Early in our marriage, my husband I were a part of a church that stressed the importance of living in authentic community with fellow believers in Christ. So we plugged into a small group that consisted of couples who’d been married 1-3 years and one mentor couple who’d been married much longer than us. Our mentor couple paved the way for us to be open and accountable in all areas of our marriage, including the often-taboo topic of sex.
One evening around the table in confidentiality, one of the girls told just us girls about the concerns she had in her sexual relationship with her husband. It’d been several weeks since they made love. Most evenings she was tired from work, being a mom, and just didn’t feel in the mood. She was frustrated and he was too. Above all, she was concerned about his temptations with pornography.
We listened and encouraged her to be intentional about having a regular time for intimacy and that we’d hold her accountable. We gave her ideas to freshen things up and what we acknowledged right away was that her situation was not extraordinary. We’d been there as wives before and probably would again.
How God intended sex to be
When you’re single and dating, sex is so incredibly enticing, it’s easy to think that sex will be so easy in marriage. Besides, you love each other so much. How could something so delightful take so much work?
But you quickly realize after the wedding day and honeymoon that you have to be diligent in cultivating your sexual relationship with your spouse. Keeping it alive and exciting doesn’t always come naturally. Sex can become common. Arguments and conflict often surface when sexual intimacy is lacking. And sex isn’t exactly at the top of your to-do list when you’re mad at each other.
But the amazing thing is that God designed sexual intimacy between a husband and wife to be enjoyable, even in the midst of life’s demands, as well as our own insecurities and imperfections. He designed sex to be delightful, vibrant, intoxicating, pleasing, fun, adventurous and bonding. But I can’t promise that you’ll see the marriage relationship portrayed like that on your flat screen.
The secret of the joy of sex
In Song of Solomon, Chapter 4, King Solomon and the Shulamite woman have consummated their marriage. Their sexual desires and passions are no longer restrained. They are diving into all the delights they’ve been waiting for with wild passion. Here are just a few examples:
“I have entered my garden, O my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my balsam spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk!” (Song of Solomon 5:1).
“His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem” (5:15-17).
“May your mouth be like the best wine, flowing smoothly for my beloved, gliding gently over our lips as we sleep together” (7:9).
“I am my beloved’s, and he desires me!” (7:10).
Those are just a few words out of lines and lines of descriptive Hebrew poetry that reveal the beauty of Solomon and his bride’s sexual relationship. Who needs romance novels and movies when you can just open the Bible! God clearly had a purpose for including it in Scripture. He cares about the sexual relationship because he created it as a good thing.
In marriage, God has given you the incredible blessing of enjoying your husband’s body, mind, soul, and spirit to its absolute fullest. And it’s a pleasure you get to enjoy for however many years God gives you together.
In the book Sex and the Supremacy of Christ by John Piper, contributor Ben Patterson says,
“The gigantic secret of the joy of sex is this: Sex is good because the God who created sex is good. And God is glorified greatly when we receive his gift with thanksgiving and enjoy it the way he meant for it to be enjoyed.”
If you don’t accept the gift of your sexual relationship with thanksgiving and joy and prioritize it in your marriage, then you’re being disobedient to God’s word and doing a huge disfavor to your husband’s real needs. But when you enjoy the gift of sex with a joyful and selfless heart as God intended, you’ll be amazed at the oneness and beauty that comes from truly prizing this precious gift from God.
The reality of sexual brokenness
If sexual brokenness or victimization has been a reality for you prior to marriage, no pain is too great for God to heal. It’s never too late to seek biblical counsel and bring to light those hurts. Talking about your sexual past can help save you from a lot of pain down the road. I could share with you story after story of marriages I know that God has healed in such a way.
Past or present misuses of sexuality like adultery, fornication, pornography, and so on that have entered the marriage bed are never beyond God’s forgiveness and grace. God is in the redemption business. Our struggles with sin are why we so desperately need the cross. In our unfaithfulness, Jesus loved and pursued us. And He is always calling us back to him. He calls us out of hiding and shame, and into his healing rains of forgiveness.
Committed to the sexual relationship
Your sexual relationship with your husband is a huge deal and you were created to enjoy the gift of sex to its fullest. It must be protected to keep your relationship strong and healthy.
It’s neat to see how over the years the friend in my small group has grown in her intimacy with her husband. She started making changes when it came to the time of day they were intimate—she struggled with liking her body so she started working out, bought new lingerie, and made sure she was taking care of herself spiritually and emotionally in the midst of being a working mom.
Her husband appreciated the efforts made and they’re doing well in their overall relationship today. They’re committed to keeping their sexual relationship the best it can be while recognizing there will be days that are harder than others.
My friend’s efforts continue to encourage me to honor God and my husband in such a way.
Questions for your personal reflection: What changes do you need to make in order to better prioritize sexual intimacy with your husband? Do you have a heart of thankfulness and joy or has sex become common? Text or call a trusted friend about where you’re struggling and have her hold you accountable.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com