Sex Is Not the Icing on the Cake

I’ve read it over and over: Sex is the icing on the cake of marriage.

I understand the intention of that statement: Sex is something sweet and tasty added to marriage that makes it that much more delightful. It sounds great really — an appealing sentiment.

The problem is . . . I don’t like icing. No, really. Give me a piece of cake, and I will be scraping that icing right off.

Chocolate cake

Yes, even chocolate icing.
Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

Okay, okay, that’s not really the problem. But my dislike of icing did get me thinking about the statement of sex-as-icing. And I think it’s flat-out wrong.

Because when I remove the icing, I still eat the cake — every single bite. I eat and enjoy the whole cake — just not the last addition, the part that went on after the whole thing was mixed, baked, and cooled.

And sex wasn’t an addition to God’s plan for marriage. Honestly, it’s all of two verses between “then the Lord God made a woman…and he brought her to the man” and “they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:22, 24). Hardly a Heavenly afterthought!

Sexual intimacy is an ingredient in the cake. It’s essential.

Pick which ingredient. You could argue it’s the sugar that sweetens the whole thing or the baking powder that causes it to rise or the egg that binds the ingredients together or the butter that — well, it’s butter, and butter is just yummy awesome. It could even be a bit of vanilla extract that gives the cake some kick. But whatever it is, sex is in the cake, part of the plan for marriage.

If you leave sex out of marriage, things don’t taste right. Something is missing in the intimacy a husband and wife can truly have. You still come out with something, but it’s not good cake. Even slapping some icing on top won’t rescue a cake without egg or sugar inside.

Too many marriages relegate sex to being the icing on the cake — added to their relationship when everything else is put together and handled. Sex becomes what we do when the household is in order, when kids’ activities and desires are fully met, when conversation and romance have been maxed out, when time and circumstance allow. It’s what we squeeze into our weekend after cleaning the house and going to the grocery store. It’s the indulgence we allow ourselves when our husband manages to hit just right in that ten-minute window between our head hitting the pillow and sleep settling into our weary body.

All those other aspects of marriage are important, but sex is too. You may even think sex is wonderful. But is it deeply baked into your marriage cake? Or is it something you sometimes scrape off the cake and move to the side of your plate?

It’s not the only ingredient of a good marriage, but sex is certainly in the mix. God created it that way. When we put the right ingredients into our marriage, we can’t help but turn out a great cake — the sort of cake a decorator would be thrilled to add piped designs, iced latticework, and blooming flowers. A delicious masterpiece.

Wedding Cake

By Ferris, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you treat sex like an essential ingredient or simply the icing?

(And yes, I know some of you avoid the cake and eat the icing. But that’s not exactly the point either. 😉 And of course, if we meet at a cake-worthy event, you’ll see scraped-off icing on my plate and you’re more than welcome to have it.)

25 thoughts on “Sex Is Not the Icing on the Cake

  1. anon

    Excellent post. Thank you for continuing to put sex in marriage in the right perspective. I’ve learned so much from reading your blog!

    1. Angel

      Sex is not the icing in marriage. It is one of the important part of what makes up marriage. It is a God given gift to humanity to populate. I think we are misunderstanding the icing part. “Icing” are the extras. The extra cheese on your pizza or spaghetti, the extra cream on your cake, the extra bonus on your compensations, extra cherries on your ice cream, etc. that just makes it all sweeter. Honestly, we are very greedy people. Most of us are not fully satisfied with what we simply have in life, so we look for the “icing” the stuff that just makes life exciting, exhilarating, breath taking, challenging, to stretch out just how far, how great, how bad it can really get for us. Sex is a holy gift from God in marriage to have a family, to be a family, but unfortunately, none of us believe in this stuff anymore. Now a days, sex is an entertainment, a fun thing to do, an exercise, a hunger, like what we all see in movies, and all the extra “Icing” that they show us. We learn, we adapt, and how unfortunate it is that all the “icings” that we learn and adapt to corrupts the mind, because we are greedy people. Why do some people cheat? It is the extra “Icing” the extra thrill, that some people can’t get enough of. So sex becomes corrupt when we are not satisfied with what we ought to just simply love…Life. Sex is Life giving, should be. For it is a gift from God.
      Genesis 2:24
      “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
      Genesis 1:28
      And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

  2. Dan

    I guess marriage is more like a casserole than a cake then with a nice even distribution of the ingredients. Of course, that too often has a nice gooey or crunchy topping. I’ll take what I can get whenever I can get it and that, to me, is one of the very valid reasons for building time for sex into your relationship (Do you think anyone noticed I alluded to SCHEDULING sex?) Quit agonizing over the lack of spontaneity. Sex has never been spontaneous, especially for women. If you have ever had a quickie and were sufficiently, naturally lubricated there was nothing spontaneous about that sex. You or your body have been in anticipation for more than the previous couple of minutes. Why is it we have no problem making time (scheduling) to eat, bathe, dress, drive to work, watch our favorite TV show, indulge our kids and to go to church, but find it unnatural, undesirable, and abhorrent to schedule sexual intimacy into our lives. Given the choice, I’ll pass on food for sex with my wife any given meal time. I can eat any other time or place the mood strikes me, but sex in the middle of McDonald’s, not really all that intimate.

