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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Why Don’t I Have More Sexual Desire?

posted by Linda Mintle

neck painSally looked down and a bit anxious. “I don’t know what is wrong with me. I’m just not that interested in sex with my husband these days. I feel exhausted with three small kids, I’m working part-time and have been on an antidepressant. Any thoughts?”

One of the top sexual concerns for women has to with desire and interest. We wonder, are we normal? Why don’t we feel and act like the women in the movies and on television? For starters, media is heavily sexual laden to peak your interest and get you to watch. It rarely depicts reality–those are called documentaries!!!

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First, there are a number of physical causes to low sexual desire. Everything from diabetes to heart disease impacts desire. Smoking and substance use (alcohol) can affect desire as well. So the first step is to have a physical and make sure there is no medical cause at the root. That said, the biological and psychological are intertwined when we are talking about female sexuality.

Along with medical conditions, consider the medications you may be taking. Many have side effects of low desire. Certain antidepressants and benzodiazepines (anxiety) are associated with sexual dysfunction, so check with your doctor. Sally is on an antidepressant and when it was checked, it was one that does negatively affect sexual desire.

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Second, is there a psychiatric link to low desire–are you depressed, have concerns about sexual performance, struggling with guilt, dealing with the effects of past trauma or have attitudes towards sex that might affect desire? This is an important list because about one-third of women who present for sexual dysfunction are clinically depressed and anxious. And past traumas that are untreated also make up a bulk of women who struggle. This means you may need to treat the psychiatric cause for things to get better.

Third, examine your relationship. The relationship itself is a determiner of satisfaction  and desire. So how are you doing as a couple? Emotional well-being is important for you to feel desire. If you are angry, upset, worried, etc. in this relationship, it will translate to the bedroom. Work out your couple issues and sex usually improves.

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Finally, other life issues like negative self-image, chronic stress and distractions, heavy work load, having a baby, etc, play a role in how much desire you have on any given day. Certainly fatigue and stress are the top 2 on my list.

So as you think about what might be the cause of low desire, look through this list and decide if working with a doctor or therapist might help. Making a few lifestyle changes like getting rest, limiting your workload, taking time to relax, improving your relationship also help to boost desire.

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Telling Young Children You Are Separating

posted by Linda Mintle

marital separation2My husband and I are separating and we have two grade-school age children, grades one and three. How do we tell them what is going to happen? Both of us agree we should probably do it together but don’t know what to say.

I am sorry to hear that you are separating and hope you will go to counseling and still try to work things out. There is always hope for even the most difficult marriages when two people are willing to repent, forgive, resolve their issues and move forward.

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Breaking bad news to children is never easy and is sad for adults who feel they have to split their families. Children need the influence of both their mothers and fathers in their lives. So you are right to make the announcement together.

A few guidelines are important no matter the age of the children:

1) Don’t use this opportunity to blame and stay civil. Present this as a mutual decision.

2) Don’t give too many details but don’t lie. Kids ask questions but you can answer in general terms.

3) Focus on facts and reinforce that this is not their fault. While it is tough for kids not to take the blame, keep reminding them it is not their fault.

4) Reassure them you will not stop loving them and they will see both parents. Make sure this happens!

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5) Discuss immediate plans for the future, especially upcoming changes.

Now, in terms of their ages, here is what is important for early grade schoolers. They can understand some issues of relationships because of their relationships with friends, but they won’t understand why you can’t work it out. With friends,  you tell them to work it out when they fight! So this will be confusing. They are losing having both of you in the home and that will either frighten them, make them mad, or both. Encourage them to talk, and listen to their specific concerns. Focus on what will NOT change as well as the changes. Use the word “separate” because that is reality and ask if they would like you to talk to their teachers as well. In terms of the timing of telling them, you will need to give them enough time to plan for the changes, but not too much to agonize over what is coming. So choose the timing wisely. And during this time, get help and try to work things out. I advise working with a counselor to help the children with their adjustment issues. Unfortunately, it is bid loss and disruption to their lives.

 

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Should I Be Taking an Antidepressant?

posted by Linda Mintle

fearOften, I get asked if taking an antidepressant for depression is wrong for a person of faith. We need to be careful to judge people as to why they take medication. Depression can be a secondary effect of a disease like cancer, heart disease and other syndromes and disorders. When depression is medically induced, it often takes a medical solution to correct the biological changes. Also depression can be a side effect of certain medications as well. And there are people more genetically prone to depression. This doesn’t mean depression is automatic, but it may mean that as life circumstances pile up, depression can result.

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Antidepressants can be useful for depression treatment. In my opinion, their use should be determined by the cause of the depression and the response of other approaches. So for example, people with bipolar medications need to be on a mood stabilizer. This type of depression is treated with medication. Other types of what we call unipolar depression, like major depressive disorders, persistent depression, etc. need to look at the root of the depression and what it takes to keep a person safe and functioning. If medication is a part of that plan, I have no issue with using it.

The choice isn’t medication or faith. Both can be at work. As Christians however, we believe that God is our ultimate healer. We pray and believe for healing. Taking an antidepressant is not a lack of faith anymore than taking insulin is a lack of faith for the healing of diabetes. Does a Christian diabetic pray to be healed? Yes. But until he sees evidence of the healing, he doesn’t throw away the insulin.

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Medication sometimes improves mood enough for people to revitalize their spiritual lives. Antidepressants don’t replace spirituality. We are not dependent on anything but God. Medications are simply agents to get you functioning again. And medications are not cures so we still must work on the causes of clinical depression.

An important step in your healing is to build your faith through the Word of God. The more you fill yourself with the Word, the more you can stand in faith for healing. Speak the Word of God over the depression. Claim His promise for a sound mind and peace. Stand on the Word no matter how you feel and you see improvement because so much of depression treatment is renewing the mind. If you find you need medication along the way, you haven’t let God down. Use what you need.

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Be willing to explore all aspects of the depression. For example, explore if you are holding on to anger and hurt, are you  getting sleep or running yourself  in the ground, do you think negatively about most situations, do you need to change your behavior and thinking? Lifestyle changes and talk therapy are powerful in terms of depression treatment.

Medications should not be used to avoid parts of life in need of change. But they are an aid that is sometimes necessary given the multiple causes of depression.

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Does My Child Need Speech Help?

posted by Linda Mintle

child sleepingMy four-year-old mispronounces a number of words. I think it is really cute. My friend, however, is telling me he may have a speech problem and that I should ask the pediatrician about this. His K-4 teacher also mentioned this. Should I be concerned about his speech at this age?

Here is what my former colleagues at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia say about normal speech development. Keep in mind that all children are different. These are general guidelines:

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Age 2-3: Child knows spatial concepts like “in” and “on”; pronouns such as “you’ and “me”; and descriptive words such as, “big” and “happy.”

Age 3: Child should be able to produce individual sounds or m, p, h. w and all of the vowels. These should be understandable about 90% of the time.

Age 3-4: Child uses most speech sounds but can distort some of the more difficult ones like l, r, s, sh, ch, y, v, z and th—some of those may take up to age 7 and 8 to be clear.

Age 4-5: Speech should be understandable even if she mispronounces long and difficult words like “hippopotamus.”

Age 5: Most children will have a depth of vocabulary, understand time sequences, follow a series of three directions, and carry on conversations. If you notice your child stutters after age 5, you may want to consult your physician.

If you read through this and feel your child may not be where she needs to be, there is no harm having her evaluated. Public schools do screen for speech and language problems beginning at age three. You may want to call your local school district and set up an appointment. Or check with a speech pathologist.

 

 

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Why Don't I Have More Sexual Desire?
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