How Sex Can Help Us Cope

My background is only relevant inasmuch as it has a bearing on my mission and ability to fulfill it. Which is why I’m totally transparent about my past sexual baggage and how God redeemed my marriage.

I’m also authentic about struggles I’ve had and the minor frustrations of life. Because I want people to recognize that a happy marriage doesn’t mean a perfect marriage. After all, we’re all sinners (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8), and that includes both husband and wife. We will let each other down, but we can continue to strive for the best and show agape love that covers over our sins when we fail (1 Peter 4:8).

But I’ve wrangled with whether to say anything about what I’ve been going through lately, because it doesn’t directly impact this ministry. Except I concluded there’s something worth learning from it.

A Foundation Shaken

Long story short: I recently learned that my mother perpetuated a 16-year deception on an issue of significance. Whatever trust we’d built before shattered, and the fallout has been difficult for my family of origin.

As a consequence, I’ve been distracted and distraught. Like someone grieving, I have good days and bad days. On good days, I cross off the to-dos on my list and interact with others with a genuine smile. On bad days, I end up on an hour-long phone call with a sibling, escape into writing fiction where the real world doesn’t exist, or simply cry a lot.

A Strange Way to Cope

Oddly enough, I’ve been having more sex in my marriage. Or perhaps it’s not odd at all, because that is also a way of providing balm to a weary soul. Those moments of connection with my husband and intense pleasure for myself have taken me away from the heaviness of my heart and allowed me to reset my mind and heart, even if for a short while.

There is a beautiful verse in the last chapter of Song of Songs, almost a summary of the marital love portrayed in the book: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”

When other parts of our life seem to have been swept away by a raging river, the covenant love between husband and wife—expressed in the sanctity of the marriage bed—can make us feel grounded, safe, solid.

When other parts of our life seem to have been swept away by a raging river, the covenant love between husband and wife—expressed in the sanctity of the #marriage bed—can make us feel grounded, safe, solid. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Sex That Soothes

Not all sexual encounters necessarily have this effect. Rather, you may need to cultivate the atmosphere or specifics that result in sex that soothes. And your emotional needs are specific to you.

Let’s look at what I mean with some examples:

  • Spouse A may desire slow, deliberate caresses that calm their nerves and comfort their soul.
  • Spouse B may want sex that’s hot, heavy, and even fast, thus taking their mind from what’s happening and engaging it in solely in passion.
  • Spouse C may want to focus on giving their mate sexual pleasure, as that provides them some sense of control when the rest of life feels out of control.
  • Spouse D may want to try something new, giving them the reminder that they can choose a new direction and find positivity from it.

Sex is not just sex, but often reflects where we are in life and/or reminds us what we can do and be in life. Many spouses, especially husbands, say that a satisfying sex life makes them feel like they can take on the world. When that world has been particularly shaken, sexual intimacy with your beloved can soothe your tender places and infuse you with courage to take on the struggles you’re facing.

When your world has been shaken, sexual intimacy with your beloved can soothe your tender places and infuse you with courage to take on the struggles you're facing. #marriage @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Getting What You Need

I do not have the magic formula to get you the sex you need/want for your whole life or marriage. That’s a process which my ministry certainly helps with, but it isn’t a quick fix. Moreover, this section presumes two good-willed spouses—imperfect, sure, but good-willed.

But let’s say you’re in the midst of a foundation-shaking life event, and you desire sex that could soothe your soul, how do you go about getting the specific kind of sex that would accomplish that goal? How can you communicate to your spouse what you desire in a way most likely to result in you getting just that?

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Well, you have a few choices, and you can pick which one you think will work.

  • Talk about it outside the bedroom. Tell him/her how you’re feeling, what sexual experience you believe would help, and then invite them to have that kind of intimacy with you.
  • As you’re starting a lovemaking session, be specific about your desires. Explain that you’d like to try X, Y, or Z because you long for the comfort that provides you in the midst of your current challenge.
  • Give ongoing feedback to guide your spouse. Using verbal encouragement or moving either your or their hands, mouth, body, etc. to where/how you want it, and then give positive reinforcement when it’s going the way you need/want.
  • Take charge and make it happen. Go directly for what you want, inviting him/her with your actions to go along with the lovemaking you desire.

If you’re both going through the same earth-shattering event, you may be on the same page with what you want, or you may need to take turns getting what you each need. Be willing to minister—yes, minister—to one another through sexual intimacy.

You’re Not Alone

One of the most beautiful aspects of sex in the midst of emotional pain is the sense that you are not alone. God created human sex such that it involves the penetration of one’s body part into the other’s body part—a physical connection that meets the “one flesh” description in the Bible. In that moment of intercourse, husband and wife are not separate, but joined…literally and relationally.

When life is not just giving you lemons but lobbing them at you like a game of fruit dodgeball, you can feel very alone. Sexual intimacy can remind us that we’re not alone. Not only is God in our corner, always beside us, but He has provided a partner in life who will be there too.

It’s true: sex can help you cope.

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23 thoughts on “How Sex Can Help Us Cope

  1. Chris Hulson (@cthulson)

    Great post J. The part is so true and resonates with me. “Sex is not just sex, but often reflects where we are in life and/or reminds us what we can do and be in life. Many spouses, especially husbands, say that a satisfying sex life makes them feel like they can take on the world. When that world has been particularly shaken, sexual intimacy with your beloved can soothe your tender places and infuse you with courage to take on the struggles you’re facing.” Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good content you produce.

    Reply
  2. Shelly

    One of the only real breaks I get from the seemingly endless grief since my son went to heaven is during sex. For just a little bit I can escape. I think one of the reasons God created something so pleasurable between a man and woman is He knew after the fall when sin and death entered the world we would need each other’s comfort.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Oh, Shelly, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine, but I can pray for you.

