Are You (Too) Content with “Better Than It Used to Be”?

I recently wrote a pretty unfiltered post about the problem many of us wives have with being contentious in our homes. Sometimes I think God has me write things so that I’ll pay attention to where I need to grow in my marriage.

Because after that post, I had a couple of different conversations in my home on that topic. One of them involved my older son, an adult man now, and how his personality and mine differ in expressing emotions. Now, if you’ve been around Hot, Holy & Humorous a while, you know that I’ve compared my husband to Spock, in how logical and non-expressive he can be.

Well, our elder spawn has taken on more personality traits from his father and could well be Spock Jr. So you can imagine when emotionally expressive mom gets frustrated (as all normal moms periodically do), she can take on a “tone” which doesn’t play well with the Vulcan species in her family.

But as we calmly talked about this issue, I pointed out how much better I am than I used to be. I wanted major credit for having lowered my volume a few dial settings and holding back on the contemptuous body language (such as eye rolling) that I used to display. I felt like it was unfair to say that I needed to improve a lot because “Hey, this is way better than it used to be!”

Guess who shows up then? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit, poking me in the ribs to tell me that better ain’t good enough. Better does not meet “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jeez, Jesus, that’s a really high standard to aim for!

My conclusion was that I still have some issues to work on.

Blog post title with illustrated couple giving "okay" hand gesture

However, I thought about this with the sexual intimacy in our marriages as well. I periodically hear from couples say that things are better than they used to be. Now I’m 100% sure we should celebrate that progress, those victories, those shifts in our marriage that strengthen our bond and honor God’s design for sex.

But are you setting down Ebenezers to mark progress along your path, or settling in for good with the attitude of “good enough”?

If you don’t know what an Ebenezer is, it comes from the story of the judge Samuel who sought God’s help in fighting the Philistines. After Israel’s army defeated their attackers, 1 Samuel 7:12 says, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” Since then Ebenezer has come to mean “a commemoration of divine assistance” (Merriam-Webster).

Samuel’s use of “thus far” is apt, because by 1 Samuel 12, the Israelites are back to fighting with the Philistines. It’s many years before King David finally defeats the Philistines for good, and in between are many battles in which the Israelites seek God’s help to win. Every hard-fought battle is a step toward eventual victory, but along the way were many moments that called for Ebenezers.

Like the Israelites versus the Philistines, I suspect many marriages are in a constant battle, fighting to reach God’s design for sex. But it’s easy to become complacent, to settle in and say, “Okay, that’s good enough.”

Do any of these describe your marriage?

  • “We used to have sex once a month, but now I give it to him twice a month, which is enough.”
  • “She never had orgasms before, but now she has one every few times we make love.”
  • “I show up regularly — what more does he want?”
  • “I’ve only looked at porn a few times this month.”
  • “I tried communicating about our improving our sexual intimacy, but he didn’t want to talk about it, so I gave up and decided our sex life was fine.”

God’s not a fan of good-enough in the marriage bed.

God's not a fan of good-enough in the marriage bed. Click To Tweet

Two of my favorite Bible verses about sex are:

A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Proverbs 5:19).

Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” (Song of Songs 5:1, ESV)

There are many warnings in the Bible against gluttony and drunkenness, but sexual love in a marriage is one place where God throws out the concept of “enough” and tells us to go overboard — to get intoxicated.

Isn’t that amazing?

Now of course, you can make sex itself into an idol. You should ask whether you’re seeking a truly better, more intimate sex life with your spouse or merely seeking your own pleasure or some unrealistic fantasy.

But I stand by the idea that we can continue to make progress throughout our married lives. And like Samuel, we can ask for divine help.

Indeed, if we ask for God’s design for sex in our marriage, that’s where our Lord is generous. What that looks like might not be what you think (e.g., lots more sex), and He usually expects us to start with ourselves, but He wants our physical intimacy to deepen so that our whole marriage can be strengthened.

We shouldn’t stop pursuing godly sex in our marriage. We shouldn’t cease improving our own attitudes and theology about this beautiful act of love. We shouldn’t settle for “better than it used to be.”

