Being "Sexy" For Your Husband? (part five)

This is the last in a 5-part series examining if and how Christian wives should be "sexy" towards their husbands. Click below to read previous installments:

PART ONE: Should a Christian wife be enticing or seductive towards her own husband?
PART TWO: Where does the standard of "sexiness" come from?
PART THREE: What is definitely off-limits for Christian marriages?
PART FOUR: Should there be a difference in our attitudes, countenance, and the way we carry our body in public and in private?


In this final post, I want to examine the question: How important is this in a Christian marriage?

While the actual specific degree of importance of intimacy may vary from one marriage to another (at various ages, stages of life, and with different levels of desire), across the board, we can broadly answer, "extremely important".

* BIBLICALLY, marital sexual intimacy is deemed important.
The fact that physical oneness was given by God as one of the original purposes of marriage, and the fact that the Apostle Paul (a single man who generally took a high view of celibacy and singleness) wrote about the importance of regular physical intimacy between marriage partners, as well as the fact that one entire book of the Bible speaks about the love relationship between a man and his wife, tell us that this is indeed an important part of the marriage relationship.

* CULTURALLY, marital sexual intimacy is clearly important.
Our own culture and its struggles with sexual sin speak to the importance of this relationship. (Frankly, having lived in or visited many different cultures around the world, I have personally seen that this is a universal HUMAN problem.) Yes, sexual sin can happen without any problems in the marriage relationship, but many, many marriages struggle in this area, and the Bible itself tells us that deprivation or problems in this area of intimacy can lead to sexual sin (1 Co. 7). Because of the growing problem of porn and the rise of divorce and affairs (including in the church), we must be even more vigilant to guard and work on our marriages in this area of intimacy.

* RELATIONALLY, marital sexual intimacy is extremely important.
Just as communication is a key factor in a close marriage relationship, physical oneness is another key area for maintaining the strength of a marriage. When a husband or wife is consistently refused or denied intimacy, it can produce bitterness, anger, humiliation, self-consciousness, and can encourage negative or sinful behaviors in the spurned spouse.

WHAT IF SEX ISN'T IMPORTANT TO ME AS A WIFE?
Sadly, I have heard many wives speak of the weekly "obligation" with a tinge of disgust, and some just see it as an undesirable but unavoidable need of a silly husband. Each case is different-- some probably feel this way because they picked up this attitude from their mother or from society; sometimes, a lack of sexual freedom and excitement in intimate activities can contribute to boredom or the feeling that it's unimportant; and sometimes the marital act has been linked in a wife's mind with sexual sin and thus is morally repugnant to her. A recent commenter in this series on intimacy expressed her own difficulty in comprehending why sex is so important in the marriage relationship and received good biblical responses from many other women about this issue. Seeing sex as unimportant or undesirable is not an uncommon feeling, but it is an unbiblical attitude towards God's gift of intimacy.

If you've struggled with not comprehending the importance of intimacy in the marriage relationship, I'd encourage you to examine why that is, and what might be changed in order for you to begin to view intimacy in the proper, biblical light. Perhaps a good manual with specific tips on mechanics might help. Perhaps reading a book like "Sheet Music" or "Intimacy Ignited" could give you more insight as to the biblical view of marital sex. Perhaps taking full advantage of the freedom in marriage (and enjoying more than just the same-old, same-old) might give you more interest. But I'd encourage you to work to find ways that this can become more than a routine or tainted act for you.

WHAT IF THE WIFE WANTS IT AND THE HUSBAND DOESN'T?
This is a frequent problem, but is rarely, if ever, addressed in our culture because of cultural views of men and women's sexuality. If you read the cultural messages, it's clear that men are supposed to be like sexual tigers no matter what, but this simply isn't the case. Sometimes it's a medical issue, sometimes it's because of a porn or sexual addiction that keeps his interest elsewhere, and sometimes it's a genuine lack of interest, but regardless of the reason, the husband in this marriage is every bit as wrong to withhold himself from his wife as a wife would be in the reverse situation. 1 Corinthians 7 makes it clear: "your body is not your own". This applies to the husband OR the wife. In fact, Paul's first command in this area is to husbands, in verse 3: "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband."

So what should a wife do in this situation, if her husband is withholding intimacy from her? To be honest, I've wrestled with this question for some time now, and I'm not entirely sure. Certainly, she has "conjugal rights" that ought not be denied. But I wonder if others have thoughts on this? Does Matthew 18 apply here? Should she involve others and/or pastoral authorities? Should she just set up a doctor's appointment and see if there's a medical reason, thereby forcing the issue? How do you think a wife should biblically address this with a husband who is disinterested in sex?

