The Act of Marriage is the title of a book published in 1998 and was one of the original attempts at a Christian discussion concerning sex. It leaned towards boring and is not one of my favorite books. However, I love the title.
The expression of our sexuality is one of the key “acts” we engage in when we marry. If people were honest, they may admit that the sexual drive was one of the things that made marriage desirable in the first place. Even the scripture tells us that “if you burn with desire you should marry” (1 Cor 7:9). Sex allows us to connect in an emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental way like no other act can. Sex is a powerful drive designed by God to connect and continue to connect two individuals in a marriage in a deep and meaningful way. It is so important that God gave us an entire book of the bible on this topic.
In marriage circles sex is one of the most discussed topics. This week we will be posting a couple of posts on sexuality, sensuality and romance. Each of these topics make up the triangle of the act of marriage. While a great sex life does not in and of itself result in a great marriage, it can be thought of both a thermometer and a thermostat in regards to your marriage. On one hand a great sex life reflects a strong and intimate marriage. On the other hand developing a better sex life can result in a stronger more intimate marriage.
On most marriage podcasts a large percentage of questions circle around this topic. How often should we “do it?” Why is he always thinking about sex? Why does she get so angry when I turn down their sexual advances? Is that all they think about? Deeper questions include why do I feel rejected as a person when he is not interested in sex. What baggage do I carry in regards to sex? What are the activities I am engaged in that prevents intimacy and sex.
There are a few reasons why sex is such a huge issue in marriage and why many fights surround this issue. First, baggage we bring into a marriage concerning sex is often confusing and sometimes painful. One in three women have been sexually abused in some way. This abuse ranges from unwelcome pressure from boyfriends in a woman’s developmental years to rape at some point in a person’s life. Additionally, the Christian mantra historically has been; “sex is dirty, shameful and disgusting and should be saved for the one you love.” This baggage causes confusion and pain in the area of sexuality and can create significant barriers to intimacy.
Second, men and women respond in significantly different ways concerning sex. Barring physical issues and stress, a man is usually ready for sex at any given time. A sexy smile, a light touch on the arm or even a bumpy bus ride and a guys is ready. Men have a biological drive towards desiring sex more frequently due to high levels of testosterone. Women, on the other hand, have been created differently. They are generally slower to warm up and sex is often a secondary issue that follows children, work, budgets, housework, and time on Facebook.
Finally, we live in a sex addicted world where pornography makes sex about a physical need at best and twists it into a pathological drive at worst. In general, pornography sets unrealistic expectations, demeans women and men alike, and twists a person’s view of sex into something that is neither intimate or loving. Many people think that pornography shows too much concerning sex, in reality it shows to little. It reveals something about the physical but omits vulnerability and intimacy. In short, sex is not just about genitalia. In her book, A Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, Sheila Wray Gregiore, says it this way:
Sex is not just about genitalia. It’s about relationship. When God said “the two shall become one flesh,” He didn’t mean it only physically. Only focusing on the physical neglects the real power sex has to bod two people together in other ways, not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.1
Further, God, in his wisdom, designed sex to be contained and controlled within a covenant relationship. What this means is that the only person that can minister to my desire for sexual intimacy is my spouse. Since there will often be one person who desires sex more than the other, there may be one who has to make the choice to serve the other by providing for sex when they are not really in the mood. Or, there may be one who has to show patience with the other when they are not in the mood and decline your sexual advances. Sex is a place where we are often asked to exercise the fruit of the spirit, either through sacrificial love, sacrificial service, sacrificial patience or sacrificial gentleness.
In this post I would like to provide a little, straightforward insight into how guys view sex. It may not apply to your guy, but I think it applies to most guys. Afterwards, I will do the same for the guys concerning women.
For Women Only
When sexual needs are met, men are better at being human…
The sex drive in men, especially younger men, is a powerful force to be reckoned with. When sexual desires are not being met we simply do not always think clearly, are more likely to succumb to the temptation to isolate and withdraw, and can sometimes just be mean. This drive is a combination of the need to be emotionally connected and the physical need for release. These two driving forces are connected in a way we simply do not fully understand. It is difficult to control our tendency towards frustration and anger when we are sexually frustrated.
Much like women, men have cycles too…
Testosterone build-up in the blood system will create an increasing need for sex. I know, not very romantic, but it is a drive that men have very little control over and the emotional results can often lean towards frustration that presents as anger. Understanding his cycle, how often he desires sex, can have a significantly positive influence on every aspect of your marriage. When women do not understand this and fail to plan accordingly, men lean towards withdrawing when our needs are not being met.
