Author of Finding the Hero in Your Husband
Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker and broadcast media professional with over twenty-five years of experience counseling, and teaching women. She’s the president and co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, a unique ministry devoted to teaching God’s design for intimacy and sexuality.
In 2020, Juli launched SexualDiscipleship.com, a platform designed to help Christian leaders navigate sexual issues and questions with gospel-centered truth. She hosts a weekly podcast, Java with Juli, where she answers tough questions about relationships, marriage, and spiritual, emotional and sexual intimacy.
Covenant Spotlight was blessed to have Dr. Slattery answer a few questions about this important marital topic and the rerelease of her bestselling book.
CSpotlight: As Christians, we are told to “be fruitful and multiply,” yet the bedroom is an area of conflict for many couples—what are those barriers?
Dr. Slattery: Almost every couple will experience barriers to sexual intimacy. Some of the most common barriers include the impact of past sexual trauma, wrong expectations about normal sex, inability to communicate about vulnerable topics, physical limitations and shame associated with sexual desire. Unfortunately, many of us have learned about sex through either pornography or negative messaging about sex from religious or family sources. Because of this, most couples need some help rethinking what healthy sexuality looks like.
It’s very difficult to address barriers in the bedroom if you have the wrong understanding of what you are actually working toward as a couple. To make matters even more difficult, most people don’t know how to communicate honestly about sex within marriage. It’s easier for them to have sex than to talk about sex.
CSpotlight: With the rise of porn use and human trafficking, how can we protect our marriages?
Dr. Slattery: Porn use and human trafficking of just two of the most obvious threats to healthy sexuality. We need to understand that there are other more subtle problems that plague couples. Take for example, how a couple navigates a mismatch in how often they want sex. Even while navigating this very common experience in marriage, two people can do incredible damage in how they communicate or treat one another.
One of the greatest challenges to sexual intimacy is perhaps the most subtle. Couples confuse sexual activity for sexual intimacy. In other words, their problem solving is all around how often to have sex. They identify problems like “I’m not attracted to my spouse” or “we don’t know how to enjoy sex.” The deeper issue under these complaints involve the fact that couples don’t have a compelling vision for what they are actually supposed to be working toward. Because they don’t understand why sex and intimacy are so difficult, they just give up.
Beyond “protecting” our marriages, we need God’s help in reclaiming the territory of sexuality within our hearts and marriages. Over years of ministry, I’ve learned that we all have sexual brokenness we bring to the bedroom. I think we need to move beyond a protective or defensive mindset and begin asking God, “What would it actually look like for us to be moving toward wholeness and health in our sexual relationship.”
CSpotlight: What insight does your book rewrite give into these marital challenges?
Dr. Slattery: This book is all about the process of building intimacy, emotionally and sexually. Intimacy doesn’t happen by following a few simple steps, but through the ongoing determination to work through the things that cause us to experience marriage as unsafe. We all come to marriage hoping for intimacy but sabotaging it at the same time. When women read this book, they will be challenged to be honest about the ways they unintentionally destroy the intimacy they most long for.