Some of you are already discouraged reading that headline.
You are married. Sex is a struggle. And reading a “hindsight is 20/20” post feels a little bit like salt in the wound.
But maybe there is something in here that will spark a healing change in your marriage as far as sex is concerned. And if you aren’t married yet, I implore you to sit up and take notice.
Read this post. You will thank me later.
At first glance, you may think I’m talking only to individuals here. But if you are engaged (or in a relationship that is headed that way), then I ardently plead with you to read this post together as a couple and discuss it.
3 Sexual Things to Figure Out BEFORE You Get Married
1. Your sexual past
Many sexual struggles that crop up in marriage can be traced right back to sexual things in the past of one or both spouses. These can be tragic things like sexual assault or sexual abuse. They can be promiscuous things like having multiple past partners or participating in fringe sexual behavior.
They can be things like having an affair with someone who was married. Or having another type of secret sexual relationship that you know was wrong on so many levels. They can be sexual addictions that either really had a grip on you at one time or have a grip on you now.
They can be skewed messages you heard from others, maybe even Christians—skewed messages that don’t paint sex in marriage as a positive experience.
They can be things from which you haven’t healed or things you’ve downplayed or things you rationalize “don’t matter now” because they happened “before you were a Christian” or because they happened “a long time ago.”
Whatever narrative you tell yourself to keep at bay the suspicion in your heart that these past things do matter, it’s time to take a more mature approach. Stop rationalizing.
This isn’t about starting with a clean slate. It’s about starting with a healed heart and an understanding of God’s grace and compassion. Sex in the wrong context of abuse or promiscuity or addiction or singleness or infidelity—if not looked at and reconciled in your heart—can creep in and start to cloud how you experience sex in the right context of marriage.
I don’t know what healing and reconciling look like for you, but they may very well need to include solid professional help and a deep dive into God’s truth about forgiving yourself and others.
Figure out your sexual past so it doesn’t sabotage your sexual future.
2. Your perspective on sex
What do you think of sex in marriage? Do you see it as something you get to do or something you have to do? Do you think you both have the responsibility and privilege to initiate and pursue or do you think one of you should always be the pursuer and the other one wait for this initiation?
So many people go into marriage not giving much thought to how they view sex. And then you are married and sex rapidly becomes a source of tension if the two of you don’t share some common ground on your perspectives about sex.
There are countless marriages where one spouse views sex as “optional” and the other spouse sees it as “foundational.” For the spouse who sees it as foundational, the health of sexual intimacy in the marriage directly impacts the health of the overall marriage. For the spouse who can “take it or leave it” and would just assume “leave it,” sex is a burden. It’s no wonder resentment starts to build.
Trust me on this. If you both don’t view sex as foundational, there will be tensions that will begin to feel insurmountable. The growing distance between the two of you will be deafening.
On the other hand, if you both share a perspective that you mutually are responsible for the sexual health of the marriage and you both value sexual connection and pleasure, you’ll bank the odds heavily in your favor for marriage strength.
This isn’t about perfectly aligning on the same page about sex, but you do need to be on the same page. If you aren’t, that’s cause for concern. It’s cause for a discussion at least, to discover if you can genuinely get on that page together.
3. Your willingness to embrace sex as God designed it
If you have never dug into God’s Word and done a thorough study of what God says about sex, I highly encourage you to do so before you get married. This is good advice for someone who is single and wants to be married some day and it’s good advice for an engaged couple.
God is the author of sexual pleasure and oneness. It is a tremendous gift He has given married couples. It is not a burden or mere duty, as many Christians sadly have painted it to be.
Are you both willing to value not only your own sexual pleasure, but also your spouse’s? Are you willing to have a humble heart to nurture sexual intimacy and to address sexual struggles?
Even though sex is indeed part of God’s natural design, this doesn’t mean it always comes naturally. Sure, we’d love for it to look as easy as it does in a romantic movie, but nearly all married couples have to work to understand each other sexually and to build sexual connection. Are you willing to put in that effort? Are you willing to embrace sex as God designed it? I hope so.
The degree to which your marriage reflects the Lord depends heavily on your willingness to embrace all aspects of marriage, including sexual intimacy.
I imagine there are more sexual things than just the above three to figure out before you get married, but the above three are definitely crucial.
Will you figure them out?
And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage! You can find out all about it at this link: Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.