Like women, men have a need and a desire for intimate connection…
While you experience this through conversations, time spent on activities, holding hands etc., men feel most intimately connected during and immediately after sex. While his desire is physical and often presents that way, when he walks by and runs his hand over your posterior, it is also a call for intimacy, not just sex. Pay attention and learn to read between the lines and learn your man’s moves.
When you reject his advances, he feels like you are rejecting him…
I know nothing could be further from the truth, and it may seem childish, but there it is. It can be deeply painful, especially if it happens often. Again, from the book Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex quotes from husbands in her research:
“I don’t feel loved because my wife doesn’t want sex. I feel like she doesn’t want me personally.”
“You know there is a lack of interest, but you don’t really know why. You start to think, What is wrong with me?”
“I feel rejected, like my wants, needs, and desires don’t matter.” “It really hurts. I feel like a failure and a horrible husband because she almost never lets us have sex. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I feel.”
Men do know, at some level, that you are not really rejecting them. We understand you my be exhausted, distracted or simply not feeling “sexy.” As Christians, we know that even if we were being rejected that we are still loved, accepted and valued by God. However, it is sometimes extremely difficult to assimilate that truth when we are feeling sexually frustrated.
When you initiate sex he feels like you want him, are satisfied by him, and love him…
“I don’t have to remind you that you like chocolate cake. You enjoy chocolate cake so you eat it when it is around. The cake does not have to remind you that you like it. If you really enjoyed sex…” So started a coaching conversation about sex. Ladies, he really does not understand that sex is not a thought that crosses your mind 227 times per day, because it probably crosses his. He thinks if you really enjoyed sex you would initiate more.
Initiating sex lets him know you think he is sexy, that you desire him and that he is your “Thor.” I know you can’t make the thought of initiating sex cross your minds 2-3 times a week, but you can set a reminder on your phone.
He wants sex to be exciting…
Try something different every once-in-a-while. Have you ever made out in a state park; spent some time fooling around in the guest bedroom; wore a cowboy hat or a superwoman cape to bed? Have you ever had the police respond because the neighbors called in a loud noise complaint when the kids were at grandma’s? I am not encouraging activities that would land you in jail, but you can have some fun and do something different every once in a while.
For Men Only
Have a Reality Check…
Women do not see sex the same way you do. They need time to open up emotionally and this means you get to spend some time talking with her, going on walks holding her hand, etc. Remember, love is patient and kind. Show her some of that patience and sacrificial love and learn what she needs to prepare for sexual intimacy. While sexual attraction is more physical for men, sexual desire is more of a mental thing for women. In addition, learn what she enjoys and what she does not enjoy. Learn to serve your wife through sex just as you serve her in other ways in your marriage.
Dude, Show Some Self Control…
I know that the gentle pat on the bottom is a way that you show affection. However, she is probably not going to take it that way, especially if you take the opportunity to do so 12 times a day with one of those times being at the grocery store on the baby food isle. It makes her feel like a piece of meat. Cut it out.
Bring the Romance…
While you may be ready for sexual intimacy at the drop of a hat, it may take a little longer for her. Let her know you are thinking about her during the day. Text or call for no reason but to say you love her. I know you think about sex 15 times a day but you need to actually express it to her. Just thinking it does not communicate intimacy.
Plan a date each week. Yes, it’s your job. Try for at least 1 time per week, even if it is just a brief lunch. Put away the phone and actually pay attention. If your not a natural romantic, get a book. It is a skill you can learn.
Learn How to Express Your Needs…
Quit pouting when you don’t get your way. Withdrawing to your room and playing video games will most likely not result in her getting hot and bothered and jumping you in the middle of Call of Duty 12. When you are feeling disconnected, let her know. When you are feeling lonely, let her know. It is in sharing feelings that a woman feels connected.
Brush up On Your Approach…
“Hey, you wanna do it” is probably not the best approach when you want intimacy. Learn how she wants to be approached, what she needs to feel secure and loved, and then watch the sparks fly.
- Open the homework questionnaire and answer the questions from your perspective. Set a time one evening later in the week to share and discuss your answers. Try and set aside some time where you are not interrupted.
- Listen to the Podcast from In This Together regarding “Talking to Your Spouse about Sex.“
- If you want another podcast to listen to, check our the Fierce Marriage Podcast as Ryan and Selina Frederick discuss the “Five Anchors of Sex.”
Gregoire, Sheila Wray; Gregoire, Sheila Wray. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) (p. 205). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.