Thinking back to the Ebenezer story, what’s particularly interesting is that the constant battle with the Philistines came from the Israelites saying “good enough” long before Samuel was around. After the Israelites moved into Canaan, there is this passage:

When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, ‘You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over. This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites, from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite though held by the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron…‘” (Joshua 13:1-3). 

God told Joshua there were still places to be conquered. But the Israelites didn’t follow through. What places regarding our marriage have yet to be conquered? Will we follow through?

15 thoughts on “Are You (Too) Content with “Better Than It Used to Be”?

  1. Marty Parker

    I hope im not the only one that finds it hard to ask. God about sex i know you can go to the father with anything but thats one topic i find it a little diffacult to talk to god about i find sex with my wife private i lnow god sees all but just a hard topic to talk to god about anybody else out there like me

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I get it. We’re primed not to think about God and sex in the same head space. So start out small, just talking about the general intimacy with your wife. You know He cares about that. Many blessings!

      Reply
      1. alchemist

        Or “Have you grow complacent”

        The companion question, have you given yourself a free pass because your marriage is better than x’s?

        Thank you for the challenging post

        Reply
  2. John

    Thrive is the word missing here.
    I think God wants us to thrive where ever and whatever place He puts us and no matter the situation.
    Take the opportunity and band together with God and by faith take the step and thrive in whatever your are faced with . God is never surprised by what you ask but pleased that we asked for direction ,wisdom knowledge or know how.

    Reply
  3. Rachael

    Sometimes being content with better than it used to be is the best you can hope for. For example, sex used to be excruciatingly painful for me but now it’s merely mildly painful. It will likely never be any better. This is disappointing, but only a year ago I would have given anything for sex to be only mildly painful so remembering that things are better than they used to be can really help keep the disappointment at bay.

    Reply
  4. Terrell Bosarge

    This was awesome! and really an answer to prayer for me to specific direction to a project in my life. Thank you for being obedient to being used by God!

    Reply
  5. Wayne

    Intriguing question! Some great responses, too. Thrive: Casting Crowns has a great song by that name. Not growing complacent and comparing ourselves to others. Satisfied, yet not too content.

    I think “better than it was” can be used as an excuse, or even sometimes, as a hammer: as in, “yes, you’re doing better than you were, but it’s still not good enough”. I would also say it depends. I have had some pain and stiffness the past couple of days, feeling groggy and crabby too, but better today. So at this moment, for that issue, I’ll grab “better than it was” with both hands! But I agree as a general rule, we don’t want to stay there.

    As for sex, I tend to think it raises that question to another level. Myself, I’d rather make love once every two months and it be out of this world, than twice a month and it be “just okay”, and I’m pretty sure my special someone would agree with me there.. :). Not to take too much time in between, though (another smiley).

    Reply
  6. Happily Married

    I think this also applies to different seasons of life. You may work through struggles in one season and then have a whole new batch of things to work through again in another season. Good reminder to be constantly looking to the Lord to help us grow in our marriage and not become dependant on past “victories”….your advice was timely! Thank you. 🙂

    Reply
  7. TB

    I have been working to improve my attitude towards sex in my marriage. I am dealing with a husband who had multiple affairs and continues to battle porn use. I am reaching beyond my comfort zone and overcoming my emotional baggage from these sins. He doesn’t appear to be working on the porn battle, as far as I know the affairs issues is not an issue anymore. It has been very difficult for me to overcome some of the emotional stuff and work on improving our sex life and intimacy. One of my struggles is wondering if he wants me to do certain things because of his past affairs and porn use and those were things that he enjoyed doing or watching. I feel like I am making strides and things are better than they used to be and that is a great step in a long journey. But as someone else commented, I hear from my husband that it isn’t as good as he wants it to be and there is no acknowledgement of what has improved. I guess what I’m trying to say it when one spouse is working on something and it is better than it used to be that spouse wants to be acknowledged for the improvement not told there is still more work to be done before the other spouse is happy. Appreciate and encourage the change that has happened and understand that more change is coming, just not as fast as you would like.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I agree entirely. I don’t think we should settle, but change typically happens in steps, and even stops and starts, and we must celebrate those. It’s important to look back at where we’ve been to see how far we’ve come, and also to look forward to where we want to go. I am praying for you and your marriage. Blessings!

      Reply
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