My last couple of weeks have been a little crazy, with a family member experiencing a severe health scare. My schedule was upheaved, my body was exhausted, and my heart ached. (Things are better now, thanks for asking.) When I had time to myself, it was a toss-up on whether I should get some writing done, do household work, spend time with the family, or de-stress with R&R (rest & relaxation).
But I had a strange desire for sex with my husband.
No, it’s not strange for me to desire sex with my husband. But the desire itself was a bit different from my usual motivations. I wanted to be comforted by sex — wrapped in his arms, folded into his heart, united with his flesh. I realized that engaging in sexual intimacy would ease my grief.
Which reminded me of a verse about sex that I’d always thought rather odd before:
“Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her.” 2 Samuel 12:24a
Bathsheba was grieving the death of her newborn child, a terrible experience for anyone who’s been through it. I simply can’t imagine the heart-wrenching pain she was going through. In the face of this crisis, we might expect a scripture like, “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba; he listened to her talk through her pain all night long” or “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba; he held her close and let her cry in his arms.”
But that’s not what the Bible says. Rather the verse is “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her.” The second half of the verse says that she conceived a second son, Solomon. But was the knowledge that she was pregnant the source of comfort? It doesn’t seem so. It seems that the sexual encounter itself played a role in comforting Bathsheba in her deep grief.
And that’s how making love with my husband felt to me during those touch-and-go times. Like a balm on my wound, a Band-Aid on my heart. Why?
I have few ideas on why sex can be comforting in a crisis or grief.
Sex releases physical tension. When you’re in anxiety or grief mode, your body tenses up in ways you may not even recognize fully. Focusing on physical pleasure, and experiencing orgasm, releases that tension — even if it lasts only a brief time. We release certain brain chemicals during sex, including oxytocin and serotonin, that result in feelings of peace and well-being. In the midst of an emotional tornado, sex can have a calming effect.
Sex reassures. Sex can reassure you of your spouse’s love. It can be a reminder that, whatever storms rage in the rest of your life, your husband’s love is a sure anchor. In the story of David and Bathsheba, she was not his only wife, and following the death of their child, he could have discarded her, set her to the side, never had to gaze again on the mother of his lost son. But David reassured her of his love, by going into her and making love with her. Likewise, being intimate with your spouse can reassure you of his presence and constancy in your life.
Sex transports. Some issues in life loom so large or so urgent that we can’t seem to escape the anxiety they bring. But honestly, when I’m in the midst of making love with my husband, and particularly when I climax, I ain’t thinking about anything else but that moment. I get a break from my fretfulness — a mini-vacation for my worried mind. Sex can transport you away from the concern and hurt stirred by the crisis or grief and to a place of pleasure and joy.
Sex reconnects. Oftentimes when life is tugging at you so hard, you don’t have the time you wish with your spouse. You’re pulled in too many directions, dealing with too many demands, dodging too many bullets. Getting time for a “date night” in my home the last few weeks wasn’t easy, but we could pull off a fifteen-minute lovemaking session. And that reconnects me to my husband. It reminds us of our overall intimacy and desire to be with one another. Sex has been called the “glue of marriage,” and in this instance, I agree that it has that sticky quality.
Sex can be comforting in times of crisis or grief.
Of course, sex may not always be what you need. When one of my best friends died a few years back, I had several nights that I just wanted to be held while I bawled like a baby. And that’s exactly what my husband did for me.
But there are times when sex can comfort, heal, and reassure.
Have you ever experienced the comfort of marital intimacy in difficult times? What are your reasons for desiring sex when you experience crisis or grief?
Also see Genesis 24:67: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”