      For other reasons, I do appreciate that blissful moment when my mind focuses solely on sexual intimacy to the forgetfulness of all else. Blessings!

      Reply
  3. Terry

    This actually helps me put what I’ve been feeling lately in context, as we said goodbye 3 1/2 weeks ago to our furbaby of 15 years. (This is one of those instances in which people either understand or they don’t.) I’m still dealing with residual feelings of guilt, regret and what-ifs, and even though most days since have been ok every so often the tears well up. My husband hasn’t been as outwardly emotional (and has gently chided me for feeling guilty) but I know he misses her too.

    We both went short on sleep while caring for her in her final months (and we would only get peace while she was asleep), so for the most part any sort of intimacy went on the back-burner. But even now that she’s gone, resuming this part of our marriage seems…inappropriate, as though I don’t deserve to move on with “life as usual”. At the same time, I’ve been wondering what other bad things are looming – that our longtime plans to build a house will fall apart, that my husband will die suddenly and leave me to fend for myself, that I will be diagnosed with some incurable condition. Ironically(?), these worries make me want to appreciate what I have now, including the feeling of being beautiful, desirable and valued – which brings us full-circle back to your own observations. It is reassuring to realize that this desire is neither unusual nor inappropriate, and may even be a balm in the healing process. I was planning to tell my husband about these likely-irrational worries, but now I will also make a point of including the topics of cuddle-time and well, other things..

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Hugs! Our fur-babies can be part of our families, so yeah, I get it. Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts.

      Reply
  4. Wayne

    Reading this reminds me of how extremely personal, individual, and intimate sex is to every man and woman. My wife and I have had times of frequency at the most unexpected or unusual periods in our marriage. You mention balm to a weary soul. Check. Others similarly have brought up the mutual comfort it brings. Check.

    I think with us, early on, we were just so glad to have found each other, two like minded Christians who so didn’t mind getting a little wild in bed, that, well, we got a little wild. And found comfort in all of it.

    I’m not sure where we are now – maybe ALL phases of our lives are odd or strange, lol, but these days I take my balm, as it were, in knowing each other intimately. Whether anything physical is involved or not. She warned me very early on that she is an “all or nothing” kind of gal, and has she proven it! She was referring to relationships, but with her it applies to sex. Yes, it’s a little strange, even to me, far from perfect, but — for us — it works however imperfectly.

    Side note to Terry: we lost our Shih Tzu almost six months ago, at the age of 11. I know the feeling of second guessing, could I have done more? And 15 was the age I had in mind to keep her going. Mercifully, her illness was short. Never a right time, and we have shed tears together over her, even though we have a new Shih Tzu puppy. I know, I could go on and on about both of them.

    Blessings, J – keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Terry

      Thank you…There isn’t much support out there for caregivers to aging pets (and I looked), so it can feel isolating. Her decline was rather drawn out but she wasn’t in pain and I think this time allowed for a less intense grieving period afterward. We will have another dog eventually but it will be a while.

      Reply
  5. Holyterror

    Hello, J!
    Great post, as always. Thanks for the ministry you are providing.
    As you struggle personally, please know that you are prayed for by more people than you may even realize.
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Reply
  6. Ashton

    Wow this is sooo true! I lost my mother June 2019, but the frequency and passion of our sex life has increased since prior and post to my mom’s passing. I was crediting to some the other day what a comfort our intimacy has given me during this difficult season.

    Reply
    1. Val Russell

      Interesting point as my Gran died two days ago (Sunday 23rd Feb) and she had been on end of life care for a while but our sexual frequency has vastly upper the past couple of days, Saturday night, Sunday morning, mornings never hardly happen because my husband is usually asleep! Sunday night and Monday night!

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Mmmm…these words reminded me of a discussion several years ago with my wife. I told her how much sex comforted me when I am stressed. My spouse told me that I needed to work on my weakness–I should not need to have sex to reduce my anxieties. Even though she did not say it out loud, the message was clear–I needed to “man-up”.

    Reply
  8. Terry

    As a woman I don’t see this as a male weakness but simply part of how the male, “waffle” brain works (as opposed to female “sphaghetti”). My husband has told me on several occasions that our time in bed helped him to get his mind off the stresses at work and get to sleep. I wonder how your wife would react to being told that her need for a sympathetic ear, or chocolate, or exercise, or whatever…to reduce her anxieties was a “weakness”!

    Reply
  9. EEW

    “He just wants to see you naked.” I’m not sure if you wrote that, J, but simply watching one’s wife happily take her clothes off for him alone gives a husband a joy beyond physical pleasure. This reassures him that she, too, wishes an intimacy of the kind Moses wrote about—repeated by Jesus and Paul—“one flesh”: Not to see her artistically nude, but for her to be earthily naked is what satisfies a husband. This says she’s gladly his, and it’s the prelude to the full experience of becoming “one flesh” with the woman in which he has invested his life, in my case 56 years, and she’s more beautiful every time she undresses.

    As John Donne wrote some 400 years ago, I paraphrase: “O my America! My new-found-land/My kingdom,/safest when with one man manned,/My mine of precious stones, my empire, /How blest I am in thus discovering thee!/ . . . Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee . . .”

    Reply
  10. Mark

    J,

    Thank you for sharing from the heart, in how you and your husband are drawn to each other in a very close and personal way, during difficult times.

    Reply
  11. Phiiip

    I agree that sex is very good therapy for the mind and to lose yourself in with your partner.
    When I have been stressed and overwhelmed by things I need to do, it is a real haven and does give such a feeling of well being.

    My wife and I have been married for 43 years and recently my wife has developed a really imaginative approach to satisfying me in sex. It is so good to know that God continues to work with us in every part of our lives!

    Reply

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