very real struggle women have with PMS.  A man may not understand or relate to this problem, but it doesn’t make it any less real or serious.

“As women, we don’t know what it feels like to have testosterone coursing through out bodies.  We don’t understand how walking past a Victoria’s Secret store may trigger a tremendous moral battle for a man.  We can’t identify with the shame of frequent, intrusive sexual thoughts.  We don’t know the humiliation of not being able to perform sexually…Be careful not to invalidate his feelings or needs simply because you can’t relate to them.” 

Chapter Six: What is This Creature Called Man?

Slattery delves further into this idea of differences between men and women, by focusing on male and female sexuality.  Slattery does a great job helping wives understand how men experience sex as a genuine physical but also emotional, spiritual and relational need.  Under the physical needs section, she makes a genius comparison to nursing that really made sense to me.  Mothers who have nursed can relate to the discomfort and pain that comes with being “full” and needing to nurse or express.  We also can relate to leaks and milk production keeping up with demand.  In the same way, Slattery explains the buildup of sperm in the testicles results in a “full” feeling.  And when that sperm is released, the body produces more.

Also in this chapter, Slattery challenges wives to recognize their husband’s sex drive as a good gift from God that was meant to be enjoyed.  God created us in such a way that we are obviously intended to enjoy physical intimacy. As wives, we share a very unique relationship with our husband that nobody else is entitled to experience.  Slattery suggests we own that role and take full advantage of it.

Chapter Seven: Try the Oysters Dear

In about 20% of marriages, it is the wife who has a higher sex drive than her husband.  In addition, there are seasons in marriages in which the husband is unable to enjoy or less interested in sex.  This chapter talks about how difficult this is for both wives and husbands, some possible reasons and what can be done to pursue healthy intimacy. 

This chapter also addresses the common scenario of a husband whose pornography use has sabotaged marital intimacy.  Slattery talks about why pornography use is so damaging, a topic that she returns to in depth in Chapter 10.

This chapter also includes my favorite concept in the entire book: put sex in the appropriate place.  “While a primary message in this book is that you can underestimate the importance of sex in your marriage, be aware that you can also overestimate its importance…To put sex back into the appropriate context, you need to remember that it’s simply one expression of how you relate to your husband.” 

Wow!  In my marriage, the underlying problem was that Jeff and I both took marital sexuality out of the context in which God had given it.  For Jeff, he overestimated its importance and it mastered him.  For me, I underestimated its value and turned my back to my husbands needs and the Lords instruction.  Our goal now is to understand the proper role of intimacy in our marriage.  The Lord is helping us undo years of unhealthy intimacy and replacing it with His original (and wonderful) purpose and design.

Next Tuesday – Marsha finishes up her review of “No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex and Intimacy in Marriage” by Dr. Juli Slattery.

No More Headaches:  Chapters 1-3
No More Headaches: Chapters 4-7
No More Headaches:  Chapters 8-10

Dr. Slattery speaks at a women’s conference about “No More Headaches.”  Click here.

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