A KEY ISSUE FOR HUSBANDS
Even considering the problem of the previous section, a majority of men still rank this as the primary issue of importance to them. As one friend pointed out to me, this could be because so many men are being denied regular times of intimacy. Perhaps it would not be seen as so crucial if they were receiving enough of it. But just as some wives feel conversationally deprived, many, many husbands feel sexually deprived. The difference, of course, is that we can make conversation with anyone we please. (I'm not trying to give husbands an "out" on communication-- it's a VERY important part of marriage. I'm just pointing out the difference between conversation and intimacy, as the primary needs of men and women, generally speaking.)

However, we as wives are the ONLY ones who can biblically meet the sexual needs of our husbands (and, conversely, they are the only ones who can biblically meet our sexual needs). When we do not do so, we risk not only sin but the decline and destruction of the marriage relationship. Many books have pointed out that a husband who is sexually fulfilled would be willing to do sink-fulls of dishes while walking on burning hot coals to please his wife if she so desired... but that when a man is not sexually fulfilled, it breeds depression and discontent unlike any other unmet need. The Bible itself makes clear that sexual regularity is a key to preventing sin from creeping up in the marriage.

SO, ULTIMATELY, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?
My basic point is this: Considering that the marriage relationship is our primary relationship in life behind our relationship with God, and considering that intimacy was given by God as a gift to us (not a curse or a sin), and considering that the health of a marriage relationship is very often linked with the health of intimacy in that relationship, this is an EXTREMELY important issue for Christian wives. We need to be aware of it, we need to make intentional efforts in this area, and we need to strive to love and serve our husbands in this area. (And frankly, not just see it as an act of drudgery, but work to take delight and joy in this area of relationship with our husbands.) We can do even this "as unto the Lord", as an act of worship and submission to God in our lives.

I don't in any way want to sensationalize this issue or focus on it in an unhealthy way, but I am personally convicted that this one issue, if dealt with biblically within Christian marriages, could keep many from sin, could prevent many future sins of our children, and could give glory to God by making Christian marriages all that they should be as a picture of the love relationship between Christ & the Church.

I'd love to hear any additional thoughts you have about this. Is this an area where you struggle? Do you or have you struggled to see the importance of this issue in your marriage? Do you have a hard time meeting these needs because of the view and education you've been given of sexuality and intimacy? Are you a wife struggling with a husband who is disinterested? Do you have insights as to how a spouse can deal with this issue if they are being refused intimacy? As always, leave your comments (anonymous comments OK on this series!).

I hope you've enjoyed this series; I know I have enjoyed brushing up on learning about these things, and I've really enjoyed your comments.

{FYI: I'm contemplating doing a follow-up post or two about porn, but it's such a difficult subject, and it's so personal, AND it's affecting so many Christian marriages in so many ways. Let me know if this would be of interest to you, or if you have any good links/resources in this area that I can highlight. Thanks!}

Graphic ("Painting" by Alphonse Mucha) from allposters.com

27 comments:

Mary said...

There is an excellent site available for people who wish to get free of porn or other sexual sin called "Setting Captives Free". It is a cost free 60 day interactive study that is very Biblical. Each person is assigned a mentor and men will get a male mentor and women a female mentor. I highly recommend this course. The on line address is http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/home/our_courses.php

They have several courses for other problems as well, such as drinking, gambling etc. The course for sexual problems is called "The Way of Purity" and there is also a companion course available for wives called "A United Front".This course helps the wives to understand the pull that porn has for their husbands and helps her to come along side of her husband to support him in his desire to become free of sexual sin. A person can be as anonymous as they choose and will find the kind of help that they need. All mentors have been through the course themselves, reached freedom, taken a mentor's course and now are trying to help others find freedom. It is a wonderful godly course and has helped many marriages to become what God intended them to be.

Blessings,

Mary

Elizabeth said...

I am not married, but I am SO thankful to you for this series. It was excellent! :) Something is wrong if the culture we live in talks about sex more than we do. It's a gift from God!

Steph VG said...

I was going to mention "Setting Captives Free" as well - highly recommended from us, too!

Also, you might want to check out Pure Life Ministries (http://www.purelifeministries.org/), too. Porn is more and more becoming just a human problem, not just a men's problem. They've recently written a book (and an accompanying workbook/study guide) called, "Create In Me A Pure Heart," for struggling women.

