Some believe that Christian marital intimacy speakers and writers overemphasize sexuality in marriage. It can seem at times that we are obsessed with sex.
When you write about this area of marriage, you do think about sex a lot. You hear people’s stories, contemplate topics, and research the subject in secular sources and the Bible.
Yet while I often consider the broad topic and specific issues about sexuality, my own married sex life doesn’t get nearly as much contemplation. Sure, I anticipate it, flirt with my husband about it, remember special times we made love, and engage in beautiful intimacy with my man. But I’m not obsessed.
Why? Well, in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis made the analogy of food to sex—to convey how those obsessed with food or sex are either terribly hungry or overly indulged. He said, “Starving men may think much about food, but so do gluttons; the gorged, as well as the famished, like titillations.”
Let’s break down Dr. Lewis’s descriptions more.
Have you ever had to go without food for a period of time? Maybe you were stuck in meetings all day or had to fast for bloodwork or didn’t have anything more than an apple and expired milk in your fridge. (Live on the edge, drink the milk!) Go without food for a while, and you will not be able to ignore the fact that you are desperately hungry!
Even worse is when you’re in the presence of delicious food and can’t have any. This is why hangry dieters absolutely hate watching their super-thin friend eating chocolate éclairs. When you’re really hungry, the presence of food in your midst is like dangling a million bucks in front of a poor person.
I believe the same happens in marriages where one spouse is around the person they love and yet are unable to sate their intimate desire for that person. The lack of what you need and want is on your mind because you cannot scratch that itch often enough, or in some sad cases ever, so your mind turns its attention to that aspect. The spouse who desires physical intimacy and doesn’t get it anywhere near enough can become obsessed with sex, even pleading or begging their mate to engage.
Because they are sex-starved! It’s no wonder that sex is seemingly always on their mind.
On the other hand, how many of you could work at Godiva Chocolatier and not want to taste-test every single truffle? Or stay thin while working in a bakery? When you place yourself in a saturated environment, you’ll think long and often about your surroundings.
It’s easy to obsess about sex when you metaphorically line the walls with it—which includes looking at porn, reading erotica, shopping at certain sex stores, etc. You may be having sex with your spouse (yummy truffle), but it may not feel like enough.
The secular world makes this particularly difficult to manage. Music, movies and TV, magazines and newspapers, and even our conversations are inundated with sexuality. With so many ways to partake, it’s easy to fall victim to indulgence.
One can become so obsessed with having more sex, better sex, and even riskier sex, that the person with whom they are engaging is little more than cheesecake on a plate to satisfy a sweet tooth. The sex-saturated don’t feel that they’ve had enough, or maybe that they are enough, because their attention is rapt by sex itself and not by intimacy with their mate.
When the physical intimacy in marriage is healthy, you don’t need to obsess about sex. It’s there when you need and want it, and if it isn’t available at the moment, it won’t be long before you have a taste of it again. Moreover, the sexuality between a couple isn’t the focus of their relationship, although it is still an important aspect.
(For a quick self-check, see Are You Having Enough Sex? – Kevin A. Thompson.)
Just as the body needs food, sleep, exercise, etc. to remain healthy, so a marriage needs emotional, spiritual, and relational intimacy in addition to physical intimacy. All aspects are important in keeping a marriage healthy.
Avoid starvation or saturation and find true satisfaction in marital sexuality.
Sure, I’m on this topic a lot, but I don’t think I’m personally obsessed. I’m like the person advocating for feeding the starving in a third-world country or your personal trainer batting away that Hershey bar and telling you to get on the treadmill already. I’d like to see more of us here in category number three: sex-satisfied.
Are you starved, saturated, or satisfied? What can you personally do to adjust your attitude and marital intimacy to be in the satisfied category?
[This article was originally published on The Marriage Bed in 2013, but has been revised and updated.)