The First Five Years: Sexual Intimacy is Vital to a Healthy Marriage

Good morning!! I am currently sitting on my back porch, sipping a nice cup of Lady Gray tea and enjoying this beautiful morning here in Texas. It was actually chilly in the house this morning when we woke up... and you know what that means! FALL IS HERE! Fall is my favorite time of the year. The hot temperatures start to drop. The smell of cinnamon and pumpkin permeate the air. Fun fall recipes that have been anxiously waiting all summer to make their debut get to be cooked and warm our tummies. Albeit chilly, there is nothing like the warmth that this season brings! I just love the Fall!

Well today I'm finally getting the chance to share nugget number three with you!  I have had this post written for a few weeks now, but I have just felt so awkward posting it! But, nonetheless, it is important, and I really feel like the Lord wants to speak to someone through what He has taught me in this area. So here goes!

#3: A Healthy Sex Life is Vital to a Healthy Marriage. 

The reason I am writing about this today is because I believe it's something that is not talked about enough among Christians. And sex is kind of a big deal!! And because this is such a vital part of marriage, it's important that we take the time and effort to make this a part of our marriage that thrives. Although Trice and I have only had 5 years of experience in this area, we have learned so much. And we have had our struggles. So today I want to talk about what to do when you are struggling in this area.

You see, sex is one of those things that you assume everyone "has it all together." Sex is one of those things that is SO distorted by the world, that sometimes it's hard to keep a clear picture of what a healthy, Christian sex life should look like. Sex is one of those things you are told you'll "figure out together," which is true, but at the same time it would be nice to be able to  get Christian insight at times. There have been so many times in our marriage where I have felt alone in regards to sex or even felt like something was wrong with me. But what I've learned is that your sex life speaks VOLUMES into the depth and intimacy your marriage holds. And to have a healthy sex life, it takes some work!

Sigh. I wish it didn't but it does. All good things in life take work, right?!

For me, I had heard the lines several times: "Sex gets old." "After a while, sex will become a nuisance." "Men just want sex." "Sex is a chore." I refused to believe they could be true for Trice and me. When we got married, we were two eager newlyweds, excited to experience sexual intimacy for the first time and prove that the aforementioned statements were lies. No matter what, we would NOT become stagnant, our romance would not die, and sex would be awesome. Every. Single. Time. We thoroughly enjoyed our first year as newlyweds, and having sex never did seem like a chore. See? Piece o' cake. 

And then Year 2 rolled around.

I got pregnant. My hormones went out of whack. I birthed a child. I was tired and uncomfortable, and sex started to seem more like a chore to me. All of a sudden, it started getting old, becoming a nuisance and taking work. And all of a sudden, it just seemed like Trice wanted sex while I wanted sleep. Didn't he realize that I was up all night nursing a baby? Didn't he realize that if I had ANY free time, it would be nice for me to be able to take a shower, enjoy a cup of hot tea, or actually have a quiet time, not have sex with him? Couldn't he just wait? Couldn't he just NOT want sex? Couldn't we just postpone sex for a season and wait until I wasn't so exhausted and so stripped of 'me time'? Like until after the kids were out of the house maybe? Is that even possible?! 

To answer that question, no, you cannot just "postpone" sex for a season. Thankfully, instead of letting our marriage suffer, I met with a mentor, and she guided me through this tough season. God proved faithful, and I was soon able to start enjoying this precious time with my husband again. Several months of beautiful, intimate marital bliss...

...and then Year 4 rolled around. 

I got pregnant (again). My hormones went out of whack (even worse than the first time). I birthed another child in another state with no grandparents to help... I was tired and uncomfortable and this time it was even worse because I was taking care of TWO small children. And once again, sex became a CHORE. I remember literally sitting in my closet so overwhelmed and so frustrated that this "sex thing" would never go away. I remember feeling "stuck." I could sacrificially give myself all day long to my children as long as I could just get in bed and sleep at night. But this was asking too much of me. Give yourself to your children all day, change their diapers, nurse the baby, cook the dinner, clean the spit up, do a million loads of laundry... Oh, and then when you are in your EXHAUSTED state, go the extra mile and give yourself to your husband too... only to be awakened by a baby again a few hours later. Are you kidding me?! Is this for real? Who knew being a wife and mom would be so tough?

