The modern paradigm in our culture is that sex ends when marriage begins. But is there no sex in marriage? And, can Christian marriages experience great sex? The answer is, “absolutely yes!” Still, it works best in a Christian marriage when we follow certain principles.
In my book, “The Crucified Couple,” I cover many of these principles in detail. I’ll reprint the most pertinent chapter here:
“Chapter Six: Sacrificial Sex?
Second only to money, sex is a leading cause of marital stress, separation, and divorce. Whether it’s a difference in sexual desire or an affair, sexual issues can tear apart a relationship. On the other hand, as God intended it, sex can be the glue that helps keep couples together. The key to having sex be a positive force in marriage is, you guessed it…sacrifice.
Before we explore this further, we should consider what I call, “The façade of sex as a basic need.” In the U.S. and throughout most of Western Europe, we’ve been conditioned to believe that all people need to have sex and that without it we are psychologically and perhaps even spiritually deficient or ill. Movies like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” teach young people that anyone who doesn’t have sex is odd, or sick.
This idea affects marriage in that we come to believe thatif we’re not having sex as often as we like—or at least as often as one partner likes—we MUST be divorced or at least be allowed to cheat or use pornography since, sex is a primary need. If a partner gets sick or just loses interest due to age, menopause, or a mid-life crisis, we panic—or worse.
As an aside, this is also why the idea of sexual compatibility is also a farce. Couples who live together are more likely to become divorced than couples who don’t live together before marriage. The idea that you must “try before you buy” sexually is ridiculous based on the studies that have been done on premarital sexual experience and its impact on marital success. But even if it was true that sexual experience before marriage helped ensure sexual compatibility, the reality of change due to health, age, stress, and other factors negates that benefit.
In other words, if you’re 100% sexually compatible and enjoy the same
interests in frequency and positions for intercourse, etc., today; it’s entirely probable that this will change over time. My question to you is—then what? Will you quit? If your marriage and frankly your sex life is only built on your own pleasure, the answer to that question is, sadly, “Yes”.
So, when God tells us to save sex for a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman, He really does know what he’s talking about! It actually works—when we understand that sex is the icing on the marital cake, not the cake itself. It isn’t a basic need without which we die or become mentally warped. On the other hand it’s a beautiful uniting factor for couples who use it correctly and sacrificially.
Psychologically, and physiologically, sex is more satisfying when the focus is giving to the other person. This is ironic when we consider that the focus of sex in our culture is personal satisfaction or pleasure. This is not to say that we can be 100% happy simply by satisfying our partner. The key is focus—the priority is giving to our spouse with a desire to also achieve sexual satisfaction.
The key to making this work is communication. I’ve noticed over the years that, apart from medical issues such as Erectile Dysfunction, (which is more than treatable in most cases), the majority of sexual problems in marriage can be resolved by improving communication.
When couples learn how to share their sexual likes and dislikes then it’s possible to give and improve intimacy. This communication is both verbal and non-verbal. And, like all communication, it involves both sending and receiving information. Reflecting what you’ve “heard” or “understood” from your spouse by repeating what was said or by acting on it in bed is the key to completing this sexual communication loop.
It’s also important to consider creativity and the role it plays in romance. Sometimes romance and routine are contradictory. Not only do most couples find that changing things up a bit sexually helps, it’s also part of communication in that without trying new things, it’s hard to know what each partner likes or doesn’t like.
The point is, don’t get stuck in a rut, use variety to find out what your loved one enjoys and then provide that. You will likely be surprised at how much that pleases your spouse. You’ll be even MORE surprised at how much this pleases you!
The Apostle Paul wrote, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (I Cor. 7:3-5).”
What we have here is a beautiful sacrificial balance. When our attention is on the needs of our partner, both in terms of frequency of sexual intimacy as well as the type/approach to giving them pleasure, a bond is created and a protection exists against the temptations of a fallen world. In this context, romantic times and positive sexual experiences also create positive memories. All of this contributes to martial health.”