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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I explained in my last post how shame damages the intimacy in your marriage. It can hurt your sex life, inhibit your ability to receive love, reduce the emotional connection between you and your spouse and more.

Shame causes you to hide yourself, to cover over what you feel are your deficiencies, or to pretend you are something you are not. Shame produces a deep sense of unworthiness. And because true intimacy requires you be vulnerable and expose your genuine self, it cannot exist when you are living in shame.

Shame Solution #1 – The Love of Jesus

Dealing with the shame in your life starts with recognition that you have come to believe a lie about your identity. The voices of accusation scream at you that you can’t let people see who you are, because if they do, they surely will not love you.

I believe strongly that the number one way to overcome the shame that is blocking intimacy in your marriage is a revelation of the love of God for you. What I’m talking about goes way beyond a vague “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” kind of understanding.

I’m talking about a personal and powerful revelation of just how deeply and passionately Jesus loves you. When you genuinely encounter the love and grace of Jesus, shame melts away.

The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 3, explains that our journey into discovering “the length, height, width and depth” of the love of Christ is the key to a life of fullness. I agree! Spend your life getting to know this unknowable love. Never stop pursuing it. Get to know His voice and hear how he feels about you, just as you are. It will completely rock your world.

Shame Solution #2 – The Love of Your Spouse

If shame and intimacy cannot coexist, then it makes sense that intimacy makes a terrific antidote for shame.

And since intimacy is “being fully known and yet completely loved,” then it starts with getting real with your spouse, especially in the areas where shame exists. Getting back to being “naked without shame,” like it was in the beginning, starts with getting naked. By that I mean being willing to be vulnerable and transparent with your spouse about your perceived weaknesses and failings.

Yeah, that kind of transparency is scary business, but it’s completely necessary if you want intimacy. Fake intimacy is an oxymoron – it doesn’t exist.

Sure, I hear your fears, “What if I show my real self and my spouse doesn’t respond with grace and love?” First of all, assuming your spouse loves you and has your best interest at heart, chances are good that they will respond by helping you see that your shame is unfounded. They probably see you more clearly than you see yourself.  That’s part of being one-flesh. 

Embracing and accepting the love of your spouse can go along way toward dispelling shame. But you have to be willing to let them love you and hear what they have to say.
  • When your husband tells you that you are beautiful, don’t deflect his compliment with a list of the physical flaws you see in yourself. Instead thank him, believe him and kiss him.
  • When your wife thanks you for working so hard to take care of the family, even in the face of the shame you feel over the extra hours you’ve had to work, accept her gracious and understanding attitude.
  • When your spouse tells you how much they enjoy and need a sexual connection with you, believe them and let down your sexual guard. Push past your shame and fear and realize that sex is the glue that holds your marriage together.
  • When you really screw up and confess your mess to your spouse, receive their forgiveness fully and permanently. Don’t let residual shame allow you to stay stuck in the past and continue to block intimacy in your marriage.
And what if your spouse doesn’t give you the love and grace that is needed to get you past your shame? I point you back to solution #1. Regardless of what your spouse says, your identity has to come first and foremost from who God says you are.

Do you have a shame solution beyond the two I’ve shared here? Have you overcome shame in your marriage using one of these two solutions? It’s OK with me if you want to get naked here in the comments. This is a shame-free zone!


Unknown said...

I appreciate this Shame series very much! It's a hindrance that isn't always thought of, at least I didn't. I especially like your practical tools. Your writing hits home with me and I'm sure with others!

Anonymous said...

I know that for so long I believed I was unlovable, unworthy of love. I believed that I was really capable of being successful. When God revealed those lies, showing me how deeply He loves and accepts me, I was transformed. I was able to be confident in His love for me and it catapulted me into my true destiny. So thankful for how deep, wide and long the love of God is for me. Honey, keep up writing the Truth that sets people free, love, Jenni (Means)

Scott said...

Thanks Pearl - shame is truly a stealth intimacy killer. People stay trapped in shame when they aren't aware they are living with it.

Thanks, my love, for your comment. Revelation of the Father's love is truly the best antidote to shame. So freeing.

tori said...

For years I lived with shame of past abuse, and the
consequences of things I did to cope with that abuse. Then I accepted Christ, cleaned up my side of the street, and moved away from the shame. My problem is what to do with a spouse who is ashamed of you and your past. I did not hide any of it from him before our marriage. His attitude was just "I don't want to know the particulars". Since then, any time something about my past comes up he is angry. It affects our whole marriage. Years after we married he still accuses me of possibly running off with his money or cheating on him even though I have changed my behavior in every way. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Scott said...

Tori - there is no excuse for a spouse that is uses shame against the other spouse. His reaction of anger and suspicion tells me that he does not understand how important grace is in the context of marriage. Nor does he understand the nature of Christ's redemption. Is he a believer as well? This issue needs to be addressed by a strong male Christian whom your husband trusts.

tori said...

He is a believer. He got saved 7 years ago, but we have had to battle an LDS background. Our last church was truly God inspired as we both learned so much about what God has to say in the Bible. My husband's beliefs really started to change, and he got some conviction about the differences in the 2 religions. He also has had a past that is less than God's design and it still causes him shame as well. We discussed this article. He thought it was good, but I will keep praying that he comes to a place where he can leave the shame behind. Thanks for your input.

Scott said...

Tori - keep praying, keep talking it through, keep believing God for breakthrough. It's really important to get past this! God bless you and your husband as you seek him together.

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