All of their material is very Biblical, and super-practical.

Mrs. Brigham said...

I have enjoyed this series, Jess, and really appreciate the dignified and honest way you have discussed an issue that people so frequently do not want to discuss for a myriad of reasons.

Others may disagree with me, but I cannot help but wonder if intimacy has become the tangled the ground it has because we are not looking at it in the appropriate light, and with the proper regard, but instead are absorbing what the culture says, and even some sad attitudes held by people of faith and expressed in many a marriage manual. When we dumb the oneness of husband and wife down to the mere physical act of intercourse, we all wind up losing out. The coming together of spouses should be about achieving spiritual, emotional, and, yes, physical oneness, rather than just orgasms, babymaking, or the fear of your husband cheating on you or leaving you if you do no give into his every whim. Personally, I think the realm of lovemaking is not just the physical act of intercourse itself, but also has a lot to do with conversations with one's spouse, sharing in spiritual matters, affectionate physical touch, and sharing a common vision together as a strong, non-divided *one*. This is not to say that physical intimacy is not part of this as it most certainly is (and is a *beautiful* physical representation of all a husband & wife share within their full "sphere of oneness"), but oneness between husband and wife should be a lot bigger and more powerful than just what happens between the sheets. To separate each of these parts of oneness, instead of embracing & nurturing them as the holistic, flowing circle that they are, leaves a lot to be desired, and I cannot help but wonder if this might be why issues about intimacy abound, both in the church and in the culture as a whole. No part of life can be placed into neat little compartments, and matters of the marriage bed are not any different. Anyway, just my .02 on the subject. :o)

Anonymous said...

I have really appreciated this series as it's an area my husband and I have struggled in for probably our whole marriage (6 yrs.). Our intimacy life has never really been great, but especially since the birth of our first baby it's been rough. Everything you talk about in your posts is stuff I've read before, but haven't really been able to apply completely or truly grasp what's been going on between the two of us. The issues seem so much more complicated, and I'm sure that's partly when our pride is involved. We have made a few strides in improving (including general relationship (not intimacy)counseling), but always seem to "regress" into the original problems (husband feeling neglected but not communicating his needs; wife uninterested and burdened by caring for babies all day and then feeling that the husband just has more demands from her...) It feels like an endless cycle of slight improvement, and then fallback again. I know it's bad when my husband communicates to me (in so many words) that he feels hopeless and like that area of his life feels shattered forever. Yikes, I must have really screwed things up.
Then we'll have a good conversation that gets us somewhere and gives us hope. Any tips on how we can stay in that "hopeful" phase and actually make it our way of life? I'm not really sure how to pray, and reading Song of Solomon is a challenge, as it's hard to get through the poetry of it, and usually I read it with a "yeah right" attitude, feeling that we'll never have that perfect biblical intimacy!
Sorry this got so long... it's definitely an area of deep hurt and frustration for both of us.

Simple Family Supper lady said...

Thank you for doing this well written series. I appreciate your willingness to step up and tackle this subject. I know it has made many of us think and pray about this part of our marital relationships! God's Blessing to you!
Heather

Jess said...

Hi anonymous,
Several suggestions, because of the way you asked your question...

Any tips on how we can stay in that "hopeful" phase and actually make it our way of life?

There are several ways to go about making it more regular and more precious... in no particular order:

(1) Set a goal for yourself until it becomes "the norm". some of my friends have made a 30-day goal for themselves, some have said, "I'm going to make love to my husband 3 (or 4) times every week for this whole month." And then they write it on the calendar. Whatever you're doing now, give yourself a challenge, think about what will motivate you, and then do it.

(2) Think about it throughout the day. Spend time putting fuel on the fire, so that it won't feel like it's "sprung" on you at the end of the night. Get a book like Sheet Music or Intimacy Ignited... or just read the Song of Solomon and think about what CAN apply for your marriage... and keep your fire warm. A friend of mine likened our intimacy as a woman to a campfire that needs to be kept warm. Even if you're not raging hot at a particular moment, it will be easier to get to that raging hot stage if you've kept the embers warmed and ready to be fired back up rather than letting the fire go out altogether. So do some legwork to keep it "on your mind"... and don't go too long between times (that's another way to keep the embers warm-- don't let them ever cool off physically).

