As usual, I’ve been thinking about great sexual intimacy in marriage and what it takes to get there. Are there principles that are must-haves to experience all that God intended for our marriage beds?
I came up with four I believe are integral to healthy, godly sexual intimacy.
Desire. I’m not talking about libido, or sex drive. Some spouses have a high drive, others have a lower drive. Or even no drive (sadly). But what’s needed is a desire to have great sexual intimacy in your marriage.
That could show up as a strong physical drive to make love with your spouse, or simply as a longing to figure out why things aren’t everything they could be. Healthy couples also desire to better understand God’s design for sex in marriage and fight against erroneous messages in our culture. They seek answers for physiological obstacles, resources to heal from past hurts, and ways to increase the passion in their relationship.
Essentially, you have to want to want it. When you truly desire better intimacy, you’ll actively pursue actions that increase your internal desire for your mate.
Respect. A lot of the arguments that break out in the comments section of my blog and other Christian marriage and sex blogs demonstrate a lack of respect from one spouse to another. From the husband who demands his wife be available for sex at the drop of a hat or a hint, to the wife who swears all men are perverts and should be treated accordingly, to the husband who insults his wife’s beauty, to the wife who won’t believe her husband when he says she’s beautiful… Just pick a topic that causes people to get riled up, and you’ll likely find that if mutual respect was overflowing in that marriage, a lot of the issue would dissolve.
Godly sexual intimacy requires respect for one another. Respect that her body belongs to her and his body belongs to him, while also respecting that her body belongs to him and his body belongs to her. No, this is not a conundrum; it’s biblical teaching (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Respect that you don’t view sex the same because of your different genders, personalities, histories, and beliefs. Respect when your spouse says something hurts, it really hurts, and when they say they didn’t mean what you perceived, they don’t have ulterior motives.
Respect that sex is an emotional need for your mate and not merely a physical release. Respect your spouse enough to take steps to assure them of your love, by making rules about contact with the opposite sex, keeping away from pornography and erotica, and speaking well of your mate to others.
Infuse the whole subject of sex in your marriage with respect for one another, and see how that nurtures your intimacy.
Intention. I love what Julie Sibert said in an interview with Delight Your Marriage: “No one drifts into healthy habits.” Yeah, I never just wander by and find myself accidentally on the elliptical churning out a workout. Likewise, sexual intimacy in your marriage isn’t likely to be the full blessing God designed it to be without some real effort.
There are simply too many obstacles in our way. The busyness of our lives distracts us from focusing on physical intimacy. Our emotional defenses keep us from dealing with sexual baggage, misunderstandings, and sin. Bad cultural messages attempt to draw us away from the beauty and monogamy of God-honoring marital intimacy. Our own self-doubts hinder us from being vulnerable and authentic in the marriage bed.
All of the obstacles can be with dealt, however, if we intentionally pursue great sex for our marriages. It won’t happen on its own, but we can foster intimacy that lasts a lifetime.
Communication. Honestly, I cringe a bit when I hear the word communication bandied about like a cure-all for everything wrong in your marriage. I almost hate to admit this, but in my own marriage, talking about our problems has at times made things worse. Therefore, I’m reluctant at times to suggest Communication! as a marital Band-aid.
But communication doesn’t mean talking an issue to death. Rather, it implies mutual understanding between the speaker and listener. Which comes from communication that seeks to get at the heart of the issue and help one another out. It also isn’t all verbal. A lot of communication is nonverbal and can be very effective in getting your point across. Regardless of how you go about it, you have to be able to communicate effectively about your sex life.
Here are examples of what I mean:
- Initiating sex with your mate in clear, easily discernible ways. You can use your words, your hands, whatever. But make it obvious what you’re asking for, so you don’t have misunderstandings — like the next morning when one of you says, “I wanted to have sex” and the other says, “I would have done that, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted to.”
- Speaking up for what you want and desire in your marriage bed. Wives usually have more of a problem doing this, but your mate is not a mind-reader. Unless you tell him or show him or move his hands there, he doesn’t know what feels good to you. This isn’t about demanding sexual acts (see Respect above), but communicate what would make sex more engaging and pleasurable for you.
- Talking about problems when they arise. If one of you is struggling, both of you are struggling. (Two become one, and all that.) Be willing to address the topic, and listen, listen, listen to your mate. Be patient, but persistent. Work together to see what can be done to solve the dilemma or bring you back together into unity (Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8).
- Confessing your sins and temptations. Fess up when and where you’ve been wrong. Will that conversation be tough? Yeah, but this person vowed to love you through thick and thin, and you need him or her in your corner. If your past is littered with sexual sin or your present is a minefield of temptation, come clean and ask for your spouse’s help. You don’t need to share every detail (doing so could unnecessarily wound your spouse even if it feels cathartic to you), but be honest and humble.
For many couples, discussing sex feels awkward at first. But as intimacy increases, it becomes more natural. There’s peace in knowing you can share openly and be there for one another.
Those are my four must-haves (at least for today) that you should foster for your marriage. Even if you have them right now, you can always nurture them more: Who couldn’t benefit in their marriage bed from having more desire, respect, intention, and communication?
Which of the four has your marriage struggled with? What must-have would you add to my list?