Truth is, I'm sure you have been here, too. I am sure you have had moments of desperation in your marriage bed. I am here to tell you that you are not alone in this. There are seasons of life where having a healthy sex life is DIFFICULT (i.e. pregnancy, postpartum, high stress seasons), and many of us have experienced "sex droughts" in our marriage. In these seasons having good quality times of intimacy with your spouse takes work. And because it is so vital to the health of our marriage, you have to be willing to make the effort when it's tough!

So what do we do during these tough seasons? The first thing we must do is realign ourselves with a few truths.

Truth #1: Sex is a gift from God. What kind of good daddy would give a harmful, overwhelming, exhausting gift to his children? I know as a parent I just want the BEST gifts for my kiddos! And God is a much better parent than me! Proverbs 5 and the entire book of the Songs of Solomon discuss how sex is a gift. Don't we get so antsy on Christmas morning when there are gifts under the tree? It's like we just CANNOT WAIT to open our gifts. We may even lose a little sleep and wake a little earlier to get the gift opening started sooner. What if we approached the marriage bed with this perspective? What if we were so antsy and excited to be intimate with our spouse? What if we really viewed sex as a gift? Let's allow God to change our perspectives on sex. Sex is not a chore. It is a gift.

Truth #2: Sex is more than just a physical act. I'm sure you already know this, but let this REALLY resonate inside of you. This is why men (and women) can never be satisfied looking at pornography or having a one night stand. There is a spiritual dimension to sex that unites you with your spouse and makes what was once two, ONE. There is a dimension of sex that connects two souls. When we take the spiritual side out of it, and make sex a sheerly physical act, we enter dangerous territory. Territory that God never intended for sex. Territory that leads to multiple sex partners, prostitution, human trafficking, affairs and sexual abuse. Territory that leads to just "meeting a need" and not caring for the soul of the person you are engaging with. Sex is a soul bonder for husbands and wives. Don't you want to bond deeply with your husband and experience intimacy with him?  

Truth #3: My husband NEEDS sex. Not in an "I need oxygen to breathe and survive" kind of way, but in the "I need sex to feel loved and connected to you" kind of way. I need dates and flowers and foot rubs and gifts and kisses and long conversations on the couch... my husband needs sex. This does not make him a pervert. This does not make him a sexist pig. There is nothing wrong with his wiring. Nobody ever explained to me that this is a serious NEED for husbands. And if we withhold sex from our hubbies, we are not meeting this need. What if your husband had a very busy, chaotic, exhausting season at work and neglected communicating with you, dating you, romancing you or hugging and kissing you? You would become insecure in your relationship. You would not feel loved. It's the same way with sex for men. Flipping this perspective has helped me to put myself in his shoes and realize his deep need and desire to be intimate with me. What about your hubby? Take a few minutes to ask your husband if sex is a need for him. Have an open conversation with him about what sex means to him. My bet is that he will say that sex is a pretty huge deal to him!

Truth #4: My husband will always want more sex :) It a desire that will never be fully quenched! That's how God designed it. Just like you start thinking about dinner a little while after eating lunch, so it is with sex. If we haven't had it a lot, he wants it more. And when we've had it a lot, it makes him want it more too! And chances are... the same is true for your husband! It's better to come to terms with this reality now and fully embrace this aspect of your husband than to hide yourself in the bathroom willing away his sex drive... because you CANNOT. WILL AWAY. YOUR HUBBY'S SEX DRIVE. The only way to fulfill his sex drive is to keep having sex. If you have already done it once this week, this does not give you a pass for the rest of the week... he may need a little more. Are you still with me? Am I speaking clearly here? We should be thrilled that our hubbies find us so attractive and continually pursue us!