(3) Pray about it. Ask God to give you a special desire for it. Put a sign up on your fridge, or above your stove or in a place where you'll see it every day that will remind you to ask God right then to give you a renewed desire and interest in your husband in this way. He made your body and He can do this. I have experienced that personally, and so have many of my friends. So go to God with that desire. Also, pray before intimacy, that you will be able to mentally dive in and not be distracted or frustrated.

Begin (if you don't already) inviting God into those times with your husband. At first it may feel strange because we've been told (sometimes indirectly, sometimes outright) that God & sex don't go together. But try it and see! Ask Him to make your time together sweet and precious and honoring to Him. Ask Him to give you a glimpse of how much Christ loves us as His "bride" by giving you extra delight in this physical oneness you share with your husband.

(4) See if there are things you can do BEFORE intimacy that will make you feel more connected to your husband FOR intimacy. For example, I've personally found that I need to go through my mental "checklist" and share the things with my husband that have happened during my day. I *usually* can't just jump in... I want to feel connected with him and know that He knows where I'm at. So, that has become a part of our normal time together... we talk and spend time together before intimacy so that we both feel connected and ready to be together. Perhaps for you, it would be just for him to be willing to rub your feet or sit on the couch with you while you do something else (watch a favorite show together, listen to some music, eat dessert, whatever). See if there are things that he can do and be a part of that will help you feel more "ready" for those moments.

(5) Get creative. Do something new to make it more fun for you. Put your hair up fancy, or buy a pretty new nightie. Get a new set of extra soft sheets or put some perfume on after the kids go to bed. Set the "tone" with some candles or put together a "mixed tape" (like we used to do in Junior High) of love songs to listen to together. Think up something new you want to try together and either enjoy it or laugh it off if it doesn't quite "work". Pull out some Hershey's syrup or hide a piece of candy under your tongue. Put a note in his jacket pocket before he leaves for work or text message him something flirty. Make it fun and interesting for you-- try to think up new things every now and then to make it different. It doesn't have to be mega-amazing or super-sexy... but it can be. Just take time to infuse variety into your intimacy.

(6) Talk about it. Don't make it a one-time conversation. Keep it as a regular part of your communication with your husband... "how are we doing lately?" "Have we gotten into a rut?" "Is there something new you'd like to try?" "Are we together enough?" etc... let him tell you of his desire and then respond to that desire.

(7) Just say "yes". This is off-putting to our "modern" sensibilities that would tell us, "My body, my rights!" But the Bible says otherwise-- that when you marry, your body is no longer yours only. So, I'd say this: always say yes. Don't beg off or make excuses. Try to be available (mentally and physically) whenever the occasion arises. Obviously, sometimes you're sick or he's traveling, or there are exceptional circumstances, but generally, just say "yes". And let him know that that's going to be the answer. I've been amazed to watch how much a marriage can turn around just by this one decision-- to always be available for your husband. (I'm so thankful to be a part of a private online forum that is for Christian women about intimate issues, so I get to hear about dozens of Christian marriages and see how these kinds of choices can affect a marriage in detailed and authentic ways.)

I wonder if other people have more ideas to add? This is just what I came up with off the top of my head. I'm betting that others can share their experiences and ideas too!

Thanks for writing and asking this question. It's understandable that babies and children takes a toll on a marriage-- we just have to work to fight against letting ruts develop and bad habits form in our most important human relationship!

I hope this is helpful for you,
Jess

Mrs. Brigham said...

Anonymous- I would second all of Jess' suggestion wholeheartedly. Praying is of the utmost importance to a marriage, and truly, wonderful blessings will come from spending quality time with God. Her suggestion of setting a goal for yourself is also especially helpful. When my daughter was first born, I set a small goal at the very beginning of one time a week due to some issues with pain post-childbirth, and once this issue was resolved (yay!), I increased my goal from there until finally life was back on track and a new sort of "normal" was establish for our entire lives, including intimacy. You needn't be super formal about this (Friday night, etc), but just shoot for a general goal.

I do not know if this might be possible for your situation, but if general tiredness and feeling "touched out" might be a roadblock for you, planning for lovemaking during a time when you feel at your best may be helpful--the morning or mid afternoon perhaps. The evening would not work usually work with my husband's work schedule in mind, and this has been wound up being a huge blessing for me as I am usually exhausted by the time nighttime arrives. If your husband works a normal 9-5 type schedule, try going to sleep earlier and surprising him early one morning. Breakfast can even cook in the crockpot the night before if you are worried about the morning routine becoming wacky from this little change.

