In almost every marriage, either the husband or the wife feels sexually unfulfilled, at least at some level. What probably makes the situation more difficult are expectations. Based on what everyone else seems to be doing, as well as the cultural stereotypes, we probably have unrealistic expectations. These expectations are likely a huge barrier to accepting your sexual relationship for what it is and growing closer to our spouse through this challenge.
Remember that sex isn’t love, but it is designed to be an expression of love. The most mature expression of love in marriage is embracing your spouse simply for who they are without demands and expectations. In fact, it is through your disappointment and lingering needs that your love is stretched to encompass more than self-fulfillment. Perhaps God desires to use our lack of fulfillment to foster a deeper love in your heart for our spouse. To have the best intimate sex life, we must pursue intimacy with God first. We must learn to find our greatest delight in God. We must fill our hearts of the gospel which should result in our reflection of God’s grace to our spouse. We must not look to our spouse to meet needs that only the Lord can meet. And, we must remember, that almost all sexual problems in marriage are merely symptoms of other issues. Because, all biblical principles of relationships contribute or detract from marital intimacy (Romans 4:26-29, Romans 12).
While God created sex to be a blessing, mankind has ruined God’s gift of sex by turning it into an idol. Sexual sin is a theological problem (Romans 1:26-32; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Ps 51:4; Ephesians 4:17-19). And thus, idolatry more than adultery is the key to understanding our sexual problems.
Sexual idolatry can occur even in marriage.
- I must have a thrilling sexual relationship with my spouse.
- I must have sex a certain number of times per week.
- I must be able to have sex whenever I want to have sex.
- My spouse must stay in shape and look a certain way.
- I must feel attractive in order to want to have sex.
- My spouse must be as interested in sex as I am.
- My spouse must do certain things for me sexually (and like it).
- I must have a spouse who is romantic and communicates with me before I am expected to have sex with him/her.
Not only can idolatry affect marital intimacy, we must understand the differences between men and women’s perspectives on sexual intimacy.
- Men tend to be more visual
- Women focus more on relationship and intimacy
- Women desire to be the apple of the husband’s eye
- Men tend to become sensitive about rejection
- Women are more complex. Little things become big turnoffs
- Men are like microwaves while women are like crockpots
Scott Mehl provides a helpful list of ways to overcome sexual issues in marriage in his 2017 ACBC Conference session. The following is taken from that session:
Apply the Gospel to Your Sexual Past, Present, and future
- Romans 8:28-29
- Colossians 1:19-20
- Romans 8:1-2
Set your affection on your spouse
- Song of Solomon 4:1, 7, 11 – Him of Her
- Song of Solomon 5:10, 13-16 – Her of Him
Learn your spouse’s desires
- Philippians 2:4
- Learn your spouse’s physical desires.
- Learn your spouse’s timing desires.
- Learn your spouse’s personality desires.
- “If you do what comes naturally in lovemaking, almost every time you will be wrong.” (Ed Wheat, Intended for Pleasure)
Consider your spouse’s desires
- 1 Corinthians 7:4
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- Learn your spouse’s anatomy
Learn the (true) biblical guidelines of sex
Recognize the importance of frequency
1 Corinthians 7:3
Appreciate the importance of foreplay
- Song of Solomon 1:2-4
- “You have to touch your wife’s heart before you can touch her body.” (C.J. Mahaney, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God)
Identify sex’s greatest enemies…and address them
- Individualized Entertainment – or electronic interlopers (laptop, tablet, phone)
- Bad Hygiene
Part of the reason couple never turn to God for help in this area is because they see him as outside the bedroom door. So, if he is out there, he is powerless to help inside the bedroom.