  3. the man

    I have a theory that there is a perfect balance on the world between cake and icing people.

  4. Justin

    You had me at cake.

    Seriously though, I agree with your statement that sex should be an integral part of the marriage and not just something slapped on as an afterthought. In addition to that, intimacy is about more than just sex — it involves the entire relationship (thoughts, words, deeds) and sexual frequency is a great barometer for how much intimacy exists in the marriage.

  5. Single Lady

    Thank you so much for this post and for all your posts. I’m not married yet but reading your blog has helped put a lot of things in perspective and has corrected a lot of false notions and mindsets about marriage and sex in marriage that I had growing up. You’re a blessing. Thank you.

  6. Chris

    I like the cake AND the icing–and I’ll eat your icing any time you want. 🙂

    This is a much tastier analogy than when I said that sex is the mashed potatoes, not the gravy, and I love thinking about sex as a core ingredient.

    1. J Post author

      Ha! Interesting, because I love mashed potatoes AND gravy. 🙂 Same idea, though. Great minds think alike?

  7. Matt

    My wife took a marriage and family class when she went to Snow College (small 2 year college in rural Utah). The professor, Lynn Poulsen, describes it as the mortar in a brick wall. He said the bricks were things like time, the finances, children, Continued dating, spirituality, extended family, vacations, family/household work and cleaning, recreation, and so on. The mortar in a brick wall is the “glue” that hold it all together. If you just stack up a wall of bricks with no mortar it will fall over at the storm. But sex is the binding agent that makes it all stand firm. It’s what binds the two leaders of the family together so that they can lead and guide their family.

  8. Eric V

    A few of the times I’ve read about the icing analogy was an argument for saving sex for marriage. I think the idea was to imply that sex or icing by itself, while tasty, wouldn’t be nourishing. Somehow I think it wouldn’t be convincing.

  9. Danielle

    Finally — someone else who hates icing! I honestly think this is one of your best posts. I’ve been married almost three years and in that time I have learned just how right you are! My husband and I have had to deal with a lot of issues regarding sex, from negative body image to understanding that it was drilled into my head that sex is bad. That was very hard to get through. This post reinforces what he has been helping me understand. I’m thankful for you and this timely post!

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  11. Jay Dee - SexWithinMarriage.com

    SMH against vegans…we have cake too…even without eggs…

    Yeah, that phrase is a pet-peeve of mine as well. The concept that sex should be an after thought, that it’s only applied once the marriage is already complete and perfect on it’s own. Ridiculous. It’s no wonder that most marriages where one spouse thinks this way rarely get to the point that the marriage is “complete enough” to actually enjoy sex regularly. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

  12. Leah

    I like this post! I think there’s a definite need for balance between sex and other relationship building things. My husband and I have found that if we place too much importance on sex and go through a season where frequency is low (pre/post baby) then we don’t put the energy into other relationship building things like hanging out and talking and just spending time together. But when we have a correct mindset of sex we put energy into the other things as well. So then we are actually best friends who have sex verses roommates who have sex on occasion.

    1. J Post author

      Yes, I sometimes hear the charge that I think sex is the only important thing in marriage because that’s the area I write about. No indeed. I certainly believe sex is essential — an ingredient in the cake — but you’d better have other stuff in there too, like companionship and respect. Thanks for your comment!

      1. Dan

        We can debate how essential it is, but i have noticed if the sex is “bad”, the marriage suffers. The quality of the sex is more essential than the quantity. A buffet with all the bad food you can eat for free is not much of a bargain.

  13. Mo

    I completely agree with your point. I love sex and the intimacy that comes with it. Others, namely those with a low libido, do not enjoy it that much. For them, it really is not like the flour in the cake. It really is the icing, because they are pretty satisfied without it. They find other ways to give their marriage meaning and value. Let me take this one step further. If they were “forced” to accept your idea, it would be counterproductive because they truly feel that sex is the icing and now they are being pressured to see it a different way and to live life with that concept. That is pressure because it is just not who they are.

    1. J Post author

      I get what you’re saying, but our current culture can take the “that’s just not who I am” thing too far. If the way someone is negatively impacts their life and relationships, maybe that way needs to be reconsidered. So if one spouse thinks it’s icing and ignores sex to the detriment of the marriage, that’s a problem. I’m certainly not forcing anyone to accept that idea, but I do hope to persuade. Thanks for your comment!

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