If you have parents or friends nearby that might be able to babysit at their home, you can always plan a special night together with your husband at home. Dress up as you might if you were going out, prepare or order out a terrific dinner, buy some nice candles, music, or whatever and see where the evening might take you. For fun you could even try a recipe from one of the aphrodisiac cookbooks available. I cannot say if they actually work, but good food can make for good times.

And, as Jess said just get creative & think outside of the box. We co-sleep and I admit that I am always a bit confused whenever somebody asks me about what this must do to our love life. On the bed, at night is hardly the only time or place for intimacy. ;o) Use your imagination to set up an atmosphere that is most comfortable for you, and likely your passions will ignite. This might be as simple as taking a "real" shower, doing your hair & makeup, and not "looking like a mom." I know for me, taking the time to do something as simple as using more than two minutes to shave my legs can really lift my spirits.

This suggestion might sound silly, but try taking the time to recall an intimate experience with your husband that you really enjoyed, and remember why that was. Write this down if it would be helpful, or just keep it in the front of your mind when you feel yourself wanting to say no.

I hope somebody might offer a suggestion to help you, Anonymous. :o)

Amanda said...

Jess,

I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog. Thanks so much for taking time to post and to interact with your readers. :)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I know *all* too well how you feel. I personally know the kind of feelings you have, and they are not fun.

There is hope at the end of this! But that hope only comes from God. I know this is going to sound bizarre to some (if not most!), but bear with me here.

I could've written your post a year ago. And those same feelings creep up on me from time to time. This is what got us out of it:

1) I pray during the day about a desire for my husband. I pray that God multiplies my energy and gives me extra energy for my husband when the time rolls around.

2) As a couple, we often pray after we are together, thanking God. Our love life was so awful, that what we have now is just rediculously fantastic! So I want to praise God, because I know it is from Him!

3) After the birth of my second baby, my husband I am became really convicted to let God plan our family. No more birth control! Woo hoo! We were going to do NFP, so we ordered the materials and read through them. After studying them for several nights, God convicted us that He wants us to trust Him completely with the number of children. In all circumstances.

I honestly think it is this last point that truly turned our love life around. I don't have any friends that I can tell because they would all think we're crazy. And it is not exactly something you talk to family about! But there are times when I just want to tell everyone I know how FREEING it is! It has completely changed us as a couple.

I know this is not the situation for everyone. But you can never go wrong praying and asking God what He wants *you* to do to improve things. For me, He wanted me to pray more consistently and leave my family size up to Him.

Please consider yourself and your marriage covered in prayer. :)

(Thanks, Jess for allowing this l-o-n-g response! Please edit as you see fit.)

-Lauren

Catherine R. said...

I very much enjoyed the series. : ) I think while some women may dismiss their husband's needs it can also be a problem if, like Mrs. Brigham said, women's sole motivation for having sex with their husband is constant fear of him cheating. I'll tell you what, reading "Every Man's Battle" (a Christian book about male sexual sin) had me traumatized. After I read it I thought being married was all about the wife living in constant paranoia that her husband would go fondle himself in the parking lot of a women's gym unless the wife had sex with him every 72 hours or less. No mention was made of the wife enjoying anything about sex.

As I've expressed here before, enjoying sex in my marriage has not been Easy Street for me...never the less, I hope I can one day find balance through prayer, counseling and open discussions like this one. My goal is to want sex out of desire instead of fear. Thanks for talking about this stuff. : )

