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Like many people, I've been watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
And, of course, I got to thinking about sex in marriage.
There's been so much commentary about important details that seem to not be quite right for these Olympic games.
Here it is the grandest international scale an athlete or spectator attending the games could imagine.
And the lack of attention to some details has been a bit jaw dropping and baffling. I mean, the host city gets like 7 or 8 years to… uhh… get ready?!
There have been some concerns that certain competitive environments were substandard, like courses not being designed correctly.
Or the sleeping accommodations for athletes not having pillows.
Or lack of clean and/or hot water in some of the hotels.
Details. Details. Details.
Can you imagine training four years for what could be the highlight of your athletic career, only to be hampered by things like, "Dang, I can't get a good night's sleep because I don't have a pillow."
Yes, I know. Many of the issues were resolved.
BUT, it's a good reminder that when details matter most, it's best we are paying attention to them.
Which brings me to sex in marriage. (You knew I would get here eventually…)
When it comes to nurturing sex in your marriage, here are 5 Reasons Details Matter:
1. Preparation makes a big difference.
If we view sex as vital to the marriage -- worthy of devotion -- then we are more likely to lean our hearts and effort in that direction. We will want to pour into our relationship -- in big ways and small ways -- so that we are enthusiastic about sexual intimacy.
It is easy to become distracted and discouraged by the chaos of daily life, but if we have our eyes aligned with God's vision for intimacy in our marriage, it's quite amazing what can happen.
2. A phenomenal experience is possible.
The way you touch, kiss and arouse your spouse matters. Is your heart in it? Are you paying attention?
The more a husband and wife intentionally and eagerly seek to give and receive pleasure, the more enjoyable and bonding the experience will be.
Pay attention to the details of making love, and a phenomenal experience will be at your fingertips. So to speak. Ask what your spouse finds arousing and teach them what you find arousing. Within the exclusivity of the marriage bed, there are endless opportunities.
3. If we assume someone else handles all the details, we neglect doing our part.
This is the crux of so many sexual struggles in a marriage. One person is doing all of the work.
One spouse is desperately trying to get the other person interested in sex, and the other half of the covenant relationship is indifferent. Maybe even resentful about sex completely.
Authentic and passionate sexual intimacy in marriage is a shared venture. A husband and wife both have accountability -- equal accountability -- to make sex a sacred haven that is visited regularly.
If that is not reflected in your marriage, is it because only one of you is paying attention to the details?
4. Some damage can't be undone.
My heart has been burdened lately by some comments and emails I have received from people who have said they have already given up on anything improving sexually in their marriage.
They have gone without sex for so long -- or have experienced nothing more than pity sex or obligatory sex from their spouse -- that they would now just assume not have sex at all.
And occasionally I do receive an email from someone who did wake up to the years they had neglected sex, only to discover that complete restoration was nearly impossible… like this story from a wife who admitted, "I may have done irrevocable damage that cannot be fixed."
That is heartbreaking commentary that is present in too many marriages.
The encouraging news, however, is that when a husband and wife do commit to finding healing in their sexual brokenness, tremendous ground can be gained. And there is reason to praise God for that.
5. As soon as we realize something is wrong, best to try to fix it.
When there are struggles, someone needs to speak up.
Sexual intimacy is so intricate to the strength and vitality of a marriage that when things start to deteriorate, we can't bank on "assumptions" or "hints" to get things back on course.
And if you are the one who is doing the refusing and neglecting -- and you start to see the toll it is taking on the relationship with the person you love -- then don't wait for things to get better.
Address it now. Humbly and intentionally address it now. If necessary, seek the insight and wisdom of healthcare professionals and counselors.
If you are a spouse who has emphatically pleaded with your spouse to put effort into resolving the sexual distance in your marriage -- without any real response from them -- I am deeply saddened by your woundedness. I have few words to speak into that pain, because I know my words cannot fix it.
Details. Details. Details.
The Olympics are displayed on the largest of stages, brought into our living rooms and across our computer screens in such a way that we glimpse at and learn about details to which we would otherwise be oblivious.
Sex in marriage, though, happens in a much more intimate space, behind closed doors. Though your sexual intimacy is not on display, the details still matter.
Be encouraged in seeking the details that matter.
Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.