Intimacy in Marriage

Encouraging Christian Women toward Healthy Sexual Intimacy

How Rough is Too Rough in Bed?

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Is it okay for a couple to be "rough" with each other in bed, where one or both spouses are using strength or control in the midst of sexual passion?

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about physical abuse, which obviously would not be acceptable.

What I am asking is, "Does physical dominance have the potential to add to a couple's nurtured intimacy?"

Truth be told, some people find it arousing to be passionately overpowered physically within a sexual context.

To a degree, I get this.  I understand (and honestly, appreciate at times) my husband's strength and my own desire to be "taken" by that strength.

But I feel completely safe with this man and know he would never harm me.

Not everyone could say the same thing about the dynamics in their marriage, so physical dominance in bed becomes a source of contention rather than a pathway to healthy sexual connection.

With regard to physical roughness during sex, here are questions you and your spouse should explore:

1. Is God's heart and standard your gage?

If something is forbidden in God's Word or is definitely going to cause physical or emotional injury, please heed those warnings.

Inflicting harm on your spouse or losing control to the point where sexual release becomes the god in that moment would be detrimental to the marriage and to the sexual relationship.

If you're wanting to get a bit rough beneath the sheets, make sure you are filtering everything through God's lens.

2. Are you both consenting to the roughness? Is it a turn on for both of you?

Playful spanking? Being held down? Firm grips?

All can be arousing if both of you in those moments see such physicality as a turn on, particularly the person on the receiving end of the roughness.

I imagine that for most women there is a tipping point here.  What can be arousing one moment for a woman can quickly drift into "too much."

It can become downright frightening rather than arousing.

I encourage husbands to pay close attention to this, because guys.. you are usually the ones who are physically stronger.  And sometimes you underestimate your own physical strength.

The last thing you want is for your Beloved... your Lover... to question her safety with you.   Mutual consent is a non-negotiable where roughness is concerned.  Are you both on the same page that what is happening is arousing and nurturing?

3. Do you both have the freedom to say "no" and "stop"?

This point builds on the last one.

Someone may think they want to be handled firmly... or may be willing to "give it a try"... but then in the throes of it all starts to experience pain or fear. That person needs complete  freedom to say "no" and "stop." And there needs to be no repercussion or "punishment" for that.

Our compass must always be love.

I also would add that if the domineering person starts to second-guess if the roughness they are using is really building intimacy, then that person also needs the freedom to put on the brakes.

Our marriage beds should not be a place where malicious selfish force and intimidation reign.  One person's sexual pleasure at the expense of the other person's sense of security is not going to strengthen sexual intimacy.

It may indeed destroy it.

4. What is your communication revealing about your sexual comfort levels?

The safer a couple grows in being completely honest with each other about their sexual intimacy, the more likely it is they are willing to embrace physical dominance at times in their intimacy.

Hear me out on this one, because I'm sure my point could be misunderstood.

Have you as a couple shown through your words, actions and genuine understanding of each other's bodies that the sexual intimacy you share is sacred, safe and valued?

If so, my guess is that you may be a bit more comfortable with each other's firm handling.  You don't question the other person, you know where they are coming from heart-wise and you mutually are okay with what is happening sexually in those moments.

If you have not reached a place in your sexual intimacy where you both feel deeply treasured and secure, then I doubt any kind of rough sex has a place in your bed.  There is just too much likelihood of misinterpreting someone's intentions, which obviously is going to inhibit intimacy, not foster it.

How rough is too rough in bed?  Each couple has to answer that for themselves. Exploring all of the above questions thoroughly may be a good place to start.

Copyright 2012, Julie Sibert. "Intimacy in Marriage Blog."

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November 6th, 2012 by