Truth #5: Sex is not just for him. Trice does not want to be intimate with me just to fulfill a need of his own or just to feel loved. He also wants to be intimate with me because he LOVES ME TOO. It gives my husband satisfaction to know that he can please me and be intimate with me. So if I come to the marriage bed rolling my eyes, having a bad attitude, and just trying to get it over with, that isn't going to fulfill the need inside my husband. He wants to know I am having a good time and enjoying him too! It's not one-sided. It's about the both of you!

Truth #6: Sex is fun. Trice wanted me to be sure that I put this one in here :) Sex is supposed to be fun! It is supposed to feel good! It is supposed to bring satisfaction. If you have pain or discomfort with intercourse, see a doctor. If you have psychological baggage with intercourse, see a counselor. If it isn't good for you, be PROACTIVE in figuring out why and doing something about it. This is not something to dilly-dally about. This is a beautiful part of marriage that needs to be guarded and protected and most of all ENJOYED. It should be fun!!

Realigning myself with these truths has helped me have a healthier perspective regarding sex and intimacy. So when tough seasons come our way, I have made the choice that I am going to remember these truths and guard this part of our marriage and not let the lies of the Enemy discourage me from having intimacy with my husband. If you are struggling in this area, you too can choose today to be victorious in this area!

Also, in tough seasons of intimacy, get your hands on some resources. There are SO MANY amazing Christian resources out there that can help you get out of this slump. If you like podcasts, check out The Peasant Princess. It's an in-depth study on the book of Songs of Solomon. Marriage Today is a wonderful ministry and they have some good articles on Sex and Intimacy. Celebration of Sex is a really great book as well written by a Christian sex therapist. Seek out a trusted mentor. Have a few marriage counseling sessions. Pray pray pray. Avoid having conversations with those who have a negative viewpoint on sex. Whatever you do, do not let a seed of bitterness rise up within you in this area, because remember, a healthy sex life is vital to a healthy marriage.

Have a conversation with your husband. Allow him to pray with you if this is an area you are struggling in. Be open and honest with him about it. I remember the first time I entered a slump, the last thing I wanted to do was confess it to Trice. That just seemed embarrassing and I didn't want to hurt him at all. But just being honest about it and letting him know that I was struggling really brought a lot of freedom. It helped us to be united in prayer, and the grace and patience he extended toward me was just so special. Don't be scared to go to your hubby for support.

Set healthy boundaries together and respect those boundaries. For example, Trice knows that as a momma to two littles, if it's past 10 o'clock I need my sleep :) And I know that if it's before 10 o'clock, I don't say no. I know the pain he feels when I say no, so for me never saying no is a choice I've made for our marriage. Not only do I not say no, but I choose to be fully there in the moment with him. Trice knows what I like and don't like and I know what he likes and doesn't like. Talk about these things with your hubby. Don't not voice your desires and then get bitter with him for not following through on the unspoken desires. Unfortunately for us, they can't read our minds!

Lastly, press through. Being in a season where sex feels like more of a task than a gift is hard. But it's not an excuse to withhold sex from your hubby (see 1 Corinthians 7:3-5). There will be some days where your sex drive is just. not. there. On these days you must choose to press through, go freshen up in the bathroom, give yourself a pep talk, put on something that makes you feel beautiful and pray. Ask God to change your heart and give you a desire for your husband... He always follows through :) And He will bless your faithfulness to your husband.

So choose today to enjoy this gift that God has given to you and your husband. Remember that it is vital to a healthy marriage! Remember that it's a fun gift from God! And if you are in a season of drought, know that you WILL make it out of the slump and enjoy this gift again!!

Reflect on this aspect of your marriage today, and ask the Lord if anything in your heart needs to change. I am praying for you and always here if you need someone to talk to!

Now, go love on your hubby today. Remember, he needs it! :)

XOXO,

Sarah