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
I just want you to know that you are not the only one who struggles in this area. For me, that is the one thing that discourages me the most, is thinking that I am the only one in my small circle of friends who struggles in this area, when they all seem to enjoy intimacy and sex. I always feel that I am looking in a beautiful room and everyone inside has a key that I have not yet found. It is extremely heart breaking for me, and has been for the last 6.5 years of marriage. This blog has encouraged me so much and I am so thankful to the Lord for showing me that others do struggle in this area, but also that it is not hopeless. Even in the last half year or so, it’s already gotten better, and I think it’s all due to one thing: the changing of my attitude towards sex. Jess often talks about how pre-conceived notions about sex can really damage our view of it in our marriages. And for me, this is very true. I had to go all the way back and realize that sex was something I considered taboo. I thought Christians only did it to get children and when they did it, they certainly didn’t enjoy it. I think it has to do a lot with the fact that my mom never talked with me about sex, I never knew my parents had a sex life, and while I know they love each other very much, they never showed physical love of any kind in front of us kids. I don’t blame them at all, but it was truly damaging to how I viewed sex. Through this blog and through various books I’ve read recently (Creative Counterpart and Sacred Sex) I have come to realize that sex is a vital part of marriage, it is what sets marriage apart from all other relationships, and it is my duty to do my best to make this part of my marriage a healthy one. Others have stated that prayer is important and I wholeheartedly agree. GOD UNDERSTANDS!! He LOVES you. He LOVES your husband and He WANTS you two to have a loving, healthy sex life. He KNOWS, even without you telling Him, that you are struggling and HE WANTS TO HELP YOU. I know, from experience, that God heals broken hearts, shattered lives, and He is an expert at picking up the broken pieces and putting them back together. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:3-5 He is on your side, Anonymous. All you have to do is ask Him to help. And He will because He has promised you He will. (Heb. 13:5)
I also understand what it is like to have ups and downs. I think this is very normal, especially for us females who are constantly on a hormonal roller-coaster. I find in the downtimes, it helps if we do spontaneous things throughout the day. For example, reaching out and hugging my husband out of the blue when he is just playing with the kids, or if he grabs me while I’m making supper and gives me a passionate kiss on the lips... those kinds of things help me to look forward to bed time instead of dreading it. Or, like another poster said, a different time in the day, or a different room can help me anticipate it more.
Marriage is hard work. I can’t just lay back and hope that things will get better. I have to find tangible ways of making the most out my life with this man that God has given me. I hope some of what I have rambled on about helps you. :) I’m sorry it’s so long... I just really wanted you to know you are not alone in struggling with this and also that it is not an impossible dream to have a marriage like Solomon.

Laura

Johanna said...

What a great series! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together. I have been challenged by it and it has been a great springboard for conversations with my husband!

Britt said...

This has been a great blog and I've enjoyed reading the comments.

With me staying at home with two kids under the age of 5 (and one on the way), my husband working a full time job (with a long commute), and just dealing with other factors of life (family activities, bills, pets, etc)...we found it hard to just be spontaneous - we are tired at the end of the day...lol! Before we knew it... "X" amount of days would pass and we had not been with each other. My husband and I actually PLAN a time when we can be intimate...mark it on the calendar even. This way, we both know we have to "attend" this important event :) It's worked great...allows both of us to get in the frame of mind for that time and really makes us both feel important to one another...does that make sense?

Jess said...

Laura,
Thanks so much for sharing your "been there, done that" experiences with us! While it's hard to work through those long-held attitudes, it's much better to do the work now than to get 15 or 20 years further down the road and THEN realize it!

Your scriptural encouragement was so good too... thank you for sharing!


Britt,
I know that same sort of thing has been the case with friends of mine, and they've come up with the same solution you have: marking it on the calendar. :) Thanks for sharing! I'm so glad that you've shared your experience so that others can benefit from it!

~Jess

Kim said...

As a single woman, I cannot reiterate ENOUGH how important it is to make this a regular part of your marriage.

Sounds weird, right? :) But like Jess said, sexual intimacy is one of the "up there" biblical reasons for marriage, and Paul said that it is better to marry "than to burn." So as someone who is single, and therefore "burning," so to speak, I just want to encourage you to take advantage of the unique gift that you have in your husband and in the outlet for sexual energy!

Also, a consideration I've heard from a girlfriend (we were discussing it in the realm of getting pregnant) - she is a "morning" person. So just keep in mind that it doesn't HAVE to be at the end of the day - it can be in the morning. Or whenever you have a moment. Sunday naptime. I don't know. But if you are exhausted at the end of the day, find another time. Wake him up early - as my friend said, that is the one time her husband doesn't complain if she wakes him up! ;)

As someone who is single and frustrated at times, I look forward to the day when I can put these principles into practice.

Thanks Jess for tackling such a huge topic!

Anonymous said...

I'll give my reason(s) that I had/do have for not being intimate as often with my husband as I *should* be and it all stems from when I was small I walked in on my parents and my mom did not seem to be enjoying it. I worry constantly that my kids will hear or worse walk in and think that daddy is *hurting* mommy, (which is the FURTHEST thing from the truth ;) ) We live in small house (always have lived in small houses) and I am terrified that they will hear something. I have decided to turn on the radio while we are making love, but then I worry that the kids will *know* that everytime the door is locked and the radio is on mom and dad are *doing* something lol. I don't know, I like that idea of gearing up for the evening, but I thought that maybe that was "wrong" somehow to be thinking about sex through out the day as a Christian (you know "whatever is holy whatever is pure") Anyway I'm a mess but still working on it. My poor husband :(

Jess said...

