NOTHING EXTRAORDINARY ABOUT US!
There’s nothing extraordinary about us!
We’re needy, curious, and creative…each in our own way. Married 35+ years, we’re still figuring life out, living with consequences, and working to free ourselves from unhealthy patterns. But our story is what it is. And it’s worth telling, even if YOU are the only one interested!
Greg’s family was strongly Catholic, but until he put his faith in Jesus, religion established structures important to his family’s identity. Life choices were a matter of personal preference and hidden, if necessary, to avoid his parents’ disapproval. When we met at Northern Illinois University, Greg was a new believer. Refusing to date, Greg chose to honour God by honouring women. Setting this boundary and trusting Jesus to be enough, he says his faith freed him of sexual patterns that had become his way of life.
Raised in a conservative Christian home, Carlene was not yet bound by sexual practices. However, her religious ideas about sex and sexuality were unhealthy and devastating to her dreams of a healthy marriage. Thinking her religion was “right,” based on “truth,” Carlene was out of touch with both sexual experience and Godly truth. Her pious standards made God seem irrelevant, and her self-righteousness was un-Christlike. Carlene was firmly grounded in a religiosity that destroys healthy relationships and healthy sex.
From vastly different perspectives, Carlene and Greg met at a campus Christian group, Inter-Varsity. Desiring to make our faith our own, we were both committed to following Jesus and honouring God. We wanted our relationship with Jesus to be more meaningful than a label or religious identity. If Jesus’ lived relevantly and attractive to the masses. If His Spirit is alive in us. It should be possible for our faith to be equally relevant and, at the least interesting rather than offensive and irrational.
Our friends spent significant time together. Even before dating, we shared considerable trust by interacting through this group. Dating, physical intimacy threatened the understanding we desired and the honour we were committed to preserving. Greg advised Carlene to break up because she was “innocent” compared to him. Carlene believed God had forgiven him and that she would too.
While Greg set certain boundaries on our physical relationship, when simple handholding wasn’t enough, Carlene pushed for something more. Never intending to “go all the way,” Carlene is quick to say, “I never fought for my virginity: Greg did.” Many times, evenings ended in frustration, tears, and confusion. What Greg bore alone was so immense he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, speak. During those times, Carlene could see in his eyes: a battle raged. Hunger, longing, and need were ever-present yet paralyzing because Greg was committed to loving God by honouring Carlene.
BELIEVING THAT HE WAS THE PROBLEM
…and his struggle unique, Greg felt overwhelming shame. The shame, and his determination to protect Carlene, silenced and isolated Greg in his struggle. “I never doubted Greg’s love, even years later when I felt unloved,” says Carlene. “I saw the battle and felt the severity of his emotions. I knew his love was real.” During those days of intense striving, Carlene naïvely thought, “It will be good when we’re married so Greg can be free of whatever this is.”
But that’s not how God works. Marriage alone does not free a person from sexual bondage. Instead, from day one of married life, Carlene was drawn into Greg’s bondage through physical intimacy. Greg’s sexual expectations were based on past experiences that Carlene couldn’t enjoy. Physically united, Carlene began to live Greg’s sexual story. And for a time, he reaped the benefits of hers. Both naïve; in a broken world, the abuse was unknowing and unacknowledged. Greg, oblivious to the hurt Carlene harboured, and Carlene, confused by their unfolding sexual story, resulted in religious submission and demoralizing sex. Not rejecting her faith, married life filled Carlene with questions. God’s way no longer made sense.
Carlene found herself developing a theory regarding her sexual appetite. Recurring thoughts went like this: “Some like peas, and some like carrots: BUT I DON’T!” Carlene tried cajoling and then confronting, exhausting and finally avoiding Greg. All the while, she wondered in shame,
“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME?!”
Knowing how important sex was to Greg and ashamed that she couldn’t simply “join the fun,” Carlene kept her distaste a secret. Begging God to show her what was required to “fit into the Greg Seghers’ equation,” Carlene’s sexual advances were a façade. Our life was dominated by an unhealthy pattern without answers to her many questions. Carlene avoided sex for as long as she could until Greg’s level of frustration reached a peak that could no longer be ignored. Recognizing what needed to be done to re-establish the veneer of peace in our home, Carlene would relent, and the cycle began again.
Five years down the road, Carlene suddenly realized that with every sexual encounter, her emotions were seared, and her spirit dying. On this day, God spoke. Not in words, she could hear, but in truth, she could not deny:
“It’s not the sex that is killing you, it’s the dishonesty.”
When Greg arrived home that evening, Carlene was compelled to be honest without any expectation of change. “I need to tell you something, and I just need you to listen. I love our kids, and I’m committed to our marriage. But I think I would have been better off had I stayed single and pursued my career as a therapist. I hate sex. I’ll do what I need to as your wife, but I don’t like it, and I can’t pretend anymore.”
And so began our journey to heal. For the first time, Greg asked earnest questions that Carlene often couldn’t answer. “What DO you need?” “What I am I doing wrong?” “Why do you feel this way?” Other times his questions were directed toward God: “How can I love my wife as Christ loves the church?” “Is it possible to die to my drive to meet her needs first?”
Refusing to settle for vague responses, Greg was determined to hear Carlene’s heart to understand the problem. As we began to establish new levels of vulnerability and communication patterns, sometimes our efforts at physical intimacy were successful. Sometimes, once again, our evenings ended in frustration and tears. Carlene can now say, “life had become a dark and lonely tunnel. Though initially, very little changed. Somehow, with the genuine questions and the vulnerability required to hear one another, a glimmer sparked at the end of our very dark road. I didn’t know what it meant, but I had hope that slowly grew; we were headed toward something better.”
We continue to discover how each of us is PASSIONATE IN HIS IMAGE. There is no shame. Because
Our healing journey led to a sacred celebration we both value & enjoy!
In our marriage, God brought together a conservatively religious good-girl and an anything-for-a-good-time Catholic boy. Our relationship survived because God intervened with truths that guided us through the legalism and addictive patterns of our pasts. The change He created is significant and doesn’t fade. We hope you’ll join us and journey together to redeem sexual love.