One Thing That Can Radically Improve Sex

friendship in marriageHow much do you enjoy your spouse as a friend?

For some marriages (sadly), that’s such a foreign question.

Somewhere along the way between the altar and now, they lost track of what it means to be each other’s friend.

I personally think friendship is quite the aphrodisiac. Incredibly sexy.

One thing that can radically improve sex in a marriage is friendship.

What?! Not glamorous enough?

Were you hoping I would elaborate on a sexual position or romantic getaway idea?

Yes, those are nice too and certainly have their place, but nothing quite compares to knowing you’re giving your whole self to someone you deeply trust as a friend.

In my time as a writer and speaker, I’ve seen a key difference between those marriages where sexual intimacy is highly valued — and those where it is a huge source of discord and discouragement.

The married folks who absolutely treasure sex more often than not also have a genuine friendship.  At their core, they are intimately concerned with their spouse’s wellbeing in the day-to-day ups and downs of life.

And they like doing life together — even with its harshness, struggles and uncertainties.

Though they may argue and disagree (as all couples do), they perpetually rely upon a tone of respect, forgiveness and compassion.

As for the fun and tender moments and all the enjoyable times in life, they would much rather celebrate those together.

What do I see in the marriages where there is sexual distance and struggle?

More often than not, I see two spouses who really don’t value each other’s company. They don’t mutually hunger to do life together.  They have long since forgotten what drew them together in the first place.

They wouldn’t consider each other a trustworthy friend.

They’ve become masters at isolation and guarding their hearts from each other — instead of bearing their souls to each other.

On rare occasion, I do hear from someone who will say, “My spouse is my best friend, but I really don’t like sex at all. We just don’t need sex in our marriage.”


When I hear that, I’m always a bit suspect.  I wonder if their spouse would say the same thing.

I also wonder if one or both of them is simply trying to convince themselves that they have a marriage anchored in authentic friendship — when really what they have is a friendship with no real evidence of a marriage.

Like I said, though, it’s certainly the rare exception when I hear, “We are great friends. But we have no desire for sex.”

What about you? What would you say about friendship and your marriage?

I think it is so instrumental and worthy of attention to dig into that question.

In the ebook I recently co-authored, Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage, my fellow co-author (Jeff Murphy) and I easily agreed that where there is great sex in a marriage, you likely will find two people who sincerely believe their friendship is a key tenet to their marriage.

Jeff and his wife Glynis have been marriage mentors for years, so they obviously have countless real-life experiences to back up the high need for friendship between a husband and wife.

Yes, in the book we offer many suggestions on sexual technique and ways to make the most of those moments you are sexually in each other’s arms. But a thread throughout the book is appreciating and intentionally seeking a deeper friendship with the person you married.

Profound intimacy — the type of intimacy you long for — is sexual, emotional and spiritual.  A couple is more likely to find that when they take care of their friendship in the rich and holy context of their marriage.

Why not begin 2014 with a renewed focus on being your spouse’s friend?

It could be the best decision you make to radically improve your intimacy.

Copyright 2014, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.

15 thoughts on “One Thing That Can Radically Improve Sex

  1. jenny says:

    Excellent article !

    As for me, I was very embarrassed to even think that I may want to make love …..maybe because I heard too much negativity in the church about sex…I couldn’t understand why priests talk so much about the virginity of Mary, and so little about the state of married women…. I thought that, even married, I have to act as a virgin….. that destroyed my marriage…
    Even today, I struggle with resentment towards Virgin Mary…..I avoid any prayers where she is invoked under the name “Virgin”.
    In the on-line calendars, up to 1962 (wikipedia ) almost all women saints are called “virgin”. I thought that virginity in marriage will make me a saint…..
    I also notice that those old calendars do not call men “virgin”.
    Was virginity a requirement for sainthood – only for women, but not for men ?

  2. Brent says:

    @Jenny Citing Virginity in a bride insured the authenticity of the lineage of children born to the Jewish couples. See the account of Christ’s lineage from Matt 1:1

    Mary was engaged to be wed to Joseph at the time of the immaculate conception of Jesus. She remained a virgin until after the birth of Christ our Lord and then the Bible says in Matt 1:25 “He knew her not until she had her first child” . Joseph and Mary had 4 sons named in Matt 13:55 and verse 56 even speaks about sisters…

    That being said her sainthood has little to do with her chastity after the birth of our Lord

  3. eammon says:

    jenny wrote ” As for me, I was very embarrassed to even think that I may want to make love …..maybe because I heard too much negativity in the church about sex…I couldn’t understand why priests talk so much about the virginity of Mary, and so little about the state of married women” I think she has good point. I am not knocking virginity but the Catholic church I was raised in held virginity in very high esteem. One would almost get the impression that virginity after marriage is also a goal. It helped perpetuate the belief that sex is only for procreation; not for pleasure. It also helps prove the adage “good girls don’t”. I sincerely believe that what we learn as children carries well into adulthood and can be damaging to our perceptions of what is right and wrong. If being virgin is held in high regard and people do not hear that sex between married adults is okay and every sex act does not have to culminate with the intention of conception, we have missed the meaning of the marital sex. Even as adults, our heads can still be filled over time with lies about sex if we hear the negative enough times. I read this saying one time; there is nothing dirty about sex but if you think long enough it can be.

  4. Lynne says:

    I was a refuser/avoider for many years. Our only child married and left home. Then she moved several hours from home. As I changed and re-built a new life with my husband, our friendship grew. As our friendship improved, he began asking genuine questions about my interests. Better yet, I found I actually wanted to make love and our sex life radically improved.
    So, yes, I agree, friendship is a great basis for the marriage relationship.