Anonymous,
So many women deal with childhood-related memories that hamper their ability to experience freedom in intimacy. You are not alone-- I'd encourage you to find someone who can talk through it with you, biblically, and help you build a ladder over that experience so that it's no longer a barrier for you.

*** Also-- I wanted to encourage you that thinking about your physical oneness with your husband IS pure and holy. You would not be violating Philippians 4:8 to spend time considering ways to love and be lovely to your spouse. That is absolutely biblical and honorable, and certainly something that CAN be honoring to God because you are reveling in the gift of intimacy that He Himself created and gave to you for your pleasure and for His glory.

Blessings & thanks for adding your thoughts,
Jess

Sarah Joy Albrecht said...

Hi Jess!

Thanks for another great series.

The topic of Christians and sexuality comes up a lot in conversation amongst wives. I like to encourage Christians by reminding them that sex between a husband and a wife isn't "dirty" - God invented sex!

A comment on something I think you touched on briefly: There are many women out there who wish their husbands would do more to please them. One thing that is often overlooked is that in these situations, especially if a wife is becoming quite frustrated, that sometimes seeking to please the husband, instead of merely seeking an orgasm, is a way to stimulate their love life. It's certainly Biblical to treat others the way that you would like to be treated!

Also, the world seeks sexual pleasure, but they cannot understand true love apart from Christ, who loved His bride the church so much that He sacrificed his own life for her to make her pure before the Father. Christian sexuality is an extension of this love. Christ's intimate familiarity with our thoughts and feelings, tenderness with our care and self-sacrificial attitude to give himself up for us is one that we can emulate in our marriage and sex life.

Finally, I think that Christians should be doing more to educate their children about sexuality from a Christian perspective. Recently, an engaged Christian woman who is getting married in the next few months came to me in tears because, when she asked her Christian mother to talk to her about sex - she was afraid of her wedding night! - her mother became embarrassed and refused. How sad this is! My encouragement to her was to take it slowly and take time to appreciate each part of her new husband's body - to not just love him with her body, but tenderly and from her heart.

Certainly there are maturity-level appropriate conversations that can take place. As Christian parents, we cannot be shocked if our children have premarital sex because we failed in our responsibility to teach them in the Lord - that sex is a beautiful thing and was intended for marriage.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to believe that sex is a pure act in a fallen world. Perhaps before the Fall it was without shame, but once Adam and Eve fell, they had shame and covered up their bodies because they possessed the knowledge of good and evil. Before they knew evil, they didn't know any better. Even in a marriage, sex is a "necessary evil" because there is no other way to propogate the species. The fact that some people "burn" is just another indication that it is sin and God has provided an outlet, almost as a concession that it's better to use a spouse to "get off" than to engage in more egregious sexual sins.
All I know is that sex has always left me feeling used and dirty. It's always been the focal point of a relationship and if I didn't give in, then the guy dumped me. I don't see much difference in marriage. Woman are nothing more than a creation for man. How could a holy, loving God do that? I believe He exists and that I must believe to be saved, but it stinks that my value and reason for existence is so base.

Anna S said...

Jess, thank you so much for this wonderful series. What a blessing reading your blog has been to me in this period of my life!

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I have read through your posts because sexual problems have been a continual problem since I got married 7 years ago. And without disrepecting my husband, it has been mainly from him although as time has progressed I have become frustrated and said things which I'm sure have damaged our physical relations. It is such a vicious cycle when you get stuck in it! My husband is totally not what this world portrays a man to be aka 'tiger'! He thinks he is not 'normal' and has a complex about it! He has never once initiated sex and now we have not been at 'one' for months. I find it very depressing. I will heed your posts and do more to try and be attractive for him but in some ways I just don't know what to do. In terms of bringing in a 3rd party, he would be mortified and it would damage our marriage for sure. The problem is that we have talked about it over and over again............and then nothing. It is like banging mt head against a brick wall and now quite frankly, I am unconcious!!! I've got to a stage where I have controlled my sexual desire as I have had to accept my position and learned to try and not get frustrated about it. This in itself is not good because then when I think about sex with husband I find it hard to even want to get in the mood. I envy those woman who have husbands who want to show them affection in this way; they are blessed. I pray about it, my husband says he does but until he changes I don't understand what will change. I don't even want to have the 'but it's so important to our marriage and me' conversation as I feel like a record going round and round and nobody is listening. Sigh

Sorry this has turned into a rant but apart from my sis I have no-one to talk to.

