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?
9 thoughts on “4 Must-Haves for Great Sexual Intimacy in Marriage”
You know, J, I am continually impressed when I read your writing, on how thoughtful and discerning you are. Somebody sends in a question or a situation, and you’re able to tease it apart and get to the very essence of it. And then you go to the Biblical toolbox and extract just the right scriptures that speak to that situation! Lady, it’s obvious that you have a direct hotline to The Man in the form of an anointed ministry.
Your husband is a most blessed guy to have a wife such as yourself!
I’ve read that it was a teaching in orthodox Judaism that Shekinah, the Holy Spirit, was present and approving whenever a man and his wife made love. Surely the two of you have that, and a holy host of angels also, surrounding your marriage bed. Peace to you both!
Wow, thank you! So very much. 🙂
I am a new reader, but I have been reading and sharing your articles with my wife. They have been helpful and inspiring. My wife and I have had a sexless marriage for several years. One day I decided to boldly approach the subject with my wife and see if I could convince her to have sex with me again. It took me several months to get the courage up to approach the subject. One night I took the plunge. I came to find out that she wanted to have sex with me, and thought that I did not want her. It was a total miss communication. We could have been having sex for years but we were both too afraid of hurting the other by bringing up the subject. My wife even said she wants to please me in this area. Now we have sex every night. We embrace for two hours at a time. We have a lot of oral sex, because I have ED and have not found the right meds for it yet. (But I am seeing my doctor soon to figure that out.) I feel close to her, I will do anything for her, I want to kiss her all them time, I want to love on her whenever I see her. My hands are all over her, and she does not object. I love it. I encourage your readers to communicate, communicate, communicate. It is well worth the risk.
Thanks for sharing your story! So thrilled you two worked things out and found intimacy again.
Thanks, J, for another great post!
Re confession and forgiveness–this is so, so necessary, especially if there’s been sexual sin. Sometimes, though not always, a godly outside counselor needs to be involved. A lot of guys look at porn, or “only” pictures of naked women on the Internet–and many secular counselors don’t consider these the same, but they are.
First, the husband needs to repent, then confess, to his wife as well as to the Lord, whether or not he’s been caught at it. With confession, he needs to repent. If this doesn’t work, then there needs to be counseling (see Matt. 18:15-17).
I hesitate to label porn use as “adultery,” since I’m not sure Jesus, in Matt. 5:27-32, had pictures in mind, but rather the coveting of a woman not one’s wife (the words “covet” and “lust” are the same in Greek). Jesus identifies this as a lust of the eye, rather than a lust of the flesh (v. 29; see 1 John 2:16), and it’s an issue that quickly morphs into idol worship, forbidden in the Second Commandment. In essence this is demonic, and I believe that the demonic element is here more powerful than the sexual element.
But to return to my earlier point: Repentance, confession and asking the Lord to deliver you from the oppression of demons who attack you with idolatry via the eye-gate is necessary in the case of porn addiction. Otherwise it will destroy your marriage. God loves marriage, and He will deal with the devil if a husband and wife take it to Him. The battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.
I like what you have to say about communication. It is so true that it is an important aspect of all parts of marriage.
“If one of you is struggling, both of you are struggling.” This is the TRUTH, J! And not just with sex! It’s so easy to feel like I’m burdening my soon-to-be husband (25 days!) with my insecurities and fears and struggles, and he’s often said he feels the same way, but we are fixin’ to be one flesh, and so we push ahead and encourage each other toward transparency.
I just want to say thank you! You have such a good way of explaining things so that everyone can understand and apply it to their lives. My husband and I have always had a roller coaster of intimacy in our marriage of almost 8 years. Your blog has helped us over the last year. Please keep doing what you do, truly inspiring!
Wow, thank you so much! Many blessings to you and your marriage.
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