  5. John says:

    I want to say this is not true, but I know that is not the case.

    BUT – its not ALWAYS true. For example, my wife and I dated/were engaged for 6 years before we got married. We were best friends. We did everything together, for social to church to school to work. I told her everything about me and vice versa.

    We got married, then the next 16 months – no sex. First 36 months – sex only 5 times. We average about 4 times a year over 22 years. I’d say the average is that “high” because when she wanted children, we would do about once a week in a month. This last year was a “good” year – 6 times. We are still great friends. I support her in everything she does or wants to do. She supports me. Relationally, I hold nothing back and neither does she. We serve together in the church, we raised a great bunch of kids. We still go on date nights, overnighters, etc. We vacation every year several times. Her mother and father love me. I;ve been faithful.

    YET – in this one area, she just simply doesn’t care. Nothing I’ve said, shown her (articles, blogs like this, both scientific, psychological, physical, religious), been in counseling multiple times – nothing has and probably will ever convince her just how wrong she is about sex. It just doesn’t matter to her, no matter how much it matters to me, no matter what I’ve said or begged.

    So don’t tell me “The answer is FRIENDSHIP!!” Because it might not be.

  6. JulieSibert says:

    @John… I’m so sorry for the lack of sexual intimacy in your marriage.

    I question how good of a friend your wife is being to you if she withholds sex and doesn’t seem to care that this causes you to feel rejected, frustrated and hurt. No matter what you’ve said or how much you’ve begged, she still doesn’t want to be accountable in this area and do what it takes to be a better friend to her husband… and to give him the one thing that he can’t ethically go get someplace else.

    That is saddening.

  7. landschooner says:

    Johns experience is like my own. I understand that it seems contradictory that my wife could be my best friend yet still nominally refuse me in the bedroom for so many years but that is my testimony. Sex was an issue for her and it had nothing to do with the quality of our friendship.

    That being said, I think your article here is great. If you DONT have a good friendship, I believe that will generally have a deleterious affect on your sex life, especially with respect to the wife’s level of desire. Working on a friendship, if its lacking, is very good advice, imho.

    by the way, Happy New Year Julie!

    (p.s. Just a thought John. If you want to talk further to some Christian folks like yourself about Sexual refusal in marriage and get some prayer and support, (and advice if you want it), you might want to check out the Sexual Refusal forum at (I think you have to register to see that forum but you can join anonymously) – Julie told me in the past that it was ok to suggest this on her blog.)

  8. WH says:

    @John & @Landschooner – marriage without sex is, at best, a friendship. I don’t know about you, but a sexless marriage is unacceptable. Begging, pleading, reading articles and visiting forums are no substitute for the intimacy Julie talks about. Both of you, I’m sorry to say, have wives that are refusers, and will continue to be as long as you let it go. You’re both at an ultimatum point, in my opinion. Stop looking for new ways to get the same answer of “no”. Tell your wives that you’re moving to a healthy marriage that contains the intimacy you’re entitled to, and that alienation of affection is a legitimate reason for marriage changes. It will be life-changing for you, but doing what you’re doing will just make you older, bitter, and ripe for an affair.

  9. landschooner says:

    You are completely correct WH and thank you. I should have stated that things changed in our marriage a few years ago when I did exactly what you said. I stopped letting it go. I realized that it wouldn’t change unless I did something. For us, what it took was keeping the issue on the table and addressing it on an ongoing basis. It was just under a year of more arguments, fights and tears than we’d ever had in our 17 years of marriage, (not saying I handled everything beautifully but overall, it worked) but in the fall of 2008, she finally seemed to have “HEARD” me. Not that everything is perfect. I’m not perfect. She’s not perfect. But we have sex usually twice a week, sometimes 3x, and she will even tell me unprompted, that these times are important for her. I usually initiate but she does as well. She just did yesterday and today when she found out she had been invited to an early Sat morning ladies breakfast (we usually have sex Sat morn) she asked me about it, knowing of the conflict so we discussed having “our time” later that day… we’re communicating about it now and working it out. Even just the fact that she acknowledges the schedule conflict is HUGE compared to years ago. I wont say the HER desire has increased, but she genuinely seems to believe that our sex life is IMPORTANT for our marriage.

    Again I agree with you and thanks!


  10. Daniel says:

    WH wrote: “Tell your wives that you’re moving to a healthy marriage that contains the intimacy you’re entitled to, and that alienation of affection is a legitimate reason for marriage changes. ”

    Not gonna work. It’s like telling the sky during a long drought that you’re now expecting a healthy weather pattern where it rains every day.

    It’s a sad fact that sex starved husbands have to realize. Intimacy is a myth. She is not going to change. Stay and be miserable, or leave and be miserable. At least you get to choose.

  11. WH says:

    Daniel, you have a defeatist point of view. The good news is that there’s hope.

    IF you in a sexual refusal situation where you KNOW your spouse will not respond to an ultimatim, well – you have your answer. They’ve told you that your marriage is not worth changing their behavior and giving you a precious few minutes of their time. If that’s where you are, be thankful you know and haven’t wasted any more time than is already gone.

    Your next step is not misery. Read the replies to many of the articles on this website. Many MANY people left a bad situation to find a better partner. There are several posts where two sex-starved people found each other can cannot believe their good fortune and new life together.

    If I were you, I’d take the chance at happiness and intimacy. One thing’s for sure – the status quo for you is misery.

  12. WH says:

    @Landschooner – how good for you! I’m sorry it took so long to work out the issues, but I’m very glad that an ultimatum worked. Sadly, many people (employees, spouses, relatives) get away with things that we let them get away with. When it’s not OK to do something, I’m the kind of person that speaks up.

    I wish your experience was more common in Christian marriages!

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