Liz said...

Hi All,
I am still processing the series and the three highlighted anonymous posts, but want to commend a couple of under-discussed books on the topic. As a reference point, I am a pastor's wife, mother of two (ages 4 yrs and 18 mos), have lots of married friends we talk to about this, and we've counseled MANY for marriage (hubby used to do college ministry...), struggled with sex from the beginning (alternating desires for each of us, the "after kid" syndrome, scheduling issues, physical issues, perception issues, etc.). We know many who struggle as we have an many who live with God-given intimacy and really amazing sexual freedom (within Biblical boundaries, of course) right from the get-go. Right now I would say that we have some ups and downs, but for the most part live in victory (even if that's not expressed as often as we'd both like). We've been married over 8 years. For now, I'll just give you my book recs and work on some thoughts for (realistically) a few days from now.

The Marriage Builder by Larry Crabb. You want the Gospel? You want Oneness? You want to have at least a vocabulary to talk about it? Get this book. Best book on marriage we've ever read (and between us we've read a bunch!).

Intended for Pleasure by Dr. Ed Wheat (and his wife). This is a loving, Christian, biological example of wanting the best for married folks and their sexual intimacy. This is no "Kama Sutra" dressed up in Christian language, nor is it some idealistic "hope mandate" without any practical anatomy. It's educational, helpful, respectful, and gentle. And with exercises (for both genders - many of which you can do together) and chapters ranging from the first time, to the first time after kids, to the millionth time after the age of 60, I cannot recommend this enough. We have all of our couples get it, and recommend they take it on their honeymoon (just in case). We also make ourselves available to them over the phone, so please don't think I'm calling the book a cure-all. But really, it can get to the heart of misunderstood perceptions and lack-of-knowledge issues on our bodies in SUCH helpful ways, I think it is an invaluable gift to Christian marriage.

Sorry for the length, I hope that doesn't prohibit reading the comment or (more importantly) the books!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's obvious, but I notice it makes a big difference when we don't go to bed at the same time. If we don't we're far less likely to. When one spouse is up finishing off work (be it paid work, housework, church stuff...) it's generally just not going to happen.

Anon E. Moose :) said...

I've heard women complain "all he wants is sex!" and I've heard this even used as one of the topic headings at a popular marriage seminar.

You wrote:
"As one friend pointed out to me, this could be because so many men are being denied regular times of intimacy."

I think:
Recently I heard someone point out that a person who is suffering in a desert will cry out for water; when sexual sharing in the marriage is withheld to begrudging, bare minimums instead of overflowing and generous .. a husband will experience the entire marriage that is a painful, dry desert.

You might resent your husband for wanting to talk about sex and think he is a small person. Think about what you are doing, then: would you belittle someone who is in the desert, crying out for water, because they don't want to talk about the cinema?

I think it might be much better for you to actually take heed to your husband's comments.

It might be wise to consider how would you want to be treated when you ask for more close, soft conversation? Do you want him to respond by increasing the way that he meets your needs?

It's just my opinion, but I perceive that our society has made it very comfortable to put men down and belittle them because they want union with their own wives. (Yet we dare not and must not put women down for want to feel loved.) If this is true, to whatever degree this opinion might be correct, I would urge Christian women who have married to reject this crass element of our society and not to let it happen in your own Christian home.

Anon E. Moose said...

Regarding:

"Perhaps it's obvious, but I notice it makes a big difference when we don't go to bed at the same time. If we don't we're far less likely to. When one spouse is up finishing off work (be it paid work, housework, church stuff...) it's generally just not going to happen."

I have been living in a marriage of long-term, ongoing sexual deprivation. From this perspective one this I just want to caution you is to "go backwards in the video tape to an earlier point in time" and see what the causes are for not going to bed together.

In our marriage, I don't bother coming to bed because sexual rejection has been there. It's demoralizing to climb into bed with your "mate" over and over again only for that person to be completely unresponsive and to behave as if you don't exist. It's better to drift around the house and do chores (etc etc etc) than to have union in the marriage refused over and over again.

This may not apply to you at all; just thought I'd suggest checking for the possibility and ruling it out.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy I came across this series, I'm a newly wed and I've been having trouble with intimacy as a christian woman. I've been wanting to flirt and be all sexy for my husband, I've even thought of leaving sexy letters around the house but was afraid because I was worried that it might not be allowed in Gods eyes. Thank you so much