Hot, Holy & Humorous

Love (and Sex in Marriage) Is Not Self-Seeking

The article below is (mostly) an Oldie but Goodie. Originally published 12 YEARS AGO! on January 31, 2011, this was my first post about how passages in the Bible not about marriage or sex yet apply to marriage and sex. However, the prevailing approach I took was appealing to a lower desire wife to consider her higher desire husband. Mind you, I NEVER said that she owed him sex on his terms or that she should violate her conscience, but I did want to add some clarification. So, this post has been expanded and edited for formatting, grammar, and clarity.

It’s daunting to realize that all of those scriptures about how we should treat each other and demonstrate love apply to marriage. Sure, I want to “bear with one another” when discussing worship changes with a friend I see once a week in Bible class, but bearing with my husband when he forgets for the 103rd time to turn off the shower head and I’m doused with water while attempting to draw a bath, ugh. “Share one another’s burdens” is relatively easy when my girlfriend needs a shoulder to cry on but less appealing when it involves my hubby relating for the 226th time the struggles of completing a work project only identified by an acronym that I knew the meaning of back in 1998.

The Bible isn’t “self-help.”

In my self-help dominated world, I would prefer to open up my Bible to the chapter titled “How to Achieve a Godly Marriage in 30 Days.” Instead, God chose to reveal Himself and His will with narratives of His people, commands and guidelines, passages of worship and prayer, and relatively little straight advice. 

Sure, the Proverbs have plenty of tips, but “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife” (21:19) is not what you want your husband to read so much as:

Step 1: Bring her flowers every day.
Step 2: Compliment her cooking. 
Step 3: Remember her half-birthday.

And so on. Even when I look for the word “marriage” in my Bible, it occurs 49 times. That’s all?!!

Yet the recipe for a good marriage is throughout God’s Word.

The Bible has answers.

Marriage is the crucible for personal relationship growth; it’s where we most reveal our capacity to live as loving people.  That’s why 1 Corinthians 13, a passage about how we should love one another in the church, has become standard fare for wedding ceremonies. It applies.

“Marriage is the crucible for personal relationship growth; it’s where we most reveal our capacity to live as loving people.”


Extrapolate a little further, and you’ll see that all those love principles apply to the marriage bed. 

Imagine placing in parentheses the phrase “in the bedroom” after every description in 1 Corinthians 13. Thus, “Love is patient (in the bedroom), love is kind (in the bedroom). It does not envy (in the bedroom), it does not boast (in the bedroom),” and so on.

Eventually, we get to “Love is not self-seeking (in the bedroom).”

 But to be honest, sometimes we are. At the very least, we’re “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” We have a tendency to sing Janet Jackson’s What Have You Done for Me Lately? in the back of our minds.

We want sex when we want it, where we want it, the way we want it, and sometimes not at all. Don’t bother me with your sexual needs; I’ll let you know when mine need fulfilling.

This is particularly tempting for the lower desire spouse because the higher desire spouse wants the sexual act more than we do or at least requires less atmosphere, preparation, and general ta-da! to be raring to go. So, we can often set the terms.

If she’s the lower desire spouse…

It’s somewhat like arranging furniture in a new house. When moving in, most women want to direct the placement of love seats, settees, end tables, coffee tables, wall art, bookcases, lamps, knickknacks, and crisp House Beautiful magazines. Typically, he’s content to walk in, plop the recliner in front of the TV, and call it a day.

But since he won’t get to sit in his recliner with drink in one hand and remote in the other until you’re happy with the living room configuration, he hauls stuff from one spot to another until you deem yourself satisfied.

We’re often in control, ladies. But love is not self-seeking (in the bedroom).

Think of the marriage bed equivalent of perching his Lazy-Boy to face a big-screen. What would that look like for you? When was the last time you went in there and thought about what he would like?

I’m not suggesting that you do something against your conscience—and there can be good reasons to refrain—but if you’re in a good marriage overall, consider what speaks love to your spouse. Sex could be among the most intimate expressions of caring for to your beloved spouse.

If he’s the lower desire spouse…

Rearranging the furniture for your wife may be nice, but it’s not how she best connects with you. And you have an opportunity to be her hero—to fulfill her sexually in a way that makes her body shiver and her heart soar. If love is not self-seeking (in the bedroom), what does that look like for you?

Maybe an appeal to verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13 can help illuminate the goal: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Protect your wife’s heart, trust her desires are good, hope for sex that is mutually exciting, and persevere until you find it. You don’t need to shuffle into the bedroom tonight with an “okay, I’m here, let’s do this” attitude, but take that next step in the journey to figure out how to pursue more frequent and better sex in your marriage.

If you’re the higher desire spouse…

The 1 Corinthians 13 passage I referenced starts with this: “Love is patient, love is kind.” That means that in pursuing physical intimacy in your marriage, you need to be patient with your spouse, kind in your initiation and your responses to “not now,” and also remember that “not self-seeking” attitude.

Sex isn’t about you. It’s about the relationship. If the sex you’re craving doesn’t strengthen the marriage you have, what’s the point?

Sex isn’t about you. It’s about the relationship. If the sex you’re craving doesn’t strengthen the marriage you have, what’s the point?


Sex, the way God designed it, isn’t about getting our own Meg-Ryan-in-a-diner moment or “getting it over with,” but rather finding ways to build intimacy with your beloved spouse.

And that, my friends, brings us to 1 Corinthians 13:13: “The greatest of these is love.”

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2 thoughts on “Love (and Sex in Marriage) Is Not Self-Seeking”

  1. Sex isn’t about you. It’s about the relationship. If the sex you’re craving doesn’t strengthen the marriage you have, what’s the point?

    Thank you for these words of wisdom. I most definitely agree with them. However, my wife thinks differently. She was taught that sex is for the man and it is something to be tolerated…a wifely duty. I know many married men who have wives that would agree with my wife. Perhaps my generation promoted this belief…I am glad that she did not pass this belief to our daughters.

  2. My wife and I have been married 48 years. I want to share as a husband  how our intimacy has progressed.

    In the first years of our marriage we read the book  “Intended For Pleasure ” a Christian outlook on intimacy. It gave us a foundation. 

    My wife has not been comfortable with her body, even from the beginning. After two children she gained weight and is still overweight. 

    In those years I would write her occasional letters telling her how much I loved her, her body and our intimacy. Our intimate moments were (and still are) satisfactory and mutually satisfying. 

    I’m the HD in intimacy, she the LD.

    The one thing I know is that God wanted her to be my wife. That is the rock in our marriage.

    Over the years we have talked about  my HD’ness and have come to a compromise.  I respect the way she is. She is the one God wants me to be with.

     It’s about “agape” love. Putting her needs first before mine. Self sacrifice is a part of marriage .

    She has not been the very active one and rarely initiates intimacy. But I make sure she is fully satisfied before I am. I have never forced her to do anything she is uncomfortable with. 

    Is our intimacy the “blow your socks off” type?

    No. But we are both satisfied. 

    And I am Blessed that she has never rejected my advances.

    I believe she takes to heart the Apostle Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 where he counsels the married to “stop depriving one another”.

     And I “agape ” her.

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