Several times over, we’ve discussed on our podcast Sex Chat for Christian Wives the importance of building and maintaining a friendship with your spouse. Since true sexual intimacy requires vulnerability, you want it to be with someone you feel fully connected to and trust.Since true sexual intimacy requires vulnerability, you want it to be with someone you feel fully connected to and trust. #marriage Click To Tweet
For some marriages that means building the relationship first…but is that always true?
This post presumes two good-willed spouses. If you’re in an abusive or destructive marriage or dealing with the fallout of adultery or pornography use, you have every reason not to engage in sex with your spouse unless and until other issues are worked out. Please get help!
The Chicken or Egg Argument
The common advice is that if you want wonderful intimacy in the marital bedroom, invest in your relationship with your spouse. Building your connection outside the bedroom can lead to better connection inside the bedroom.
That’s true, but in my own marriage, the reverse was also true. That is, our connection in the bedroom helped us weather our relationship difficulties, hang in there, and become more connected outside the bedroom.
I’m not alone. Friend and fellow podcaster Chris Taylor has shared that working on the sexual intimacy in her marriage provided several unexpected benefits, including:
I expected our sex life to improve—but I didn’t expect our ability to communicate to improve, or our enjoyment of non-sexual time together, or the overall intimacy that grew. I had no idea that sex had anything to do with all that other stuff. Turns out it does.Unexpected Benefits: 10 Years of Growth | The Forgiven Wife
And a reader of my blog shared her own story—how she and her husband tackled the sex area of their marriage first, talking honestly and making that a priority. “The funny thing is, when THAT area of our life returned to what, I believe, God intended it to be, everything else in our marriage came together, as well. We communicate better, we laugh more and we talk more openly.”
Maybe it’s the chicken or egg dilemma: Which came first—the chicken or the egg? Better friendship or better sex? Well, whichever one you start with, you might end up getting the other.
A Different Perspective
Understandably, we don’t feel like having sex with a spouse to whom we don’t feel close. I get that. I’ve been there. However, bear with me a moment while I throw out a different perspective.
Higher drive spouses tend to feel more connected to their mates after lovemaking. It’s easier for them to engage in affection, romance, and more when they feel secure in the sexual intimacy. I’m not saying that should be a demand made by any HD spouse. Of course not!
However, positive benefits of sex can include:
- feeling desired and valuable
- lowered cortisol, the “stress hormone”
- relief of pain
- wash of oxytocin, the “bonding hormone” that makes us feel connected to our mate
- rush of adrenaline
- sense of closeness
- dopamine, the “reward hormone” that gives us a psychological pat on the back
- lowered blood pressure
- state of relaxation
Having all that happening could help your spouse feel more interested and able to work on relationship issues, pursue friendship activities, and connect more profoundly with you.
You might also feel those benefits yourself and find the motivation you need and want to pursue a better relationship. Sex is definitely not just for your spouse! It’s for you too. But if it’s not as strong a desire for you, you may not fully understand how having more and better sex could provide emotional and relationship reassurance to your spouse.
Sex and Friendship Form a Loop
Ideally, investing in the relationship makes you desire sex more, and investing in sex makes you desire relationship more, and then investing in the relationship… And so on and so on.
Now I don’t think having great sex can salvage a sinking marriage. But great sex could encourage you to work on the relationship.
Want a great marriage? Put yourself into ALL of it—both sex and friendship:
- Foster the friendship.
- Learn your spouse’s love language and speak it.
- Deal with tricky issues like finances, in-laws, and child rearing.
- Practice the Fruit of the Spirit with your spouse.
- Pray for your spouse and your relationship.
- Work on having and improving sexual intimacy in your marriage.
Don’t wait for everything in your relationship to be perfect before you commit to having the marital intimacy God intended for you two to enjoy. Start today.
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9 thoughts on “Must a Better Friendship Come Before Better Sex?”
My sentiments exactly.
I find my desire for friendship with my wife goes down when our intimacy is not so hot. Who wants friendship when you feel like an afterthought and in last place of all the other priorities in life? I suspect I am not unique in this. When we regularly connect with intimate love making, not simply sex, everything outside the bedroom just seems easier.
Could be that her desire for intimacy goes down when the friendship isn’t so hot? As the article states, ‘put youself into ALL of it.’
I find my desire for intimacy with my husband goes down when our friendship is not so hot. Who wants sex when you feel like an afterthought and in last place of all the other priorities in life? I suspect I am not unique in this. When we regularly connect with friendship and companionship, not simply when he wants sex, everything inside the bedroom just seems easier.
Just food for thought.
My husband and I became friends before we started dating. We dated and were engaged over a span of five years which set up a pretty solid friendship foundation for our marriage.
We were not prepared for all of life’s conflicts or hardships that we have faced in our fourteen years of marriage such as sexual difficulties from the start (size differences and possible vaginismus), family drama, job losses, two deployments, and three children along with many other problems over the years. However, our friendship has stayed strong and has grown as we have grown with each other. Yes, sex in our marriage has also seen its ups and downs and without a doubt, I feel closer and more connected with my husband when we make love often.
Well, many years ago, sex helped me feel closer to my spouse. Lately, when we do have sex, I don’t feel a closer connection because my spouse only has sex for me (because I “need it” and she does not). It is hard to feel close to someone who who can do without sex…
With my marriage, we are friends and buddies. We have a very solid friendship that I think (should we have been unable to marry for some reason) could stand totally independent of our marriage. However, having that super strong friendship within our marriage has definitely been a boon to us. In our case, the friendship formed first and then we added everything else to it as we dated, got engaged, and married. I’m certainly not saying this is the way everyone ought to do things, but for us, and me especially, having our relationship built on a solid friendship was a necessity. I don’t think I could have married a man I wasn’t David and Jonathan-esque friends with. But I also have a somewhat archaic view of friendship… But that’s another story.
My husband works with a lot of young, secular guys. Sometimes these guys share their stories with us, often about their relationship problems. Here’s what we see:
He spies gal he thinks is hot. They hook up. Sex happens fairly quickly in the relationship, and then they try to form a relationship around that. So many of these guys end up living with or even having kids with women they actually have no real friendship with. Often they complain about how controlling she is, how tied down they are, how lonely, how disconnected, but so long as she dangles the sex carrot often enough, they stick with it.
One or both usually end up cheating and finding the next sexcapade.
It is REALLY important to have a solid relationship outside the bedroom first and foremost. Sex doesn’t fix or create relationships. It only gives you dopamine rushes that make you think things are ok. If you need a dopamine rush to feel close to your spouse, that’s not good or enough. That’s like having to take drugs to get through a day.
So very true. Excellent points here!
I have talked about how having sex gives you rose-colored glasses; which is good in marriage, but can be terrible for proper discernment before marriage.
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