Talk About Sex
In a culture enamored with sex, we do little serious talk about it, especially between husband and wife.
You would think with how freely our culture rages on about the topic, it would be easy for spouses to talk about physical intimacy. IT IS NOT.
Silence in marriage has perpetuated sexual brokenness, resulting in disunity, leading to mutual pain and frustration.
Early in our marriage we went through some dark seasons. I had naively imagined sexual intimacy would be the least of our worries in our new marriage. I came into marriage as a virgin, yet I still carried baggage and misconceptions fueled by lust and shaped by popular media. Anna brought in her own load as well. This was shaping out to be a recipe for unmet expectations and disappointment.
Did I mention yet that we had no pre-marital counseling? We entered marriage completely unprepared for sexual intimacy, much less the ability to talk about it together.
We had a choice, continue to feel hurt by unmet expectations, and drift further apart, or do something about it.
In the beginning, we didn’t know how to talk without recycling through old arguments and hurt feelings but we committed to ditch fear and silence, and begin talking.
So what did we talk about?
Not the mechanics of sex. That is a great conversation to have, but one we would talk about later.
We talked about our pain and resentment. We talked about God’s design for sex and our expectations. We talked about forgiveness and grace.
There were things we both needed to hear and understand, and we desperately needed to learn how to show love toward one another.
I can’t fully express how difficult those early conversations were. They were dark, and they often felt hopeless because we seemed so far apart.
Below are two biblical truths that eventually laid the groundwork for all our future conversations. These truths go a long way in helping any couple have grace-filled conversations about sex.
We are One
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
I love the conclusion of these verses, the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
In their intimacy they had no shame or fear, but peace and joy with one another. Oneness includes sexual, emotional, and spiritual intimacy, along with all other facets of marriage. It is tempting to prioritize one over the other, but being truly united as one won’t allow it.
Sexual intimacy is also unique in that it reminds husbands and wives of being one. Sexual intimacy declares, “all of who we are is intimately connected.”
“Sex is like a covenant renewal ceremony.” – Tim Keller
In our marriage, I have discovered when there is a disconnect in our spiritual or emotional intimacy, our sexually intimacy is directly affected. When I find myself frustrated, rather than doubt her desire for me, I ask myself strategic questions.
“Am I faithfully pursuing (emotional, spiritual, and physical) oneness with my wife? Am I making effort to connect with her in meaningful ways outside of sexual intimacy?”
I can either feel defeated, or use my self-assessment to recenter my priorities. In this practice, I have noticed my frustration and resentment is replaced with a renewed resolve to pursue my wife spiritually and emotionally as well.
Entrusted to Care
1 Corinthians 7:3-4
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
I appreciate the writer, Apostle Paul’s, candid talk about sex in marriage, but these verses can be quickly misunderstood. At first glance it can appear as if Paul is suggesting we are free to make demands of one another’s body. I believe Paul is actually advocating for husbands and wives to take on a new responsibility, caring for each other’s body. He is advocating for awareness, tenderness, sensitivity, sacrifice, and actively pursuing your spouse’s good. Paul doubled down when he wrote to husbands,
“for no one ever hated his own body, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:29)
And so, husbands we love our wives first, as we would love our own body
This completely changed how I approached sexual intimacy. These verses encouraged me to stop and consider Anna’s needs. Practically, I ask,
“what does she need from me right now?”
Many times she simply needs rest after a long, busy day.
Anna and I are continually putting these questions into practice. Doing so provides an opportunity to sacrificially care for each other’s body. It also lays the groundwork for a safe and trusted foundation to turn struggles into healthy conversations.
When we recognize things are out of sorts, we acknowledge it together and ask,
“What can we do to reconnect?”
We might discuss our hectic schedule lately or other demands in this particular season in life. These conversations go a long way in diffusing tension and resentment, allowing us to work together to move back towards each other.