…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 the telling, even if YOU are the only one interested!
Greg’s family was strongly Catholic, but until he put his faith in Jesus, religion mainly was a category of belief that established structures important to his family’s identity. Mainly, 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 when we met. At that time, Greg refused to date, choosing 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 for a healthy marriage. Thinking her religion was “right,” based on “truth,” Carlene was out of touch both experientially and spiritually. Pious standards made God seem irrelevant, and if we’re honest, her self-righteous was totally unChristlike. Carlene was firmly grounded in religiosity that destroys healthy relationships and healthy sex.
Coming from vastly different perspectives, Carlene and Greg met at an interdenominational organization: Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Both wanting to make our faith our own, we were committed to following Jesus and honouring God. But we also wanted our relationship with Him to be more meaningful than just a religious identity or label. If Jesus’ really lived relevantly and attractive to the masses, we believed that it should be possible for our faith to be equally relevant, and at the least interesting, rather than offensive and irrational.
Our friend group spent significant time together, and because of this, we shared a substantial trust even before we became a couple. When we did start to date, physical intimacy threatened the understanding we desired and the honour we were committed to preserving between us. Greg advised Carlene she should break up, “Because [she was] innocent compared to him.” Carlene’s response? “God has forgiven you, and I can 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, our 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 the battle that raged. Hunger, longing, and great 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 the way 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; for a time, he reaped the benefits of hers. Greg was oblivious to the hurt Carlene harboured. Religious submission and sex were demoralizing. Not rejecting her faith, married life filled Carlene with questions because God’s way no longer made sense.
Carlene found herself developing a theory regarding her sexual appetite. Repeated thoughts went something 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 just “join in 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. Without answers to her many questions, our life was dominated by an unhealthy pattern: 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 would begin again.
Five years down the road, Carlene came to a sudden realization that with every sexual encounter, her emotions were seared, and her spirit dying. And it was on this day that 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 for change. “I need to tell you something, and I just need you to listen. I love our kids, and am 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 do as your wife, but I don’t like it. And I just can’t pretend anymore.”
And so began our journey to heal. For the first time, Greg asked earnest questions. Refusing to settle for vague responses created frustration for both of us when Carlene didn’t know the answers. “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?” Greg was determined to hear Carlene’s heart to understand the problem. Together 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 says now, “life had become a dark and lonely tunnel for me. Though very little changed initially, somehow with the genuine questions and the vulnerability required for us to hear one another, sparked a glimmer of light for me at the end of our dark road. I didn’t know what it meant, but I had hope that we were headed toward something better.” We continue to discover how each of us is passionate in His image. And 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.